– May 3, 2015

Real estate mogul to give $200M to U. of Michigan

(AP) — New York real estate magnate and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is donating $200 million to the University of Michigan for its business school and athletics programs, the largest single donation to the school and among the most generous in higher education history.


The money will be split between the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and University of Michigan Athletics, and raises Ross' total giving to his alma mater to more than $313 million, the Ann Arbor school said in a statement Wednesday. The Athletic Campus is expected to be named the Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus.

"Stephen Ross' vision has always been about the ability of facilities to transform the human experience," school President Mary Sue Coleman said in the statement. "He understands the power of well-conceived spaces, and his generosity will benefit generations of Michigan students, faculty and coaches."

According to lists from The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Ross' gift is the third biggest to a higher education facility in 2013. Earlier this year, it was announced that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg would donate $350 million to Johns Hopkins University, and in July the A. Eugene Brockman Charitable Trust gave a $250 million donation to Centre College in Kentucky.

Ross' $200 million donation is among the 30 single largest donations to a U.S. college or university, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education's list.

In Michigan, specific projects will be announced in the coming months, the school said. In addition, scholarships will be available to Ross students.

The Ross School of Business proposes to create new spaces for students to study, collaborate and connect with each other, faculty and potential employers. Classrooms will include advanced technology to support in-person and virtual collaboration.

With the additional funding, University of Michigan Athletics plans to improve its campus to help athletes succeed on the playing field and in the classroom, improve its facilities and build sites to be a destination for local, state, national and international competitions.

Ross earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from the University of Michigan Business School in 1962, a law degree from Wayne State University in Detroit and a master of law degree in taxation from New York University.

"The University of Michigan had a profound impact on my life and I have received enormous satisfaction from being able to give back to the institution that played such a critical role in my success," Ross said.

In 2004, Ross gave $100 million toward a new building and endowed operations for the business school, which was renamed in recognition of his gift. The building was completed in 2009.

In other donations to University of Michigan Athletics, Ross gave a $5 million lead gift to create the Stephen M. Ross Academic Center, which provides study space. Additional past gifts include $5 million for the school's stadium expansion project and $50,000 to the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts for the Henry Pearce Endowed Scholarship, and scholarship support for student athletes.

