Tuesday morning headlines

Stocks moving higher: After a down opening, the Dow is back in the plus column by about 30 points.

Improved forecast from Home Depot: The home improvement retailer reported better-than-expected results in the third quarter as it raised its full-year outlook. The company is often seen as a bellwether for the rest of the economy. (AP)

Keeping up on mortgage payments: Delinquencies fell to 5.4 percent in the third quarter, the lowest level in more than three years. Still, it's well above the historical average of 1 percent to 2 percent. (AP)

Council to vote on sales tax hike: If the increase goes through, it will be the result of heavy lobbying by the real estate industry. From the LAT:

The city's top budget official spent six months laying the groundwork for a March ballot measure that would have increased the tax on real estate sales, saying it would provide much needed revenue to a city in crisis. But two weeks ago, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana abruptly changed course, working with council President Herb Wesson to abandon the real estate measure and push instead for a tax on retail sales, one that would generate twice as much money but also hit working-class Angelenos harder. That shift followed furious efforts by the region's real estate lobby to kill the proposed tax on property transactions.

L.A. needs more than tax increase: Still too many concerns about the plan by Council President Herb Wesson and not enough focus on the city's systemic issues, says an LAT editorial.

Taxes, too, can spur downward spirals, and before expecting voters here to adopt this one, the council has some explaining to do. For example, it's hard to shake the suspicion that the real purpose of this tax would be to fund the next round of raises for city workers; or that even if that's not the purpose, it would be the result. Los Angeles' public servants for the most part work hard and are good at their jobs, and they deserve to be fairly compensated. But their pay must be based on the resources the city already has at its disposal. New tax revenue -- if voters ultimately approve it -- must pay to keep threatened services intact or to restore services already cut.

Business owners helped county assessor: Soon after John Noguez was elected, contributors to his campaign saw at least $36 million knocked off on the assessed values of their properties, reports the LAT:

Those reductions lowered the donors' property taxes and prompted the county to write tax refund checks worth more than $557,000 to them in the first year of Noguez's term. The list of donors to the Huntington Park account offers new leads for investigators probing corruption in the assessor's office. Noguez is now in jail after his arrest last month on charges that he took $185,000 in bribes from a prominent tax consultant and campaign contributor to lower taxes for properties on the Westside and in the South Bay.

SEC investigating L.A. money manager: Peter Eichler's firm, Aletheia Research and Management, filed for bankruptcy protection late Sunday after a wave of client withdrawals. The feds are looking into improper trading practices, according to the NYT:

Aletheia's woes are the latest in a series of setbacks for the firm. In June 2011, it paid the S.E.C. $400,000 to settle civil charges brought by the S.E.C. related to its maintaining deficient books and records. Around that time, Aletheia named Steve Olson, a former federal prosecutor, as its president, only to have him depart within months. Mr. Eichler was also sued in 2010 by one of the firm's senior executives, Roger B. Peikin, who says he was wrongfully terminated. The lawsuit accused Mr. Eichler of misconduct related to "trading practices, general disregard for regulatory controls, wanton expenditure of corporate assets for Eichler's personal benefit, and overall neglect of the business side of Aletheia's operations."

Shakeup at "Today" show: Alexandra Wallace, a senior vice president of NBC News, will be the new executive in charge, the NYT reports. She will succeed Jim Bell:

The changes are being overseen by Patricia Fili-Krushel, chairwoman of the newly created NBCUniversal News Group, which includes NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC, along with Steve Capus, news division chief. Stephen B. Burke, the chief executive of NBCUniversal, put Ms. Fili-Krushel in charge of the group in July, and since then she's been exploring what to do with "Today," the most valuable piece of NBC News real estate, according to people who have spoken with her.

More by Mark Lacter:
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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*
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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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