Monday, May 31, 2010

Finance and Remembrance

The veteran global investor Mohamed El-Erian (a regular on CNBC Squawk Box), who runs Pimco and has lived through many a financial crisis, recently issued a report describing the new, perilous state of today's global economy. He described it like this: "The world is on a journey to an unstable destination, through unfamiliar territory, on an uneven road and, critically, having already used its spare tire."

America used its spare tire with a stimulus bill to prevent a collapse of the banking system and to stimulate the economy after the subprime market crash. The European Union used its spare tire recently to prevent a run on European banks triggered by the meltdown in Greece. Are there any spare tires left? I do not believe so and that is the problem for the future.

President Obama has issued in a new progressive period of spending in Washington. The President signed a health care bill that was the biggest expansion of the safety net in 40 years. Congress is in the final stages of a bill that would tighten Wall Street's rules and probably shrink its profit margins.

What this all means is that Americans must be debt free, liquid and invest as much in their savings as they can. Secondly, leadership at every level of government; from the local city council, to the school board, to state and federal government, to private business, to our nonprofit institutions, matters more than ever. There is no margin of error left. We have diminished the resources, whether to moderate the markets or to fund better health care, schools and infrastructure for growth. Leadership is now about taking action to generate new resources, being smart and disciplined about every nickel we spend and invest. The Treasury is empty, we cannot continue to leverage our future to China, India, and the world.

In this economic climate, we need to be more frugal and make tougher choices in our private lives. We cannot fake it or fool ourselves anymore, and we need to be less tolerant of politicians who cannot make these decisions in our public life. My finance point of view this month is this, be accountable in your private financial affairs and demand accountability in your politicians and representatives. The sooner the better. Because if Americans and the world wait, postpone, spend, as we have been, life as we have grown to accept will drastically change.

Memorial Day - In visiting the Riverside National Cemetery today I was never more proud of being an American citizen. I know that sounds corny but it is true. To witness thousands of citizens paying their respects to friends, family, and those who have served in our armed forces was truly a great experience. Though many times in my life I have disagreed with the motives of our leaders in sending our citizens into battle. The sacrifice these individuals have made and continue to make is above all discussion and disagreement. So thank you Gene Hasse, thank you Charles Hasse, thank you Dan Oldewage, thank you Dick Lewis, thank you Charlie Vasapoli, for all your service and making my life better.

Next week a review of the playoff season and a look forward to the summer.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 31, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Social Networking: Get a Life

Time to tackle the phenomenon of social networking: Facebook and Twitter. Yes, I am a member of both, strictly for entertainment and a forum for my rather strange sense of humor. These two sites are the most interesting development to the Internet yet, and I must say in the wrong direction. Yes it is nice to revisit with long lost high school classmates, yes it is nice to see what your old boyfriend and girlfriend look like these days, and yes it is nice to stay in touch with relatives who have forgot how to write a letter or pick up a telephone.

But remember my fellow web friends whenever you type something or post something to the Internet it goes out to the ENTIRE world; employers, future employers, former friends now not so friendly, scam artists, and let me not forget, the Government. This little box you are typing into is a very complex piece of technology. When I see friends, family, associates using foul language, slamming employers, posting not so flattering pictures, I want to kick them in the, well you know, and explain to them this is not cool.

It is amazing to me professional, intelligent individuals use Facebook and Twitter like passing notes in study hall; "I just scratched my nose...", "I am putting on my blue coat...", "We are going out to get a burger...". This coupled with "Fortune Cookie", "Fish Tanks", "Farm Animals", games or whatever they are is enough to make you wish that this medium was never invented.

So I say "get a life", try reading your local newspaper every day, listen to National Public Radio, Laura Ingraham, Stephanie Miller, Don Imus, and yes Rush Limbaugh, write a note to your family and tell them how you are doing, try a conversation with someone, if you cannot tell your boss he or she is an idiot to their face show some class and keep quiet. Sometimes being up to speed with technology is a step backward and not a step forward.

Sports - I went to Dodger Stadium this past week to see the hometown team, Detroit Tigers, they lost 4-6. But it is good to report that Dodger Dogs are still the best hot dog and Dodger Stadium (though approaching 50 years of age) is still the best ball park in the country.

