Times reporter Peter Hong sat through the whole first act of The People vs. Phil Spector, but he found a way to leave at intermission. He's transferring to the LAT's Business staff, as Business Editor Davan Maharaj puts it, "to cover another long, painful spectacle: the residential real estate downturn." Memo follows:
To: The Staff
From: Davan Maharaj, Business Editor
After chronicling the Phil Spector murder trial, Peter Hong is ready to cover another long, painful spectacle: the residential real estate downturn.
Real estate and urban renewal have been major themes in Peter's tenure at the paper, which began in the now-defunct City Times bureau in 1994. His first piece was a Column One on the renewal of the West Adams neighborhood. He told the story of the region's economy through figures like a San Gabriel hot sauce (now you're talking!) magnate and the nation's largest auto dealership in El Monte.
Much of Peter's investigative work has dealt with land use. He uncovered Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden's ties to night club owners who lavished him with campaign cash and expensive gifts and revealed the flouting of fire codes and safety laws in downtown's loft conversions. As an investigative reporter, Peter, along with Joe Mathews, exposed corruption at Compton Community College that was followed by the imprisonment of a board member.
Outside of Metro, Peter traveled to Iraq, where he uncovered a Baghdad real estate boom with Beverly Hills prices.
Prior to joining The Times, Peter was a reporter at the Washington Post and the Washington bureau of Business Week magazine. He is a politics graduate of Occidental College, where he missed fellow Honolulu native Barack (Barry) Obama by two years. They did, however, have the same academic advisor.
Sensing a downturn, Peter, his wife and their 8-year-old daughter shorted the SoCal real estate market in 2005, cashing out of their Pasadena condo and opting to rent.. Did they come out winning? Look in the Business section for the answer to this and other critical real estate questions.
Spector, of course, has pleaded not guilty to killing Lana Clarkson and a mistrial was declared after the jury could not agree on a verdict in his recent trial. The DA has vowed to try again.