Stories for April 2009

Thursday, April 30

Studios forced to delay Mexico movie openings

Postponing the big early-summer films because of the swine flu epidemic could cost tens of millions in revenue at a time when studios are increasingly relying on international box office.

Online Exclusive: Television Execs Discuss Future of Network, Online Programming

The future of network television will be one of event programming, water cooler shows like "American Idol" and news, an executive with NBC Universal said at a conference on digital entertainment and media.

Brace yourselves: Flood of soccer players to hit Valley

Jump lines Search News

Dole Rejects Claims it Financed Paramilitary Group in Colombia

Dole Food Company called "baseless" the allegations of illegal activity in Colombia made in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

J.H. Cohn Urges SEC to Phase in New Reporting Mandate

National accounting giant of J.H. Cohn LLP is appealing to the Securities and Exchange Commission to phase in the immanent adopting in the U.S. of international financial reporting standards, an advent which will fundamentally change the way financial rep

Saving energy priority for area company

Jetair has streaming success

National Technical Expects Struggles in Q1

A decrease in orders and the bankruptcy of a major client contributed to National Technical Systems Inc. reporting lower income in the fourth quarter when compared with the previous year.

Disney Joins Hulu

Full-length episodes of "Lost," "Ugly Betty," and "Desperate Housewives" will be made available online following The Walt Disney Co. becoming an equity partner in Hulu.

Wednesday, April 29

Civil Plaintiffs' Attorneys Pour Money into Political Process

Personal injury lawyers and other plaintiffs' attorneys spent more than $4.1 million on incumbents and candidates in California during a two-year period studied by the Civil Justice Association of California.

Teleflex Division Receives A-10 Upgrade Contract

The actuation division of Teleflex Aerospace received a contract to provide equipment for aircraft used in close support of ground forces.

Reports to detail business progress

Have neighborhood efforts to attract more shoppers paid off since last year? The City Council wants to know.

DreamWorks Animation Reports Strong Q1

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. reported a strong first quarter primarily from continued box office from "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa."

City Hall to fight water district

PALMDALE - City officials have geared up to fight water rate increases proposed by the Palmdale Water District and are urging all property owners within the water district boundaries to join the battle.

Am-Pac Tire in Simi to close down

The former headquarters and tire distribution warehouse for Am-Pac Tire Distributors Inc. in Simi Valley will close down in the coming months, eliminating 63 jobs.

Event gives 'green' tips to businesses

Workshop offers small businesses some advice on cutting costs amid difficult times.

Zenith Income Drops in First Quarter

Employee and operating cuts contributed to Zenith National Insurance Corp. reporting a 93.8% drop in net income for the first quarter 2009, compared to the same quarter last year.

Santa Clarita Launches Economic Development Plan

The Santa Clarita City Council recently approved a 21-Point Business Plan for Progress, which calls for investing more than $5.1 million in new programs and incentives to boost the local economy.

FirstFed Financial Corp announces Q1 losses

FirstFed Financial Corp., parent company of First Federal Bank of California, experienced a net loss of $53.4 million or $3.90 per diluted share of common stock in the first quarter of 2009. The loss resulted primarily from a $75 million provision for loa

Tuesday, April 28

DineEquity Sees Earnings Boost

Earnings more than triple in first quarter

Judge Confirms Bratz Doll is Mattel Property

Jury verdict against Van Nuys company upheld

Princess Cruises Diverting Ships from Mexican Ports

Valencia-based line monitoring swine flu situation closely

Monday, April 27

Hospital President, CEO Greene Dies at 59

Hospital President, CEO Greene Dies at 59

Taxicab-permit issue is resolved

Lawyers for competing companies plead their case in a three-hour meeting, favoring the city's top operator.

Concessions: Market Conditions Force Give and Take

Commercial real estate pros talk about concessions

Different Approach By Valley Designer

Profile of Toluca Woods eco-friendly fashion designer Deborah Lindquist. She has dressed Hollywood A-listers and sells her clothing worldwide.

Professional Services Firms Increase Use of Webinars

Webinars popping up everywhere in the accounting and legal industries locally. They're a sophisticated marketing tool and source of revenue.

