– October 22, 2014

New Fresno State president starts job tomorrow

Fresno State's eighth president Joseph CastroFresno State's eighth president Joseph CastroNew Fresno State President Joseph Castro starts his first day on the job tomorrow with a full itinerary of stops to learn about the campus.

The Hanford native was selected by the California State University Board of Trustees in May to replace retiring President John Welty, who filled the position for 22 years.

Castro's day starts early with a new employee orientation in the Joyal Administration Building at 7:15 a.m. for some paperwork and fingerprinting by the Fresno State Police Department.

Next, he will be ushered off to the Thomas Building at 9 a.m. to meet the university's Interim Provost Dr. Andrew Hoff—filling in since the departure of Dr. William Covino in May—and the Academic Senate, whose job it is to devise Fresno State's educational policies.

Castro will then make a brief stop at the Exploring Regional Institutional Research Collaboration meeting in the Henry Madden Library at 9:45 a.m. followed by a 10 o'clock stop in the Speech Arts Building for a photo session with university photographer Cary Edmonson.

A press conference will then take place in the Peters Ellipse room back in the library at 11 a.m. followed by lunch with Associated Students Inc. President Moses Menchaca in the University Student Union pit.

The weekend will be spent like any other mover with the Castro family unpacking boxes and settling in to the University House located at 4411 N. Van Ness Blvd.

Castro, 46, is Fresno State's eighth president. Previously, he served as vice chancellor of student academic affairs at the University of California, San Francisco.

How will you vote on Fresno County's Measure Z zoo sales tax?


gordonwebstergordonwebster Gordon Webster - Publisher
gordonwebstergordonwebster Gabriel Dillard - Managing Editor

