Soaring to New Heights

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-11-03

Guided by teachers Becky Page and Tavia Pagan, Orangevale kindergarten pupils enjoy an American River nature walk. The children display pictures of the rare bald eaglets they named Peekaboo and Poppy. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

American River Eaglets Named and Famed

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - What’s in a name? Monikers chosen by children for local bald eagle babies are on the lips of raptor fans all over the world.

In the space of 12 weeks, siblings “Peekaboo and Poppy” fed, flapped and eventually flew before the kindergarten children’s eyes. Thanks to photos and social media, thousands of followers -- some from as far away as the Arab States -- experienced the growth of eaglets deemed closest-hatched to Sacramento in recorded history.

For the record, Department of Fish and Game gurus documented the American River chicks as Eaglet One and Eaglet two. Anthropomorphism – the practice of bestowing human traits and names on wild animals – is discouraged by scientists. However, nobody told the Golden Valley River School children that. “Peek and Poppy” flew the nest in June but the huge bald babies will soar in the children’s memories forever. “We walk the American River trail every week,” explains teacher Tavia Pagan. “One day in fall (2016), an adult bald eagle flew right over the children. We all knew the national bird. It was extra special to see it right in front of us.”

Weeks later, the junior naturalists beheld a huge nest. “It was exciting,” recalls fellow teacher Becky Page. “We decided to keep an eye on things. All through winter, the children looked forward to visiting what we called ‘our eagles.’ One day in spring, we heard a new little sound from the nest. We realized it was a hungry baby.”

The snowy-crowned parents began supplying the nest with fish from the river. Eventually, bystanders saw a fluffy head rise to welcome deliveries. “One of the children named him ‘Peekaboo,’ explained teacher Pagan. “We all started calling him that.” When a second baby crested, the teachers asked their classes to volunteer another name. Poppy was the final choice; evoking flower-lined river trails and the magic of a wee head popping above the nest. Delighted by Facebook reports, raptor lovers world-wide soon adopted the names. By pure serendipity, the kindergartners also nailed eaglet genders. Peekaboo, they decided, was a boy and Poppy his little sister. Beak shape – a text-book sex identifier  – eventually proved truth had come from the mouths of babes.

Federal law protects bald eagles. As the chicks grew, the school party and other trail users were soon warned against lingering near the raptors’ nest tree. Cordons went up and Park Rangers cautioned visitors. “We were still able to do our walks,” explains teacher Page.  “The children were reverend. They used their whisper-voices near the nest. They knew to respect the eagle family’s space. We could see Peekaboo and Poppy when they began to flap their wings. Then we saw one of them on a branch. One day, we saw there was only one baby left.”

Alpha chick Peekaboo fledged first. A week later, his sister flew the coop. For weeks, their dutiful parents continued food deliveries in and near the nesting tree. In summer, the juveniles began hunting on their own. By fall, they had found territory downriver. “The children were concerned about where Peek and Poppy were,” says teacher Pagan. “We encouraged them to use their imagination.”

The teachers consider the five and six-year-olds’ eagle encounter has blessed them with extra wildlife appreciation. “We hope this experience helps them grow into people who protect nature,” says Tavia Pagan. “We protect what we love. And we only love what we experience.”

Guiding Veterans in Tough Times

Story and photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-11-19

Aging With Dignity is hosted by Ed Outland, live, Saturday on KTKZ (1380 am) from 1 to 2 p.m. and also on KSAC (105.5 fm). Photo courtesy Ed Outland.

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Ed Outland is not a veteran.  As a young man, however, he planned to serve his country, as did his father, a career serviceman.  But those hopes were dashed when he developed an illness that disqualified him for enlistment.

“I was drafted in 1969 and I wanted to be a pilot,” says Outland, founder and CEO of Family Heritage Group, LLC in Fair Oaks.  “I found out I had a form of spina bifida and that was it. I didn’t get to go.”

Flash forward several decades (and careers) later and Outland, 71, heads up a company offering financial estate planning and related services for individuals and their family members.  He’s found a circuitous but important way to serve his country by providing pro-bono financial services to aging, sick and injured veterans to ensure they receive, at minimum, access to a little known government entitlement benefit that a vast majority of his clients don’t even know they qualify for.

Sure, Outland has to keep the lights on, so his core company, which currently carries a portfolio of roughly $11 million, centers on financial and estate planning services for the elderly, helping them navigate the wildly complicated qualification process for Medi-Cal benefits, the state’s Medicade program for low-income individuals, and guiding clients on the purchase of life insurance, annuities and other investment and retirement vehicles.

