Happy Retirement, Wally Cunningham

I took my car into Old Town Brake and Auto at 4th and D as I have for the past 15 years and Wally told me he’s retiring at the end of the month, turning the shop over to his son Brian (whose own shop, Eureka Brake & Automotive, on Second Street, will remain open.) Wally has achieved the American dream- a successful business to pass on to his kids and as far as I can figure he did it the old -fashioned way-through hard work. Keeps the same employees around for years too. Stop by and say goodbye to Wally and Sharon, who are remaining in the area. We’ll miss ya, Wally. 

And I’ll be offline for a few days while St. Joseph’s installs my new knee. Or should that be, my knew knee?  Blessings of the season to all of you.

HOLIDAZE – Some brief observations

Yesterday was December 4 and I could not find a parking spot in Old Town.  This year is one of those with only three weeks  between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I hate when they do that. We have cause to rejoice- the waterfalls in Yosemite are falling  again. No, the drought’s not over but at least the mountains are looking more normal. Elsewhere..

Sacramento papers reported that the July  California bar exam had the lowest pass rate of any in recent memory- 61% for first-timers, down from 68% last year.  the pass rate for repeaters was only 14%, down from 21%. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but it seems to me that with all the confusion about Prop 47,  possibly changing weed laws and definite changes in immigration policy,  we shouldn’t be facing these challenges with dumb lawyers. Be forewarned!!

Are you a Twitter user? (I call them twits.) The Economist reports that Twitter has ore than quadrupled its revenues since 2012 but is not expected to be profitable until 2017 if then. One reason is that they devote more cash to compensating their employees than do Google and Facebook. 285M folks log onto Twitter monthly which includes 20% of American smartphone users. 75% of Twitter’s ad revenues  are from the mobile market. They observe that Twitter’s user-growth has slowed and that Facebook has four times the number of users. Me?  I did two tweets.  I’m done.  I’ll check in next time there’s civil disorder. 

Finally , you looking for a job?  The Rite Aid in Henderson Center has NOW HIRING on their marquee. Union jobs! Go for it!

 

The Eagerly Awaited Humboldt Soup Company

..is holding its official opening tomorrow. Here’s a link to the menu as posted on Facebook (they don’t have their website operational yet) so you can check it out before lunch tomorrow ’cause it sounds like there’s going to be a stampede. You have to scroll down aways to see the whole menu. The beet salad sounds incredible. Good luck to them!

Annals of Customer Service- TriCounty Bank and CCCU

When I saw that strange-looking letter, I knew it meant trouble. Here was a letter from BOTH North Valley Bank and Tri-Counties Bank, which has absorbed them.  At the bottom were TWO signatures, one from each bank. When I worked at Pearl Harbor, the CO used to say, “Split responsibility is no  responsibility.”  The Old Man was right. 

The letter was dated October 3 and notified me that as of October 25, a new servicer, Tri-County, ‘will be collecting your mortgage payments from you” and exhorted me to send all payments due on or after October 25 to TriCounties Bank at a Chico address.  I called both numbers to find out that to expect. My mortgage payments are automatically deducted from my Coast Central account.  I called Coast Central and both of the numbers on the letter. No one knew anything except that one person thought that TriCounties would be sending me a letter, maybe even telling me what my new account number would be. Nothing came.

I called Tri-Counties again and was told that all the information was in the packet that was sent to me. I explained that no packet had been sent. Finally they told me to visit the TriCounties branch after November 1. On the morning of Monday , November 3, my mortgage payment cleared! Now I could avoid a useless trip to Tri-Counties, right? Oh no, I called and was told by a nice young lady that I had to come in, anyway. I obediently drove to their branch, which was having the signage changed. It turned out the only reason for making me come in was to pick up the stupid packet, WHICH THEY COULD HAVE MAILED TO ME.

Now that I know Tri-Counties is in such dire financial  straits that they cannot afford first-class postage and an envelope, I will be following their fortunes with renewed interest. 