Latest Local News

Written on 10/21/2014, 3:47 pm by Business Journal staff
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) cited 16 individuals for illegal contracting during an undercover sting operation in Madera County on Oct. 15...
Written on 10/21/2014, 1:18 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — The stock market had its best day of the year as investors applauded solid earnings from U.S. companies and economic growth in China. It was the fourth straight gain for the Standard & Poor's 500. The index climbed 37 points, or 2 percent, to 1,941. The market has now clawed back much of the ground it lost over the last two weeks. The S&P 500 is still 3.5 percent below the all-time high it reached in mid-September. Apple rose 3 percent after predicting strong holiday sales, and Harley-Davidson jumped 7 percent after its results beat analysts' forecasts. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 215 points, or 1.3 percent, to 16,614. The Nasdaq composite rose 103 points, or 2.4 percent, to 4,419.
Written on 10/21/2014, 1:02 pm by TOM MURPHY, AP Business Writer
First, CVS Health pulled tobacco from its store shelves. Now, it plans to make some customers think twice about filling prescriptions at other stores that sell smokes. The nation's second-largest drugstore chain is developing a new tobacco-free pharmacy network that it will offer as a choice to employers and other clients of its Caremark pharmacy benefits management business. Employers, insurers and unions hire pharmacy benefits managers, or PBMs, to run their prescription drug coverage. The new CVS network will slap an extra co-payment on patients who fill their prescriptions at stores that sell tobacco. That payment won't apply to prescriptions filled at stores in the tobacco-free network, which would include CVS and Target or other stores that don't sell tobacco. Target Corp. quit selling tobacco in 1996. The network, which starts next year, comes as companies continue to seek ways to control health care costs that have been growing faster than inflation for years. They've added wellness programs to help workers become healthier by losing weight or quitting smoking. They've also trying to rein in spending by making workers pay a greater share of the cost of their care at doctor's offices and pharmacies. CVS spokeswoman Carolyn Castel said her company developed the new PBM network after several customers asked for it. The company's prescription drug networks cover about 65 million people as the nation's second-largest PBM, but the tobacco-free option will only be used by the PBM customers that choose it. Castel said it's too early to say how many PBM clients will sign up for such a plan. "It's not across the board," she said, adding that the size of the extra co-payment would vary according to client. A relatively small number of benefits providers will likely try the new option, said Adam J. Fein, president of the business research firm Pembroke Consulting. More PBMs in recent years have started offering networks that have different co-payments depending on pharmacy costs or quality measurements. But a tobacco focus is untested and no one knows whether it will have any impact on smoking rates. Plus, companies try to avoid being too disruptive with changes to the benefits they offer. Even so, Fein called the network a "worthwhile experiment" because smoking-related illnesses are at the root of a lot of health care costs. CVS first started taking on tobacco in February, when it announced that it would remove cigarettes, cigars and other like products from its more than 7,700 drugstores nationally to help sharpen its focus on health. It completed that task in September when it also announced that it would change its name to CVS Health from CVS Caremark. Drugstore chains, grocers and big retailers like Target have delved deeper into customer health in recent years, in part to serve the aging baby boom generation and the millions of uninsured people who are expected to gain coverage under the federal health care overhaul. They've been adding walk-in clinics to their stores, expanding the care they provide, and putting more health care products on their shelves. CVS Health rivals Walgreen Co. and Rite Aid Corp. still sell tobacco in their drugstores. The new pharmacy benefits network, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, could steer patients away from the competition for CVS. But Fein said he doesn't see that as an anti-trust concern or anything that creates an unfair competitive advantage. "No one is forcing an employer to set up a plan that eliminates pharmacies that sell tobacco. It's just an option," said Fein, who also writes a blog on pharmaceutical economics called Drug Channels. Shares of CVS Health climbed $1.17 to $82.65 in afternoon trading Tuesday and have advanced about 25 percent since the company initially announced its split with tobacco in February. That more than doubles the rise of the Standard & Poor's 500 index over the same span.
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:55 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Harley-Davidson's third-quarter profit fell nearly 8 percent on a planned reduction of motorcycle shipments for the quarter. But its earnings topped Wall Street expectations, and its shares climbed more than 6 percent in afternoon trading. The Milwaukee company said Tuesday that its net income was $150.1 million, or 69 cents per share, from July through September. That compares with $162.7 million, or 73 cents per share, a year ago. But analysts polled by FactSet expected only 60 cents per share. Revenue from motorcycles and related products was $1.13 billion, down 4.2 percent for the quarter and short of analysts' estimates of $1.14 billion. Harley-Davidson Inc. said it shipped 50,670 motorcycles worldwide, a planned decrease of 6.2 percent that was in line with prior guidance. That led to a decline in revenue. But dealers worldwide sold more than 73,000 new bikes during the quarter, a 4 percent increase over the prior year. The company stuck with previous estimates that it would ship 270,000 to 275,000 motorcycles worldwide this year, a 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent increase over 2013. After the first quarter it expected 7 percent to 9 percent shipment growth. Harley-Davidson also expects to make capital expenditures of $215 million to $235 million this year, and post a full-year operating margin of 17.5 percent to 18.5 percent. Harley's shares rose $3.58, or 6.1 percent, to $61.96 in afternoon trading Tuesday. The shares have declined 8.6 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has climbed 3 percent.
