Stories for May 2008

Friday, May 30

Southwest Airlines reaps benefits of fuel hedging strategy

Many analysts believe it may be one of the few U.S. carriers -- if not the only one -- to post a profit this year while still offering lower fares.

Children's Museum Opening Delayed To 2010

The opening of the Los Angeles Children's Museum has been delayed for a third time due to a lack of funds to complete the facility at the Hansen Dam.

Senate OKs measure to ban smoking in apartments

Assembly will now weigh bill giving landlords new authority. Other bills before legislators include limiting lead in lipstick and toys, nutritional information on restaurant menus and protecting workers

Consumers will soon know the (credit) score

In the biggest class-action suit settlement ever, TransUnion promises access to data kept under wraps.

Aspyra and Physicians Laboratory Form Agreement

Aspyra Inc. announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Physicians Laboratory Services Inc. to upgrade the laboratory's system and implement new modules.

Hospital urged to beef up its business board

LANCASTER - Antelope Valley Healthcare District officials are pondering a consultant's recommendation to create a board subcommittee that would increase the number of people overseeing Antelope Valley Hospital's business operations.

Thursday, May 29

Factory orders still strong

WASHINGTON - Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket items besides autos and airplanes showed surprising strength in April, raising hopes that manufacturing can help the economy shake off the slumping housing market and credit crisis.

IHOP Corp. to Become DineEquity

IHOP Corp. announced a change of its corporate name to DineEquity Inc. to reflect its ownership of multiple restaurant brands.

Vote on Countrywide-Bank of America Merger Scheduled

Countrywide Financial has announced June 25 as the date when stockholders will vote on the Bank of America buyout.

State Assembly Passes Mandatory Sick Leave Bill

A bill that would require California employers to pay sick leave to every worker passed through the Assembly on Wednesday and now heads to the Senate.

Industry's woes trickle down to regional banks

The sub-prime mortgage crisis and economic slide have negatively affected their overall loan portfolios.

Wednesday, May 28

Burbank Restaurant Buzz

The restaurant formerly known as Chadney's in Burbank is sprucing up in readiness for a new tenant after a decade of vacancy.

Truckers pinched by diesel prices

The fuel leaps 29 cents to an average of $5.027 a gallon in California, while gasoline rises 14.7 cents to $4.099.

Hollywood studios, AFTRA agree on contract

The agreement, modeled on a deal with directors, puts pressure on SAG to come to terms. Preservation of performers' control over use of film clips is a key point.

Unemployment Numbers Dip In April

The Los Angeles area saw a slight drop in unemployment in April, to 6.1 percent from 6.5 percent a month ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Teledyne Subsidiary Awarded Nuclear Fuel Part Contract

A subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Inc. received a $92 million order for parts used to make fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.

B of A Executive To Lead Countrywide

Barbara J. Desoer will take over as head of mortgage operations at Countrywide Financial Corp. after acquisition of the struggling lender by Bank of America closes later this year.

Consumer outlook bleak

NEW YORK - Not since George H.W. Bush ran the White House have consumers felt so downbeat about the economy. And the catalyst for much of the gloom - the housing slump - shows no signs of abating, new data showed.

Simulations Plus to Partner with Northeastern University

Simulations Plus Inc. has partnered with Northeastern University to fund a research project to measure when drugs dissolve in animals and humans.

Mattel claims Bratz idea stolen

RIVERSIDE - The rights to the popular Bratz doll franchise belong to Mattel Inc., not a rival toymaker that stole the concept that became a global darling among consumers, a lawyer for Mattel said.

Tuesday, May 27

CityWalk in cops' spotlight

Law enforcement making effort to stop gang crime before it starts

Area HDTV owners with cable service have limited choices

Time Warner provides far fewer high-definition channels in Los Angeles than in other major cities.

AFTRA, studios still negotiating

A pact might include higher residuals for content sold online.

