Stories for January 2009

Friday, January 30

Image in Sequel of Merger Difficulties

Failure to receive a $1.3 million fee has led Image Entertainment Inc. to allege a breach of its merger agreement with Nyx Acquisitions Inc.

Economy is going from bad to worse, reports show

Three government reports on unemployment, housing and durable goods are evidence of the recession's depth.

Disney's ABC Television Group to cut 5% of workforce

The latest media company to make cutbacks as advertising falls says it will eliminate 400 jobs by letting go 200 employees and leaving another 200 positions unfilled.

New Car Sales Decline to 1993 Levels

Registrations of new cars and light trucks declined 23 percent in 2008, compared to 2007. California new vehicle registrations totaled about $1.5 million last year, a figure that lines up with new car sales from 1993.

Offshore drilling plan is scuttled

State panel says no to facility off coast of Santa Barbara

California Gas Use Down 5.1 Percent, Diesel Use Drops 8.6%

In October 2008, Californians used 67 million fewer gallons of gasoline than they did a year earlier, a decline of 5.1 percent, according to the State Board of Equalization.

Laid-off restaurant workers want checks, please

No pay in the neighborhood

Thursday, January 29

Updated: Busway Extension Forces Relocation of Businesses

Businesses along the right-of-way of a proposed extension of the Orange Line busway will be given a 90-day notice to relocate now that the Metro Board approved a final environmental report that clears way for construction to begin later this year.

T.O. prioritizing budget cuts; council expects $3.2 million deficit

The Thousand Oaks City Council briefly pondered salary freezes as a way to fix a $3.2 million budget deficit before voting unanimously Tuesday night to have its finance committee begin prioritizing potential cuts to close the gap.

Dole's Asset Sale Transactions to Yield $130 Million

Dole Food Company Inc.'s asset sale transactions are expected to generate net proceeds of $130 million.

Delay in switch to digital TV is delayed

A House vote to expedite the extension lacks the needed two-thirds majority, but proponents expect it to pass soon.

Updated: Airport Curfew Study Going to the FAA

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority approved 9-0 submitting its application for a mandatory nighttime curfew of arrivals and departures at Bob Hope Airport.

Updated: Biofuels Maker to Leave Camarillo Following Sale

Kreido Biofuels Inc. will leave Camarillo once its sale to a Kentucky bioenergy company is completed.

Water supplies at record lows

State faces third straight drought year

Ryland Announces Lower Losses in Q4

Calabasas-based homebuilder Ryland Group announced a fourth quarter net loss of $59.9 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, on revenues of $528 million compared to the same period of 2007 when the company had a whopping $201.9 million loss, or $4.80 per di

Wednesday, January 28

Web Exclusive: Cutting Programs Becomes a Way of Life at Local Hospitals

Over the past four months, three Valley hospitals announced that they were cutting staffers and departments, alike.

Circuit City Deepens Discounts

Shoppers will notice lower prices on some discounted items at Circuit City stores as the chain continues to liquidate its inventory as it goes out of business.

Tax Refunds Officially On Hold

State Controller John Chiang has directed the Franchise Tax Board to stop sending requests for tax refund payments to the Controller's office as of the end of business Jan. 27.

Tuesday, January 27

Developers seek to appease opposition

Tejon Ranch offers plan for village, habitat

Employees' Right to Sue Affirmed in Retaliation Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed employees who have cooperated in a sexual harassment investigation have the right to sue their former employers for retaliation if they believe they were fired because of their participation in such investigations.

Chamber Group Endorses Bleich for City Council

Fifth District Councilmember candidate Adeena Bleich received the backing of the lobbyist group sponsored by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce in the city election in March.

QualityLogic Expands Asia Presence

Test tools and services provider QualityLogic Inc. has named WeSoft as its testing center for the imagining industry in Asia.

AeroVironment to Upgrade Raven Digital Link

AeroVironment Inc. received a $17 million contract from the U.S. Army to upgrade the digital data link for the unmanned Raven aircraft.

