Jaso vs. Doug A Differing Opinion Your Rant and Back At Ya

| Gazette, Opinion | September 26, 2013

By Jaso
Doug ranted on September 20 in protest of an anticipated increase in the California minimum wage rate. He complained about a particular burden placed on the business owner. He fussed about the plight of a relative few with no regard for the plight of millions. Oh, Mr. Sutton, your rant has earned an even greater rant in return. Simply read on.

It was not a famous American statesman, president or civic leader of any kind, but rather an alien (can’t say for sure if he was legal or illegal) who gave us these parting words of wisdom as he was only moments from passing on: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” When that humble folk hero uttered these words he had survival of others in mind, rather than the well-being of the self. That’s how we have to think, Mr. Sutton – in terms of the survival and well-being of the many others. (Okay, yes, it was the legendary Mr. Spock that gets credit for that quote.)
We need to attend to the conditions of the mass of citizens that compose our world community. The workforce of the world is much greater in number than those who sign their paychecks, and they are in much greater need of attention. And, yes, this points to a crowd way beyond the American workforce. There needs to be a worldwide minimum wage.

Presently an hour of work at minimum wage in California, where life is wonderful relative to that of most of the world, is roughly equal to one meal at McDonald’s. So the first three hours of a worker’s shift each day, at minimum wage, goes solely to sustenance, three meals a day. And, let’s be honest, most nutritionists would not consider a McDonald’s pseudo-burger to be sustenance, but rather a desperate act of consumption. The fact is, if Mr. Minimum Wage Worker has any hopes of paying all the usual monthly bills in our economy, such as rent, utilities and transportation expenses, he had better plan on putting in some overtime hours or getting a second job, rather than returning home at the end of his shift.

Maybe you thought that Bill Gates hooks you up with an overseas technician as a way of entertaining his clientele with an exotic accent as you acquire assistance with your new software. Perhaps you thought it was one of those little extras you are entitled to when you purchase a Microsoft product. Well, the fact is, this is how ol’ Bill (and many others of course) circumvent the already pathetic minimum wage rates within the U.S. He pays absurdly low wages to get the job done.

Here’s an idea, Mr. Ranter. How about putting yourself on an allowance equal to minimum wage for a month and see how things pan out. If it’s too tough, try DOUBLING the minimum wage for your allowance the next month and see if that goes a bit easier. Wait! Not done. After that experience at twice the minimum wage, I urge you to open an email discussion with Mr. Gates on the topic. Now, that dialogue will make for some interesting editorial copy.

Real Estate Coach

| Gazette, Opinion | September 14, 2013

Dear Coach,

I had to short sale my home about a year and a half ago. How much longer until I can purchase a new home?

Recovering in Newhall

Dear Recovering,

I’m happy to hear that your short sale is behind you and that you have the desire to be a homeowner again. You could potentially purchase in two years from the time of the short sale; however, there are a lot of components that go into being able to purchase again. Some of them include, but are not limited to: how much the short sale affected your credit score; if you were behind in your payments or current at the time of the sale; how the short sale lender reported the short sale to the credit reporting agencies; and if it was a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. In addition, you will have to do a full loan application, which will look at your income, debt, and ability to pay. Since I don’t know your specific set of circumstances, I would recommend you contact a trusted lender and do a pre-qualification now. You might be able to get approved sooner than you think. By looking at your overall credit history, the lender can let you know your timeframe and assist you in getting prepared for your next purchase.

If you have a Dear Coach question you’d like answered in this column, email it to dearcoachbecky@gmail.com or contact becky@beckysill.com for an immediate response.
Becky Sill
BRE #01802609
Troop Real Estate, Inc.

Here We Go Again, Another Race Case

| Gazette, Opinion | September 12, 2013

By Betty Arenson
No one could sanely argue against the statement that the nation has been overly saturated with the events of Martin-Zimmerman. Irrespective of the thoroughly sopping topic of skin color, we can now sit and watch the New Orleans, Louisiana saga of Coulter-Landry.
Marshall Coulter is 14, black and hospitalized. Merritt Landry is 33, white and shot Coulter.
Details to follow.
We will see if the major media follows its usual pattern in reporting such headlines. I predict, with no doubt, they will indeed. It’s already started.
The two sub-headlines are: “In a city where fear of crime pervades, the response to a shooting of an unarmed black teen by a white man has been muted”…..”New Orleanians united by fear.”
Al Sharpton’s buddy, Rev. Raymond Brown, wasted no time dealing the race card. He attended a “unity meeting” that was organized by Nadra Enzi, the founder of Brothers Against Crime. So wonderfully and unexpectedly, other attendees shouted Brown down. 
Here’s the crux of the story as set forth in the (Aug. 29) Los Angeles Times.
Landry is married with one toddler and a pregnant wife. He was a football player at Holy Cross High and has been described as “the kind of boy you’d want as your brother or son.” He is a building inspector for the city of New Orleans, with no reports of any prior run-ins with the law.
The Landry residence is surrounded by a fence of 7-foot high steel bars, plus steel spikes, with a “pneumatic ram…larger than a man’s arm” that secures the gate to the property within. Friends dubbed it “the cage.”
The surrounding neighborhood is anything but crime-light.
Nathan Harrison, a worker at an office across the street, was mugged by “young kids. Like 13 or 14.” A neighbor, Steven Spehar, was “jumped…by three kids, maybe 15 years old, tops.”
A man was killed on the same street within hours of the Coulter-Landry incident.
Another neighbor, Charles Hazouri, has a security camera that videoed Coulter and a friend as they watched the Landry home, trespassed onto the property and leaned their bicycles up against the house. 
Hazouri could not decipher exactly how the two got into Landry’s enclosed property, but he saw a “white tank top rising higher and higher…then dropping into the cage.” 
It was nearing 2 a.m.
In short summary, Landry’s dog was roused, it barked, Landry grabbed his gun and went to the cage. Reportedly Coulter is 30 feet away, makes a gesture and gets shot. Shot once and inside the gated property.  
Landry is arrested and he and his lawyer aren’t talking at this point. Sounds like a very smart move.
Coulter’s 23-year-old brother, David, did talk, and described his younger brother as a “professional thief.”
David’s not talking now.
It didn’t take long for the flames of judge-connections and race to be fanned. Landry’s dad said he would put up his home as bond and the arrestee was released…within hours versus days. The area’s NAACP demands the judge be investigated by numerous agencies.
Like some states, Louisiana has a home-defense statute or “castle” law, but the drums are beating. Already political pressure abounds, with the parish’s D.A. “weighing his options.” 
The Times’ article contained its usual share of speculation by outsiders. However, the basic facts are bold and clear.
The streets around the Landry residence are inarguably frequented by crime. A homeowner prudently tried to protect the sanctuary of his home, his pregnant wife and two-year-old with an open-and-obvious 7-foot, steel-spiked fence and hugely barred gate.
At 1:45 a.m. on July 26, 2013, two intruders take extraordinary measures to breech what should be a family’s safety zone and one gets shot.
How dark was it in that space at 2 a.m.? Did Landry know the color of Coulter’s skin and, moreover, is color really a factor, considering the fearful heat of that moments’ circumstance?
A threat is a threat. Threats are not designated by colors.
Most of all, why should Merritt Landry be saddled with any undue responsibility for Marshall Coulter’s safety while, with clear evidence, both Coulter and his parents voluntarily waived their absolute duties?


