April 15, 2019

What’s New with Business

Eric Howard, Business Relationship Manager, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Pacific Ocean Water Sports is a new scuba diving center, located at 431 First Street in Gilroy, offering scuba training and certifications for both cold and warm water. They also offer scuba gear sales and service, air fills and tank service, and scuba expeditions to the world’s best dive destinations. Owner Mauri Muñoz can be reached at 408-713-1211 or via Instagram and Facebook @garlicdivers. Mr. Muñoz is a PADI and NAUI scuba diving instructor with over 35 years of scuba diving experience. He teaches all recreational scuba certification levels from open water diver to divemaster and instructor.

Building on the success of last year’s first-ever Garlic Chef Jr. Cooking Competition, the contest will return on Friday, July 26 at the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival. Young chefs are encouraged to apply by May 1 to compete on the Garlic Cook-Off Stage. MasterChef Season 9 Winner Gerron Hurt will serve as emcee for the event. Aspiring young chefs age 9 to 18 (as of July 26, 2019) are invited to apply for the 2019 competition by completing the online application at gilroygarlicfestival.com. Applications must be submitted no later than May 1, 2019. For more information, visit gilroygarlicfestival.com.

Capo’s Night Club and Restaurant opened in Downtown Gilroy on April 12, 2019. Plans are to have karaoke, comedy and many genres of music. With that said, however, Capo’s will be more than just a night club. Capo’s has a full menu complete with Italian, Mexican and California Cuisine. They are located in the old Strand Theater building, at 7588 Monterey Street, providing ample space for virtually any function. Stop by and sample some of their great food.

South County Tail Waggers’ annual fundraiser is back and better than ever! Local South County heroes – policemen, firemen, influential community members, and more – will be escorting adoptable Tail Waggers down the runway at Guglielmo Winery. Guests will enjoy complimentary appetizers at various food stations along with music, vendors, and a silent auction. Please visit www.sctailwaggers.org to learn how you can purchase the hottest ticket in town.

A Spoon Full of Sugar

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Focus of Pending Legislation

Written by Valerie Nera, CalChamber

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce partnered with CalChamber in previous years to oppose additional taxes on sugar-sweetened drinks. At the time, opposition prevailed, but as is normally the case, defeated bills get rewritten and reintroduced. Below is a good example of.

A number of California Chamber of Commerce-opposed bills placing various restrictions on sweetened beverages will be considered by legislative committees next week.

Four bills, including a job killer targeted tax, are the subject of a special order of business on April 9 in the Assembly Health Committee:

  • AB 138 (Bloom; D-Santa Monica): Designated a job killer because it is a targeted tax on sweetened beverages. AB 138 unfairly imposes a targeted excise tax on distributors of sweetened caloric beverages to fund health-related programs for all, which will force distributors to reduce costs through higher prices to consumers or limit their workforce.
  • AB 764 (Bonta; D-Oakland): Marketing Restrictions. AB 764 severely restricts marketing opportunities by beverage companies based on unproven facts regarding the health effects of sugar-sweetened beverages.•
  • AB 765 (Wicks; D-Oakland): Limitations in Advertising. AB 765 interferes with business management decisions on product placement in retail food stores.
  • AB 766 (Chiu; D-San Francisco): Portion Size Limitation. AB 766 unfairly limits the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages to cups of 16 ounces or less. It also imposes penalties by the Attorney General or local government counsel.

Senate Bill

Moving in the Senate is SB 347 (Monning; D-Carmel): Warning Labels. SB 347 increases frivolous liability claims and exposes beverage manufacturers and food retailers to fines and penalties by mandating state-only labeling requirements for sugar-sweetened drinks.
SB 347 is conceptually the same as legislation from 2014, 2015 and 2018 that failed to pass the Assembly. The text and scope of the warning proposed in SB 347 is similar in many respects to San Francisco’s warning label law, which was declared unconstitutional on January 31 in a unanimous decision of the 11 judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
SB 347 was approved by the Senate Health Committee on March 27 on a vote of 5-1, and is scheduled to be considered on April 8 by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Avoid Unnecessary Lawsuits

Gilroy Chamber Partners with CalChamber to provide Legally Required Training

Effective January 1, 2019, a new California law requires all California employers with 5 or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training. The law requires supervisors to receive two hours of sexual harassment prevention and abusive conduct training while nonsupervisory employees to receive at least one hour of training. The law also requires the training to occur in the 2019 calendar year, before January 1, 2020. The minimal count of “5” employees covers seasonal and temporary hires, including independent contractors.

It is important to note, the California Department of Fair Employment and House takes the position that employees, including supervisors, who were trained in 2018 will need to be retrained again in 2019.

Discount to Gilroy Chamber Members

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce has partnered with CalChamber to provide online sexual harassment prevention training courses. As a member of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce you receive a 20% discount. To learn more, click here.

Important Additional Information

  • By January 1, 2020, employers with at least five employees must provide: (1) at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory employees; and (2) at least one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to all non-supervisory employees in California within six months of their assumption of either a supervisory or non-supervisory position. The training must be provided once every two years.
  • Employers must provide sexual harassment prevention training to temporary or seasonal employees within 30 calendar days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked if the employee will work for less than six months. In the case of a temporary employee employed by a temporary services employer (as defined by the California Labor Code) to perform services for clients, the training must be provided by the temporary services employer, not the client.
  • The anti-sexual harassment training may be conducted with other employees, as a group, or individually, and broken up into shorter time segments, as long as the two-hour requirement for supervisory employees and one-hour requirement for non-supervisory employees is reached.

To receive a 20% discount on the required sexual harassment prevention training, click on the link below and get started immediately.

Gilroy.org/HR Corner

Jobless Rate Drops

Jobless Rate Drops to 49 Year Low
Written by Reade Pickert, Bloomberg 

Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped, falling to the lowest level since October 1969 and suggesting little sign of cooling in a tight labor market.

Jobless claims decreased to 196,000 in the week ended April 6, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. The level fell below all estimates in Bloomberg’s survey of economists, which had called for an increase. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, declined to 207,000, the lowest since December 1969.

Key Insights

  • The fourth-straight drop in claims indicates the labor market remains historically firm as employers still find it hard to attract and hire workers amid low unemployment.
  • The report comes a day after Federal Reserve officials signaled they’re prepared to move interest rates higher or lower as needed, but an unusual mix of risks means they could remain on hold all year. The March jobs report showed employers added 196,000 jobs, bouncing back from a weak 33,000 advance the prior month.
  • In separate data Thursday, March producer prices excluding food and energy — a key input into U.S. inflation — increased 0.3 percent from the prior month, more than forecast, and climbed 2.4 percent from a year earlier, matching estimates.
  • Elsewhere Thursday, another report showed the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index edged up on advances across all three major components, which track views of Americans on the state of economy, personal finances, and the buying climate.

What Bloomberg’s Economists Say

“The labor market is very tight. Jobless claims unexpectedly declined again to the lowest level since 1969. Employers are adding jobs at a pace that is well above the natural growth rate of the labor force and job openings continue to exceed the number of job seekers.”
– Eliza Winger, economist

Get More

  • A Bloomberg survey of economists had forecast claims would rise to 210,000.
  • Continuing claims, which are reported with a one-week lag, dropped by 13,000 to 1.713 million in the week ended March 30.
  • The unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits held at 1.2 percent.
  • The previous week’s claims were revised up to 204,000 from 202,000.

-With assistance by Chris Middleton

Deadly Force

State Dems Divided Over Bill to Limit Police Use of Deadly Force

Written by Laurel Rosenhall, CALmatters

Even as a landmark California bill meant to prevent police shootings passed its first committee Tuesday, the fault lines among Democrats began to emerge, suggesting the measure will likely change as it moves through the Legislature. How much, though, was not yet clear.

After emotional, standing-room-only testimony from Californians whose loved ones have been killed by police, and a sheriff’s deputy who survived being shot by a gunman who killed her colleague, the Assembly Public Safety committee passed Assembly Bill 392 on a party-line vote. But three of the panel’s six Democrats said they were dissatisfied with the bill in its current form. They asked civil rights groups that support the bill and law enforcement groups that oppose it to keep working toward common ground.

“It is incumbent upon each of us to look at the safety of the public, both law enforcement and the community members that are out on the streets every day,” said Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democrat from Orinda.

“The pendulum has swung too far in one direction such that we aren’t protecting and holding accountable those who are taking life from our community members. I do have serious concerns that the text of this (bill) swings the pendulum too far in the other direction, because the sanctity of the life of our law enforcement is equally as important.”

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber said she would work to reach a compromise before the bill reaches the Assembly floor.

“We are committed to having a piece of legislation that makes a difference and that does provide a balance,” said the San Diego Democrat whose bill would change the legal standard for justifying police use of deadly force.

Her bill—which is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and numerous civil rights groups—was prompted by the death last year of Stephon Clark. He was not armed, but Sacramento police killed him after mistaking the cellphone he was holding for a gun. Last month, the Sacramento district attorney announced she would not press charges because the officers acted legally.

Clark’s case has re-ignited anger among many that black and brown men are unfairly targeted by police, a message that was carried into the Capitol by scores of Californians who packed the hearing room and spilled out into the hallway, wearing T-shirts commemorating slain loved ones, or emblazoned with the hashtag #LetUsLive.

Weber’s bill would make sweeping changes to the laws that determine when California police can use deadly force. It says police could shoot only when it’s necessary to prevent death or serious injury, and would require they use other tactics in many situations.

That would go beyond the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court, which says police can use force when a reasonable officer in the same circumstance would do the same thing. Law enforcement groups said that a law that deviates from the reasonable standard would subject officers to greater danger while performing an already dangerous job.

“I was fighting for my life and fighting to protect complete strangers when I chose to stand between the gunman and the employees and patrons. The thought of having to second guess my actions in that moment is frightening,” said Julie Robertson, a Sacramento deputy sheriff who watched her colleague get killed by a gunman when they responded to a disturbance at an auto parts store last year.

“My only intention is to protect and save lives. How is it that I would be questioned and judged by the ones who live so distant from the dangers we inherently face each day?”

Though law enforcement groups are largely opposed to Weber’s bill, several said they would keep working with her to find common ground. Police groups have backed competing legislation, Senate Bill 230, that focuses on updating department policies on the use of force and increasing training for officers. It will likely get its first hearing later this month.

April 8, 2019

Joining the Griswold's

Jane Howard, Director, Visit Gilroy

More Families Joining the Griswolds

Nearly 100 million Americans Planning a Family Vacation in 2019

AAA projects that nearly 100 million Americans will take a family vacation at some point in 2019.While the figure is slightly higher than last year, it still only represents about four in 10 U.S. adults. According to the recent AAA Travel survey, many families are planning spring and summer road trips.

In fact, more than half (53 percent) plan to take a road trip in 2019. The good news for those families is that gas prices have averaged nearly a quarter cheaper so far this year compared with the first few months of 2018, AAA reported, pointing out that summer gas prices are also expected to be cheaper than they were a year ago.

The AAA Travel survey also found that approximately two-thirds of all family travelers (68 percent) plan to enjoy a summer getaway. However, fewer Americans are gearing up for spring travel, with only 45 percent of family travelers making plans, according to AAA.

“The great American road trip is still one of the best ways for families to relax and reconnect with one another,” said AAA Travel Information & Content executive director Stacey Barber in a statement. “This is quickly shaping up to be another busy year for family travelers, both on the roadways, as well as other popular travel destinations and attractions. To make the most of their vacations, AAA recommends families plan and research as far ahead as possible to avoid missing out on popular activities and fun.”

While planning and budgeting for a family vacation can be daunting and sometimes the biggest obstacle to getting away with your loved ones, there are plenty of tips and tools to make the process fun and easy. The U.S. Travel Associations (USTA) Vacation Planning Tool is very helpful to families. In addition, Visit Gilroy website www.visitgilroy.com has itineraries already created to reduce the stress for families planning a visit to our family-friendly destination.

Granny’s Answer to the Housing Crisis

Written by Matt Levin, Data and Housing Reporter at CALmatters

California lawmakers have pitched dozens of bold, high-profile solutions to California’s affordable housing shortage: billion dollar affordable-housing bonds, revamping the state’s signature environmental protection law, suing NIMBY-inclined cities into permitting more development.

But for all the big-picture housing legislation that has actually become law over the past few years, the solution that’s proved most immediately effective at providing new housing has been rather small in size: Accessory Dwelling Units, colloquially known as in-law units or granny flats.
Primarily as a result of new state laws that make it easier and cheaper to convert garages into living spaces or to build a backyard “casita,” these units have exploded in popularity in many California cities. Los Angeles received 25 times as many applications to build them in 2017 than it did the previous two years; Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose also have seen major jumps.

The backyard units, which are typically around 500 square feet and have a bathroom and kitchen, are especially popular among older California families looking to downsize and rent out their main property. Estimates for the cost of constructing the units vary from builder to builder and city to city, but one survey found an average cost of $156,000 for builders of Accessory Dwelling Units in the Pacific Northwest.

“Now we’re finding dad has died, mom’s there by herself, and all the kids are gone, and they don’t need that big a house,” said state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, Democrat from Fremont, who co-authored legislation in 2016 and 2017 to ease the costs and regulatory hurdles to building such units. Wieckowsi is at it again this year, and predicts that the state could create up to a million new homes with the these accessory units, assuming some important regulatory tweaks.

To Deal with Homelessness

To Deal with Homelessness, California Must Make Room for Sobriety

Commentary by Dawn Davison, Scott Kernan & Michele Steeb

Governor Gavin Newsom is shifting control of the Juvenile Justice Division to the California Health and Human Services Agency, away from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, with the goal to better identify and address early childhood trauma to prevent future incarceration. This same rationale should be extended to the exploding problem of homelessness.

California employs a one-size-fits-all policy for homelessness known as “housing first.” But as we have learned through our work at Saint John’s Program for Real Change, the largest residential program for formerly homeless women and children in Sacramento, homelessness is a complex issue. It requires a tailored approach.

Under housing first, men, women and their children are treated identically. They are provided housing as the solution to their homelessness. A house does address the symptoms of homelessness, but it does not address what led them there, including the childhood trauma that many struggling with homelessness have faced.

While housing first has a role in addressing homelessness, it is not viable for people trying to escape the grip of addiction, because the requirement of sobriety is prohibited.
Nor is it a viable solution for their children, many of whom already have suffered significant trauma. Under the housing first model, programs that require sobriety or engagement in life-improvement services are ineligible for government funding.

This is a travesty for people seeking to escape the hold of drug addiction, and a threat to their children. Already traumatized children should not be placed in housing where drug use is permitted.

Housing first was developed under the George W. Bush Administration to address the chronically homeless population, largely single men battling severe mental illness, substance abuse disorder and/or physical disability.

The Obama administration blanketed this policy across all segments of the homeless population. California adopted this policy in 2016.

Utah, also under the rule of this one-size-fits-all approach, is held up as an example of housing first’s effectiveness. But a report by Utah’s Legislative Auditor General counters claims that it has been a resounding success, especially as it relates to families.

This should come as no surprise. It is misguided to presume there is a one-size-fits-all treatment for everyone who becomes homelessness, and it is equally misguided to assume that a policy designed for single men will work for single-mother-led families with children.

California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation learned a similar lesson. Once corrections instituted a gender-responsive and trauma-informed approach, recidivism began dropping. In eight years, female recidivism rates fell by 21 percent.

Women struggling with homelessness confront many of the same issues as women who are incarcerated: trauma, addiction, dysfunctional relationships and lack of education.
They need to be treated with the same gender-responsive, trauma-informed approach. The unique needs of their children also need to be considered.

Saint John’s houses and serves up to 270 women and children each day, approximately 700 women and children annually. We find that 77 percent of our clients struggle with substance abuse, 69 percent have experienced domestic violence, 58 percent suffer from mental health issues, 52 percent have a criminal history, and 50 percent lack a high school diploma.
Saint John’s provides an 18-month residential program that includes substance abuse treatment, mental health therapy, budgeting, high school diploma attainment, and hands-on employment training.

Not surprisingly, their children have adverse childhood experiences, also known as ACEs, with typical scores of four to six. (A score over four drastically increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, likelihood of alcoholism and attempted suicide). Children are provided mental health therapy, one-on-one coaching with an early childhood education specialist, and developmental screening to assess and help them heal past trauma.

Employing gender-responsive and trauma-informed programming will encourage the highest rates of success for the growing numbers of women and children struggling with homelessness.

