TODAY

– September 17, 2014

Tulare County new car sales up since recession

New vehicle registration has revved back since the Great Recession in Tulare County, mirroring a trend seen across the nation.

“We’re not all the way back from the high during the 2005/06 period,” said Don Groppetti, the county’s largest auto dealer.

Still, the improvement is dramatic.

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Latest Local News

Written on 09/16/2014, 4:59 pm by Business Journal staff
The California High-Speed Rail Authority will host a job workshop in Fresno Sept. 26 to promote construction positions needed to build the rail project in...
Written on 09/16/2014, 4:16 pm by Business Journal staff
The Fresno Chaffee Zoo's Sea Lion Cove exhibit earned the 2014 Top Honor Exhibit Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.The award, announced today at the national AZA conference in Orlando, Florida, is the national organization's highest honor for exhibits, chosen out of applications from other members including the San Diego Zoo, the Smithsonian and Sea World. Sea Lion Cove opened to zoo visitors on Aug. 27, 2012, featuring a 240,000 gallon pool with rock features making a home for three sea lions, two harbor seals and two brown pelicans that can be seen from above or in an underwater viewing area. The exhibit, built with $10.5 million in funds from the Fresno County's Measure Z tax, contributed to a 28 percent increase in attendance after the first year of opening. “After watching our guests’ reaction to Sea Lion Cove, we knew it was a success for Fresno County,” said Fresno Chaffee Zoo CEO/Director Scott Barton, in a press release. “But to get national recognition from our colleagues reaffirms that, with the great support from our community, Fresno is creating one of the best zoos in the country.” The Fresno Chaffee Zoo began construction late last year on its newest project, African Adventure that's being built with around $55 million in Measure Z money. Expected to open in fall 2015, the project will double the zoo's footprint to 39 acres with space for lions, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras and other animals that depict the African Savannah.
Written on 09/16/2014, 2:24 pm by 
LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer
(AP) — The number of American men and women with big-bellied, apple-shaped figures — the most dangerous kind of obesity — has climbed at a startling rate over the past decade, according to a government study. People whose fat has settled mostly around their waistlines instead of in their hips, thighs, buttocks or all over are known to run a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related ailments. Fifty-four percent of U.S. adults have abdominal obesity, up from 46 percent in 1999-2000, researchers reported in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. Abdominal obesity is defined as a waistline of more than 35 inches in women and more than 40 inches in men. During the 12-year period studied, the average waist size in the U.S. expanded to 38 inches for women, a gain of 2 inches. It grew to 40 inches for men, a 1-inch increase. "The increase is a concern. There's no question about that," said Dr. William Dietz, an obesity expert formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, now at George Washington University. The expansion in waistlines came even as the overall level of obesity — as defined not by waist size but by body mass index, of BMI, a weight-to-height ratio — held fairly steady. "What it suggests is that even though the obesity rate may be stable, fat distribution may be changing, which would mean that we shouldn't be complacent about the plateau," said Dietz, who was not involved in the study. Dr. Earl Ford, a CDC researcher and the study's lead author, said the seemingly contradictory trends are puzzling. He said it could be that Americans are exercising less and getting flabby. But because fat weighs less than muscle, they are not necessarily getting heavier. The study cites other possible reasons for the increase in belly fat, including sleep deprivation and certain medicines. Also, researchers said the increase might be related to pesticides, the plastics additive BPA and other chemicals that mimic hormones that can affect weight. But the connection is speculative and unproven. Belly fat not only makes people look apple-shaped but often means fat has built up deep inside the body, around the liver and other abdominal organs. Compared with fat that lies closer to the surface, this "visceral" fat secretes lower levels of beneficial hormones and higher levels of inflammatory substances linked to obesity-related ailments, Dr. Lisa Neff, an obesity specialist at Northwestern University. She was not involved in the study. "In people of the same weight, the person who carries weight around the middle is going to have higher risks" of obesity-related ailments, Neff said. By 2011-12, the last year studied, 44 percent of men suffered from abdominal obesity, up from 37 percent. The trend was more pronounced among women: By 2011-12, about two-thirds of all women were affected, up from just over half in 1999-2000. The researchers analyzed data from CDC health surveys and in-person exams. Adults' average age during those years was 45. Previously released data from the same surveys indicate that about 35 percent of U.S. adults are obese, a level that hasn't budged much in recent years. Those surveys define obesity as a BMI of at least 30. For example, someone who is 5-foot-4 — the average U.S. woman's height — would be obese at 175 pounds. Ford said that for both kinds of obesity, the bottom-line message for patients is probably the same: diet and exercise. ___Online:JAMA: http://www.jama./comCDC: http://www.cdc.gov
Written on 09/16/2014, 2:16 pm by Business Journal staff
