TODAY

– November 21, 2014

Central Valley Community Bank offers free shredding

Both individuals and businesses will be able to shred documents free of charge at Central Valley Community Bank locations.Both individuals and businesses will be able to shred documents free of charge at Central Valley Community Bank locations.Central Valley Community Bank will host its annual free document shredding events that allow businesses and individuals to shred confidential files safely and securely from April 16 to May 29 at CVCB locations throughout the San Joaquin Valley.

During tax season in particular, businesses and individuals look to evaluate and discard sensitive documents in order to clean house and protect against identity theft and fraud. CVCB offers the service to existing and non-bank customers.

“As identity theft and fraud become more prevalent in the Valley, Central Valley Community Bank is committed to helping the community protect their personal and business information,” said Dan Doyle, president and CEO of CVCB, in a release. “These events give our customers and community members the opportunity to shred their personal information with a company they can trust.”

Central Valley Community Bank offices in Fresno, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties are providing free paper shredding services with a limit of six banker boxes per person or business and up to shredding truck capacity. Additional boxes will be referred to an alternate location for a fee. Each branch has a specific date for the event, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Paper shredding dates and locations can be found at www.cvcb.com.

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Written on 11/20/2014, 3:34 pm by Ben Keller, Business Journal staff writer
Although occupancy rates dropped in the month, Valley lodges watched business pick up in October as more rooms opened up to guests.
Written on 11/20/2014, 1:47 pm by Business Journal staff
Central Valley Community Bancorp, parent company of Central Valley Community Bank of Fresno, announced a regular quarterly cash dividend of 5 cents per share. The dividend is payable on Dec. 29 to shareholders of record as of Dec. 15. With just more than 10.92 million shares outstanding, the payout totals approximately $546,400. Established in 1979, Central Valley Community Bank operates 21 full-service locations between Sacramento and Visalia. The company recently reported a third quarter net income of $2.35 million, down nearly 21 percent from the third quarter of 2013. For the first nine months of the year, however, net income is up 26.8 percent from the year before to $7.66 million.
Written on 11/20/2014, 1:45 pm by TOM MURPHY, 
JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press
(AP) — Employers squeezed by years of rising medical costs and pressure from the health care overhaul are still making employee health insurance a priority, but that coverage may grow skimpier in the coming years. A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that companies that offer health insurance see it as a key tool to attract workers and keep them on the job. But they're also sweating the expense, with 86 percent citing the cost of coverage as a key factor in picking a plan. A separate survey from the benefits consultant Mercer found that only 4 percent of all large employers say they will likely drop their employee health plans within the next five years, a figure that has trended down over the past few years. "We've been hearing lots of people blowing alarms about employers dropping plans and getting out of the business, but that's never what our data showed," said Beth Umland, Mercer's director of health and benefits research. The survey results run contrary to speculation among benefits insiders that more companies would consider dropping insurance coverage for their employees. They figured companies might do so in order to curb health care costs, which have climbed faster than inflation for years for many employers. The health care overhaul also has added more costs in some cases with taxes, fees and coverage mandates. Additionally, the overhaul created public insurance exchanges on which people can buy coverage. That could offer a safety net for companies that had offered benefits only because their employees had no other way to get them. Many companies have pared their coverage by making their workers pay a bigger share of the doctor bill. In some cases, they've also cut coverage for spouses of workers who can find insurance elsewhere. But business owners say they still see several reasons to offer some coverage. A total of 81 percent that offer insurance in the AP-NORC poll said they do so mainly because it's the right thing to do, while about 60 percent say it helps recruit and keep workers. Kinetic Systems Vice President and co-owner Judy Solomon says she has to provide insurance to attract and keep engineers when competing against bigger companies. Her Boston business has 32 full-time workers and makes equipment that helps control vibrations for sensitive scientific instruments She also thinks her lower-wage workers should have coverage as well. "I won't drop it no matter how much it goes up (in price)," she said. "I've sustained as much as an 18 percent increase in some years." Companies are generally wary about making big changes to their benefits to avoid pushing employees to leave, especially if unemployment rates are low and the pool of possible replacements is weak. "Historically, as the labor market improves, employers are more willing to go along with the status quo, so to speak," said Jon Gabel, a senior fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago. Offering insurance also can make good business sense. Companies get a tax break for offering benefits. They lose that if they drop coverage. And, depending on a company's size, it also may have to pay an overhaul-mandated fine for not providing coverage. In addition, a company that drops coverage probably will have to give employees more cash to help them buy coverage on their own and avoid a mass exodus of unhappy workers. While companies in general remain resolute about offering coverage, the expense may become too much for smaller businesses that generally have less control over rate hikes and what they offer their employees. The Mercer study found that 16 percent of companies with 50 to 199 employees say they are likely or