– October 31, 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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If restaurants raised prices 10% to pay for higher minimum wages, would you dine out less?


gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
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Latest Local News

Written on 10/30/2014, 5:02 pm by Business Journal staff
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced that bond rating agency Fitch Ratings revised the city's credit rating outlook from negative to stable.
Written on 10/30/2014, 3:41 pm by Gordon M. Webster
As people complete their mail-in ballots or prepare to hit the polls Tuesday for the November general election, here is one fact they should keep in mind: California is one of the worst state's when it comes to taxes. In fact, out of 50 states, it has the 48th best tax climate, according to the latest State Business Tax Climate Index by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. That means only two states — New York and New Jersey — suffer from more complex, non-neutral taxes with higher rates. When it comes to just individual income taxes, California is the worst with a No. 50 ranking. The state's highest ranking comes in the unemployment insurance tax category with a No. 14 ranking. The Tax Foundation argues that while the federal government is gridlocked on this issue, state policymakers on both sides of the aisle are enacting fundamental reforms. It may not be a surprise to see the top tax states are Wyoming at No. 1, South Dakota at No. 2 and Nevada at No. 3. Texas ranked at No. 10. So as you vote this year, ask yourself where your favorite candidates stand on California's onerous tax system, and what they are prepared to do about it.
Written on 10/30/2014, 1:25 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — U.S. stock indexes are closing higher as big companies turn in encouraging quarterly results. The Dow Jones industrial average rose more than 200 points Thursday, thanks in large part to a big gain in Visa, the Dow's highest-priced stock. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 12 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,994. The Nasdaq composite rose 16 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,566. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 221 points, or 1.3 percent, to 17,195. Visa announced earnings late Wednesday that beat analysts' expectations. The company also announced a big share buyback program. Auto parts maker BorgWarner dropped 4 percent after reporting results that missed analysts' expectations. The price of the 10-year Treasury note edged up. Its yield fell to 2.31 percent.
Written on 10/30/2014, 1:18 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — A police department in suburban Philadelphia has created a "safe zone" for people to complete transactions they arranged online. The Conshohocken Police Department said individuals making purchases from other people through Craigslist and other online sites are free to complete the deals in the police department's lobby or parking lot. The idea for the safe zone came after Conshohocken Officer Steve Vallone said his wife told him she was going to another person's house to complete an online purchase. He didn't like the idea. "I figured there's got to be a better place for people who don't know each other to complete these transactions," Vallone said. "Why not allow people to complete their online transactions from here? It seems like the perfect match." The lobby is available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the parking lot is open for use 24 hours a day. Vallone said the lot is well-lit and has four surveillance cameras. Police said the decision was not undertaken in response to any crimes. A similar program was started in May by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office in Florida. That office said it was offering four of its parking lots for residents making purchases in a response to "safety threats for those engaging in cash transactions" involving items bought from others on the Internet or in classified advertisements. Vallone said the department hopes to see others implement similar programs.
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:49 pm by Tom Krisher, AP Writer
(AP) — Shortly before 9 a.m. on the day after the worst night of his life, Rikk Wilde got the phone call from his big boss at General Motors. Yes, he committed a nationally televised, major-league blooper while presenting pickup truck keys to the World Series MVP. No, he wouldn't be fired. Now get out there and sell some trucks. The call, from Chevrolet Vice President Brian Sweeney, had to be a relief for Wilde, who makes his living as a zone manager and liaison between GM and its Kansas City-area dealers. "The Chevy leadership team called and told him he did nothing wrong. It's all good. Everyone here has his back," said Michael Albano, the brand's top spokesman. GM had lined up Wilde, a lifelong Royals fan, for the postgame presentation because he's a good employee and loves baseball. There was hope that he'd be giving the keys to a Chevrolet Colorado to someone on the home team. But instead it went to San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who saved Game 7 by shutting out the Royals for five innings. Wilde had practiced for the moment, an effort to draw attention to GM's newest product, and brought notes just in case he forgot something. He did. When Fox Sports announcer Erin Andrews introduced him, he was sweating. As he started to say his lines, he became breathless. He stumbled and had to look to his notes. He ad-libbed a line that would bring guffaws on social media: "It combines class-winning and leading, you know, technology and stuff, with Wi-Fi powered by OnStar." #Technologyandstuff was trending on Twitter, as was #ChevyGuy, with many comparing Wilde to the late comedian Chris Farley. "ChevyGuy is the most hilariously awkward person ever," one person tweeted. "Chevy really sold me on their new Colorados with that class leading technology and stuff and immediate recalls!!!," another tweeted, an obvious reference to GM's safety problems. But around 1:30 a.m. EDT, Albano said he noticed the sentiment starting to shift. "We LOVE the #Chevyguy! Don't change a bit #Wildeman!," wrote one tweeter. "We saw quickly the 'technologyandstuff' tagline kind of take off and start to trend," Albano said. "That's when you realize that you have something there that you might want to embrace." GM got a bigger chance to promote its re-entry into the small to midsize pickup truck business because Wilde drew so much attention to the usually forgotten MVP presentation. Chevy even used the #technologyandstuff in a tweet from a corporate account, linking to an ad. "He was on message," Albano said. "The truck has technology and stuff. We will use that term and stuff."
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:41 pm by Scott Smith, AP Writer
