Tags >> environment
Nov 30
2009

Amazon's sales tax

Posted by Bruce Robinson in politics , policy , legislation , law enforcement , government , finances , economy , California , business , budget

Bruce Robinson

Amazon.com gets an unfair edge in the retail world by not charging California customers sales tax, the company’s critics contend. And there’s a move afoot in the state legislature (AB 178)  to change that.

Under California’s tax code, notes Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Alameda), online sales tax is legally required to be paid at the time of purchase, if not directly to the vendor, who passes it on to the Board of Equalization, then on the purchasers personal state income tax return.

As a book seller,  Bill Petrocelli, co-founder and vice president of Book Passage,  has been at odds with Amazon ever since the online vendor arrived on the scene. But as Amazon has expanded, he says, other conventional retailers have begun to “share his pain.”

 

While the giants of the online sales world, such as Amazon, are the most visible targets of AB 178, an organization of smaller retailers has banded together as the Performance Marketing Alliance, one of several groups that is aggressively lining up to fight the measure.

 

Nov 24
2009

Small Business Administration Update

Posted by Bruce Robinson in Sonoma County , politics , planning , Petaluma , legislation , jobs , Ideas , government , finances , employment , education , economy , community , business , budget

Bruce Robinson

 

Small businesses in America could be an important engine to help drive economic recovery, according to a local advocacy group, but they need more help than they are currently getting from the federal Small Business Administration.

Chris Gunn, Communications Director for the American Small Business League  in Petaluma says the Obama economic team does not appear to recognize the importance of small businesses to the US economy any more than their predecessors  in the Bush Administration did.

Given the considerable number of small businesses in the country, Chris Gunn says they could be a formidable political force, if they came together to press for policies that would benefit them as a group.

One change at the SBA under the Obama administration has been the installation of Karen Mills (left)  as the agency’s new director. But Gunn is not convinced she genuinely has the interests of the nation’s smaller business owners at the forefront.

 

 

Nov 17
2009

San Quentin Adult Education Cuts

Posted by Bruce Robinson in public safety , politics , policy , Marin , legislation , jail , government , education , California , budget

Bruce Robinson

Can state budget cuts lead to an increase in crime? That’s the fear as adult education programs at San Quentin and other California prisons try to implement a 45% reduction in funding.

With a budget for adult services that has been slashed by 45%, deep cuts are inevitable, admits Elizabeth Siggins from the California Department of Corrections’ office of Adult Programs (left) . Here, she outlines the steps being taken as her department tries to get the maximum social benefit from the money that remains.

One of the programs at San Quentin that will feel the burden of the cuts is the Robert E. Burton Adult School.  Although California does not have data specific to this state, Elizabeth Siggins says studies from other sources affirm the value of inmate education as a tool for reducing recidivism.

While the precise benefits of inmate education have not been quantified in California, the Correctional Educational Journal asserts that "every dollar spent on education saves $2 for taxpayers through reduced recidivism." The cost and effectiveness of educational programs within the California Corrections Department was examined at length in a February 2008 study by the State Legislative Analyst's Office.  Included in that study is the graph below, which compares the cost-effectiveness of inmate education programs with other adult prison services.

Nov 10
2009

B.I. Furlough Days

Posted by Bruce Robinson in Sonoma County , politics , policy , news , government , finances , employment , disability , community , business , budget

Bruce Robinson

Today  is a forced day off for some of the most dedicated workers in Sonoma County.

B.I clients are part of the workforce for Sonoma County Transit (below), the City of Healdsburg's Parks and Recreation Department, and mroe than 120 local businesses.

The forced furlough days—which were specified by the state, giving the affected agencies no flexibility in implementing them—are more than a financial hardship for the worker-clients who must stay home or find someplace else to go for the day, observes parent and BI board member Ken Maiolini.

Mary’s Pizza Shack employs teams of BI workers at several locations around Sonoma County. Vince Albano, CEO and Vice President for Mary’s, is trying to soften the effects of the furloughs for those workers, who he says contribute a lot to the workplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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