Wall Street mixed: Stocks are down about 40 points in early trading. Attention is focused on a likely GM bankruptcy filing.
GM bankruptcy nears: Bondholders turned down an offer to exchange $27 billion in debt for a small amount of stock. Barring some last-minute turnaround, look for a Chapter 11 filing as early as this weekend. (NYT)
Schwarzenegger's hit list: He's looking to trim more than $5 billion from state programs that provide healthcare, higher education, welfare, parks, AIDS treatment and counseling, and prisoner rehabilitation. From the LAT:
Union members began a 48-hour vigil in the park that surrounds the statehouse, saying that their members would be driven into poverty, and the elderly and disabled deprived of care if Schwarzenegger's proposals are adopted. They also filed a lawsuit in federal court that attempts to stop some of the planned cuts. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came to the capital along with other officials to denounce Schwarzenegger's bid to borrow $2 billion from local governments.
Another jump in gas prices: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area rose about 12 cents from last week, to $2.64. That's 30 cents or so higher than just a month ago. (EIA)
Want to see Obama?: He'll be at a Democratic fundraiser tonight in Bev Hills, but it'll cost you. From the LAT:
Yes, it will take $30,400 -- don't ask how anybody came up with that number -- for a couple to dine with the chief executive. But you can attend a reception for only $1,000 a person, and $2,500 gets you VIP seating while you listen to "American Idol" alum and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind & Fire perform. Assuming you're on a diet like everyone else, you can skip the high-calorie dinner, spare your wallet -- and still show your support for the Dems as they gear up for the midterm elections.
Gonda sells office complex: The mega-rich investor (not quite as rich as he once was because of the drubbing he took in AIG) is unloading a Miracle Mile office at San Vicente Blvd. for $44 million. It's one of L.A.'s biggest commercial real estate sales of the year. (Business Journal)
"Idol" results skewed?: AT&T provided free text-messaging services at parties organized by fans of Arkansas singer Kris Allen, who was the winner of the show. No similar services were provided to fans of runner-up Adam Lambert. From the NYT:
Representatives of AT&T helped fans of Mr. Allen at the two Arkansas events by providing instructions on how to send 10 or more text messages at the press of a single button, known as power texts. Power texts have an exponentially greater effect on voting than do single text messages or calls to the show's toll-free phone lines. The efforts appear to run afoul of "American Idol" voting rules in two ways. The show broadcasts an on-screen statement at the end of each episode warning that blocks of votes cast using "technical enhancements" that unfairly influence the outcome of voting can be thrown out.
Richard Branson interested in Playboy?: Add the British billionaire to a growing list of potential buyers. All the speculation has pumped up the price of Playboy stock, though the market value is barely $100 million. (Chicago Tribune)