America's Newspapers are Dying. So What?

Should we care about America's newspapers dying? Column by Martin M. Cooper

The Taste Test

Dandy Don Ice Cream of Chatsworth.

GIVING

San Fernando Kiwanis Club gives money to hospital

Living in an Eco-Friendly Material World

Valley shop owners turn to organic materials and recycled fibers for eco-friendly clothing - Rebe in Canoga Park, Green and Greener in Valley Village, and Green Cradle in Sherman Oaks.

B of A rebranding 'toxic' Countrywide lending operation

Bank of America is dropping the Countrywide name at mortgage offices nationwide after acquiring the Calabasas company linked with subprime loans.

Law Firms Find Opportunities in Stimulus Package

What opportunities does the federal stimulus package present to the legal industry?

Failing to Plan for Disaster

Catching the local business issues that fall through the cracks

Talk of cuts set to start

Glendale Council will begin to outline the framework of $7M in slashes to the city budget.

The Future Looks Green For Fashion

Woodbury University's school of fashion and design integrating sustainability into its curriculum. This year's senior project is titled "Viva Verde."

Downturn Brings Attitude Change

Conflicting observations about the poor economy. Editorial by Jason Schaff.

VALLEY STOCK WATCH

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

VALLEY BIZ SEEN

Photographs of business-related events in the valleys, including parties, awards dinners, benefits and other celebrations.

VALLEY, L.A. COUNTY ECONOWATCH

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

Escrow agents suffering despite boom

Housing sale rise cornered by big banks, large agencies

Medical is Real Estate Bright Spot

Medical-related commercial real estate holding relatively stable compared to conventional office and industrial markets.

VALLEY NEWSMAKERS

Who's in, who's out at Valley companies.

Special Issue on Education: Spotlight on Alumni

Many of the Valley's top businesspeople have their local schools to thank for giving them the skills they need in order to be successful.

Firms Draw More Applicants Than There are Jobs

State of local professional staffing and executive search industries during the economic downturn.

New SBDC Center Director Steve Tannehill Eyes Growth

Steve Tannehill left private industry to head the Small Business Development Center in Santa Clarita.

B of A, Countrywide Combine Mortgage Brands

Bank of America and Countrywide mortgage brands have combined to become Bank of America Home Loans, a company executive announced.

Palmdale Facility Rides Super Fast Air Transit Wave

The X-51A project is stepping stone to future of air travel.

Loose Goose, Another Casualty of the Economy

Wine company owner cites the economy as reason for business closing

Manpower Inc. Sees Decreases in First Quarter

The economy's strain on the labor markets was a leading factor in Manpower Inc. reporting a 97 percent decrease in earnings for the first quarter of 2009 compared to a year earlier.

Expansion Strategy Leads to SCV Firm

Purchase of Santa Clarita aerospace parts maker part of expansion strategy.

Stores Selling Recycled Fashions Proliferate

Pre-used clothing stores were recycling long before "green" was hip. Valley shops say they the economic downturn has spurred business.

Massage Therapy Schools Feeling Boost in Business

Holistic Health Institute of Encino experiencing big demand as a training ground for massage therapists. People looking for different professional avenues in the down economy.

AROUND THE VALLEYS

Warner Bros. Adds to Clean Energy at Studio

Schiff Addresses Copyright Protection, Royalties at Music Expo

Rep. Adam Schiff had positive news for songwriters and composers about copyright protection and establishing a performance right royalty for songs played on terrestrial radio.

Post-Production House Goes All Fiber in New Location

Post-production house opens new all-fiber facility in Burbank

Friday, April 24

The Promenade opens in Camarillo

Outlets mall gains 220,000 square feet

Regulators Close First Bank of Beverly Hills

Inadequate capital at Calabasas Bank cited

Investment Fund Provides $60 Million to Power-One

Power-One Inc. received $60 million in new capital from Silver Lake Sumeru, an investment fund for middle-market technology companies.

Amgen's drug sales drop 8.4%, hurting quarterly profit

Amgen's profit skids as sales fall

Wells Fargo accused of securities fraud in state lawsuit

Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown says the banking giant's subsidiaries told buyers that $1.5 billion of risky auction-rate securities were safe. Wells says it tried to help customers when the market collapsed.

