Archive for February, 2010

Power Breakfast: Bank directors sued, Hartsfield, foreclosures, Philips, Fed rate hike, Tiger

First come the bank failures. Now come the lawsuits.

A group of shareholders who invested in failed Alpha Bank of Alpharetta has filed a lawsuit against the bank’s former board of directors, AJC reporter Paul Donsky writes. The suit alleges the directors failed to disclose important information about the bank’s financial condition as it hurtled toward closure in late 2008.

It’s one of the first director lawsuits to be filed in what experts predict will be a wave of similar legal actions as investors seek to recoup losses suffered during the state’s banking meltdown, Donsky reports. Most bank board members carry liability insurance, but policies have a deductible and total coverage at many small banks is often not that high.

Alpha was the second Georgia bank to fail during the current cycle, shut down by regulators in October 2008 after less than three years in business. At the time, more than a quarter of the bank’s loans were considered troubled, mostly tied to real estate …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Bank directors sued, Hartsfield, foreclosures, Philips, Fed rate hike, Tiger »

Do you plan to appeal your property taxes?

Word comes today that you’re probably paying too much on your property taxes.

AJC reporter Michelle Shaw says a new report concludes that property owners in the five core metro Atlanta counties overpaid their property taxes by an average of $244 in 2009.

Homeowners who live in areas hard hit by foreclosures overpaid by even more, says an analysis commissioned by the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership.

Are you planning to appeal? Have you done so in the past? What happened?

Should local governments bite the bullet and beef up their staffs and budgets to get a better handle on this? Or is it something we can’t afford in this economy?

If property values are lowered, officials can raise millage rates to make up the difference. What do you think of that option versus service cuts?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Do you plan to appeal your property taxes? »

Power Breakfast: Homeowners overpaying on property taxes, DeKalb deficit, Kia, CCE, TSA, pension gap

If you’re a homeowner in metro Atlanta, you’re likely to be paying too much on your property taxes.

A report to be released today concludes that property owners in the five core metro counties overpaid their property taxes by an average of $244 in 2009, AJC staffer Michelle Shaw reports.

What’s more, people who live in areas hard hit by foreclosures overpaid by even more, says an analysis commissioned by the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Shaw writes.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in December reported that tens of thousands of homes across metro Atlanta were overvalued last year by county tax assessors, who didn’t adjust values sufficiently after the historic real estate collapse. Homeowners, the newspaper reported, were being taxed on values their property no longer held.

The report today tends to confirm the AJC’s findings and also, for the first time, calculates an average overpayment.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Homeowners overpaying on property taxes, DeKalb deficit, Kia, CCE, TSA, pension gap »

Hands up, fliers

It’s not exactly a strip search, but if you’re going to fly, get ready to have another part of your body scrutinized.

The Transportation Security Administration will begin randomly swabbing passengers’ hands at airport checkpoints to test them for traces of explosives, CNN reported Wednesday.

The TSA has been swabbing some passengers’ hands since the Christmas Day attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 and will expand the program in the next few weeks, CNN reported.

“The point is to make sure that the air environment is a safe environment,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told CNN.

What do you think of this? Will it discourage you more from flying? How far is too far? Or is it just a sign of the times that you’re willing to adjust to?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Poll: Parents tell their kids about the recession

Kids are being told about the Great Recession.

Seven out of ten parents with children between the ages of 6 and 16 said their kids know we’ve been in a recession, according to a just released survey by American Express.

“This number suggests that talks about the current economic environment are happening at kitchen tables across the country,” said a news release about the poll’s results.

Despite the tough environment, allowances remain common, the survey of 506 U.S. households found.

Sixty-two percent of parents give their kids an allowance, the release said. The average was $12 per week.

Reasons for giving an allowance vary, according to the survey:

– Almost half of the parents who give one expect the money to be spent, not saved.

– Almost a third of the parents said the main reason for giving an allowance is to reward the child for good grades or household chores.

What happens in your family?

Have you discussed this recession? Why or why not?

What do you do about allowances? …

Continue reading Poll: Parents tell their kids about the recession »

Power Breakfast: Companies missing at job fairs, Toyota, Simons bid for rival, strip clubs, Aaron’s, Delta

It’s not only jobs that are MIA in this economy. So are companies attending job fairs.

That means firms that run the events also are struggling in another twist on the recession, reports AJC staffer Michael Kanell. They know they will be swamped by the unemployed and must hustle to find hiring companies, sometimes in vain.