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:54 am by MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer
(AP) — Banks will get a break in easier rules for packaging and selling mortgage securities and fewer borrowers will have to make hefty down payments under actions taken by federal regulators. The regulators have dropped a key requirement: a 20 percent down payment from the borrower if a bank didn't hold at least 5 percent of the mortgage securities tied to those loans on its books. The long-delayed final rules unveiled Tuesday by six federal agencies include the less stringent condition that borrowers not carry excessive debt relative to their income. The board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. voted 4-1 Tuesday to adopt the rules. The Federal Reserve has scheduled a vote for Wednesday, and four other agencies are doing the same. The rules for mortgage securities will take effect in a year. For other kinds of securities, which don't allow banks an exemption from the 5-percent rule, the effective date is in two years. The rules, proposed in 2011, were mandated by the overhaul law enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The idea is to limit the kind of risky lending that brought on the crisis. If banks have more of their own money invested in mortgage securities — so-called "skin in the game" — they won't be as likely to take excessive risks, the thinking goes. After three years of interagency haggling, the regulators' final, compromise approach was to adopt the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's definition of a "qualified" mortgage. It excludes the kind of risky practices that fueled the crisis, such as mortgages issued without any supporting documents from borrowers. CFPB Director Richard Cordray, a member of the FDIC board, noted at Tuesday's meeting that conditions in the mortgage market have changed since the financial crisis and the time of the enactment of the 2010 overhaul law, when anxiety over reckless lending gripped lawmakers. "Credit has dried up for a long period and (lending) standards have tightened dramatically," he said. FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said the approach strikes a balance between protecting investors and credit markets "while minimizing costs and burden for consumers and market participants." The real estate industry and mortgage bankers lobbied against the original down payment requirement for exemption from the 5-percent rule, saying it could limit the access to mortgages of low- and moderate-income borrowers. Wall Street, looking to revive the market for mortgage securities not backed by government-controlled guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also has been awaiting the final rules. Financial industry interests were quick to claim victory Tuesday. The approach ultimately taken by the regulators was "strongly advocated" by the American Bankers Association, the group's president Frank Keating said in a statement after the FDIC vote. "This will encourage lenders to continue offering carefully underwritten (mortgage) loans, and avoid placing further hurdles before qualified borrowers, allowing them to achieve the American dream of homeownership." Ahead of the crisis, banks packaged and sold to investors bundles of risky mortgages with teaser rates that ballooned after only a few years. The banks had very little of their own money invested. Many borrowers ended up defaulting on the loans when the interest rates spiked. As a result, the value of the mortgage securities plummeted, and banks and investors holding them lost billions. The debacle helped ignite the financial meltdown that plunged the economy into the deepest recession since the 1930s and brought a taxpayer bailout of banks. The new rules will affect only a relatively small portion of the mortgage securities market, regulators say. Loans backed by Fannie, Freddie and the Federal Housing Administration aren't subject to the 5-percent rule . The two companies and the federal agency together stand behind about 90 percent of new mortgages, and own or back more than $5 trillion worth of home loans. On Monday, the head of the agency overseeing Fannie and Freddie announced that the companies have reached an agreement with major banks that could expand lending. Mel Watt, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said the deal clarifies conditions in which banks could be required to buy back mortgages they sell to Fannie and Freddie for misrepresenting the loans' risks. He said the agreement in principle is "a significant step forward" that will help make more mortgage credit available without harming Fannie and Freddie's finances.
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:52 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — A second defendant has pleaded guilty in a case alleging that a Northern California slaughterhouse at the center of a massive recall processed and distributed tainted beef. Eugene Corda, an employee of Petaluma-based Rancho Feeding Corp., entered the plea to one count of aiding and abetting in the distribution of adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat earlier this month. A co-owner of the slaughterhouse, Robert Singleton, also pleaded guilty to the same charge in August. The two other defendants, co-owner Jesse Amaral Jr. and Felix Cabrera, are still facing charges. They have pleaded not guilty. Federal prosecutors say the owners schemed with employees to slaughter about 79 cows with skin cancer of the eye. The plant's operations were halted in February after a series of beef recalls.
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:51 am by Business Journal staff
