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“There’s even more work to be done for our portion of the business sector to recover and make advancements,” Evans said.

To increase access to capital for minority business owners, Evans and his organization support an effort by state Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford to create a revolving loan fund for disadvantaged businesses.

“The fact that we could create a revolving loan fund that is targeted to… helping out the traditionally underserved or unserved individual so that they can develop themselves that’s good not only for the specific African-American community or the Latino community, it’s good for the overall community,” he said.

There are some warning signs in the economy that have Restrepo and PeQueen concerned. The biggest worry is the increase in consumer debt. It is now easier to get credit cards, car loans, and student loans.

PeQueen said student loans for for-profit trade schools is at $1 trillion, which could be a big drag on the economy.

“That threatens to keep the next generation of Americans and Southern Nevadans from starting households and buying homes until their late 30s, early 40s,” he said, “It really does hold economic development back.”

PeQueen is also concerned about the return of easy money for home loans. One of the factors that brought about the housing crisis was subprime loans, which were home loans for people with low incomes, poor credit and very little to put towards a down payment.

“Lending standards for consumers buying homes has dropped precipitously and they’re taking people with lower credit scores and they’re requiring smaller down payments,” he said, “All those things allow people to get into the housing market, but it doesn’t bode well in the next downturn.”

While the announcement this week that the Raiders would be allowed to leave Oakland for Las Vegas excited sports fans and tourism officials, economists like Restrepo and PeQueen are still skeptical about what the real impact will be.

“The jury is still out when you look at the data and you look at the case studies of whether or not stadiums – whether they’re publicly funded or not – are transformative in terms of economies,” Restrepo said.

Restrepo said that while the stadium and the team will drive tourism and create jobs in the short term, it won’t remake the valley’s economy from low-paying, low-skill jobs to higher paying, higher skilled jobs.

One of the main critiques of the stadium and the Raiders deal is that Las Vegas does not have the people to support three sports franchises: The Raiders, the Golden Knights, and the UNLV Rebels.

PeQueen believes that decision making will be an indicator of just how well the economy is doing.

“I think you’ll start to get the answer to how well we’re doing when we begin to see how well people buy Rebel season tickets and how they convert these $100 deposits in Raiders tickets into personal seat licenses and season tickets,” he said.

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Delaware is poised to go back to the future with its approach to auto insurance. Inspired by California’s 1988 ballot initiative, Proposition 103, new Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro wants the First State to embrace the insurance equivalent of a Casio Walkman in an era of big data, telematics, and self-driving vehicles.

Navarro has thrown his weight behindHB 80, sponsored by Rep. Trey Charles Paradee, D-Cheswold.Like Prop 103, the Delaware legislation would strictly limit which factors an insurance company may take into account when underwriting consumers and setting rates. In arecent op-ed, Navarro argued that factors such as credit scores, marital status, and employment status are “irrelevant” and their use by insurance companies leads to customers “being treated unfairly.”

“I do not believe that having poor credit, whether due to being laid off from a job or another life-changing event, is indicative of whether or not someone is a good or bad driver,” Navarro wrote in theNews Journal.

Actually, credit-based insurance rating does not take into account employment status or income history, facts about which Navarro should already be aware. But his beliefs notwithstanding, the evidence has been clear for decades that a poor credit history is strongly correlated with a driver’s propensity to file claims in the future. Moreover, contrary to Navarro’s characterization of credit scoring as an “unfair discriminatory practice,” the largest studies of the topic, by theFederal Trade Commissionand theTexas Department of Insurance, both found that credit scores were not a proxy for race.

Navarro instead proposes a system that would only allow insurers to consider a driver’s at-fault claims experience, driving safety record, the number of miles he or she drives annually and the number of years of driving experience, with mandatory discounts for more years of experience. But the data show that preventing insurance companies from using factors that distinguish between higher-risk and lower-risk drivers in an effective way forces everyone to pay more than they otherwise would. When rating is more precise, insurers can craft finer rating distinctions that benefit good drivers, including those with good credit, instead of needing to use overly general categories that lump risks together.

By looking to follow California’s lead, Navarro is asking the vast majority of Delaware drivers to subsidize their riskier compatriots. Functionally, HB 80 would levy a tax on safe drivers. It’s also short-sighted. The very rating flexibility the commissioner seeks to do away with actually will prove more crucial as self-driving and automated vehicles are rolled out in the years to come.

These vehicles, though sophisticated, will continue to experience accidents – in large part, because they will share the roads with human drivers. While the frequency of accidents is likely to fall, the cost of repairs will rise, thanks to the sophisticated components needed to operate these vehicles. To ensure that consumers pay as little as possible to insure these new types of vehicles, we need robust competition between carriers.

HB 80 would undermine that goal by eliminating insurers’ ability to innovate and mandating a myopic focus on driving records, just as the significance of those records begins to diminish. In fact, a recent California Senate Insurance Committeehearingon how Prop 103 would cope with the arrival of automated vehicles found that the state’s rigid structure, virtually identical to the one Navarro is seeking to adopt, will require modification and increased flexibility to cope.