Latest Local News

Written on 05/01/2015, 4:25 pm by Gordon M. Webster
New data from the state Department of Water Resources reveals that more water surface storage will be needed to help the state recharge its groundwater...
Written on 05/01/2015, 1:52 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Drivers who picketed several trucking firms at the nation's busiest seaport complex have returned to work after a weeklong strike they say will not be their last. Organizers say a few hundred truckers staged a strike against four companies that haul goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. A spokeswoman for the truckers says that though they did not win any concessions from companies they claim underpay them by treating them as independent contractors, rather than fulltime employees, they couldn't afford to keep striking. The strike's overall impact at ports which handle hundreds of billions of dollars of international trade each year was not huge. A spokesman for an association representing trucking firms says the end of the strike is good for everyone involved.
Written on 05/01/2015, 1:49 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Stocks are closing higher on the first day of May, erasing much of a loss from the day before. Expedia jumped 8 percent Friday after the online travel company reported sales that beat analysts' estimates. LinkedIn plunged 19 percent after releasing a disappointing forecast. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 183 points, or 1 percent, to 18,024. It fell 195 points the day before. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 22 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,108. The Nasdaq composite rose 63 points, or 1.3 percent, to 5,005. Most Asian and European markets were closed for a holiday. Oil slipped 48 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $59.15 a barrel. It soared 20 percent in April. Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.11 percent.
Written on 05/01/2015, 1:47 pm by CAROLYN THOMPSON, Associated Press
(AP) — Supermarket owner Frank Budwey is giving away the store — and his employees couldn't be happier. Budwey, 66, surprised his full-time workers with the news he is bringing them on as partners as he begins to ease into retirement. He said Friday he hopes the move will ensure that the 90-year-old market begun by his grandmother makes it to 100 and beyond. He broke the news to his employees Thursday night at a mandatory meeting. "They didn't know whether the store was closing, being sold or what," Budwey said. "When I told them they were going to become my partners, they were shocked." For now, the 33 full-time employees will split 45 percent of ownership shares and Budwey will retain the majority and continue at the helm. When he retires in 10 years, Budwey will divide his shares among selected employees. "Frank's giving us the ball. We've just got to run with it now," said Jerry Dumais, who supervises the same meat department where his father worked years ago. "After my father passed away, Frank called me and said, 'Do you want a job?' I turned 16, and I've been working here ever since, almost 30 years," Dumais said. "That's saying a lot for Frank. He takes care of his employees." The new partners will receive profits in proportion to how much stock they hold. If they leave the store, the company will buy back the stock. "That way, I feel stronger that the store will succeed, that there's no nonworking shareholders," Budwey said, stopping Friday to greet longtime customers by name and ask about their families. "I really want it to go on." In the produce department, Budwey called over assistant store manager Patti Edwards, explaining how he'd hired her as a teenager 37 years ago because the store softball team he still coaches needed a shortstop. "He's done wonders for me," said Edwards, who described a stronger sense of security now that she has a share of what will relaunch as a new corporation. "I can actually retire here," she said. Budwey, who got married April 25, said his new bride and two daughters support the succession plan, though advisers like his lawyer and accountant were at first taken aback. "They said, 'Wait a minute. You've got to get money for it. What are you doing here?'" he said. But "my one daughter told me, 'Thank God, Dad. Now we don't have to worry about the store.'" To further strengthen its place in the competitive grocery business, Budwey said he will spend $1 million on improvements, including new dairy and produce cases, a new register system and fresh decor. "It's family oriented," said assistant office manager Amanda Hoffert, who was hired 12 years ago when she was 16. "I feel like I'm part of the family."
Written on 05/01/2015, 12:01 pm by Business Journal staff
Cargill has teamed with Tesla and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. on the installation of a new energy storage system at the company's Fresno beef processing facility.   Cargill officials said the Tesla system, which has a 1-megawatt capacity, will significantly reduce energy costs at the Fresno plant. The new Tesla batteries will be charged daily from the PG&E electricity grid system during off-peak hours, when electricity rates are lowest.   The electricity stored in the batteries will then be used when rates are the highest each day during peak-use times, allowing Cargill to reduce its reliance on PG&E-generated peak-period electricity. Cargill officials estimate the new system will save more than $100,000 annually in electricity costs.   As the first large-scale energy storage installation at a Cargill meat processing facility, the company said it “hopes to learn from the new Tesla technology” and possibly use it in the future at its plants worldwide.   Tesla installed the system and will retain ownership of the equipment, according to Mike Martin, director of communications at Cargill. "Tesla Energy Storage is another example of our willingness to employ new and different concepts for reducing our environmental footprint in ways that benefit the community and our beef business," said Jon Nash, Cargill's beef plant general manager in Fresno.   "We understand that while we produce nourishing protein for millions of people on the West Coast, it is important for us to do so as responsibly as possible,” Nash added. “Proper stewardship of the resources required to produce food is crucial to the ongoing success of our business and is important to current and future generations as the world's population increases from more than 7 billion people today to more than 9 billion in 2050." On Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk also revealed plans for the sale of the new Tesla Powerwall, a wall-mounted battery pack designed to store renewable energy in U.S. homes — and another sign the Silicon Valley-based electric-vehicle manufacturer is expanding to become an advanced energy device company. The lithium-ion, software-equipped Tesla Powerwall comes in two versions: a 7 kilowatt-hour pack for $3,000 and a 10 kilowatt-hour pack for $3,500. Those fees don't include installation. Either version will power a typical U.S. home during peak evening hours, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. Martin said installation of the Tesla system at Cargill's Fresno facility coincides with the company's global Earth Day activities around the world. In recent years, Cargill has pioneered the use of new technology to improve its environmental footprint at its Fresno plant.   In 2013, the company worked with a third party to install a solar water heating system on the roof of the beef plant's main building, resulting in a reduction of the facility's use of natural gas while also reducing its cost to heat water for food safety and plant sanitation purposes.   Some years earlier, the plant installed a methane gas recovery system for its wastewater pond, which captures this greenhouse gas for use as a fuel source to heat boilers.   Water from the boilers is used for daily plant sanitation, eliminating greenhouse gas from being released into the atmosphere.   Additionally, the plant's water use has been significantly lowered through an ongoing program of reduction and reuse. "In 2015, Cargill is celebrating 150 years of feeding people in a way that helps people, communities where we have a presence, and the planet, thrive," Nash said.  "Through science-based innovations and technologies, we believe our rich heritage will continue for the next 150 years."  