Dawn Davison, a Saint John’s board member, is a former warden of the California Institution for Women. Scott Kernan is former secretary California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Michele Steeb is chief executive officer of Saint John’s Program for Real Change.

Opinions expressed by the author of this article are his/her own

Charter Schools Under Attack

Commentary by Dan Walters, CALmatters

Elections have consequences, and while some are unintended, one major impact of last year’s California elections is very much intended.

Organizations and wealthy individuals favoring education reforms and charter schools went head-to-head with the California Teachers Association and other elements of the education establishment.

It was a wipeout. The CTA, et al, swept the table, including the elections of Gavin Newsom as governor and Tony Thurmond as state superintendent of schools, and stronger Democratic supermajorities in the Legislature.

And now there are consequences – a frontal assault on charter schools, which the CTA and other unions see as rivals for students and the funds that come with their enrollments.
Newsom has already signed one bill, requiring more transparency in charter school operations, and several others with potentially erosive effects on the charter school movement are moving quickly.

Striking teachers in Los Angeles and Oakland blamed charters for depriving their systems of much-needed state aid and demanded a study that would pinpoint the shift of funds. Newsom readily complied, assigning the job to Thurmond, who’s already made it clear that he endorses the union complaints.

“There has been, for many districts, a significant fiscal impact and loss of revenue directly attributed to the growth of charter schools,” Thurmond told a Commonwealth Club forum moderated by Calmatters education writer Ricardo Cano, citing a report from the left-leaning research center In The Public Interest.

During the forum, Thurmond went on to decry competition for students – a hallmark of charter school advocates, which see competition as driving instructional improvement.

“Here’s my concern: you cannot open charter schools and new schools to serve every single student in our state. If you take the competition approach, that means some students, a lot of students, will be left behind. And again, I don’t believe that that’s what our mission is.”
He added, “So for me, that means that competition is OK in some environments, but when it comes to education we’ve got a responsibility to make sure that every single student gets an education.”

That argument doesn’t meet the test of logic since the kids in charter schools are, in fact, being educated. Parents placed them in charters precisely because traditional schools were failing them.

Moreover, competition can be healthy in education, just as it is in economic and political spheres. It encourages innovation while monopolies tend to be insular, arrogant and unaccountable – see PG&E, Department of Motor Vehicles, etc.

But logic is often a casualty of political rhetoric. Thurmond clearly wants to kneecap the charter movement and is grasping for justification.

The bills now pending in the Legislature would place a cap on charters at their current numbers, make it much more difficult to open new charters and allow school districts to deny charters based on financial impacts – something now specifically barred by current law.
Charter school advocates know they have a fight on their hands, particularly with the election of Newsom, who succeeds a series of governors favorably disposed towards charters as an alternative education pathway.

The California Charter Schools Association, whose member schools educate about 10 percent of the state’s six million public school students, staged a big rally on the steps of the state Capitol last month.

“When charter schools are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back,” the demonstrators chanted.

It appears to be an uphill fight, given the results of last year’s elections. And if charters lose, so will their kids – particularly poor kids – who are just cannon fodder in California’s education wars.

Opinions expressed by the author of this article are his/her own

April 1, 2019

For Leaders Only

How to Orchestrate Change from the Bottom Up

Article written by Katherine C. Kellog

Organizational change is difficult, no question about it. It’s challenging to get people who are set in their ways to go about their jobs differently. So what types of interventions might actually change people’s behaviors in ways that make change more palatable?

To answer that question, I conducted a two-year ethnographic study of the primary-care departments in two U.S. hospitals. The hospitals were part of the same parent organization, did similar work, and employed doctors and clinical staff with similar backgrounds. In addition, both hospitals had received grants of $750,000 to implement a change within their organizations: patient-centered medical home (PCMH) reforms that are being rolled out across the United States. PCMH requires primary-care doctors to change their daily work practices by moving from reactive care to prevention (vaccinations, pap smears, mammograms, colonoscopies, and so on) and by using evidence-based guidelines to treat patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes.

I observed the day-to-day work at both hospitals for three months before the start of their PCMH initiatives. Specifically, I studied the interactions between managers, doctors, and medical assistants, since they were the key players involved in the day-to-day changes in line with the reforms. I observed them as they engaged in activities such as “huddling,” where doctors and medical assistants discussed the conditions and progress of patients coming in for office visits that day, and strategic planning meetings, in which managers, doctors, and medical assistants talked about how to best implement the reforms.

After the PCMH reforms were introduced, I continued observing those interactions for the next two years. In total, I shadowed and interviewed 48 doctors, 10 managers, and 24 medical assistants. I also analyzed documents, including PowerPoint presentations, clinic paperwork, and other materials that the managers developed to facilitate the implementation of PCMH.

Initially, a small number of doctors were adamantly opposed to the PCMH reforms, while the majority believed the changes had merit. Even for those who had a positive view of PCMH, however, many felt the reforms might run counter to their ability to apply their specialized expertise to help the ill, and to use their discretion and autonomy to treat patients. In other words, while widespread pushback wasn’t common, some degree of resistance was.

In the end, managers at one hospital were much more successful in changing their doctor’s behavioral practices than were managers at the other hospital. Specifically, across three phases of the study, the adoption rate for PCMH practices at the successful hospital soared from 6% to 65%, while the rate at the other hospital remained relatively flat from the initial low 6%. Why the huge difference?

From an analysis of the data, I was able to identify the most significant factor: On the teams that were most successful, managers had enlisted the aid of medical assistants to help change the doctors’ behaviors. At both facilities, the medical assistants were responsible for bringing patients from the waiting area to the exam room, weighing them, and taking their blood pressure. And yet despite having no formal authority over doctors, the medical assistants had a high capacity for influence because they had a lot of structural power.

First, the medical assistants occupied a central position in the doctors’ workflow. They could both remind doctors to implement new practices such as delivering particular vaccinations, and could give doctors opportunities to review and approve suggested changes before they were implemented.

Second, they performed tasks that were critical to doctors’ daily work, making it relatively easier for them to ask the doctors for favors; this led doctors to see themselves as implementing the new practices to help their medical assistants rather than to meet managerial demands.

Third, the medical assistants were central in the doctors’ peer network, enabling them to spread the word about those doctors who had adopted the new practices.

And fourth, they were positioned between the patients and the doctors, so they could suggest changes in doctors’ practices while also shielding doctors from the emotional challenges of upset or angry patients.

But it wasn’t just that the medical assistants had a lot of structural power; they were given specific tools to leverage this structural power to persuade the doctors to implement PCMH. Specifically, the managers at the successful hospital provided the medical assistants with things like visual prompts, which helped indicate whether a particular patient was due for a certain procedure or test. For example, each patient packet included a purple checkout form, in which the medical assistants could mark any required colonoscopies or mammograms as a helpful reminder to the doctors. “The purple sheet is helpful,” said one doctor. “There is so much going on [at the time of the visit] that it’s good to be reminded.”

Another effective tool was “favor scripts” provided to the medical assistants. One script was to help persuade doctors to implement a particular reform for treating diabetes. In the script, medical assistants would pose the change as something a doctor could do as a favor to them (“It’s very helpful for me if you would…”) as opposed to being a policy imposed by management (“We need to do this…”). As one medical assistant recalled, “I told [doctor] that when patients are on the list, I need to keep managing them, and that takes time. Finally, she said she would do the [lipid panel checks] to get those patients off the list for me.” In other words, the doctors viewed themselves as helping the medical assistants and, as one doctor noted, “We want to keep the MAs happy because we depend on them.” Doctors were willing to make changes to help their MAs, as long as these decisions did not run counter to their clinical judgment.

These tools were effective because they significantly lessened the degree to which the reforms threatened the doctors’ expertise, autonomy, individual responsibility for patients, and engagement in complex work.

Importantly, the managers at the successful hospital freed up time for their MAs to engage in the new work associated with influencing the doctors. They also established a two-way dialogue that allowed MAs to tell the managers about the hurdles they were facing and to ask for the resources they needed to address them. For example, it was the traditional practice in both hospitals to cover staffing shortfalls by rotating MAs who had few doctors in session on a particular day from one area of the department to another. With the introduction of PCMH, MAs needed to do offline work to identify which patients were due for vaccinations, pap smears, and the like. When managers rotated MAs, MAs experienced work intensification because they could not use downtime to catch up on this offline work. The MAs discussed amongst themselves and raised this issue with their managers. The managers responded by eliminating rotation of the MAs.

While the MAs at the successful hospital reported that the quality of their work life had improved from using these tactics, they do raise possibility of manager exploitation of semiprofessionals, if used without attention to semi-professionals’ well-being. Future research could explore the costs for semi-professionals that stem from engaging in influence attempts with more powerful professionals on behalf of managers, and how these might be prevented.

While my study investigated two hospitals that were trying to change the work practices of its doctors, I believe the idea of leveraging the structural power of low-level workers to push change from the bottom up has broader implications, especially for other organizations employing professionals. This might include law, accounting, or consulting firms, among others. For example, could a law firm more effectively alter the behavior of its lawyers by enlisting the aid of its paralegals in the change initiative? And might companies do the same with their administrative assistants when implementing organizational change?

Given the dismal success rate of change initiatives at many companies, enlisting low-level semi-professionals to help change the practices of the professionals with whom they work is certainly an approach worth considering.

Katherine C. Kellogg is the David J. McGrath Jr. (1959) Professor of Management and Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Her research focuses on organizational change and the changing nature of work and employment.

What’s New with Business?

Eric Howard, Business Relationship Manager, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

James Gargiulo is happy to announce that Spectrum Small Business Advisors, LLC is now a certified Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB). He is looking forward to working with other Veterans on government contracts and helping them financially manage their small businesses. He also provides payroll and bookkeeping services to businesses in Gilroy and the Bay Area. James can be reached at (949) 351-1538 for help with your business.

Leadership Gilroy is hosting their 5th Annual Spring Fling Event on Saturday, April 13 from 6:00 pm-10:00 pm at beautiful Fortino Winery. Jaime Rosso will be recognized with the 2019 LIFT Community Leader Award. The evening will include a great selection of wine and beer, with a hosted bar until 8:00 pm. Don’t miss gourmet catering from Kneaded Bakery and live music from cover band Rapture. There will also be amazing auction and raffle prizes available. Spring Fling is open to everyone in the community, so get a group of friends together and join the fun. All proceeds benefit Leadership Gilroy’s annual community leadership training program and providing scholarships to participants. Please visit www.leadershipgilroy.org for tickets.

Tickets for the June 2 Monster Jam, at the Salinas Sports Complex, are available online, via phone or at the window. Tickets range from $14- $42. Tickets are also available via phone or at the window for the July 17 Big Week Professional Bull Riding and the July 18-21 California Rodeo Salinas. Professional Bull Riding ticket prices range from $10 to $55. Contact the ticket office for box seat and season ticket information. Limited tickets for the July 12 Rodeo Kick Off Concert featuring Tim McGraw are available online, at the window or by phone with tickets ranging from $35 to $85. Call 800-549-4989, visiting the Box Office at 1034 N. Main Street in Salinas between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday through Friday or by visiting the following websites: www.salinassportscomplex.com, www.carodeo.com or www.tickets.com. All events listed above will take place at the Salinas Sports Complex at 1034 N. Main Street in Salinas, CA.

Student creativity and learning will be on full display, along with kid-friendly activities at the 13th Annual Summit for the Planet celebration on Saturday, April 27, hosted by Mount Madonna School. This FREE public event runs 11:00 am-1:30 pm and features eco-carnival games, face painting, live wildlife and reptile exhibits, vendor displays & learning expo, pony rides, music and tasty foods, a Trash Fashion show, and view science projects. Summit for the Planet is a great event for the school to raise funds and awareness, also to build stronger, meaningful connections amongst the students. The celebration will spotlight environmental education. For more information, visit www.SummitforthePlanet.org

You can also follow the experiences of the Mount Madonna School senior class during their learning journey to India, which continues through April 7, see the trip blog: india.mountmadonnaschool.org. Here you can see the trip through photos, video and student perspectives. This experience is part of their two-year Values in World Thought Social Studies curriculum.

One Potato, Two Potato…

Article written by Loren Kaye, CalChamber

In just one year, the U.S. government will fulfill its once-a-decade duty to count every American. April 1, 2020 is Census Day.

Armed with a $15 billion budget, the Census Bureau will aim to gather a few key facts about all residents: location, age, race/ethnicity, home ownership, and household members.

For the first time, the agency will try to collect most responses online, with the remainder by mail or, as needed, in person. The Census Bureau is legally prohibited from sharing any personal data collected through the census with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement.

Why is the census important?
First, the census is the sole means to determine how many of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are allocated to each state. California currently has 53 seats and would expect to retain that number after the census.

However, if the census is poorly conducted in California and misses many hard-to-reach inhabitants, then the state could wind up losing a seat—and some of our influence—in Congress.

The population counts developed in the census also determine how federal agencies will allocate huge amounts of federal appropriations. In 2016, California received $115 billion in federal funds that were dependent on the state’s population count.

What is the risk of undercounting our residents?
California is uniquely vulnerable to a poorly executed census. The vast majority of Californians belong to groups that historically have been undercounted, such as renters, young men, African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, occupants of nonstandard housing, and the homeless.

In addition, many advocates and public officials are concerned that the proposed addition of a question on citizenship status may discourage immigrants from participating in the census.

Employer Role
Employers will play an important role to encourage their employees to participate in the census.
As trusted leaders, employers have credibility to urge their employees to complete the official census questionnaire by highlighting the importance of an accurate census count to their communities, as well as emphasizing the security of the information they share with the Census Bureau.

The census is conducted only once every 10 years, but it is critical for our democratic representation, fair allocation of federal funds, and to gain insight as to who we are as a state and nation.

California Mandates Advancing

Plastic Recycling Bill – Changes Coming?
Article written by Adam Gegele, CalChamber

Legislation raising serious questions about California mandates on recycling numerous products containing plastics is advancing in both the California Senate and Assembly.

The California Chamber of Commerce has joined a broad coalition that is opposing unless amended both SB 54 (Allen; D-Santa Monica) and AB 1080 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego), titled the “California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act.”

In their current form, both bills jeopardize in-state businesses with additional costs and provide the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) with open-ended authority to develop and impose costly new mandates with an unrealistic timeframe on California businesses manufacturing an incredibly broad swath of consumer products.

Coalition members represent manufacturers, small businesses, consumer product companies, food producers, agriculture, retailers and others.

The CalChamber and coalition members agree that more can and should be done to reduce the amount of plastic material that is disposed of in landfills or that makes its way into our creeks, rivers and oceans.

Both the CalChamber and coalition look forward to working with the authors to address these issues with the hope that the final work product will result in a packaging policy that is both environmentally responsible and economically sustainable.

Policy Challenges

Recent policy actions imposed by China and other Asian countries are creating new challenges—but also opportunities—in how plastics and other commodities are recycled and managed domestically.

Collectively, companies have set ambitious sustainability targets and are taking steps to utilize recyclable packaging, increase recycling rates, and incorporate recycled material in the production of new packaging.

In addition, many in the plastics and consumer products industry have announced commitments of $1.5 billion to end plastic waste in the environment through new packaging formats, more efficient recycling technologies, and new business models to create value in used plastic.

Issues with Bills

Both bills raise serious questions, use terms that are unclear and vague, establish implementation timelines that are not practical, and provide CalRecycle with open-ended authority to impose new mandates on businesses operating in the state.

As pointed out in letters to the legislative policy committees:

  • The scope of products affected is unclear due to undefined terms in the bills.
  • Unfettered authority is granted to CalRecycle when clear guidelines and oversight by the Legislature is needed.
  • Practical timelines are necessary. Both bills require CalRecycle to develop an initial scoping plan by January 1, 2021 and manufacturers to meet a 20% recycling rate by January 1, 2022. Data collection, recycling rate calculation, expanding existing collection infrastructure and developing new markets for collected material will take significant time.
  • The requirement to “source reduce” single-use packaging and products is unclear and leaves open the question of how responsible entities may comply. The bills should recognize companies’ source reduction efforts over the years and acknowledge that simply using “less” packaging may not be technically feasible and may conflict with state and federal law.

Key Questions

To ensure the policy achieves the desired objective, key questions the Legislature should assess before finalizing any policy around packaging include:

  • Will this legislation actually reduce waste or rather simply result in replacing one type of trash with another?
  • What are the environmental impacts associated with the manufacture, distribution, use and disposal of likely alternative replacement products?
  • Are likely replacement products recycled or composted within the state’s existing infrastructure and do viable, end use markets exist for these products?