Fortunately, one of the great strengths of the insurance regulatory system in the United States is that it is state-based. While there are costs associated having to comply with 50 different regulatory bodies and deal with some jurisdiction’s eccentricities, the system effectively insulates consumers from the rapid spread of malignant regulatory pathogens. What doesn’t work in one state becomes a learning experience that need not hobble another state.

As regulatory pathogens go, there is none more problematic than California’s Prop 103. Whatever the populist appeal of HB 80, lawmakers and drivers need only cast their gaze westward to understand the costly impact of such an affliction.

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Senate Majority Leader Mike Kehoe, a Jefferson City Republican who is sponsoring the bill on the Senate side, said the private funding makes the new arts center a smart financial move for the state, which would own the facility.

“So you’re going to be able to put an asset on your balance sheet for half the price,” Kehoe said.

But the bill could face opposition from Senate Republicans who think the state should not take on additional debt during a budget shortfall.

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In this Jan. 16, 2008 photo, Bishop Michael Warfel, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, speaks before communion during his installation as the seventh bishop of the diocese at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Great Falls, Montana. Warfel announced Friday, March 31, 2017, the diocese was filing for bankruptcy as part of a settlement with 72 people who filed sex claims against priests, nuns and lay church workers. (Casey Page/The Billings Gazette via AP.)

On behalf of the entire Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, I express my profound sorrow and sincere apologies to anyone who was abused by a priest, a sister or a lay church worker, Bishop Michael Warfel said in a statement. No child should experience harm from anyone who serves the church.

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The teen clothing store, Rue21 may be the latest retailer to file bankruptcy. According to Bloomberg, the company is preparing to do it as soon as this month.

There are over 1,000 Rue21 stores across the county, one in West Fargo off 13th Avenue. We reached out to Rue21 to see if they are planning to close any stores, we havent heard back yet.

Recently, a number of stores have been in the news for either filing bankruptcy or closing locations. Macy’s, JC Penney, Sears, Gordman’s, Wet Seal, The Limited, and more.

Vanessa Stumpf of Bismarck says, I feel like those are really well established businesses, they are really well known names, and I think its sad they are all closing.

Its a sign of the times, according to the President of the North Dakota Retail Association. He says more store front are closing because more people are shopping online, and less people in the area are spending money in general. Adding that its reaching a crisis point, not only are retailers losing out on sales, but states are losing out on the taxes.

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At the end of the 15 years, the property will be returned to the SHA.

Tim Schweizer, chairman of the SHA’s board of trustees, said the arrangement offers a lot of advantages to the local housing authority.

“We are getting private investment to help redevelop housing for low-income people in Springfield. It’s a win-win for the community to have private investment help us get these units rehabbed,” Schweitzer said.

On Wednesday, the SHA board approved an early start agreement with Bear Development LLC of Kenosha, Wisconsin, to oversee the project. The preliminary construction cost is about $2 million, which will come from investors and other private funding sources.

The SHA may use some of its own funds on the project, but that amount has not been determined.

“The risk is being assumed by the development company,” said Melissa Huffstedtler, deputy director of the SHA. “We will seek additional funding sources through the tax credit program and other grant and self-funding sources to fund the project.”

Schweizer said there are still a lot of details to be ironed out, but the agreement approved Wednesday will get the ball rolling.

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At its meeting Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to officially establish the Reston Transportation Service District, part of the 40-year, $2.27 billion plan to upgrade roadways in Reston’s Transit Station Area.

Supervisors in February approved the project’s funding plan, which includes a proposed 2.1 cent/$100 of assessed value tax assessed to properties in the Transit Station Area. That rate will be discussed and finalized when the county budget is approved in May.

The overall project includes road widening and upgrades to intersections and interchanges, in addition toconstruction of new Dulles Toll Road crossings, including at Town Center Parkway and Soapstone Drive. Roadway projects would be paid for with public revenue, while work on intersections and the street grid would be covered by private funding.

Under the agreed-upon plan, current homeowners in the TSA will be responsible for up to $44.6 million of the estimated cost. The remainder of the tax funds (totaling $350 million) will be collected from commercial/industrial properties and from residential properties built in the future. The rest of private funds, about $716 million, is expected to be collected through in-kind contributions to the grid by developers.

In addition, the board voted Tuesday to create a 13-member advisory group for the service district. The group will consist of the following members:

  • One member from the Dranesville District
  • Two members from the Hunter Mill District
  • Three members to represent residential owners and homeowner/civic associations
  • One member to represent apartment or rental owner associations
  • One member to represent residents of Reston Town Center
  • Three members to represent commercial or retail ownership interests, including the Reston Town Center Association
  • One member from the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce to represent lessees of non-residential space
  • One member from Reston Association

Among the group’s responsibilities, county Department of Transportation Director TomBiesiadny said, would be to “work with staff to ensure that estimated funding levels are coordinated with construction of transportation projects, that the timing of the construction is coordinated with development, and that the funding is being spent in an appropriate and efficientmanner.”