For Better or Worse!

| Gazette, Opinion | September 8, 2013

By Jim Lentini
Change, driven by health care reform, is accelerating, as carriers and agents/brokers are finalizing their 2014 plan designs and pricing. Covered California is gearing up for the launch of its exchanges. Executive Vice President of SeeChange Health Insurance Alan Katz notes, in trying to answer that question, a good rule of thumb is to never assume a conspiracy when incompetence explains everything. And, Katz says to never assume incompetency when accidents explain things even better. So, how did we get here?

Katz states that creating a new world is always messy, and the new world of health care coverage is no exception to this rule. “What were they thinking?” has been asked by every consumer, broker, carrier and regulator, as we all try to make sense of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Steven Pearlstein, in his business column in the Washington Post, gave voice to this view.

“Among the range of options for healthcare reform, there’s one that is sure to raise your taxes, increase your out-of-pocket medical expenses, swell the federal deficit, leave more Americans without insurance and guarantee that wages will remain stagnant,” he wrote. That is the option of doing nothing. The facts backed him up. Between 2002 and 2011 inflation increased, on a cumulative basis, by 29.3 percent. During the same time period premiums for medical insurance increased by 153.5 percent. Change was needed. Change was inevitable. The only question was, what change would we get?

What we got was the PPACA. It is unloved, not because it represents a disappointing compromise, but because what became law was merely a draft, says Katz. Look at how many changes to the law Obama has made in the last 30 days – and many are questionable as to legality. Congress is working in a joint conference committee, attempting to settle on the final plan. The committee (or their staff) debug the legislation, including fixing flaws, both obvious and subtle. For complex legislation like the PPACA, passage through a conference committee is critical.

The PPACA is one of the most far-reaching bills to pass through Congress since the New Deal. It may also be one of the worst drafted because it is only a draft, a draft Congress never got to polish. The result is a new world that is challenging to understand, implement, regulate or explain. To further Katz’s report, remember what the Chief Actuary of Medicare stated 60 days after Obama passed his PPACA in 2008 – that by 2019 there will be 22 million of the current 30 million still uninsured, and costs will greatly increase for premiums and taxpayer support.

Currently, healthcare counts for one-sixth of our economy. This figure will greatly increase for the taxpayers, employers, and insureds who must pay for their insurance. Plus, you have seen the reports that doctors and services under government control will greatly affect their commitment for services and quality of care. And, many of the great ones will retire early, as noted. Be sure to advise your congressman of your feelings.

Jim Lentini,CLU,ChFC,IAR is President of Lentini Insurance & Investments. He can be reached at www.lentiniiandi.com. Or 661-254-7633.

Viral Marketing For Small Business Is Worth Your Time

| Gazette, Opinion | September 7, 2013

By Connie Ragen Green
Roger wrote in to ask me about how he could best get the word out about his business. It’s a brick and mortar business and he also has a website to make it easier for people to find him. I recommended that he go viral with his marketing.

Viral marketing may be a new concept for you, and you need to know that it is one of the biggest keys to attracting new prospects and clients to your online business. Most businesses don’t take advantage of this like they should, and you can set yourself apart if you take some time to learn about it. So, what exactly does “viral” mean?

It’s essentially the process of having other people and websites recommend you and your product to others. It’s another word for referral advertising. It’s different from affiliate marketing in that no commission changes hands. This is quite common in the offline, brick and mortar world and is now catching on in the online world as well.

The great thing about it is that it doesn’t require any additional expenses on your part. And if your prospects or customers provide word-of-mouth advertising, this will give you more credibility. This is because what others say about you matters more than what you say. When you visit a site that has several testimonials, you automatically assume they are more credible, right?

So, how do you make your marketing viral? Here are five of the best ways:

1. Offer A Compelling Free Giveaway

Also referred to as an “ethical bribe,” your free giveaway must be irresistible to your target market. One way you can instantly get more opt-ins for your newsletter is to spend the time to put together the exact information your prospects are looking for. Then encourage those who opt in to share it with others. Try this – it works!

2. Freebies

Another excellent strategy is to give away your own and other people’s products (with their permission and preferably through an affiliate link) to your community. I do this regularly with several sites that offer excellent information and business training every week.

3. Provide Excellent Resources

The best way to generate referrals is to give away a lot of valuable free information. A lot of times marketers don’t give good content with the free eBooks, because they are trying to save the best information for the product.

The problem is, if your free content isn’t good, people are going to assume your paid content isn’t going to be worth it either. The free information is supposed to whet their appetites. This gets them thinking, “if the free information is this good, just imagine how good the paid stuff will be.”

4. Create Excellent Content For Your Website

Probably the best way to go viral is to simply have excellent and relevant content on your blog and other sites. Use a plugin to allow visitors to easily share your content, and encourage them to do so regularly. In many instances, other sites will pick up your content and post it on their sites. This will give you additional traffic without having to do any more work. However, you have to stand out from other sites for this to happen.

