How Panera Bread got exempted from $20 an hour wages

Ah, the People’s Democratic Republic of California was exposed again last night. You may remember a blog done here a few months ago about the $20 an hour minimum wage for fast food workers? You may also recall how we thought it was odd Panera Bread was excluded since “they bake bread on site that can be sold for sale?” Yep, the truth came out last night.

Bloomberg reported that the exemption is the result of the governor’s relationship with billionaire and Panera franchisee Greg Flynn, who was initially a major opponent of the bill. Multiple sources told KCRA 3 that the governor pushed for the exemption in the late stages of the bill’s negotiation in 2022 with Flynn’s influence.

Yes, fellow sheep living in this Republic, Flynn is a billionaire who owns quite a few Panera Bread stores in California. Flynn was able to get his way, and it didn’t really cost him that much….

According to state campaign finance data, Flynn donated $100,000 to Newsom’s campaign against the 2021 recall and $64,800 to his reelection campaign in 2022. He told Bloomberg he did not play a role in crafting the exemption. He did not respond to KCRA 3’s request for comment Wednesday night.

Report: California’s fast food law exempts Panera because of Gov. Newsom’s relationship with billionaire franchisee

I can understand why he wasn’t answering his calls that night.

At least the loyal opposition weighed in on the issue….

The California Assembly’s Republican Minority Leader James Gallagher called for an investigation Wednesday night. “Can any franchisee get an exemption from the $20 minimum wage law or do they need to donate more than $150k to Newsom first? This crooked deal needs to be investigated,” Gallagher said.

I wonder what will take longer folks, Troll getting Hope Hick’s phone number, or Gavin addressing this “leader” of a few folks in the opposition party. There will be no investigation, trust me on this one. Gavin will go on TV and try to explain this away, and his friends in the state-run media will talk it into existence…just wait.

Oh wait….

“This legislation was the result of countless hours of negotiations with dozens of stakeholders over two years,” said Newsom’s office spokesman Alex Stack in a statement on Wednesday. “Staff in the Governor’s Office met with dozens of business owners as well as union representatives, as is expected when policies of this consequence are moving through the Legislature.”

Alex Stack is this jabronis name? What an adorable last name…. Stack. Would be even funnier if he had a Ph.D. However, I wouldn’t refer to it as a doctorate, I would refer to it as…Piling it High and Deep.

The article also quoted this nugget from the two “leaders” of the Democrat Party in the Capital.

KCRA 3 reached out to the offices of Speaker of the Assembly Robert Rivas and Senate Pro Tem Mike McGuire for comment on Wednesday night. Neither responded.

The understanding I have is Rivas needs his staff to make up que cards on sturdy card stock, and McGuire was looking over blueprints for the “non-binary” bathrooms being constructed in the Capital renovation. Both have an acute fear of being “spayed and neutered” by Newsom and his staff I have been told.

Again, this goes back to when Newsom signed this trash into law…but no one asked the tough questions then, and they still aren’t now.

When Newsom finally signed the agreement into law in 2023 at a news conference in Los Angeles, KCRA 3 asked why the exemption was there in the first place and why Panera and other bakery counter service restaurant workers won’t have the same protections.

“That’s a part of the sausage making,” Newsom replied. “We went back and forth, and that was part of the negotiation, that’s the nature of negotiation. It’s not just Jack in the Box, it’s not just McDonald’s, there are a lot of different players, and this affects a lot of different franchises and different models as it relates to that and different conditions and environments. That was all part of the give and take and that was the collective wisdom of the Legislature and ultimately led to my signature.”