Written on 05/01/2015, 11:15 am by Business Journal staff
Immigrants, legal permanent residents and community allies will march at Fresno’s Courthouse Park today in support of the president’s executive actions on immigration reform.  The Fresno group is among several actions across the country holding May Day marches in support of comprehensive immigration reform bill and the protection of deferred action.  Participants will gather at 1100 Van Ness Ave. in downtown Fresno before marching from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.  During the event, the May 1st Coalition and Fresno Immigration Coalition will be providing information on the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Deferred Action on Parental Arrivals and AB60, driver’s license legislation and voter education.  Several social justice groups including the Mexican American Political Association, Fresno Brown Berets and American Civil Liberties Union are expected to attend.  The event is sponsored by the Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative, Applicants Attorneys Association, Mi Familia Vota, El Concilio de Fresno and several local chapters of Service Employees International Union. 
Written on 05/01/2015, 10:20 am by 
RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press
(AP) — Abandoning a practice that has faced criticism, Taser International will no longer hire police chiefs with whom it has business relationships within weeks or months after they leave public service. The maker of police stun guns and body cameras announced Thursday it would require a one-year "cooling off period" before entering into consulting contracts with former law enforcement officials to promote their experiences using Taser equipment. The change follows New Mexico's scathing state audit report Thursday that found Taser hired Albuquerque police chief Ray Schultz days after he stepped down in 2013 — even as he remained on the city payroll. The Associated Press reported in March on similar arrangements between the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company and former Fort Worth, Texas, police chief Jeffrey Halstead and former New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas. In all three cases, their departments had signed major contracts with Taser to purchase body cameras and video storage software, Within months, the former chiefs were paid to travel and speak about how those tools were the future of policing to other municipal officials at Taser-sponsored technology summits around the country and, occasionally, the world. Many cities and states already have ethics codes that call for a one- or two-year cooling off period before departing officials can work for vendors. The company's relationships with police officials have prompted reviews of ethics rules in Fort Worth and Salt Lake City, where Chief Chris Burbank didn't have a consulting contract but gave speeches at some Taser events and recorded a promotional video for Taser has defended the relationships as standard for the industry and proper. But after they came under scrutiny in several cities, the company said that it has revised its contracting policy "with an eye to how we can do better in the future." "This will eliminate any perception of conflict of interest," Taser general counsel Doug Klint said of the cooling-off period. The company gave no indication that it would stop providing other perks that have been questioned, including paying for meals and airfare and hotels for current and potential law enforcement customers who travel to its headquarters to learn about products. "Scottsdale in March isn't a bad time either ..." Taser salesman Andrew Grayson wrote in inviting New Orleans police officials to such an event in a January 2014 email recently obtained by the AP in an open records request. Like some other vendors, Taser also sponsors parties and receptions around national conventions for police chiefs. Albuquerque officials were criticized for attending one, held in 2013 at a nightclub in downtown San Diego, in Thursday's report. Many of the local and state rules requiring cooling off periods are narrowly written, leaving room for vendors to quickly hire former officials. In New Orleans, Serpas has said the two-year cooling off period didn't prevent him from accepting a Taser consulting contract months after he retired last year — as long as he did not represent the company in front of his former department. In Albuquerque, Thursday's report by State Auditor Tim Keller found that Taser offered Schultz a contract days after he stepped down. Taser said it believed Schultz had officially retired when he was offered the deal, but he remained on the city payroll for three more months. Keller said Schultz likely violated city and state ethics laws in accepting the contract and having overlapping jobs, but whether he can be prosecuted may depend on the legal question of whether his consulting amounted to "employment" and "representation" of Taser. The city and state ethics laws have a one-year cooling off period containing that language, and Schultz's lawyer said he doesn't believe his client violated them. Taser said it hired Schultz because he had a unique perspective, noting his department had abandoned a previous body camera vendor amid problems before adopting Taser's products. He was paid a daily consulting rate plus travel expenses to travel to events, the company said. Fort Worth city officials have said their ethics code doesn't prohibit former employees such as Halstead from immediately going to work for a vendor once they leave employment. City manager David Cooke said Thursday the review on possible changes, led by human resources officials, was continuing. "We'll be doing something," he said. Shortly after leaving as chief in January, Halstead's newly formed consulting group started hosting Taser events, such as one earlier this week in Scottsdale. "I really like consulting with Taser!" Halstead wrote Monday on his group's Facebook page.
Written on 05/01/2015, 10:19 am by Business Journal staff
