Letter To The Editor: George Floyd's Death; Small Business - Los Alamos Daily Post

Letter To The Editor: George Floyd's Death; Small Business - Los Alamos Daily Post


Letter To The Editor: George Floyd's Death; Small Business - Los Alamos Daily Post

Posted: 06 Jun 2020 07:48 AM PDT

By AARON WALKER
Independent Candidate
Los Alamos County Council

First of all, I need to address the issue of George Floyd's death. This is extremely hard for me to write as a white male. I don't understand first hand the struggles that many people have in this country.

I feel it would be irresponsible of me not to attempt to overcome the awkwardness. This is a national issue, but I would be undermining the major changes this country needs to make by ignoring them. I was very proud to see the turnout at Ashley Pond on Sunday for the peaceful protest.

I was also heartened by the comments that Chief of Police Dino Sgambellone had in response. This country needs radical changes to address the issue of systemic racism and discrimination. We cannot have a nation where all lives matter until we make certain that black lives matter. Rioting and looting are both poor choices.

However, we have a community within our nation that is in pain, angry, and tired of the way things are. Progress is painful and ugly sometimes, but protesting is not meant to make people comfortable. It's meant to evoke emotion and acknowledge that there is a problem. Never forget that it was a riot, damage to possessions, and protest (The Boston Tea Party) that ignited the rebellion that created this country. You don't have to like the rioting and the looting, but it's time we all accept that there is a major issue of race in this country. NOTHING can discount or discredit that.

I am running for county council to change the way our local government thinks and acts. It feels and appears like there is no integrity left within the county. Unquarked is finally getting their hearing.

The problem here is that there is zero chance that they get a fair hearing. The fact that the county manager is on the appeals board is unacceptable. Since he has a supervisory role over the Community Development Department (CDD), he has a vested interest in how this hearing turns out. The county attorney is representing both the county and the Council Chair. How have the optics of this not been thought about and rectified in advance? Now, with news coming out of the plaza where Unquarked is located being sold, the optics continue to get worse. Why are our small businesses being treated like this?

The optics of this issue, and ones that have come before don't paint a pretty picture for businesses within the county. I know that I wouldn't want to open a business here if I had to deal with CDD. WHY is this accepted and defended? Regardless of which side is truly at fault here, we will likely see the obvious outcome: The county will defend their actions to the death, and the lopsided hearing will indefinitely turn out in their favor. The real loser here is the small business owners, potential small business owners, and the people of the county. Because the county must have total control, this hearing is over before it begins.

That type of mentality is unacceptable to me. We MUST have integrity and accountability within our county. As a county councilor, I will strive to hold the county accountable for its actions and poor responses. I will do everything I can to ensure this county becomes a place that welcomes small businesses and works WITH them, not against them.

I am getting closer to my signature goal to qualify for the ballot. I still need your assistance however. Since I am still not canvassing and knocking on doors due to COVID-19 concerns, you can contact me at walker4cc@gmail.com and I will set up a time to drop off a petition to you with no contact. Thank you for your support.

Applications for We're All in Small Business Grants open June 15 - The Baldwin Bulletin

Posted: 06 Jun 2020 07:00 AM PDT

The state's lead economic development organization, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), will begin accepting online applications for its We're All In small business grant program at 8 a.m. Monday, June 15, 2020. The application process ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 21.

Governor Tony Evers announced the $75 million small business grant program in mid-May. It was largely funded by federal dollars received by Wisconsin through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed and signed into law in late March 2020. 

The cash grants will assist Wisconsin's small businesses with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages and inventory.

An estimated 30,000 businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees will qualify for the $2,500 grants.

Businesses may apply for the grants if they:

-Were in business as of February;

-Are Wisconsin-based and for-profit.

-Employ 20 or fewer full-time equivalent employees, including the owner.

-Have more than $0 but less than $1 million in annual revenues.

National chains are ineligible unless the businesses are third-party franchises. 

Agriculture industries and landlords covered by other CARES Act-funded programs are not eligible. These are crop production, animal production or aquaculture, and lessors of residential buildings and dwellings

More information can be found at wedc.org/WAI-Small-Business-Grant.