How do you stand out?
Storytelling remains the best way to stand out from the crowd. Incorporating your story into the body of your writing and relating it to your topic can be crucial to your success. I’ve shared stories related to hosting young people from eight different countries in my home over the past seven years, stories about my involvement with Rotary and other charities, and even stories about being a multiple cancer survivor. Storytelling fleshes us out as three-dimensional beings to those who only know us online. 

5. Use Channels To Share Your Information

Putting videos on YouTube and other popular video directories will encourage people to pass them around. Again, just make sure the content is good. Record your teleseminars and add them to iTunes as podcasts. Create pages on Facebook to get the conversation going.

The bottom line is, making your marketing viral is how to skyrocket your efforts. The best way to do this is to create and then give away lots of great free information. Get started with this marketing strategy today and watch your business grow.
Keep your questions coming, and best of success with your online marketing endeavors.
Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Her ninth book, “Living the Internet Lifestyle,” was released by Hunter’s Moon Publishing this month and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put “Home Business Question” in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

Ask the Real Estate Coach

| Gazette, Opinion | August 22, 2013

Dear Coach,
What is title insurance and why am I required to have it?

-Wayne in Valencia

Dear Wayne,

Title insurance is for your protection in owning a property, to ensure that you are the rightful owner of the property without any other liens and encumbrances. Since land endures over generations and transfers many times, a title company will do an extensive search on the property to make sure that there are no recorded documents against the property that would prevent the sale, and also that the person selling the property to you is the rightful owner and has the authority to sell.

Even with careful scrutiny, though, it is possible for a title flaw to have gone undetected and the title insurance policy will protect you if any issue was to surface in the future. Some of the most common issues include forgery, a mismatch of a similar name, or previously unrecognized rights of a spouse or undisclosed heirs.

There are two policies that are purchased during a transfer of property. One is an “Owner’s Policy,” which protects the home buyer for the entire purchase price of the property. The other is
a “Lender’s Policy” covering the lending institution for the life of the loan. The beauty of it is that there is one premium due at the transfer of title and there is no monthly premium.

If you have a Dear Coach question you’d like answered in this column, email it to dearcoachbecky@gmail.com or becky@beckysill.com for an immediate response.

A Differing Opinion

| Gazette, Opinion | August 22, 2013

By Jaso


The entertaining part of Doug’s Rant of August 16 is the continual request to “stay with me.” Perhaps that should be the new title! Doug’s “Wait, Stay With Me. Really, This Is Going Somewhere.”

Mr. Ranter laments over the state of Detroit and the threat that such a condition may one day become a condition that is pervasive in our nation. Mr. Sutton dares to suggest that such a depressing existence may come about as a result of individual citizens depleting government resources through a growing number becoming dependent on assistance programs.

Really, Mr. Ranter? Do you really believe what you’re saying? Let’s remember, Detroit is known as the home of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, all infamous corporations at the center of our nation’s recent bailout catastrophe.

Are you suggesting that the bailout of General Motors, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Fannie May, Freddie Mac, and many other corporate giants has had no negative effect on our nation’s condition? While billions in bailout money was supposed to return to our federal government with interest, a significant amount is still out there and likely never to return home. Beyond that, 97 percent of TARP money—grant money (not loans) intended to reach homeowners threatened with imminent foreclosure—never reached homeowners and stopped in the hands of lending institutions, aka banks. Please remember you and the rest of us taxpayers shouldered this travesty, Mr. Sutton.

We all know or have an Uncle Fred and Aunt Ethel who own a mom-and-pop sewing machine repair shop, dry cleaners, or donut shop. And we all know that if that little shop got behind, there would be no bailout. Ironically, Fred and Ethel have been helping foot the bill (through taxes) to save GM, B of A, and the rest. They’ve been helping keep America on track, despite abuse in the corporate world.

If the demise of Detroit spreads nationwide, just blame abhorrent corporate ethics and greed for drying up the national wellspring. Don’t even think about placing the blame on the needy.

Breaking Gnus De Fence of Liberty

| Gazette, Opinion | August 16, 2013

by Amos Flingspreader

Breaking Gnus has learned that a possible compromise has been reached on Immigration Reform between the Senate and House.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell praised House Republicans for their creativity.

“We are not calling it a compromise,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R Ohio).  “We don’t compromise on our principles.  Somebody once said ‘The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance.’ Well, our party watches that price very closely. The Senate wants a better border fence, and we’ve found a way to pay for it and get the votes needed from our side of the aisle. If we can just electrify the border fence with enough free copper wire, we’ll have enough votes to pass immigration reform.”
When McConnell was asked, “Where will we get all that copper?  Won’t it cost a fortune?” He just winked and said, “Our country has a huge reserve of copper that’s not being used, and we’ve just found a better use for it.”

The opinions of Amos Flingspreader are not necessarily shared by the owners and editors of this publication.

Obamacare To You, Not For You

| Gazette, Opinion | August 16, 2013

by Jim Lentini

An article appeared in The Signal newspaper the first of August, which was authored by Nat Hentoff, who is a nationally renowned authority of the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. He touched on some important aspects of Obamacare that most of us are unaware of, and no one is sure what’s going on, since the rules keep changing.

-First, the insureds, which is everyone under the age of 65 and not covered by Medicare.

-Second, the agents/brokers, companies, providers, and all of us who are taxpayers.

-And, most of all, our federal leadership who passed the bill in 2008, who admitted they didn’t know what it was, and actions to date prove they are still changing rules and regulations!

Mr. Hentoff first quoted Dr. Tom Delbanco, professor of general medicine at Harvard Medical School, who states that he approves of certain sections of Obamacare. However, Dr. Delbanco raises concern that, as the new healthcare “exchanges” offer affordable insurance to more and more Americans, there is a risk that a flood of new patients may overwhelm the already-besieged primary care workforce.Dr. Delbanco makes a point that Obamacare’s cost-cutting rules do not focus on the differences among individual patients, such as blood pressures, sugar or lipid levels that tell only part of the story for individuals whose genes, cultural habits, psyches and social circumstances vary widely. Gathering this information will be a waste of time and costs in the Obamacare system.