Wednesday, April 22

Northrop Grumman 1st-qtr profit up nearly 50%

WASHINGTON -- Northrop Grumman Corp. reported Wednesday its first quarter profit rose by nearly 50 percent, boosted by higher sales of its electronic systems and progress made in its shipbuilding sector.

Teledyne Income Falls in Q1

Shrinking commercial markets contributed to Teledyne Technologies Inc. reporting a 25 percent decrease in net income for the first quarter when compared to a year ago.

U.S. HealthWorks Adds Long Beach Clinic

U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group, the largest operator of occupational health care centers in the state of California, will add another medical center to its network with the purchase of Memorial Maritime Clinic in Long Beach.

T.O. seeks stimulus money for city projects

The city of Thousand Oaks will seek grants under the federal stimulus program to fund 21 projects and programs, ranging from expanding free access to computers and the Internet at city libraries to citywide solar projects and improvements to the wastewate

Office space is filling up

Economic officials attribute Glendale and Burbank's location to skirting regionwide dive.

Tuesday, April 21

Glendale's unemployment approaches 10%

Rate mirrors trend throughout the nation, officials say. Entertainment jobs rise in the area.

ABCSearch Acquires Advertise.com

Sherman Oaks-based ABCSearch, an Internext Media Corp. company, has acquired Advertise.com. As of April 21, 2009 all ABCSearch solutions will be transitioned over to the Advertise.com, Inc. brand.

Metrolink installing high-tech equipment

Train safety focus of presentation by official at Simi Valley meeting

County's stripped-down 2009-10 budget unveiled

LOS ANGELES - Most government programs and departments in Los Angeles County will cut their budgets in the coming fiscal year, though how large those cuts will be is not yet certain.

SAG to cut lay off 35 workers to help close deficit

Hollywood's largest actors union is suffering from a drop in investment income and shrinking dues, which are based on how much members earn.

Apartment Owners Lose Battle on Rent Control

An appeals court has upheld the legality of a 2007 City of Los Angeles ordinance, which to the chagrin of the Apartment Association of Los Angeles County enforces rent-control regulations on multi-family units constructed on land where the demolition of a

Dole Pesticide Cases Could Be Thrown Out

A Los Angeles Superior Judge could dismiss two lawsuits accusing Dole Food Co. of exposing plantation workers to pesticides, on the basis of fraud.

Monday, April 20

Moorpark industrial and office park to open this week

The first phase of a 20-acre high-tech industrial and office park in Moorpark opens this week.

Work resumes on Valley Performing Arts Center

Construction of the $125-million 1,700-seat complex at Cal State Northridge is back on track after a budget-induced hiatus.

Image Merger Drama Ends

Image Entertainment Inc. has ended its merger agreement with Nyx Acquisitions Inc. due to a lack of financing.

Simulations Plus Receives $525,000 Grant

Lancaster-based Simulations Plus, Inc. received a $525,000 federal grant to develop software for the pharmaceutical industry.

Screen Actors Guild board narrowly OKs new contract

In a split vote reflecting ongoing fissures within the union, the board votes 53% in favor of a new two-year contract that is largely modeled on one forged last year by other Hollywood talent guilds.

BioSolar Moves Ahead with Solar Panel Components

BioSolar Inc. nears completing commercializing a component for solar panels made from renewable plant sources.

Southern California office market is hammered by recession

Vacancy rates have climbed as high as 30% in some areas, and landlords have been offering deep discounts or such perks as a year of free rent as an incentive to sign leases.

Friday, April 17

Los Robles hospital chooses new CEO

Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks has hired a veteran hospital executive from Arizona as its new CEO, the hospital announced.

Short-term Hiring Rises in Face of Double Digit Unemployment

Unemployment in Los Angeles County reached 11.4 percent in March, the highest recorded level in decades.

Housing starts plunge in March

The West sees a 67% drop in the groundbreaking of new homes. Nationwide, starts are down by nearly half.