Supervisors Linda Smyth (Providence District) and Pat Herrity (Springfield District) both abstained from the votes, as they have throughout the process. Herrity once again stated that the cost of the project, which he called “gold-plated,” is too high.

“We’re taxing our residents out of the county and I think we’re going to see some of them fleeing Reston,” Herrity said.

A pair of TSA residents who spoke during a public hearing Tuesday, Robert Perry and Hank Schonzeit, both expressed feelings that taxing a small group of residents for work that benefits the entire community — as well asdevelopers — is unfair.

“If you’re going tohave a situation where you’re going to try to flog us the most you can get away with, in the smallest possible area for the fewest taxpayers, I say that’s not fair,” Perry said. “The developers who probably live in a different state who are getting rich from this [are]the ones that should bear the payment, not us.”

Developers will be responsible for 96 percent of the private share ofthe project, Biesiadny said, and 53 percent (about $1.2 billion) of the project is to be paid out of the county coffers. Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) said that while developers will be benefiting from the major road improvements,she believes residents will see the benefits of the work as well.

“We’re hoping it will not be considered onerous, but I think anytime we ask the citizens to [be taxed], they may assume it’s going to be an onerous assessment,” Hudgins said. “But I think they’ll see the return.”

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By the people, for the people
Sunday, April 09th, 2017 | Author:

Last November, the Palo Alto City Council received a surprise visit from a famously hooded local resident.

It wasnt Mark Zuckerberg but Sequoia, a 28-year-old bald eagle who lives at the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo and who attended the meeting as part of a presentation about the zoos impending renovation.

Minutes later, the council received another treat: an announcement that Friends of the Junior Museum and Zoo was about to complete its $25 million campaign to greatly expand the beloved Rinconada Park institutions — an effort that the group officially completed in February with the help of $10 million of community donations and a $15 million matching grant from the Peery Foundation.

Then-Mayor Pat Burt called the expansion the largest project contributed by a nonprofit since the 1930s.

This could have been something that was proposed as a 50-50 public-private contribution. And its not, Burt said.

The zoo expansion is the most dramatic but hardly the only example of a private groups stepping up to pay for a recreation amenity. Mitchell Parks universally accessible Magical Bridge playground, which opened in 2015, was made possible by a group of residents who launched the group Friends of the Magical Bridge and raised $3.5 million (the city contributed the land and $300,000).

The 2009 renovation of Lytton Plaza in downtown Palo Alto was partially paid for by Friends of Lytton Plaza, while the construction of the playground in downtowns Heritage Park was buoyed in 2007 by a contribution of nearly $200,000 from Friends of Heritage Park.

The bottom line is that Palo Alto has nowhere near the money it needs to pay for all the new dog runs, bathrooms and neighborhood parks that its parks master plan calls for. But with Friends like these, thats not necessarily a deal breaker.

Private groups — along with higher fees for things like swimming classes at Rinconada and admission to the Junior Museum and Zoo (which is currently free) — are expected to play a critical role in the citys implementation of the master plan. Even if the citys General Fund shoulders a good share of the load, the master plan explicitly calls for pursuing private funding sources for recreation programming, capital improvement projects and facility maintenance.

The plan also aims to create sponsorship programs for potential donors and engage nonprofit friends groups to seek donor funding, including foundation grants, corporate giving and small and major philanthropic gifts by individuals, for priority projects.

The reliance on private contributions is imbedded in the documents implementation plan, which prioritizes the proposed near- and long-term programs in terms of urgency and costs. Nearly every major proposal — from enhancing sports fields and building a new gymnasium to redeveloping Cubberley Community Center and improving the 7.7-acre site that was recently annexed to Foothills Park — includes outreach to the general community (or in the case of athletic fields, to field users) for private donations as a funding strategy.

In collaboration with the Friends of Palo Alto Parks and the Palo Alto Recreation Foundation among other partners, Palo Alto will develop a marketing campaign to engage members of the public to volunteer and contribute financially to the improvement and expansion of Palo Altos parks, open space and recreation programs, the plan states.

Other funding mechanisms — including bonds, grants and park-impact fees — are also on the citys menu. But given the citys wealth of willing donors and the populaces love for parks, fields and bald eagles, the master plan clearly reflects the citys belief that the most valuable instrument for improving the communitys experience of parks and recreation is the community itself.

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Bowen visits Mount Vernon
Sunday, April 09th, 2017 | Author:

Institute participants from around the country included K-12 teachers, librarians, and media specialists selected by the George Washington Teacher Institute in a competitive application process.

The George Washington Teacher Institute, founded in 1999, provides K-12 educators with professional development opportunities throughout the year through residential, online, and regional programming, as well as teacher fellowships.

Private funding supports full-scholarships for residential program participants, including a transportation stipend, to qualified educators from select states. In 2017, 160 educators from across the nation will benefit from the George Washington Teacher Institute residential programs, according to the press release.

For more information about the George Washington Teacher Institute, visit www.MountVernon.org/Teachers

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