Own a Small Business? You Need to Know About These Coronavirus Tax Credits - Motley Fool

Posted: 06 Jun 2020 08:31 AM PDT

If you own a small business, the Great Lockdown has probably been difficult. Whether you've been forced to shut down or have been able to stay open (despite the risk) as an essential business, these are turbulent economic times, and your company is probably feeling some adverse financial effects.

But there is help for business owners, some of it in the form of tax credits. In particular, the IRS has highlighted new credits for employers including the employee retention credit and credits for paid sick leave and family leave.

Taking advantage of these credits could save your company money while enabling you to better protect your employees. Here's how they work.  

1040 form with refund check sitting on it.

Image source: Getty Images.

The employee retention credit

The employee retention credit is a refundable tax credit available to employers who have seen their gross receipts decline compared with last year or who had to fully or party shut down because of government orders. The credit is worth up to 50% of as much as $10,000 in qualified wages (including health plan expenses) paid to employees between March 13 and Dec. 31 this year. 

Because of the $10,000 wage cap, the maximum value of the credit is $5,000 per employee. The credit is applied against the employer's share of Social Security and railroad retirement benefit taxes. But because it is fully refundable, employers are entitled to a refund even if the amount of the credit exceeds the taxes due. Eligible employers can reduce the amount of federal taxes they're depositing if they expect to receive this credit and/or can request an advance on it, in the form of a check.

The new credits for paid sick leave and family leave

Coronavirus relief provided new options for paid sick leave for people who get the coronavirus, who must care for someone with the coronavirus, or who have to care for children because their day care or schools have closed. Employers who pay out required sick leave or family leave can receive a credit for the full amount paid out. 

Employees are eligible for paid leave under the following circumstances:

  • Those who can't work because they are quarantining or because they're experiencing coronavirus symptoms and waiting for a diagnosis are entitled to up to 10 days of paid sick leave at the higher of their standard pay or the federal or state minimum wage. The maximum payment is $511 per day and $5,110 for the 10 days. 
  • Employees who can't work because they're caring for someone with coronavirus or because their child care became unavailable for a coronavirus-related reason are entitled to up to two weeks of paid leave at the higher of two-thirds of their pay or federal or state minimum wages. The maximum payout is $200 daily and $2,000 total. 
  • Employees who can't work because they must care for a child whose school or day care is closed for coronavirus-related reasons are also eligible for paid family and medical leave for up to 10 weeks. They're paid at two-thirds their regular pay, up to a maximum of $200 daily and $10,000 total. 

Employers can claim a credit for the full amount they pay out for this leave, as well as any health plan expenses and their share of Medicare taxes. They can apply the credit against their employment tax obligations and reduce their payments to the IRS in anticipation of the credit and/or can request an advance on the credit, in the form of a check. 

Take advantage of the tax credits available to you 

During these difficult times, the assistance the government provides could make all the difference in keeping your company operating and keeping key staff members on the payroll.

Can California’s Small Businesses Survive ‘Double Whammy’ of Virus and Protests? - Times of San Diego

Posted: 06 Jun 2020 03:00 PM PDT

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A store owner on a damaged block in Oakland
Lilly Ayers places a stick of sage in a bag while serving a customer at her store Queen Hippie Gypsy in downtown Oakland. All of the small businesses on Ayers' block were damaged during protests. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

By Ben Christoper and Rebecca Sohn

Zahalea Show-Anderson spent last Sunday afternoon tidying up her dojo for its grand re-opening. After nearly 10 weeks in which a coronavirus-driven shutdown kept the lights off and the doors locked, the Urban School of Self Defense, a jiu-jitsu academy in downtown Long Beach, was ready to let its students back in.

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A few hours later, Show-Anderson was home in front of the TV, watching the dojo go up in flames.

"We've been there 25 years and there are a lot of things that money cannot buy," she said a few days later. "There were a lot of stories in there. It's really just going to be a memory now."

In a week of peaceful protest against police violence, politically motivated vandalism and arson, and opportunistic theft, Show-Anderson's academy, like many small businesses across the state, has become the collateral damage.

