Tribune update: The betting still favors a Sam Zell acquisition by week's end, but the NYT reports that Tribune was open to resuming talks with L.A. billionaires Broad and Burkle, who apparently have or will receive some of the information they claimed had only been provided to Zell. They have not yet made a new offer, reports the Times, but their reappearance is probably complicating what had been expected to be a Zell victory. Meanwhile, a Tribune executive told the LAT that the board was set to meet tomorrow and announce the Zell deal later in the day. But another person said "the situation is very fluid." Most of the LAT story focuses on how Zell's proposed employee stock ownership might work - and what the risks would be (mostly related to taking on too much debt).
Relief for Westside drivers?: The idea of making Olympic and Pico one-way between downtown and Santa Monica appears to be gaining traction. A traffic consultant is completing a study on the idea, and if the results show that some improvement in traffic flow is possible, it'll be hard to turn down. But already you can hear complaints from local businesses and residents about the two streets being turned into mini-freeways - and they have a point. There's just so much you can do when an area gets overdeveloped with too many people and too many cars (and city planning officials looking the other way). LAT
Speaking of development: Add yet another structure to the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood: the $160 million "Red" building that's being designed by Cesar Pelli. Apparently a red building is a big deal in the commercial real estate world because almost no one does it (better to stick to drab gray). It's one of several office towers and complexes getting underway in Socal after years of little or no construction. Developers announced plans for another tower of the Howard Hughes Center complex near Marina del Rey off the San Diego Freeway. Hope they have someplace to put all these folks. LAT
Ranking subprime woes: Sacramento saw a 10.7 percent jump in subprime delinquences since 2005, but L.A. was well down the list, at 3.05 percent. Actually, a bunch of less afluent regions of California had substantial increases in delinquencies: Merced, Modesto, Stockton and Yuba City - not surprising considering these are subprime loans. WSJ has compiled a list of all the major markets.
What's in a name?: The OC Register's Jon Lansner tracks the woes of New Century - not the troubled Irvine-based lender, but Belleville, Kansas-based New Century Bank. Banker Eric Moore has had a heck of a time explaining to folks that the tiny midwestern bank has nothing to do with those rascals in California.
"We have one subprime loan," says Moore of his tiny, three-branch bank with just $17 million in deposits. "Many banks in California make loans bigger than our deposit base." Moore's institution is one of four small banks across the nation with the New Century name — all unrelated to each other or the troubled, large Irvine-based lender. These four banks combined control fewer deposit dollars than New Century from Orange County was lending each week last year. This bank quartet faces a public relations riddle: How to best say that your New Century is not the other New Century, painted by the national media as a glaring example of a failing lending concept. Various messages are being employed to create distance. For example, the Web page of Pennsylvania's New Century boldly greets visitors with a notice that this bank, "is a locally owned, independent community bank. We are not affiliated with any financial institution, including New Century Financial, a large, national 'Subprime' mortgage lender."
Rich get richer: Yeah, yeah, we know already, but newly released tax data for 2005 shows how much the gap has widened. The NYT reports that the top 1 percent of Americans — those with incomes of more than $348,000 — received their largest share of national income since 1928. Based on other data, the disparities in 2005 might be the same or even larger now (thanks to stock market gains).
The Bush administration argued that its tax policies, despite cuts that benefited those at the top more than others, had not added to the widening gap but “made the tax code more progressive, not less.” Brookly McLaughlin, the chief Treasury Department spokeswoman, said that this year “the share of income taxes paid by lower-income taxpayers will be lower than it would have been without the tax relief, while the share of income taxes for higher-income taxpayers will be higher.”
Curcuit City up close: The Daily News talks to some of those Circuit City employees who supposedly make too much money - folks like Richard O'Neal, who is paid the princely sum of 15 bucks an hour (see previous item). Was paid is more like it: O'Neal was laid off yesterday, one of several thousand CC workers who will be replaced by schlubs willing to work for less. (I'm sure Circuit City customer service will be much improved after this.) The laid-off workers received a memo saying that the company "made a business decision, with respect to certain positions, to separate from employment hourly associates whose pay rate is 51 cents or more above (an) established pay range" (see previous item). O'Neal said he was told he can re-apply for his job after 10 weeks - if he's willing to work for minimum wage ($7.50 an hour).
Hotel workers fired: The UNITE Here union has accused the Los Angeles Airport Hilton Hotel of firing two workers for union organizing activities. A May 14 hearing has been set by the National Labor Relations Board into the complaint filed by UNITE Here. Hotel officials said the firings had nothing to do with union organizing activities or the dispute over a living-wage proposal for workers at LAX-area hotels. Daily News
To all you struggling writers: You're really much better off playing tennis. Andre Agassi has scored a $5 million advance with Alfred A. Knopf for his life story. NY Post's Keith Kelly says that puts him into a pretty exclusive memoir club that includes former President Clinton ($12 million), former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan ($8.5 million), Hillary Clinton ($8 million), and Jack Welch ($7.1 million). There's no word on when the book will be published.