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Daily Business Report-Jan. 26, 2016

Daily Business Report-Jan. 26, 2016

San Diego City Hall. (Photo: Alexander Nguyen)

City Council Votes to Create

Reserves for Pension System

City News Service

The San Diego City Council voted Monday to create a reserve account to fortify the budget against unexpected spikes in the city’s contributions to its employee pension system, and to increase the reserves of the general fund.

The council unanimously approved Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan to establish a pension payment stabilization reserve account, and Councilman Todd Gloria’s proposal to increase the general fund reserves from 14 percent to 16 percent.

Funding levels for both will be determined during the budgeting process this spring for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Faulconer originally proposed a pension reserve account equal to 8 percent of the average of the last three years of city contributions to the San Diego City Employees Retirement System. That would equate to about $20.8 million.

Several members of the City Council, however, balked about tying up the money for one use, leading Gloria to offer his proposal for the general fund, which pays for basic services like public safety and libraries.

The third and ultimately passed option came from the city’s Independent Budget Analyst.

The general fund is responsible for most of the city’s contribution to the pension system. The average city payment the last three years has been $259.9 million, according to a staff report.

Chief Financial Officer Mary Lewis said the payment in the 2016-17 fiscal year will be around $261 million, or $13 million higher than initially expected.

The hike is a result of a recent decision by the SDCERS board to lower the discount rate — a determination of expected risk-free future returns.

Lower investment returns also cause higher payments.

“The increase in reserves is prudent and fiscally responsible,” Lewis said. “The proposal to set up a pension reserve certainly has strong merits. Increasing our general reserve is also a prudent action for the city to take.”

While Gloria voted for the hybrid option, he criticized Faulconer’s proposal as “a solution in search of a problem,” and pension-driven financial problems as “a dead horse.”

Faulconer said the council vote was “a reasonable compromise.”


San Diego Petitions Court to Vacate

Ruling on Pension Reform Measure

The city of San Diego on Monday petitioned the Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal to vacate a decision by the Public Employment Relations Board that would unwind Proposition B, the 2012 pension-reform citizen initiative.

The petition was filed on behalf of the city and the 115,991 citizens who exercised their right to place the 2012 initiative on the ballot.

The petition asserts that the PERB ruling is “unprecedented and clearly erroneous” and amounts to an “evisceration of the citizens’ right to bring an initiative.”

Proposition B created a new retirement system for city employees hired after its effective date. However, the PERB panel ruled that the terms of the new retirement plan should have been negotiated with municipal labor unions because Proposition B had the support of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders.

“The people’s right to circulate and support citizen ballot initiatives is guaranteed by our state Constitution,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. “This right is not subject to negotiation; it does not depend on who supports the initiative; it cannot be stripped from the people by a government agency.


The Gold Family Health Center

Rendering of The Gold Family Health Center

Fundraising for Community Health

Center in Poway Nearing its Goal

Neighborhood Healthcare, a nonprofit health care agency headquartered in Escondido, announced that funding for its new community health center in Poway now totals $2.4 million, putting the agency within reach of its $3 million fundraising goal by the summer of 2016.

Included in the $2.4 million raised is a $500,000 match from Alan and Debbie Gold that was completed in December of 2015 thanks to hundreds of donors and Molina Healthcare. The facility will be named The Gold Family Health Center.

Molina Healthcare recently joined the collaborative effort to help build the Gold Family Health Center. As part of the funding provided through the Affordable Care Act, Molina Healthcare contributed $240,000 to the cause which allowed Neighborhood Healthcare to meet the Gold family’s match of $500,000.

“Opening a community health center for low-income residents is well aligned with the ACA’s intent to improve access to care through Medicaid Expansion. We’re pleased to be able to use these funds to support this project,” said Dr.  J. Mario Molina, president and Chief Executive Officer of Molina Healthcare. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Neighborhood Healthcare and the future Gold Family Health Center to provide high-quality care to those who need it most in Poway.”

Neighborhood Healthcare CEO Tracy Ream is optimistic that the community will rally to raise the remaining $600,000 for the center.


Vicky Carlson to Step Down

From Top LEAD San Diego Post

Vicky Carlson

Vicky Carlson

Vicky Carlson, president and CEO of LEAD San Diego for the past six years, will leave the organization on May 26 to pursue other opportunities.

