Is Los Angeles in trouble?
For over a decade, Gregg Donovan, former valet to Bob Hope, greeted tourists on the street in a top hat and red tailcoat and yelled "Welcome to Beverly Hills!" His original assigned job was to counter the impression -- often derived from the Julia Roberts movie Pretty Woman -- that Rodeo Drive was full of snooty sales clerks. He often would escort people into the shops by hand and ease their way into the culture and show them how friendly the place really is.
Now he has been laid off, another casualty of the recession. His image will live on:
Mr. Donovan has come to represent the city so thoroughly that there is now a debate over the rights to his likeness.
As part of the separation agreement sent to Mr. Donovan, the Conference and Tourism Board sought the right to continue to use his image on promotional materials. Mr. Donovan has refused to sign the agreement, his lawyer said.
It turns out Donovan is supposed to give up his personal rights to use his image in the job, which he does not want to do.
Elsewhere, Watts Towers -- one of my favorite American landmarks -- is facing budget cuts. The three city workers who look after the towers have been laid off, so there is an attempt to recruit the Los Angeles County Museum to do the work and also to renovate the site.