(AP) — A judge on Thursday approved a debt plan by Stockton, California, one of the largest U.S. cities to declare bankruptcy, allowing it to reorganize more than $900 million in long-term debt and put more than two years of financial uncertainty behind it. Marking a critical development in the city's financial recovery, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein said Stockton can use the plan to exit the court's Chapter 9 protection, which it sought in 2012. Klein's ruling can be appealed. "This plan, I'm persuaded, is the best that can be done in terms of restructuring an adjustment of the debts of the city of Stockton," he said. The city negotiated deals with all major creditors except Franklin Templeton Investments, which argued it was being treated unfairly. The investment firm said the city isn't touching a massive employee pension fund but is asking the company to walk away from collecting nearly $32.5 million still owed. "Obviously we are disappointed," Franklin Templeton's attorney, James Johnston, told the judge. "We will evaluate our next steps." Klein ruled earlier this month that bankruptcy law allows the city to treat pension obligations like any other debt, meaning the city could trim benefits. An inland port city 80 miles east of San Francisco, Stockton filed for Chapter 9 protection in 2012, making it the nation's largest bankrupt city before Detroit filed for bankruptcy last year. Elsewhere in California, Vallejo went through bankruptcy before Stockton. San Bernardino filed shortly after Stockton and has yet to present an exit plan. Stockton's leaders say the city fell victim to an unforgiving boom-and-bust economic cycle. Before the recession, leaders spent millions of dollars revitalizing the downtown area with a new City Hall and building a marina, sports arena and ballpark. The city issued about 3,000 permits annually to build new homes, and it paid police premium wages and health benefits. With the recession, building dried up, and Stockton became ground zero for home foreclosures. Like many residents, City Hall couldn't pay its bills. The city slashed millions of dollars from its budget and laid off 25 percent of its police officers. Crime soared. Franklin Templeton also argued that Stockton agreed to better terms with its other creditors, and that the city's economic projections showed it could afford to eventually pay back most or all it owed Franklin Templeton.
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:28 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed building 100,000 new housing units in Los Angeles by 2021, vowing to cut red tape at City Hall to make it happen. In a speech Wednesday at the Los Angeles Business Council Summit, Garcetti said the city faces a housing shortage the likes of which has not been seen since the end of World War II. City News Service reports the mayor wants to make the process of boosting the housing stock easier by putting records online, filing blueprints electronically and assigning case managers to development projects. Garcetti also plans to increase the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which provides seed money for projects that can draw more funding from state and federal sources. Business Council president Mary Leslie said her group supports Garcetti's plan.
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:26 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — A physics institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, has received a $65 million donation — the largest single gift in the university's history. The Los Angeles Times reports Thursday ( ) that the donation by Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, will fund a new visitor housing facility for the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics. Munger said in a statement last week that the facility will help physicists know each other better and build trust, which is vital for reaching breakthroughs in the field.
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:15 pm by Business Journal staff
Clovis was named the top city in Northern California for young families while Sanger took the top 14 spot, according to a new list by personal finance site NerdWallet. NerdWallet considered such factors like public school excellence, home affordability and growth and prosperity when compiling its Best Cities for Young Families in Northern California list. Of the 138 cities evaluated, Clovis was the No. 1 pick with an overall score of 68.07. The rating had a lot to do with Clovis schools, which made up 40 percent of the score. GreatSchools gave Clovis area schools a rating of 8 out of 10, while the city's high schools achieved a graduation rate of 92.6 percent for the 2011-2012 year compared to the statewide graduation rate of 78.5 percent. Clovis also excelled economically. Accounting for 30 percent of the overall score, the city's median income grew 51.32 percent from 1999 to 2012 to $63,983. Median home values, making up 15 percent of the score, were reasonable as well at $259,000 in 2012, while another 15 percent was in median monthly homeownership costs standing at $1,981 that year. Clovis was also praised for its 285 acres of parks and trails, proximity to three national parks and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo and family-friendly activities like Friday night farmer's markets in the summer, Big Hat Days in April. At No. 14 on the list, Sanger achieved an overall score of 59.67. The score took into account a GreatSchools rating of 7 out of 10 and a 2012 median income $40,761, which is 27.09 percent higher than 1999. Sanger residents also enjoyed median home values of $162,300 in 2012 and median monthly homeownership costs of $1,508. While not cracking the top 20, other cities included in the list were Reedley at 49, Chowchilla at 56, Fresno at 66 and Dinuba at 101.
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:05 pm by Business Journal staff
The Fresno Metro Black Chamber of Commerce will host a financial and technology workshop for businesses at the Tulare Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 6.  The Financially Ready, Internet Smart and Technology Savvy (F.I.T.) event is free and will be held from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at 220 E. Tulare Ave. in Tulare. The workshop is the third installment in the F.I.T. series and will focus on helping small, diverse and minority businesses improve their marketing techniques.  During the workshop, information and resources will be provided to help entrepreneurs and small business owners learn how to prepare financially and technologically.  For more information on the workshop series or to register visit or contact Chasitie Neal at (559) 441-7929. 

Latest State News

Written on 10/30/2014, 12:41 pm by Scott Smith, AP Writer
(AP) — A judge on Thursday approved a...
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:28 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed...
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:26 pm by Associated Press
(AP) — A physics institute at the...
Written on 10/30/2014, 8:59 am by MICHELLE CHAPMAN, AP Business Writer
(AP) — Apple CEO Tim Cook says he's...

Latest National News

Written on 10/30/2014, 1:25 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — U.S. stock indexes are closing...
Written on 10/30/2014, 1:18 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — A police department in suburban...
Written on 10/30/2014, 12:49 pm by Tom Krisher, AP Writer
(AP) — Shortly before 9 a.m. on the day...
Written on 10/30/2014, 10:19 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — The American Red Cross...