But Heritage Group has a niche market serving veterans with critical medical issues, ensuring they and or their spouses receive assistance through the Aid & Attendance program (A&A) offered through the US Dept. Of Veteran’s Affairs (VA).  The benefit, which can be combined with social security and Medi-Cal, can be used to pay for non-service related medical expenses, including long-term care fees and other expenses due to a catastrophic illness.

Outland does not charge for helping veterans get this benefit.  For those veterans who may have assets exceeding qualifying levels, Outland works with them to redirect their assets in order to meet the requirements.

“Roughly 96 percent of the financial services and catastrophic illness planning we do with veterans is pro-bono work,” says Outland.  “We help them or, if need be, the spouse, apply for the A&A benefit so they can deal with medical expenses with dignity and not have to go broke doing it.”

There are fewer and fewer financial advisors willing to dive into the tangled web of entitlement benefits, according to Outland, who has been working with veterans for about 11 years.  Over that period, he’s established good relationships with the skilled nursing facility community, working with staff and ensuring residents are signed up for and receiving the full range of government entitlements needed to pay for their care and board.

 “This work is not for the weak willed or faint of heart,” says Outland.  “Believe me, the VA doesn’t like us very much.”

To qualify, a veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty with one day during a time of war and a clean discharge from service between Dec. 7, 1941 and Dec. 31, 1946 for WWII; June 27, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955 for the Korean Conflict, and between Aug. 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for the Vietnam War.  Veterans with at least two years of active duty service during the Persian Gulf War from Sept. 2, 1990 up to present day, also qualify.

While most of his VA pro-bono clients do not have much money saved, Outland works to help all who apply for the A&A benefit to qualify.  The VA stipulates applicants can have only a maximum $30,000 in assets if single, $50,000 if married.

But for most, the A&A benefit represents the last option for financial aid to cover medical care costs.  Few have wealth management portfolios to break apart and redirect.

“Many of our veterans come in the door with $50 in their savings accounts,” says Outland.  “Getting these benefits is life-changing for them.”

Part of Outland’s work with others also involves dispelling myths, the biggest one being that if you have money you can’t qualify for Medi-Cal.  And that myth is widely prevalent among a good majority of WWII veterans and their family members who are struggling to balance paying for medical care without depleting their assets and robbing their children of an inheritance.

“The greatest generation of veterans is dying off,” says Outland.  “So our job is to make sure that the $10 trillion that roughly comprises their total wealth is passed on to their families and not sucked up by the ever-increasing costs of long-term medical care and expenses.”’

Outland said of the roughly 16 million veterans who served in WWII there are roughly 750,000 still living.  He estimates there also are roughly 2.5 million WWII widows still living who are entitled to the benefit and can apply for it.  They just need to know it’s there.

“That’s a lot of veterans and widows out there and most of them don’t have a clue the benefit is there for them,” Outland says.

Receiving the Aid & Assistance benefit has made it possible for veterans from all backgrounds to fill the gap between Medi-Cal coverage, Social Security and pension payments and costs of long-term care, among other things, which amounts to an average of close to $7,000 a month in many places.  As of January 2015, a veteran and spouse could qualify for as much as $2,126 a month through the program.  The A&A benefit for single veterans is currently set at $1,794 a month, and for surviving spouses the benefit is $1,156 a month. 

“It truly can mean that someone can age with dignity in a good facility and pay for it without having to lose everything they’ve spent their lives saving up,” Outland said.

Outland also has an hour-long, weekend radio program offering listeners financial and estate planning guidance, He’s successfully parlaying a long, first career in radio advertising sales and station management into a passion helping people manage their money, preserve their family’s wealth and plan for the future.

“I’m self-taught,” said Outland.  “I got tired of doing radio sales day in and day out.  I have been doing this for 28 years now and I guess you could say it really is a second career.”

Outland said when he “discovered” the Aid & Assistance benefit was available there were reportedly roughly 400 recipients in the Sacramento County region signed up for and receiving it.  As of January of this year, he estimated his firm had successfully completed roughly 6,000 A&A cases for veterans. 