Carlson, who spent six years on the organization’s board of directors before being selected for the top executive post, will leave at the same time LEAD holds its 14th annual Visionary Awards.

Carlson became interim president and CEO in April 2010 and was appointed to the permanent position in August 2010.

“Vicky has solidified the position of LEAD, both programatically and financially,” said Board Chair Carisa Wisniewski.  “She will leave the organization on sound footing and her continuing leadership through May will ensure a smooth succession.”

A board search committee will be co-chaired by Marilyn Sawyer and Bill Geppert, both former board chairs of LEAD.

“My commitment to this organization and its important impact on the greater community is unwavering,” said Carlson.  “After 12 years, it’s time for me to turn the page and for the organization to change in order to move to the next level. I am extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity I have had here, and for the support of so many great Board members, staff and volunteers.”


Supercomputer Center, City of Hope

To Create Cancer Research Infrastructure

The Health Cyberinfrastructure Division of the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego is participating in a multi-million dollar project with City of Hope, a Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif., and other universities and health organizations to create a cancer research infrastructure.

The project will continue the California Teachers Study (CTS) through 2021. The CTS consists of 133,479 current and former public school teachers or administrators who were members of the California State Teachers Retirement System and agreed in 1995 to have their health and lifestyle tracked to help understand why teachers have historically had higher rates of breast cancer.

Funding for the five-year award, which comes from the National Cancer Institute, is more than $12 million, with San Diego Supercomputer Center being awarded just over $4 million for compliance hosting as well as building and operating the data warehouse/data management platform.


USD School of Business MBA Program

Rises in Financial Times Ranking

The MBA program in the University of San Diego School of Business rose to 28th in the nation (from 33rd ) and 59th in the world (from 66th) in the 2016  Financial Times Top 100 MBA rankings.

The ranking places USD’s School of Business MBA program in the top five percent of the approximately 2,000 programs worldwide. The MBA program debuted in the Financial Times rankings in 2015.

Among the 105 ranked schools, only 47 are in the United States and six are in California. The University of San Diego School of Business is the only university in San Diego County to be ranked.


Seminar on How to Avoid Copyright

Infringement When Advertising

SDX, formerly the San Diego Ad Club, will host “Who Owns What Intellectual Property? What Every Business Owner and Creative Needs To Know,” a seminar on avoiding legal dangers in advertising, from 8 to 10 a.m., Wednesday 27, at the Hilton San Diego Mission Valley, 901 Camino Del Rio South.

Speaker will be attorney Barry Soalt, partner, Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP. Soalt specializes in intellectual property law, patents, trademarks and copyrights. He will discuss avoiding copyright and trademark infringements in the creation of artistic, graphic and textual content, how to minimize liability when using names, brands, marks, bylines and slogans and best practices to reduce potential exposure to monetary damages.

Cost to attend is $45 for members, $65 for nonmembers, $35 for students. Continental breakfast is included. To RSVP, visit


Cal State San Marcos Welcomes

13,000 Students for Spring Semester

California State University San Marcos welcomed just over 13,000 students, including 172 new transfer students, back to campus on Monday for the start of the spring semester.

Campus highlights this semester include:

• Construction will wrap up on CSUSM’s new multi-purpose athletics facility, The Sports Center, early this spring. Officially opening in September 2016, The Sports Center will be another hub of student life, bringing all Cougar athletic events to campus. In addition to hosting home games for men’s and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball, the new facility will also be used for campus recreation.

• Expansion of the Environmental Leadership Academy to North County.

For the first time, Extended Learning is expanding its Temecula-based Environmental Leadership Academy to North County. The program combines experiential and classroom learning to provide participants with a holistic understanding of climate change, land use, water quality and sustainability in Southern California. New Certificate Programs

• This spring, Extended Learning is offering two new and innovative certificate programs — The Business of Hospitality and Business Emergency Preparedness Planning. The Business of Hospitality is designed for entry and mid-level employees within the hospitality industry as well as anyone interested in a career in the hospitality and tourism field. Business Emergency Planning is specifically designed to ensure an organization has put into place a process that will mitigate damage to that entity in the event of a disaster.


Croce's Park West (Courtesy of Croce’s Park West)

Croce’s Park West (Courtesy of Croce’s Park West)

Croce’s Park West

 In Bankers Hill to Close

Ingrid Croce and husband Jimmy Rock announced Monday the closure of their Bankers Hill restaurant and live music venue, Croce’s Park West.