DIC, Vivendi Sign Distribution Deal

DIC Entertainment will extend the reach of its animated programming catalogue through a digital distribution agreement with Vivendi Entertainment.

Home sales post unexpected April increase

WASHINGTON -- Sales of new homes rose in April for the first time in six months, although the unexpected increase still left activity near the lowest level in 17 years.

Monday, May 26

Ex-Employees Pull Together When Health Net Lays Off

Laid-off Health Net workers Tom Smith and Susan Arcidiacono formed a networking group offering support, motivation and job hunting tips for the company's displaced employees.

Providers Look to New Models for Municipal Wi-Fi

A switch in buiness plans for municipal wireless Internet projects.

Senior Project Works With Residents on Home Sales

Luxury senior living/ long-term care project University Village offering bridge loans for seniors who can't sell their homes.

Chairing the VEDC

Q+A with Don St. Clair, Valley Economic Development Center chairman

Transportation Planners Take Look at Funding

The Mobility 21 conference tackles transportation funding and land planning in the Valley.

Tech Companies Active Throughout Valley Region 2 deck

Scripps Network, the owner of the Food Network and HGTV, selected software from Xytech Systems Corp. to improve workflows at its studios, post-production, and control room operations in New York City and Tennessee.

Good Swartz Joining With East Coast Firm

Accounting firm Good, Swartz, Brown & Berns merges with East Coast firm.

New Cardiac Lab for Valley Pres

Valley Presbyterian Hospital opens the $4 million Fritz B. Burns Valley Cardiac Cath Lab.

Measuring Out a Dose or Two of Optimism

Optimism in a bad economy. Column by Jason Schaff, Editor of the Business Journal


Manufacturing Technology Lab at Valley College.

Grant Gives COC Lead on Workforce Programs Statewide

College of the Canyons receives a five-year grant to coordinate workforce development programs in the state.


Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism...

Eminent Domain: The Flaws of Propositions 98 and 99

Eminent Domain: The Flaws of Propositions 98 and 99. Guest Column by Gregory N. Lippe

Trademark Infringement, Discretionary Bonus Plans

Trademark Infringement, Discretionary Bonus Plans. Q & A; Column by Ira Rosenblatt


Spotlight on: Fluid Line Technology Corp.

City Launches One-Stop 'Business Solutions' Website

The City of L.A.'s new web site is designed to streamline procedures for new and existing businesses.

Large Retailer Pulls Out of Local Centers

Linens n Things closes four Valley stores as part of its Chap. 11 restructuring.

ARS Investors Fight For Funds Liquidity

A San Fernando Valley law firm has created a special task force to advocate for victims of the auction-rate securities crisis.

"To Serve And Protect" -- Us

Giving thanks for the police. Guest Column by Martin M. Cooper


A new reader-driven feature: photographs of Valley business people being feted, awarded, commended or just taking part in interesting regional events.

Small Businesses, Big Tech Solutions

Tech companies offer marketing, search directory and hosted application services for small businesses

Entrepreneur Incubator is Hatching in Santa Clarita

The i3 advanced technology incubator gets off the ground at College of the Canyons


Valley's largest technology companies. - Executive Summary/ The Pacesetter: Alcatel-Lucent.

Virtual Reality

Area IT companies help clients cut costs due to the slow economy

L.A. City Council Busy With Real Estate Proposals

L.A. City Council enters into agreement with Westfield for their Topanga, Sherman Oaks and Century City mall expansion projects.

Santa Clarita Wins Best in State for Second Year

The City of SantaClarita wins Grand Prize for Best Economic Development Program for the second year in a row

Friday, May 23

Lead leads to Disney toy recalls

The Walt Disney Co. is recalling thousands of sleeping bags and toy magic wands contaminated by excessive levels of lead paint, federal inspectors said.

Wells Fargo tightens home loan policies

The lender raises its credit requirements for applicants and eliminates cash-out refinancings for certain mortgages.

Advertisers in touch with teens' cellphones

Youths are signing up to have pitches, photos and links to websites sent to their multifunction mobile devices.

