Daily Business Report-Dec. 31, 2015
San Diego Air & Space Museum will offer the BEAM Virtual Tour Program in January.
San Diego Air & Space Museum
To Launch Virtual Tour Program
Visitors from around the world can soon take interactive personally-guided tours of the San Diego Air & Space Museum from the comfort of their own homes through the BEAM Virtual Tour Program, which enables both school groups and people who are physically unable to visit the museum to take tours through the use of a computer and Internet connection.
The museum launched the BEAM program to broaden access for previously underserved segments of the population. A large number of people who, for a variety of reasons — geographic, economic, inability to leave their host institution, learners with special needs, hospitalized, bedridden — will benefit greatly from having interactive access to the Museum and its collections.
Virtual visitors engage with museum exhibits in real-time with a fully interactive tool that moves, sees, and speaks on command through a motorized stand. A 17-inch flat screen monitor displays the user’s face. The robot is controlled by the user (or the user’s assistant) from a remote location on any PC or laptop using directional keys or via mouse point-and-click. A main video feed shows the BEAM’s surroundings and allows the user to interact with others and travel through a wide-angle camera with zoom capability, a microphone that cancels echo and reduces background noise, and a powerful built-in speaker.
What differentiates this program from audio tours and virtual tours is the BEAM technology allows for an independent and interactive experience through a self-determined path. Virtual visitors are able to interact with an in-house guide or docent as they explore the galleries, seeing artifacts as clearly as if they were at the museum. Comments and questions from offsite visitors can be relayed and responded to immediately. Expert explanations assist in the virtual visitor’s understanding and personal interpretation.
The museum received a 21st Century Solutions grant from the NBC Universal Foundation to support the program. The funding from the grant enabled the museum to launch the free program for people with disabilities which prevent them from physically visiting the museum.
BEAM virtual tours of the San Diego Air & Space Museum begin in January 2016. Tours are one hour and are offered one day a week on a first-come, first-serve basis, through reservations only. Visit http://sandiegoairandspace.org/visit/beam-tour-program to register.
State Orders City of San Diego to Rescind
Voter-Approved Pension Reform Measure
City News Service
The state Public Employment Relations Board on Wednesday ordered the city of San Diego to rescind a voter-approved pension reform measure and once again offer pensions to city employees.
Proposition B, passed by an overwhelming margin three years ago, shifted new non-police employees from the debt-ridden pension system to a 401(k)-style plan. The ballot measure was a major part of efforts by city leaders to restructure municipal finances.
Four of the city’s six organized labor groups filed a complaint with the PERB, contending that the city failed to bargain the provisions of the ballot measure with them before it went to a public vote, as required by law.
The city, arguing against the complaint, said the requirement didn’t apply, since Proposition B was sponsored by private citizens, and that municipal leaders who campaigned for it weren’t acting in their official capacities.
“It comes as no surprise that a state government board dominated by the unions would side with a bogus complaint filed by the unions,” former Councilman Carl DeMaio, an author of Prop. B, told Times of San Diego via email.
“This complaint will be laughed out of court because it is clear in the state Constitution that voters have the right to use initiatives to reform their government.”
The board affirmed a previous ruling by an administrative law judge that officials, including then-Mayor Jerry Sanders, in fact were acting in their city roles.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the PERB ruling was expected. The city has prevailed in court once already on the issue, he said.
“We will be bringing this matter to the (City) Council in closed session as quickly as possible,” Goldsmith said. “If the council authorizes an appeal to the courts, we are confident that PERB will lose again. The law does not give labor unions the power to negotiate the terms of a citizens’ initiative.”
Census Bureau Projects U.S.
Population on Jan. 1, 2016
As our nation prepares to ring in the new year, the U.S. Census Bureau on Wednesday projected the United States population will be 322,762,018 on Jan. 1, 2016.
This represents an increase of 2,472,745, or 0.77 percent, from New Year’s Day 2015. Since Census Day (April 1) 2010, the population has grown by 14,016,480, or 4.54 percent.
In 2016, the United States is expected to experience one birth every eight seconds and one death every ten seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 29 seconds. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration increases the U.S. population by one person every 17 seconds.
The projected world population on Jan. 1 is 7,295,889,256, an increase of 77,918,825, or 1.08 percent, from New Year’s Day 2015. During January 2016, 4.3 births and 1.8 deaths are expected worldwide every second.
$3.2 Million Renovation Project
Completed at Bay Club Carmel Valley
Pacific Building Group has completed a $3.2 million renovation of Bay Club Carmel Valley, where gym goers can break a sweat, host business meetings, sunbathe and attend a soiree or networking event, all in a day’s work.
The 87,000-square-foot space offers eight outdoor tennis courts, three swimming pools, a 15,000-square-foot fitness center, Sanctuary Spa and more.
Additions to the space include new conference facilities; 77 Social Club, the gym’s outdoor pavilion for gathering and entertaining; spas; a bocce ball court; hardscape and landscape, including custom fire pits; and concrete work, including a trellis outfitted with a stereo, power, heat and wireless Internet.
“The addition of 77 Social Club and other amenities has elevated the space from a gym to a multipurpose wellness destination,” said Jim Roherty, president of Pacific Building Group.