CLU Hires New CFO

Karen Davis has been named as the vice president for Administration and Finance at California Lutheran University, the school announced.

Glendale preps for stimulus cash

Projects must meet funding guidelines to receive part of $825M package.

Fresh cast in place at Screen Actors Guild

Doug Allen is ousted as executive director, improving the odds of a new contract.

Aerospace Contractor Profits Up for Year

Flamemaster Corp. reported a 68 percent increase in net income for the 2008 fiscal year when compared with 2007.

Amgen reports slight rebound in '08

Amgen Inc. just missed some Wall Street targets for the quarter and the year but overall rode through 2008 well after undergoing a major restructuring in 2007.

Homeopathic Study Club Comes to the Valley

Woodland Hills is the site of the first U.S. branch of the British-based Homeopathy Study Club.

Monday, January 26

Site's height under review

Project slated for Foothill Building and Lumber space is expected to face City Council appeal.

First California Bank Acquires 1st Centennial

First California Bank has made inroads into the Inland Empire, Orange County and San Diego County with the acquisition of 1st Centennial Bank in Redlands.

Air Medical Service Industry Offers Safety Recommendations

In light of an increase in medical helicopter crashes last year, safety precautions will be the focus of medical helicopter safety hearings before the National Transportation Safety Board.

Holy Cross Tops Clinical Quality List

Providence Holy Cross has received the Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award from HealthGrades, a health care ratings company.

Panelists say transit solutions are local, not federal

A host of ideas about how the region might solve its transit problems in ever greener ways , from commuter rail and biofuels to better land use and housing policy , were voiced by a panel that convened Saturday in Santa Barbara.

Small businesses finding solutions amid recession

Firms are boosting customer service and rethinking their business models and products to survive and even grow.

Hopefuls address fiscal gloom

With the economy on everyone's minds, prospective council officials and educators present ideas for city.

Friday, January 23

Semtech Lowers Q4 Guidance

Semiconductor manufacturer Semtech Corp. lowered its fourth guidance 5 percent to 12.5 percent due to cuts in demand for its products.

IPC Nabs LAVA's "Best IPO" Award

IPC The Hospitalist Company Inc. has received the "Best IPO" award from the Los Angeles Venture Association, which recognizes Southern California's best growth companies annually.

Businessman convicted of tax evasion

A former Moorpark businessman was convicted of five counts of tax evasion in Los Angeles federal court.

Theater issues plea for help

Art director asks Glendale City Council for a cash infusion. Company reticent to sign new lease

Critics protest closure of home

The Motion Picture & TV Fund's decision to close the actors' care facility was 'made in a vacuum,' they say.

Thursday, January 22

Teledyne Ends Year with Strong Finish

Teledyne Technologies Inc. ended its fiscal year with a strong finish despite the sluggish economy weakening the commercial business in the fourth quarter.

Calabasas Mayor Gives Annual Address

Careful planning will help Calabasas get through the current recession, Mayor Mary Sue Maurer said during the annual state of the city address.

Business leaders advised to 'hug' customers

Now is the time to find out if you have any character, says IHOP president.

NO TITLE

Los Angeles needs more oversight for the hundreds of take home and pool vehicles used by elected officials, staff, and fire and police department brass, City Controller Laura Chick said.

Two Valley Attorneys Given Superior Court Judgeships

Valley residents Huey P. Cotton and Michael Terrell have been appointed to judgeships in the Los Angeles County Superior Court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Disney offers buyouts to 600 executives

CEO says bookings at parks declined

Bar Association installs new officers

LANCASTER - During ceremonies to install its new officers, the Antelope Valley Bar Association on Wednesday presented an award to Justice Frank Jackson, whom past association President Avrum S. Harris called "the local boy who made good - very good."

Legislators object to proposal for drilling off Santa Barbara

LOS ANGELES , A dozen state legislators have challenged a proposal to drill for oil off the coast of Santa Barbara, saying it could set a precedent for more drilling along the 1,100 miles of California coastline.