K-Swiss Acquiring French Footwear Company

K-Swiss Inc. announced its purchase of French footwear company, Palladium SAS, in a two-part deal.

Nutrition Information Bill Passes Senate

The California State Senate approved a bill that requires large chain restaurants to provide nutritional information on menus and menu boards.

Thursday, May 22

North American Scientific Regains Compliance

North American Scientific Inc. in Chatsworth received notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market that its bid price deficiency has been cured.

L.A. quake scenario: 1,800 dead, area in flames

The "Big One," as earthquake scientists imagine it in a detailed, first-of-its-kind script, unzips California's mighty San Andreas Fault north of the Mexican border. In less than two minutes, Los Angeles and its sprawling suburbs are shaking like a bowl o

Chamber lets candidates vie for votes

PALMDALE - Four candidates attempted Wednesday to show area business leaders why they should be elected to represent the Antelope and Victor valleys in the state Assembly.

Countrywide e-mail angers borrowers

The chairman of beleaguered Countrywide Financial Corp. raised eyebrows and tempers with his snippy reply to an e-mail plea from a man who said he was in danger of losing his home.

Time Warner boards OK spinoff of cable TV division

Time Warner Cable will pay $10.9 billion to Time Warner shareholders under the separation agreement. Time Warner holds 84% of the cable operator's stock.

Wednesday, May 21

Cherokee Signs Exclusive Brand Representation Agreement

Cherokee Inc. signed an exclusive brand representation agreement with award-winning fashion designer David Rodriguez.

Semtech Posts Net Income Increase

Semiconductor manufacturer Semtech Corp. reported a 2.5 percent increase in its net income for the first quarter of fiscal year 2009 when compared to the previous year.

Tuesday, May 20

Traveler satisfaction is down, survey says

Traveler satisfaction with airports is generally down, and LAX is no different, scoring in the middle of the range in a J.D. Power survey that found airport satisfaction down 14 percent compared to 2007.

Studios slip on AFTRA clip trip

In a surprise development, AFTRA has joined the Screen Actors Guild in declaring that actors must still be asked for their consent for clips of their work to be used online.

QPC Expanding Manufacturing Plant

QPC Lasers Inc. raised $2 million in new financing for an expansion of its manufacturing facilities in Sylmar.

Wholesale inflation slows in April after March increase

WASHINGTON -- Inflation at the wholesale level slowed in April following a huge increase in March, although prices for a number of items from prescription drugs to pasta shot upward.

Two Valley Bank Execs Are Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists

The chief executives of two Valley business banks have been announced as finalists for the 2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

L.A. City Council approves $7-billon budget

Hiring LAPD officers is still a priority. Trash removal, parking and other city services will cost more.

Monday, May 19

CalPERS misjudges the landscape

The giant pension fund negotiates to prevent a 15,000-acre Santa Clarita Valley deal from sinking into bankruptcy.

$60 Million Loan Deal Signed

Construction has started on Patriot Commerce Center, an office and industrial park in Moorpark.

New Capital To Finance Fat Reducer Tests

A Japanese venture capital firm led a round of $40 million in financing that lets Kythera Biopharmaceuticals Inc. complete trials for its fat deposit reduction drug.

Anthem Expands Care Comparison to California

Anthem Blue Cross members in six California counties can now go online to find the estimated cost of medical procedures performed at local hospitals.

Row 44 Scores $21 Million for Aircraft Broadband Service

Airborne broadband provider Row 44 received $21 million in financing to expand its operations and prepare for global use of its communications system.

Santa Monica's flight fight is being closely watched

The city's effort to ban jets that land at high speeds could be adopted elsewhere. The FAA has been granted an injunction to stop the rule from taking effect.

More economic weakness is expected

Worst of housing, credit problems may be over, but unemployment to go up

Friday, May 16

Cell-phone law July 1 has sales of hands-free devices in high gear

A California law requiring drivers to hang up their use of handheld cell phones is more than a month away, but Southland retailers say they already are stocking up on Bluetooth and other hands-free devices amid a surge in sales.