Hentoff says he was not surprised to see a report from Tom Howell in the Washington Times: “The United States needs 16,000 more primary care physicians to meet its current health needs, a problem that will only get worse if nothing is done to accommodate millions of newly insured residents under Obama’s health care law in the coming decade.”

The report notes that the shortage is most acute in rural areas and urban inner cities. Hentoff adds that the healthcare expense problems and the vanishing of primary care doctors do not, of course, affect Obama personally, (nor any members of Congress or their staff, as noted on news that they are all exempt from the rules that affect the public who pay them and for their benefits).

A recent healthcare survey conducted by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions notes, “Six in 10 physicians say that it is likely that many physicians will retire earlier than planned in the next one to three years. This perception is fairly uniform among all physicians, irrespective of age, gender or medical specialty.”

This report further states that nearly 75 percent of physicians (surgical specialists at 81 percent) think the best and brightest (students) may not consider a career in medicine, while more than half believe that physicians will retire (62 percent) or scale back practice hours (55 percent), based on how the future of medicine is changing.

In an interview with World Net Daily, a spokeswoman for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Jane Orient, told WND that doctors already have started leaving the profession through early retirement. Dr. Orient told WND’s Bob Unruh, “I think it’s a disaster for patients. They may lose the doctors they have relied on all their lives.”
Dr. Orient affirmed that many doctors are unable to continue a private practice and will end up working for a corporation hospital where the profits are distributed to shareholders. Dr. Orient warned that such scenarios often end up giving the feeling of an assembly line, where a patient sees a doctor briefly, is given a diagnosis and shown the door.

As noted above by the facts of Obamacare and what it will do to you and not for you, Hentoff closes with, “As a voter in future congressional and presidential elections, how much time will you spend carefully fact-checking candidates’ records fighting what Obama has done to turn more of our health care system into cost-efficient assembly lines rather than personal patient-care services? Remember, those who passed this law and forced it on you, the taxpayer, are not affected nor are subject to the inferior changing healthcare you will be subject to.”

They (Obama and Congress) all have the “Cadillac plans” they voted for themselves that the taxpayers pay for. You, the taxpayer, will be subject to and limited to the plans dictated by Obamacare and the new “Covered California” that takes effect January 1, 2014. Be sure to advise your Congressman and leaders in Sacramento of your feelings!

Jim Lentini,CLU,ChFC,IAR is President of Lentini Insurance & Investments, Inc. He can be reached at 661-254-7633 or jim@lentiniiandi.com.

Building Your Most Profitable Asset – Your Database List

| Gazette, Opinion | August 16, 2013

As a business owner you have many assets, including your land and buildings, your inventory, your staff, and your intellectual property. But have you ever stopped to think about your list? The list, or database, of your clients is the most profitable asset your business will ever have. Hopefully you’ve been adding email addresses to the names, physical addresses, and phone numbers, so that you can reach out to your prospects and clients with just a moment’s notice.

Building your email list will ensure that your business grows steadily over time. But there is much more to it than that. Your list will also provide feedback as to what you have to offer, saving you a tremendous amount of time and money. Additionally, an email list allows you to reach out to new prospects and existing clients without having to see them in person or send them a costly direct mail piece.

Danielle wrote in to ask me about how she could start building a list for her brand new business. She has started a company here in Santa Clarita that works directly with people who have retired and are in need of additional income. In order to reach these people she has started a blog, has written a book that’s available on Amazon as both a Kindle version and in paperback, and is starting to visit local groups to share her message.

This is an excellent start, but I would encourage her to start building an email list from the very beginning. You can get started with a reputable and accepted autoresponder service called Aweber (http://ConnieLoves.me/Aweber) for only one dollar. This service creates the html code you need to easily add an opt-in box to your blog or website. When visitors come to your site you can offer them a short report on exactly how you intend to serve them in return for their name and email address. Over time you will stay in contact with these people and move them from visitors to prospects to clients.

One point I should make here is that, by using an autoresponder service, you are providing a way for people to join your email list that fully complies with federal law and the CANN-SPAM Act. A permission based list is the only way to do business in a legal and straightforward manner that protects your reputation.
If you have written a book, even a short one to be used as a lead generator, be sure to include a page at the end where your readers can go to your site and opt in to your list. Otherwise you will have missed a great opportunity to further engage the people who purchase your book.

When you create –  or have created for you – a website for your business, you will also add an opt-in box there. Anywhere your name and/or your company name appears online or in print should include this form so that list building becomes the way you generate more business on a daily basis.

Other ways to build your database list include posting videos on a YouTube channel, hosting an audio that can be turned into a podcast series on iTunes, and paying to run an advertisement in local print publications – such as this one – and in magazines and on Facebook. All of these methods work well to get your name out to the world with the message of how you are serving others.

You may also want to partner with complimentary service providers to spread the word about what each of you is doing in the community. I have seen this work extremely well in the trades, with plumbers sharing information on a local handyman and carpenters sharing painters they recommend. It becomes a type of ‘coopetition,’ with everyone cooperatively competing to bring in more business for everyone over time.
I hope you can now see the importance of building an email list for your business and that you will begin using some of these proven strategies right away. Years from now you will be glad you took this step when you see how much your bottom line has increased. No matter what happens in your industry or with the economy, your list will continue to be your most valuable asset.

Keep your questions coming, and best of success with your online marketing endeavors.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Her ninth book, Living the Internet Lifestyle, was released by Hunter’s Moon Publishing this month and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.

Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

Jaso Vs. Doug A Differing Opinion

| Gazette, Opinion | August 15, 2013

Rantswer to 8-9-13

Doug ranted on August 9 on a topic entitled “Young people need you, Mr. President!” In this rant he fussed about characteristics of American youth, from tattoos and piercings to baggy pants worn so as to expose underwear. In a roundabout way he made it the President’s responsibility to take on “…instructing young people…” since they made up his electorate.

Mr. Doug, your rants, while amusing and truly a challenge to follow, are also thereby a challenge to challenge. Regardless, your ramblings won’t get away unaddressed:

Mr. Sutton, it is not our President’s responsibility to raise your (and others of your generation’s) kids. As a music artist of your generation wrote, we didn’t start the fire.