CalMatters LogoThe timing is, of course, horrible.

First there was the pandemic. Then came the shutdowns. No more customers, no more revenue, but no freeze on monthly rent, lease payments or insurance premiums. And just as the shutdowns were starting to lift, this.

"'Double-whammy' doesn't even begin to describe it," said Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association. "We were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."

In Minnesota — where a white police officer's killing of black man George Floyd triggered the last week of unrest — lawmakers have called for the use of state funds to reimburse businesses that have had their windows smashed, their walls graffitied or their inventories looted.

So far that kind of targeted help is not forthcoming from Sacramento. Despite historic levels of unrest we've seen across the state, legislators are focusing on other crises: a pandemic, an economic collapse and a rapidly approaching deadline to pass a state budget despite an 11-digit shortfall.

While large retailers such as Target, Walmart and Gap have selectively shuttered stores around the country, vowing to continue to pay workers in the meantime, smaller operations like Show-Anderson's have had to put their reopening plans on hold — if not cancel them all together. That leaves them hoping for some relief from their insurers, if they have them. If they don't, they've turned to the kindness of strangers — those who helped sweep up glass and who have donated money online to rebuild.

State regulators and business groups say it's still too early to assess how many California small businesses suffered property damage or suffered theft losses in the tumult of the last week, or to gauge the full extent of the financial harm.

By historical standards, the damage may be widespread, but it might not be especially high.

During the Los Angeles riots of 1992, where 63 people died in and around Koreatown, the estimated financial cost to insured property has been put at $1.4 billion, after adjusting for inflation, according to Verisk Analytics.

What distinguishes this latest outburst of collective rage and opportunistic criminality is how far it has traveled up the income ladder. Vandalism and theft took place in the lower-income Fruitvale district of Oakland and Vallejo, but also tony, mostly white West Hollywood and Walnut Creek.

"We want to go to places of white affluence so that the pain and outrage that we feel can be put right in their faces," Melina Abdullah, a Black Lives Matter organizer and a Cal State Los Angeles professor, told the Los Angeles Times.

Local news coverage indicated that some protest organizers made a deliberate effort to bring the unrest to wealthier, whiter neighborhoods and the businesses there — protesters said they wanted to ensure those communities couldn't just escape into their own privilege.

But while the total cost to businesses has yet to be tallied, after months of pandemic and recession, many businesses were only barely hanging on.

That includes businesses like Lilly Ayers' in downtown Oakland. Ayers and her husband, Kyrah, are the owners of Queen Hippy Gypsy where she sells crystals, incense and essential oils. By late-May, the couple were late on rent. They had just thrown together a website to allow for curbside delivery and get a little cash coming in. Then last Friday, someone bashed in her front window.

Ayers had hoped insurance would cover replacement, but was told that her general liability policy did not cover the window damage.

Financial cost aside, as a black business owner and an Oakland native, having her business vandalized amid a nationwide protest in defense of black life has been emotionally draining.

"I am a part of this too. I am hurt. George Floyd did not deserve to go," she said. "Yes, black lives matter. But my black business matters too."

State insurance regulators say that, contrary to Ayers' experience, most standard commercial insurance policies should cover the cost of vandalism and theft — even if they do not cover the cost of having to stay shuttered for weeks on end.

But after spending months with little to no business during the pandemic, some business groups worry that some small businesses may have allowed their policies to lapse — at the worst possible time.

Even after businesses across the state realized that many insurers were refusing to cover costs associated with a worldwide pandemic, Janet Ruiz, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, said she and her colleagues were urging businesses to keep their policies at all cost. "You could still have a fire, even if you're closed and not there," she said. "And there's always the possibility of regular vandalism — though we didn't foresee riots."

Even for insured business owners, policies often come with large deductibles. Owners also are generally required to pay for repairs out of pocket before they get reimbursed, said Ari Takata-Vasquez, director of the Oakland Indie Alliance, a nonprofit that supports small restaurants, bars and shops around town.

The California Department of Insurance has no estimate, a spokesman there said, of the number of businesses in California who lack insurance or allowed their policies to lapse since the beginning of the recession.