Former San Francisco 49er Tory Nixon has been appointed to head up California Bank & Trust's Northern California division. California Bank & Trust's Fresno banking center, as well as banking centers in the Bay Area and Sacramento, will be under Nixon's leadership, as well as 15 community branches in the region. A cornerback who was a member of the 49ers' 1998 Super Bowl championship team, Nixon will also maintain his position as head of the bank's San Diego division — a position he has held for seven years. “Tory has a firm understanding of the banking needs of California businesses and how to deliver financial solutions to support growth," said David E. Blackford, chairman, president and CEO of California Bank & Trust, in a statement. " By combining these qualities with his close ties and understanding of Northern California, he will help California Bank & Trust expand its presence in the region and leverage best practices throughout the state.” A native of Oregon, Nixon has been a resident of California for the last 27 years. He is a 25-year veteran of the banking industry.
Written on 09/16/2014, 1:57 pm by Business Journal staff
More than 103,000 attended the Tulare County Fair earlier this month, surpassing last year's attendance by nearly 68 percent. The fair kicked off its 95th year Sept. 10-14 featuring new exhibits, an expanded carnival, musical guests, food vendors. the antique tractor parade and a tractor pull. As well, visitors saw Buttercup the Cow made from 500 pounds of butter, toured the Walk on the Wild Side exotic animal display and caught a motorcycle thrill ride and demolition derby. The fairgrounds saw 103,594 pass through the gates this year compared to about 61,713 in 2013. Besides the spike in attendance, including 3,000 school children who toured the fair on School Days, food and beverage revenue was up 22.3 percent The Dairy Replacement Auction and Junior Livestock Auction together grossed $965,285 and the Garrett Bragg Memorial Livestock Auction netted an additional $24,500 to support the family of the Redwood High School student who was killed in a car accident Aug. 23 while on his to help at the fair. Tulare County Fair's CEO Pamela Fyock said the fair was a great success despite a hotter summer and a cut in state funding for California's 76 county fairs for the third year in a row. "I don't anticipate the return of state funding so the funfundraising and belt-tightening continues, but we were able to put on a fantastic fair that celebrates agriculture and delivered great value for families,” Fyock said in a release. “I’m grateful to the sponsors and proud of the volunteers and staff who made this possible.” Those interested in donating or volunteering to the Tulare County Fair can find out more by visiting www.tcfair.org/foundation.php or calling (559) 686-4707.
Written on 09/16/2014, 1:29 pm by DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
(AP) — Radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have agreed to pay nearly $146,000 to settle civil claims that they misused money from a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, federal officials said Tuesday. Flatow and the show did not admit any wrongdoing, but they agreed to not participate in federal grant programs for one year, in the settlement announced by Connecticut U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly and Inspector General Allison Lerner of the National Science Foundation. "This settlement sends a clear message that recipients of federally funded grants must strictly adhere to the regulations applicable to those grants," Daly said in a statement. "If recipients fail to do so, they risk significant consequences." The agreement follows previous similar civil settlements with public broadcasters or affiliates over how they tracked the spending of grants from the foundation. In 2010, a subsidiary of WNET in New York agreed to a $950,000 settlement, and in 2012 WGBH in Boston settled for $300,000. "I disagree with the conclusions of this investigation," Flatow said Tuesday. "I spent the money exactly how I said I would, delivered the show exactly how I said I would. "We've agreed to disagree," he said. "How much is it going to cost to disagree, that's what we're talking about here. I've been successfully receiving grants for 40 years. ... Why am I suddenly being penalized for conforming to the same standards I have for four decades?" The National Science Foundation, based in Arlington, Virginia, said in a statement that the settlement stemmed from a routine grant compliance review. Authorities declined to release specific details of the allegations against Flatow involving the $998,554 grant, which was aimed at boosting the show's reach to younger listeners through social media and other methods. Officials said the show and Flatow violated the federal False Claims Act and common law. According to the settlement document, investigators with the National Science Foundation found that the show "inappropriately used grant money to cover unallowable and unsupported costs" and submitted false documents to the federal government. Flatow and Science Friday Inc., a for-profit corporation based in Stamford, committed the violations while managing the grant and producing the show from August 2009 to July 2011, federal officials said. "Science Friday," which was created by Flatow in 1991, is now produced by the nonprofit Science Friday Initiative Inc. in New York City and distributed by Public Radio International. Flatow, who received a public service award from the National Science Foundation in 2005, said he didn't expect the settlement to affect the show. NPR officials declined to comment on the settlement and said individual stations decide which shows they air. Julia Yager, a senior vice president at Public Radio International, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, also declined to comment on the settlement. She said the allegations dated back to before PRI began distributing "Science Friday" in January, and the company has no plans to change its distribution of the show.
Written on 09/16/2014, 1:27 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — The stock market is closing broadly higher as investors await the results of a key meeting by the Federal Reserve. All 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose Tuesday, led by health care, utilities and energy companies. The Dow rose 100 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 17,131. The S&P 500 climbed 14 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,998. The Nasdaq rose 33 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,552. Fed policy makers have started a two-day meeting, and many investors are wondering if the central bank will indicate that it is moving closer to raising its key interest rate because the economy keeps strengthening. The Fed has held the rate close to zero for more than five years.