very likely to drop medical plans in the next five years. Employers that stick with benefits may not offer the same coverage year after year, though. Ezell Precision Tool Co. used to pay the entire premium for its workers. That changed after that bill spiked 40 percent a few years ago. Now the Clearwater, Florida, company covers half the premium and has workers pay a $10,000 deductible before most of their insurance coverage starts. Nevertheless, Controller Anne Short said her company remains committed to offering some coverage. "It's the right thing to do," she said. The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey of employers on the health insurance market included interviews by telephone or online with a representative sample of 1,061 private sector companies with at least three employees. It was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago from August 19 through October 8, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For results among the full sample of employers, the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 5.6 percentage points. ___Online:AP-NORC Center: www.apnorc.org
Written on 11/20/2014, 1:40 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — U.S. stocks are back at record levels as investors were encouraged by good news on housing, the job market and corporate earnings. Best Buy jumped 7 percent Thursday after its quarterly results came in far ahead of what analysts were expecting. That bodes well for the holiday shopping season in the U.S. Homebuilder stocks rose after sales of U.S. homes increased last month. Beazer Homes rose 2 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose four points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,052. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 33 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,719. The Nasdaq composite added 26 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,701. Oil rose $1 to $75.58 a barrel in New York. Bond price rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.33 percent.
Written on 11/20/2014, 11:39 am by Lisa Leff, AP Writer
(AP) — The University of California voted Thursday to approve a tuition increase of as much as 5 percent in each of the next five years unless the state devotes more money to the 10-campus system. The Board of Regents adopted the increase proposed by UC President Janet Napolitano with a 14-7 vote. They had to shout their votes over students chanting "Hey, hey, ho, tuition hikes have got to go." Demonstrators said they were angry not only about the tuition hikes but also because the outcome seemed certain even before the proposal could be debated. "Seeing you all come in laughing and smiling and talking about stuff made me sick to my stomach," UC Davis student Amelia Itnyre, 23, told the board through tears before the vote. "Students, we aren't just angry, we are sad. You should be crying, you should be praying, you should be figuring out what you are going to do to fix this." The increase was opposed by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders who decide how much funding the university gets each year. Napolitano says the amount the governor has budged is inadequate to maintain the quality of the nation's largest public university. Brown says UC needs to come up with a more frugal way of doing business. Tuition rates have been frozen for three years. Napolitano and other UC officials say the pending hikes could be reduced or eliminated if the governor and Legislature boost the university's budget beyond what is now planned. In anticipation of the vote, dozens of students slept inside a classroom building at the University of California, Berkeley. The vote came a day after students tried to stop a meeting where a board committee gave preliminary approval to the proposal. Tuition has risen more rapidly at other public universities in the nation in recent years, and even with the increases, the cost of an education in the California system will still be cheaper than many others in the nation. On Wednesday, students formed human chains to block committee members from entering the conference center at the University of California, Mission Bay. Pushing and shoving occurred as protesters surrounded the board members and police tried to clear a path. Student Regent Sadia Saifuddin, who voted against the increases, told the board that while the demonstrators' tactics might be "unsavory to you all," the anger and fear students are feeling should not be disregarded. "This is not just $612 more a year. This is rent. This is another job they need to get. This is food they cannot buy," Saifuddin said. "Let's get real about the situation. Students have always had to pay the price for financial mismanagement by the board and the state." Napolitano, former U.S. Homeland Security secretary and governor of Arizona, clashed with Brown on Wednesday when she insisted the system is underfunded and bristled at her fellow Democrat's suggestion that the university needs to come up with a more frugal way of doing business. Before the vote, the governor said he wants to create a task force to look into ways to make the UC budget go further by educating more students in less time, such as offering more online classes and making it easier for community college students who transfer to a UC campus to complete their degrees. "I don't think you considered all the alternatives," he said. Napolitano shot back that the money Brown has budgeted for the campuses next year still leaves it $460 million below 2008 funding levels. "This is the budget we think we need so we can get off this year-to-year, feast-or-famine budget process for the university," Napolitano said. "We don't have time to wait for another commission. We can have it and maybe we will get some really nifty ideas out of it, but the budget process moves along." Under the plan, the average annual cost of a UC education for a California resident would rise $612 to $12,804 next fall and to $15,564 by fall 2019. Tuition rates have been frozen for three years. UC Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom, who oversees the system's budget, told the committee that only students with annual family incomes above $175,000 would pay the entire increase, and more than half of all UC students would continue paying no tuition thanks to financial aid. The regents committee voted 7-2, with the minority including Brown and Saifuddin, who, like other members, had to shout over the chants of angry collegians to make their votes heard.