“It was like the sky opened up,” Outland said.  “We’ve got to get the word out there that these benefits are available.”


www.fhgllc.com

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A True Hero and Survivor

By Elise Spleiss     |  2017-11-19

Okinawa survivor Bob Mellor proudly displays his Navy photo, his Navy uniform and the American Campaign, Asiatic Pacific Campaign and World War II medals he earned during his service in the Battle of Okinawa. Photo by Elise Spleiss

Battle of Okinawa Survivor Part of Final Battle of World War II

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - At the age of 20, Bob (Junior) Mellor, had no way of knowing he was soon to be part of what would be known as ‘history’s greatest conflict on land and sea’, the Battle of Okinawa, also known as Operation Iceberg. Many who unknowingly become a part of history in the making often just see it as part of the job. It is no different for Bob Mellor, now 92.

His patriotic T-shirts and original Navy uniforms hanging in his closet, the glass case full of photos and other service memorabilia are silent reminders of his service while his extensive collection of World War II and other combat movies bring those days back to life for him. And Bob loves to proudly talk about those days to any fortunate enough to hear his stories.

Bob joined the U.S. Navy on October 6, 1944 in San Francisco. He took a train to San Diego Naval Training Center where he completed his basic training as a Seaman Apprentice Class on December 28, 1944. The same day he was transferred to Landing Craft School where he graduated three months later on March 6, 1945.

During his training Bob took a leave to visit his older brother, Ray Mellor whose ship, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Fanshaw Bay, had come in for repairs following a Japanese attack that had burned the flight deck. While on board Ray, a Gunner’s Mate on the ship, showed his brother the 5-inch anti-aircraft guns where he worked. Ray survived the war, thanks to the metal case covering his Bible when he took shrapnel to the chest during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.

Upon completion of Landing Craft School Bob Mellor was transferred to the West Pacific where he was trained to drive a 30-foot Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) boat. He was immediately made a cockswain, in charge of the ship and its crew, and trained in the Pacific Ocean in 15 to 20-foot breakers. Mellor said he liked the training and “found it no harder than plowing a straight furrow” back home on his family’s 156-acre ranch in Delhi, California.

During his three-month training in preparation for the invasion of Okinawa, Mellor brought in supplies, hauled liberty parties and took sailor transfers to other ships on the high seas. He participated in a week-long shake-down cruise and amphibious landing off Catalina Island before boarding a Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) headed for Pearl Harbor where he trained in all the sea channels driving a landing craft.

On March 17, 1945 Mellor was assigned to LSM 424 (Landing Ship, Medium) and was sent to the south islands in the Pacific where he joined a larger fleet of landing craft and mine sweepers. At 203 feet-long, his ship resembled a small aircraft carrier and carried over 100 guns, mortars and rockets of various sizes.  Mellor’s ship was part of the fleet that by the end of March would number 1,300 headed to the invasion of Okinawa. Only 325 miles from Japan, Okinawa was the last stronghold to defeat before reaching Japan.

Finally, on April 1, 1945 the U.S. and allied forces invaded Okinawa. Mellor and his men landed in Buckner Bay. By the end of the day, it had become the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater of World War II with 50,000 troops landing.

One of the pilots flying from the carrier U.S.S. San Jacinto was a young pilot by the name of George H.W. Bush. Bush and other pilots conducted bombing raids in their TBM Avengers to clear the way for Mellor and other landing crafts to land safely on Okinawa. However, attempting to prevent U.S. and Allied landings was the Imperial Japanese ‘super-battleship” Yamato, along with its fleet of Japanese aircraft carriers and destroyers. 

Mellor recalls that just after his ship had unloaded its pontoons and hardware for the floating docks, they were attacked briefly in a kamikaze attack by a Japanese Zero fighter plane. He and his men survived that attack and with the equipment provided, three U.S. Army and three U.S. Marine Corps divisions aided in the successful completion of the assault on Okinawa.

On April 7, 1945 the Yamato, the largest battleship in the world at 80,000-tons was sunk by the Avengers after 10 torpedo hits. The Yamato had been the former flagship of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, mastermind of the Pearl Harbor attack.

The war ended on June 22, 1945 but Mellor had one more assignment to complete. On June 26, Mellor took his LSM 424 to the north end of Okinawa and picked up U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Division at Hedo, and transported them to the North China Sea where they boarded 40 ships to go home. 

More than 12,000 American servicemen were killed at Okinawa and over 38,000 wounded or missing. Japan lost 100,000 men, plus a loss of up to 150,000 civilian Okinawans.