Meanwhile, a Friend of the Blog filed the following: 

“I tried to simply cash a small $260 check (usually $300) from my wife, done monthly , mostly in McKinleyville’s CCCU. Both of us have an account at CCCU. I told the teller my member #. I assume somewhere on their screen it would show that I have 10Kin checking alone. I have lived at the same home address with the same phone number for 43 years and have been a member of CCCU for decades. My CDL was expired and the clerk was not going to let me cash the check without an unexpired CDL. When I pointed out much of the above, I was told that next time I would need an unexpired CDL.  I asked the teller to ask management why? Are they law enforcement? What next, you need to be a currently licensed driver?  I have both a current license and a CA ID card. I have never had a point against my license since I started driving at age 15 1/2. DMV is using the same photo for both.  My credit score is well above 800.  I have a VISA with CCCU. I have two monthly deposits from CAL-PERS and Social Security into this CCCU’s checking. DMV never asked for the expired license. I held onto it thinking it would be a valid Government issue photo ID-  not at CCCU. What a tale of woe.” 

What a tale of woe, indeed. Whatever happened to recognizing your customers?

I drop into Tasty Tacos (in Cutten, on Walnut) every week and when Tom announces “Julie, you’re order’s ready,” all’s right with the world. The banks should be learning from small business. Boy, should they. 

Election Notes October 2014

I don’t profess to be a “Famous Humboldt blogger” like our friend  Fred.  (Fred has a good sense of humor.) And I have to confess that I haven’t been as involved in politics as I normally am, due to family and health issues, but elections are important and I’ll put my two cents in. I think most of you know that I’m a nonvoting member of the HCDCC, and a lifelong Democrat.  

Eureka City Council- this is the easiest call. Natalie Arroyo and Kim Bergel are like a breath of fresh air compared to their undistinguished opponents, about whom the less said the better.  Give these two women a shot. You won’t regret it.

Fair Wage (Prop R)- I just accosted John Forrest, the owner of Hole-in-the -Wall, down at the store. I had not visited my favorite sandwich place in some weeks because I was so irritated at his apparent callousness in remarks reported by the Times-Standard. Then on Saturday, while I was struggling with my groceries in the Winco parking lot and the rain was starting to fall,  one of the HITW employees saw me and helped me.  Now I’m a regular again because of his STAFF. Mr Forrest is a genial guy but no one patronizes HITW because of him, it’s because of the STAFF. I hope the Fair Wage initiative passes. Yes, I know prices will rise. As an old lady on a fixed income, I’ll manage and so will others. There has been more ugliness and hypocrisy around this issue than any I can remember and it has been dismaying to behold.

No GMOs (Prop P)- If the family farmers who bring us the Farmers’ Markets and enhance our quality of life so much are for it, then I’m for it. ‘Nuff said.

FInally, the public safety measures, County Measure Z and Eureka Measure Q, are certainly worthy of your support.  Thanks to ALL the candidates and campaign workers for giving your time.  

Vital Records

Social Security wants my sister’s birth certificate. Her copy is in a storage locker in Sonora, she thinks. I head down to the Courthouse. It’s drizzling.

For the first time ever, I try parking in the gravel lot at the North end of the building. Big mistake. I drive a lowslung car. The lot consists of huge cavities in the gravel. My car rocks back and forth as I pull into a space, listening to the oil pan scraping the gravel.   I wouldn’t call it “accessible” but at least it’s on the same block. After a long, long walk back to the front entrance, I go through the security line.  A table near the elevator is marked “Courthouse Information.”  A young man fields inquiries while not missing a beat of his cellphone conversation. I need to go to the 5th Floor, which means going to the 4th, then switching elevators to ride to the 5th.

I enter the offices of the Clerk/Recorder. The view from here is normally stunning, but today it’s gray and dismal. There are four or five workers inside and one woman who appears to be doing research of some kind. The workers approach helpfully. I only need one.

I have already downloaded and filled out the request form. A pleasant man says he’ll be back in five minutes. He is.  I pay the $25 for a super-official document because I really don’t know what kind they want.

In the elevator I look at the certificate. I remember her doctor, a nice man who died in a plane crash, leaving a young family. Remembering him makes me sad. 

The drizzle continues.

Aviation Update July 2014

Don’t read this if you’re looking for good news for airline passengers. A friend of the blog compiled the following links which show that no matter how bad it gets, there’s always room for worse.