We all see moms and dads that are your age (50s or 60s) sporting earrings and probably piercings in places you don’t want to talk about. Years earlier, those same dads were bold enough to parade around town wearing parachute pants of every color in the rainbow. Yet, you blame the next generation for sporting distasteful baggy pants?!

Then (permit me to jump genders), there are the soccer moms married to those ridiculous-looking dads. Getting up there in age, they still share with us those once sexy lower back tats (presently faded, washed out and spread out!), as they squat and grunt to grab the new and improved low cal Campbell’s soup off the bottom shelf at the supermarket. (I mean, really. Someone please turn them on to tattoo removal!)

C’mon, Chief, our President has a country to run and only two children to raise: his own. The example for our nation’s youth has been set by your far-right-pretending-to-be-left-and-cool generation.

Oh, wait, let us not forget your complaint of the excessive use of the “f” word by today’s youth, Mr. Ranter. Are you saying that word only recently came into common use?


Breaking Gnus

| Gazette, Opinion | August 10, 2013

By Amos Flingspreader

Weiner Replica Will Not Be Donated to the Smithsonian

Breaking Gnus was almost victim of a hoax this week when an email was received from a “Jennifer Youngblood” who represented herself as a 23-year-old assistant curator at the Smithsonian and stated:  “Anthony Weiner has pledged to send me a replica of ‘historic proportions’ from his art collection.”

Always striving to preserve our journalistic integrity, Breaking Gnus uncovered some interesting facts:  Anthony Weiner was married in 2010 by Bill Clinton to Huma Abedin, a practicing Muslim who speaks English, Urdu, and Arabic. Abedin was defamed in 2012 by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who said she was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.  John McCain, Lindsey Graham and other Republicans called the Bachmann allegations “nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant…”

We are investigating allegations that the Tweeted underwear pictures that caused Weiner to resign from Congress were actually photos that Michele Bachmann took of herself.

The opinions of Amos Flingspreader are not necessarily shared by the owners and editors of this publication. This article is purely fictional and meant as satire. Attributed quotes of people are not actual. Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette does not condone, agree or support the characterizations written and is not responsible for this content.

Ask the Real Estate Coach

| Gazette, Opinion | August 9, 2013

Dear Coach,

I’ve been watching the market and it seems like the rapid increase in pricing is going to create
another bubble. Should I be concerned?
-Suzie in Canyon Country

Dear Suzie,
I understand your concern and have asked myself the same question. Properties have had a significant increase in price over the last 6-12 months. However, the rise in mortgage rates has slowed the current pace of appreciation, which I believe at this time is preventing another bubble. Rates would have to increase significantly higher in order to cause a downturn in the
market. While interest rates have headed north, they are still near historic lows, which makes today’s home prices still affordable.

If you have a Dear Coach question you’d like answered in this column, email it to dearcoachbecky@gmail.com or contact becky@beckysill.com for an immediate response.

Jaso Vs. Doug A Differing Opinion

| Gazette, Opinion | August 8, 2013

Reply to rant of 8/2/13:
Poverty Versus Minimum Wage and Way Beyond

Mr. Ranter blames the President for pervasive economic woes in our nation. Shall we address the unhealthy characteristics of the blame game (“it’s all the President’s fault”), or should we consider the opposing protests? Perhaps we’ll address the latter.

Doug’s Rant of August 2 goes in two opposing directions simultaneously (in addition to several other directions, but we’ll just look at the two). Mr. Sutton wants to minimize or eliminate poverty in the U.S. and he also wants to keep minimum wage at a “minimum.”

Mr. Sutton, we are looking at a rather simple formula. Follow this thought closely: an increased minimum wage will help the bottom line of many a household. Poverty, the result of a lack of sufficient “wage,” will be minimized as a result of a higher wage. We don’t need Ben Bernanke or Keynes or Samuelson or Adam Smith to help us figure this one out. We can do it all on our own.

What’s that, you say? With too high a wage, jobs will go overseas? Then let’s seek to get a higher matching minimum wage across the globe.

What’s that? It’s not our responsibility to raise the standard of living around the world? Why not take on that responsibility? If we want to eliminate poverty here in the United States, why not eliminate poverty worldwide?

Think carefully before you answer. Your response may be quite revealing.


Jaso Vs. Doug A Differing Opinion

| Gazette, Opinion | August 1, 2013

Doug’s Rant of July 26 centers on his upset that there were only two real news stories that came his way last week: the Trayvon Martin case (he must be referring to the Zimmerman case) and the birth of William and Kate’s royal baby.

Mr. Sutton needs to understand the difference between entertainment and news. If he wants entertainment he ought to continue following mainstream American (okay, yes, Fox) “News.” If he would rather receive true news, he might check out other sources, such as the BBC and Al Jazeera, to name a couple. (Notice The Signal is not listed. The ongoing battles between Hart High and Canyon High would be considered entertainment.)

In those more worldly sources he is less apt to find ratings-driven stories and more actual news, even about the United States! He might read, for example, about how the federal government (ours) embarrassed the heck out of itself on the world stage by forcing down a plane carrying the President of Bolivia in search of whistleblower Edward Snowden. (Okay, who said imperialistic? It’s just news.)

Or Mr. Ranter Guy might find the follow-up story, the one on how Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Russia in his nicest tone assuring the nation that Snowden won’t be tortured or killed once the U.S. gets our hands on…er, no, wait…once we have a chance to sit down and speak with the earnest Mr. Snowden.

Or Mr. Doug can continue to follow Kate and wonder how, only moments after sweating bullets believing she was birthing a Buick, managed to emerge with her hair and make-up all perfectly in place.

Prediction Mr. Sutton: Stick to your favorite news source and this week you’ll be reading about how Anthony Weiner’s wiener popped up as the top news story again. (Sincere apologies to the teetotalers among us for that visual.)


Jaso Vs. Doug A Differing Opinion

| Gazette, Opinion | July 25, 2013

Can We Handle the Truth?