City proposes cutbacks, fee hikes

$4.1 million to be saved in fiscal 2010

Hospital President, CEO Greene Dies at 59

Valley Presbyterian Hospital President and CEO Albert Greene, who helped make the hospital one of the fastest growing in the area, died April 16 from pancreatic cancer. He was 59.

Thursday, April 16

JBL and Roxy to launch line of branded headphones

Northridge-based JBL, Inc., a unit of Harman International Industries, Inc., and Roxy, a brand of Quicksilver, Inc., have joined forces to create a new line of branded headphones and portable audio products.

Struggling AIG close to selling 21st Century, source says

The parent company of Farmers Insurance may pay up to $2 billion for the Woodland Hills unit.

General Growth Properties, Inc. Files for Chapter 11 Protection

General Growth Properties, Inc. announced it is seeking relief to reduce and restructure its debts under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

Proposed solar plant runs into obstacles

CALIFORNIA CITY - A 250-megawatt solar power plant proposed for a former agricultural site north of the city has run into obstacles in the state permitting process.

Farmers Group Buys Auto Insurance Unit From AIG

In a $1.9 billion dollar deal, Farmers Group Inc. will buy 21st Century Insurance, AIG's personal auto insurance group.

Committee Urges Quick Refunds to Small Firms that Lost Money

U.S. House Committee on Small Business chair, Nydia M. Velasquez (D-New York), has issued a set of 10 recommendations to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman aimed at easing tax burdens on America's small businesses.

CSUCI benefactor remembered as generous man

John Spoor Broome, an Oxnard rancher and avid sportsman whose philanthropy helped fund the library at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo, has died at the age of 91.

Wednesday, April 15

Capstone Signs on Distributor for India

Capstone Turbine Corp. has signed a new distributor in India that will assist the company in gaining a larger share of the growing private sector power generation market.

Simulations Plus Weathering Poor Economy

Simulations Plus Inc. moves ahead with expansion plans that include new hires and an acquisition.

Tuesday, April 14

Television Sole Bright Spot in Area Filming

Television made up more than half of the on-location filming in the City and County of Los Angeles in the first quarter, according to recent figures released by FilmLA.

Car Sale Software Wins Award

Agoura Hills-based Motor Vehicle Software Corporation has been granted an honorable mention in the 2009 Automotive News PACE Awards for its DMVDesk Registration Management System.

Best Places Registration Deadline Extended

The deadline to participate in the 2nd annual Best Place to Work Awards Reception has been extended to Friday, April 17.

Monday, April 13

11 Digits Required in 818 Now 747 is Here

11 Digits Required in 818 Now 747 is Here

A Story about Downsizing, And Deals Big and Small

A Story about Downsizing, And Deals Big and Small

Upgrade, Expansion of Dealership: Crazy or Visionary?

HAWSE: The recession has not put the brakes on a $5 million renovation and expansion of Jim Hawse's Toyota dealership.

California Leads with Inspector General Position

California Leads with Inspector General Position. Commentary by Gregory N. Lippe

VALLEY STOCK WATCH

Stock activity for 50 selected greater San Fernando Valley-based public companies:

VALLEY BIZ SEEN

Photographs of business-related events in the valleys, including parties, awards dinners, benefits and other celebrations.

Performance Pay is Not the Problem, It's the Solution

AID, Bailouts. Column by Marc Emmer

Noisy Van Nuys Jet Phase-Out Near Approval

The phasing out of noisy older jets at Van Nuys Airport could begin this summer

Collections Pros Advise Owners How to Get Paid

How to know when it's best to rely on your accountant, a collections agency, an attorney, or your own internal resources for collections. What does each profession bring to the table?

Class Action Bill Dead, Reformers Vow to Keep Trying

A bill to give class-action defendants the right to challenge class certification before cases go to trial died in committee in Sacramento.

Census Hiring Top Talent at Higher Wages to Lower Turnover Rates

The federal jobs program otherwise known as the U.S. Census has already started injecting thousands of higher-than-minimum-wage jobs into the Valley.

CNG station up for review

Glendale City Council likely to approve new site that is expected to drastically reduce city fueling costs.