Wednesday, January 21

Peanut Butter Scare Reaches Reseda School

A brand of frozen cookie dough distributed to local schools, including Melvin Avenue Elementary in Reseda, has been recalled because of potential contamination with Salmonella.

Chiang Announces Probable Delay for Tax Refunds

The state will likely delay individual and business tax refunds in order to preserve money for education and paying off debt, State Controller John Chiang said.

New Chief Executive Named at Move Inc

Online real estate firm Move Inc. named Steven Berkowitz as its new chief executive officer.

Tuesday, January 20

SAG Director Still in Crosshairs

A majority of board members of the Screen Actors Guild has continued to pursue ousting the union's director.

Local bankruptcy cases nearly double in a year

The number of bankruptcies in Ventura County for 2008 doubled from the previous year as more people and businesses ran out of hope.

Providence St. Joseph Cuts 94 Staffers, Closes Programs

Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank has cut 94 staff members and closed five health programs amid concerns about rising costs and a decline in patient admissions and surgical volume, not to mention the economic recession.

Disney CEO earned $51 million in 2008

LOS ANGELES , The Walt Disney Co.'s chief executive, Robert Iger, received a compensation package valued at $51.1 million in fiscal 2008, up 85 percent from a year earlier, according to an Associated Press calculation of figures disclosed in a regulatory

Warner Bros. Entertainment Cutting 800 Jobs

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. will eliminate about 10 percent of its worldwide workforce through layoffs, freezing positions and outsourcing.

New-home sales in Southland fall 53% in December

Bargain hunters snag foreclosures, sending overall purchases up 51% from a year earlier as house values sink.

City mulls shopping center on former golf course

LANCASTER - City officials are reviewing plans for a 22-acre shopping center to be built on the former links of the nine-hole Meadowlark Golf Course on the northwest corner of 60th Street West and Avenue K.

Cheesecake Factory Names Benn Executive VP and CFO

The Cheesecake Factory Inc. has named W. Douglas Benn executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Monday, January 19

VALLEY NEWSMAKERS

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

B-2 'Stealth Bike' marks anniversary of bomber

PALMDALE - As part of this year's celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the B-2 stealth bomber's first flight, manufacturer Northrop Grumman Corp. commissioned a special-edition motorcycle which echoes the iconic aircraft's design.

A Trip to the Bookstore: Reading Redux

Guest columnist Marty Cooper reflects on the benefits of giving

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

Owner's money woes to shut 4 local Applebee's

All four Applebee's restaurants in Ventura County were shut down as of Friday, falling victim to the financial woes of an Orange County restaurant operator who filed for bankruptcy.

New Ethics Rules Now in Effect for Title Insurance Industry

Linda Coburn outlines changes in title company ethics rules.

VALLEY BIZ SEEN

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

CSUN Cuts Admissions

The campus will limit freshman applications and reduce part-time staff

Different Takes on Covering the Inauguration from Afar

Mark Madler reports on inauguration coverage, Daily News layoffs and Sun Newspapers personnel changes

Less than they bargained for

Amid recession, even GCC swap meet vendors with low-price items are feeling the pinch.

Ventura County Law Firm Goes National with Merger

A Ventura County specialty practice has merged with a national firm.

Woodbury Presents Smart Car's China Preview Event

Mercedes Benz chose Woodbury University as the location for its Smart Car launch into China.

Mixed Reactions in Valley to City's Stimulus Request

Mayor Villaraigosa's list of shovel-ready projects is perceived by many to give the Valley less than its fair share.

Clean-Tech Investment is Trickling Into the Region

Some Valley companies are benefiting from increased investment in clean-tech

Local Healthcare Providers Offer New Senior Services

Nadra Kareem writes about a new service for seniors, fundraising success in Newhall, and low-cost plastic surgery

Airport Files Flight Plan to Financial Independence

A study recommends ways Van Nuys Airport can be financially self-sufficient.

Sudden Succession

The son and daughter of Flip Smith stepped in after their father's death to run the business he founded.

NASA Gives Lift to Aerospace Product Developers, Makers

A half dozen small local companies have received NASA contracts through an innovative program

Chocolate Fortunes owners feel lucky

The North Hollywood company, which is making cookies for an inaugural gala, has grown thanks to the Internet.