 

Important Considerations

  • Existing law. The new law also should take into account the existing Rigid Plastic Packaging Container law, recognize companies that have met their compliance obligation and ensure that new requirements are not duplicative and/or overly burdensome on consumer product companies that are in compliance.
  • Uniform statewide solution. Some industry sectors are attempting to navigate a patchwork of local ordinances pertaining to food service packaging. Any comprehensive packaging policy adopted by the Legislature should include preemption of local ordinances.
  • Stakeholder involvement. What is being proposed under SB 54 and AB 1080 is a major undertaking and will likely have profound impacts on packaging design and use, and on the consumer product companies that rely on packaging to deliver products to markets.

CalRecycle does not have the expertise in packaging design or in the manufacture or distribution of any consumer products. If this legislation is to be successful, it will require the implementing regulations to be, at a minimum, both practical and technologically feasible. Engagement by industry experts will be essential to achieve this goal.

March 2019

Politicians Partnering with the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Politicians from DC to Sacramento Partnering with the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Written by Mark Turner, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce President

Washington politicians, Sacramento officials and local electeds will be descending upon Gilroy to discuss policy issues and how they impact South County residents. The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 6th Annual Legislative Summit on Friday, April 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m at the Hilton Garden Inn located at 6070 Monterey Street.

All of of the elected officials representing Gilroy and South County will be attending the Summit, including, Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco; Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren; Congressman Jimmy Panetta; State Senator Bill Monning; State Assemblymember Robert Rivas; County Supervisor Mike Wasserman; Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine; and Water District Board Member John Varela.

The cost to attend the Legislative Summit is $45 which includes a 3 course meal. To register go to gilroy.org or call the Chamber office at 408-842-6437.

Attendees will hear from each of the elected officials regarding important issues affecting residents in Gilroy, San Martin and Morgan Hill. There will be a 30-minute Q&A period at the end allowing attendees to ask more pressing questions of our representatives.

The Legislative Summit plays an important role in our community. One year ago, the Chamber was able to coordinate a tour of the GUSD school sites with, then, Assemblymember Cabballero and GUSD officials allowing a discussion to occur regarding the impact high speed rail would have had on certain GUSD sites. Two years ago, the Chamber worked with the City of Gilroy to coordinate a tour of First Street with Senator Moning and Assemblymember Caballero which eventually lead to successful meetings between City and State officials helping to get limited funding to repair parts of the badly decaying pavement on First Street.

The Chamber convenes leaders at all levels of our community and government to create a better quality of life for our residents.

GEDC Monitors Local Economy

Tammy Brownlow,President/CEO, Gilroy Economic Development Corporation 

The Gilroy Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) has spearheaded the city’s economic development activities since 1996. In addition to marketing for business attraction, assisting existing businesses and providing help to start-ups and entrepreneurs, the GEDC tracks the condition of our local economy on a continuous basis. Below are some of the key indicators which demonstrate we are headed in the right direction.

  • Unemployment rate of 3.9% (February 2019) ↓
  • Vacancy rate for industrial properties at 1.5% ↓
  • 21% of Gilroy jobs in retail sector ↓
  • Median household income is $86,742 ↑
  • Consumer spending and sales tax revenues increasing ↑

Gilroy’s unemployment rate is 3.9% as of February 2019, the most recent data available from the CA Employment Development Department. This rate represents a labor force of 30,400 with 29,200 residents employed and is reaching full employment as defined by a majority of economists.

The city’s vacancy rate for industrial property is down to 1.5%, which is an excellent indicator of the economy and business attraction efforts. However, we are running out of space to fill with new companies that typically seek a turn-key solution to relocation and expansion needs.

Although retail is good for our community in terms of sales tax revenues, many of the jobs in this sector are part-time and offer a lower pay scale with no benefits. As we attract companies in other sectors, the percentage of jobs in retail becomes smaller as compared to total jobs across all sectors. This is a positive change as it indicates that we are diversifying our jobs base. Note that the total number of jobs in retail continues to increase with approximately 4,600 employed in this sector.

The median household income for Gilroy residents continues to increase and according to most recent census data is nearly $87,000. For comparison, the median for California is $67,169 and in Santa Clara County the median household income is $106,761.

The city’s sales tax revenue has been back to pre-recession levels for several years. Consumer spending is strong with major gains across all retail sectors, particularly auto sales, department stores and service stations. The city also collects sales tax revenue from e-commerce sales of sellers located outside California. The city’s share is based on a percentage of a county-side pool, which is approximately 4.4% or $707,000 (most recent data available from the city).

The GEDC is Gilroy’s “one-stop” for assistance and resources for companies interested in opening a business in the city. We are available to provide additional information on the indicators discussed above and can provide detailed data on demographics and other economic indicators. Reach us at (408) 847-7611 or email [email protected]

Tax Scams to be Aware of

IRS Releases Common 2019 Tax Scams to Be Aware Of

CalChamber, HR Watchdog

To help businesses and taxpayers prepare for the federal tax filing deadline next month, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is releasing information on 12 common tax scams to be aware of this year.

As many of these scams peak during the filing season, the IRS annually launches a “Dirty Dozen” campaign, highlighting one common tax scam a day to its online newsroom.

The IRS also urges taxpayers to learn how to protect themselves by reviewing safety tips prepared by the Security Summit, a collaborative effort between the IRS, state revenue departments and the private sector tax community.

Dirty Dozen

Some of the 2019 scam schemes featured thus far are:

More Information

To view this year’s “Dirty Dozen” list or view lists from previous years, visit www.irs.gov/dirtydozen.

Potential Litigation for California Companies

Bill Dealing with Environmental Standards Would Create Uncertainty and Increase Potential Litigation for California Companies

March 19, 2019, CalChamber

The California Chamber of Commerce today announced the second job killer of 2019 — SB 1 (Atkins; D-San Diego). The bill would give broad and sweeping discretion to state agencies to adopt rules and regulations that they determine are more stringent than federal rules and regulations adopted after January 19, 2017.

According to CalChamber, SB 1 (Atkins) is a job killer because the uncertainty created by the bill’s vague, ambiguous, and broad language and lack of due process in the rulemaking process would negatively impact the growth, employment, and investment decisions of almost every major California business. Due to costs and anticipated litigation associated with SB 1 (Atkins), companies doing business in the state would be hard pressed to hire more workers or expand California operations.

The proposal seeks to create an expedited administrative procedure not subject to the California Administrative Procedure Act when promulgating emergency rules pursuant to SB 1. Should the measure become law, it will likely instigate a wave of new litigation from interested parties wishing to compel a state agency to perform an act required by, or to review a state agency’s action for compliance with, any of the laws subject to SB 1. Businesses would inevitably be forced to intervene in these lawsuits in order to ensure that their interests are adequately represented.

In voicing opposition to the measure, a coalition of 35 business associations have joined CalChamber’s effort to educate policy makers about the negative impacts of the bill. The coalition’s opposition letter states that “SB 1 is an unprecedented power transfer from the Legislature to the Executive Branch. It is too broadly written, contains ambiguous and undefined standards that will create significant costs, uncertainty and unintended consequences for the regulated community, and raises substantial constitutional concerns regarding a lack of due process and violations to the single-subject rule.” Moreover, the bill circumvents the Administrative Procedures Act by improperly empowering state agencies with limited Legislative oversight, and threatens to undermine wetland regulation efforts currently being pursued by the State Water Resources Control Board, as well as operation of the Central Valley Water Project. The bill will inevitably result in unnecessary litigation against state agencies and regulated entities.

SB 1 (Atkins) is a reintroduced version of last year’s SB 49 (De Leon) — a job killer bill that was defeated in the Assembly. SB 1 (Atkins) is the second bill to be tagged a Job Killer by CalChamber so far this year. On March 4, 2019, CalChamber announced that AB 51 (Gonzalez), a reintroduced version of a previous measure that was vetoed by Governor Brown in 2018, had made the list.

What’s New with Business?

Eric Howard, Business Relationship Manager, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Come for the rides, stay for the smiles. Gilroy Gardens opens for the season on Sunday, March 17. Gather the whole family for a spin inside a bright red strawberry, fly above the trees under a giant mushroom swing, or speed around twists and turns on the Quicksilver Coaster. The park is open weekends this spring from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, plus 11:00 am to 5:00 pm Fridays, starting March 22, 2019. Enjoy Unlimited Adventures. There are no limits to your child’s imagination. Discover unlimited adventures together all season long with a Premium Membership. Get unlimited visits day and night, FREE parking, Bring-A-Friend FREE Fridays, discounts and more for just 5 payments of $13 after an initial payment. For a complete operating calendar and information on all upcoming events, or to purchase your 2019 Value or Premium Memberships, visit www.gilroygardens.org.

The Gilroy Assistance League (GALs) is proud to announce the 15th Annual “Impressions” Home + Garden Tour & Boutique. It’s a perfect outing for Mother’s Day weekend, Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11, complete with hors d’oeuvres and no-host wine tasting featuring a Home & Garden Décor Boutique. 100% of all proceeds benefit local youth through grants and holiday giving. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. For additional information, leave a message at 408-713-1414, or visit the website at gilroyassistanceleague.org to purchase tickets and find out more.

Love to Cook with Garlic? Enter the 41st Annual Great Garlic Cook-Off Recipe Contest at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Amateur chefs from around the country are invited to submit their very best original garlic recipes for the 41st annual Great Garlic Cook-Off, one of the most prestigious cooking competitions in the country. Eight finalists will be selected to compete on stage at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Saturday, July 27, 2019 for the coveted garlic crown and a grand cash prize. Applications must be submitted online by May 1, 2019. Each original recipe must include a minimum of six cloves of fresh garlic or three teaspoons of chopped or minced garlic. The recipes will be prepared on the state-of-the-art Garlic Cook-Off Stage and must be plated and served to a panel of judges in two hours’ time. The winner receives $3,000, with second place receiving $1,500. All contestants also get the opportunity to share the stage with a celebrity chef host, who will be announced in May. Complete contest rules and the online application form are available at gilroygarlicfestival.com/festival/cooking-events/great-garlic-cook-off. Complete contest rules are posted at gilroygarlicfestival.com.

Gavilan Employers Advisory Council (GEAC) is hosting a seminar on “New Laws for Independent Contractors” on March 27, 2019 from 7:30 am -10:00 am. The location is the Hilton Garden Inn, Gilroy at 6070 Monterey Street. To register call 408-216-6145 or email: [email protected] The cost is $40/member, $55/non-member.

2019 International Market Blueprints

Jane Howard, Director, Visit Gilroy

Visit California focuses its marketing programs in 13 international markets and the United States. Every year Visit California publishes insights into current market conditions, visitation and visitor spend, tourism trends and more for all these markets. Following is information about the three countries Visit Gilroy markets to in collaboration with Central Coast Tourism Council (CCTC) partners:

Canada

  • The United States remains the top international destination for Canadians by a large margin with over 16 million trips to the U.S. reported between January and September 2018. This represents an increase of 6.4% YOY.
  • 2018 spend by Canadian travelers – $2.266 billion and 1.723 million California visits.
  • Average length of stay in California – 10.5 nights
  • Outdoor recreation is a top experience for Canadians while on vacation. Baby boomers continue to be the primary driver of out-bound Canadian travelers.

 

China

  • U.S. ranks 5th on Chinese visitor Satisfaction Index developed by China National Tourism Administration. Outbound Chinese tourists took 71.3 million trips to the U.S. in the first half of 2018; up 15% over last year.
  • 2018 spend by Chinese travelers – $3.407 billion and 1.6 million California visits.
  • Average length of stay in California – 13.6 nights.
  • Women are more likely to go abroad than men. In 2018, 59% of outbound tourists were women while 41% were men. Family travel accounts for the highest portion of travel at 30% while solo travel is 8%. Digital transaction methods are a must especially for young travelers.

 

United Kingdom

  • Despite uncertainty over Brexit and the strength of the pound against the euro and dollar, the British public are resilient holidaymakers. U.K. consumers are becoming more environmentally aware and responsible.
  • 2018 spend by the British – $1.097 billion and 746,000 California visits.
  • Average length of stay in California – 11.1 nights
  • 40% of millennials (22-35-year olds) now take social media into consideration when choosing holiday destinations. Even the chance to post local delicacies in exotic locations on platforms like Instagram is influencing millennials’ choices.

 

Next month, I will be meeting with Visit Gilroy CCTC advertising partners in Monterey at our annual retreat to review the Visit CA 2019 Market Blueprints and discussing our coop marketing plans for the upcoming year. With access to Visit California research such as these market blueprints, marketing decisions can be made with more certainty and confidence.

Regulations Withdrawn

New Criminal Background Checks Regulations Withdrawn

Written by Erika Frank, Executive Vice President, Legal Affairs, and General Counsel – CalChamber

Sometimes the California legislative and rulemaking processes feel like the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” where the same day repeats over and over again. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Council’s (FEHC) efforts to adopt regulations concerning criminal history checks is one good example.

Back in 2016, the FEHC proposed its first round of criminal background check regulations. The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved these regulations, which took effect on July 1, 2017, just as the California Legislature was considering its own changes on employer criminal background checks. Governor Brown signed AB 1008, which addresses how employers may use prior criminal history information in employment decisions.

When the law went into effect on January 1, 2018, California employers had to make sweeping changes on how they conduct criminal background checks. The “ban-the-box” bill:

  • Eliminates questions about criminal history and applicant consent to conduct criminal history checks on employment applications;
  • Prohibits criminal background checks until after a conditional offer of employment; and
  • Creates notification requirements.

California law was now very much out of sync with the FEHC’s newly enacted Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) regulations – so the FEHC went back to the drawing board.

In early 2018, FEHC started another round of rulemaking and proposed a revised set of criminal history regulations. These new proposed amendments to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) also went through the same regulatory process and was submitted for approval to the OAL. However, unlike the 2017 amendments, the FEHC withdrew their proposed regulations, which means the rulemaking process must continue.

What does that mean for employers? The latest regulatory amendments are not approved and the FEHC must start, yet again, another round of rulemaking before a revised set of criminal history regulations are added to California’s collection of laws and regulations.

Newsom Delays Threat

Newsom Delays Threat to Block Transportation Funds to Cities That Flunk Housing Goals

Written Liam Dillon – Los Angeles Times

In his first week in office, Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a strong warning to cities and counties: He was coming for their road repair dollars if they didn’t meet state goals for new housing.

“If you’re not hitting your goals, I don’t know why you get the money,” Newsom said when he announced his budget plans in January.

Two months later, Newsom is setting aside plans to withhold state transportation dollars from local governments for four years. The move, which comes after fellow Democrats pushed back on the idea, is part of a larger acknowledgment that revamping how California plans for growth will be more arduous than the governor implied on the campaign trail.

Newsom made the announcement Monday when he unveiled a new bill that will be debated as part of the state budget. The legislation calls for $750 million in new funding for cities and counties to plan for increased housing production and then receive financial rewards as new building occurs. The money would begin flowing, according to the bill, in August.

Our state’s affordability crisis is undermining the California Dream and the foundations of our economic well-being,” Newsom said in a release.

But the bill released Monday also laid out a lengthy timeline for the governor to implement more contentious parts of his housing agenda.

As a candidate, Newsom called for the building of 3.5 million new homes in the state by 2025, an amount that would more than quadruple the current rate of production.
For five decades, the state has required cities and counties to plan for housing production at a rate sufficient for all residents to live affordably. But the process hasn’t resulted in nearly enough homebuilding, especially for low-income residents, to meet demand.

Newsom pledged to reset housing supply goals so cities and counties would have to set aside more land for housing, concentrate production in existing urban areas to support climate change efforts and receive greater financial incentives to actually approve development. California’s tax system generally provides local governments with more tax revenue if they authorize hotel or commercial projects instead of housing.

Under Newsom’s new proposal, the state could take until 2023 — after the governor’s first term in office has ended — to put the new housing supply goals in place. When he unveiled his budget in January, Newsom also said he wanted to withhold money from the state’s recently approved increases to the gas tax and vehicle registration fees from communities that blocked housing. The bill says that wouldn’t happen until 2023 as well.

Giving new money to cities and counties before implementing new planning rules is an effort to show local governments that the governor sees their support as vital to meeting his housing goals, said Jason Elliott, Newsom’s chief deputy cabinet secretary.
“The best way to do that is to work with cities,” Elliott said.