Exploitation Claims Lead to Debate on H-1B Work Visas

Valley IT staffing firms are still crying foul about what they call manipulation of the H-1B work visa program.

Mojave: Where the Old Frontier Meets the Space Frontier

AEROSPACE: The Mojave Air and Spaceport has become a center of the New Space industry.

Many Challenges for Multi-Family

Several new multi-family projects are underway in the San Fernando Valley.

Keep Advertising Positive, Benefit Focused

Trends in Advertising. Column by Scott Harris

Universal Cares for Lancaster Now, Palmdale in 2010

Bob Trautman, the chief executive for the past seven years at Lancaster Community Hospital, will oversee the new Palmdale Regional Medical Center.

Shape-Up Your Business to Stay Ahead of the Pack

Shape-Up Your Business to Stay Ahead of the Pack

Plan to close nursing home for film workers stirs emotions

The longtime assistant to the late Lew Wasserman says the studio mogul would be furious if he knew the facility he championed was closing. Wasserman's heirs defend the decision.

Target seeks to trim costs for Simi Valley store

If at least $2 million can't be shaved from Target's plan to build in the west end of Simi Valley, store officials say they might have to scrap the project.

Down in the Valleys

The commercial real estate climate in the greater Valley area continues to be dismal in general but some industry professionals say there are glimmers of hope on the horizon.

Camarillo Airport to get $1.5 million in stimulus funds

Camarillo Airport could see improvements on its grounds as early as this summer once it receives its cut of the $1.1 billion in federal stimulus money.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Are Landlord Challenge

The change in direction in the federal government's approach to California's marijuana laws causes confusion but also brings opportunities to the real estate sector.

VALLEY, L.A. COUNTY ECONOWATCH

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

Innovative Stimulus Plan Makes the National News

STIMULUS: Both Palmdale and Lancaster have implemented stimulus plans to increase spending in their respective cities.

VIA Chair Stresses Collaboration

Valley Industrial Association Chairman Randy Moberg.

State Constitution Summit Highlight of Upcoming Chamber Activities

State Constitution Summit Highlight of Upcoming Chamber Activities. Promotions and Elections

Around The Valleys

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

Passion Play

Developer Scott Ehrlich has a vision for downtown Lancaster.

Friday, April 10

front-page ad sparks outcry

Publisher Eddy Hartenstein defends his decision to run the ad for a new NBC show, which resembled a news story.

Merger Approved by Earl Scheib Shareholders

Shareholders in auto paint and collision repair center company Earl Scheib Inc. approved a merger with Kelly Capital LLC.

McKeon: F-22 cuts hurt U.S.

LANCASTER - Cuts to the F-22 Raptor fighter jet program could endanger pilots of other U.S. military jets, U.S. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon said.

Coastal Commission approves peaker plant

Despite the objections of the Oxnard City Council and misgivings of some of their own members, the California Coastal Commission on Thursday approved plans to build a "peaker" power plant at Mandalay Beach in Oxnard.

Bob's Big Boy gets the ax

Longtime locals are stunned at loss of burger joint and its chubby '50s-esque icon in overalls.

Thursday, April 9

Shoppers stay cautious, but sales declines ease

NEW YORK -- March same-store sales fell for the sixth straight month, as consumers continued to shop cautiously and stick mostly to necessities such as food, but there were some glimmers of stabilization in retailers' reports today.

Test, Engineering Contract for National Technical

National Technical Systems Inc. received a $9.5 million contract for engineering services and testing support for the U.S. military.

Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalists Announced

Nine Valley region business people have been named as semi-finalists for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Airport Correcting Curfew Application

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority will resubmit its application for a mandatory nighttime curfew of arrivals and departures at Bob Hope Airport.

Proposed Wal-Mart plans displayed at AV College

LANCASTER - Architectural drawings and information about a proposed Wal-Mart-anchored shopping center lined the walls of the board of trustees' chambers at Antelope Valley College.

Judge in LA trims Countrywide shareholder suit

LOS ANGELES (AP) , A federal judge in Los Angeles has thrown out claims of insider trading against all but one former executive of Countrywide Financial Corp.

