Monday morning headlines

Stocks sinking: It's Europe again - markets have been falling all over the world. Dow is down 150 points.

Health care decision due Thursday: Let the countdown begin - the high court will announce its final opinions of the term in three days.

Voters skeptical on what president can do: Six out of 10 respondents to an Associated Press-GfK poll said whoever wins in November will have little influence on the jobs picture. From AP:

Years of disappointing economic news following the 2007-2009 recession have deflated American optimism. And worries about financial troubles in Europe and congressional gridlock at home hang over the future. Two-thirds of people still describe the economy as poor. The same number - 31 percent - think unemployment will grow worse over the next year as predict it will ease up.

Cheap gas: An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $3.843, according to the Auto Club, about 14 cents lower than last week and nearly 50 cents lower than a month ago.

Stockton close to bankruptcy: City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on an austerity program that would be carried out during a Chapter 9 filing. The program includes reduced health benefits for retired employees, suspension of city bond payments, and a restructuring of labor agreements. From the Sacramento Bee:

In an effort to avert a bankruptcy filing, Stockton held last-minute negotiations to seek concessions from bondholders, employee unions and retirees. The city manager is scheduled to tell the City Council on Tuesday whether sufficient savings were found by the Monday deadline. Deis could not be reached for comment last week. But in a letter he sent to employees on Thursday, he suggested that no miracle rescue is in the works. "At this point, the city must make plans to move forward and use the services and protections in bankruptcy to preserve basic health and safety services for the citizens of Stockton," Deis wrote.

Villaraigosa blocks pension pick: The mayor turned down William Raggio as executive director of the Fire and Police Pensions board and says he wants a new pool of candidates. From the LAT:

L.A.'s pension costs have been steadily growing in recent years, taking up a larger share of the budget that pays for basic services. With that financial crisis as a backdrop, Villaraigosa has repeatedly attempted to intervene in decisions at two city pension boards.Last fall, he tried to persuade the city's civilian pension board to delay a plan to lower its long-term investment return projections -- a step being taken by retirement systems across the country. He removed the president of that board -- a woman he himself appointed -- after she informed the mayor's office that she could not ignore an actuary's conclusion that the retirement system could no longer expect a yearly 8% return on its investment.

Solar construction to resume: More than 200 furloughed workers are being called back after First Solar received approval from the L.A. County Public Works Department on a large solar farm in the Antelope Valley. Shares of First Solar rose sharply on the news late last week, though the stock is down this morning (as is much of the market). (Bloomberg)

Downtown gets big apartment project: The 700-unit building will be on 8th and Grand. It's one of the biggest developments since the real estate bust. (LAT)

Box office recap: Disney-Pixar's "Brave" opened to $66.7 million, followed by "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," at $20.2 million. (EW)

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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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