When Newsom first announced his plans to tie transportation funding to housing goals, he didn’t provide a timeline. But some Democratic lawmakers made clear they weren’t fans.
At a budget committee hearing last month, Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) noted that voters upheld the gas tax hike at the ballot last year and said the governor shouldn’t consider restricting that money.

“We worked too hard on that and to all of a sudden have that used as a potential is disturbing to me,” Aguiar-Curry said.

It’s unclear if pushing off the plan for four years will lessen legislators’ concerns.
Sen. James Beall (D-San Jose), who authored the gas tax increase in 2017, said in a statement after the bill was released Monday that he remains against linking road construction funds to housing supply goals.

“Their use for any other purpose, such as to be used as leverage, is a violation of the trust of the voters and taxpayers,” Beall said.

Could Unelected Appointees Increase Your Taxes?

Push to Create a Regional Housing Agency for the Bay Area

Written by Guy Marzorati, Reporter and Producer for KQED News 

State lawmakers are proposing to create a housing agency for the San Francisco Bay Area, with the ability to impose regional taxes to fund development, local planning and tenant assistance.

The legislation, set to be unveiled on Thursday, would create a new agency to address a problem felt by residents in all of the region’s nine counties. Assembly Bill 1487 is the cornerstone of a controversial regional housing agenda being pursued at the state Capitol.

“It is central to what we’re trying to do with a regional approach,” said Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, who authored the bill.

The idea for the regional entity — dubbed the Housing Alliance for the Bay Area (HABA) — was birthed from CASA, a committee of elected officials, developers and affordable housing advocates who drew up a set of ideas to ease the housing affordability crisis in the Bay Area.

The ideas included emergency rent and legal assistance to tenants facing eviction, a regional rent cap, streamlined approval for more developments and minimum zoning standards for housing around transit stops. Many of those ideas have already been introduced in the state Legislature.

The committee also drafted a price tag for their list of solutions: $2.5 billion annually over the next 15 years.

AB 1487 would give state authority to HABA to raise up to $1.5 billion through ballot measures voted on in all nine counties.

“[It] would allow for funding to be raised regionally and spent regionally,” Chiu said. “It would allow tenants from across the region to access services, even if their city doesn’t have tenant services available. It would allow cities across the region to get access to technical assistance that they may not already have.”

The entity would not have any land use authority, and while it could purchase land for affordable housing, it would not be able to take property through eminent domain.

AB 1487 proposes that the governing body be split between local mayors, council members and supervisors who serve on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), along with appointees of the governor.

Even some supporters of CASA have argued against the creation of a new housing government, particularly one that could include unelected appointees.

“I don’t personally think having a separate agency is necessary, given that we have ABAG and MTC, which is made up of elected representatives from throughout the region,” said Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin in January, when ABAG reviewed the regional housing ideas. “I think that’s a role that we can play as the regional planning entity.”

It would be up to the Alliance to determine what tax proposals end up on the ballot.

The CASA Compact suggested a suite of ideas, including a regionwide parcel tax on property owners, a new fee on developers, increased taxes on businesses, a regionwide sales tax increase and direct contributions from local governments.

Supporters say the regional approach to taxes would ease the burden on cities that currently have to go to the ballot individually to raise funds for housing.

They point to measures to fund affordable housing in San Jose and Santa Rosa that failed in the November election.

HABA’s plans for spending the tax money — sending cash and legal assistance to tenants, buying properties to build affordable units, and paying for planners to help cities prepare for development — could be particularly helpful to cities and towns that lack the resources to take on those initiatives now.

“Some jurisdictions have a lot of staff and revenue but there’s a wide range within the region,” said Amie Fishman, executive director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California. “So having a regional strategy will also help to generate the local solutions that are needed.”

A separate bill in the state Legislature could make it easier to pass a regional housing tax.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 would lower the threshold needed to pass a sales tax or parcel tax from two-thirds to 55 percent, if the funds are used for infrastructure or affordable housing.

Are You an Employee or a Contractor? Carpenters, Strippers and Dog Walkers Now Face That Question.

Article written by Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times

When Kristyn Hansen first took a job at Stews Barber Shop, she cut hair nine hours a day, three days a week. She earned no overtime pay, had no mandated breaks, and her Ladera Ranch bosses didn’t cover Social Security taxes, unemployment or disability insurance.

That’s because Hansen, 32, was classified as an independent contractor. “I loved it,” she recalls. The schedule allowed her to take five classes at a local college. The pay — a 60% share of an $18 haircut — made for “a comfortable living” serving about 30 clients in a day. Health insurance? That was covered by her husband’s employer.

But in October, the shop switched its seven barbers to employee status. To offset the expense of payroll taxes, sick leave, vacation and other benefits extended to the barbers, pay dropped to $15 an hour, with just a 15% share of the haircut price.

Now Hansen works four nine-hour days, taking home about $300 less weekly than when she worked just three days. “For some people, there are advantages to being an employee,” she said. “But not for me. I’m stressed for sure.”

A sweeping California Supreme Court decision last April is upending large and small workplaces across California, making it harder to classify workers as independent contractors. A broad swath of California industries are affected — not just app-based companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Independent contractors are found among construction workers, truckers and warehouse workers, music teachers, software coders and sales associates, farm laborers, janitors, dog walkers, hairdressers, home-care workers, security guards, doctors, insurance agents, journalists and even strippers.

Each sector may have workers who want to remain contractors, collecting untaxed wages upfront without deductions for benefits, and having control over their hours. And it may include others who prefer to be employees, with unemployment insurance, greater job stability and the right to join unions.

But the court set a strict new test: It assumes anyone is an employee if his or her job is central to a company’s core business or if the bosses direct the way the work is done. The verdict came in a lawsuit by drivers for Dynamex Operations West, a national package delivery company that reclassified its employees as contractors, forcing them to use their own vehicles and pay gas and other expenses.

A stricter standard, the court wrote, should prevent businesses from evading “fundamental responsibilities” and engaging in a “‘race to the bottom’ …result[ing] in substandard wages and unhealthy conditions for workers.”

In the California Legislature, the issue is shaping up as one of the most divisive of the year.

The California Labor Federation and worker advocates are seeking to write the court’s decision into permanent law, arguing that workers are often exploited when classified as contractors.

The California Chamber of Commerce, business groups and Silicon Valley giants, seeking flexibility in how they hire, want Dynamex to be suspended, they wrote the Legislature, “before work opportunities are destroyed, and before the trial lawyers start crushing businesses with an onslaught of litigation.”

Among businesses, “there’s a lot of fear,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who is authoring Assembly Bill 5 to codify the court’s new standard. “Everybody is lobbying for an exemption.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has strong ties to both labor and the technology industry, suggests a need for compromise. “Workers are too often displaced, devalued and disconnected from the social safety net,” he said in his State of the State address this month. “It’s time to develop a new modern compact for California’s changing workforce. This is much bigger than Dynamex.”

The court’s new test, modeled on a Massachusetts law, strikes at the heart of a fundamental transformation in the U.S. labor force over the last half-century. Many companies have shifted large swaths of their workforces to independent contractor status or to staffing agencies,which offer no job security.

The trend cuts labor costs, thus boosting profits. This “fissured workplace,” as experts call it, has driven down union membership — by law, independent contractors cannot bargain collectively — and contributed to a loss of middle-wage jobs and wider inequality between workers and bosses.

By 2016, full-time independent contractors constituted 8.5% of California’s workforce, according to estimates in UC Berkeley Labor Center’s in-depth survey of available data. A somewhat higher percentage uses independent contracting for supplemental income, the study suggested.

A ‘gig economy’ built on contractors

Companies built around smartphone apps have embraced the independent contractor model, fueling a multibillion-dollar “gig economy.”

But Uber, Lyft, Amazon, Doordash, Grubhub and others are grappling with lawsuits by thousands of workers who say they are misclassified as independent contractors — angry to be exempted from laws governing wages and hours, discrimination, sexual harassment, disability pay and other labor protections.

Wag Labs, a Los Angeles company that offers dog walking through a mobile app, agreed to pay $1.05 million last November to settle a class-action suit on behalf of 38,000 independent contractors who said they were misclassified and forced to work off the clock.
We are disposable people.

Last month, more than 60 Uber and Lyft drivers marched in front of Newsom’s Los Angeles office hoisting hand-lettered signs decrying “Big Tech” and “corporate greed.” The protesters, members of Rideshare Drivers United-LA, a group of 2,500 local drivers, complained about slashed pay, arbitrary terminations known as “deactivations,” and a lack of input on working conditions.

“We are disposable people,” said Francine Ayala, a 40-year-old driver carrying a sign reading, “We want rights and protections.” A single mother, she said she can’t make ends meet after car payments, gas and insurance — business expenses that she wouldn’t have to pay if she were an employee. “If they’re not going to pay us well, they should give us benefits and protection.”

Uber spokesman Davis White declined to comment on lawsuits by drivers. In the past, the company has asserted that it is not in the transportation business — a definition that could make it vulnerable to the Dynamex test — but is merely a technology firm that connects riders to drivers. Other app-based businesses offer similar rationales.

Despite the Dynamex decision, “we believe drivers are independent contractors,” White wrote in an email. “We will continue to support efforts to modernize labor laws in ways that preserve the flexibility drivers tell us they value while improving the quality and security of independent work.”

Decades of conflict

But disputes over employee classification are not new. The high court’s strict test replaces a looser standard that had been used to challenge companies’ independent contractor status since 1989.

Trucking companies, for example, have faced lawsuits for years for relying on independent contractors. Both the California Trucking Assn. and the Western States Trucking Assn. have filed suits to overturn Dynamex. Like the Dynamex drivers found to be illegally classified, truckers often must pay for their own vehicles, gas and expenses.

Mark Hylkema, left, and James Stewart, barbers and co-owners of Stews Barber Shop in Ladera Ranch, had to give employee status to barbers working as contractors after the California Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

In Southern California, drivers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have filed multiple class-action suits. And since 2011, the California labor commissioner has ordered port companies to pay more than $50 million in back wages and damages to drivers misclassified as independent contractors.

A lobbying onslaught

As the Legislature gears up for a fight, companies are enlisting workers to oppose codifying Dynamex. Already, businesses have unleashed more than 6,000 emails and held dozens of meetings with elected officials and their staffs, although the precise language of the bill is not expected to be unveiled until next month.

A chamber-sponsored website, the “I’m Independent Coalition,” offers contractors a form letter urging elected officials to “help protect my freedom.” DoorDash, the food delivery giant, emailed all its “dashers” to write legislators to “suspend the court decision and embrace the modern workforce.”

But Gonzalez, who is writing the Dynamex bill, counters, “If employers don’t pay their fair share, the cost falls on taxpayers. People without unemployment insurance often rely on food stamps or [welfare]. People without health insurance go to emergency rooms.”

Under the 2010 healthcare law, often called Obamacare, companies with more than 50 full-time employees must provide health benefits or pay a penalty. Small businesses are exempt, though some do offer health insurance; Stews Barber Shop now has an “opt-in” plan.

Deja Vu Services, a national strip club chain, has hired Stormy Daniels, the stripper who was paid off by President Trump’s lawyer over an alleged sexual encounter, to promote independent contracting. “Sadly, independent contractor status for exotic dancers in California is now threatened,” Daniels wrote in a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece.

If they are classified as employees, she suggested, “employers might require us to give free nude performances for customers we don’t feel comfortable with.”

Deja Vu is battling class-action suits involving more than 5,800 dancers at 25 California clubs who say they were misclassified as independent contractors.

In November, the company switched its California strippers to employee status, posting a sign in the clubs blaming the lawsuits and “a court order.”

The company is now paying them minimum wage, setting quotas for selling drinks and dances, and slashing their cash commissions to offset the cost of payroll taxes. Some 1,500 strippers have quit to work out of state or “under the table” at noncompliant competitors, according to operations director Ryan Carlson.”

“The clubs are punishing us for exercising our rights,” said a former Deja Vu stripper who goes by the stage name Domino Rey. She and several fellow workers have formed an advocacy group, Soldiers of Pole, to “help us unionize to protect the most vulnerable in the industry and do away with rampant wage theft.”

Contractors in the arts and tech

In the heavily unionized mainstream entertainment industry, Dynamex is unlikely to have much impact. Behind-the-scenes crafts workers, from motion picture animators to theater ushers, are largely classified as employees, although many work intermittent gigs. The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE) represents 140,000 workers in theater, motion picture and television, trade shows, exhibitions and concerts as well as the equipment and construction shops that support the industry.

But some small arts-related businesses are alarmed. Nathan Pangrazio, founder of the Angeles Academy of Music in Westwood, uses 20 independent contractors to teach piano, voice, violin, guitar and cello. “We are biting the bullet,” he said. “We’re switching them to being employees, but it is keeping me up at night.”

With 200 pupils, the school has a 10% profit margin. “This could take us to almost zero margin,” Pangrazio said. “I don’t want to lower anyone’s pay. But it will force us to hire new people at lower rates.”

“Probably there are enough businesses exploiting people that we need to have a strong law,” he added. “But our teachers like having flexible schedules and working for themselves. And this does hurt people like me who are fair and ethical.”

Nathan Pangrazio at his home in the Fox Hills community. “We’re switching them to being employees, but it is keeping me up at night.” (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

In the technology industry, large companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook hire hundreds of contractors. Their trade group, the Internet Assn., along with TechNet, a network of top executives, and companies such as Postmates, Lyft and Instacart are among the most active opponents of curbing the use of contractors.

But small tech companies, less able to weather the change, are likely to be vocal too.

“Switching my independent contractors to salaried employees would be crippling,” said Dave Krause, founder of Rise-Up Technologies, a Studio City IT services firm with just three employees. Rise-Up helps small and medium-sized businesses with networks and infrastructure, using dozens of outside engineers on projects that may last just a week, or even a single day.

“Everyone is a specialist,” Krause said. “Some in certain software applications; some in distributed databases; others in certain types of hardware; some do security on certain networks. They make between $30 and $150 an hour. I can’t pay taxes and benefits on top of that. Some work for multiple companies. It makes no sense for them to be my employees.”

In Sacramento, negotiations are in high gear. “A lot of businesses are waiting to see what happens legislatively,” Gonzalez said.

The Dynamex decision explicitly allowed for independent contractors, such as electricians or plumbers who run their own businesses, to be hired by unrelated companies. And Gonzalez said other exemptions may make sense, for emergency room doctors, for example.

“There are workers out there who operate as individual businesses — and we are not trying to make them employees,” she said. “But we’ve created an economy where people have to have multiple side hustles. It is not sustainable.”

A strong law is needed “to rid our state of the underground economy, which goes hand in hand with misclassification,” she added.

“Workers need access to a minimum wage and overtime, to sick leave and paid family leave, to unemployment insurance and workers’ comp, to Social Security when they retire.”

Mark Hylkema, co-owner of Stews Barber Shop, is unconvinced. “Small businesses are scared,” he said. “My operating costs rose 30% and I had to raise my prices. We need to hit ‘pause’ in Sacramento.”

Say Cheese....Please?

Get Permission in Writing Before Posting Employees’ Photos Online

Written by Ellen Savage, HR Adviser – CalChamber

Can I choose to post photos of my employees on my company’s website and social media page? Do I need each employee’s consent first? What if an employee refuses?

Posting photos of your employees on the internet can raise serious privacy concerns in California. Some employees may be happy to see their smiling faces online, but others may object for a number of reasons.

An employee who has been the victim of stalking or who has a restraining order may not want others to know where he/she works. Another may be a private person who is not comfortable having his/her photo online. Other employees who don’t like the way they look in photos simply may not wish to have their picture made public.

Regardless of the reason, posting photos online without the employee’s permission may be illegal.

Right of Publicity Laws

Many states, including California, have so-called “right of publicity” laws that limit the way a person’s image can be used for commercial purposes.

California Civil Code Section 3344 makes it illegal to use a photo or video of another person for any sort of marketing purpose in most situations without permission.

Because your company’s website and social media page both likely exist to attract customers and potential employees, use of an employee’s photo for such marketing purposes without his/her permission could be a violation of Civil Code Section 3344. As a result, your company could become liable to your employee for monetary damages, attorney’s fees and costs, as well as punitive damages.

Get Permission in Writing

Before posting a photo of an employee online, get express written permission from that employee. You may choose to get a blanket consent for all future use of the employee’s image at the time of hire, although a better practice is to also obtain permission each time an image is used.

If an employee refuses to consent for whatever reason, do not use their image on your website or social media page.

Personnel Files and Payroll Records, Do I Have to Release Them?

Written by Erika Pickles, Employment Law Counsel / HR Advisor

A former employee has asked for a copy of her personnel file and payroll records. Do I have to provide these to her? And if so, by when?