Written on 09/16/2014, 1:26 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Anheuser-Busch, one of the NFL's biggest sponsors, says it isn't happy with the recent controversy that has engulfed the league. The beer giant issued a statement on Tuesday saying it was "disappointed and increasingly concerned" by recent incidents and was not yet satisfied with the league's response. It said it had shared its concerns and expectations with the NFL. The league has come under fire for its handling of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice's assault of his then-fiancee. The Minnesota Vikings have also been criticized for allowing Adrian Peterson to play while he faces a charge of abuse for spanking his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch. Anheuser-Busch's sponsorship fees alone are worth an estimated $50 million a year, according to sponsorship consultancy IEG.
Written on 09/16/2014, 1:25 pm by JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — Corinthian Colleges is being sued by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for what it calls a "predatory lending scheme." The CFPB is seeking more than $500 million for borrowers who used the for-profit education company's private student loans. Corinthian misled students about their job prospects, in some cases paying employers to offer temporary jobs to graduates, the agency said Tuesday. Corinthian charged as much as $75,000 for a bachelor's degree and pushed students into private loans with interest rates of roughly 15 percent, more than double the rate for a federal loan, the CFPB said. More than 60 percent of Corinthian students with those loans defaulted within three years. "We believe Corinthian lured in consumers with lies about their job prospects upon graduation, sold high-cost loans to pay for that false hope, and then harassed students for overdue debts while they were still in school," said CFPB director Richard Cordray. Kent Jenkins, a Corinthian spokesman, disputed the claims made by the CFPB. Jenkins said the suit is based on "isolated incidents" at Corinthian's campuses regarding job placement. He said that the interest rate on its private loans averages 9 percent, instead of the 15 percent cited by the government. Corinthian requires that students repay the loans while attending class, having them pay an average of $35 a month. "We ask students to make payments while in school to help them develop the discipline and practice of repaying their federal and other loan obligations," Jenkins said. Shares of Corinthian Colleges Inc. dropped 4 cents, or 30 percent, to 10 cents in late trading following the lawsuit announcement. The entire for-profit education sector has come under intense government scrutiny. The Department of Education put into place new regulations that cut off federal aid if too many students default on loans or fail to earn enough money after graduation to repay them. Earlier this year, the Obama administration proposed even tighter regulations.The CFPB action is the latest blow to Corinthian. The company already plans to close a dozen of its U.S. campuses under an agreement with the Education Department, which also placed Corinthian under an independent monitor, former federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. The Santa Ana, California-based company also plans to sell up to 85 of its branch campuses. The company owns Everest College, Heald College and WyoTech schools.As of March, 74,000 students were enrolled at the company's campuses.
Written on 09/16/2014, 12:59 pm by Business Journal staff
The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce (FMBCC) will host a free informational session on Covered California tomorrow from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Downtown Business Hub.  The event is open to all small business owners and will be co-sponsored by small business advocacy group Small Business Majority and Health Law Guide for Business.  "We believe it's important for business owners to learn more about the healthcare law and how it affects them," Tate Hill, president and CEO of FMBCC said in a statement.  Small Business Majority's Central California Outreach Manager Mark Hebert will lead a discussion on the topic including how the marketplace functions for self-employed business owners, small business tax credits, wellness grants and cost containment provisions. A question and answer forum will follow the discussion.  "These interactive dialogues are a great way for small business owners to get the information they need to take advantage of and comply with key provisions of the new law and for us to get feedback on their thoughts and concerns," Hill said.  The Downtown Business Hub is located at 1444 Fulton St. in Fresno. Small business owners can register for the event at www.fmbcc.com or call (55) 441-7929 for more information. 

Latest State News

Written on 09/16/2014, 1:25 pm by JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — Corinthian Colleges is being...
Written on 09/16/2014, 10:59 am by Associated Press
(AP) — A court in Germany has lifted an...
Written on 09/16/2014, 10:22 am by Associated Press
(AP) — For the first time, California's...
Written on 09/16/2014, 8:59 am by 
JEFF BARNARD, Associated Press
(AP) — Dan Linville and his son were...

Latest National News

Written on 09/16/2014, 2:24 pm by 
LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer
(AP) — The number of American men and...
Written on 09/16/2014, 1:29 pm by DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press
(AP) — Radio host Ira Flatow and his...
Written on 09/16/2014, 1:27 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — The stock market is closing...
Written on 09/16/2014, 1:26 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Anheuser-Busch, one of the NFL's...