1,200 people to have canceled healthcare coverage restored

The action comes after Kaiser Permanente and Health Net reach an agreement with a state agency.

Orange Line Sees Rider Increase In April

Ridership on the Metro Orange Line rose by about 20,000 for April when compared to the previous year, the agency reported.

Boeing loses GPS satellite contract to Lockheed Martin

The defeat could mean fewer jobs at Boeing's El Segundo facility, which would have made the satellites.

Thursday, May 15

FutureLogic Settles with TransAct Technologies

FutureLogic Inc. announced a settlement of patent litigation with TransAct Technologies.

Test Program Phase Out Leads To Net Loss

The phase out of a semiconductor test program overseas contributed to Trio-Tech International posting a net loss in its third quarter.

QPC Widens Net Loss In Q1

Increased funding for research and development for its third generation laser products contributed to QPC Lasers Inc. reporting a net loss for its first quarter.

L.A. prepares massive water-conservation plan

The initiative would punish water wasters and limit such activities as watering lawns and washing vehicles. And it would revive a controversial effort to recycle sewage water.

Factories weak in early May, job market soft

NEW YORK -- The U.S. factory sector started the month on a weak note after declining in April, according to data released May 15, while the number of workers stuck on jobless rolls hit a four-year high.

New Schwarzenegger budget for California would divert gas taxes

The governor's proposed spending plan also calls for deeper healthcare cuts to close the state's $15.2-billion budget shortfall.

Interlink Narrows Loss In Q1

Interlink Electronics Inc. narrowed its net loss for its first quarter when compared to a year ago.

Wednesday, May 14

Most Americans don't expect the economy to improve soon, poll finds

Most Americans see little hope that the economy will improve in the next six months, and many also are decidedly pessimistic about the direction of oil prices and inflation, according to a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.

Nestle scales back massive Mount Shasta bottling plant

The Nestle company on Monday said it is significantly scaling back plans in Northern California to build what would have been the country's largest water bottling plant.

Burbank Marriott Residence Inn Changes Hands

The Residence Inn in Burbank has been sold by developer/builder R.D. Olson of Irvine as part of a two-property deal.

Court Tosses Lawsuit against Holy Cross Expansion

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Thomas I. McKnew dismissed a suit filed by a citizens group challenging an expansion at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center.

Distressing time for furniture retailers

Large chains and small stores are being forced to close as demand slumps amid the housing slowdown.

What keeps viewers glued to the tube? Disney wants to know

A planned research lab is part of the company's efforts to update its advertising sales strategy.

Tuesday, May 13

Bank Earnings Down, But Stock Price Rises

Shares of Beverly Hills Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Calabasas-based First Bank of Beverly Hills, shot up 68 percent the day after first-quarter earnings data was released despite mostly negative news.

Disney and McDonald's move to improve labor conditions in China

A pilot project involving 10 factories that make products for the firms tests a new approach for dealing with low wages and long work hours.

Southern California's S & Ls suffer, survive

Investors are increasingly throwing in the towel on Southern California-based savings-and-loan mortgage lenders IndyMac Bancorp, FirstFed Financial Corp. and Downey Financial Corp.

Memorial Service for Grandson of "Tarzan" Creator

A memorial service will take place May 17 for Danton Burroughs, the grandson of "Tarzan" creator Edgar Rice Burroughs and an officer and director for the firm licensing his grandfather's stories and characters in the media.

Kreido Receives Permits for Biodiesel Plant

Kreido Biofuels will move ahead with construction of a biodiesel production plant after receiving necessary permits and approvals.

Meat company ordered to stop sales

LANCASTER - Ranch House Quality Meats, a company reportedly selling frozen meat products in the Antelope Valley since last year, has been ordered to stop all its sales by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Retail sales dip for second time in 2 months

WASHINGTON -- Consumers, battling soaring gasoline prices and a slumping economy, cut back further on their spending in April.

