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Review & Preview

Review & Preview

May 21 – 27

Gas Update: Still up sharply. For the week ended May 24, the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular was $2.356, according to a survey by the Energy Information Administration, up from $2.304 a week earlier. Statewide, an average gallon was $2.324, up from $2.269. Even if prices stabilize in the next few weeks, high demand and limited refinery capacity will likely prevent any big declines for the time being or so say the experts.

For Sale: California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has hired closely held consulting firm Turner Mason & Co. to find a buyer for Royal Dutch/Shell Group’s Bakersfield refinery. Lockyer will pay as much as $35,000 to Turner Mason through the end of July to find a company capable of running the refinery, boosting output and implementing cleaner-fuel technology. The Shell refinery is to be closed later this year.

Strike Settled: SBC Communications Inc. and its main union agreed on a contract that guarantees the jobs of 100,000 workers and saves SBC about $2 billion over the next five years. The San Antonio-based carrier, with a major California presence, agreed not to fire current employees in that time frame and to rehire several hundred people. SBC workers will pay more to use health care services. The union returned to work after a four-day strike.

CBS Wins: CBS will end the current television season as the most-watched television network, boosted by the crime drama “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” The unit of Viacom Inc. was the only TV network to increase viewers this season. It aired four of the 10 most watched programs, more than any other network.

Poll Results: U.S. Sen. John Kerry has a 15-percentage-point lead over President Bush in California, according to a Field Poll. In a two-way race, voters prefer Kerry to Bush by 55 percent to 40 percent. With Ralph Nader included, Kerry leads 51 percent to 39 percent. The poll was conducted between May 18 and May 24 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a 65 percent approval rate, according to the Field Poll, the highest level of any California governor in more than 13 years. His rating is twice as high as that given to the Democrat-led Legislature.

Cluff Plea: Cody Cluff, former head of the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., pleaded no contest to embezzling funds from the film agency and faces up to two years in prison. Cluff, who has also agreed to repay $80,000, spent thousands of dollars in agency money on everything from strip clubs to donations to his child’s high school.

Unocal Vote: Shareholders of Unocal Corp. turned down a proposal that would have given the dissidents among them direct access to directors over the El Segundo-based energy company’s stake in a Myanmar natural gas pipeline. The proposal, which was opposed by the board, received support from 21 percent of the voting shareholders at the company’s annual meeting.

Gay Channel: Viacom Inc. said its MTV unit will create the first 24-hour cable network for gay, lesbian and transgender viewers. The network, called Logo, will begin airing next February and is expected to have 12-14 million households by year’s end.

Avery Probe: Pasadena-based label maker Avery Dennison Corp. said European regulators had taken documents from its facilities in the Netherlands and Germany as part of a broader investigation into possible price fixing. One other U.S. paper product maker said it was part of the European probe. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating possible anti-competitive practices in the market for magazine paper.

Review & Preview

May 31 – June 6

Holiday: Expect the usual closures on Monday (31st) for Memorial Day: courts, schools, government offices, U.S. stock exchanges and most businesses. Also expect numerous commemorations honoring those who have died in the nation’s service.

Sports Beat: The Dodgers are home Monday-Wednesday (31st-2nd) against Milwaukee and then hit the road through next week. The Angels are home for a two-game midweek series (1st-2nd) against Boston and then it’s a four-game series beginning on Thursday (3rd-6th) against Cleveland. The Sparks are home on Tuesday against Seattle.

Economic Reports: Tuesday (1st): April construction spending. Thursday (3rd): April factory orders. Friday (4th): May unemployment numbers.

MOCA Auction: The Museum of Contemporary Art holds its 25th anniversary auction, featuring the works of more than 45 international and emerging artists, on Saturday (5th) at Christie’s Los Angeles (360 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills). The auction itself is by invitation only but the public is invited to view the works all week. Visitors will be able to register absentee bids.

China Talk: Political reform in China will be the subject of a Los Angeles World Affairs Council discussion on Wednesday (2nd) at the St. Regis Hotel in Century City. Among the participants will be Richard Baum, director of UCLA’s Center for Chinese Studies, and Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. For information: 213-628-2333.

Mexico Display: The UCLA Hammer Museum opens “Made in Mexico,” an exploration of Mexico City’s influence as a center for contemporary art, on Sunday (6th). The exhibition, which runs through Sept. 12, includes 30 works, including paintings, photographs, sculpture, installations and videos. For information: 310-443-7000.

Pasadena Concerts: The One Colorado summer concert series opens on Friday (4th) with the Roaring Metropolis Swing Orchestra, followed the next evening (5th) by Orquesta Charangoa. Concerts start at 9 p.m. at the Old Pasadena shopping complex. For information: 626-564-1066.

Growth Conference: California State Controller Steve Westly will be the featured luncheon speaker on Thursday (3rd) as part of “Smart Growth,” a day-long conference presented by UCLA Extension at the Wilshire Grand Los Angeles. Keynote Speaker will be Sunne Wright McPeak, secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. For information: 310-206-1409.

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