– November 1, 2014

Bell back on financial feet after near-bankruptcy

(AP) — A Los Angeles suburb facing potential bankruptcy following a corruption scandal is back on its financial feet.

The state controller had warned that the city of Bell could end the year with a million-dollar shortfall. But City Manager Doug Willmore tells the Los Angeles Times ( that Bell now has two years of reserves in the bank.

The city raised $15.5 million by selling property and got $5.5 million from firms it blamed for failing to prevent officials from giving themselves exorbitant raises.

Five former City Council members and assistant city manager were convicted of crimes.

Former city manager Robert Rizzo has pleaded no contest to 69 criminal counts. He's also agreed to plead guilty to filing a false income tax return.

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


gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebstergordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

Latest Local News

Written on 10/31/2014, 5:08 pm by Business Journal staff
Entrepreneurs in the Central Valley will soon get additional support through a new program started up between the Lyles Center for Innovation and...
Written on 10/31/2014, 2:06 pm by Business Journal staff
The Sanger City Council voted this week to approve a project to widen and improve Academy Avenue between 11th Street and North Avenue. The city will receive nearly $2.9 million in Measure C funding and almost $2.3 million in federal funding for the project. Improvements will consist of partial widening, overlaying and reconstructing Academy Avenue, the primary arterial through Sanger, Construction is slated to begin in June 2016 after engineering and right-of-way work is completed. "Academy Avenue is the southeast transportation corridor ferrying residents and commerce through Sanger," said Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell in a release. "This section of Academy is the last remaining segment to be improved. Getting to this point required the creativity and hard work of a number of people interested in the future of Sanger and Fresno County." A project to reconstruct and widen Academy Avenue from Church Avenue to 11th Street was completed in 2012 using $4 million in Measure C money.
Written on 10/31/2014, 1:39 pm by Business Journal staff
Produce container company IFCO Systems will rejoin the Fresno community Nov. 5 with the grand opening of its new 204,000 square-foot warehouse on Elm Avenue. The Tampa, Florida-based supplier of reusable plastic containers and pallets operated in Fresno once before. Now, the company is capitalizing on the growth of the Central Valley's fresh food sector with a newly leased facility at 2855 S. Elm Ave. in south Fresno. The Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County will be helping the company celebrate the new location with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 5 at 2:30 p.m. That will be followed by a tour of its service center at 3 p.m. and a cocktail reception at 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public but those interested in attending should make reservations by sending an email to With more than 180 million reusable plastic containers in circulation and more than 210 location worldwide, IFCO Systems is the leading provider of reusable plastic containers to the fresh food sector worldwide. Established around 20 years ago, IFCO Systems is owned by supply-chain logistics company Brambles Limited based in Sydney, Australia.
Written on 10/31/2014, 1:30 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — A Virgin Galactic space tourism rocket exploded Friday during a test flight, killing a pilot aboard and seriously injuring another while scattering wreckage in Southern California's Mojave Desert, witnesses and officials said. The company founded by British billionaire Richard Branson would not say what happened other than that it was working with authorities to determine the cause of the "accident." "During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo," Virgin Galactic tweeted. Ken Brown, a photographer who witnessed the crash, told The Associated Press that SpaceShipTwo exploded after a plane designed to take it to high altitude released it and the craft ignited its rocket motor. Brown said the wreckage fell in the desert north of Mojave Air and Space Port, where the test flight originated. The area is about 120 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. There is one fatality and one major injury, California Highway Patrol Officer Jesse Borne said. One person parachuted out, he said. SpaceShipTwo, which is typically flown by two pilots, was designed to provide a suborbital thrill ride into space before it returns to Earth as a glider. Friday's flight marked the 55th for the spaceship, which was intended to be the first of a line of craft that would open space to paying civilians. At 60 feet long, SpaceShipTwo features two large windows for each of up to six passengers, one on the side and one overhead. Virgin Galactic — owned by Branson's Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS of Abu Dhabi — sells seats on each prospective journey for $250,000, with full payment due at the time of booking. The company says that "future astronauts," as it calls customers, have visited Branson's Caribbean home, Necker Island, and gone through G-force training. Stephen Hawking, Justin Bieber, Ashton Kutcher and Russell Brand are among the celebrities to sign up for flights. Virgin Galactic reports taking deposits totaling more than $80 million from about 700 people. A related venture, The Spaceship Co., is responsible for building Virgin Galactic's space vehicles. During testing for the development of a rocket motor for SpaceShipTwo in July 2007, an explosion at the Mojave spaceport killed three workers and critically injured three others. A California Division of Occupational Safety and Health report said the blast occurred three seconds after the start of a cold-flow test of nitrous oxide — commonly known as laughing gas — which is used in the propulsion system of SpaceShipTwo. The engine was not firing during that test. Friday's accident was the second space-related explosion this week. On Tuesday, an unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff from a launch site in Virginia. No injuries were reported that accident, which drew criticism over NASA's growing reliance on private U.S. companies in this post-shuttle era Virgin Galactic planned to launch space tourism flights from the quarter-billion-dollar Spaceport America in southern New Mexico once it finishes developing its rocket ship. Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, did not want to comment on the events unfolding Friday in the California desert or what effect they might have on Spaceport America and the future of commercial space travel. Virgin Galactic is in line to be the main tenant at the spaceport that was built specifically to launch paying customers into space, a dream of Branson's. His company has repeated pushed back the timetable for when the $250,000 flights were to begin, pointing to delays in development and testing of the rocket ship. Taxpayers footed the bill to build the state-of-the-art hangar and runway in a remote stretch of desert in southern New Mexico as part of a plan devised by Branson and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Critics have long challenged the state's investment, questioning whether flights would ever get off the ground. SpaceShipTwo is based on aerospace design maverick Burt Rutan's award-winning SpaceShipOne prototype, which became the first privately financed manned rocket to reach space in 2004. Commercial development has been slower than expected. When Virgin Group licensed the technology from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who funded about $26 million for SpaceShipOne, Branson envisioned operating flights by 2007.
Written on 10/31/2014, 1:27 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Major U.S. stock indexes are back at record highs after a turbulent month. Stocks rallied in the U.S. and overseas after Japan's central bank surprised investors with a new round of economic stimulus. Just two weeks ago the U.S. market had its biggest slump in two years. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 194 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at an all-time high of 17,390 Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 reached its own record, climbing 23 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,017. The Nasdaq rose 64 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,630. Japan's benchmark index soared 5 percent to its highest level since 2007. In the U.S., GoPro jumped 13 percent after the maker of wearable video cameras posted strong earnings.
Written on 10/31/2014, 1:25 pm by JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press
(AP) — A federal judge seems to think Native Americans offended by the Washington Redskins team name are properly being sued by the NFL franchise. Judge Gerald Bruce Lee suggested during a hearing Friday that it would be unprecedented to dismiss the team's lawsuit against five Native Americans who complained about the name to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A trademark office board decided in June to cancel some of the Redskins' trademarks, citing federal regulations against protecting words and images that are disparaging or offensive. The team could have challenged the ruling in appellate court in Washington, but sought help instead in a venue that gives it more options, by going to a trial court to sue the Native Americans who complained in the first place. The team has used the Redskins name since 1933, and has asked the judge to reverse the trademark board's removal of protections of six trademarks the team registered between 1967 and 1990. The team argues that the name is not offensive, and that canceling its trademarks would violate its free speech rights and take its property without compensation. A lawyer for the Native Americans, Jesse Witten, argued that his clients should be left out of the dispute and that the lawsuit against them should be dismissed. But team attorney Robert Raskopf said Amanda Blackhorse and the other defendants belong in court because they're the ones who filed the petition. The judge seemed to agree and said he would issue a written ruling at a later date. The team's trademark protection remains in place while the issue makes its way through the court system, and the trademark board's ruling does not apply to the team's current logo, which includes an American Indian head in profile. Activists have demanded for decades that the Redskins change their name, but the "Change the Mascot" campaign has heated up this election year. Politicians have weighed in on both sides, and the Oneida Indian Nation in New York is bankrolling a P.R. campaign, including radio ads that are playing in Minnesota this weekend before the team's game against the Vikings. Team owner Dan Snyder says he'll never change the name. Just losing trademark protections under the current ruling could cost the team tens of millions of dollars per year.
Written on 10/31/2014, 1:23 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, the world's largest beer maker, has reported a 5.5-percent increase in earnings for the third quarter, as higher selling prices more than made up for volume declines in Europe and Asia. Net profit at the brewer of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona was $2.50 billion, compared with $2.37 billion in the same period a year earlier. Revenues were up 2.3 percent to $12.2 billion, as volumes fell 2.6 percent, but the company's revenue per beer increased by 4.9 percent. Though the Leuven, Belgium-based company suffered a 9.5 percent volume decline in Europe, it won a full percentage point of market share in Brazil, where it now controls 60 percent of the beer market. It also increased market share in China, by 1.5 percentage points to 16.5 percent.