Monday, May 12

Development centers offer guiding light to small companies

Counselors offer valuable lessons as simple as how to use QuickBooks software to as complex as how to do business in China.

Labor Strife Embroils Local Health Care Industry

The health care industry and unions caught up in labor strife locally.

NoHo Tower Reborn Again As Apartment Complex

A tale of the constantly changing high-rise residential development in NoHo.

Building On the Future

Talking with Gregg Anderson of Rancho VistaDevelopment Co.


THE RIGHT FIT - Sanctuary Clothing Co. in North Hollywood.

Controversial Addition to Break Ground

Groundbreaking on the controversial addition.

Anthem Says It Won't Pay for Hospital Errors

Anthem Blue Cross has revised its reimbursement policies


A new reader-driven feature: photographs of Valley business people being feted, awarded, commended or just taking part in interesting regional events.

Industrial Market Shine Slightly Worn in Quarter

The industrial sector remains just about the only bright spot in the Valley's real estate picture for the first quarter of 2008, according to a recently-released Colliers International Market Report.

Parking, Housing Pivotal for Project

Success of the new Glendale "lifestyle center" may come down to parking and apartments.

Despite Slump, Palmdale Sees Flurry of Activity

Despite Slump, Palmdale Sees Flurry of Activity

NBC, ABC and CBS to tone down 'upfront' advertising sales events

TV lineup presentations to advertisers are being scaled back because of the sluggish economy and lingering effects of the writers strike.

Ontic Receives License For Navigation, Targeting System

Ontic Engineering and Manufacturing Inc. received a licensing agreement to make and maintain navigation and targeting systems for fighter aircraft.

Santa Clarita Film Office Has Best April Ever

The Santa Clarita Film Office issued 63 percent more permits in April when compared with the previous year.


Charts of Economic Indicators, Real Estate, Tourism...

In mortgage market, 'walkaway' homeowners may be urban myth

Bankers and housing analysts say many homeowners, owing more than their homes are worth, are defaulting on their loans even when they can afford payments. But no hard numbers back up their claims.


Summaries of activities from the Valley's Chambers of Commerce

Pushing for Business Involvement in CSUN Arts Center

ARTS: Getting business behind the new Valley Performing Arts Center at CSUN. Column by Jason Schaff

Developers Face City's Green Building Program

The City of L.A. passed a new ordinance requiring base-level LEED certification for all new building construction.


Stock activity for 50 selected greater San Fernando Valley-based public companies: Bi-Weekly Top Gainers, Losers; The Valley 50 Stock Index; 52-week Performance; Market Summary / Indexes

Downtown Lancaster Is Ready for Its Makeover

A downtown specific plan goes to the Lancaster City Council in August.

DTS Sells Digital Cinema Business

DTS Inc. sold its digital cinema business in a deal worth $3.3 million, the company announced.

Alternatives to Raising L.A. Taxes

Greg Lippe saysother alternatives should be explored before raising taxes in L.A.

Downturn Casts Shadow on Summit

Coverage of the San Fernando Valley Economic Summit

Flying High on Aviation, Officials Push Museum

Palmdale and Lancaster capitalize on their aerospace heritage.

Antelope Valley Filled With Many Stories Good and Bad

The tale of Palmdale's resilience and persistence

Educational Efforts Soaring at AERO Institute

Major universities offer programs through the Aero Institute


A look at the people, places and things that make our valleys tick.


Canoga Park Chamber Sets 20th Annual Memorial Day Parade

Friday, May 9

Valley to Lose 4 Linens 'n Things Stores

Four Valley shopping centers will be losing a large anchor tenant sometime soon when home goods retailer Linens 'n Things shuts down 120 of its lowest-performing stores.

'Speed Racer' opening on a crowded track

The family friendly racing movie is trying to break out from a pack of blockbuster competitors.

