The Smartest Conversation in Town
USC Marshall Backers Split on Dean | OC Bowls Alone | ASU as Home Team | Streetcar Next Huizar Shoe to Drop?

USC Marshall Backers Split on Dean | OC Bowls Alone | ASU as Home Team | Streetcar Next Huizar Shoe to Drop?

How big might the rift in L.A.’s community of business grow over USC Interim President Wanda Austin‘s move to dismiss Marshall School of Business Dean James Ellis? … A serious indicator of the potential for two camps to take shape came from the spirited defense that Lloyd Greif, founder and boss of Downtown-based investment bank Greif & Co., offered last week for Ellis, who stands accused of an unsatisfactory administrative response to claims of harassment and discrimination by faculty and staff … Greif sent an initial four-page letter that excoriated Austin’s decision – which would take effect next June – and outlined Ellis’ accomplishments while vouching for the dean’s personal character … It’s notable that Greif’s position appeared to put him at odds with Rick Caruso, chair of USC Board of Trustees, who has indicated he’ll back up Austin’s call, according to the L.A. Times … Greif is no natural antagonist to Caruso – the investment banker has publicly expressed admiration for the developer’s business accomplishments and civic commitment on more than one occasion … 

“This is no longer about whether Jim Ellis stays or goes as Dean of the Marshall School of Business,” Greif wrote in a second letter sent on Dec. 6 to USC’s board, whose membership is a roll call of titans of commerce and industry, ranging from Caruso to fellow real estate developer Ed RoskiEast West Bank Chairman and CEO Dominic Ng, and Los Angeles Lakers boss Jeanie Buss, to name a few. Greif’s second letter was titled “The Battle for the Heart and Soul of USC,” and contended that the Ellis matter has become a test of “whether the University of Southern California is going to have the courage to banish the demons of the last 18 months, aligning its actions with its words and transforming itself into a model of transparency, fairness and due process or continuing to be a pariah among major colleges and universities” …

Caruso is well-known beyond the community of business for everything from The Grove retail center to the contributions he and his wife,Tina, have made to Para Los Ninos, as well as papal honors he’s received from the Roman Catholic Church and his prior flirtations with the notion of running for mayor …

Greif is lesser known outside of business circles, but he’s no small fry. His $5 million commitment to USC in 1997 led to what is now the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Marshall School, and he’s been active in civic matters ranging from service as chairman of the board of the L.A. Police Foundation and the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. to chairing an advisory panel on business-tax reform at the city level … A couple of other notes to add to a sketch of Greif: his wife, Renee, conceived and oversaw the design of the iWatch counter-terrorism app you might have noticed advertised with bumper stickers on LAPD squad cars; and his son Nicholas served as an economic policy advisor on Mayor Eric Garcetti‘s business team before becoming chief of staff to 4th District Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu.

McLarand’s Big Night at Big Canyon

There’s no shortage of “20 in Their 20s” or “9 in Their 90s” features in various publications these days, with the focus on how this or that youngster or elder does what they do. But what do you call it when a couple of octogenarians get together to do some business in a big way – something along the lines of a residential tower in the Miracle Mile district? That’s a story that wasn’t quite ready at press time – but it will be on Dec. 9, when Carl McLarand, the architect and founder behind MVE + Partners offices in Irvine and L.A. celebrates his 80th birthday with a bash at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach. Here’s guessing Jerry Snyder, who beat McLarand to the 80-year mark a while ago, is on the invitation list. Snyder is the developer of the Miracle Mile tower, adjacent to his SAG-AFTRA Plaza at Wilshire Boulevard and Courtyard Place. The two are longtime pals – and word on the street says they might just have the makings of a screenplay before this project is done.


Kudos for KNXer

KNX 1070 traffic reporter and bassist Jennifer York led a classy quartet that struck the right notes on the evening of Dec. 5 for the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists‘ annual holiday party at El Floridita in Hollywood, where the Ropa Viejaalso rocked. It started out as a dark and stormy night but the combination of good music, fine food and lively conversation around the small dance floor over-rode the first night of the recent rainstorm that hit the region.

