Daily Business Report-Sept. 11, 2013
UC San Diego graduate student Jack Cahill uses a laser to illuminate a cloud manufactured inside a bottle at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School.
Program Addresses the
Environmental Impacts of Aerosols
The Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and the Environment (CAICE) based at UC San Diego is working to support scientists who will investigate the many roles aerosols play in nature and society. The effect of aerosols on the environment is something scientists and the general public have only begun to recognize, but in addition to their support of research, CAICE is spreading awareness, especially to area youth. They are educating students in science programs at K-12 schools throughout San Diego County, at an annual hands-on presentation at Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and through a chemistry-climate curriculum package for fifth and sixth graders.
Aerosols are tiny vehicles that deliver elaborate chemistry that seeds clouds to produce rain (or not), scatter light to create blue skies at noon and red skies at sunset, or make one’s lungs hurt on a smoggy day. CAICE will receive a $20 million Phase II grant from the National Science Foundation to devote a portion of its funds to the creation of scientists who will investigate the many roles aerosols play in nature and society. The effect of aerosols on the environment is something scientists and the general public have only begun to appreciate in recent years
Prevailing Wage Ordinance Approved by City Council
A proposal to require contractors on many city of San Diego public works and maintenance projects to pay prevailing wages to employees received final approval from the City Council Tuesday, City News Service reports. The ordinance passed on a party-line 5-4 vote, with Democrats David Alvarez, Myrtle Cole, Marti Emerald, Todd Gloria and Sherri Lightner in favor. The new law will take effect Jan. 1 to give the city time to hire new staff to monitor the contractors.
Currently, the city sets pay for contractors working on water and sewer projects valued at more than $10 million or large city projects that are partially funded with state or federal dollars.
The ordinance would govern public works and maintenance projects valued at over $25,000 in conformance with state labor law. Supporters of the proposal say the pay boost will help workers economically in a city with a high cost of living while ensuring construction quality, without dramatic increases in overall project costs. Opponents believe costs on major city projects will rise. Also, the cost of administering the program could cost the city $700,000 to $1.5 million annually, according to the city’s Independent Budget Analyst’s office.
The council members who cast the dissenting votes — Kevin Faulconer, Mark Kersey, Lori Zapf and Scott Sherman — did not comment.
Fresh & Easy to Close 50 Locations
The equity firm controlled by billionaire Ron Burkle announced Tuesday it is buying Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market from U.K.-based Tesco, but terms of the deal were not released. Fresh & Easy is set to close 50 of its locations. San Diego County is home to 16 of the chain’s 200 stores nationwide. The deal, in which Yucaipa Cos. will assume Fresh & Easy’s debt, is expected to be completed in about three months. “Fresh & Easy is a tremendous foundation,” Burkle said. “Tesco should be applauded for giving their customers an affordable, healthy, convenient shopping experience.” Yucaipa Cos., founded in 1986, has used leveraged buyouts to acquire majority positions in grocery store chains such as Ralphs and Kroger. Philip Clarke, Tesco’s chief executive, said the sale to Yucapia Cos. was the best for Tesco shareholders and Fresh & Easy’s stakeholders. “It offers us an orderly and efficient exit from the U.S. market, while protecting the jobs of more than 4,000 colleagues at Fresh & Easy,” he said.
San Diego Water Rates Could Rise 14.75 Percent by 2015
San Diegans could see water rates shoot up by a total of nearly 15 percent during the next two years if the City Council approves those increases in November, the U-T San Diego reports. The council on Tuesday discussed a proposal to raise the cost of providing water to its 1.3 million customers by 7.25 percent next year and 7.5 percent in 2015. Council members voted to notify ratepayers of the proposed increases and set a public hearing for 10 a.m. on Nov. 21 in council chambers in City Hall.
Federal Grant to Aid in Reducing DNA Case Backlog
The county Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to direct a $375,379 federal grant toward reducing the number of DNA cases being processed by the Sheriff’s Regional Crime Laboratory. The money is from the Department of Justice’s 2013 DNA Backlog Reduction Program.
There are between 150 and 200 DNA cases to be processed, according to Steve Guroff, a sheriff’s supervising criminalist. That number represents a decline compared to recent years. The new funding will help the lab further decrease its backlog, Guroff said, despite increasing demands for its services.
In 2004, the lab received about 800 requests for forensic biology analysis. This year, Guroff said he expects the same number to reach about 2,900. A specific area the lab has reduced its backlog is in cold homicide cases, he said.
“Without this source of revenue, we would not have the analysis program without major sacrifices by the county,” Guroff said. “We would have a DNA analysis program, but we wouldn’t have one that is as up-to-date or responsive to the needs of customers.”
The funding will cover overtime for the crime’s analysts, as well as some new, up-to-date equipment for processing DNA samples. It will also pay for continuing education for analysts and service contracts for equipment the lab already owns. The lab has received a total of about $2 million in grants through this program since 2004, Guroff said.
Scientists Report Breakthrough in DNA Editing Technology
Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have announced new information that allows scientists to apply a powerful new DNA-editing technology more broadly than ever before. The new research is being considered a breakthrough as it concerns the very popular, but limited-use, TALE-based method of controlling gene activity. The limitations have now been removed, opening the door for a great deal of scientific experimentation and potential biotech and medical applications, including treatments for genetic diseases.
“This is one of the hottest tools in biology, and we’ve now found a way to target it to any DNA sequence,” said Carlos F. Barbas III, professor in the Department of Chemistry at TSRI.
Cassidy Turley Brings Former Affiliates Into Its Fold
Commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley has brought under its corporate wing former affiliates in Arizona, Colorado, Northern California. The company said the unified, single-ownership structure better serves clients and enables further investment. Cassidy Turley’s Arizona, Colorado, Northern California and San Diego operations affiliated with the firm in 2010. The four markets add 790 personnel, including 475 brokers, and $7.3 billion in transaction volume. With the transition, Cassidy Turley now generates 50 percent of its revenue and has approximately half of its 3,800 employees west of the Mississippi River. The consolidated firm now includes the top commercial real estate brokerages in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Fort Collins, Colo., and the No. 2 commercial real estate brokerage firms in San Diego, Phoenix and Denver as ranked by each city’s leading business media.
CentrexIT Hires Chief Financial Officer
Steve Morrison has joined centrexIT’s leadership team as chief financial officer and acting chief operating officer. Morrison, who is a certified public accountant, will manage accounting, budgeting, financial planning and operations activities for the 25-person centrexIT headquarters. Previously, Morrison served as a vice president for CareFusion for the past three years. He earned his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Brigham Young University.