California laws give your current and former employees the right to request access to their personnel files and their payroll records. There are strict time requirements for responding to these requests, so it’s important to understand what is required of employers.

Personnel Files

Under California Labor Code Section 1198.5, an employee has the right to inspect and receive a copy of the personnel records the employer maintains relating to the employee’s performance or any grievance concerning the employee.
The request must be in writing and employers need to provide employees with a form to use when making such a request.

Employees can request either to inspect their files or receive a copy; if you provide a copy, you can charge the employee for the actual cost of copying the file.

You must either make the personnel file available for inspection or provide the employee with a copy of the file within 30 calendar days of receiving the written request.

Payroll Records

Employees also have the right, under Labor Code Section 226, to inspect or receive a copy of their payroll records. When responding to this type of request, you must provide either copies of the itemized wage statements received by the employee or a computer-generated record that contains all the information on those wage statements.

The law previously stated that employees had the right to inspect or copy their records, but it was amended effective January 1, 2019 to clarify that employees have the right to inspect or receive a copy of their records (meaning employers have to provide the copy and can’t require the employee to make the copy).

As with personnel files, you can charge an employee the actual cost of copying if you provide a copy of the records.

Although there are some similarities between the two types of requests, a request for payroll records differs from one for personnel records in two ways:

  • First, the request for payroll records can be written or oral
  • Second, you have only 21 calendar days from the date of the request to provide the records, so the window to comply is shorter than for a request for personnel records.

Timing Is Crucial

If you receive a request for personnel or payroll records, make sure you comply within the required time frame—30 days for personnel files and 21 days for payroll records. If you fail to meet those deadlines, you can face a penalty of $750 for each violation.

Gilroy Chamber Partners with CalChamber to provide Legally Required Training

Written by Mark Turner, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce President

Effective January 1, 2019, a new California law requires all California employers with 5 or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training. The law requires supervisors to receive two hours of sexual harassment prevention and abusive conduct training while non-supervisory employees to receive at least one hour of training. The law also requires the training to occur in the 2019 calendar year, before January 1, 2020. The minimal count of “5” employees covers seasonal and temporary hires, including independent contractors.

It is important to note, the California Department of Fair Employment and House takes the position that employees, including supervisors, who were trained in 2018 will need to be retrained again in 2019.

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce has partnered with CalChamber to provide online sexual harassment prevention training courses.

Receive a discount through the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce!  Click here to get 20% off harassment prevention training with code LCH8 at CalChamber.com!

Effective Online Training

  • Relevant content on current workplace issues—in office, medical, restaurant and warehouse scenarios
  • Engaging videos depicting different harassment and discrimination situations
  • Interactive learning through scenarios, quizzes and more
  • “Ask the Expert” feature to email questions directly to CalChamber’s training experts

 

Ease of Use/Flexibility

  • Automatic course notification and reminder emails
  • Option to take self-paced course in English or Spanish
  • For use on desktops, tablets and most smartphones
  • Countdown timer to track 2-hour requirement
  • On/off audio button to listen to or just read each lesson
  • Convenient text option for videos
  • Tracked learner progress (start/stop at any time)
  • “Help” button to send technical-related questions to support team
  • Full year from date of purchase to complete the course

For Administrators (Learning Management System)

Easy Startup and Management

  • Two-step learner enrollment
  • Option to add learners and assign training simultaneously (spreadsheet upload)
  • Immediate access to on-demand training
  • One-click status report on course completion
  • Dedicated team of customer support specialists available by phone

Compliance Obligations

  • Meets California’s two-hour requirement for supervisor training
  • Complies with record keeping requirement to maintain training documentation
  • Includes sample required policy for fulfilling obligation to distribute a written policy to employees on preventing harassment, discrimination and retaliation

Helpful Support

  • Video tutorials (on Learning Management System)
  • Tips, tricks and FAQs on administrative functions (Admin Corner on Learning Management System)
  • Support team via live chat, email or phone (weekdays)

Get 20% off harassment prevention training with code LCH8 at CalChamber.com!

What’s New with Business

Eric Howard, Business Relationship Manager, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Executive Plan Design is currently looking for tenants to share their available office space. The 2,200 square foot suite currently has 2 offices available and is ideal for professional services. The office is located in the Dry Creek Center. Common area of the suite includes a private conference room, kitchen, bathroom and receptionist area. They are asking $550 per month plus shared utilities. For more information and a tour, please contact Brian Harrigan at 408-334-3951.

Al and Vilma Pinheiro have owned and operated Caravelle World Travel for 30 years. They have taken many groups all over the world and 2019 is no exception. They have planned three trips. They are planning a cruise on May 25 sailing roundtrip from San Francisco to Alaska. They are accepting reservations until March 20. The Azores & Portugal are one of the Top 10 Destinations to visit; on June 26 they have their annual tour to the Azores Islands, Madeira Island and Mainland Portugal. Al has been hosting this tour for over 25 years and knows the country well. If a River cruise is what you are looking for, they have a group space available for April 7, 2020. This is a 15-day Tour of France. Give them a call at 408-842-0200 for your travel needs.

Luxe Beauty Bar and Windermere Valley Properties and Farmers Insurance will be hosting a Mimosa & Bloody Mary Bar, April 6th, 2019 in honor of the Poppy Jasper Film Festival. A $25 donation at the door will go towards supporting the festival. Doors open at 10:00 a.m., at 7433 Monterey Street, Ste. 102. Live musical guest, Angelique Lucero will be there along with a DJ spinning in the background. Limited seating is available. There will be a VIP area hosting Film Directors and Producers in the film industry. Come out and support this great event!

The Guinness Book of World Records recently confirmed that the World Record for the most people inside a spinning loop was set by Will Roberts at the California Rodeo Salinas on July 19, 2018. A western rope artist, actor and entertainer, Will Roberts successfully fit 13 people in his spinning lasso. The record was set at the Salinas Sports Complex before the first performance of the California Rodeo Salinas in 2018. Several attempts were made before Roberts successfully held the loop; he is proud of his achievement and said, “What an honor to break this world record at my favorite rodeo in the United States of America.” Roberts went on to say, “The California Rodeo Salinas defines rodeo and the American cowboy! I couldn’t be more thrilled that this happened in Salinas.” Roberts will entertain fans on the grounds during the 109th California Rodeo Salinas, July 18-21 in Salinas. Get event information at www.CARODEO.com.

Eva Emperador recently joined the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. As a World Financial Group Inc. financial professional, she’s focused on you, your needs, goals, and objectives. She strives to help individuals, families, and businesses create a sound strategy by providing guidance and showing you ways to build your savings (college or retirement), and protect what’s important to you, as you prepare for your financial future. Other services she offers are estate preservation, long term care insurance, financial strategies for small business owners and their employees. Eva’s family relocated to Gilroy in 2008 from Michigan. Eva and her husband are very involved at St. Mary Church in the Sunday music choir, a lector and as an usher during the 7:00 a.m. mass. Eva can be contacted by calling 408-823-5053 or visit her website at WFGConnects.com/evaemperador.

13 Ways We Justify, Rationalize, or Ignore Negative Feedback

Article written by Peter Bregman, CEO of Bregman Partners

Everybody loves feedback . . . as long as it’s positive.

But most of us dislike negative feedback so much that we’ve even changed the name — it’s not negative, it’s constructive.

Still, it’s an irreplaceably valuable gift.

We need to know when we are doing things that don’t land the way we planned. When our impact veers from our intention. And the best — often times the only — way to discover that gap is through feedback.

That said, chances are you fight against it.

It doesn’t feel good to be told you missed the mark. And, since feedback often uncovers our blind spots, it’s especially jarring because, in many cases, we thought we were doing a good job. So we don’t immediately or intuitively agree with the validity of it (we tend not to believe things we can’t see ourselves).

This is especially true for leaders who, because of rank and power, don’t often get told the whole truth.

So, it’s not unusual for leaders to get defensive when we hear criticism about our leadership. It doesn’t fit with the story we tell ourselves.

In order to understand this issue more intimately, I asked the person I work most closely with to give me negative feedback, to expose one of my blind spots.

I took a breath and readied myself. I wanted to go slowly and notice everything that happened in my mind and my body.

“You work too hard,” She said. As criticism goes, this was a softball.

Still, here’s what happened:

That’s a compliment, I thought, not a criticism. She was trying to tell me that I am acting in ways that are unsustainable for me and for the organization, but my protective response was pride.

That thought was quickly followed by another: She doesn’t work hard enough! I de-validated her feedback by de-validating her. It’s not that she’s insightful, my ego decided, it’s that her bar is not high enough.

And then another thought: I have to work so hard because the business depends on me. I made excuses to justify why I act the way I do. In other words, sure I work too hard but it’s not my fault.

Meanwhile I felt a squirrelly feeling in my abdomen and could feel the vulnerability of not being perfect. It was subtle but definitely a felt experience. A physical reaction, a feeling that something wasn’t right.

As an executive coach who helps successful people become great leaders and create more effective teams, I’m often in the position to give people feedback that’s hard to hear.
As I thought about my own reaction, as well as the reactions I often hear from clients, I began to list the common things we say (or think) when hearing negative feedback to defend against new information that threatens the way we see ourselves:

  • Play Victim: “Yes, that’s true, but it’s not my fault.”
  • Take Pride: “Yes, that’s true, but it’s a good thing.”
  • Minimize: “It’s really not such a big deal.”
  • Deny: “I don’t do that!”
  • Avoid: “I don’t need this job!”
  • Blame: “The problem is the people around me. I hire badly.”
  • Counter: “There are lots of examples of me acting differently.”
  • Attack: “I may have done this (awful thing), but you did this (other awful thing).”
  • Negate: “You don’t really know anything about X.”
  • Deflect: “That’s not the real issue.”
  • Invalidate: “I’ve asked others and nobody agrees with the feedback.”
  • Joke: “I never knew I was such a jerk.”
  • Exaggerate: “This is terrible, I’m really awful.”

If you ever notice yourself saying, or thinking, any of the above, it’s a clear sign that your ego is getting in the way of an important learning.

A lot has been written about how to receive feedback well, some of it quite nuanced. But once our ego is involved, and we feel the emotional charge, it’s hard to access nuance. What we need, is a simple, reliable, default response:

“I really appreciate you taking the time and the effort to tell me. Thank you.”

Isn’t that the way you would want someone to respond after you gave them a gift? Accept the gift (in this case, that means listen), and then say “thank you.” That’s it.

This response communicates to people that it’s safe to offer you feedback and they will be far more likely to speak directly to you, instead of behind your back.

There’s also an almost magical added benefit to this simple, undefended response: It dramatically increases your ability to take in the feedback. When you stop defending against it externally, you actually stop defending against it internally too.

After my colleague told me, “You work too hard,” and I quietly observed all my own defensive reactions, I followed my own advice. “I really appreciate you taking the time and the effort to tell me,” I said. “Thank you.”

The result? She thanked me for receiving it so well and I’ve actually begun to put less pressure on myself and others.

Maybe that’s why they call it constructive feedback after all.

Peter Bregman is the CEO of Bregman Partners, a company that helps successful people become better leaders, create more effective teams, and inspire their organizations to produce great results. Best-selling author of 18 Minutes, his most recent book is Leading with Emotional Courage. He is also the host of the Bregman Leadership Podcast.

Silicon Valley’s Economy is Booming, But So is the Traffic

Written by Zoe Schiffer, KQED News

Silicon Valley is booming, and with it comes new real estate development, higher salaries and more traffic, according to a new survey released on February 15.

According to this year’s economic survey from Joint Venture Silicon Valley, commute times have increased by more than 20 percent over the past 10 years, adding an additional 43 hours of driving time per commuter annually. The report was released at the nonprofit’s annual State of the Valley event.

“It’s rolling now to a crescendo,” said Russell Hancock, CEO and President of Joint Venture. “Cities are also realizing that when they have employers in their boundaries it creates externalities, and one of those is traffic jams.”

The report also finds the cost of housing plays into the traffic problem. Over the past two years, the median home price has increased by $300,000, bringing it to $1.2 million last year. Compare that to $221,000 — the median price in the U.S. overall.

The number of homes on the market has also decreased significantly. In 2018, there were half as many home sales as there were in 2004.

“The inventory is at historic lows, people are actually holding on to their houses” instead of downsizing in retirement, Hancock said.

This adds up to more local employees — 95,000 in 2017 — who are forced to live so far away from their jobs that they end up commuting more than three hours a day. Caltrain ridership has reached an all-time high, but not everybody lives along the rail lines.

The cost of transportation needs in Silicon Valley rose by 4 percent over the past four years, after adjusting for inflation. This compares to a decrease in the cost of transportation needs of 12 percent statewide over the same period, according to the index.

But if housing costs and traffic are driving tens of thousands of people to leave the region, the migration out is almost exactly matched by the migration coming in. Silicon Valley lost roughly 22,300 people last year but gained roughly 20,500.

In Los Angeles, where congestion is old news, Mayor Eric Garcetti is overseeing a major transit plan to bring 100 miles of new rail line to the city.

“We’re really looking at what we’re doing with a once, not just in a generation, but once in a century investment in transportation,” Garcetti said during his keynote at the State of the Valley event.

But the report isn’t all doom and gloom. While Silicon Valley faces major challenges, there are still enormous opportunities.

The median household income here is higher than it has ever been. In 2017, it grew by 5 percent, bringing it to $118,400 annually. Unemployment is also fairly low, at 2.3 percent compared to 3.9 percent in California overall.

“Our success is greater than other parts of the country and our failures are greater than other parts of the country,” Garcetti said of Silicon Valley.

Unemployment for black or African-American residents has also decreased. It’s currently at 5 percent, which, though higher than the overall rate, is 7 percent lower than it was in 2011.

Felony Murder Law Repealed? Maybe Not

Written by Dan Walters, Opinion Writer for Calmatters

Two young men drive up to a small corner grocery store in an inner city neighborhood and the driver remains at the wheel while his masked partner runs into the store, gun in hand, to commit a robbery.

The armed gunman shoots and kills the clerk before grabbing cash out of the register, then jumps back into the car and the two make their getaway.

Days later, thanks to an informant, police locate the two robbers, but each points to the other as the gunman and there’s no evidence to prove it either way. What happens?

For decades, both could be prosecuted under the “felony murder” law. If someone participated in a felony that resulted in a death, he or she was as guilty of homicide as the person who actually stabbed, shot, strangled or beat the victim.

California and most other states embraced the principle of equal guilt, lifted from English common law.

But no more – perhaps.

Last year, as one of a long string of recent “criminal justice reform” decrees, the Legislature passed and Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1437, which virtually eliminates California’s felony murder law – virtually because it could still be used on someone who displayed “reckless indifference to human life,” or if the homicide victim is a law enforcement officer.

The latter exception was inserted into the bill as a sop to law enforcement officials and prosecutors who strenuously opposed the measure.

The rationale for repealing felony murder, offered by the bill’s author, Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat, and criminal justice reform groups is that it unfairly penalized criminal accomplices, many of them women, who didn’t intend that anyone die.

Among other things, it allows several hundred prison inmates convicted under the law to petition for reduction of sentences.

Prosecutors and police not only opposed the measure on its underlying rationale, saying it would go too easy on dangerous criminals, but also because the threat of felony murder prosecution has been a valuable tool to persuade those involved in fatal felonies to turn on their accomplices.

In the hypothetical case cited above, the holdup’s getaway driver, facing a felony murder charge, might be willing to provide police with evidence, such as the gun, to convict the shooter in return for leniency.

While the Legislature and Brown have virtually repealed felony murder, they don’t get the last word.
Several courts have upheld the law’s validity, but this month, an Orange County Superior Court judge, Gregg Prickett, allowed a felony murder case against an accomplice in a 2016 homicide to proceed, declaring that SB 1437 is unconstitutional.

Prickett, who was an Orange County prosecutor before being appointed to the bench in 1995, ruled that California voters locked felony murder into law while passing ballot measures in 1978 and 1990, so it would require another action by voters to repeal it.

“The Legislature cannot amend or redefine murder in order to avoid penalties that (voters) set for the crime,” Prickett ruled.

The declaration drew scorn from Skinner and other supporters of the new law.

“As the author of SB 1437, which reformed California’s unfair felony murder rule, I look forward to the state appellate court overturning this wrong-headed decision by an Orange County judge. Other courts around the state have already held that this much-needed reform is constitutional. I’m confident that SB 1437 will ultimately be upheld,” Skinner said in a statement.