Health Care - With all the health care problems these days, especially for individuals and families who have little income, I want to call attention to an organization that provides health services to all people no matter who they are: Providence Little Company of Mary hospitals and clinics. The commitment they have to all individuals is wonderful. The sisters, doctors and staff are caring people who truly believe in helping people and not the almighty Dollar. Thank you and keep up your outstanding work.

Next week our monthly Fiscal snapshot and a few words about Memorial Day.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 24, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Special Edition: University of La Verne President Search

My perspective in this search is an alumnus who cares about how The University of La Verne (ULV) will be supportive of alumni and active students in the next ten to twenty years. Also I have a perspective as an instructor who cares about the quality of the product ULV is presenting to the student customer. I am also a businessman who realizes what difficult economic conditions now and will exist in the coming years. Finally and I believe most important, the perspective of caring deeply about the ULV community (staff, trustees, students and alumni) who should demand a leader who can lead the institution aggressively for the next ten years.

Quite a tall order for a search committee and trustee board to accomplish. But it can be done. First of all I believe your choice should be an individual who is not your typical President clone. Meaning go outside the box in selecting your choice. The next ten to thirty years for ULV will be very serious indeed. Select someone who can raise money, a Capital Campaign should be initiated to raise a minimum of $100 million dollars for the institution, select a candidate who can relate to ULV's changing student diversity and who can select managers who know how to communicate, lead and have the ability to put their own personal agendas aside for the overall good of the institution. Finally do not be afraid to spend the extra money to get a candidate that will best serve this institution. There is nothing wrong with spending more on salary to get the "best" candidate for ULV.

The mission of ULV is going to change, economic and cultural demands will necessitate these changes. The President of ULV must recognize these changes and lead with a vision of the future. I also believe the Board of ULV needs to change their view of the institution and where it is in the marketplace, but that is a discussion for another day. The product ULV offers is a good product but it can be better. The search committee must recognize this and select a President who shares in this mission and can accomplish the objectives of the ULV community.

Until next time, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Higher Education: Is It Worth The Cost?

For the academic year just completed. the most expensive college in the country was Sarah Lawrence College, $54,410. Other notable institutions: Harvey Mudd College, $51,037 and St. Lawrence University, my alma mater, $49,680. Amazing, when I went to college in, well lets say the number one television show was All in the Family, a year of college was $15,000. Are these costs worth the expense? Do students get their value for these costs? The median annual salary for full-time workers with a four-year college degree was $55,656 in 2008, or nearly 40% more than $33,801 earned by a full-time worker with a high school diploma. So yes it is worth the expense.

But, can public and private colleges and universities continue to increase these costs? How close are we to the breaking point in affordability for higher education. The days of excessive and wasteful administrative and operation budgets are over for higher education institutions, just like in private business, institutions must change with the times. To provide the best possible education for your students is the priority we must set, not how many Deans, Assistant Deans, Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents you have. The same holds true for public secondary and elementary education, but this is a topic for another day.

We have selected a fine movie for our Rink Rats first movie review, City Island. A lovely little film set in City Island, New York starring Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies. A well written and acted film about a family dealing with hidden lives and agendas. We recommend City Island for its humor and wonderful story, rated PG-13, now in theatres but limited release.

The Rink Rats rating of 1 - 10 with 10 being Casablanca, we give City Island an 8.

Another bad side of growing old, your golf handicap. I just received my golf handicap for the month of May, a 13.9. 13.9!!! I remember when it was 3.5! Another indicator of growing old, you watch your nephew play goal in hockey and you actually think you could not get a shot past him for a goal. Oh my, what next.

Next Week: We discuss Facebook and Twitter, evil or good.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 17, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010


My theme this week will center on accountability. Is it still possible for government, on the federal, state and local level, to be accountable to its' citizens for spending beyond their means? Is it still possible citizens or should I say individuals who are illegal in this country to be held accountable for their actions in breaking the law? Is it still possible for all citizens to treat their fellow citizens with equal rights and respect under the law? Finally, is it possible for one woman to receive $637,000 per month in alimony from an ex-husband?

The only one of the questions mentioned above I can truly say yes to is Jamie McCourt's alimony award of this past week from her estranged husband and L.A. Dodger team owner, Frank McCourt. One word, Wow! That is a lot of Dodger Dogs!