Written on 11/20/2014, 11:34 am by Associated Press
(AP) — California regulators have approved a settlement to divide billions of dollars in costs from the closed San Onofre nuclear power plant. Consumers will get refunds and credits of about $1.4 billion. But they will pay about $3.3 billion in costs over 10 years, including for power purchased after the plant shut down. The vote by the California Public Utilities Commission Thursday was 5-0. At issue has been who should take the financial hit for the plant's premature demise — company shareholders or customers. San Onofre shut down for good last year after a long fight over whether it was safe to restart. The settlement stems from negotiations among operator Southern California Edison, minority owner San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and consumer advocates. Critics argued that the deal shortchanged ratepayers.
Written on 11/20/2014, 11:32 am by Sudhin Thanawala, AP Writer
(AP) — State regulators have decided to fine Pacific Gas & Electric Co. $1 million and require its shareholders to cover as much as $400 million of a gas rate increase because of backroom negotiations between the utility and regulators. The California Public Utilities Commission voted 3-0 on Thursday in favor of the penalty. The decision stems from recently released emails that show a PG&E executive and California Public Utilities Commission officials discussing which judge to appoint to a case over gas rates, with the executive objecting to one judge for having a history of being hard on the utility. Ratepayer advocates have demanded that the commission release tens of thousands of additional emails that they say may also show illegal contact between the CPUC and the state's largest utility. The commission did not address that request.
Written on 11/20/2014, 11:28 am by Associated Press
(AP) — A Southern California doctor has agreed to pay $1.2 million to resolve allegations that he submitted fraudulent bills and received improper payments from federal and state health insurance programs. The settlement concludes a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by an individual who used to provide billing and collection services to Dr. Narinder S. Grewal's Chatsworth pain management clinic. The suit alleged that Grewal and his clinic obtained improper reimbursements from government-run health insurance programs, including Medicare and Medi-Cal. He was accused of collecting on fraudulent claims by submitting bills that were not justified by the services that were actually provided. The Daily News (http://bit.ly/1uNeMdY ) cites court records unsealed Wednesday that reveal Grewel has agreed to pay a total of $1.2 million to the federal government and the state of California.
Written on 11/20/2014, 11:23 am by Associated Press
(AP) — A storage company in the desert east of San Diego has pleaded guilty to illegally disposing of untreated human waste that may have totaled more than 1 million gallons. Federal prosecutors say Glamis Dunes Storage Inc. and owner Michael Mamelli entered the plea Wednesday. The storage site is off Highway 78 near the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area and in 2007 it received a permit to install and operate a 20,000-gallon tank for holding human waste from recreational vehicles. The company agreed under the permit that a licensed hauler would come and take the waste to a wastewater treatment plant. But the defendants admitted that in 2010 they installed a leaching system that would pump waste from the tank to under a nearby field, and expanded that system in 2012.
Written on 11/20/2014, 11:00 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Democratic Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno narrowly avoided one of the biggest upsets of the midterm elections, edging out his Republican challenger Wednesday in a contest that neither of the two parties expected to be so close. His re-election to a sixth term leaves just one California congressional race undecided. Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, who won his suburban Sacramento seat just two years ago, was clinging to a narrow lead over his Republican challenger, former Congressman Doug Ose. Costa won after the three counties included in his 16th Congressional District — Fresno, Merced and Madera — released updated ballot counts Wednesday afternoon. He was up by about 1,300 votes out of more than 90,000 ballots cast, and his opponent, Johnny Tacherra, could not catch up with the relatively few ballots that remained uncounted. The robust challenge to Costa, whose family has farmed in the San Joaquin Valley for more than 80 years, was a surprise. Tacherra, a dairy farmer, flew so far under the radar that national and state Republicans pretty much ignored him. Costa outspent Tacherra by a margin of roughly 3-to-1, and he benefited from a 16-point voter registration edge for Democrats in the district. He had won his 2012 race by a comparable margin. But Costa, a longtime member of the state Legislature before entering Congress, also represented a heavily agricultural district that has been struggling with the effects of California's three-year drought. Many farmers blamed the federal government for making the situation worse. Tacherra seized on that frustration, accusing Costa in ads as being a rubber stamp for the "Obama agenda" and "failing us on our basic rights to water."

Latest State News

Written on 11/20/2014, 11:39 am by Lisa Leff, AP Writer
(AP) — The University of California...
Written on 11/20/2014, 11:34 am by Associated Press
(AP) — California regulators have...
Written on 11/20/2014, 11:32 am by Sudhin Thanawala, AP Writer
(AP) — State regulators have decided to...
Written on 11/20/2014, 11:28 am by Associated Press
(AP) — A Southern California doctor has...

Latest National News

Written on 11/20/2014, 1:45 pm by TOM MURPHY, 
JENNIFER AGIESTA, Associated Press
(AP) — Employers squeezed by years of...
Written on 11/20/2014, 1:40 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — U.S. stocks are back at record...
Written on 11/20/2014, 10:49 am by MATTHEW PERRONE, AP Health Writer
(AP) — Federal health regulators have...
Written on 11/20/2014, 10:48 am by SCOTT MAYEROWITZ, 
MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writers
(AP) — The good news for Thanksgiving...