Doug’s rant over the horrible passing of Trayvon Martin as well as events that followed is disjointed, and quite understandably so. Mr. Sutton, along with the rest of us, is trying to make sense of the tragic event that took place in February of 2012 and its aftermath. As Mr. Sutton notes, in our search for logic and reason we reflect on other similar—and not so similar—tragic events in our recent history, and still we find no sense in it.

We need to face up to something. It may be a little uncomfortable to admit, but here it goes. It’s about the nature of humanity. It’s about our inability to exercise sound judgment. And yes, it’s about our inability to responsibly possess firearms: We are not ready.

In the process of coming up with gun powder and other chemical explosives that drive projectiles, we humans have very simply upped the ante for the hope of a peaceful existence.

There is plenty of proof: police shootings and policemen being shot; countries sending out thousands of armed individuals to kill and to be killed, while opposing nations send armed infantry to reply by killing and dying in turn; and neighbors shooting neighbors right in your home country, right here in your home town!

I’m pretty sure I just heard someone yell out, “I’m not giving up my weapon for all the testosterone in China!” Is that how that saying goes?

Not that we were any more responsible back in the days of spears, arrows, sling shots, and the like. We as a species were just as judiciously undeveloped as we are today. But, at least our ability for accuracy was limited, as well as the potential for damage in a quantitative sense. Let’s face it. There would be a lot more of humanity living today if the cannon, torpedo, and missile were as yet undeveloped and all we had to slay our neighbor with was what the Monty Python boys had—a cow-tapult. (What? Never heard of it?! Send your favorite search engine to work!)

Still not convinced? Let’s see if we’ve managed to become any more scrutinizing in our use of weaponry in the years since the development of ballistics.

In more recent decades, humanity has out trumped the good ol’ side arm with nerve gas, IEDs, killer drones, and the big one: nuclear weapons. Fortunately, of all the crazed leaders the world has seen, only one has ever come to unleash nuclear weaponry, killing and maiming tens of thousands, not to mention causing birth defects in unborn generations.

Multiple choice of the crazies:
Saddam Hussein
Idi Amin Dada
Harry Truman
Pol Pot
Adolph Hitler

Yup, you guessed it. Our leader, Harry, is the big winner. If there was any one person we should be able to count on for sound judgment, it would be our nation’s president. How disconcerting a thought.

So now, knowing what we know, can we go on living in denial? No. We humans are simply not capable of handling weaponry, large and small, judiciously. As we would not entrust a hand gun to a small child, we should humble ourselves and have the same view of us adults.

And that, Mr. Sutton, is what’s really bugging you about the hullabaloo over the sad passing of Trayvon Martin. While the event is very upsetting all by itself, it is representative of a much bigger issue.


Polarized Minorities in Santa Clarita

| Gazette, Opinion | July 19, 2013

By Amos Flingspreader

Breaking Gnus has learned that Santa Clarita City Councilman Frank Ferry met alone with himself in a closed session to discuss legal strategies regarding the recent voting rights lawsuits. On condition of anonymity, two councilwomen said, “Frank has been absent from recent council meetings, so naturally he wanted to bring himself up to speed.”

“The City and two local school districts have been sued on grounds that the at-large method of electing officials dilutes minority votes,” said plaintiff attorneys. “The law says we must be paid big money in fees, otherwise we wouldn’t much care.”

According to the California Voting Rights act: “An at-large method of election may not be imposed or applied in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.”

“This has changed my mind about running again,” Ferry said in a prepared statement. “Voters are polarized about me, and my ability to get re-elected is impaired. The Voting Rights Act protects any minority group disadvantaged by polarized politics, including LGBT. Everybody knows I’m bi-polarized and my supporters are impaired.”

The opinions of Amos Flingspreader are not necessarily shared by the owners and editors of this publication.

Disclosure of Flingspreader
Relations with the Muslim Brotherhood

We disclosed last week that Paula Deen hired Amos Flingspreader as her new publicist.

This week, Amos Flingspreader just announced he has been hired by the Egyptian Army to produce several new constitutions. Flingspreader said: “This country is going through new constitutions like crazy. I think there’s a business opportunity here to produce annual constitutions for all of the Arab Spring countries.”

“Using the U.S. Constitution as a model,” announced Flingspreader, “I’m writing a new Egyptian constitution that will provide 3/5 representation for any group that is not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.  The objective is to forestall a civil war for at least four score and seven cubits.”

The opinions of Amos Flingspreader are not necessarily shared by the owners and editors of this publication.

Ask the Real Estate Coach Home Improvements To Sell Your Home

| Gazette, Opinion | July 19, 2013

Dear Coach,

What improvements or upgrades do I need to make in order to sell my home fast, and for top dollar?                        Rachael in Valencia

Dear Rachael,

Let’s start with the basics. Give your home a good cleaning if it needs it. If you aren’t accustomed to cleaning your home every week or every other week, I would recommend hiring a professional company to come in and make it sparkle. While upgrades can add value, it’s difficult for buyers to get past someone else’s dirt, and the dollar signs will start dropping.

Secondly, I would stage the home. Get your agent’s opinion on re-arranging furniture, and adding or eliminating pieces to give the home the best appeal. We are in homes daily and know what buyers are looking for.

If the paint is severely worn or can’t be freshened up with a wash rag and a little soapy water,
paint may be the best value for your money. This is the most inexpensive way to give your home a facelift, and a fresh coat of paint screams “new” and “cared for” to potential buyers. That new paint smell says “buy me”!

Another inexpensive upgrade may be new fixtures if you have dated faucets, etc. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Imagine walking into a home and there are a lot of “little” things that need attention. Deferred maintenance can really reduce your profits because buyers wonder what else needs attention that they can’t see.

Moving on to more costly items, start in the kitchen, then the master bath and secondary bathrooms. However, before you go splurge on granite, see what your competition is. If granite is a standard in your neighborhood, then you will probably get your investment back. If granite is not a standard for neighborhood comps, you probably won’t. The good thing is, we are in a seller’s market, and with little inventory buyers can’t be too picky.

For today, I’d stick to the basics and not put in a lot of money. In a different type of market the advice would change.

If you have a Dear Coach question you’d like answered in this column, please email it to dearcoachbecky@gmail.com or contact me at becky@beckysill.com for an immediate response.