Written on 10/31/2014, 11:45 am by hannahesqueda
Local sandwich chain Daeli Delicious is going through a growth spurt as six new locations are opening in the Central Valley this fall and several more are expected in the first quarter of 2015.Deli Delicious locations opened in the Save Mart shopping center at Clinton and Brawley avenues in west Fresno several weeks ago as well as downtown at 970 N. Street. The downtown restaurant hosted a grand opening celebration earlier this week, giving out sandwich vouchers and other prizes to mark the occasion.Another Fresno location is expected to open at Herndon and Millburn avenues by the end of November bringing the total number of Deli Delicious Fresno restaurants to 19. “Fresno is pretty saturated by now, which makes sense because we started there,” Nate Gilbert, Deli Delicious franchise sales director, said. “Now the focus is going more towards the sister cities and the rest of the state.”Locations in Bakersfield and Lemoore are expected to open by the end of the year, both of which will be the first Deli Delicious locations in their respective city. The sandwich chain is also tapping new markets in the Merced and Turlock areas early in 2015. Visalia will get its second Deli Delicious in November, with a restaurant slated to open in the same shopping center as Save Mart at Walnut Avenue and Akers Road. The new location has the same franchisee-owner as the restaurant at 4130 S. Mooney Boulevard. Madera got its second Deli Delicious location earlier this month when the restaurant at 18555 Pistachio Drive opened near the Chevron gas station. Gilbert said the company is excited about the potential of this restaurant because of the close proximity to Highway 99.Each Deli Delicious location is around 1,500-square-feet and has a minimum of 10 employees, Gilbert said. Since opening its first location in Fresno in 1995 the chain has spread all over the Central Valley, in Sacramento and is looking to expand to the Los Angeles market soon. Walmart expansion, new stores planned A north Fresno Walmart is expanding to add 35,000 square feet of space for fresh groceries and other food items. The expansion project at the 7065 N. Ingram Avenue facility is valued at $5 million and will be completed at the end of 2015.The 12-year-old store will remain open during construction and 80 full and part-time jobs are expected to be added because of the expansion, Della Garcia, Walmart director of communications, said. Once the expansion is completed, the store will be a total of 170,000 square feet and feature a full-line of fresh and dry grocery products for shoppers. “Customers may see some shuffling of products but the store will try to make shopping as convenient as possible for customers throughout the expansion,” she said.The store will host a grand re-opening late next year similar to the one recently held at the Kings Canyon Walmart in southeast Fresno, Garcia said. The store at 5125 E. Kings Canyon Road expanded earlier this year to become the city’s first Walmart Supercenter and is open 24-hours a day.Two new Walmart facilities will also open in Fresno next year including a Walmart location filling the space left by Mervyn’s on Blackstone and Ashlan Avenues.The location on Blackstone Avenue will be 107,000 square feet and is expected to create around 300 new jobs. The hiring process has already begun for many of the full and part-time positions and interested applicants are encouraged to visit the temporary hiring center at 3786 N. Blackstone Avenue. Most new hires will begin working in November and the store is scheduled to officially open early next year. Garcia said the company also expects to open a smaller location in central Fresno in 2015. The 40,000-square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market is currently under construction at Cedar and Shields Avenues in the space of the former Cedar Lanes bowling alley. The smaller store will primarily feature grocery and pharmacy services and is intended to appeal to neighborhood shoppers. “Our goal is to better serve our customers in the Fresno community,” Garcia said. Planet Fitness expanding in FresnoFresno is getting a second Planet Fitness at 741 E. Barstow Avenue in January. The new location will open in Headliner Shopping Center near Kristina’s Natural Market and is expected to create 10-15 new jobs. Local franchisee, Ben Heiderscheidt is responsible for the new club as well as the Planet Fitness in southeast Fresno. The 24,000-square-foot club will be slightly larger than the club at 4938 E. Kings Canyon Road and be open 24-hours a day. The gym will feature state-of-the-art cardio machines, strength equipment, fully equipped locker rooms, HydroMassage beds and tanning booths.
Written on 10/31/2014, 11:44 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Virgin Galactic has reported an unspecified problem during a test flight of its SpaceShipTwo space tourism rocket. The company tweeted Friday morning that SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power and then tweeted that it had "experienced an in-flight anomaly." The tweet said more information would be forthcoming. Kern County Fire Department reports it is heading to a location in the Mojave Desert. California Highway Patrol Officer Darlena Dotson says the agency is responding to a report of a crash in the Cantil area. SpaceShipTwo has been under development at Mojave Air and Spaceport in the desert northeast of Los Angeles. SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by a specially designed jet and then released before igniting its rocket for suborbital thrill ride into space and then a return to Earth as a glider.