California tax proposals target beer-loving, pornography-watching yacht owners

Democratic lawmakers search far and wide for new revenue to balance the state budget, though Republicans have vowed to stop any tax hikes.

Superior Makes Good in Q1 Despite GM Slowdown

Superior Industries Inc. reported a net income for the first quarter despite a three-month strike that slowed production on General Motors vehicles.

Mayor Villaraigosa persuades janitors to return to contract talks

After a closed-door meeting including building owners, the union agrees to go back to the bargaining table after having staged walkouts across the county.

Retail sales up in April

Shoppers pushed retail sales up last month, but the numbers didn't impress economists who are focused on rising oil prices and the struggling housing market.

Rim of the Valley Corridor Study Authorized

President Bush authorized the National Parks Service to begin its study of a proposal to create a Rim of the Valley Corridor after signing the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008.

Thursday, May 8

Aviation Advocates Look For FAA Funding Bill

General aviation advocates described as disappointing the failure of the U.S. Senate to advance a bill funding the Federal Aviation Administration.

Wednesday, May 7

Countrywide executive admits loan officers made errors

WASHINGTON -- Mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp., which is under investigation on allegations that it inflated certain borrowers' fees, acknowledged that it had made errors and pledged to take steps to improve its operations.

All-Cash Deal for Westlake Village Multi-Family Property

The Townhomes of Westlake Village, a 253-unit townhouse and apartment property in Ventura County, was purchased by Los Angeles-based IMT Capital, LLC from Wilshire Equities for $68.5 million.

National Technical Acquires Manufacturing Compliance Firm

A subsidiary of National Technical Services Inc. has acquired a Florida manufacturing process standards certification firm.

Flad Named New City Manager

The Burbank City Council has chosen Assistant City Manager Mike Flad as the replacement for City Manager Mary Alvord after she retires in January.

Ticket Seller Premieres On Nasdaq

Entertainment producer and ticketing agency Tix Corp. begins trading its common shares on the Nasdaq Capital Market beginning May 8, the company announced.

U.S. pending homes sales fall, job productivity up

WASHINGTON -- Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes hit an all-time low in March and businesses braced for tough times by squeezing more out of their workers in the first quarter, data showed.

Labor talks start for performers and movie, TV workers

SHERMAN OAKS - One day after talks ended with the Screen Actors Guild, contract negotiations are set to begin between the second largest performers union and the trade association representing the largest movie and television companies.

Tuesday, May 6

City Council Passes Anti-Mansion Law

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a long-debated "anti-mansionization" ordinance.

State Receives Unexpected Windfall in Income Taxes

Californians paid an "unexpected" $1.4 billion in income taxes for 2007, Controller John Chiang reported.

California Community Colleges Receive $70 Million Gift

The Bernard Osher Foundation has donated $70 million to support private scholarships for California's community college students.

Bernanke pushes government help to curb foreclosures

The Fed chairman says failure to act could destabilize communities, reduce property values and lower tax revenues.

United Online Posts $13 Million Net Profit for Q1

Internet and media services provider United Online Inc. had little growth in its net income for the first quarter when compared to the previous year.

Weak Sales Hurts THQ

Video game publisher THQ Inc. fell short of its revenue targets for its just completed fiscal year, the company announced.

TV downloads the new competitive terrain for Microsoft's Zune, Apple's iPod

SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft Corp. will compete more directly with Apple Inc.'s dominant iTunes store by selling TV shows at its own online store for use on its Zune music and video player, the company said.

THQ, DreamWorks Collaborate on Superhero Film Game

Video game publisher THQ Inc. signed an exclusive agreement to release games based on the superhero-themed film from DreamWorks Animation coming to theaters in 2010.

ABC Revenues Drop Due To Writers Strike

Higher advertising rates and lower programming costs helped offset drops in ad revenues in the broadcasting division due to the Hollywood writers strike, The Walt Disney Co. said in releasing its second quarter financial statements.

