Signs the Recession is Still Going Strong

I am drafting this blog post from my desk at an office building/warehouse in Chatsworth where the water has been turned off all morning. “Why has the water been turned off?” you ask (or more likely you’re not asking because you really don’t care, but I’m going to tell you anyway). The water has been turned off because last night the plumbing itself was stolen. That’s right, someone stole a length of copper piping from the line that runs in front of the building where I work–and probably other buildings as well. Apparently (who knew?) you can get about $200 reselling a section of piping like that, so people go cruising neighborhoods looking for accessible copper piping to dismantle and sell. I lived through the “no radio” days in the urban east coast, and I must say, this tops that. So now, we here at my office are all crossing our legs and holding it while we wait for the repair to be finished; my boss is ordering a cage for the pipes in front of the building; and somewhere a couple of guys are happily smoking crack. The economy? I’m thinking it’s not improving.

Just How Bad Is It?

Sometimes it’s hard to put a face on what is happening in Los Angeles. It’s probably not too different from what’s happening anywhere else. I read about layoffs and failed propositions and budget cuts every day. Still, I wake up, go to work, go home, and repeat. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Today, I happened to be at the North Hollywood Home Depot, when I overheard a conversation between the cashier and a guy in line. He asked how she was doing. She said was just making the best of it. Picking up more hours here, because they keep cutting her hours at her other job – a school.

I don’t know what she does at that school. But, it’s hard to stomach the idea that her position is in any way expendable. It’s a SCHOOL, for crying out loud. That’s where the next Barack Obama could be getting his – or her – education.

I’m going to be thinking of that woman this holiday weekend. While many Angelenos are out with family and friends, grilling hot dogs, she’ll probably be picking up whatever shifts she can. A lot of people will probably be doing the same.

Hang in there, friends.

Toluca Lake Restaurants Offering Recession Discounts

When economic times are tough, dining out is one of the first “luxuries” a lot of people cut out. Back in September, the L.A. Times reported on the sudden hit local major chains were taking. More expensive specialty establishments in Los Angeles and across the country are suffering as well.  It seems in bleak financial times, fast food joints are the only ones experiencing an increase in business.

Even though I’ve been trying to eat in more, I’m really not one for cooking and do go out or get take out several times a week. I was picking up a pizza the other night and noticed what seems to be a growing trend among restaurants in Toluca Lake, and possibly L.A. in general.

Robano’s, at 10057 Riverside Drive, is offering discounts on all food and yes, even alcohol every day of the week. Mo’s, at 4301 Riverside Drive, has special prices for certain menu items on Mondays after 5pm. This is great news to me and others who aren’t too interested in staying in every night and preparing meals. Hopefully we’ll see more of this around Los Angeles, which might also help the restaurants stay afloat.

LAUSD spared teacher layoffs (for the time being)

LA Daily News reports that Los Angeles Schools Chief Ramon Cortines announced that the Los Angeles Unified School District will not be laying off any teachers throughout the end of the school year.

Huzzah! Right? Right?

Not so fast:

But Cortines said he does not want to make the cuts now because state lawmakers have not yet crafted a deal to address the state budget deficit, and he doesn’t want to disrupt classrooms halfway through the school year. He also noted a high number of district teachers have expressed interest in early retirement.

In a written statement to teachers, faculty, staff and the community, Cortines warned that this decision only delays the inevitable need for layoffs down the line.

“To guide us in our difficult decision making, we will have a plan to present to the Board of Education and community by the end of February 2009,” Cortines wrote. “I want to be clear that this plan will not be comfortable and will result in layoffs at every level of the district.”

Bummer. Thankfully my brother just got out of the LAUSD, but it’s a sad state of affairs when we’re laying off teachers. Any of you a teacher in the LAUSD? Any have less than two years worth of experience? (That’s who the layoffs are targetting.

Recession Watch 2009: Le Marmiton in Santa Monica Closed

It seems like every block in LA has a vacant store front or abandoned foreclosure home these days, and while I don’t mourn the passing of Linens ‘n Things or even the 7th and Fig Macy’s (blogdowntown has details), I am sad about the closing of Le Marmiton on Montana. A light continental bite at Le Marmiton followed by a movie across the street at the Aero (1328 Montana Avenue) has been one of Santa Monica’s best one-two-punch dates in my book. Zagat says Le Marmiton opened in 1974. Apparently it closed in November. No more onion soup or fruit tarts. C’est tragique.

Happily the Aero is still going strong and was, in fact, quite sold out last night for The Baader-Meinhof Complex, a film that I heartily recommend though I’m not certain it even has a US distributor yet. More on the movie after the jump. Continue reading “Recession Watch 2009: Le Marmiton in Santa Monica Closed”

Keep Your Job, L.A. The Suck Will Only Get Worse

CurbedLA just posted about a new report that predicts rising unemployment to last through 2010.

From the UCLA Anderson Forecast:

“The news from the economy is bad,” writes Anderson Forecast senior economist David Shulman in his essay “The Balance Sheet Recession.” “The recession we had previously hoped to avoid is now with us in full gale force.”

Nationally, we can expect the loss of 2 million jobs over the next 12 months. In California, “the unemployment rate is expected to rise as high as 8.7 percent next year and remain at that level through 2010.”

So, anyone still think this is a good time for SAG to strike?

Hey, Brother, Can You Spare $90,000?

Spotted on craigslist:

I Need To Borrow $90,000 – $90000 (Los Angeles)
Reply to: [email protected]
Date: 2008-08-15, 12:43PM PDT

I’m willing to pay 20 percent interest over 18 years. I am gainfully employed and just need immediate help to stem late payment fees and high interest rates. Would happily sign contract and even agree to direct deposit. I have a fully legitimate job which has a human resources department that can take care of the paperwork. I am not asking for any of your financial information. Just a guy in need of help. These are not gambling debts. They are all college and car loans and a small percentage of credit card debt. If you can afford it, I would really appreciate the assistance. Thanks.

The “economic slowdown” continues.