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Dec 08
2009

Innovation Council

Posted by Bruce Robinson in Sonoma County , policy , jobs , government , employment , education , economy , business

Bruce Robinson

Back before the economy contracted, Sonoma County supervisors convened an Innovation Council to plan for local job growth. That effort has begun to bear fruit, but is now facing budgetary uncertainly of its own.

In just a couple of years, the Sonoma County Innovation Council has moved quickly to analyze the local economy and develop a strategic plan for growth over the next decade. Council co-chair Cynthia Murray (left) , Executive Director of the North Bay Leadership Council, notes that this process was undertaken before the current economic downturn kicked in.

You can read the Innovation Council's full report here.

Dec 03
2009

Town Hall on SSU Budget

Posted by Bruce Robinson in students , speaker , Sonoma , Rohnert Park , planning , finances , events , education , economy , community , California , business , budget

Bruce Robinson

With difficulty, Sonoma State has weathered a 17% budget reduction this semester. Now they’re waiting to see how much more they will have to cut in the months ahead.

Looking ahead to the next academic year, SSU CFO and Vice president for Administration and Finance, Laurence Furukawa-Schlereth (right) , offered a silver lining of sorts, telling the campus community assembled at the midday Town Hall meeting that he hoped to avoid any further job losses in 2010-11.

Former Dean of the school of Social Services at Sonoma State, Bob Karlsrud, questions the no layoffs pledge, because it does not cover the part-time lecturers who teach the majority of courses offered at the university. Because they are rehired each year, it’s not considered a job loss when a new contract is not offered for the next semester. Karlsrud contends the campus has added too many contractual administrative positions, at the expense of keeping teachers in classrooms.

Catherine Nelson, a political science professor who represents the Sonoma campus on the statewide CSU Academic Senate, believes the current fiscal crisis also represents an opportunity for the school to clarify and redefine its core vision of itself, something she says is not yet happening here or anywhere else. But she has an idea of what it could include.

The next Town Hall meeting at the university will focus on the troubled Sonoma State University Foundation on December 16th.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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