“Over the last year and a half, it’s been the roughest I’ve ever seen in my industry,” said Jim Carter, owner of Kennesaw-based Diversity Hiring Expos, which runs career fairs around the Southeast. “The last six months have been pretty brutal.”

Like most companies that run job fairs, Diversity Hiring’s success depends on finding businesses that want to fill positions and will rent space where they can quickly meet hundreds of candidates, Kanell reports.

Three years ago, a Diversity Hiring job fair would typically include up to 40 companies. Now, employer turnout can be half that, Kanell writes.

Carter has seen companies delay payment and even bounce …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Companies missing at job fairs, Toyota, Simons bid for rival, strip clubs, Aaron’s, Delta »

Mother Nature Network has new ad strategy for the Web

It’s often the risk taker in business who provides at least part of the answer to a perplexing problem.

Joel Babbit

Joel Babbit

So I wanted to see if Joel Babbit, a local ad exec known for his chutzpah, was on the right track with his latest venture.

Could Babbit, in launching an environmental Web site, Mother Nature Network, have developed a business model that works? That would be in sharp contrast to many revenue-challenged news sites.

In a move that will be widely watched by media companies around the world, The New York Times recently announced it will start charging for Web usage next year through a metered system, after an unspecified number of free hits.

But sometimes, the smaller, local business operator may have a better answer. In this case, Babbit, who operates mnn.com out of the 191 Peachtree building downtown, does not think charging readers for content will work.

Instead, the 56-year-old adman is making money by charging advertisers in a different way. Babbit has …

Continue reading Mother Nature Network has new ad strategy for the Web »

Power Breakfast: Nuke loan guarantees for Ga. plant, GM Doraville, DOT, Toyota, Microsoft

President Barack Obama is expected to announce today that the government will guarantee more than $8 billion in loans needed to build the first U.S. nuclear power plant in nearly three decades — to be located in Georgia, Associated Press is reporting.

Obama is expected to announce a total of $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees to build and operate a pair of reactors to be built in Burke by Southern Co., an administration official said Monday, AP reported.

Federal loan guarantees are seen as essential to spurring construction of new reactors because of the huge expense. Critics say the guarantees are a form of subsidy that will put taxpayers at risk given the industry’s record of cost overruns and loan defaults.

The reactors, to be built by the Atlanta-based energy company, are part of a White House plan the administration hopes will win Republican support at a time when the public is expressing a desire for lawmakers to work together to solve problems, AP wrote.

Also in …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Nuke loan guarantees for Ga. plant, GM Doraville, DOT, Toyota, Microsoft »

Are you expecting a pay raise?

When was the last time you’ve had a raise?

After many workers have gone without a salary increase for two years, some may see a little more money in their paychecks this year, AJC staffer Tammy Joyner writes.

The emphasis should be on the word little.

Joyner writes that the amount of money companies have budgeted for potential pay increases this year is the lowest in 25 years, according to The Conference Board, a global business and research nonprofit in New York.

The board’s latest survey on pay raises shows that salary increases budgeted by U.S. companies this year will be below 3 percent for the first time in more than two decades.

What’s happening at your company?

Are layoffs and other cost-cutting measures still preventing a wage increase? Or is the recession thawing enough for a raise this year?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Are you expecting a pay raise? »

Power Breakfast: Greenbriar Mall averts foreclosure, flight cancelations, GE, pensions, pay raises

There’s good news on the retail front today.

AJC staffer Rachel Tobin Ramos is reporting that Greenbriar Mall in southwest Atlanta has avoided foreclosure.

New foreign investors plan to invest significant capital in the aging shopping center and the movie theater reopens this month, Ramos writes.

The news comes after months of setbacks, including a smash-and-grab robbery in December, closure of the AMC-owned Magic Johnson 12-plex in October and foreclosure notices filed over the last several months.

“We’re pleased by this outcome and we are excited that Greenbriar Mall will be able to continue to serve its community,” said mall co-owner Charlie Hendon with Hendon Properties.

Revolution Cinemas will reopen the former AMC Theater, and Super Beauty Depot will open in the former Circuit City building, Ramos reports. Both tenants are scheduled to open this month, Hendon said.

A foreign investor retired the bank loan on the mall and removed any potential for foreclosure, Hendon …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Greenbriar Mall averts foreclosure, flight cancelations, GE, pensions, pay raises »