Jennifer Lopez has been named the newest spokesperson for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH), including Valley Children’s Hospital. Commercials featuring the singer will appear in regional and national print, television and radio campaigns beginning later in May. Lopez will ask the community to “Put your money where the miracles are” and donate to CMNH member hospitals. The mother of twins, Lopez has long supported children’s hospitals through her Lopez Family Foundation.  “We are so pleased to have [Lopez’s] support in raising funds and awareness for children’s hospitals,” said John Lauck, CMNH president and CEO. “Children’s hospitals are charities and need donations to help provide much-needed life-saving care and expenses not covered by government programs or insurance.” At Valley Children’s, CMNH funds are used to help provide the most advanced technology, improve patient care and increase access for families so children can get specialized pediatric care close to home.  The English and Spanish versions of Valley Childern’s new campaigns featuring Lopez are available on the hospital’s YouTube channel. 
Written on 05/01/2015, 10:17 am by JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — More than one in four U.S. renters have to use at least half their family income to pay for housing and utilities. That's the finding of an analysis of Census data by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that helps finance affordable housing. The number of such households has jumped 26 percent to 11.25 million since 2007. Since the end of 2010, rental prices have surged at nearly twice the pace of average hourly wages, according to data from the real estate firm Zillow and the Labor Department. "It means making really difficult trade-offs," said Angela Boyd, a vice president at Enterprise Community Partners. "There are daily financial dilemmas about making their rent or buying groceries." The crisis reflects one of the shortcomings of the recovery from the Great Recession: Income has failed to match rent increases. At the same time, construction has failed to keep pace with demand from renters. The recession pushed more millennials, former homeowners who faced foreclosure and low-wage workers into rental housing. A result is that 2.3 million more families face pressures that leave them perilously close to homelessness. It's a reality faced by Lisette Duarte, a 37-year-old living in a two-bedroom apartment with her family in northeast Los Angeles. Duarte's husband lost his job as an electrician more than three years ago. With both their son and daughter on the autistic spectrum and in need of care, he chose to stay at home while she worked a job requiring a 90-minute commute each way. The lost income forced them out of a three-bedroom house and eventually into a hotel, where vouchers over the course of five months helped them save for a security deposit for an apartment. About a year ago, the family moved into a two-bedroom apartment in the Highland Park neighborhood where Duarte had grown up. Two-bedrooms in that gentrifying community rent for an average of about $1,600 a month, according to the online service Apartment List. The expense, along with utilities, consumes half of Duarte's paycheck. The government defines housing costs in excess of 30 percent of income as burdensome. The family relies on prepaid cellphones. They don't dine out or go on vacations. Whatever extra income they have often goes for health care. More than 30 percent of renters in California, Florida, New Jersey and New York state devote at least half their incomes to housing and utilities, according to the analysis. Other than Alaska, South Dakota and Wyoming, at least 20 percent of renters in every state face similarly high costs relative to income. The analysis was developed for a "Make Room" awareness campaign sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners. As part of the campaign, pop stars such as Carly Rae Jepsen of "Call Me Maybe" fame, who sang for the Duartes, are performing concerts in the homes of financially distressed tenants. Enterprise Community Partners' analysis dovetails with findings from other organizations. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has estimated that 12 million renters and homeowners spend at least 50 percent of their income on housing. And Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies found in a 2013 report that roughly 27 percent of renters were devoting half their incomes to rent. Those levels were "unimaginable just a decade ago," the report said. Average hourly wages have risen just 2.1 percent in the past 12 months, according to the Labor Department, while rental prices have climbed 3.7 percent, Zillow said last week. Many renters lack the income to pay the cost of maintaining and operating these buildings, said Barry Zigas, director of housing policy at the Consumer Federation of America and a trustee at the nonprofit Mercy Housing. Mercy Housing has a portfolio of 12,000 units for low-income people and senior citizens. It costs an average of roughly $500 a month to manage each unit, Zigas said. A monthly rent of $500 would mean that anyone working full time for a minimum wage would devote more than a third of his or her income to housing. Either the tenants must fork over a greater share of their pay each year or landlords may let buildings fall into disrepair."Low-income renters are getting caught in a total squeeze play, as are the owners of the properties," Zigas said. The Great Recession caused waves of foreclosures and layoffs that pushed more Americans into renting. More than 36 percent of people now rent, compared with 31 percent before the recession began in late 2007. The increased demand has yet to be matched by construction and renovations. In March, the National Low Income Housing Coalition reported a shortage of 7.1 million apartments for low-income renters. The shortages are most pronounced in Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, Colorado and Utah. Construction firms are building apartment complexes at an annual pace of roughly 321,333 this year, according to the Commerce Department. The rising rental prices suggest that construction hasn't kept pace with demand, according to economists. For renters such as Duarte, the plan is that her husband can eventually return to work as their children reach adulthood, easing some of their financial pressures. "I hope that we never encounter homelessness again," she said.
Written on 05/01/2015, 10:05 am by The Associated Press
(AP) — Visitors to the music pirate website won't be finding their favorite songs for free anymore. Instead, they are being greeted with a message apologizing without reservation for the site failing to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. The website has shut down completely after reaching a settlement with major record companies Universal, Sony and Warner on Thursday. Founders Josh Greenberg and Sam Tarantino admitted to creating and operating an infringing music service, and surrendered ownership of the site, mobile apps and intellectual property. They agreed to pay significant financial penalties if they fail to follow the settlement terms. The message also directs visitors to legal alternatives including Spotify, Deezer, Google Play, Beats Music, Rhapsody and Rdio.

Latest State News

Written on 05/01/2015, 1:52 pm by The Associated Press
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Latest National News

Written on 05/01/2015, 1:49 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — Stocks are closing higher on the...
Written on 05/01/2015, 1:47 pm by CAROLYN THOMPSON, Associated Press
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Written on 05/01/2015, 10:20 am by 
RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press
(AP) — Abandoning a practice that has...
Written on 05/01/2015, 10:17 am by JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer
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