The issue is obviously headed to the state Supreme Court.

Soda, Water, Guns and Tires Could All Be Taxed

Written by, Andrew Sheeler – McClatchy Newspapers

It’s a standard California Republican talking point that Democrats want to raise taxes. And it’s true that Golden State Democrats have introduced, or plan to introduce, legislation that would raise or create several new taxes.

If there’s one thing the proposals have in common, it’s that they all reflect some facet of the California Democratic Party’s larger environmental and social justice bent.

From a new excise tax on firearm sales to one on sugary beverages, from an oil and gas “severance tax” to an increase in the California tire fee, here’s a rundown on tax-and-fee-increasing bills currently under consideration in Sacramento.

FIREARMS EXCISE TAX

“Although California has the toughest gun laws in the nation, more effort is necessary to curtail gun violence,” Assembly Bill 18, sponsored by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, reads in part.

AB 18 “would express the intent of the Legislature” to impose an excise tax on the sale of handguns and semiautomatic rifles, with that revenue going to the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program.

According to the bill language, between 2014 and 2016, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found that gun homicides in the state increased by 18 percent.
While AB 18 would express the Legislature’s intent, the actual tax would come in the form of another bill.

SODA TAX

For the third time in as many legislative sessions, Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, announced that he plans to introduce a bill to create a “beverage fee.”
“We have ignored this crisis for too long,” Bloom said in a press conference announcing his plan. “We are standing on the edge of a cliff, and addressing this health crisis requires a multi-pronged approach…”

Bloom has not yet set the proposed fee, but in past years he has argued for a 2-cents-per-fluid-ounce tax.

The soda industry has fought the proposed soda tax before, and likely will again. They have allies in Republicans like Assemblyman James Gallagher of Yuba City, who said of the idea, “Californians don’t want to be treated like children.”

TIRE CHANGE FEE

Getting a tire changed could soon get a little pricier.

Assembly Bill 755, sponsored by Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, would raise the tire change fee from $1.75 per tire to $3.25 per tire.

The additional revenue would go into the state’s Stormwater Permit Compliance Fund, created by AB 755, to pay for “competitive grants for projects and programs for municipal storm sewer system permit compliance requirements that would prevent or remediate zinc pollutants caused by tires in the state.”

Tires are made up of 1 to 2 percent zinc, and that zinc can break off into “rubber crumbs” that then get into the ground, the water supply and the air. While people and animals needs a small amount of zinc to survive, large amounts can be toxic and contribute to kidney and pancreas damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WATER TAX

Gov. Gavin Newsom has made clean water a priority of his new administration, and in his first budget he called for a drinking water fee that would pay to provide clean water to nearly 1 million Californians.

Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Bill Monning, D-Carmel, follows Newsom’s lead by creating a “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.”

Monning’s bill states that nearly a million people, “particularly those living in small disadvantaged communities, may be exposed to unsafe drinking water in their homes and schools, which impacts human health, household costs, and community economic development.”

While SB 200 doesn’t lay out the specifics of how that fund will receive money, he previously proposed a 95-cent monthly tax on residential water customers, as well as fees for dairy and feedlot owners and fertilizer production.

OIL AND GAS SEVERANCE TAX

A California lawmaker has called on oil and gas companies to pay “for the privilege of severing oil or gas from the earth or water.

Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, is the author of Senate Bill 246, which would impose a tax of 10 percent of the average price per barrel of oil or unit of gas.

That money would go directly into the state’s general fund.

Wieckowski’s bill is opposed by Robert Gutierrez, president and CEO of the California Taxpayers Association, who wrote in an op-ed for the Bakersfield Californian that the tax would not only harm oil and gas industry workers, but also be “an especially big dent in the wallets of those who drive for a living or are forced to commute long distances to and from jobs.”

February 2019

Judge Says YES to Hospitals, NO to Attorney General

Written by Barry Holtzclaw, Gilroy Dispatch

A U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles today rejected a bid by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to block the purchase of two failing Verity Health System hospitals by Santa Clara County.

The ruling clears the way for the county to close its $235 million purchase of Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy and O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, plus the DePaul Urgent Care Center in Gilroy. County officials said they expect to close the deal Feb. 28, when a court-approved purchase agreement expires, and take ownership on March 1.

“We are pleased that the district court denied the stay, which will allow the county to complete its purchase of the hospitals next week,” County Counsel James Williams said in a statement today. “We will now be able to keep these hospitals open to ensure access to healthcare for the residents of Santa Clara County.”

Becerra had appealed a Bankruptcy Court’s December approval of the sale to U.S. District Court, and sought a stay of the sale, pending resolution of the appeal—which would have voided the county’s purchase agreement and forced the two hospitals to close. There were no other purchase offers.

“The public interest factors weigh against the stay,” U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner wrote in his six-page opinion. “A stay may result in the cancellation of the sale, which could in turn lead to a closure of both hospitals.

“The bankruptcy [court] did not abuse its discretion when it found that ‘far from protecting the health and welfare, a stay would set in motion a series of events that, in all probability, would reduce the availability of healthcare services to the public,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
“These two hospitals are essential to the continued health and well-being of folks in our region,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, president of the county Board of Supervisors. “Continued litigation by the attorney general is a distraction from the important work we have to do. It’s time to stop arguing about who’s right, and start focusing on what’s right. And that’s taking care of the folks here in the county who need our help.”

Becerra had argued it was necessary to block the sale—even it if meant closing the hospitals—to ensure that his office could enforce guarantees of healthcare services.

“Two federal judges have now rejected the attorney general’s arguments against the county as meritless attempts to exert authority he does not have over local governments,” said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith. “The county will ensure that O’Connor and Saint Louise hospitals continue serving our communities with the enhanced services we will offer through the hospitals as part of the county’s integrated Health System.”

Klausner affirmed in today’s ruling an earlier decision in Bankruptcy Court that the sale of the hospitals “is not reviewable by the attorney general.”

“Losing Saint Louise Hospital simply was not an option for me and for the 100,000 Gilroy and Morgan Hill residents who would have lost their local hospital,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, whose district includes Gilroy and Morgan Hill. “I am grateful to the many people who joined our fight!”

“The ruling by the U.S. District Court Judge means we can keep San Jose’s O’Connor Hospital, Gilroy’s St. Louise Regional Hospital and the De Paul Health Center in Morgan Hill open,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez. “This is all about the thousands of patients who need our services, 451 hospital beds and 1,700 highly trained and dedicated nurses, doctors and other health care industry workers who provide those services.”

“We are very pleased that the District Court denied the stay, allowing the County’s purchase of the hospitals to go forward,” said County Counsel James R. Williams. “The county has and will continue to serve as a model for local governments nationwide in protecting the health and wellbeing of our residents.”

Smith said the county anticipates closing the transaction on Feb. 28 and taking possession of the hospitals on March 1. He said the transition process will be “seamless” as far as patients are concerned, wth most of the 1,700 doctors and staff at the two hospitals staying at their current jobs.

Supervisor Dave Cortese said, “We hope that this ruling will put an end to his interference in the county’s pursuit of providing health care and emergency services to the residents of Santa Clara County.”

There is one more hurdle for the county to cross, however, Smith cautioned. The California Nurses association, which represents nurses at O’Connor and Saint Louise, has asked the state Public Employment Relations Board to intervene on the nurses’ behalf.
The nurses union is a rival of the Registered Nurses Professional Association, which represents nurses at the flagship of the expanded county healthcare system, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. The new county-employee nurses will be covered by the RNPA contract beginning March 1.

CNA members told the county Board of Supervisors last week they would strike at O’Connor and Saint Louise if the county didn’t recognize their union and begin negotiations on a new nurses contract for the two hospitals. The CNA has asked PERB to see an injunction in state court next week to block the sale until the issue of union representation is resolved.

Judge Rules in Favor of County, What’s Next for St. Louise Hospital?

Mark Turner, President/CEO, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Now that the Judge has ruled in favor of Santa Clara County, the Sale of St. Louise Regional Hospital will move forward. What does this mean for the hospital, the employees and the community?

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is hosting a free Town Hall Meeting with John Hennelly, CEO of St. Louise Hospital at Old City Hall Restaurant beginning at 6:30 pm, Tuesday evening, February 26.

John will provide information pertaining to the transition from Verity to the County. What will the transition look like? Will services change? Can I still go to St. Louise for care. What questions should I ask? John will answer these questions and more. If you’re interested in learning more or if you have questions of your own, join us at 6:30 on Tuesday evening, February 26.

Paws-in-the-Park – Pet Festival

Mark Turner, President/CEO, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

May is National Pet Month and Saturday, May 18 is South County’s Inaugural Pet Festival called, “Paws-in-the-Park.” Dogs and their humans of all kinds are invited to partake in the festivities which will take place on the soccer field at Gavilan College from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Dogs and humans can attend the Paws-in-the-Park, free of charge.

There will be all kinds of activities, demonstrations, presentations and contests. Activities will include agility course demonstrations, obedience, search and rescue and police K-9’s to name a few. Be sure to put on your best face and enter the Pet-Owner Look Alike Contest, dress to the (K) nines and enter the Doggie Dress-Up contest or show us the Best Tail Wag and win a prize. You can even take a picture with your pooch in a Barcalounger.

Save the date and then come out and spend a few hours for some of the best doggone fun you’ll have with your four-footed furry friends and neighbors. Lots of vendors will be present including food, drink, pet insurance and other pet related vendors, veterinary services, and more.

They’re baacck…

The article written below by Laura E. Curtis, a Policy Adviser at CalChamber, highlights the ongoing effort by the State Legislature to create onerous and redundant legislation which negatively impacts small businesses in California. The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce partners with CalChamber to track legislation and make business owners aware of such bills.

The reintroduction of several bills from last year sure makes it feel like “Groundhog Day” at the State Capitol. Even though there still is one week to go before the February 22 deadline for introducing new bills, the expansive list of reintroduced labor and employment bills includes:

AB 9 (Reyes; D-San Bernardino – 2019) / AB 1870 (Reyes – 2018): AB 9 is nearly verbatim of AB 1870, which was opposed unless amended by the California Chamber of Commerce last year. These bills extend the statute of limitations from one year to three years for all employment-related discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

Notably, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. vetoed AB 1870 because “the current filing deadline—which has been in place since 1963—not only encourages prompt resolution while memories and evidence are fresh, but also ensures that unwelcome behavior is promptly reported and halted.”

AB 35 (Kalra; D-San Jose – 2019) / AB 2963 (Kalra – 2018): These bills require the Department of Public Health to report to Cal/OSHA elevated blood lead levels of workers.
CalChamber-opposed AB 2963 was vetoed by Governor Brown last year because “[T]he Department of Public Health already works collaboratively with employers to reduce worker exposure to lead and refers employers to the Division for enforcement, if needed, on a case-by-case basis. This bill would erode that collaborative approach, and require the Division to take immediate enforcement action upon referral.”

AB 51 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego – 2019) / AB 3080 (Gonzalez – 2018): AB 51 is similar to AB 3080 in that it would ban settlement agreements for labor and employment claims, as well as arbitration agreements made as a condition of employment, which would significantly expand employment litigation and increase costs for employers and employees.

AB 3080, a 2018 CalChamber job killer, was vetoed by Governor Brown. In his veto message, he stated: “Since this bill plainly violates federal law, I cannot sign this measure.”

AB 170 (Gonzalez; D-San Diego – 2019) and AB 171 (Gonzalez – 2019) / AB 3081 (Gonzalez – 2018): AB 3081 from last year was considered the author’s omnibus sexual harassment bill. This year, the author took two of the three major provisions of AB 3081 and placed them into AB 170 and AB 171.

CalChamber-opposed AB 3081 was vetoed by Governor Brown on the basis that “This bill creates a new, ill-defined standard of joint liability between labor contractors and client employers, prohibits both entities from retaliating against an employee who has filed a harassment claim, and establishes a 30-day notice requirement before certain workers can file a civil action against a client employer. Most of the provisions in this bill are contained in current law and are therefore unnecessary. To the extent there are new provisions, they are confusing.”
The justifications provided by Governor Brown for his veto of AB 3081 are applicable to AB 170 and AB 171 since these provisions remain in the reintroduced bills.

AB 403 (Kalra; D-San Jose – 2019) / AB 2946 (Kalra – 2018): AB 403 is almost identical to AB 2946, opposed by the CalChamber last year. These bills undermine the essence of the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) complaint process by requiring a one-sided attorney’s fee provision that will incentivize further litigation.
AB 2946 failed to pass the Assembly in 2018 with only 19 aye votes.

SB 142 (Wiener; D-San Francisco – 2019) / SB 937 (Weiner – 2018): SB 937 was reintroduced as SB 142 this year. These bills would significantly amend current law regarding lactation accommodations by implementing new building code standards, location standards, employer policy requirements, document retention, and supplementary Labor Code penalties.
Notably, CalChamber-supported AB 1976 (Limón; D-Santa Barbara) was just signed by Governor Brown last September and establishes new mandates regarding lactation accommodations.

And in his veto message for CalChamber-opposed SB 937, Governor Brown stated, “I have signed AB 1976 which furthers the state’s ongoing efforts to support working mothers and their families. Therefore, this bill is not necessary.”

SB 171 (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara – 2019) / SB 1284 (Jackson – 2018): SB 171 is essentially the same as CalChamber-opposed SB 1284, which required California employers to submit pay data to state agencies that could give the false impression of pay disparity where none may exist.

SB 1284 was held on the Suspense File in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

While the groundhog predicted early spring for us this year, apparently the Legislature didn’t get the memo, because it sure feels like it’s going to be a long winter for businesses in California.

A tax penalty could help shore up Obamacare in California. Gavin Newsom wants to try it.

Article written by, Sophia Bollag, Michael Finch II, and Sammy Caiola, The USC Center for Health Journalism Collaborative

When Kate Green calculated her health care costs last year, it just didn’t add up for her to stay insured.

The 30-year-old worker in a real estate referral company had signed up for the lowest-cost plan possible, but it came with high out-of-pocket costs. Premiums ate up money Green had planned on spending to pay off car and college loans. The final straw: a $1,200 doctor bill for a minor knee injury. Green dropped her coverage in late 2018, and the tax penalty for not having insurance disappeared this year for the first time since the launch of the Affordable Care Act.
So far, she hasn’t regretted the gamble.

“If I have a life-threatening injury and I get taken to the hospital in an ambulance, yes, right now I’d have hundreds of thousands [in] bills,” the Sacramento resident said. “And if I was insured it might be like tens of thousands. It’s bankrupting me effectively either way.”

When the federal Affordable Care Act first took effect in 2014, Americans had to pay a penalty known as the individual mandate if they didn’t have insurance. Congress has since rolled back the penalty, meaning Green won’t be fined for not having coverage.

But that could change if California Gov. Gavin Newsom recreates the individual mandate at the state level as part of his plan to prop up the state’s health insurance exchange and get more people insured.

Newsom and his legislative allies say they want the state-level mandate to work the same way as the federal one. The goal is to encourage enough healthy people to buy coverage to offset costs from those who need expensive care.

Newsom characterized the mandate as necessary to stabilize the health care system under the Affordable Care Act in the face of the federal government’s “vandalism” of the law.
“You need that stability of the mandate because that increases the purchasing pool, which lowers your cost,” Newsom said last month when outlining his budget proposal. “Every single person in California should be celebrating that.”

Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, is carrying a bill that would implement the governor’s vision. “We want as many people participating in the health care market as possible,” Bonta said.

The Newsom administration estimates the penalty would generate about $500 million each year. Newsom wants to earmark that revenue to fund insurance subsidies for what he calls “middle-income” families — individuals earning between $48,560 and $72,840 or a family of four with a household income of less than $150,000.
In a report last week, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said the mandate could be “one of the state’s most effective policy options” to increase the number of insured Californians and lower coverage costs by using the threat of a penalty to increase the pool of healthy people paying into the system.

But the LAO also cautioned that the individual mandate’s goal of getting more people to buy insurance is “at odds with the goal of raising revenue for insurance subsidies.” That’s because as more Californians sign up for insurance, fewer people will pay the penalty, generating less money.

People who fall below a certain income threshold wouldn’t have to pay a penalty under Newsom’s plan. But the mandate would still disproportionately affect people in lower- and middle-income tax brackets, according to an analysis by the USC Center for Health Journalism Collaborative.

Almost 600,000 Californians paid a penalty in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available. Nearly three in four of those Californians earned less than $50,000 in gross income, IRS data shows.