Oakland businesses are no stranger to vandalism and theft "even when there aren't riots," she said. "On a normal day it sucks, but you're able to rebound. But we're particularly concerned now for businesses that are small and local and often under-capitalized and can't just can't pony up the money."

Small, under-capitalized businesses have struggled to get credit since the beginning of the public health crisis.

So far the federal government has offered more than $700 billion low-cost loans to businesses. But advocates say the rules of the Paycheck Protection Program, the largest source of such cash, have made it particularly difficult for smaller businesses — particularly those owned by people of color — to access that cash.

The program's guidelines do not require lenders to channel the money to historically disadvantaged markets, and black and brown business owners are more likely to have no employees and to have prior felony convictions, excluding them from eligibility, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsible Lending,

Connections also make a difference.

"A lot of banks were just serving their existing customers, so if you had that prior banking relationship you were already in line," said Paulina Gonzalez-Brito, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, which pushes for more equitable lending practices. "Immigrant-owned small businesses, black-owned small businesses — they were often not in line."

Show-Anderson, a black woman, stressed that her business has always been "part of the movement" to empower people of color through self-defense. To stay afloat during the statewide shelter-in-place order, she applied for a federal loan from the Small Business Administration in April. She said she has yet to hear back.

It's unclear whether the state will cough up more money anytime soon.

Early in the pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom used his emergency powers to park $50 million in the state's Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, or I-Bank. Those funds are meant to backstop private loans to small businesses unable to access federal relief funds, paying back lenders up to 95% of loans if businesses don't or can't.

In May, the governor proposed another $50 million. With a June 15 deadline to pass a budget, that is still up for negotiations.

Mark Herbert with the Small Business Majority, an industry group, is pushing for that extra support.

"We have to have government-backed capital to survive the next six months," he said. That's particularly true for "businesses that are not likely accessing federal relief and not accessing traditional forms of credit."

In the meantime, many cash-strapped businesses are turning elsewhere.

Oakland Indie Alliance has its own fund to help small businesses. As of Wednesday, said Takata-Vasquez, it had nearly $100,000. She said she was not surprised that no financial aid has been forthcoming from the city, county, or state. "We didn't get support during the occupy movement either."

The GoFundMe website is filled with campaigns for businesses that have been robbed or vandalized. Shayla Jamerson, who runs the event production company SoOakland, set up a campaign with the goal of raising $5,000 for black-owned businesses. Within three days she'd raised $120,000.

"That just shows how together we are as a community," she said. "We understand there are those white supremacists. But there are a whole bunch of people who aren't like that and it shows."

On Thursday, Lilly Ayers' crystal shop was the only operation open on the 300-block of 14th street in downtown Oakland. To the left, a boarded-up beauty salon. To the right, an electronic shop cleaned out over the weekend remained closed, a handwritten sign apologizing for the inconvenience.

Ayers and her husband, Kyrah, had a bubble machine whirring next to their table topped with rose quartz, statutes, a bottle of hand sanitizer and a tip jar. A small crowd in face masks  gathered to shop or take in the rare good vibe.

Among them was Chris Aivaliotis, the white manager of the neighboring Kon-Tiki bar. Aivaliotis said he's been doing a lot of thinking about the appropriated, mostly-invented tiki culture, the blood history of the rum trade, and his role as a white guy in the local business community.

It's a community, Lilly Ayers said, that has been enormously supportive. "There's no way anyone who is from our community would do this," she said, pointing to the fractured glass window.

Aivaliotis stepped forward and dropped a hundred dollar bill into the tip jar.

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

Can California's Small Businesses Survive 'Double Whammy' of Virus and Protests? was last modified: June 6th, 2020 by Editor
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Major Fixes Made to Small-Business Loan Program - The Wall Street Journal

Posted: 05 Jun 2020 02:56 PM PDT

WASHINGTON—President Trump on Friday signed into law a bill giving companies more time and flexibility to spend funds from the federal aid program to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new law overhauls the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided $660 billion to help companies generally with fewer than 500 employees.

While...

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