Light posting today and tomorrow.
Jobless money drying up: The state is paying out $30 million to $34 million a day in unemployment benefits - so much money that the insurance fund is expected to run short within two weeks. Jobless benefits will not stop, but the state will have to seek a federal loan to keep the system afloat. Five other states have already obtained such short-term loans. From the LAT:
The department's inadequate funding, understaffing and obsolete equipment are adding to the woes of already unhappy claimants. "They need to be helping out people because it's a bad time," said Fred McLane, an out-of-work assistant film cameraman from Pacific Palisades. McLane said he made 59 unsuccessful calls to Employment Development on Friday , trying to deal with a problem that could be resolved only on the telephone.
Bad times for gardeners: As the economy worsens, more customers are cancelling their service. The pinch began with the collapse of the housing market, but it's gotten worse because more folks losing their jobs. (LAT)
Venture capital sinks: Firms only invested $105.8 million in L.A. during the last three months of 2008, a 46 percent drop from a year earlier. Early round financing has been especially tough to get. Information technology seemed to do better than other sectors, growing 21 percent in the quarter. (LAT)
Death before payment: Roland Arnall, founder of defunct OC-based subprimer Ameriquest Mortgage, died last year still owing his brother Claude $47.6 million - at least according to Claude. The money was for the sale and profit of a family-owned mortgage company. Lawyers for Roland Arnallís widow say that if Claude pursues the claim he may be disinherited later. (OC Register)
Another Kerkorian suit: This time, it being filed by one of one of the divorce lawyers who represented the ex-wife of the L.A. billionaire. Jeff Sturman, claiming that his conversations with Lisa Bonder Kerkorian were illegally wiretapped, has sued Kerkorian, private eye Anthony Pelicano, attorney Terry Christensen, the Century City law firm Christensen founded, and AT&T. (LABJ)
SAG's Allen still fighting: Executive Director Doug Allen blames the guild's moderate wing for compromising his strike strategy. Those moderates nearly fired him a week ago. Allen now wants to have members vote on the final (or most recent) contract offer, following one last meeting with the media companies. He also left open the possibility of a strike authorization vote. (Variety)
Minkow should aim higher: LAT columnist Mike Hiltzik says the ZZZZ Best con-man turned crusader has bigger fish to fry than the COO of homebuilder Lennar (something about making a suspicious deal for a third mortgage on his Laguna Beach home).
You certainly can't determine from Minkow's evidence that Lennar is crooked. When I told him so, he tried to convince me with a spiel that had the cadence of a con-man's pitch -- instead of haranguing me about all the suspect maneuvering I was overlooking, he might have been telling me this was my last chance to get in on a fortune at the ground floor. "What kind of evidence are you willing to accept that will convince you . . . that Lennar is lying?" he said. "If you were on the phone with the people who've been hurt by this bully public company. . . ."