Mellor continued his life following his Navy days with his high school sweetheart, Elma Louise Voyles. They married in 1946, following his discharge from the Navy and her graduation with honors from Livingston High School in Livingston, California. Their first home was a chicken house in the backyard of Clint Lovelady’s Ranch in Delhi, California. They converted the chicken house into their home of one year, then moved to a farm in Delhi where Bob work full-time plowing fields and milking the cows. Their toilet was an outhouse.

In 1950 Mellor took a job at McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento where he worked for 34 years before retiring as a “Scheduler’ for airplane repairs.

The Mellor’s had four children, three adopted over a span of fifteen years. After two children, they upsized from their home in North Highlands to 5-acres in Fair Oaks. After 54 years of marriage, Elma passed away in 2000.

Mellor now lives with his daughter, Lynne at her home in Roseville. He spends much of his time watching his extensive collection of WWII movies and other classics dating back to the 1930’s.               

He enjoys his pastime, especially as, referring to his waning memory, each time he watches a favorite movie like Midway or Flying Tigers, it’s like watching it for the first time.

As the number of our surviving World War II veterans are rapidly dwindling, our younger generations are either never studied or are forgetting their sacrifices. Stories like these are a memorial to the thousands of people who worked, fought and died to preserve our way of life today. They cannot be forgotten.

Sources: Mellor Family History by Dr. Dennis L. Mellor

The Collings Foundation; World War II Day by Day by Antony Shaw

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Saluting All Those Who Served

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2017-11-19

Senator Jim Nielsen joins a salute by Rancho Cordova High School ROTC Cadets. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Veterans and Community Stand for the Flag

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - “Too many people, regard freedom as an entitlement,” Senator Jim Nielsen told a weekend Veterans Day audience, “It’s not an entitlement, it’s an obligation – an obligation to serve. There are those who disparage our flag and our pledge. We need to stand up and say no to that. Thousands of soldiers died so that flag would not touch the ground. Renewing our patriotism is a good thing; for we are a great nation.”

The Fourth District representative was speaking at Veteran’s Medical Center. Nearly 500 Sacramento County veterans and supporters attended the gathering held at former Mather Field Air Force base.

This year’s event theme was “From Argonne to Afghanistan.” The two locations represent a century of American military effort. An allied offensive at Argonne Forest (France) spanned less than two months and ended WW1. Now in its 16th year with no end in sight, the Afghan war is recognized as America’s longest conflict.

At the Mather event, Marion D. Smith and Bob Burns -- 90 and 91 years old respectively -- grasped weathered hands as two of the few WW II survivors. From 1945 t0 46, Smith was a radar specialist on the USS Livermore. He later served the Army Reserves. Bob Burns extended his WW II Army career during Korean and Vietnamese theaters.

The stalwarts were joined by 94-year-old Kiyo Sato, whose Japanese-American family grew strawberries at Mather in the 1930s. Sato, eight brothers and sisters and their parents were interned in Wyoming during war years. After her release, the eldest daughter achieved a college degree, nursing qualifications and eventually reached the rank of Captain in the US Air Force.

“I was born here,” says the Rosemont resident. “I feel the same emotion about America as any citizen.  I will never stop working for this country to again be a beacon of hope.”

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Girl Scouts STEM Center Opens in Sacramento

By Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-11-08

Girl Scouts at the Teevhah STEM Center 2 work with mechanical toys as part of an exploration into electronic engineering. (Photo Credit: Girl Scouts of the USA)

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - Silly boys. Science and technology also are for girls, and the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California (GSHCC) is about to prove it to you.

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, the GSHCC will open the region’s first STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Center + Makerspace, an all-girl facility that will serve as a hub for innovation and exploration across the world of tech and science for girl scouts in the council’s 18-county region.  

The STEM Center + Makerspace, modeled on the Girl Scouts of the USA’s other STEM Centers already operating in other parts of the country, will offer girls scouts in grades K-12 the region’s first open structured learning and development space where they can unleash their curiosity and skills and explore and innovate through a broad range of activities that include a deep dive into the study of robotics, circuitry and programing, as well as the environmental sciences.

“Girl Scouts is uniquely qualified to offer support for girls to work creatively in a single-gender environment, where they can explore new interests and collaborate with other girls,” says Dr. Linda Farley, GSHCC CEO.  “The STEM Center + MakerSpace is an investment in the next generation of Go-getters, Innovators, Risk-takers and Leaders (G.I.R.L.s.), and will serve as a hub for girl innovation, exploration and discovery for Girl Scouts throughout our 18-county region.”