Becky Sill
BRE #01802609 Troop Real Estate, Inc.

Jaso Vs. Doug A Differing Opinion

| Gazette, Opinion | July 18, 2013

Tom Purcell made a nasty, abusive, callous statement when he said, “We all have to get our hands out of the government cookie jar.” Doug, in his July 4 rant, endorsed this statement. If I had to describe Tom Purcell in one word it would be: OMG.

If only for his own self respect, Doug needs to separate himself from the elitist, arrogant Purcell rather than ally himself. (Okay, together with the last paragraph that makes five negative adjectives for this fellow. That should cover it.)

Often one sentence of an article is taken out of context. Not this time. Nope. That pretty much summed up Mr. Purcell’s view of government aid. Purcell (and Doug, by association) knocked food assistance to those in need, disability insurance, unemployment insurance, and a litany of other social services in his June 29 article in Triblive.

It appears that Mr. Purcell would have those below the poverty line—single moms, disabled veterans, and workers who were laid off—go it alone. He would have even more mentally unhealthy people living on the street than we already have by cutting even more funds than that actor president (with the library) did back in our parents’ day.

Mr. Purcell, it seems, must feel that the workers who are laid off due to a spiraling economy should be held responsible for said downward spiraling economy! In keeping with his protests, Mr. Purcell would scold a surviving veteran who had sacrificed his limbs to pick himself up by his boot straps. He has no damn boots because he has no feet, Mr. Purcell! What planet are you living on? This buffoon probably thinks PTSD is a motor oil additive.

My advice? Doug, next time you’re dining with Mr. Purcell at the Ol’ Boys Club with a view of the 18th hole and he starts swirling his brandy and complaining about the jobless single mom who should be out there with her kids earning a living by mowing the fairway, please enlighten him. Remind him that mom is his less fortunate equal. Then quietly get up, walk away, and don’t ever be caught aligning yourself with him again. It is for your own good.



Ask The Real Estate Coach

| Gazette, Opinion | July 12, 2013

Dear Coach,

My husband and I are interested in selling our home but we’ve never gone through this process before. Any tips?        Beth, Castaic

Dear Beth,

There is more to selling your home than putting a sign in the yard and collecting a paycheck. It is important to have a professional on your side who will guide you through the process and, most importantly, keep you out of court. Here are a few things to keep in mind when interviewing an agent to represent you:

Who makes you feel most comfortable? There will be a lot of conversations that take place during this process and you need someone who will help keep you calm, not increase your anxiety.

What are the responsibilities of each party, you as a seller and the broker/agent representing you? Be sure to have a clear outline of each.

Understand the market and what to expect during the process, such as: how to prepare your home; whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market; and what is a reasonable price to expect for your home. Also, get a detailed review of the local comparable closings.

There are many disclosures that need to be made and time frames to adhere to once the property is under contract. Be sure you are confident in the person you are hiring to take care of all the paperwork and guide you through the process. While everyone wants to keep as much money in their pockets as possible when selling a home, hiring a discount broker versus a full service broker may cost you more money in the end. Having someone who will negotiate on your behalf to bring you top dollar and make sure all your i’s are dotted and your t’s are crossed will leave you in a much better position than someone who puts a sign in your yard and leaves the rest for you to figure out.

Lastly, we are currently in a seller’s market.

If you have a Dear Coach question you’d like answered in this column, please email it to dearcoachbecky@gmail.com or contact me at becky@beckysill.com for an immediate response.

Becky Sill
Real Estate Coach
Troop Real Estate, Inc.
BRE #01802609

Real Estate Coach

| Gazette, Opinion | July 6, 2013

Dear Coach,

I am getting ready to start my home search and I just don’t know where to begin. What do you recommend?            April, Stevenson Ranch

Dear April,

First of all, find an agent with whom you feel comfortable working. A home purchase could take several months in today’s market and you want to be sure you are working with someone who has your best interest at heart, is willing to understand your needs, and is patient enough to help you reach your goals. You will need to get pre-approved for a loan before you can begin looking at homes and writing an offer. So, you can either do that prior to selecting your realtor or find your realtor and ask for a referral to a reputable lender. Once you begin your home search there are a few things to keep in mind. Focus on the three L’s: Lot, Layout and Location. These things should be your priority when looking at homes, because they cannot typically be changed.

However, keep an open mind and have some vision when it comes to the three C’s:  Cleanliness, Clutter, and Color. These concerns can all be resolved easily, and a fresh coat of paint can change everything. Remember these tips and you’ve focused your home search into something manageable. Happy house hunting!
If you have a Dear Coach question you’d like answered in this column, please email it to dearcoachbecky@gmail.com or contact me at becky@beckysill.com for an immediate response. Troop Real Estate BRE #01802609

The Decline of Obama Presidency

| Gazette, Opinion | July 4, 2013

By Jim Lentini

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Fred Barnes stated that Obama’s second term is coming undone, not because of scandal, but because of decisions made in the previous four years. Mr. Obama’s re-election stirred grand expectations. The vote heralded a new liberal era, or so it was claimed. His victory was said to reflect ideological, cultural and demographic trends that could keep Democrats in the majority for years to come.

Now, six months later, the Obama administration is in an unexpected and sharp state of decline. Mr. Obama has little influence on congress. His presidency has no theme. He pivots from issue to issue. What there is of an Obama agenda consists, at the moment, of leftovers from his first term or proposals that he failed to emphasize in his re-election campaign and, thus, have practically no chance of passage. Mr. Barnes states further that Congressional Republicans neither trust nor fear the President. And democrats, whom Obama has never been close to, have grown leery of him.

In the Senate, democrats complain privately about his interference with the biggest domestic policy matter of 2013, immigration reform. Many senators believe his effect can only weaken the fragile bipartisan coalition for reform and make passage of major legislation more perilous. Bottom line: what is the amount annually that the American people and taxpayers are paying for goods and services for non-taxpaying “illegals”? What is it costing the American taxpayer? $100, $200, $300 billion a year? This is one of the major issues affecting our economy and our federal government refusal to address properly this growing problem. Latest report from DOL was illegal immigrants would increase by 20 million more over the next 10 years, even with the  current proposed plan by the White House.

