Friday morning headlines

Another up session?: This would be six straight days of gains - and by the way, the Dow is over the 9,600 mark. The index is up a few points in early trading.

Lobbyists and Sacto: They tend to rule the roost, and have for decades. Only when a Michael Duvall-type scandal unfolds are we reminded of the magnitude of their influence. From the LAT:

The state prison guards' union has sponsored lawmakers' voyages to Maui, paying for some of their expenses there. At least one company, BP America, has set up an automated hotline that lawmakers and staff can call for freebies to concerts, shows and sports events. Legislators may even "ask a member of their own staff to call on their behalf," BP's phone message says. The firm has spent more than $39,000 on giveaways since 2008. One of the biggest spenders in Sacramento is AT&T, which has e-mail addresses that lawmakers and their staffs use to request tickets.

L.A. budget in trouble: Each day, the city is spending $1 million more than it receives in revenue. That could mean layoffs instead of the earlier plan to allow 2,400 workers to reture ahead of schedule. From the LAT:

With a final vote on early retirement scheduled for Tuesday, some council members said they no longer believe that the city can afford the plan, which would allow members of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions to retire up to five years early with full benefits.

Gas still going up: Prices rose by more than a penny a day throughout Socal in the past week. An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $3.095, according to the Auto Club, though in my neighborhood the price is considerably higher.

Video games down again: August was the sixth straight month of declining sales. Year to date, game sales are 14 percent behind 2008's pace. From CNBC:

Analysts and investors have been predicting for some time that 2009 will be, at best, a break-even year for the video game industry, due to the economy and an unprecedented series of delays for high-profile games. More and more, though, the feeling is that the industry is in crisis - and the outlook is slowly moving toward 2009 being a year that posts the first year-over-year loss since 2004.

Leno on the cheap: Advertisers are buying spots for Jay's 10 p.m. talk show at about half the price they would pay for hour-long dramas. NBC says the show can turn a profit because it's cheaper to produce. (WSJ)

Ellen in royalty suit: Several record labels allege that the tunes played on the Ellen DeGeneres talk show - many of which she dances to on set - have not been paid for. Whenever a song is used in a film or TV show, producers must shell out royalty money. The show producers say they've been trying to work out a settlment. (NY Post)

Most powerful biz women: Fortune is out with its top 50 list and only two appear to be local: Disney's Anne Sweeney and Sony's Amy Pascal.

One Starbucks saved: The El Segundo store on E. Maple Avenue will not be shut down, as originally planned. It's one of 27 locations nationwide that the chain will keep open after they proved more profitable than thought. (AP)

Only $72 million!: Developer Mohamed Hadid has cut the asking price on his 48,000 square-foot Bel-Air property by $13 million. Hadid says he acquired the property about seven years ago. The mansion has a ballroom seating more than 200, a movie theater, and a 20-car motor court. (WSJ)

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
One last Florida photo
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'I Am Woman,' hear them roar
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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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