As for the other questions I am sorry to say no. Throughout the world government spending is out of control, when government debt is near or over 100% of a country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) you have major problems as is the case in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Great Britain and yes, the United States. It should be another interesting summer.

The situation in Arizona is a two edge sword; on one side is a state government exceeding its' authority in limiting individuals their basic rights, and on the other side of the sword the Mexican government is out of control or should I say nonexistent in serving the needs of their citizens. In my opinion both sides of the issue are wrong. Accountability in public policy world wide is absent these days.

On another sad note the ending of the Detroit Red Wings hockey season this past week adds a new issue to our thoughts in this blog. What will happen to Stevie Y? Mr. Red Wing, Steve Yzerman, might leave the organization to run another NHL team, perhaps Tampa Bay or Atlanta. This cannot happen, so please when you purchase a Little Caesars pizza in the future, tell your delivery person to keep Steve Yzerman with the Red Wings - I know this will carry a lot of power with the Ilitch family who owns the Red Wings and Little Caesars.

Since this is my first blog of restaurants I must acknowledge I am a local restaurant snob, my favorite local restaurant is The Parkway Grill located in Pasadena – for me it has no rival, a 10 on the Rink Rats scale. In this blog, on the odd occasion I will pass on to you my experiences in dining and drinking establishments.

Dining – my local strip mall dining experts; David Kung, Linda Gordon and Steve Lesniak, guided me to a local Argentinean restaurant, Tango Baires.

Located on 870 E. Foothill Boulevard in Upland this was a treat. I admit I am not a fan of any establishment located on Foothill Boulevard but this was a rare find. The menu though simple was very good. We had the Empanadas (beef, chicken, spinach, ham and cheese) and they were all light and full of flavor. My main dish was Bife De Chorizo (12 oz. NY grilled steak) with a side salad. The beef was tender and juicy. The wine and beer selection, though small, was good. We had the Trapiche Merlot from Argentina, lacking a bit in flavor but a nice wine for the price ($20.00/bottle). The menu also includes pastas, a good variety of chicken and beef dishes, many sandwiches, pizzas and a good selection of salads.

Tango Baires is a typical Foothill Boulevard, strip mall, lacking in ambiance restaurant but worth a visit.

$$, California Casual (meaning you can wear sweat pants), reservations recommended, 909-985-6800, located west of 13th Avenue and east of Campus Avenue on the south side of Foothill Boulevard in the city of Upland, California. It is also recommended you do not have Mr. Kung or Mr. Lesniak give you directions to Tango Baires.

The Rink Rats rating of 1 – 10 with 10 being The Parkway Grill, we give Tango Baires a 6.

Finally this week I would like to give a remembrance to all the Mothers and even all Women of the world. How you all manage family, work, hormones, and especially MEN is beyond this humble writer - thank you! A special thanks to Barbara Hasse and Carol Ann Lewis. We all would be nothing without you and your spirit.

Next week: the Rink Rats first movie review and our first annual Collegiate year end budget review and commentary.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 10, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Number 1

My first blog, what am I getting myself into???? I plan on posting a weekly blog on a wide variety of topics. Topics will include; sports, finance, politics, education, and life. Since this is blog number 1 to start things off I will comment on all.

Sports - Tiger Woods; because of the fall out and emotional trauma of Tiger's fall from grace I believe he will never be the same golfer again. Yes he will win again, and win a "major" but I do not think he will pass Jack Nicklaus for career majors.

Finance - The recession in California is far from over. Unemployment will remain high (above 9.0%) until 2012. I hope this blog catches on.... :)

Politics - It is a sad state of affairs to review the list of potential candidates for the Office of Governor for California. Where are the young, energetic, public service candidates? Participate in my poll: Who do you think will win?

Education - When will higher education get it? To run their institutions like a business, and for their real customers, the students. Instead of serving their own bureaucratic needs in the environment of "good old boy and girl networks" and over paid administrators.

Life - The worst part of growing old, is watching your parents deal with death and feeling guilty that you have not done enough to help them.

Next Week: A local restaurant review and a comment about the immigration debate in Arizona.

Until next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
May 3, 2010