The GSHCC serves roughly 30,000 girls and 10,000 adult Girl Scout members in counties across Sacramento, Stockton and the Modesto area.  Its new STEM Center, sponsored in part by Intel Corporation, includes the MakerSpace, which encourages the use of design thinking and collaborative problem solving.

“At Intel, we are committed to opening doors to opportunity for girls here in Northern and Central California, and we believe this STEM Center + Makerspace will inspire these girls and give them the skills they’ll need to become future innovators,” says Courtney Martin, Intel public affairs director.

A ‘task force’ of local female innovators and Girl Scout members will collaborate on the new STEM Center’s formation and operations.

The Girl Scout’s push for girl leadership and training in STEM is being fueled by the organization’s drive to reverse what it points to as a decline in the country’s number and efficacy of its STEM-related industries.  Putting STEM in front of girls, first at the pre-college level, the organization hopes, will build on their interest and confidence in the fields of math, science, technology and engineering.  In turn, that knowledge and experience can be expanded at the college level, creating a pipeline of STEM-trained women ready to take their education on to build life-long careers.

According to the organization, America’s status as the world’s leading technology and science innovator appears to be slipping, pointing to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, which suggests that only 29 percent of Americans rated their country’s K-12 education in STEM subjects as “above average” or “the best in the world.”

Since 1912, Girl Scouts has served as one of the most widely supported, all-girl leadership development organizations in the world.  There are currently 112 regional Girl Scout councils across the country representing roughly two million members, where they focus on building courage, confidence and character, and yes, cookies.

But the creation of Girl Scout STEM Centers aims to ratchet up the impact of membership, specifically by working to fill the gaps in educational instruction in the fields of science, engineering and technology and give girls a chance to build careers across sectors that have, in some cases, remained out of reach.

“With our focus on mechanical engineering, biological and environmental sciences, programming and robotics, girls develop skills that have the potential to change their lives,” Farley said.

For more information, please visit: www.girlscoutshcc.org

 

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Jennifer Wood Chosen Environmentalist of the Year

By Lori Morales, CCL  |  2017-11-08

Jennifer Wood. Photo courtesy CCL

Award goes to Sacramento Citizens’ Climate Lobby Volunteer

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Jennifer Wood received the Environmentalist of the Year Award from the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) November 8th. Jennifer is a volunteer with the Sacramento Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), and she was honored along with other champions of the environment at the annual awards ceremony.

Jennifer Wood founded the Sacramento Chapter of CCL in January of 2013 because of CCL’s emphasis on citizen engagement and its focus on bipartisan national policy. She began as the volunteer Group Leader for the Sacramento Chapter and is now a volunteer Chapter Coordinator, focusing on groups in the Central Valley and Sierras. Jennifer stated: “CCL has an approach that can bridge the political divide and bring many voices into the conversation. We advocate for national climate policy that is equitable, effective, and efficient.”

CCL, which has 84,000 members globally and chapters that cover every Congressional District in the U.S., trains volunteers in the skills of citizen engagement and helps members exercise their political voice. The Sacramento CCL chapter has grown to over 800 members and has developed relationships with Representatives Doris Matsui and Ami Bera, demonstrating community support for common-sense national climate policy. 

Members meet with local elected officials and community leaders and educate the public about national climate solutions. Last June, seven chapter members traveled to Washington, D.C. for CCL’s annual conference, and joined 1,000 volunteers as they lobbied every member of Congress about the need for national climate action.  “It was a life changing experience to participate in grassroots organizing.” said Edith Thacher, Sacramento chapter co-lead, “Imagine hundreds of volunteers walking the halls of Congress, meeting with each representative or their staff, expressing a unified message, and respectfully discussing the congressperson’s perspective on climate action.”

Commenting on the award, Jennifer said, “This award belongs to my Chapter’s members as much as it does to me. There is no CCL without the volunteers and there is no political will for change unless citizens speak out and become active”.

For more information see the CCL Sacramento Chapter website: https://www.sacramentoccl.org/   

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Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - SMUD has posted the names of customers and vendors who have not yet cashed checks dated between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014. The list of names will remain online until December 22, 2017. Each year SMUD posts this information in an effort to locate the money’s rightful owner.