Final thoughts:

Folks if you live outside California and are wondering why there is no outrage, the reason is 90% of the voters here are low information voter types. They like being told what to do, and how to think. Google Gavin Newsom and Plump Jack Winery, or Gavin Newsom and French Laundry Restaurant. This fool lived the way he wanted too while destroying the lives of his own citizens during Covid. A governor in any reasonable thinking state would have been recalled…. but the sheep love this guy. I actually saw a vehicle this AM on my way to work, no one in the vehicle except the driver, driver was wearing a mask. She had a bumper sticker on her car saying something to the effect of “Thanks for keeping us safe from Covid Gavin!” Yep. The plandemic is long over yet these folks still are masked up. You even see folks walking in the public parks wearing masks…. again with no one around them! These are far more common than uncommon. The socially awkward introvert I know still refuses to touch the door know with his hands…. while still going to a casino. He claims to be a card-carrying conservative…. yep.

This is why the national media is pushing Gavin to replace Joe. Gavin has a very large personality disorder; he is a complete narcissist. He will quite literally lie through his teeth about any issue and have his state-run media friends speak it into reality. When he messes up it’s a mistake…likely by someone else…at French Laundry restaurant he blamed a staffer for leaking the photos. The deficit? Well, it’s not nearly as bad. Go watch the Newsom vs DeSantis debate…. Gavin literally lied the entire time, but he has said it so many times he believes it to be the truth.

The Chief

The bottom line, these political types are always looking after their donors. Get ready for your Big Mac, fries, and coke to run about $22.99. Good thing you can go to Panera and get a meal cheaper…because politics.

Oh, one last line from Gavin’s donor buddy about the state of his business…

“Our margins, our profits have gone down from 9% to 3.5%,” Flynn told KCRA 3 in an interview in 2022. “We’re barely hanging on. And when I think about the creation of a state council that is designed specifically to add more costs, I don’t know if we can make it.”

Yup, he can’t make money at $20 an hour for staff…but I guess other fast-food places can? I thought Democrats were the ones who took care of poor people? Fast food is likely the only choice for most of that demographic….I doubt this will be helping them much.

Barbara Lee: $50 an hour minimum wage

Barbara Lee, a current congressman from the New Orleans part of California (Oakland), is running for U.S. Senate. Barbara Lee is someone I do have a slight amount of respect for as she was the only member to vote against using force to invade Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. That is where my respect for her stops.

Lee is a total kook and is always good for a few completely wild ideas. Her latest is $50 an hour minimum wage. To her defense, she did cite most parts of California, specifically the Bay Area, is not considered affordable unless the combined household income is about $150k a year. She is not wrong, due to the tech companies that were hiring there, it did make that area drastically unaffordable. Increasing the minimum wage however will not change this, as resulting prices go up in proportion to the wage increase. Recently McDonalds went viral because a burger, fries and coke resulted in a $18 ticket for lunch! A radio show I listen to in the AM stated hash browns at McDonalds are running $3…. for a stupid potato cake patty! Trust me, at $50 an hour that meal will run about $32, and hash brown will run about $7. Things do not get cheaper when wages go up, the business just makes a choice; reduce quality, reduce employees, or raise prices. There is a limit to how much money can be saved, and a limit to how much labor can be eliminated, price is the hardest, at what point does fast food (a cheap, quick meal) become unaffordable and not worth it anymore? I guess minimum wage starter jobs are no longer starter jobs, they are a career in the eyes of the political elite. This doesn’t fix any problem.

Alright Troll, get her!!!!!

Her qualifications for Senator are as follows: She attended Mills College; an all-girls college and has a degree from University of California Berkeley. The latter degree makes her always the smartest person to enter any room. Berkeley is held in the highest regard by people who protest things, live in trees, shut down freeways, burn buildings, riot, and support crime. Lee was also involved in the New Black Panther Party making her a solid choice and dually qualified for any political office in California! Like most running for office, they always tout their experience. Lee has served as a State Assemblyman from 1990-1996, and then moved to State Senate from 1996-1998. She ran to replace Ron Dellums, the congressman who was retiring to become Mayor of Oakland. Anyone who wants to be Mayor of Oakland needs to agree to donate their brain to science upon their death if not before, but I digress. Lee has proudly served the most dangerous part of California ever since 1998 and somehow it has gotten worse. This is literally a situation where the bar keeps getting set lower and lower to the point that I think the bar is buried underground yet still Oakland exceeds expectations! Career politicians are the worst type of people, and Lee could have been congressman from Oakland forever!