Written on 10/31/2014, 11:43 am by ben
The Fresno Monsters hockey team may soon have a new venue to play games when a planned 1,800-seat arena is built at the Gateway Ice Center.But hockey is just one program proponents hope to expand when the 44,000 square-foot multi-purpose facility comes to fruition at Marks and Clinton avenues.Plans to expand the Gateway Ice Center have been a dream for the last 15 years. It wasn’t until the impending closure of the underperforming facility last year that the local nonprofit Lace ‘Em Up Foundation formed with the aim of purchasing the rink from longtime owner Bob Glassman.Now with a feasibility study underway by Firland Management, the nonprofit hopes to double the space as a larger attraction the whole Valley can enjoy for activities both on and off the ice.“There’s lot of opportunity for kids in west Fresno to have somewhere to go after school and hopefully we can tie it with the school districts here and start up some programs,” said Bryce Dale, Fresno Monsters general manager and one of 10 board members running the Lace ‘Em Up Foundation.Besides hosting local kids’ hockey teams as well regional and statewide tournaments, Dale mentioned many other uses during the summer months when the ice is removed and 20,000 square feet of concrete is left open for youth sports leagues like basketball, volleyball and indoor soccer.Among them, Dale said, Children’s Hospital Central California’s Adaptive Sports Program began using the Gateway Ice Center around six weeks ago to give individuals with physical and health impairments the opportunity to play sports that they normally couldn’t.For one thing, he said, the new ample sheet of ice and 29-foot high ceilings will provide enough viewing capacity to accommodate anywhere from 600 to 1,000 people. That’s a much larger draw compared to the Gateway Ice Center’s smaller practice rink where the junior hockey team has played for the last two seasons since ending its relationship with Selland Arena in downtown Fresno.“We had about 650 people come to our games on a regular basis (at Selland). Here, it’s a zoo,” Dale said. “We have a first place team this year and are pretty excited about hockey moving forward.”Planners also envision the facility will be used for live entertainment events, trade shows, banquets, fundraisers and other large gatherings.In addition to community functions, Dale cited some economic benefits to the area as well, including 20 new employees that could be hired to staff the arena.“It would also bring a lot of part-time jobs for events,” Dale said. “It’s a great opportunity for a lot of people to pick up some part-time work.”While still in its conceptual stage, some of the features in mind for the planned arena include luxury suites, a concourse and mezzanine, concessions stands, LED video scoreboard and a press box.The building, to be constructed at the west wall of the current Gateway Ice Center, would also be equipped with a highly efficient dehumidification system needed to maintain low temperatures and filter the air.Further conservation will come by use of reclaimed water, while the current Gateway Ice Center will share a new entrance with the facility creating flow between the two playing surfaces.As well, the new facility will share the existing ice system and add solar panels to the roof, leading to an estimated 94 percent reduction in current energy costs.Jeff Blair, facilities manager for the Gateway Ice Center, said talks have already begun with several designers and contractors and the goal is to break ground on the project at some point next year. However, a lot of that will depend on fundraising efforts, kick started so far by local groups like Children’s Hospital Central California and Big Brothers Big Sisters.Bob Glassman and the ownership group have been especially supportive, Blair said, having worked closely with the foundation to hone its vision and spending $170,000 remodeling the current sheet of ice.“This place does not make a lot of money. It’s a break even facility,” Blair said. “But the owners want to see ice sports stay in the community. They have been more than gracious keeping this place open.”Other local partners donating and helping spread the word about the new arena include the America Red Cross, Saint Agnes Medical Center, the Boys and Girls Club of Fresno County, the Marjaree Mason Center and the Poverello House.Those wishing to donate to the cause can do so by visiting the Lace ‘Em Up Foundation website at an exact amount is still a long way off, Dale said the estimated cost of the new arena is around $10 million, helped in large part by the federal New Market Tax Credit program designed to spur revitalization efforts of low-income and impoverished communities.Once money is received from the program, Dale said the Lace ‘Em Up Foundation can assume ownership of Gateway Ice Center, leaving them to fill the gap with fundraising. The foundation is also putting out requests right now as it seeks to secure naming rights for the new facility.First opened in 1995, the Gateway Ice Center now sees around 150,000 come through its doors each year for birthday parties, corporate events, hockey games and other skating outings. Blair said the new arena is expected to increase attendance while providing other needed perks to the city.“The amount of visitors you can get with a two-sheet facility is enormous,” Blair said. “And that also brings a lot of money to the area from out of town. They have to eat and they have to stay in a hotel. They have to get gas and their kids will want snacks. That’s all local tax money being brought in from somewhere else.” Ben Keller  |  Reporter can be reached at:490-3465 or e-mail

Latest State News

Written on 10/31/2014, 1:30 pm by The Associated Press
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