Claims for these uncashed checks should be filed on or before December 22, 2017 with SMUD Unclaimed Monies, 6201 S Street, Mail Stop K109, Sacramento, CA 95817-1818 or by calling (916) 732-7440.

Replacement checks will be issued only to the payee whose name is on the list, or upon proof of death, to the payee’s beneficiary. The claimant’s name must be included on the list of unclaimed checks for the claim to be considered valid. Checks not claimed by December 22, 2017 become SMUD property under California Code Section 50050-50057.

Source: SMUD

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Fat Chance, Fast Change

By Rick Reed  |  2017-11-08

Jason Ra Bromleyy, before his “Fast Change” with Robinson’s TKD. Photo courtesy Rick Reed

Motivation for Men this Holiday Season

Like the Titanic’s meeting the iceberg, our holiday excess with gravy is disaster, dead ahead! For men sitting all day at work then watching sports season after season on the couch, the nachos are not our friends.  The holiday meals ahead are like that proverbial iceberg in our diet. How did thirty-five year old Jason Ray Broumley get so cut and recapture his younger self? He says it was three things, two of them will power and Taekwondo.

Not TNT, but Taekwondo blew inches off his waist, as Jason describes his once sorry state, “Way too heavy, walking around it was awful my back was aching, short of breath, it actually felt like I was never going to be able to do anything physical, you know, ever again.”

That kind of mental stress can make it worse for many men as they end up eating from the guilt felt in being too heavy and unhealthy. A vicious cycle sped up as hearty fat loaded meals are the centerpiece on the holiday calendar. WebMD reports obesity as 20% over your normal weight for your height. They also tie heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and many other potentially life-threatening ailments to being overweight. 

How did Jason break the cycle? He says determination was his key, “I definitely wanted something different, I wanted to change my life.” And with time, training and support it has. “I feel healthier now than I ever have in my life because of Taekwondo” he said.  From 260 to 180 with four inches less to carry around the middle, Jason says TKD has been an inspiration to also improve his diet.  “I make better food choices, and haven’t eaten fast food in years, so training is more than just a workout. It’s incentive to live better.”

Jason says he tried gym work, but found it mind-numbing and uncomfortable, “Kind of monotonous, same old thing every time, boring!”  His choice to become healthier with TKD was influenced by his father studying martial arts at a time he wasn’t interested. Another factor was making time to get his health in order, The Black Belt says, “I wanted something challenging. I was going to be learning a skill. It’s something different every time I go. I’m learning something new every time so I think that’s why I chose Taekwondo.” Whatever form of exercise, getting off that couch, up from that seat and away from the screen are the first steps for men losing and controlling weight.

Rust may be good patina on old pickup trucks, but bad for men who ‘rust’ when they rest too much, and modern society keeps us sitting more often. A bridal services business owner often working at his computer, Jason Broumley found Robinson’s Taekwondo as his choice for healthy fitness, and founder Grandmaster Clint Robinson an inspiration. Movement is the key, flexibility the door to better days as body, mind and spirit are welded in the desire to lose weight and be healthy. According to the slimmed down Ray, “A better state of mind, physically sure, and spiritually too I think. Taekwondo has done that for me, for sure.”

Making the decision to get healthy is critical, but Jason says, just showing up to train is half the battle.  “I didn’t think I was going to come back. After class I was down on the mat thinking I might not get up! But, I just kept going back.”  That determination proved to be self-fulfilling as weight loss, muscle and a better state of mind gives life new vigor. Jason’s wife Bundi says, “His stress level has gone way down. He’s more relaxed.” And yes, men being relaxed and healthy is sexy. “Yes,” Jason testified, “I would definitely say it is.” That’s the third thing!

So, enjoy the holidays, eat in moderation then get up, get busy with movement and take a fat chance on a fast change! Gain more from life like Jason, whatever exercise works for you. If you would like to try Taekwondo drop by a Robinson’s TKD location for three free lessons, compliments of Jason and Messenger Publishing Group.

For more information visit www.robinsonstkd.com

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Cannabis Sellers Must Register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration

By Paul Cambra, CDTFA  |  2017-11-08

You gotta register man! Stock photo

Sacramento, CA (MPG) -  Individuals planning to sell cannabis or cannabis products beginning January 1, 2018, must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) for a seller’s permit. Cannabis cultivators, processors, manufacturers, retailers, microbusinesses and distributors who make sales are required to obtain and maintain a seller’s permit as a prerequisite for applying for a license with the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, or the Department of Public Health. It is easy and convenient to register online with the CDTFA. Individuals who already have a seller’s permit (including a permit previously issued by the Board of Equalization) do not need to register for a new one.