AROUND THE VALLEYS

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

Fired Up for Expansion

Women-owned Stonefire Grill is expanding

Water Wise

Pools by Ben sees huge profit potential in saving water

Starbucks Glad Marijuana Claim Went Up In Smoke

Guest columnist Richard Rosenberg on drug testing legalities

Assistance for Laid Off Superior Workers

Superior Industries is closing its Van Nuys Plant and laying off workers

VALLEY, L.A. COUNTY ECONOWATCH

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

State China Tourism Office is Welcomed by Local Leaders

The state has opened a tourism office in China.

Here's What We Have Planned For This Year

Here's What We Have Planned For This Year. Column by SFVBJ editor, Jason Schaff.

Friday, January 16

Harman Adds to Northridge Facility

Harman International Industries Inc. will relocate administrative functions from a New York office to Northridge in the coming months, the company announced.

Travel officials angling to lure strapped tourists

Jittery workers might need a vacation, but it's not exactly a priority.

Warner Bros. and Fox settle 'Watchmen' copyright dispute

The agreement ends a nearly yearlong legal battle and paves the way for Warner to release the highly anticipated superhero movie March 6 as planned.

Circuit City to liquidate remaining US stores

Bankrupt Circuit City Stores Inc., the nation's second-biggest consumer electronics retailer, said it failed to find a buyer and will liquidate its 567 U.S. stores. The closures could send another 30,000 people into the ranks of the unemployed.

Sperry Van Ness Woodland Hills Office to Close

Six Sperry Van Ness commercial real estate offices, including the Woodland Hills location, will be folded into the West Los Angeles operation.

Global Hawk to begin new role

Two aircraft obtained for civilian uses

Thursday, January 15

December wholesale prices fall 1.9 percent

WASHINGTON -- Another huge plunge in energy costs sent wholesale inflation down for a fifth straight month in December, closing out a year in which prices dropped by the largest amount in seven years.

Job losses fuel foreclosures

Mortgage crisis is 'reaching a new group of homeowners,' broker says

Hospital lauds its banner year

Glendale Memorial hopes 8-foot-tall announcements of its top rating will attract patients.

Youbet Adds Track Offerings

Online wagering firm Youbet.com expanded its offerings with the addition of four racetracks, the company announced.

Valley projects could get federal funds

LANCASTER - Several Antelope Valley infrastructure projects might be in line to receive funding from the economic recovery package being prepared by President-elect Barack Obama's financial team.

Wednesday, January 14

Thousand Oaks delays decision on city branding contract

A contract with a Nashville-based company to develop a branding project for the city of Thousand Oaks was set aside for 60 days by the City Council at its meeting on Jan. 13.

Council passes water ordinance

Starting in March, each of Burbank's 6,300 businesses will need faucet attachments that help conservation.

Costco withdraws application for store

Costco Wholesale has withdrawn an application to open a warehouse store in Newbury Park.

Hospital for Entertainers to Close

The Motion Picture & Television Fund will shut the doors of its Woodland Hills hospital by year's end to instead concentrate on serving patients living at home, in retirement communities or long-term care facilities.

SAG Negotiator to Stay

The lead negotiator for the Screen Actors Guild remains in his position after his backers on the union's board was able to rebuff an attempt to fire him.

Stationery giant seeks to expand new stores

Staples Inc. wants to open one of its 2-year-old print and copy sites on Brand Boulevard.

Tuesday, January 13

Permitted Filming Drops in 2008

On-location filming in the Los Angeles area dropped slightly in 2008, the result of the Hollywood writers strike and a slowdown in production over the contract stalemate between the Screen Actors Guild and the major studios.

Superior Closing Van Nuys Plant, Cutting 290 Jobs

Lower demand for aluminum wheels has forced Superior Industries International Inc. to close its manufacturing facility in Van Nuys.

Utility bills hit by economy

Percentage of customers who defaulted or fell behind went way up in 2008.