In 2016, the penalty was $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of yearly household income, whichever was higher.

Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump argued it was unfair to penalize people for choosing not to have insurance when they rolled back the individual mandate in 2017.

The mandate isn’t popular among California Republicans either. State Sen. Andreas Borgeas said it would prop up the existing patchwork system.
“We’re putting gum and MacGyvering Band-Aids on this system,” the Fresno Republican said during an event at the Sacramento Press Club last week. “It needs to be redone and reviewed top to bottom.”

Even for Democrats, who have supermajorities in each chamber of the Legislature, voting for the individual mandate could be a heavy lift. Lawmakers in vulnerable districts are often targeted if they vote for taxes. Last year, Democratic state Sen. Josh Newman of Fullerton was recalled after he voted to increase California gas taxes.

Taxes also typically require a higher threshold for passage in the California Legislature: a two-thirds supermajority instead of the simple majority required for most bills. The Newsom administration says it believes its individual mandate proposal will require only a majority because it would simply reimpose the federal penalty at the state level. Bonta said that when it comes to his bill, that will be up to the Legislature’s lawyers to decide.

If the state doesn’t take action, as many as 450,000 more Californians will be uninsured in 2020 than if the federal government had left the individual mandate in place, according to a recent analysis by researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA.

While some celebrate plans to shore up the finances of California’s individual health care market with a state penalty for going uninsured, Green, the woman who dropped her insurance, isn’t among them. Even with additional subsidies, the mandate would still hurt people who have trouble affording insurance, she said.
“I think the idea of penalizing people for not being able to afford health insurance is kind of counter-intuitive,” Green said. “You already can’t afford it, and here, let’s charge you more money.”

Opinions expressed by the author of this article are his/her own

 

AI is Within Reach for Small Business Marketing

Article written for Entrepreneur by Kris Barton, Chief Product Officer, Gannet

Limited budgets have traditionally left small businesses at a disadvantage when looking to market themselves. Thanks to affordable artificial intelligence (AI) tools coming to the market — everything from Adobe’s Marketo to Salesforce’s Pardot to our solution, LOCALiQ — that’s all about to change. These tools are opening new doors to advanced targeting and optimization that previously were reserved for larger organizations.

However, for startups and small businesses that also presents a new, rightfully intimidating learning curve. Artificial intelligence belongs in the realm of computer geniuses, right? Wrong. It belongs to you, the marketer. But where do you start and get up to speed?

The stakes.
The competition has never been more fierce for small businesses looking to stay alive. Amazon, for example, is looking to own everything from local grocery delivery to pharmaceuticals and household goods. Small-to-medium sized businesses (SMB), not working with a billion-dollar budget, can very quickly be eaten up and pushed out. The stakes couldn’t be any higher to grow and retain customers — in some cases existing customers represent 40 percent of revenue — and AI is going to help level the marketing playing field.

Trial and error exercises in marketing are costly, and most small businesses can’t afford the risk of tactics that may or may not have the right impact on customers. Through the application of an affordable AI tool, marketers can tackle this uncertainty and benefit from recommendations for search, social and mobile advertising that are already optimized to provide the best results and drive traffic to best performing ad options. No more wasting money to “see if it works.”

Of a similar nature, AI allows for real-time competitive reporting that can help SMBs make recommendations on how to better compete in areas of weakness compared to other companies in the market. And, as any good marketer knows, customer satisfaction is paramount.

In fact, 76 percent of customers now report that it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere — switching from brand to brand to find an experience that matches their expectations. With AI, smart client management tools become accessible to the SMB, increasing the usefulness of the data gathered on social, emails and calls by providing deeper insights into what customers and clients want and might need in the future.

How it all works.
Big data and data intelligence have been buzzwords for years. Until recently, it has been difficult for any company that didn’t hire from a very limited pool of data scientists to take that data and actually do something with it.
AI solutions for marketers leverage big data to audit current traffic and ad performance to make real-time recommendations on the most valuable ads and strategies worth investing in.

What might take a marketing team days, weeks or even months to evaluate success and what worked or what didn’t work, AI can handle that same task in a matter of minutes. A smart AI platform will conduct predictive tests — if X amount of budget goes in Y strategy, based on historical success, we’ll make Z amount of money. The machine learning working behind the scenes allows the system to simultaneously take into account each ad served and the resulting conversation (or lack thereof) to influence future decisions about where the ads should be placed, who should get the ads and what forms of advertising are resulting in the most conversation/leads.

The potential ROI.
Implementing AI technology into the marketing process is intimidating, but at some point, it will be an inevitable undertaking. Companies that wait too long to embrace it will find themselves on the wrong side of profitable. The potential ROI from AI is just too great to resist for too long.

Especially as new tools becoming increasingly accessible, small businesses will be seeing some of the largest benefits. SMBs will save money by avoiding the wasted cost of failed marketing efforts like poor performing ads, lazy personalization, misunderstanding audiences and who needs what ad and the like. They will also save time, finally finding an efficient and cost-effective strategy to collect and analyze data from different solos and move quickly to make better decisions.

Related: Shaping The Workforce of the Future: How AI Contributes To The Workplace
Until recently, large corporations have been the only teams in town with enough capital to take advantage of AI-driven marketing tools. However, as the price points have lowered and created a more approachable entry point for the SMBs to get in the game too, it won’t be long until more mom and pop shops and startups are feeling the benefits of this type of technology as well.

Opinions expressed by the author of this article are his/her own

 

 

Gilroy Chamber to Host Town Hall Meeting with St. Louise Hospital CEO

Mark Turner, President/CEO, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

John Hennelly, CEO of St. Louise Regional Hospital, will be discussing the future of the hospital at a town hall meeting, Tuesday evening, February 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Old City Hall Restaurant.

The County is looking to purchase both St. Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy and O’connor Hospital in San Jose. With California Attorney General, Xavier Bacerra, attempting to block the sale, what does the future hold for a region like South County with more than 110,000 residents?

U.S. District Court Judge, Dolly Gee is expected to rule on the Attorney General’s request on February 22. That’s when a hearing is scheduled in Los Angeles. At risk is O’connor’s 358 beds and St. Louise’s 93 beds which the County is hoping to encompass into its healthcare system.

Join us at the town hall meeting as John provides an update on the transition of ownership from Verity to Santa Clara County. Some of the questions people are asking are, “After the transition, can I still go to St. Louise for care? Will the services change? Will the staff change? What questions should I ask?” John will answer these questions and more. Plan on attending to learn more about our community hospital.

Gilroy Chamber to Host Mayor’s State of the City Address

Mark Turner, President/CEO, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

What’s ahead for Gilroy? What’s the economic outlook for our community? What vision does the Mayor and Council have for our City? What challenges do we face and what opportunities exist?

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce will once again host Mayor Velasco’s State of the City address on Thursday evening, March 7, 2019 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Join us as we hear the Mayor address these questions and more.

The State of the City Address will take place at Old City Hall Restaurant. The cost is $45 and dinner will be served. Contact the Chamber to make reservations or go to gilroy.org.

What’s New with Business

Eric Howard, Business Relationship Manager, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

What’s New with Business

Let the dice roll! Come join the fun at the Carolyn Schell Annual PEO Bunco Night. Along with Bunco there will be hearty appetizers, dessert, refreshments and a no-host bar. Great raffle and unique silent auction items including a Gourmet Italian Dinner Party for eight and an English Tea Party for six. P.E.O. Chapter CG is a non-profit, philanthropic educational organization. Proceeds benefit women’s college scholarships, grants, awards and loans for women. Enjoy the evening on Friday, March 22, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Old City Hall Restaurant, 7400 Monterey Road, Gilroy. Tickets available at the Nimble Thimble, 7455 Monterey Road, Gilroy or call Paula 408-739-2665. $30 per person.

California Passport Tours is a boutique concierge-style tour company servicing Gilory and Morgan Hill. They specialize in custom food & wine tasting along with farm and outdoor tours. They provide everything you need from transportation to itinerary planning and dinner reservations as well. They partner with The Valley of Hearts Delights to offer behind-the-scene, guided access to local wineries and farms that showcase the history and beauty of South Santa Clara Valley.

Entries are now being accepted for the 2019 Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen Pageant. Royals wanted. Young women between the ages of 18 to 24 who live in Gilroy, Hollister, San Juan Bautista, San Martin, Morgan Hill, or Aromas are eligible to enter. The Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen Pageant will be held on Sunday, May 19. Contestants are judged on personal interview, talent, garlic speech, and on-stage question. The winner is crowned Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival 2019 and receives a $1,000 prize. The First and Second Runner-Ups also receive a prize. Complete contest rules and online application forms are posted on the Gilroy Garlic Festival website at GilroyGarlicFestival.com. Entries must be received by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 2019. For additional information, call 408-842-1625.

The 8 Most Common 2019 Tax Return Questions, Answered by Experts

Article written by Tara Siegel Bernard, The Times and Ron Lieber, Your Money columnist

The most important changes to the tax code in decades have taken effect — and filers are confused. We asked CPAs and other tax-prep pros to simplify things.

Some level of bafflement attends tax-filing season every year. But in 2019, as Americans examine their returns for the first time under the full effect of the sweeping new Republican tax law, the situation is the most cryptic in memory. Some tax breaks have been erased or capped, while others have been expanded or introduced.

This is equal-opportunity anxiety. Blue-state professionals feel micro-targeted by new limits on state and local tax deductions, while filers elsewhere can’t figure out why they’re no longer getting a fat refund, if the law was supposed to be so good for them.

We asked accountants across the country to tell us their clients’ most common queries. Here are some answers:

I thought my tax bill was going to decrease. What happened?

For many people living in high-tax states like New York, California, New Jersey and Connecticut, there’s one overriding reason their tax bills have risen: Their state and local tax deduction, known as SALT, will be capped at $10,000. This includes state and local income taxes, as well as real estate taxes.

“Prior to 2018, SALT was often most New Yorkers’ largest itemized deduction,” said Tina Salandra, a certified public accountant in New York.

“New York City residents, for example, often have state and city taxes that total nearly 10 percent of their income”, she added. So if your state and local taxes already exceed the $10,000 limit, you lose the ability to deduct any of your property taxes.

As a result, some families may find that instead of itemizing, it’s better to take the larger standard deduction. “But even if you can still itemize, your total deductions will be limited regardless,” said Ms. Salandra, “which may likely result in higher taxes.”Her property-owning clients with incomes in the $200,000 to $400,000 range are feeling the most significant pinch. Though their tax rates have decreased, that usually does not make up for the loss of their largest itemized deductions.

I was told there would be a tax cut for most people. So why is my return showing a tiny refund, or even an amount due?

In early 2018, the I.R.S. took its best shot at offering guidance to employers about how to change tax withholding from paychecks. In general, it suggested decreases, since the 2017 law was supposed to be a cut. That should have resulted in bigger paychecks for most people.

But if you were an employee receiving those checks, you may not have noticed the increase. If that was the case, you won’t be seeing the usual April refund: You’ve already gotten it, just parceled out into slightly higher 2018 paychecks.

Want to get a refund next year? If that’s your goal, Julie A. Welch, a Leawood, Kan., accountant, suggests using the I.R.S. withholding calculator to adjust your paycheck. Most people never bother.

Should I take the standard deduction or itemize my deductions this year?

Before breaking down what’s changed, let’s back up and explain the basics: Taxpayers are entitled to take a standard tax deduction amount, or they can itemize their deductions individually; they can deduct whichever amount is higher, resulting in a lower tax bill.

Under the new tax law, the standard deduction has doubled (to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for joint filers), while several itemized deductions have been eliminated or limited. TurboTax estimates that as a result, nearly 90 percent of taxpayers will now take the standard deduction, up from about 70 percent in previous years. To help you figure out the best choice, the company has posted a three-step interactive tool on its blog.

Have any popular deductions and credits changed? What did we lose, and what can I still claim?

Dependent exemption: Under the previous law, families were able to claim a $4,050 exemption for each qualifying child, but that deduction has been eliminated. Instead, if you have children under the age of 17, you may qualify for the child tax credit, which was raised to $2,000 from $1,000 for each child. More people will qualify now that the credit begins to phase out at $400,000 in income for joint filers ($200,000 for individuals), according to Claudell Bradby, a certified public accountant with TurboTax Live. The law also introduced a $500 credit for other dependents, which could include elderly parents or children over the age of 17.

Mortgage interest: If you itemize, you can deduct the interest paid on the first $750,000 in mortgage indebtedness on loans taken out after Dec. 15, 2017 (on first and second homes). Older loans are grandfathered: You can still generally deduct interest on up to $1 million in mortgage debt on loans taken out before Dec. 16, 2017.Interest on home equity loans or lines of credit are now only deductible if the debt is used to “buy, build or substantially improve” the home that secures the loan. You can no longer deduct the interest if you pay off credit card debt, for example.

Alternative minimum tax: Far fewer people are expected to be snared by it because so many of the old tax breaks that set off the so-called A.M.T. have been eliminated or reduced. In addition, the minimum exemption level has increased to $109,400 for joint filers, up from $84,500; and to $70,300 for individual filers, up from $54,300. The exemption begins to phase out at $500,000 for single filers and $1 million for joint filers.

Unreimbursed employee expenses: A number of employees’ business expenses that weren’t reimbursed by their employers — like classes and seminars — are no longer deductible.

Moving expenses: Workers moving for a new job were once able to deduct related expenses. That has been wiped away, except for members of the military.

Tax preparation fees: If you itemized, you could typically deduct the amount your tax preparer charged or similar tax-related expenses, like software bought to file electronically. This is no longer possible, unless you are self-employed.

Is it true that alimony is no longer deductible?

It depends, said Tyler Mickey, a tax senior manager at Moss Adams in Wenatchee, Washington.

Under the previous law, spouses paying alimony could deduct those payments on their returns, while the recipients had to include the income on theirs. That remains the case for divorce agreements finalized on or before Dec. 31, 2018 (unless a couple changes the agreement after then). Therefore it’s true for returns filed this year.

But for divorces completed in 2019 and later, alimony payments will no longer be deductible, and recipients will not have to include them on their returns, added Mr. Mickey, who is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ personal finance specialist committee.

I heard that small business owners can’t deduct meals and entertainment anymore. Is that true?

It’s half true, said Carol McCrae, a certified public accountant in Brooklyn. You can no longer deduct entertainment or amusement, generally defined as taking a client to, say, a basketball game. But you can still deduct 50 percent of what you spend on meals, as long as you are dining with clients, traveling for business or attending a business convention (or something along those lines). The meals cannot be lavish or extravagant — so forget about the tasting menu at Le Bernardin. Providing meals to employees for an office party or a meeting, she added, are still 100 percent deductible.

There are specific rules you may need to follow. If you paid for a show and dinner on one bill, for example, it must be itemized — and the amount paid for meals must be clearly stated. If it’s not, she added, then no deduction is allowed.

Do I qualify for pass-through status and its 20 percent deduction?

The new tax laws allow some business owners — those who are set up as so-called “pass-through” companies — to deduct 20 percent of their qualified business income. Cue the rush to the tax professionals.

Most of Russell Garofalo’s clients at Brass Taxes are self-employed, but many of those who have asked him about the new rules don’t realize that they are already pass-throughs, where income passes through the business to the owner’s personal tax returns. “If you earn money without taxes being taken out, poof, you’re in business,” he said.

Anyone like that in any profession who is set up as a sole proprietorship, partnership or an S corporation (but not a C corporation) qualifies, as long as they are making less than $315,000 and filing taxes jointly, or under $157,500 for other taxpayers. Beyond those income levels and tax structures, it gets complicated and many professions get excluded. The Internal Revenue Service, the Tax Policy Center and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountshave all published good primers.

I have a taxable estate. Should I reconsider gifts I’ve given to family members?

The estate tax affects wealthy people. The amount that people can pass on to heirs without federal tax consequences has roughly doubled. In 2019, it’s $11.4 million per person.But in 2026, unless Congress acts, it goes back to $5 million (adjusted for inflation), which is what it was in 2017. State estate taxes can cloud the picture too.

Micaela Saviano, a senior manager at Deloitte Tax in Chicago, said that, especially, if you hold an investment that is likely to increase in value, it may be better to hand it down to the next generation now. That way, the growth accrues to the younger person’s estate.And paying the federal gift tax now may make sense. Otherwise, the estate may have to pay estate taxes later, using part of the estate itself.

Tara Siegel Bernard covers personal finance. Before joining The Times in 2008, she was deputy managing editor at FiLife, a personal finance website, and an editor at CNBC. She also worked at Dow Jones and contributed regularly to The Wall Street Journal.

