Tuesday morning headlines

Stocks move higher: Looks like another shaky day as investors ponder the fiscal cliff situation. Dow is up a few points.

Port strike enters 8th day: Mayor Villaraigosa held a late-night meeting with both sides of the dispute, but there's no sign of a breakthrough. Meanwhile, ships continue to stack up. Only four of the 14 terminals are open. (NBC4)

Lukewarm support for sales tax hike: Only 45 percent favor a proposed half-cent increase, according to a a survey conducted by Loyola Marymount University's Center for the Study of Los Angeles. The measure goes on the March 5 ballot. From the LAT:

The results from the Loyola Marymount survey differed considerably from those reported in an October poll. Southern California real estate groups, using a private polling firm, found that 64% of likely voters in the March election supported or were leaning toward favoring the sales tax hike. In that poll, the tax was pitched as a way to pay for 911 emergency response services, pothole repairs, police, firefighters and paramedics. By comparison, the Loyola Marymount survey simply described the half-cent sales tax hike as one that would generate $220 million for the city's budget.

Racial bias found at Wet Seal: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says that the Foothill Ranch-based retailer discriminated against a former store manager after one of the company's executives complained about too many black employees. From the NYT:

Citing unusually blatant evidence of racial discrimination, the director of the commission's Philadelphia office noted in a "determination" released Monday that Wet Seal's "corporate managers have openly stated they wanted employees who had the 'Armani look, were white, had blue eyes, thin and blond in order to be profitable.' " The federal agency found that Wet Seal terminated Nicole Cogdell, the African-American former manager of its store in King of Prussia, Pa., in 2009, the day after the retailer's senior vice president for store operations had inspected that store and several others in the area and sent an e-mail saying, "African Americans dominate -- huge issue."

Democrats take control: The new state legislature was called into session - this time with the Democrats holding two-thirds supermajorities. From the LAT:

Arguing that California had turned the page on its perpetual budget crisis, leaders ticked off a list of priorities, saying they would use their new powers to help restore spending to popular social services and curb tuition at public colleges. Lawmakers also introduced proposals to relax immigration enforcement, bolster campaign finance disclosures and tweak Proposition 13, which contains the state's landmark property-tax limits. "I really believe this is the end of one very difficult era in California and the beginning of a new and better era," said state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).

Strong month for car sales: The November numbers were up 9 percent from October, with the seasonally adjusted annual rate running 15.5 million vehicles - the highest level of sales since December 2007. (Calculated Risk)

Disney loses appeal: Company tried to reverse a jury's $269 million award in a dispute over profits from the show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." An appellate court found no fault with the decision not to grant Disney a new trial. (Variety)

Cutting channels at Time Warner Cable?: CEO Glenn Britt says he'll take a "hard look" at programming contracts involving low-rated channels. From the WSJ:

Mr. Britt noted that since 2008, Time Warner Cable's programming costs have gone up more than 30%, while the prices it charges video customers have only increased 15%. He said the rising cost of cable TV is behind the softness in the video business that the cable industry as a whole has been grappling with. "We've accumulated networks that hardly anybody watches," Mr. Britt said. "We can't keep carrying these giant packages...with the services that don't carry their weight."

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
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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