Thursday morning headlines

Chrysler announces dealer plan: As expected, the automaker plans to eliminate 800 of its 3,200 dealers as part of the Chapter 11 restructuring. I took a very quick scan of the names and found four in L.A. County. Here's the list.

Stocks edge upward: Not that the news this morning is good, what with an increase in initial claims for unemployment benefits and a jump in wholesale inflation. The Dow is up about 30 points.

Coliseum for sale?: Governor Schwarzenegger wants to unload the facility as a way of generating cash (yeah, that's how bad it's gotten). Among other high-profile properties he'd like to see on the block: San Quentin and the Orange County Fairgrounds. From the LAT:

Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) said selling the Coliseum is a bad idea, because it is well-used and turning a profit. "You've got a depressed market, so you are not going to get its full value," Wright said. "To try to sell the Coliseum now in a fire sale is not a prudent thing to do." Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, president of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum Commission, called the idea of selling the property an attempt to divert attention from the state's problems. "The idea is absurd," he said. "The Coliseum is a national historic monument. You cannot sell it anymore than you can sell the Statue of Liberty or the Washington Monument."

Don't say he didn't warn you: The LAT's George Skelton warns that if voters say no to a series of budget-related measures in next week's special election, it "will license the governor and lawmakers to slash and burn."

The day afterward, if the props are rejected, Capitol politicians will be free to butcher programs, fire public employees, even raise "fees" with majority votes. They'll have a voter mandate to do just about anything they want. What about the voters' "message?" After all, this is being promoted by opponents as a "Send 'em a message!" election. And what message would that be? Whatever the missive, it won't be coherent. It'll be loud gibberish:

Quit raising taxes!

Stop cutting services!

Live within your means!

No spending controls!


Cutting the courts: It'll be another fallout from the budget crisis. Among the proposals being considered is shuttering California's courthouses for a day every month to save money. From the Daily Journal (no link available):

If the plan is approved, the Judicial Council would not only close the trial courts but also the courts of appeal, the state Supreme Court and Administrative Office of the Courts branches a day every month over a year. Such cuts would save the state an estimated $100 million over 12 months. [Ron Overholt, chief deputy director of the state's Administrative Office of the Courts], said the Judicial Council would likely pick one day mid-week, possibly a Wednesday, for the statewide shutdown to minimize the impact on jails and courts. Doing that could help avoid problems the branch experienced in 2002 and 2003, when individual courts came up with their own cost cuts in response to budget shortfalls, Overholt said.

SEC looks at Countrywide's Sambol: LAT reports that the lender's former president, David Sambol, and other executives face fraud charges in connection with the government's inquiry. (CEO Angelo Mozilo is on the list as well.) The commission's staff has recommended that they all face civil fraud charges. Sambol had a severance deal worth $28 million after the takeover by Bank of America.

Still no health coverage: Remember the thousands of Californians who had their health insurance revoked because of errors or omissions on their insurance applications? The state targeted many of the big insurers, but it turns out that very few of the folks impacted have chosen to pick up their coverage through a state program. From the Daily Journal (no link):

Overall, just 5 percent of patients wanted or were aware of the state's plan and took part in it, records show. Many of those who lost their insurance racked up crippling debt for medical costs when their policies were rescinded. And not a single one of the 300 consumers who said they were interested in settling disputes over out-of-pocket expenses has gone through the arbitration process created by the state's Department of Managed Health Care.


Although the state has not studied why so few patients took out new coverage, a fifth of eligible patients never received notice. It also appears most eligible Californians showed no interest in the deals because the details were less attractive, or more complicated, than officials had hoped.

Fox scraps ad plan: The year-long strategy of running fewer commercials, at higher prices, isn't working out. The premium prices - 40 percent or more - for several shows weren't big enough to match what Fox would have made selling more ads at standard prices. (WSJ)

RIP: William Seidman: He was the top economic adviser to President Gerald Ford, chairman of the FDIC, chairman of the Resolution Trust Corp., the government agency that untangled the S&L mess, and later the chief commentator on CNBC. (Bloomberg)

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?
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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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