I look forward to Lee playing the race card when two white males, Adam Schiff and Steve Garvey make the top 2 run off. Thanks for playing Barbara. One does wonder how many extra votes Lee could have gotten if Oakland didn’t do their nightly purge of voters on a daily basis (murders). Lee will be finding out a valuable lesson, the dead do vote Democrat but only for the establishment types like Schiff.

Also, as a side note, In N Out Burger, who has never closed a location, will be closing their Oakland store due to heavy crime in the parking lot. Citing the safety of their customers and associates as the reason… damn Barbara, those $50 an hour jobs do no good when the store closes down!

Liberalism is a brain disease, and folks like Lee are the worst cases of it. There were a bunch of bumper stickers on cars when I was in college depicting “Barbara Lee Speaks for Me!” in regard to her politics. Let me wonder aloud, if your minimum wage job gets eliminated, does Barbara still speak for you? If California is too expensive you can always do what several hundred thousand have done recently and move! Or get a budget and cook at home? Who am I kidding? Credit card debt is at an all-time high. Wanna bet Lee will ask Biden to forgive credit card debt just like they did for student loans?

Chief & Troll

Here are photos of confirmed hottie and Troll favorite Carli Lloyd

Commercial Real Estate Will Sink Biden’s “Economy”

The jobs “report” was great Friday….it really was.  We added 345,000 or so “jobs.”  Why am I using air quotes you may ask?  Well in the recent few weeks we have had layoffs from Meta (formerly Facebook), UPS, Microsoft, and Macy’s to name a few.  My understanding is Alphabet aka Google is laying off folks too.  The jobs at all of these are from management positions, not from closing stores or low-level employees.  My point here is the jobs I see opening are in the fast food, gas station, retail, and government work.  These are jobs at the very low end of the wage scale, even after factoring in California’s $20 an hour wage.  If the economy was so healthy, why have we so many homeless in these parts?  Why do they come here?

The truth is the economy is not well.  But the danger is not lurking where you think it is.  The danger is in commercial real estate and some sectors of the banking industry.  Follow along I’ll tell you.

Commercial buildings and the loans they have are the problem.  They differ from your mortgage in a few ways.  On your mortgage, you pay principle and interest every month. (I’m leaving out insurance and taxes to prove my point since they are not relevant here).  So, your outstanding balance goes down, the principle each month, maybe not by much but you are paying it off.  On commercial loans you pay interest only…yup kind of like the financial crisis circa 2008 on home loans.  You may ask what do they do when the loan comes due in 20, 30 years?  Well, they simply “recast it.” That’s a finance term for re-financing and maybe pulling out the additional equity (remember folks, real estate only goes up LOL) and buying your next shopping center. 

Truth be told, if the shopping center is about 80% capacity, the loan payments can be made each month without much issue.  Sure, you may have a pizza place, burger place, clothing store, etc. go under but they are usually easy to re-constitute the property to suit the new tenant.  The problem that arises is when the anchor tenant closes up shop.  I will use the example of a shopping center located near my office; one this blog is familiar with.  The anchor tenant is a Target store. There used to be a OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) but it closed and was rebuilt into a Ross, Ulta!, and something else.  When that happened, the food stores located near the OSH had about 3 turn overs into something else.  No real loss because Target is the store that drives business in that center.  There used to be a Save Mart grocer, it turned into a wine store, a baby store, and a surplus type store.  A couple of those have since changed over but again, the center is pretty much full.  The issue is what happens if the Target leaves?  No chance you say.  But what if it did?  The car traffic would decrease by at least 50%.  Other food stores would close.  The boutique shops would re-locate. It will be hard to sell burgers at Smash Burger when the parking lot is empty.  The mall would be a ghost town.

If you think this scenario is a fantasy land, tin foil hat idea, check this out. 

