Thursday morning headlines

Bold move: It's one thing for a bunch of civic leaders to sign off on a meaningless letter of protest to Tribune Co. executives about budget cuts at the Tribune-owned LAT. It's quite another for the LAT to play up the story, along with word of editor Dean Baquet's objection to the prospects of still more cuts at the paper. I guess war has officially broken out - too bad it's a trifle one-sided. By the way, Tribune stock has barely moved since the company's stock buyback plan was announced. You know, the plan that was supposed to boost the stock price.

H-P inquiry: Bill Lockyer is starting to sound a lot like Eliot Spitzer. The California Attorney General is broadening his investigation into boardroom leaks at Hewlett-Packard. Besides looking at phone records without authorization, the snoops might have engaged in human and possibly video surveillance. LAT WSJ

Broken record: There's a new batch of housing numbers for August and they're showing the same unsettling story. L.A. County had a 21 percent drop in sales from a year earlier and the median price rose just 4.7 percent, to $517,000, according to DataQuick. "It's clear that a price correction is underway, but it's a matter of magnitude," said Andrew LePage, a DataQuick analyst. Sign of the times: Countrywide Financial reported this morning that August mortgage fundings fell 24 percent, to $40 billion. CEO Angelo Mozilo cited the market downturn.

More foreclosures: During the April-June period, 2.18 percent of California's 5.5 million mortgages were past due, compared with 1.6 percent nationally. But only 0.53 percent were actually in foreclosure, compared with 3.3 percent in the U.S. By historial standards, the actual number of foreclosures in California has been very low, so let's not compare the housing situation now with what happened in the early 90s.

Federated cuts: I'll bet that Federated Department Stores, which went nuts over the weekend promoting its all-Macy's strategy, won't be publicizing the layoffs of nearly 280 workers at the company's logistics facility in Industry. But the state's Employment Development Department's Web site indicates that the terminations began June 1 with 150 layoffs and will conclude next month with the release of the final six affected employees. Nice story by the Pasadena Star-News, which, by the way, couldn't get a comment from Cincinnati-based Federated.

Piracy suit: Not sure whether this will go anywhere, but six studios have sued two Chinese stores for allegedly selling illegal copies of their movies. The studios want $247,000 in damages. The Chinese government claims that it's been cleaning up its act on the piracy front, but the Motion Picture Association, which filed the suit, claims that 90 percent of the DVDs sold in China are pirated.

Insurance cuts: The average motorist with 21st Century Insurance coverage could save $219 under new Department of Insurance regulations requiring that premiums be based on a driver's record and not the ZIP code of where the car owner happens to live. Commissioner John Garamendi will hold a media event in L.A. today to trumpet the news.

Port payments: The L.A. City Council approves a settlement that will have Burlington Northern and Union Pacific pay the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority for cargo that is offloaded at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports and reloaded onto rail containers. The authority is a joint-powers agency of the two cities and their ports. Could amount to an extra few million bucks.

Air America woes: The NY Post (consider the source) says there are all kinds of rumors that Air America, the liberal oriented radio network, will declare bankruptcy this week, but try to reorganize and stay on the air through the November elections. The network said the rumors weren't true, but financial problems have plagued Air America from the beginning. The last I checked, AA was on KTLK-AM (1150).

Supercenter opens: Wal-Mart can't seem to ever open a store in Socal without controversy. Its Rosemead supercenter that's at the center of a recall campaign against the mayor opened on Wednesday, apparently ahead of schedule. Those opposing the new store are bent out of shape because they weren't notified.

Delta flights: The airline will add flights beginning in December from LAX to Nicaragua and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. That's in addition to 11 previously announced destinations in Mexico and Central America.

Otis auction: It's sadly ironic that with all the hoo-ha going on at the Times these days, Otis Chandler's car and motorcycle collection is ready to be auctioned off next month. Included in the late LAT publisher's collection: a 1904 Mercedes 40/45 Sports Touring, a 1934 Packard Two Place Coupe and a 1931 Duesenberg J Special Phaeton by LeBaron.

More by Mark Lacter:
American-US Air settlement with DOJ includes small tweak at LAX
Socal housing market going nowhere fast
Amazon keeps pushing for faster L.A. delivery
Another rugged quarter for Tribune Co. papers
How does Stanford compete with the big boys?
Those awful infographics that promise to explain and only distort
Best to low-ball today's employment report
Further fallout from airport shootings
Crazy opening for Twitter*
Should Twitter be valued at $18 billion?
Recent stories:
Siri versus Hawaiian pidgin (video)
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
One last Florida photo
Signs of Saturday: No refund
'I Am Woman,' hear them roar
Previous story: Nissan sells property

Next story: Weak numbers at Tribune

New at LA Observed
On the Media Page
Go to Media

On the Politics Page
Go to Politics
Arts and culture

Sign up for daily email from LA Observed

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
LA Observed on Twitter and Facebook