City looks into 'green jobs' plan

PALMDALE - The Palmdale City Council could become a stakeholder in the High Desert Green Jobs Initiative.

Tough economy forces memorabilia shop to close

Game over

Fade to Black for SAG Negotiator?

A coalition of members of the Screen Actors Guild seeks to oust the union's chief negotiator over handling of contract talks with the major Hollywood studios.

Trade deficit drops to lowest level since '03

WASHINGTON -- The trade deficit plunged to the lowest level in five years in November as a deepening recession slashed demand for oil by a record amount. Imports from China also fell by the largest amount on record.

Monday, January 12

Passenger numbers down

Official tally isn't in yet, but authority says Bob Hope Airport could have a 10% drop from 2007.

Coming Soon to Warner Bros. Studio: Layoffs

Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank is looking to cut staff and outsource the jobs to India and Poland.

California officials going after noncompliant LLCs

Limited liability companies that have failed to file required forms or pay fees and taxes face suspension.

T.O. officials to consider $89,000 deal for city logo

The Thousand Oaks City Council will be asked to approve an $89,000 contract with a Nashville-based company to develop a branding project for the city as it did for Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and other clients in six states.

Munchkin Inc. Bakes Up Deal for Nursery Line

Munchkin Inc., a designer and manufacturer of infant and toddler products in North Hills, will partner with Church & Dwight Co. Inc., the makers of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, for a line of deodorizing products for nurseries.

Friday, January 9

Fewer patients force hospital cuts

Area medical centers offer buyouts, eliminate jobs; layoffs could be next

Council discusses workers' unionization

PALMDALE - The City Council on Wednesday met in closed session with City Manager Steve Williams and Director of Personnel Bill McLeod for an update and discussion on the possibility that city maintenance workers could join the Teamsters union.

IRIS Licenses Blood Technology

Chatsworth company IRIS International Inc. has entered into a manufacturing and supply agreement with IDEXX Laboratories Inc. in a deal worth $1.5 million.

All-digital TV? Please stand by

Millions lack the necessary gear and risk blank screens when the switch occurs. Obama seeks a postponement.

Work Begins on Plaza Pacoima

Construction began on a $78-million retail project that will bring much needed jobs and stores to Pacoima.

T.O. considers Costco for Newbury Park

A burgeoning retail hub in Newbury Park might soon add a Costco store to its roster.

Thursday, January 8

Walgreens rep. says store not part of curtail

Council president skeptical until store is actually built because of the previous delays.

Teledyne Contributes to Moon Mission

Equipment to map the lunar surface developed by a subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Inc. is aboard the first-ever Indian mission to the moon.

Antonovich hot for energy plant

Solar power venture can supply up to 4,000 homes

IPC Makes First Acquisition of New Year

IPC The Hospitalist Company Inc. acquired the hospitalist practice of Midwest Acute Care Consultants Inc. in St. Louis.

Judge allows Bratz doll sales to continue

MGA Entertainment Inc.'s Bratz dolls, which were found to infringe Mattel Inc.'s copyrights, can be sold this year, a federal judge ruled, modifying a decision that could have resulted in an earlier ban.

Senior Project Still in the Works

Gangi Development of Burbank received a sixth extension to its exclusive negotiating agreement with the City of San Fernando for a 100-unit affordable senior housing project.

Trader Joe's to open 3rd T.O. site

Store to be in Newbury Park

Wednesday, January 7

Caruso to Receive $48 million Settlement from General Growth

Americana at Brand developer Caruso Affiliated will be receiving a settlement of $48 million from Glendale Galleria mall owner General Growth Properties.

State Tourism Commission Opens China Office

The California Travel and Tourism Commission (CTTC) announced Jan. 7 that it has opened an office in China.

Western Commercial Bank Ticker Symbol Changes

Woodland Hills-based Western Commercial Bank has received approval to change its stock symbol to WCBH. It was formerly WCBC.

More Non-Compliance Woes for MRV

Failure to have an annual meeting for its shareholders has further put MRV Communications Inc. in non-compliance with Nasdaq rules that can lead to a delisting of its stock.