Hilton Union Square San Francisco

Park Hotels own(ed) two very upscale hotels in San Francisco. In May, they decided to stop paying the loans and give the keys back to the lender.  Yup they walked away.  The hotels were not Motel 6 where Troll has told me you can pay by the minute or some “extended stay bull shoot” they were the Pac 55 and the Hilton Union Square.  Think tourist areas.  Combined, both hotels had about a 3,000 room capacity.  These are very nice hotels, rooms are about $250 a night at a minimum.  The parent company walked away.  These were two crown jewel hotels.  Now the lender is stuck because a hotel is not easily convertible into something else.  San Francisco will likely house their illegals or criminals there since it makes sense to make them comfortable on the taxpayer’s dime.  But I digress.

Pac 55 Hotel San Francisco

For Park Hotels, there is not much repercussion for them. They get out of a couple of underwater loans but have to give up the revenue (loss) each month of these properties.  The ones holding the bag are the banks.  You may ask why you should feel bad for a bank? They got a property, banked the interest all these years, and now they can sell it.  The reason is banks do not use a mark to market accounting rule, they value the asset based on the appraisal from when the loan was issued/refinanced.  That could be from a decade or so ago.  A good example would be the Aon Center Tower in LA.  In 2014 it was bought for 269 million, for a 1.1 million square foot building on Wilshire Blvd, an icon in LA.  In 2023, it sold for 148 million.  Over 100 million evaporated in 10 years.  Sad!  In these cases, the bank has to write off the loss on its balance sheet. 

Just this past week, New York Community Bank, a highly respected conservative bank as far as lending goes, took a major loss and had a massive write off of bad commercial loans, such as the above.  While you may not recognize the name, the regional banks will be the ones to suffer from this crisis.  The reason being, regional banks have to take more risk, their larger peers, think Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, etc., have large credit card portfolios, deposit accounts, and home lending to fall back on.  The regional banks must take on risk, this comes with commercial loans which were typically very lucrative.  New York Community bank is not the first and will not be the last.  A tip to watch is this; when a bank fails, watch the price movement of Bitcoin, we do not endorse that here, but the price will shoot up as a hedge against the dollar/bank failures.

A word of advice “when you have a short-term loan (car loan) you are at the mercy of the bank, loan could be refused to be refinanced/underwater etc. If you have a large long-term loan (mortgage, commercial) the bank is at your mercy.” 

Good luck

The Chief

China Could Invade Taiwan….

The sounds of saber rattling you hear in the China-Taiwan part of the world is in my opinion frustration with Russia. You see, Taiwanese people are happy with the current arrangement. They are essentially an autonomous zone off the coast of China. China on the other hand views Taiwan as a breakaway province that is part of China, not separate. Xi Xinping, the leader of China, has been ratcheting up the rhetoric lately and has been using his military to scare the Taiwanese people.

What I do not understand is this. What does China really want here? Taiwan is only really known for semi-conductors, think the chip in your computer, car, etc. While this is a large booming sector of the world economy, couldn’t China just copy the IP and mass produce on the cheap? They do this with literally everything else. The US will never support that you say? Every CEO in America is looking to cut costs by even $.01 to meet or beat quarterly numbers. Trust me, China would be inundated with orders for their semi-conductors. Sure, our military will still order from Taiwan but let’s be honest, we have a hell of a lot more computers and cars than we do military items.

A military conflict seems increasingly likely, but is it necessary? The US has stated we will defend Taiwan. I would assume South Korea, Japan and the Philippines may get involved too. But is it necessary? Taiwanese people are likely ready to fight to the death, it sounds like they have the island fortified the best they can. (Far better than Ukraine ever was). They seem to have advanced military capabilities, (again better than Ukraine) as they have always figured a day will come when China will swallow them up.

If I am Taiwan, I have a plan set up, so the second Chinese war planes approach I evacuate all the engineers, scientists etc. to a safe haven. I make sure all IP, files, etc. are evacuated or destroyed as well. These are what I feel China really wants. I do not think they really want the land. I would also make sure any buildings or other structures were rigged to blow upon China encroaching. My opinion? Take the land, but it will be proven useless over time.

In my opinion, China is very angry at Russia behind the scenes. The war in Ukraine has dragged on, now it appears likely to have a long stalemate. This is not the way the plans were drawn up. The plan was to occupy the US and its allies, and while Russia marches on toward NATO borders China would take Taiwan. It didn’t happen. China is now having to assist Russia much like we are assisting Ukraine. We are now re-positioning ships and other war machines in the Pacific as a counter to China, exactly what they do not want. China is now watching Russia go to North Korea and Iran to re-stock their military and it’s been uncovered that Russia’s military is ripe with corruption.

In summation, I believe China does take Taiwan. I think the US and others essentially secure a “peace agreement by bending the knee to Xi.” It’ll be a classic US split the baby in half and hope both sides are ok with it. With the goings on in the middle East, Russia-Ukraine, and the usual unrest in Africa, I do not think the American people have the stomach for another conflict. I do not think many bullets will be fired, but as a warning to China, do not underestimate a populace who does not want to be occupied/governed by an adversary. The US never learned its lesson in the Middle East, and we lost many a service member/contractor to needless occupations. I also believe China has a very corrupt military as well. They may not be as powerful with weapons as we think. They do, however, have a large supply of bodies. The supply of bodies, also like Russia, contains hundreds of thousands if not millions of “expendable” bodies. Think slave labor types, political prisoners, ethnic minorities, opposition forces, rural areas, and you know North Korea will supply ample bodies as well. My point being China’s folks in the mainland may not even know a war is going on.

The Chief

Yet Another Reason We Can’t Win Against China

Does anybody really think that we can or will stand up to China if it comes to a military conflict?

I think it’s clear that we will rollover and let them take Taiwan. Do we even have the will to fire a shot?

OK, let me restate the last. Do we even have the ammo to shoot at them?

Frankly its clear that we lack the independence of a military supply chain that is not dependent upon China. Liberals in this country say they are more afraid of people like me than a country that has its nuclear arsenal pointed at them. WTF?

If, like me, you think we have been caught with our military pants down while in the outhouse then these next articles will frighten you even more. It proves that Obama and Biden have sold us out. OK, no surprise there.

The U.S. began resuscitating major World War II-era military sites in the Pacific in 2023 amid a sweeping pivot toward preparation for a potential China conflict.

Earlier in December, a U.S. Air Force general said the U.S. has made “significant progress” toward reclaiming the Tinian North airfield on the Marianas island chain from which the U.S. launched its strategic bombers against Japan during WWII, Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported. The plan, which has not been officially declared by the Department of Defense (DOD), reflects a trend of expanding and repositioning U.S. troops in the Pacific region as the Pentagon promises to deter China and, if necessary, confront threats to the U.S.

“If you pay attention in the next few months, you will see significant progress, especially at Tinian North,” Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of the Pacific Air Forces, told Nikkei.

The airfield “has extensive pavement underneath the overgrown jungle. We’ll be clearing that jungle out between now and summertime,” Wilsbach said, adding that the structure will be “extensive” once completed, but did not say when that would occur.

US Moved To Revive Major WWII-Era Military Bases In 2023 To Prepare For Face Off With China

Tinian lies 3,700 miles west of Hawaii and just 124 miles north of the U.S. territory of Guam.

In January [2023], the Marine Corps formally opened its first new base in 70 years, known as Camp Blaz, on Guam, which is roughly equidistant between Japan and Taiwan, CNN reported. Plans to establish the base originated during the Obama administration as a means of relocating Marines from the Japanese island of Okinawa, where their presence has stirred up local opposition.

Meanwhile the US Navy will be closing their only fuel depot in the Pacific.

The facility will be defueled and closed permanently, Kirby said. The fuel will be repositioned in “a few locations,” Kirby said.

