Archive for September, 2010

Bernie Marcus unloads on Obama administration in CNBC interview

Bernie Marcus did not have any kind words for the Obama administration’s policies during a CNBC interview today.

Here’s part of CNBC’s story of the interview:

In a scathing criticism of the Obama administration, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus told CNBC Friday that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner should have a reality-TV show about small business to illustrate how out of touch Democrats’ policies are with the private sector.

“My solution is that you take a guy like Timothy Geithner and put him in a new reality show. It’s called ‘Timothy Geithner Does Small Business’, something like [the porn movie] ‘Debbie Does Dallas’, and it ends up the same way,” said Marcus. ”Basically, what they’re doing to small business is very similar in this case [to what ‘Debbie’ did to Dallas.]”

To play out his story, Marcus said Geithner would have to deal with the state, federal and local regulations that he contends stymie business, and then the public official may understand the …

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Power Breakfast: Big sign of banking change, Deal’s finances, Ga. 400 toll, Sea Island, small business credit

It’s a sign of the times.

One of the most visible signs in Atlanta banking will be changed this Saturday at Atlantic Station, AJC staffer Rachel Tobin reports.

The block letters Wachovia Corp. had installed at the top of their office building at 171 17th Street — highly visible to commuters that use the downtown connector where Interstates 75 and 85 meet –  will be removed Saturday, Tobin writes.

A large construction helicopter will start removing the sign from the 22-story building at 6:30 a.m., the bank said.

The sign will be replaced in October by the red and gold signature of Wells Fargo & Co. The new sign, said bank spokesman Jay Lawrence, will be the largest on any Wells Fargo building in the country, Tobin reports.

Wachovia was bought by Wells Fargo in 2009.

Also in the AJC:

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Ga. 400 toll extension: Broken promise or understandable?

The public often worries that so-called “sunsets” on increased taxes, fees and tolls just don’t happen. The sun never sets.

Well, when it comes to Ga. 400, the skeptics may be right.

The 50-cent toll on Ga. 400 is set to expire next summer after the road finishes paying for itself. But the toll may be extended for years to fund improvements along the highway, AJC staffer Ariel Hart is reporting.

The state is also considering an increase in the toll to $1 for those who pay cash — to encourage drivers to sign up for a Cruise Card, Hart writes.

The authority could come to a decision on the tolls as early as next Friday.

What do you think? Another broken promise? Par for the course?

Or is the extension understandable, given our transportation and fiscal needs?

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Is new Georgia job-training program a good idea or exploitation?

Good idea or bad?

The Georgia Department of Labor is expanding its Georgia Works training program to include people who are not receiving unemployment insurance.

Up to now, the program has allowed those getting unemployment benefits to receive six weeks of on-the-job training from a participating employer.

The employer gets to train and size up the worker — but does not pay him or her. The worker gets training and a foot in the door, while receiving unemployment benefits, plus a stipend of up to $100 a week to offset expenses, such as child care and transportation.

The hope is that the worker is hired after the training. Sixty-three percent have, the labor department said.

Starting Monday, the program will allow those NOT collecting benefits — about half of the unemployed in this state — to participate in Georgia Works.

They will be able to get trained by a participating employer for up to six weeks. But they will not receive any pay or unemployment benefits averaging $263 a …

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Power Breakfast: DOT cost overruns, GA unemployment rises, UPS, Home Depot, SunTrust, Post, oil drilling

The cash-strapped state Department of Transportation must set aside $75 million this year to pay for cost overruns on projects it rushed to bid during the flush years of the construction boom, AJC staffer Ariel Hart reports.

At the time it approved the projects, the DOT was under pressure to implement Gov. Sonny Perdue’s Fast Forward program, which tried to squeeze 18 years of transportation projects into six years.

“During that program we [bid out] some projects we shouldn’t have,” said Gerald Ross, DOT’s deputy commissioner and chief engineer. “They weren’t ready . . . You pay the price in [change orders].”

The state’s transportation planning director, Todd Long, who worked at DOT then and was appointed by the governor to his current post, said there was pressure to move fast.

Also in the AJC:

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Georgia unemployment rises to 10 percent in August

Georgia’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 10 percent in August, from 9.9 percent in July, primarily because of layoffs in retail and construction, the state labor department reported Thursday.

“Georgia’s job market remains stagnant,” state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement. “Many employers are reluctant to hire because of the costs and risks associated with bringing on new employees.”

The jobless rate was also 10 percent in August 2009, the labor department said. This is the 35th consecutive month that Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 9.6 percent.

Although the jobless rate rose, the number of payroll jobs increased five-tenths of a percentage point to 3,820,300 in August, the labor department said. But, the number of jobs remains seven-tenths of a percentage point less than in August 2009.

A total of 70,264 laid-off workers filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in August — an increase of 3.2 …

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Do you work when you’re sick?

More than half of doctors in training said in a survey that they’d shown up sick to work, Associated Press is reporting.

Nearly one-third of junior doctors said they’d done it more than once.

Misplaced dedication and fear of letting other doctors down are among reasons the researchers cited as possible explanations, AP reports.

Do you work when you’re sick? Why?

Does the high unemployment rate and fear of losing your job influence your decision?

Or do you work so you can save your sick days for some other reason — a mental health day or to go somewhere?

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Have you had trouble refinancing your home?

Have you had a tough time refinancing your home because the value has fallen so much?

Record-low mortgage rates have turned out to be a tantalizing mirage for some homeowners seeking to refinance because low appraisals made it impossible to close the deal, AJC staffer Michelle Shaw reports.

Some other homeowners have had to use a federal program to pull off a refinancing or face a gauntlet of tighter requirements used by traditional lenders, Shaw writes.

What has your experience been? Have you been able to take advantage of these low rates?

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Power Breakfast: New Hartsfield chief says he’s fearless, Deal’s financial problems, refinancing homes, Delta, MARTA

It’s nice to know that the new airport chief is fearless.

“Nothing scares me,” Lewis Miller told AJC reporter Ernie Suggs in a wide-ranging interview. “What would worry me is if we have enough room to expand the capacity and handle the level of growth that is going to come forward.

“The big issue is to significantly increase international freight. That is a very important issue, but you have to make sure you don’t sacrifice anything else in the growth potential.”

Miller, 62, also told Suggs that he sees potential for bringing new competition to the market — perhaps including Texas-based discounter Southwest Airlines.

He also plans to focus immediately on the new international terminal project, which needs a successful sale of construction bonds this fall to stay on track, Suggs writes.

Also in the AJC:

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Top companies for working moms: Children’s Healthcare, Turner and WellStar

Three Georgia firms made the “Working Mother 100 Best Companies” list for 2010: Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Turner Broadcasting and WellStar Health System, which made the top 10.

Here’s why Working Mother says it picked them:

Children’s Healthcare

Moms are deeply appreciated by this pediatric health-care system, which annually names one female employee Working Mother of the Year and rewards her with a paid day off, a spa trip and Atlanta activity passes.

When they’re in a real bind, parents can access backup child care at area facilities and even request an in-home visit by a caregiver (average costs: $16 and $32 per day, respectively). All employees have access to a database of prescreened babysitters.

Lactation rooms, gift certificates for free meal preparation and three subsidized day-care centers a stone’s throw from work are a big help, as is a $10,000 benefit for adoption and infertility treatments.

Turner Broadcasting

In times of challenge and crisis, moms at this …

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