Kaiser Permanente will give $500,000 in grants to four community organizations during a food distribution and health event in Mendota on Thursday.  The event will be held at 9:30 a.m. at Rojas Pierce Park, 350 Sorensen Avenue. The distribution and  grant money will assist residents in communities which have been the most impacted by the drought including Mendota, Kerman, Orange Cove, Parlier, San Joaquin, Huron and Firebaugh.  "These grants contribute to Kaiser Permanente's commitment to expanding access to care and healthy foods along with our history of helping people and organizations in need," Jeff Collins, Kaiser Permanente Fresno's senior vice president and area manager, said in a prepared statement.  Representatives from Kaiser Permanente Fresno will be present to distribute the grants. The Community Food Bank will receive $300,000 to help add fresh produce and lean protein to its monthly food distribution events. A $24,500 grant will be given to the American Red Cross to help provide emergency drinking water to residents.  The Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation will receive $75,500 to use for its medical and dental services mobile vehicle and existing Fresno County clinics, and the Marjaree Mason Center will receive $100,000 to offer prevention outreach and support services to domestic violence victims, residents and service providers in the rural communities. 
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:32 am by Business Journal staff
The Fresno Grizzlies organization announced it will host free watch parties for all World Series games except for Game 4 at Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno. The series between the San Francisco and Kansas City Royals kicks off tonight at 5:07 p.m., which is the start time for each game in the best-of-seven series. Gate 2 at Chukchansi Park will open at 4:30 p.m. prior to each watch party. Parking is also free in the H Street lot. Those attending tonight's Game 1 watch party can sign up for one free raffle ticket at the sales booth on the first base concourse, with one winner receiving two tickets to Game 3 of the World Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The winner will be chosen after the final out of the game, and must be present to redeem the tickets. The Grizzlies Team Store will be open and stocked with new merchandise. Anyone spending $49 or more will receive their choice of a free Giants World Series Championship Replica Ring. Sales representatives will also be on hand to discuss ticket plans for the 2015 season. People are allowed to sit on the field or in the stadium seats, though no chairs or outside food or beverage is allowed. A concession stand will remain open during each game. All games begin at 5:07 p.m. PT Game 1 | Tuesday, October 21Game 2 | Wednesday, October 22Game 3 | Friday, October 24*Game 5 | Sunday, October 26*Game 6 | Tuesday, October 28*Game 7 | Wednesday, October 29 *If Necessary
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:18 am by Business Journal staff
Rick Whitsell, CEO of Fresno First Bank, has been tapped as a speaker for the 16th Annual International Leadership Association Global Conference. Whitsell joins other top executives as a panelist for a global audience of more than 1,200 attendees in San Diego for the conference running Oct. 30 through Nov. 2. Whitsell will deliver a presentation titled "Banking on Values: How Ownership Builds Trust in the Financial Industry." The presentation will be a part of a larger session where other top executives explore the role of the CEO in creating positive cultures and communicating values to drive strategic results. The conference is a global network of those who practice, study and teach leadership. For more information and to register visit
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:01 am by Business Journal staff
Self-Help Enterprises has been recognized as a NeighborWorks Green Organization for its comprehensive efforts towards sustainable operations. The Visalia-based organization was awarded the designation as a result of its commitment to green business practices. This is the third year NeighborWorks has recognized member groups and to date, 61 organizations have achieved the special designation.  "We are honored to be named a NeighborWorks Green Organization for our commitment to sustainable building practices and our green office culture," Tom Collishaw, CEO of Self-Help Enterprises, said in a prepared statement. "The green strategies we have adopted save families money, improve health outcomes and reduce our environmental impact." Self-Help Enterprises works together with low-income families to build homes and communities using green practices. Homes built are of modest size to reduce land use and Energy-Star appliances and solar panels are often implemented.  All homes and apartment complexes are built to California's CALGreen energy code (Title 24) and most projects exceed it. The Goshen Village II and Viscaya Gardens rental communities in Tulare County both go beyond Title 24 and feature solar energy systems, low-water landscaping and many other energy upgrades.  Self-Help also follows green practices in the office by encouraging employees to recycle and compost, setting printers to default double-sided printing and making bicycles available to staff to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote a healthy lifestyle.  NeighborWorks supports a network of more than 240 nonprofits located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

Latest State News

Written on 10/21/2014, 10:52 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — A second defendant has pleaded...
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:15 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — The mayor of this Southern...
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:13 am by BRANDON BAILEY, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — The iPhone again proved to be...
Written on 10/21/2014, 9:11 am by MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — Google's music-subscription...

Latest National News

Written on 10/21/2014, 1:18 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — The stock market had its best...
Written on 10/21/2014, 1:02 pm by TOM MURPHY, AP Business Writer
First, CVS Health pulled tobacco from...
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:55 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Harley-Davidson's third-quarter...
Written on 10/21/2014, 10:54 am by MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer
(AP) — Banks will get a break in easier...