The widow of the late singer Jim Croce said in a blog post that live music “isn’t the draw that we hoped and needed it to be.”

Her original restaurant, Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar, shut down at the end of 2013 after 30 years because she was unable to resolve a dispute with the building’s owner over noise and vibrations from a next-door nightclub.

The restaurant was the culmination of a goal she and Jim Croce had shared, she said.

The restaurant on Fifth Avenue was a catalyst of the Gaslamp Quarter’s development into a popular nightspot.

They opened Croce’s Park West several weeks later.

— City News Service


Oregon Bank Expands into San Diego

Portland, Ore.-based Umpqua Bank, a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corporation, announced the expansion of its commercial banking services to San Diego. The company hired commercial banking leaders Mark Lee and Jonathan Dale to lead the office and provide financial services to companies throughout the region.

Lee brings 30 years of commercial banking expertise to his role as executive vice president and regional director of commercial banking for Umpqua. Previously, he served in a variety of roles at California Bank & Trust, including most recently as senior vice president of corporate banking overseeing a large portfolio of private corporations in the biotech, manufacturing and retail industries.

Before joining Umpqua, Dale served in a variety of commercial banking roles at California Bank & Trust, including most recently as first vice president, senior commercial banker. He joins Umpqua as senior vice president and senior commercial relationship manager, bringing more than a decade of experience in commercial banking to the bank.


NASSCO Delivers Second

LNG-Powered Containership

General Dynamics NASSCO has delivered the world’s second containership to be operated by liquefied natural gas — the Perla Del Caribe. The ship was delivered two months ahead of schedule and is the sister ship of the world’s first LNG-powered containership, the Isla Bella, also built by NASSCO for TOTE Maritime.

“The Perla Del Caribe and the Isla Bella exemplify world-leading, innovative technologies being used to build ocean-going ships that are cost-effective, friendly to the environment and offer a competitive edge,” said Kevin Graney, vice president and general manager at General Dynamics NASSCO. “NASSCO shipbuilders are proud to have successfully built the world’s very first LNG-powered containerships.”


Neuroscientist Emile Bruneau

Neuroscientist Emile Bruneau

Neuroscientist to Speak on Peace,

Conflict and Psychology at USD

Neuroscientist Emile Bruneau of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be the next speaker in the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. His topic: “Putting (Neuro)science to Work for Peace.”

Using the lens of cognitive neuroscience, Bruneau will discuss how and why our brains set our common sense interventions up to fail, how intuitively appealing goals such as empathy and trust can be deeply problematic, and how the tools of experimental psychology and functional neuroimaging can be employed to understand intergroup hostility and promote peace.

Bruneau is a visiting scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, and a research affiliate of the University of Pennsylvania and with the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at MIT. Prior to his formal training in neuroscience, Bruneau worked, traveled and lived in a number of conflict regions: South Africa during the transition from apartheid to democracy, Sri Lanka during one of the largest Tamil Tiger strikes in that nation’s history, Ireland during “The Troubles”, and Israel/Palestine around the Second Intifada.

Bruneau is the recipient of the 2015 Ed Cairns Early Career Award in Peace Psychology.

The Joan B. Kroc Distinguished Lecture Series is a forum for high-level national and international leaders and policymakers to share their knowledge and perspectives on issues related to peace and justice.

The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required, click here


Personnel Announcements

BNBuilders Brings 2 Staffers to San Diego

Alec Pesant

Alec Pesant

Jerry Schmidt

Jerry Schmidt

BNBuilders has moved Alec Pesant and Jerry Schmidt from its San Francisco Bay Area office to San Diego to concentrate on San Diego projects.

Pesant, senior project manager, has over 15 years of construction experience, specializing in laboratory and manufacturing plants, as well as mission critical/data centers. Notable projects under his supervision include the $90 million UCSF Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the $330 million Genentech CCP2 Cell Culture Manufacturing expansion in Vacaville.

Schmidt, senior superintendent, has over 35 years in the construction industry. He has worked on numerous project types, ranging from biotech and health care facilities to mission critical/data center and commercial projects.  Notable projects under his supervision include the $110 million Salt River Fields, the Spring Training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, UnitedHealth Group’s $110 million data center, and Northern Arizona University’s $80 million, LEED Gold Wellness Center.

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Voice Your Opinion

We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: