Wednesday morning headlines

Markets back in action: Two-day shutdown doesn't appear to be having much effect. Dow opened higher, but is now down a few points.

Flying still tough: Two of the three NY airports have reopened (LaGuardia remains closed because of extensive damage), but airlines continue to cancel flights to and from LAX. The numbers, however, are smaller than earlier in the week. Best to keep in touch with your airline.

California not ready for disaster: So says OC Register columnist Jon Lansner:

Yes, there have been noteworthy quakes, floods and fires, but not a huge-scale event that shook the state's communal psyche. So we have false confidence. Also, numerous people greatly misunderstand what basic property insurance policies cover - and what they don't. Earthquake and flood damages typically are not directly insured. And when executives or individuals look at the price of extra quake or flood coverage, the costs seem high. In addition, many people and businesses wrongly assume that government help will bail them out - though historically, at best, the aid comes in the form of low-cost loans.

Court allows audit of political group: The tentative decision means that the Fair Political Practices Commission can look into the $11 million contribution from an Arizona nonprofit to opponents of Prop 30, Gov. Brown's tax measure,and supporters Prop 32, which would restrict unions' ability to raise money. From AP:

The judge says the FPPC has authority to audit the group's records to see whether it triggers any California election laws that require disclosure of the funding sources. "The court finds that the people of the state of California will suffer irreparable harm," if the FPPC is not allowed to investigate the source of the donation, Chang wrote. "Without the FPPC's audit and review of appropriate records, potential disclosure of information prior to the general election critical to the public in deciding how to vote for Propositions 30 and 32 may not be made."

Could Prop 30 still win?: Supporters only need a simple majority and despite Gov. Brown's lackluster campaign polls show that they're fairly close. From Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain:

Muddled though the campaign has been, the measure could pass. Thanks to unions, corporations and other insiders with a stake in Sacramento policy, the Yes on 30 campaign has raised $54 million, a hefty sum even for California politics. Also helping, the number of registered Democrats has increased dramatically in recent weeks. Polls show Democrats favor it. No politician has had a longer run in California politics than Brown. Many pundits assume he'll hit a sour note on Tuesday. I'll wait until the curtain closes.

Prop 37 chances are fading: The initiative that would require labeling on genetically engineered food received support from only 39.1 percent of voters, according to poll by the California Business Roundtable and the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy. A little over 50 percent oppose. (LAT)

Council considering sales tax hike: Actually, there are four proposed tax measures aimed at eating into the city's ballooning deficit. A measure by Council President Herb Wesson would increase the sales tax from 8.75 percent to 9.25 percent. From the LAT:

Placing one or more tax increases on the March ballot would inject a new and unpredictable issue into an election in which voters will choose a new mayor, fill eight council seats and select a city attorney and controller. The strategy reflects the increasingly desperate attempts by city officials to maintain basic services. "We've cut just about everything that we can cut," Wesson said, pitching his sales tax proposal. "I can't say if we do this we'll never have a budget shortfall again ... but this will help us for now if we're successful."

Gas update: Did October even happen? An average gallon of regular in the L.A. area is $4.162, according to the Auto Club, which is pretty much where it was before the recent price run-up.

Still no Lakers on DirectTV: Time Warner Cable hasn't reached a distribution deal to carry its new sports channel with the satellite service, along with Cox Cable and the Dish Network. (LAT)

Sony cuts back on production: The studio plans to make between 18 and 20 movies per year starting in 2014. That's down from the 20 to 22 it has been releasing. From the LAT:

Fewer releases will likely mean less spent on producing and marketing. The studio will also cut its development spending, said [Doug Belgrad, president of Sony's largest film label, Columbia Pictures], by close to 10% and seek to buy more completed scripts, rather than spending millions to rewrite projects it buys at early stages. Though it still plans to bet big on movies with global blockbuster potential like the second "Amazing Spider-Man" and next year's "White House Down" from "2012" director Roland Emmerich, Sony is not willing to invest as much as it did in the past on movies aimed at more sophisticated audiences.

Billboard deal may be thrown out: A state appellate court tentatively ruled in favor of revoking permits for 100 existing digital signs. The court also believes that an agreement for more than 700 additional signs should be nullified. From the Daily News:

In anticipation of the ruling, the City Council has already been working with billboard companies to draft a new ordinance that would address some of the underlying legal issues. The majority of the 100 existing displays are in Westside neighborhoods, including Westwood and Venice, and have led to complaints about glare and distraction. Barbara Broide, president of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Boulevard Homeowners, who appeared at the court hearing with other activists, called the tentative ruling "a wonderful moment" for not just Westsiders, but every city resident.

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
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