Posted: Friday, August 01, 2003

POSH ZIP CODES: It's common knowledge that upscale burgs such as Palm Springs, Calif., have their fair share of wealthy residents and pricey property. Yet most of the communities on a new list of home prices ranked by ZIP code aren't that famous in fact, houses in Beverly Hills' famous 90210 didn't even make the Top 10.

The list of median home prices compiled by Forbes.com includes generally smaller towns, with limited zoning laws and fewer property sales. Many of the more prominent locales also have real estate that isn't quite so whoppingly expensive, the Web site noted. As a result, the list comprises more obscure towns such as Hillsborough, Calif., Mountain Village, Colo., and Old Brookville, N.Y.

Ranked first was Jupiter Island, Fla., where the median home price last year was $5.6 million, followed by Aspen, Colo., at $2.6 million. Sea Island, Ga., a 5-mile spit of sand where world leaders will gather next June for the 2004 Group of Eight Summit, had a median home price of $2.23 million. Rounding out the top five were Palm Beach, Fla., $2.2 million; and Centre Island, N.Y., $2.187 million.

CEO SALARIES: Do you know what your boss makes? Many of us have no clue, according to a query of employees who were asked if they knew what their company's CEO is paid.

More than half, or 54 percent, of 195 people who work for a publicly traded company said they didn't know the chief executive's compensation. Public companies disclose that information annually in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

But in these times of corporate scandal and surging executive pay, companies may need to seriously evaluate how the top boss is compensated. That package can send a powerful message to workers, said Tom Wamberg, chairman and CEO of Clark Consulting, a compensation consulting firm.

''The right pay packages with incentives can mobilize a work force,'' he said. ''The wrong compensation has the power to destroy as we have seen in the past few years with egregious packages.''

The survey was conducted last month by Clark, a public company based in Barrington, Ill. Incidentally, Clark paid Wamberg $498,000 last year, plus a bonus of $244,000.

CHAIN FOOD QUALITY: A summer family road trip can be fraught with tension especially if you're driving with children. Hunger is always a paramount concern, and bad food can make anyone surly.

In its July issue, Consumer Reports offers chain restaurant ratings based on 71,000 responses to its annual questionnaire, regarding nearly 166,000 meals. The report covers 88 prominent chain restaurants.

The results showed a generally satisfied dining public, with 69 percent of respondents saying they were completely or very satisfied with their dining experiences.

Among the most striking trend is the expansion of ethnic cuisine, with Americans giving high marks to more upscale chains.

''This report marks the first inclusion of chains specializing in Asian, Cajun and Creole, and Caribbean fare. All scored well for food, service, and atmosphere,'' said Tod Marks, a senior editor at Consumer Reports.

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