Daily Business Report-Jan. 31, 2014
California Leaders Work on
Urgency Bill to Combat Drought
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders are preparing an urgency measure that would authorize more than half a billion dollars in short-term anti-drought actions, Capital Public Radio reports. They met Thursday at the state Capitol to discuss the legislation.
According to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s office, the $588 million proposal would fund shovel-ready water projects, clear away some regulations and help water agencies use existing supplies more efficiently. More specifically, it would increase the use of clean recycled water, encourage conservation programs and expand the use of captured storm-water
About $470 million would come from Proposition 84 bond funds currently in the governor’s January budget proposal; the bill would speed up the use of that money, rather than waiting for the budget to become law in July. The rest of the money would come from Prop 1E bond funds, cap-and-trade revenues and the state’s general fund.
The urgency legislation could be unveiled within days — with the goal of enacting it into law in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, Brown had some advice for Californians as he met with water managers in Los Angeles Thursday: “Don’t flush more than you have to, don’t shower longer than you need to, and turn the water off when you’re shaving or brushing your teeth.”
$1 Million Grant Awarded to Study Wireless
Technologies for Managing Personal, Public Health
The Alliance Healthcare Foundation has awarded the UC San Diego School of Medicine a $1 million Innovation Initiative grant to support the work of Dr. Sara Browne in groundbreaking research in the use of wireless technologies in the management of personal and public health. Browne is associate professor in the School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases.
Browne is collaborating with colleagues at UC San Diego’s Anti-Viral Research Center, using technology developed by Proteus Digital Health, which has developed a system to track how and when individuals take medications. The system utilizes an ingestible and wearable sensor platform.
The ingestible sensor records time of medication ingestion and transmits the data to the wearable sensor in the form of a patch worn on the patient’s torso. The patch also collects activity and rest patterns and sends the information to a secure mobile application
“The power of such a technology for physicians is that it reveals regular information on patients’ medication taking behavior and daily health patterns, enabling them to make better informed treatment decisions and to provide tailored support to their patients,” said Browne.
Browne and colleagues are using this technology to remotely monitor TB treatment, comparing it to directly observed therapy, where a health care worker personally witnesses the ingestion of medication by the patient. While directly observed therapy is the current gold standard for TB treatment monitoring, it is very time- and resource-intensive, making it unattainable for many developing countries, as well as too expensive for many domestic TB programs.
“Wireless technologies have the potential to positively impact public health in San Diego and Imperial Counties,” said Browne. “This technology can ultimately impact TB treatment globally, providing new methods of TB therapy monitoring and support to many more patients. This would mean better treatment completion rates, less drug resistance and, consequently, fewer cases of TB.”
Leading Economic Indicators Mixed in November/December
The USD Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators for San Diego County fell 0.2 percent in December after a moderate gain of 0.4 percent in November. Sharp increases in building permits and the outlook for the national economy outweighed big drops in initial claims for unemployment insurance and help wanted advertising to push the USD Index to a gain in November. Weaker results in the former two components led to a decline in December, the second in three months
Despite the USD Index falling for two of the last three months, the outlook for the local economy remains positive. Economists usually look for three consecutive changes in a leading index in the opposite direction as a signal of a turning point in the economy, and that hasn’t happened yet. The local economy ended 2013 with a gain of more than 23,000 jobs, which was down from 2012 but still the second best year for job growth since 2012. The forecast for 2014 is for another 25,000 jobs to be added in San Diego County, which would be enough to push the local unemployment rate down to under 6 percent. Continued solid growth is expected in construction, leisure and hospitality, and heath care.
Midway Post Office Back on Sales Block
The ultimate fate of the largely-abandoned Midway Post Office is still in limbo, although the gigantic and once-vital postal facility on Midway Drive is back on the sales block, sdnews.com reports.
The United States Postal Service is still in the process of divesting itself of the 464,000-square-foot, three-story former United States Postal Service Processing and Distribution Center at 2535 Midway Drive in Loma Portal, said Ken Boyd, USPS facilities and customer relations manager.
“It’s listed for sale for a period closing sometime in February,” said Boyd. “Any offers we get will be evaluated and we’ll move from there.”
Pet Food Tax Might Put More Tijuana Dogs in Jeopardy
TIJUANA — Pet food in Mexico used to be tax-free. Now pet owners are paying a 16 percent tax on pet food, a product that was already more expensive in Tijuana than it is in the U.S. Dog rescuers in the area feel the burden and they fear the added expense will cause more animals to be abandoned or neglected, KPBS reports.
The new tax is part of a package of tax reforms that is aimed at making Mexico’s budget more viable. The pet food tax is justified by a government that considers owning a pet to a luxury, subject to a luxury tax.
Tijuana resident Brenda Martinez owns two Labradors. With the greater cost of dog food she said she’ll only be able to keep one. She’s surrendering the other one to a shelter.
Richard Massa is president of the Friends of the Tijuana Humane Society, which offers free dog food for rescuers, and medical care for poor pet owners. He estimates there are seven thousand stray dogs on the streets of Tijuana that need immediate attention, because of disease or starvation. Far more dogs are only nominally owned, and might be fed or cared for occasionally.
To help remedy the problem, the Tijuana Humane Society offers free spay and neuter clinics in local community centers. A group of Mexican and American veterinarians volunteer to operate on the pets.
San Diego Nonprofit to Provide Reading
Glasses to Guatamalan Children and Adults
International Relief Teams, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization, will send a volunteer team to Guatemala on Feb. 8 to screen and fit hundreds of poor children and adults with distance and reading glasses as part of its ongoing “Better Vision – Brighter Future” program. IRT members will set up a screening center in the town of San Agustin Acasaguastlan. Once word of the clinic spreads, villagers travel for miles and wait for hours to have their eyes tested. Guatemala consistently ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world.
“These eyeglasses are actually mini-miracles,” said IRT Executive Director Barry La Forgia. “It means that children can succeed in school and adults can continue to work and feed and care for their families.”
The team will be led byRose Uranga of Ocean Beach, IRT’s director of operations and program development. Other team members are: Carol Fox, San Diego; Greta Glavis, San Diego; Heidi Geller, Sandy, Ore.; Kelly Hardiman, Bonita; and Patricia Villegas, Chula Vista.
U.S. Bank Names Private Banker
Ross Harter has been named private banker for The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank in San Diego. Harter joins The Reserve from Union Bank, where he served as vice president, client adviser. Harter has an M.B.A. in business administration from San Diego State University and a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Indiana University.
Can San Diego Host Olympics?
Bill Earley, president of the San Diego 2024 Exploratory Committee, the group promoting bringing the Olympics to San Diego, will speak at a LEAD San Diego-sponsored event March 6. Earley will speak on the feasibility of hosting the 2024 Olympic Games, whether technical requirements will be met, how will it be financed and what the games will do for the region. The breakfast meeting site has not yet been announced.