Thursday morning headlines

War between the unions: It's the Writers Guild and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, but more to the point, it's WGA President Patric Verrone and IATSE President Tom Short. Here's the essence: More than a year ago Short tried to convince Verrone to get an early start on contract talks because of concerns that a strike might do mega-damage. Verrone refused and Short came away convinced that the WGA leadership was intent about going on strike, no matter how the contract talks unfolded (a position shared by many moderates on both sides). Short also warned Verrone et al that the studios and networks would start to stockpile in preparation for a strike, which of course is what happened. All that was prelude to a letter Short sent to Verrone on Tuesday. From Nikki Finke's Deadline Hollywood Daily:

"Ever since late last year when the WGAw announced withdrawal from its own proposed negotiating date in January 2007, I have warned you and predicted the devastation that would come from your actions. Those predictions have now come true," Short fumed. "When I phoned you on Nov. 28, 2006, to ask you to reconsider the timing of negotiations, you refused. It now seems that you were intending that there be a strike no matter what you were offered, or what conditions the industry faced when your contract expired at the end of October." But I also must wonder why Short hasn't been nearly as hard on the AMPTP as he has been on the WGA. And my answer is that it may be a matter of clashing personalities. Sources tells me that Short's furious letter sent on Tuesday was prompted by a Los Angeles Times profile on Dave Young that ran the day before and one quote in particular from the WGA chief negotiator -- "Much to his delight, the 48-year-old labor leader says he himself was treated like 'a rock star' last week at a host of rallies and pickets that he orchestrated all over Los Angeles and New York." A source close to Short tells me he objected not just to Young's choice of words, but more to Young's seeming enjoyment of his new-found notoriety while IATSE members were thrown out of work.

UCLA tightens rules: From now on, members of the School of Dentistry's admissions review committee must recuse themselves if they are related to, are close friends with or have a business association with a candidate or the candidate's family. The new rules stem from allegations that fat cats willing to donate large sums to the school got preferential treatment in getting their family members admitted to what supposedly was a fiercely competitive program. The Daily Bruin has some pretty damning evidence, even if the school's own investigators could not substantiate the allegations. From the LAT

The audit said that although there was no "convincing evidence" of wrongdoing, "circumstantial evidence indicates" that at least one person used influence in connection with one admission decision. The dental school dean, No-Hee Park, said Wednesday the investigation provided "an opportunity to review our admissions policies and procedures." "I am confident that the school will emerge from current challenges stronger and even more purposeful in its mission," added Park, who also Wednesday was dealing with reports that a national dental organization was investigating possible student cheating.

Serious budget woes: The state is looking at a nearly $10 billion budget shortfall over the next two years, according to projections from Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill. That's quite a turnabout from the $4 billion reserve that Gov. Arnold and the Legislature thought they would have. Hill said all the easy solutions have been exhausted and now it comes down to the hard stuff - namely, raising taxes. The governor has already asked state agencies to come up with major budget cuts. (Daily News)

Who owns the house?: Mortgage lenders trying to seize properties from troubled borrowers might run into some problems. Federal Judge Christopher Boyko has dismissed 14 foreclosure cases brought on behalf of mortgage investors, ruling that they failed to prove that they owned the properties they were trying to seize. And no wonder - the crazy-quilt ownership of mortgage securities makes it hard to figure out what entity actually holds the notes. Expect homeowners - and their lawyers - to use this ruling as a way of derailing foreclosures. (NYT)

More trouble for LAX Hilton: What do hotel housekeepers do? Scrubbing, bed making and vacuuming, right? Well, the state has rules that require employers to train their people in order to avoid repetitive-motion injuries - and apparently those rules were violated at the LAX Hilton. Interestingly, the hotel happens to be among those being targeted for organizing by the Unite Here union. Connection? "The citation has confirmed what workers have been telling their physicians and management at the LAX Hilton, that this work and the workload are causing them pain and injury," Pamela Vossenas, senior health and safety representative for the hotel division of Unite Here, told the LAT.

Welcome to L.A.: A consumer group is accusing rental-car companies of illegal price-fixing in a lawsuit that was spurred by a new state law that allows the companies to change the way they advertise. The law allowed car rental firms to remove an 11 percent airport concession fee from their advertised rate and bill it as a separate cost on each invoice. But rather than rates dropping 11 percent, they went up. And customers wound up being billed an extra 11 percent fee on top of a higher base rate, says the suit. (LAT)

Speaking of the airport: Believe it or not, tomorrow begins the extended Thanksgiving holiday period, and LAX expects 1.85 million passengers, a 3 percent bump from last year. About 210,000 passengers are expected to use LA/Ontario International Airport during the 10-day travel period, up 5 percent from last year. (Daily

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:
Letter from Down Under: Welcome to the Homogenocene
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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
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