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The Digest

Amgen Chief to Retire Amgen Inc. Chairman and Chief Executive Gordon Binder said he will retire after the company shareholders meeting in May and hand over control to Chief Operating Officer Kevin W. Sharer, whom Binder has been preparing as his successor. Binder, 64, started at Amgen in 1982, when it was a small biotechnology firm. After becoming chief executive in the late 1980s, he oversaw Amgen’s phenomenal growth. Binder said he is stepping down now so Sharer will be in charge when the company launches a new drug that could help arthritis sufferers and a compound that researchers believe could inhibit Alzheimer’s disease. Sharer, 51, has been chief operating officer since 1992. Army May Study Belmont Complex The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may help L.A. school officials decide whether the environmentally plagued Belmont Learning Complex can be made safe to open at a reasonable cost. District Chief Operating Officer Howard Miller will ask the Board of Education to approve a six-week study by the corps, which could delay a decision on the half-completed high school until February. Earlier in the week, Miller signed an agreement to make the corps responsible for managing the district’s ambitious plan to build 150 primary centers. The corps’ role in Belmont caused some to question whether there is a conflict of interest involving O’Melveny & Myers, the law firm that negotiated the contract to build the school, and which is now being sued by the district for alleged malpractice. Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera, a former assemblyman from Los Angeles, once worked for the firm. City Council OKs Landfill Expansion The Los Angeles City Council approved reopening the Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Granada Hills despite strong opposition from neighbors. Opponents threatened to sue the council over the action after pointing out that landfill operator Browning Ferris Industries spent $450,000 on lobbying efforts. The council action will allow BFI to accept 55 million tons of trash on the landfill’s 194 acres in the city over the next 26 years. BFI already operates an adjacent landfill totaling 215 acres in county territory. The council approved the reopening of the city site after placing 250 restrictions on its operation that address health and environmental concerns by area residents. BFI plans to open the landfill in mid-2001 if it gets approval for additional county permits. Administrator Says So Long After a week on the job, Ventura County’s new chief administrative officer resigned, saying the bureaucracy is dysfunctional and its leaders unwilling to change. David L. Baker left a six-page resignation letter on the desks of county supervisors outlining his criticism and saying the problems were far worse than presented to him. County supervisors had unanimously picked Baker for the $157,788-a-year job to look into financial problems. Disney Concert Hall Underway, Again After 12 troubled years of planning and fund raising, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is finally going up. Dignitaries gathered at the site to formally mark the beginning of above-ground construction on the new Bunker Hill home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which was designed by architect Frank O. Gehry. Announced last week were the latest contributions to the project totaling $5.5 million. That brings the building fund in line with the confirmed costs of $274 million. Reprieve Granted on Jury Rule The state Judicial Council granted the Los Angeles County trial courts a two-year extension for implementing the one-day/one-trial jury service rule, which takes effect throughout the rest of state on Jan. 1, 2000. The new rule is designed to increase participation in jury service by shortening the time a potential juror is required to serve. The L.A. Superior Court has implemented the program at only three of its 33 sites at a cost of $1.7 million, with only $300,000 of that amount coming from state funds. Sudikoff Gets One-Year Sentence Former Los Angeles Kings owner Jeffrey P. Sudikoff was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $3 million for illegal insider trading in connection with his now-defunct communications firm. The 44-year-old businessman pleaded guilty earlier this year, settling federal charges surrounding his unloading of stock in the former IDB Communications Group. Sudikoff started IDB Communications in 1984 with a $15,000 bank loan that he used to acquire a satellite uplink station. The company grew into a major global satellite network. editor’s note: The next edition of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal will be published on Jan. 10. For the Dec. 27-Jan. 9 issue, subscribers will receive the San Fernando Valley 2000 Lists.

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