Wednesday, April 8

Wholesale inventories drop by most in 17 years

WASHINGTON -- Wholesalers cut their inventories in February by the steepest amount in more than 17 years, while sales rose for the first time since the summer, encouraging signs that companies may be getting their inventories under control.

More Layoffs at Capstone Turbine

Capstone Turbine Corp. cut its operating expenses in March by reducing its workforce by 22 employees.

Amgen polling shareholders of executive pay policies

Amgen Inc. wants to know what its shareholders think of how it pays its executives.

Noisy Jet Phase Out Nears at Van Nuys

A phase out of noisy older jets at Van Nuys Airport would begin in July under an ordinance that goes before the Board of Airport Commissioners next month.

Tuesday, April 7

Michelman & Robinson Hits the Big Apple

Encino-based law firm, Michelman & Robinson, LLP is expanding into New York City with a new office led by former Duval & Stachenfeld corporate partners, David Schwartz, Douglas Morea, and Charles Friedman.

Monday, April 6

SAG, studios may be close to reaching deal, sources say

The agreement would come as a breakthrough for the union, whose members have been working without a contract for nine months as various attempts at negotiations collapsed.

Assets Grow for Western Commerical Bank

WCB Holdings, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Western Commercial Bank, experienced growth in total assets, loans and deposits in 2008, the company announced.

Electronic Sensor Makes Mexican Sale

Electronic Sensor Technology received an order for 35 of its odor detection units for use in homeland security applications in Mexico.

More compensation sought for Santa Susana field lab workers

A federal compensation program for workers sickened by radiation or chemical exposure at Cold War-era facilities has paid only 125 claims filed by former Santa Susana Field Laboratory workers or their survivors, and California's two U.S. senators are tryi

Friday, April 3

Kaiser Foundation Lauded for Health Plan

Satisfaction with health care coverage and customer service contributed to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan ranking the highest in California in a study done by J.D. Power and Associates.

Board Loosens Accounting Rules

Eclipsed by news from the G20 Conference in London yesterday, the Financial Accounting Standards Board here in the U.S. voted to loosen so-called Mark-to-Market rules, which value distressed assets held by banks and other financial institutions.

Service sector shrinks for 6th straight month

NEW YORK -- A private trade group's measure of the strength of the services sector shrank for the sixth straight month in March and at a faster pace than expected.

Mayor gives last State of City

Economy may have dropped during his term, but there were positives, too, he says.

Insurance Carrier Cuts 50 Workers in Woodland Hills

21st Century Insurance, has laid off 7 percent of its workforce nationwide, 50 of whom worked in Woodland Hills.

Great American Handling Ritz Camera Liquidation

A joint venture that includes Great American Group will begin selling off merchandise from more than 300 Ritz Camera stores as part of the bankruptcy reorganization of the specialty camera and accessories retailer.

Navy expo draws businesses

Community, military make connections

Thursday, April 2

City council to use reserve funds for conference center

PALMDALE - The city is shifting $760,010 from its financial reserves to come up with the $2 million needed to design a municipal conference center intended to accommodate business meetings.

16 area gas stations now defy pump regulations

Only 16 of Ventura County's 188 service station operators failed to meet Wednesday's state-imposed deadline for starting to install mandatory but costly fueling system upgrades to reduce air pollution, a county official said.

Weak Sales Drops Electro-Rent Profits in Q3

Weak equipment leases and sales contributed to a 60 percent drop in third quarter net income at Electro Rent Corp. when compared to a year ago.

Parking hours reviewed

Council tells traffic commission to look into reducing meter times by two hours downtown.

Disney Adds to Online Offerings

The Walt Disney Co. strengthened its family-friendly online content with the acquisition of websites from Canadian-based Kaboose Inc. in a deal worth $18.4 million.

Commercial actors reach tentative contract with advertisers

The contract would provide a 5% pay raise and $21 million more in health and pension contributions. It also outlines a pay structure for work made for the Internet and other new media.

Cal State Channel Islands Dedicating New Business School Building

Cal State University Channel Islands will dedicate the first named building in the business school on April 3.

Panavision Names New President

A veteran television executive has been named as the new president and chief executive at camera and lens developer Panavision Inc.