Ron Lieber is the Your Money columnist and author of “The Opposite of Spoiled.” He previously helped develop the personal finance web site FiLife and wrote for The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and Fortune.

Opinions expressed by contributing writers are their own.

7 Problems Keeping Your Business from being Profitable

Article written for Entrepreneur by Jayson DeMers, Founder and CEO, AudienceBloom

There are many reasons to become an entrepreneur, but no matter what yours are — even if they don’t include getting rich — your business still needs to generate a profit.

Without one, you can’t keep the doors open, and you can’t keep doing what you love.
Unfortunately, the majority of new businesses ultimately end up failing within the first few years. In large part, this is due to an inability to generate a sufficient profit, and it’s not a problem to scoff at — even businesses built on solid ideas can suffer from a lack of profitability.

So, what prevents businesses from being profitable in the first place? Here are seven major problems.

Low prices

Setting prices is one of the first and most important decisions you’ll have to make for your business. How you set your prices could easily dictate your future success. Most entrepreneurs immediately caution themselves not to set prices too high; if your product costs more than your competitors’, you could turn away your entire target market.

However, if you set prices too low, you’ll end up spending more in production than you can feasibly make back. Consider your margins carefully, and don’t be afraid to charge for quality. If you spend more time making your product better, people will be willing to pay for it.

Too much overhead

There are some things your business absolutely needs to survive. However, you may be overestimating your needs in some key areas. For example, do you really need that 3,000-square-foot office when you have only two employees you’re running the business with? Do you really need to invest in that piece of machinery that adds only a marginal value to your finished product?

Think carefully about your overhead; if you spend too much there, you could create a hole too deep to dig out of.

Too many ongoing costs

It doesn’t take much for your business expenses to start spiraling out of control; and because expenses come in so many forms, it’s hard to pin down any one area where you’re bleeding money. Think about how many people you have on staff, what you pay your vendors, how much it costs to produce a single product and even monthly variables like utility costs.

For all these potential expenses, cheaper options likely exist, along with opportunities to make cuts. So, don’t overlook them.

Unseen or hidden costs

You may have a solid expense plan worked out, but there are some expenses you probably haven’t prepared for — and they generally aren’t lumped into your “regular” expenses. For example, if your business runs into emergency repair needs, that event could instantly demand all the revenue you’ve made for the month.

If you aren’t adequately preparing for taxes or insurance costs, meanwhile, those could end up burning you, too. All it takes is a few unplanned expenses to wreck your profitability model.

Fierce competition

It’s possible that your expenses and prices are just fine, but you’re facing competition too tough to keep up with. For example, if your competitors have products similarly priced to yours but objectively better, you won’t sell enough to say alive.

So, find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition, and one-up them in at least one key area, whether that be price, quality or experience.

A lack of market awareness

You may also be suffering from a lack of market awareness; if your product is at an ideal price for both you and your customers, you still might not generate a profit if no one knows it exists. Your greatest tools to overcome this obstacle are marketing and advertising; they cost a bit up-front, but are well worth the investment if you plan them properly.

Inconsistency

There’s a chance that you have a perfect way to make your business profitable — but you’re executing too inconsistently for your business to reap the rewards. For example, your expenses may swing enormously from month to month, or your sales team might perform unpredictably based on individual variables.

Iron out these inconsistencies as soon as you can track them down. It may be tough to pinpoint exactly where your strategy is deviating, but it’s an important step if you want your profit to remain reliable.

Opinions expressed by contributing writers are their own.

Spice of Life Dinner Highlights 2019 Award Recipients

Mark Turner, President/CEO, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

The Gilroy Chamber’s 2019 Spice of Life Dinner was “all that” and more. Nearly 300 people joined the award recipients that evening to celebrate their success and achievements. Congressman Jimmy Panetta stopped by and visited with the award winners and guests before leaving for another commitment. State Assemblymember Robert Rivas along with Supervisor Mike Wasserman stayed for dinner and the award presentations. Other elected officials included John Varela, Santa Clara Valley Water District; Mayor Roland Velasco; Vice-Mayor Marie Blankley; Council members Cat Tucker, Fred Tovar and Dion Bracco.

The evening highlighted 8 of Gilroy’s best organizations and individuals who have aimed high, worked hard and always given back to the community. The award recipients were, Man of the Year, Frank Angelino; Woman of the Year, Susan Mister; Large Business of the Year, Gilroy Chevrolet Cadillac; Small Business of the Year, CAL SILK; Non-Profit Organization of the Year, South Valley Community Church; Volunteer of the Year, Clorinda Sergi; Educator of the Year, Emily Diaz; and the Susan Valenta Youth Leadership Award recipient, Brandon Krueger, a high school senior at Gilroy Early College Academy.

Just before the 2019 Spice of Life Awards were handed out, the Chamber took a few minutes to thank and honor Christopher Ranch for their 50 year commitment to the Chamber. The evening of the dinner marked their 50th Anniversary as Chamber members. Don and Karen Christopher along with their grandson, Jason, attended the event. Jason, a third generation Christopher, who is actively involved in the operation of Christopher Ranch, accepted the recognition award.

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce congratulates all the award recipients and thanks them for their loyalty and commitment to the Community with a Spice for Life.

Monthly Update from Visit Gilroy

Jane Howard, Director, Visit Gilroy

Each fiscal year the Visit Gilroy board of directors approves a list of goals and scope of work to meet the organization’s mission of promoting and marketing Gilroy and the surrounding area as a viable day and overnight visitor destination. Recently I met with our marketing agency Articulate Solutions for a six month “check-in” on how we are doing to meet these goals and to receive a status update. I am pleased to report we are on target to achieve our goals and the results are impressive. Following is a summary of the status update through December 31, 2019:

A. Visitgilroy.com website visitation and social media engagement
a. Unique visitors – 56,056 (56.8% to goal for mid-year)
b. Social Media
i. Facebook followers – 6.5% increase over prior 6 months
ii. Instagram followers – 10.5 % increase over prior 6 months
iii. Twitter followers – 1.1% increase over prior 6 months

B. Advertising Campaigns and Brand Awareness
a. 5,425 website referrals to Gilroy lodging properties
b. Print and digital campaigns with Via Magazine, Edible Silicon Valley, Trip Advisor, Yosemite Journal, Horizon Travel Magazine,
Canadian Traveler Magazine and GMH Today Magazine
c. 5 articles submitted and 17 Facebook Posts – Central Coast Tourism Council (CCTC) website
d. 9 articles submitted – Visit California website and e-newsletters

C. Visit Gilroy monthly e-newsletter
a. 73,013 e-newsletters delivered
b. Average Open Rate – 12.4% (1.6% increase over prior 6 months)
c. Average Click Rate – 2.21% (.8% increase over prior 6 months)

D. Public Relations
a. Hosted 2 digital influencers for multiple day visits
b. Launched Road to Garlic campaign
c. Attended Visit California San Francisco Media Reception
d. Added 369 new contacts to Visit Gilroy media list
e. Value Equivalency Report (VER) July – December 2018 = $87,665

In summary, Visit Gilroy is successfully delivering the goods to bring more visitors to Gilroy. For the remaining six months of our fiscal year (ending 6/30/19) we will continue the current strategies and spend resources to launch advertising at San Jose International Airport, attending IPW in Anaheim and rebranding as California Welcome Center Gilroy. Keeping an eye on our goals is important and measuring results is critical to achieving them. Visit Gilroy is focused daily on our mission of increasing visitation to Gilroy. 

Gilroy Chamber to Host Mayor’s State of the City Address

Mark Turner, President/CEO Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

What’s ahead for Gilroy? What’s the economic outlook for our community? What vision does the Mayor and Council have for our City? What challenges do we face and what opportunities exist?

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce will once again host Mayor Velasco’s State of the City address on Thursday evening, March 7, 2019 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Join us as we hear the Mayor address these questions and more.

The State of the City Address will take place at Old City Hall Restaurant. The cost is $45 and dinner will be served. Contact the Chamber to make reservations or go to gilroy.org.

Guidance for California Employers on Agricultural Overtime Pay

Article written by Kate Culliton, Editor, CalChamber

The California Labor Commissioner has posted guidance for agricultural employers and workers about new overtime requirements that went into effect January 1.

To help employers comply with the new requirements, the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (also known as the Labor Commissioner’s Office) published a timetable that employers can view for when agricultural employees should receive overtime pay. The Labor Commissioner has also published Frequently Asked Questions.

For the first year, which started January 1, 2019, agricultural workers at large businesses earn overtime pay for all hours worked over 9.5 hours in a day or 55 hours in a workweek. Small employers have an additional three years before the changes to daily and weekly overtime pay take effect.

“We encourage large and small agricultural employers in the state to note the new farmworker overtime pay requirements that will phase in until a 40-hour standard workweek is reached,” said California Labor Secretary Julie A. Su, in a statement.

Agricultural workers are defined in Wage Order 14 and include employees who are engaged in the preparation and treatment of farmland as well as the care and harvesting of crops. Wage Order 14 was recently updated in January 2019. Spanish and Chinese versions will be available soon.

Failure to pay proper overtime wages can result in a civil penalty of $50 per pay period for each underpaid employee.

California agricultural employers need to be aware of these new overtime requirements. The requirements also vary depending on how many employees you have.

Workers Waiting “On Call” Must Be Paid, Court Rules

Article written by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer

Employees who are required to stay “on call” before the start of a possible work shift — phoning their employer two hours before the shift to learn whether they’re needed — are entitled to be paid for that two-hour period regardless of whether they’re called in to work, a state appeals court ruled Monday.

In a 2-1 decision with potentially broad impact, the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said on-call employees are protected by a 1943 California Industrial Welfare Commission wage order, still in effect, that entitles employees to “reporting time pay” as soon as they are required to report for work.

The employer in this case, a retail clothing store, argued that the law mandated payment only for the hours an employee was required to report at the workplace. But the appeals court said the law also protects employees who are required to report in by telephone, committing their time to the employer.

Workers facing on-call shifts “cannot commit to other jobs or schedule classes during those shifts,” must make child care arrangements and have to give up time for recreation or socializing, said Presiding Justice Lee Edmon in the majority opinion. By contrast, she said, “unpaid on-call shifts are enormously beneficial to employers,” who can maintain a “large pool of contingent workers” and pay them only if they need them.

In dissent, Justice Anne Egerton said the 1943 reporting time order was intended to require pay only for employees who “must physically appear at the workplace” and that any changes should be left to the Legislature. She noted that a federal judge had interpreted the law that way in a separate case, although the federal ruling is not binding on other courts.

The ruling is “a great victory for employees,” said Patrick McNicholas, a lawyer for the sales clerk who filed the suit after being denied pay for time spent on call. McNicholas said many retail stores and restaurants follow a similar practice.

There was no immediate comment from lawyers for Tillys, the clothing store in Torrance (Los Angeles County) where the clerk worked in 2012. The apparel chain Abercrombie & Fitch filed arguments supporting Tillys.

Tillys, based in Irvine, requires employees with on-call shifts to call in two hours before the shift would start and disciplines those who call in late or not at all, with potential firings for three violations.

The appeals court agreed with the employers that, when the 1943 “reporting time” wage order was written, employees reported to work by showing up at the workplace. But the court said the law was not drafted narrowly and must be interpreted in light of changing realities and technology.

For example, Edmon said, a 1978 state law that allowed members of a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation to copy other members’ “names and addresses” was interpreted by a state appeals court in 2010 to allow copying of email addresses as well.

Employers are requiring their employees to “report to work” when they mandate call-ins two hours before the start of a possible work shift, the ruling said. It said requiring pay during call-in time encourages employers “to accurately project their labor needs and to schedule accordingly,” and to “partially compensate employees for the inconvenience and expense associated with making themselves available to work on-call shifts.”

What’s New with Business?

Eric Howard, Business Relationship Manager, Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Each year more than three million high school students take the SAT or ACT, the college entrance exams required by most four-year colleges in the United States. For decades, however, there have been questions about exactly what these tests measure, what role they play in the admissions process and how predictive they are of academic success.What are college entrance exams really measuring? On Thursday, February 28 at 6:30pm, Mount Madonna School will host a film screening of “The Test and the Art of Thinking” at the Community Playhouse in Morgan Hill. $5, tickets available at MMS-FilmScreening.bpt.me.

Katherine Filice, co-owner of Articulate Solutions, has recently had two of her works selected as finalists for the International Artist Grand Prize Competition (I.A.C.) in Taipei. Organized by the Taiwan International Contemporary Artist Association, this is one of Asia’s top art contests. Over 4,200 works were submitted from artists representing 81 different countries. Of those, only 371 were chosen as finalists to be featured in the exhibit from April 25-29 at Art Revolution Taipei. To have not just one but two works selected (both from her series “The Place in Between”) is an incredible honor. Her piece Kate & Anthony was selected to be exhibited among the incredible ArtCan talents at Elevate, which opens in London on February 6. Congratulations to our local artist, Katherine Filice.

Spice Up Your Art Portfolio. Enter the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival Art Poster Contest. Artists across the country are invited to submit their original artwork for the chance to win cash prizes in the 2019 Gilroy Garlic Festival Art Poster Contest. The first-place winning entry will be reproduced as a high-quality, limited-edition poster to be sold at the 41st annual Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 26, 27 and 28, 2019. Entries must be received at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association office by 4:00 pm on Friday, March 15, 2019. For complete contest rules and online application, go to gilroygarlicfestival.com/festival/poster-contest or call 408-842-1625.

Young ladies who are passionate about the western lifestyle and promoting the rodeo industry can run for the title of Miss California Rodeo Salinas and become an ambassador for the largest professional rodeo in the state. Entries for the 2019 contest open on February 14 and close on May 6. The competition is open to young women between 18 and 21 years of age who are representing either a recognized horsemen’s organization or another recognized non-commercial community organization. The winner will travel to various events promoting the California Rodeo Salinas throughout the year. Full contest details and a digital application form can be found at https://www.carodeo.com/p/about-us/mcrs/2019-miss-california-rodeo-contest-entry-info.

When is Enough Enough?

Mark Turner, President/CEO Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Below is an article by Luara Curtis, Policy Advocate for CalChamber regarding the never-ending bills introduced and passed in Sacramento. Too often, these bills are unnecessary and create an excessive burden on small businesses already struggling to keep up. Each year, the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce partners with CalChamber advocating for our local businesses by opposing job killing legislation. The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce diligently reviews proposed bills and will continue to fight on behalf of our business community always working to ensure a strong local economy.

We often hear from our members that the California Legislature churns out too many new laws each year and the 2019 Legislative Session is likely to be more of the same. California businesses struggle annually to comply with an ever-changing landscape, both with new statutes enacted by the Legislature (last year was a record with 1,016 new laws), as well as hundreds more regulations adopted by administrative agencies (between 500-600 new regulations each year according to the Office of Administrative Law).

This number is significant, however, considering that the Legislature introduces approximately 2,500 bills each year, it could be worse. For example, in 2018, there were 2,637 bills introduced. CalChamber positioned on 219 bills, 134 of which were opposed positions. Out of the 134 opposed, CalChamber identified 29 Job Killers. All of the Job Killers were stopped in 2018, and out of the other bills CalChamber opposed, only 26 made it to the Governor’s desk, with approximately half being vetoed.

One area that is regularly active with new laws is labor and employment. In looking back over the past few sessions, we can see that nearly 50 new laws are added every session. From the 2017-18 Session, there were 48 new laws enacted; from the 2015-16 Session, there were 64 new laws enacted; from the 2013-14 Session, there were 63 new laws enacted; and, from the 2011-12 Session, there were 56 new laws enacted. While all of these new laws are not significant, substantive changes, and may just be more technical in nature, the sheer volume of new laws and regulations is overwhelming and represents a huge burden, financially and administratively, for businesses operating in California, particularly small businesses.

Small businesses often do not have the means to hire in-house legal counsel or a Human Resources team to keep up with the changing laws. I cannot imagine opening say a cupcake shop in California. It is one thing to be a great baker, but having to keep up on California’s labor and employment laws with changes each year would be impossible for someone just trying to run a business in the Golden State. One of the ongoing challenges to the business community is to educate the Legislature that it isn’t necessary to pass 50 or 60 new laws every year in the labor and employment space, or any other area.

Hopefully the Legislature will take Governor Newsom’s Inaugural Address to heart when he said “And those who dream of building something of their own – a restaurant, a bookstore, a family farm – they will get our support” by passing fewer laws regulating California businesses.