1.  You’ve noticed the carriers imposing more and more fees along with the regular airline fares? Try 1200% in the past seven years, like from $2.4 B in fees in 2007 to $31.5 B in 2013.  More carriers are counted in the later figures but the fees are all coming from the same source: you. 60% of these fees are from the sale of frequent flyer points, 25% for baggage fees, the rest from such services as early boarding and extra-leg-room seating fees. Here, courtesy of Yahoo Finance is a full accounting.

2. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that TSA is also raising its fees. The current fee is $2.50 for non stop and $5 for a connecting flight. The new rate is $5.60 per flight with any connecting longer than four hours counting as a separate flight. That may not sound like much but it adds up, especially when you miss your connection due to delays  leaving  ACV and end up with a ten-hour layover at O’Hare. Here is an account from USA Today.

3. The impact of the war in Ukraine and its spinoffs will be enormous and it is probably too early to assess. The route changes resulting from the war are coming at a time when fuel prices are at an all-time high. When the carriers are squeezed, guess who they’ll pass the increase onto?  The Hindu Business Line newsletter carried an analysis but the link is no longer available. Time moves quickly in the Middle East. 

LOCAL UPDATE: The  Airport Advisory committee did not have its meeting as scheduled yesterday for lack of a quorum but Emily Jacobs reported that there was “some” interest in serving ACV demonstrated by other carriers at the confab in Edmonton. Someone reported that Santa Rosa is improving its runways in anticipation of DIRECT FLIGHTS TO HAWAII.  Wouldn’t  that be great? Yes, it would.  

Food News:That Caribbean Place; Big Louie’s reborn as Marcelli’s

This is my third post about “The Caribbean Picnic”,  on Henderson where the GoGo Bistro used to be.  I finally made it in there yesterday. It’s a PUERTO RICAN restaurant with CUBAN food also.  The two main offerings are Cuban sandwiches (ham, pork, usually pickles) and a Puerto Rican sampler, both $9.  I’ve eaten a lot of Cuban sandwiches, having family in Florida, and this was not only better than average, it’s HUGE, easily two meals for the  average person. They also have a selection of pretzels, not the little brittle kind but serious big puffy ones. The staff is welcoming and helpful and I will definitely be back. Any of you who visit this place, please share your opinions with us.

On another note,  Marcelli’s Pizzaria  (their spelling) had a soft opening a few days ago and  folks were streaming in for lunch at what used to be Big Louie’s. They don’t have a website yet but they’re open 7 days and the menu looks a lot like the old BL one. You can call them at 497-6374 for eat-in, takeout, delivery or take’n’bake. So much to be grateful for! Please share your reviews with us. Bon appetit. 

Umpqua Update- No Humboldt Closures

Umpqua Bank’s consolidation plans do NOT include any Humboldt County banks, a spokesperson for the Bank confirmed. As we reported recently, several other California  branches of Umpqua are looking at closure, so this is a vote of confidence in the Humboldt economy. At least I’d like to see it that way.

Ms. Laura Beshire also corrected my error in naming Utah as a state in which Umpqua does business- should have said Idaho. Much thanks to her.

Now everybody clean up your Fourth of July debris and get back to work. Wish we had more holidays during the good weather.

Umpqua- the Not-So-Little Bank that Could

I tend to think of Umpqua as a small, local bank but it’s not.  Since the early 90’s it has grown from six branches to 364,  including those that were acquired from Sterling Bank in April of this year. They have 5000 employees in branches in Washington, Oregon, California , Nevada and Utah and are looking to open more, while consolidating for efficiency.

How do they distinguish themselves from all the other banks and credit unions seeking your money? By a folksy approach that includes including displays of local products in its branches, and handing out chocolates with each cash withdrawal. Each Umpqua branch has a telephone direct to Ray Davis, the president,  whose approach to growing the bank has been to build a $22B bank while still operating small.

Umpqua has four branches in Humboldt now but has announced that 27 branches will be closed before the end of the year- 13 in Washington and seven each in Oregon and California. No specifics available yet, but Umpqua has attracted the attention of no less a news source than the Economist. That’s bigtime.  

I usually deal with credit unions, with the exception of my mortgage with NVB, so I have no experience as an Umpqua customer. Do you deal with them?  What have been your experiences?  We’d love to hear from you.