OC Sponsors Go Bowling

Anyone else notice that a couple of auto brands based in Orange County will have the only local presence in this year’s bowl season, with both USC and UCLA out of the post-season picture for the first time since 2010-2011 … Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motors North America has its name on the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 15, while Hyundai Motor America in Fountain Valley is the title sponsor of the Sun Bowl in El Paso on Dec. 31.

ASU’s Chance to Gain Ground?

Arizona State University has been growing its operations and profile in Southern California for some time, with local ties ranging from partnerships with the Los Angeles County Museum of ArtJet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena and Downtown-based Zocalo Public Square to plans to establish a wing of its journalism school and other programs at the long-vacant Herald-Examiner building at 11th and Broadway. That should be enough for anyone who really needs a connection to bowl season to claim Arizona State’s Sun Devils as a home team when they take the field against Fresno State in the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl. And the school’s recent growth in SoCal means it wouldn’t come as a surprise if ASU President Michael Crow comes out of the game with some sort of partnership with the automaker, which has seen a 14.6% jump in sales for the year through November, moving nearly 110,000 vehicles so far in 2018.

One More OC Car Story

Former OCer and Hyundai Motor America boss John Krafcik claimed a win last week when the Waymo unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. he now runs started charging riders of its self-driving car service in the Phoenix market. Yes, it’s limited to customers who have been part of a pilot program, and there are humans aboard as a precaution for now. But Krafcik can claim a victory ahead of UberGMand other competitors after going out on a limb with a promise to get Waymo’s self-driving taxis into the marketplace before the end of the year.



End of Line for Streetcar?

Can the proposed $590 million, four-mile L.A. Streetcar that 14th District City Councilmember Jose Huizar has championed for Downtown be long for this world? That’s what some wags with reason to wonder are asking in the wake of Huizar’s sudden decision to cancel the 2019 edition of Night on Broadway, a 5-year-old event that reportedly drew 250,000 frolickers to the heart of Los Angeles last year, lining up eight or 10 sponsorships, charging vendors to set up shop in public, and generally winning rave reviews for the publicity it brought Downtown … No explanation or much information of any sort about Night on Broadway. Just some media speculation that the move – billed as a postponement from January 26 of next year to early 2020 – is tied to last month’s raids by FBI and IRS agents on Huizar’s office in City Hall, a field office, his home in Boyle Heights …

Those were the raids that became publicly known-the feds have acknowledged that four other warrants were executed by agents on the same day. All of the warrants came under a court-ordered seal, and the feds are keeping quiet about their investigation … Huizar and his spokesperson Rick Coca also are keeping their mouths shut, referring inquiries to the politician’s lawyer, Stephen Kaufman, who isn’t talking, either …

The wall of silence now stands against the backdrop of the cancellation of the upcoming Night on Broadway, which presented an opportunity for lots of business. Joella Hopkins, who serves as Downtown Los Angeles Area Director for Huizar, told SullivanSays that the price of sponsorships ranged from $5,000 to $50,000, while somewhere between 40 and 60 food trucks and other vendors would pay between $150 and $375. Hopkins, who joined Huizar’s office after last year’s event, said she couldn’t provide any other information on the revenue or costs related to the event – a gap in public accountability that remains unaddressed by Huizar’s office.

Homework on Homelessness

A story in the 26 edition of Bloomberg Businessweek included this evidence that there are some best-practices close at hand for Angelenos to study when it comes to addressing homelessness: “…The nonprofit Community Solutions has worked with Chicago, Phoenix, and other cities to gather quality, real-time data about their homeless populations so they can better coordinate their interventions and prioritize spending. The approach has effectively ended veterans’ homelessness in eight communities, including Riverside County in California.”

Watch this video to see why there remains as much need to seek out best practices as ever:

5th Street as Ground Zero

Want to see the fine line between gentrification and devastation? Check Yuko Soup Bar on the 100 block of W. 5th Street, just a block away from the soup-kitchen territory of E. 5th Street. Give Yuko its due, though, especially in cold weather, when its $6 bowl of beef-and-cabbage soup hits the belly just right.

Sullivan Says: No one pulls off a blue velvet suit like Thomas Bompard, who’s cutting quite the swath on L.A.’s art scene as Sotheby’s new man about town.