In addition, distributors of cannabis and cannabis products must also register with the CDTFA for a cannabis tax permit – which is separate from a seller’s permit – in order to report and pay the two new cannabis taxes to the CDTFA starting in January 2018. Registration for the cannabis tax permit will be available on November 20, 2017.

Beginning January 1, 2018, two new cannabis taxes will be in effect. A 15 percent excise tax is imposed on purchasers of cannabis and cannabis products. Retailers are required to collect the excise tax from the purchaser and pay it to the cannabis distributor. A tax on the cultivation of cannabis that enters the commercial market is imposed on cultivators, who are required to pay the cultivation tax to either a distributor or manufacturer depending upon the nature of the transaction. The cultivation tax rates are $9.25 per dry weight ounce of cannabis flowers, and $2.75 per dry-weight ounce of cannabis leaves.

Individuals who operate a cannabis business that does not make taxable sales will need to obtain a certification letter from the CDTFA indicating that their business does not require a seller’s permit. The certification letter will be available through the CDTFA online registration system beginning November 20, 2017. Individuals may also sign up for CDTFA Cannabis ListServ notifications for the latest information on how to comply with the new laws related to cannabis businesses.

More information about the permits necessary to collect these new taxes is available in this special notice and in the Tax Guide for Cannabis Businesses.

 

Source: CDTFA

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Will Taxpayers Stand a Chance Against New Bureaucracy?

By George Runner, BOE  |  2017-11-03

George Runner, BOE

In September, two Inland Empire small business owners exposed sloppy work by a state auditor during two tax appeals that were heard before the State Board of Equalization. In doing so, the business owners scored unlikely victories against powerful state government.

As an elected member of the board who heard the case, my job isn’t to protect the state from itself. My job is to provide agency oversight and apply tax laws fairly and equally. If the state is at fault, taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook. It’s that simple.

The improbable victories, however, raise an important question: Will ordinary taxpayers stand a chance against the new and powerful Office of Tax Appeals beginning January 1?

In the first case, a state auditor lost sensitive taxpayer information, causing the taxpayer to go through the tedious work of changing all her accounts since her driver’s license, social security number, bank account numbers and other sensitive information were included in the missing paperwork.

The state never found her records, but that didn’t stop auditors from “guesstimating” she owed more taxes.

In the other case, the auditor visited an Upland restaurant owner. The auditor made careless errors and used unfounded assumptions to justify a much higher tax bill than was warranted.

After hearing testimony, Democrats and Republicans voted in favor of the two taxpayers, relieving them of thousands of dollars in taxes, penalties and interest the state claimed they owed. After a long and lengthy appeals process, the two taxpayers prevailed, and in the process, helped expose some serious problems.

With these cases in mind, we all should be aware not every taxpayer has resources to fight the state, even when it’s clearly wrong. As matter of fact, the two businesses owners represented themselves before the board without attorneys. It’s easy to see why many worry the deck is stacked against the little guy. After all, the state has a horde of auditors, collectors and lawyers on payroll—all at taxpayer expense.

When taxpayers prevail, it gives hope. It signals that maybe, just maybe, there are checks and balances that correct injustice. But, why didn’t supervisors and managers catch these problems during the appeals process? And what will happen next year when state workers, rather than elected officials, start hearing tax appeals?

Earlier this month, the Legislature and governor hurriedly enacted faulty legislation creating positions for state employees who will be paid annual salaries of up to $143K to hear tax appeals. It’s an open question whether these new panels will be fair to taxpayers.

Concerns are already growing that there could be conflicts of interest.

In fact, nothing in the new law prevents the state from filling positions with its own tax agency attorneys.

My Democratic colleague Fiona Ma is so concerned about this possibility that she sent a letter to the governor warning:

“If we were to allow these same biased attorneys to serve as Administrative Law Judges on this new panel, I believe we would be doing a grave injustice to taxpayers and be setting the reform effort up for failure.”

She’s right. It would be incredibly naïve to think unelected bureaucrats won’t be pressured into ruling against taxpayers to protect state coffers. If that were to happen—and it will—it would add additional stigma to an already misguided reform effort that stripped taxpayers of their rights.

George Runner is an elected member of the State Board of Equalization.

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