Barnes states that this immigration problem not being addressed properly by the Obama administration is just one of the issues causing the breakdown of the Obama administration. And, the Obama breakdown was not caused by the trio of scandals – IRS, Justice Department, and Benghazi – now confronting Obama. The decline preceded these issues. Barnes states that the two problems, the decline and the scandals, are different matters. The scandals are vexing to the administration, but they are not the source of its current impotence. Instead, Obama’s power and influence have been sapped as a direct result of his own choices and decisions. He also suffers from shortcomings normal to a second term, such as a new, less able team of advisers and cabinet members and the arrogance fed by an impressive re-election. Obviously, many of his supporters didn’t pay attention to the number of his “czars” whom Obama had to let go, due to their connections to anti-American groups.

There are more issues addressed in Mr. Barnes’ article, which was in the June 3, 2013 issue of The Wall Street Journal regarding a failed administration with mistakes and scandals that are not what can help the American people prosper and grow our economy.

Personally, I feel that Obama Care, the new government healthcare plan, which Obama passed two months after his election when he controlled both the Senate and the House in March, 2008, will be very crippling to our economy. The California plan “Covered California” will prove very costly to the American taxpayer and all citizens who have to pay for health insurance. The plan is to spend $100 million of taxpayer money, advertising it to Californians this summer. Then, our mandatory enrollment will begin in October to December, and all plans will take effect January 1, 2014. I firmly believe we are being treated like frogs! You throw a frog into boiling water, he jumps right out. But, if you throw him into cold water and slowly turn up the heat, you cook him!

Jim Lentini,CLU,ChFC,IAR is President of Lentini Insurance & Investments, Inc. LII has served since 1964 individuals and business for their future planning. He can be reached at 661-254-7633, ext15, or www.Lentiniiandi.com.

Continuing Education for Business Owners

| Gazette, Opinion | July 3, 2013

By Connie Ragen Green

Geoff wrote in to ask me where to find the best training to keep you on the leading edge as you build your small business. That’s an excellent question and one that needs to be addressed. We all must make the time and effort to learn about different aspects of our business in order to stay competitive in the marketplace.

Fortunately, we live in a time where access to the most up-to-date and relevant training is readily available, as long as you know where to find it. There are both local and online training programs available on a plethora of business topics.

Here in the Santa Clarita Valley we have a variety of ongoing classes to choose from that are taught by professionals who wish to give back to others in our community. These Adult School programs are very good. I’ve taken classes at Golden Oak Adult School and through the City of Santa Clarita’s Seasons program to sharpen my skills, connect with others, and to learn more about topics that will help my business to grow and thrive.

Golden Oak offers classes in basic accounting and using Quick Books, as well as classes in marketing, computer basics, digital photography, and social media. The City’s Seasons program offers classes in home publishing, blogging, article writing, making money online, as well as training in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Both of these programs run all year long. If you aren’t taking advantage of this low cost education right in our backyard, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity.

College of the Canyons also offers a variety of business training classes through its Small Business Development Center. Some of the classes they are offering during July include Trade Finance and Insurance, Quick Books Boot Camp, and Essential Steps for Writing a Business Plan.

There is also an active Meetup group for online marketers here in Santa Clarita. They meet at the Barnes & Noble on Valencia Boulevard twice a month on Tuesday evenings. I attend these meetings periodically, depending on my schedule. I’ve also been the presenter there a few times. Find a group that meets your needs at http://www.meetup.com/cities/us/91350.

If taking classes and connecting with others in person is not appealing to you, you’ll want to check out the online resources that are available. I started out this way when HP made classes available back in the 90s. I learned so many things that helped me to become an online entrepreneur. HP changed their site a couple of years ago but now have it back again with even more free course offerings. You can “Google” for the direct links to sign up.

I also belong to two groups that have made it possible for me to grow my business exponentially. Whether you have an offline service business or want to start working online, both of these sites are excellent for getting you started in the right direction with a network of people who are already and willing to help you move forward.
The first group is called NAMS (Novice to Advanced Marketing System) and you can read more about them at http://MyNAMSmembers.com. I’ve been a permanent faculty member since 2011 and hundreds of people have come through my trainings since that time. They also meet in person twice a year in Atlanta. The founder of this group is David Perdew.

The other group is called Earn 1K a Day and was founded by Dennis Becker in 2006. It consists of a forum and membership site, as well as a live event held in Las Vegas every July. I’ll be speaking there again this year and would love to see you there. The details of this are at http://SuperSummerGetaway.com.

Whether you meet with people locally, travel to live events in other parts of the country, or take online courses, building your business will go more smoothly when you get the training you need.

Keep your questions coming, and best of success with your online marketing endeavors.

Connie Ragen Green lives in Saugus and has been working exclusively on the Internet since 2006. Her ninth book, Living the Internet Lifestyle, will be released by Hunter’s Moon Publishing this month. Find out more by visiting http://HugeProfitsTinyList.com.

Questions? Email Connie at crgreencrgreen@yahoo.com and be sure to put Home Business Question in the subject line. Your question and answer will be included in a future article.

Real Estate Coach

| Opinion | June 29, 2013

Dear Coach,

I am currently in the process of purchasing a home. Interest rates are going up! What should I do?
Irene in Burbank

Dear Irene,
Stay the course. We have definitely seen an increase in interest rates over the past few weeks, even the past few days, which is going to impact your monthly payment. However, buyers have been waiting to purchase, for fear that we hadn’t “hit bottom” yet and prices would take another dip. Now we are seeing home prices increase at a rapid rate. Be sure you talk to your lender regarding how the increase in rate may impact the purchase price that you qualify for. We have hit bottom and the rebound is happening quickly in many areas. Don’t price yourself out of the market, and be sure your lender is watching rates so that you can “lock” in the rate, if there is a drop in rate which will benefit you.

If you have a Dear Coach question you’d like answered in this column, please email it to dearcoachbecky@gmail.com or contact me at becky@beckysill.com for an immediate response.

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Doug’s Rant – Video Edition

  • WatchDoug’s Rant June 22
  • WatchDoug’s Rant June 15