Tuesday, January 6

Biopharm Company Completes Phase II Trials

Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. of Calabasas has successfully completed two Phase 2 clinical studies of its lead product candidate.

LTC First Quarter Dividend

LTC Properties, Inc. of Westlake Village has announced it will pay a monthly cash dividend of $0.13 per common share in January, February and March of 2009.

Ixia Misses Guidance Range

Test systems manufacturer Ixia fell short of its expected revenues in the fourth quarter, the company said.

Cheesecake Factory Amends Revolving Credit Facility

The Cheesecake Factory Inc. in Calabasas Hills has amended its revolving credit facility.

DTS Acquires Audio Tech Company

Digital technology company DTS Inc. acquired Washington State audio technology firm Neural Audio in a deal worth $7.5 million.

Monday, January 5

VALLEY, L.A. COUNTY ECONOWATCH

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

Around The Valleys

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

Changing Focus

Burbank Production Studios has changed its strategy with the times

Large, Small Companies All Dig Deep for the Holidays

This regular feature focuses on philanthropic activities by Valley-area companies and businesspeople.

Federal, State Budget Woes Coming Home to Roost

The state's budget gridlock is affecting local businesses in many ways.

Capstone Ships New Microturbine

Capstone Turbine Corp. entered the megawatt market with the shipment of a new microturbine to a Spanish textile manufacturer.

There Are Deals to Be Made as Local Brokers Prove

Reporter Linda Coburn rounds up tranactions

Controller Sends IOU Warning to Sacramento

Controller Sends IOU Warning to Sacramento

Silver Linings

2009: Some industries expect the new year to be a good one.

Glass is Back for Baby Bottles

Munchkin Inc., eschews plastic for glass baby bottles.

Clarity and Consistency Important to Marketing Message

Scott Harris continues his series on marketing for small businesses

VALLEY NEWSMAKERS

New GM for Warner Marriott

A Budget System for California's Future

Guest columnist Greg Lippe has a proposal to fix the State's budget process

Mediscan Receives Joint Commission Certification

A local staffing service received a critical certification.

747 Lands, Other Rules & Regs Change in New Year

New rules and regulations going into effect this year

Staffing Industry Says Cutbacks Are Mixed Blessing

The economic downturn has changed the job applicant pool.

Construction spending falls less than expected

WASHINGTON -- Construction spending fell less than expected in November as record activity on nonresidential projects helped offset another steep decline in housing. The outlook, however, is for significant weakness as the worst recession in at least a qu

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

Congressman Brad Sherman Reports from Washington

Congressman Brad Sherman reports in from Washington

Students learn how to become entrepreneurs

Running a business at school

Flying in the face of recession

Travel agency that's been around for half a century says advertising is the key to success.

AVEK to swear in newcomer and incumbents to water board this month

PALMDALE - Flowing from an election that turned on the public debate over whether drinking water treated with chloramines is safe, two incumbents and one newcomer will be sworn in as officers of the Antelope Valley-East Kern Water Agency this month.

Healthcare Groups Preparing for Changes This Year

Reporter Nadra Kareem writes about multiple changes in industry for the coming year

Judge Rules against Universal Music Group in Copyright Case

Fans of video file-sharing websites got a boost from U.S. District Court Judge A. Howard Matz, who ruled today that Universal Music Group cannot stop a San Diego company from claiming "safe harbor" protection in a copyright-infringement suit.

Weathering the Storm

Burbank's new city manager has a tough road ahead

Books on Entertainment, Marketing Make Hit Parade

Reporter Mark Madler reviews a host of books about his beats

Census Bureau to Begin Hiring in February

The Census Bureau commences hiring in Northridge and Van Nuys

Friday, January 2

CSUN Halts Construction on Two Major Projects

California State University Northridge announced today that it was suspending construction activities on the $125 million Valley Performing Arts Center Project and a new $51 million science building as well as other capital improvement projects.

Valencia Medical Group Adds to Presence

First Care Occupational Medical Group of Valencia has been acquired by U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group.