US military to close fuel storage facility in Hawaii where water was contaminated by leak

In October 2023, the Pentagon revealed the Red Hill storage facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam suffered a leak that contaminated the water systems. It then began draining the 1940s-era facility, saying the fuel would be loaded by ship and transported to existing support sites. This process is expected to take several years.

In [Rep. Mike Gallagher, the Republican chair of the House Select Committee on China] letter, the Republican lawmaker cited a 2016 Defense Department determination that it would need 86 tankers for moving such equipment. He requested that Del Toro explain to the committee whether the department had enough forward fuel storage facilities and would have access to refinery capacity for operations in the Indo-Pacific.

Gallagher also asked the secretary whether the Navy had identified secure locations to build replacement facilities for Red Hill, and whether it had plans to integrate facilities of allies and partners in redistributing fuel.

GOP Rep warns US Navy plan to relocate fuel from Hawaii could jeopardize operations in the Indo-Pacific

We are also making arrangements to get fuel from Subic Bay in the Philippines, a base we closed under the first George Bush as part of the ethereal “Peace Divided”.

Just to refresh, the current size of the entire US Navy fleet is less than 200 ships. This is down from a peak of 600 ships under Ronald Reagan. In order to keep the current fleet adequately fueled, it will require 86 more ships due to closing Red Hill. Yet our masters in The Swamp say, “nothing to see here, we’ve got this under control.”

Those of you that insist on living on the Left Coast might want to brush up on your Mandarin skills. You’ll need them soon.

Sean Hannity Finally Flees NY

So, it finally happened.  New York City has been home for Sean Hannity for as long as I have listened to/followed him.  He helped me get through college and parts of the Obama administration.  I enjoyed hearing him on the radio. His show typically followed Rush Limbaugh (RIP).  He always had the same monologue as Rush, and similar guests that would appear.  Sean knows his talking points and like most I know in the GOP, he rehearses them well.  Sean, in my opinion, never spoke bad of his hometown.  He even bragged about owning a hybrid Chevy Tahoe and how happy he was.  Well that all changed this week.  Check out his monologue to start his show.

The Fox News host first made the announcement on his radio show Tuesday, noting that he was “broadcasting now from my new home in the free state of Florida.”

“If anybody is listening to this program for any length of time, been threatening now to do this for quite a while, but we are now beginning our first broadcast of my new home, and that is in the free state of Florida. I am out. I am done. I’m finished. New York, New York, goodbye. Florida, Florida, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. But it’s great to be here,” Hannity said.

Sean Hannity announces move from New York to ‘free state of Florida’

“And finally, for the first time that I can think of in my adult life, I actually have representatives in the state that I’m living in that share my values. I have a governor by the name of Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rick Scott. So I’m feeling a lot better about it,” Hannity said.

He added, “And I’m not going to go through the whys, the how comes, because it’s obvious this migration out of the blue states with high taxes, burdensome regulation, high crime, horrible school districts is real. And if anything, I’m probably late and behind the curve and many others have made the move beforehand.”

I must ask the question…. ”What changed Sean?”

New York as a whole and specifically New York City are not conservative. I would even argue not close to having Republican ideals, except maybe the very sparsely populated far north up-state parts.  It hasn’t been that way for my entire adult lifetime.  Liberal policies are not new here.  It has always been a far-left cesspool.  Maybe only second to the California Bay Area. 

I honestly never remember him threatening to leave New York. To me he always seemed happy and content there.  Keep in mind he was always Fox News number 1 or 2 biggest star on both radio and television.  His shows are a ratings bonanza so Fox would have definitely paid top money to keep him around.  Why would he stay in New York?  Again, I will mention he bought the hybrid Tahoe.  If it was so bad, I think he could afford to pack up and move anytime.  Again, he has a very highly rated national radio program, and a huge TV following. 

Regarding his last paragraph about a blue state exodus, this has been going on for years. Heck Limbaugh left New York over two decades before. My question is this, what states are really getting redder?  Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado have trended away from the GOP, not towards it.  (This is thanks in large part to California immigrants that think they are conservative but are not changing the demographics of these states.) My point is who is leaving these blue states?  His comments about crime are fine, but has Sean been made aware of Tallahassee and Miami?  Sure, the schools will be better than New York but who cares? Hannity’s children are adults. One has graduated college and the other will shortly. Has he studied the insurance crisis in Florida?  It is much the same as in California but due to hurricanes not wildfires. My point is, sometimes you trade one set of problems for another.  Burdensome regulation isn’t just in blue states.  Again, Sean does a good job staying on the talking points script of taxes, regulations, crime, bad schools, and freedom. 

His last comments about being late to the party sum up his entire existence in my opinion.  Sean strikes me as the type who infests the CA GOP and CRA.  They love to speak about how conservative they are, espouse conservative ideals, yet in every single election these folks pick the most liberal Republican candidate.  McCain, Romney, even the folks backing Jeb Bush, it’s crazy.  He was even worse on the Speaker of the House for the GOP over the years.  He loved John Boehner, Paul Ryan, and fawned all over Kevin McCarthy.  All three have something in common, they love regurgitating talking points just like Sean does.  I know no one who shares the views of any of those 3. None are conservative.  They all sum up the GOP in a way Sean loves, get elected, then re-elected, go on talk shows and tell folks how conservative you are, then after being re-elected again, tell us how we must work with the other side.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Folks like Sean Hannity love this playbook.

Hannity is in trouble because he is alone.  Rush Limbaugh died.  Fox ratings are way down.  McCarthy was ousted as Speaker, and it appears the GOP found a real conservative to replace him.  So, to stay relevant he moved to Florida. Oh, by the way, Hannity has owned the Florida house since 2018 and split from his wife in 2020. Seems this move is about more than crime and high taxes.

It’s sad to watch but Hannity is just a microcosm of the GOP’s branding issues.  This move reeks of desperation to stay in the news.  Maybe it took years of liberal GOP and leftist Democrats ruling the roost to get this to occur or perhaps all his bravado is a smokescreen for more personal reasons.

The Chief

Liberalism 101 Minimum Wage Hikes = Prosperity

The minimum wage for fast food workers in California will increase on April 1st, 2024.  Since most of the blog staff live out here, we witnessed the masses cheering this revelation on.  They will finally be able to get their own apartments, buy nicer things, and not have the massive credit card/overdraft debt.  While this sounded great, the joke was on the workers once again.  Yesterday the big news out of southern California was several major Pizza Hut chains fired all their delivery drivers.  Yup, every single driver at these franchised stores got a nice New Year’s gift.

Rather than pay delivery drivers $20 an hour — under a new California law set to go into effect in April 1, 2024 — Pizza Hut franchisees in Sacramento and elsewhere in the state are laying them all off.

The franchisees, one of which operates restaurants in the Sacramento area, are letting go more than 1,200 delivery drivers across the state, according to Business Insider, which reviewed a federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act document filed with the state Employment Development Department.

Pizza Huts in California, including Sacramento, laying off drivers rather than pay $20 minimum wage

So, are the stores going to be takeout only?  I don’t think so, pizza is synonymous with a delivery driver, so they will all likely be contracting through Uber Eats, Door Dash or Grub hub.  In all three cases they will not be fast food employees and as such not subject to the $20 an hour wage. 

This is the problem with liberal, hive mind, groupthink.  Let’s give everyone a raise and all will be well in the world, folks will not be in poverty.  It is going to have the opposite effect.  These workers laid off will be making a low wage, plus a possibility of a tip as a delivery driver for a third-party company.  They will be responsible for the wear and tear, insurance, and gas, while hoping for tips to balance it out.  More on this in a moment.

The prices will increase, so sticking with Pizza Hut; your $12 pizza will now be $17.  This makes you less likely to tip your delivery driver, who as pointed out above won’t be partaking in the increase in wages.  Sticking with this theme, do you think the franchisee will eat the increased costs?  No chance.  There will be a headcount reduction in workers as well.  What may take 4 to cover a dinner shift, will likely be reduced to three.  There will be increased ordering off an app or self-serve kiosk, as this will help reduce head count as well.  No one needing to work the till means a savings.