Monday, May 5

The Cheesecake Factory Opens in Glendale

Today the Cheesecake Factory Inc. announced the opening of its 140th Cheesecake Factory restaurant at the Americana at Brand in Glendale.

Westlake Village Inn Joins Summit Hotel & Resorts

Westlake Village Inn has been selected by Summit Hotels & Resorts to be the first and only California hotel to be part of its portfolio of properties.

Airport agency chief to face questions over LAX pacts

Gina Marie Lindsey is scheduled to appear before the airport commission and a council panel this week to explain her role in awarding LAX construction contracts worth $67 million to two firms.

Westside-Eastside subway could cost $6.5 billion

Plans to send a subway rumbling below Westside streets to link the traffic-choked region to Eastside rail lines have been narrowed to four possible routes estimated to cost up to $6.5 billion.

California regulators seek to expand utilities' loans for small businesses

The pilot program helps firms buy energy-efficient equipment.

Fulcrum Raises $29 Million in Funding

Semiconductor developer Fulcrum Microsystems raised $29.9 million in its fifth round of funding, the company announced.

Friday, May 2

Speed, Unlocked Door Contributed To Plane Crash

The pilot of a charter plane that crashed at Van Nuys Airport in January 2007 failed to maintain an adequate airspeed resulting in the aircraft going into a stall, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

'Iron Man' bringing the popcorn

The superhero film should lead the box office as the summer movie season kicks off.

Caruso Throws Lavish Grand Opening Party

Over 2,000 of developer Rick Caruso's "closest friends" attended a lavish party in Glendale to celebrate the grand opening of his newest development: the Americana at Brand.

QPC Expanding Manufacturing Plant

QPC Lasers Inc. raised $2 million in new financing for an expansion of its manufacturing facilities in Sylmar.

Pump Up Investment: Governor

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a dramatic boost in federal, private and state infrastructure investment during the 2008 Milken Institute Global Conference this week.

L.A. population passes 4 million

Los Angeles' population has surpassed 4 million for the first time, officials announced.

April unemployment: 'Not as bad' as expected

Analysts had been expecting worse, but the pace of job losses slowed. Payrolls still declined by 20,000, but the unemployment rate fell slightly to 5%. The number of part-time workers rose sharply.

Ryland Rating Cut to 'Junk'

Homebuilder and mortgage financier Ryland Group had its corporate and unsecured debt ratings downgraded to "junk" status by Standard & Poors Ratings Service on May 1.

Countrywide Credit Rating is 'Junked'

Bank of America's stock rose, while Countrywide's fell May 2 on news that Standard & Poor's ratings service cut the credit rating of Countrywide to junk status.

Talks Continue Between Actors, Studios

Talks have been extended between the Screen Actors Guild and the major Hollywood studios on a new three-year contract.

Thursday, May 1

NBC Studios site in Burbank to get a big remake

The $750-million upgrade will include four 14-story office buildings

Disney Store Purchase Finalized

The Walt Disney Co. is back in the retail game following its acquisition of the Disney Store Chain from subsidiaries of The Children's Place Retail Stores Inc.

Image Subsidiary Inks iTunes Deal

Image Entertainment subsidiary Egami Media will make its films, comedy specials and other specialty programming available through iTunes.

Paramedics End Strike

American Medical Response in Lancaster has reached a tentative labor agreement with the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics. The agreement brings the strike of IAEP, Locals #77 and #187 to a halt.

Time Warner to shed its stake in cable operation

The media giant, its share price languishing, reports a 36% decline in first-quarter profit.

Factory sector contracts, jobless claims jump

NEW YORK -- U.S. manufacturing contracted for a third straight month in April while the number of workers claiming jobless benefits hit a four-year high and planned layoffs soared, according to data today that showed the economy remained on shaky ground.

Valley's Worst-Performing Executives

Forbes has released its annual CEO compensation report, ranking chief executives of publicly-held companies on their paychecks and rating how much bang for the buck they gave their shareholders.