Pacific Building Group team members who completed the project include Project Manager Brandon Stevens, Project Superintendent Gary Rager, Project Engineer Frank Torres, and Project Coordinator Terri Ehret.
Located at 12000 Carmel Country Road in San Diego, Bay Club Carmel Valley is one of 24 Bay Club locations in California.
San Diego-Based Lab Pays $4M
To Resolve Kickback Allegations
City News Service
A San Diego-based medical diagnostic laboratory paid more than $4 million to resolve allegations that it violated the federal False Claims Act by paying improper kickbacks to physicians and physician groups in exchange for patient referrals, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Pathway Genomics Corp. provides analysis of genetic testing kits for a variety of purposes within the field of clinical genomics, including tests that analyze the risk for certain genetic diseases and tests concerning the responsiveness of certain medications. The tests are performed on a patient’s saliva sample, typically collected by a physician and mailed to Pathway’s laboratory for analysis.
To ensure that health care providers remain motivated solely by their patients’ medical needs, the Anti-kickback Statute and False Claimes Act prohibits offering, paying, soliciting or receiving money or items of value to induce referral of goods or services covered by federally funded health care programs.
The civil settlement resolves allegations that Pathway induced health care providers to refer Pathway genetic testing kits and services, and then received government reimbursement for those tests in violation of the law.
As alleged, Pathway offered physicians and medical groups reimbursements of up to $20 for each saliva kit they collected and submitted to Pathway for testing.
The government alleged that physicians received as much as $13,534 in reimbursements from Pathway and that most of the doctors had never ordered the costly genetic tests before enrolling in Pathway’s reimbursement program.
It was further alleged that, as its referrals increased, Pathway billed the high costs of the lab analyses to federal health care programs such as Medicare and TRICARE.
Pathway has since voluntarily discontinued its physician reimbursement program.
United Way CEO Becomes
Carlsbad’s New City Manager
Times of San Diego
A former Carlsbad fire chief will become the city’s next city manager. Kevin Crawford, who will step down from his role as CEO of United Way of San Diego County, will succeed Steve Sarkozy in leading the North County city.
Crawford served as the city’s fire chief from 2002 to 2013. In late 2013, he temporarily served as city manager.
“Kevin has nearly three decades of experience working for our city, including serving as a member of the leadership team during numerous significant milestones in the city’s development. In the end, these things, coupled with his collaborative leadership style and deep involvement in the Carlsbad community, made Kevin the right choice at the right time,” the City Council said in a statement.
Crawford joined the Carlsbad Fire Department in 1986 and advanced through the organization before becoming chief in 2002.
Crawford’s leadership and management experience includes some of the largest wildland fires in California’s history as well as command responsibilities during the 9-11 attack in New York City and Hurricane Katrina, according to a news release.
Crawford graduated from Western Sierra Law School and attended San Diego State University, completing the Fire Protection Administration program.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on Crawford’s contract at its meeting on Jan. 12. A start date of mid-February is planned.
San Diego Auto Show Begins 4-Day Run
City News Service
The San Diego International Auto Show opens a four-day run at the convention center today, with 400 new-model vehicles, alternative fuel cars, exotics, crossovers and classics on display.
Vehicles from 36 manufacturers will be shown, including, among others, a 2017 model year Porsche 911 Carrera coupe with new twin turbo engines, and a newly designed Lincoln Continental.
“The cars continue to be the stars,” said Kevin Leap, show director. “Today’s vehicles shine more brightly than ever with a level of quality, design brilliance, and tech savvy that has never been seen before.”
Attendees will be able to test drive cars to experience various features first-hand, check out environmentally friendly vehicles and enjoy entertainment, according to the New Car Dealers Association of San Diego County, which organizes the event.
The show floor opens daily at 10 a.m. Closing times are 6 p.m. Thursday, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday.
Admission for attendees 13 and over is $12. The cost is $9 for seniors 62 and over and military with identification, and $8 for youth 7-12 years old. Children 6 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.
Children 12 and under are free on Ford Family Day on Sunday, when accompanied by a paying adult.
Parking is available for $15 at the San Diego Convention Center.
Humane Society Asks for Help
In Solving Dog Abuse Case
Times of San Diego
A four-year-old Spaniel was found last week with lacerations around her neck and officials believe it was caused by tightly bound chicken wire.
San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement Department officials said they believe Melody was intentionally hurt. She was found Dec. 22 at a plant nursery located on North River Road in Oceanside.
“The way the chicken wire was tied indicates that this was an intentional act. The injuries she has suffered cut into her flesh all the way to the bone. She’s very lucky to be alive,” Steve MacKinnon, chief of humane law enforcement for San Diego Humane Society, said.
San Diego Humane Society veterinarians performed immediate reconstructive surgery on Melody to repair her injuries and have given a positive prognosis for her survival and rehabilitation.
Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for any information that leads to an arrest.
“We’re asking the community to please report any information or possible leads so we can find the person responsible, or Melody’s previous owners,” MacKinnon said.
Leads can be reported through an anonymous tip line on www.sdcrimestoppers.com or by calling (888) 580-8477. Information can also be reported to the San Diego Humane Society at www.sdhumane.org or by calling (619) 243-3466.