The price increases elsewhere will more than offset the increase in the minimum wage.  Folks a sandwich I got at Jersey Mikes today is listed on the menu board for $11.85, this is prior to any real minimum wage effect on the sub.  There will be increased costs at gas stations, grocery stores, and you better bet rent will be going up.  The rising tide doesn’t lift the boats, it just shows which ones are taking on water.

Some of the employees in the store will be flushed out of society.  It’s sad but inside you know it’s true as well.  At the local Burger King I visit when I make bad life decisions, like forgetting lunch at work, the majority of the employees appear to not give a rip.  No chance those folks are kept around making $20 an hour, along with the increased menu prices.  The consumer will demand more, and the franchisee will expect it.  Those in this group will be part of the unemployable class.  Same goes for folks who didn’t finish high school, you will be deemed not worth the cost of employability.  Looking to make some extra cash over the summer or winter during your school break?  Not going to happen, as the cost of onboarding and off boarding you will be too much.

The cold-hearted truth is these positions were created for high school and college aged kids, a resume builder for someone who didn’t want to go to college, criminals exiting the “system” and folks who may be a little on the spectrum.  Those people will now have no chance.  Wait and watch as this will raise wages at all other jobs too; the health club, the spa, the grocer, the gas station.  Again, the workers at the lowest level will be frozen out.

This is called Liberalism 101.  Do the thing that feels good, ignore any chance it could backfire and when it does, double and triple down hoping for a different outcome.

It’s a nice sentiment, but wow, they didn’t foresee the consequences.

The Chief

Benevolent King Gavin Newsom Raises Wage for Fast Food*

Loyal readers, the blog still maintains a co-headquarters here in the People’s Republic of California.  We are unsure of where Troll lays his head at night, but we know for a fact it is not near; Hope Hicks, Lolo Jones, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, or any other of his pop tarts or flavors of the month.  That being said, our benevolent King Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill giving fast food workers a raise to $20 an hour in April of next year.  You may be wondering about the asterisk (aka star) above in the title … well check out this dudelet buried in the bill he signed.

Workers at restaurants like Panera Bread won’t receive the wage increase because the new law doesn’t recognize places that operate “a bakery that produces for sale on the establishment’s premises bread,” as fast-food.

California law to increase minimum wage for fast-food workers won’t apply to everyone

“This exemption applies only where the establishment produces for sale bread as a stand-alone menu item and does not apply if the bread is available for sale solely as part of another menu item,” the law’s text said.

Hmm, kinda sounds like lobbyist picking winners and losers am I right?  Let’s hear what our benevolent king had to say about it.

Why the line was drawn at bread remains unclear.

“That’s part of the sausage-making,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a news conference when asked about the exemption, Insider reported

Gavin, to borrow a line from Troll, knows a lot about sausage as he represents an area famous for how they use them!

In all seriousness, this bill was opposed big time by lots of groups, mostly big business, but I think folks need to understand while fast food has seen a lot of consolidation, there are still a bunch owned by minorities who only own a couple shops.  If I have to pay $20 an hour, do I find a way to fire a couple of people?  You cannot really automate … yet.  How does this help people?  Landlords will just raise rent higher, prices of fast food will go up big time.  Anyone want to bet that next year in May a Big Mac, Fries, and Coke is about $22.50?  The dollar menu becomes the $5 menu?  Fast food is looked at by most as a convenience and cheap, not healthy.  Gavin is removing the cheap part.

Folks, fast food has its place. Employees working there also have their place.  To most it’s a starter job, make a little scratch during college breaks, get work experience, rise through the ranks and be a manger after 5 years.  Then you move on.  It’s a decent resume builder.  For others, it’s all they have, but that’s likely because of decisions they have made.  High school dropouts, criminal records, yeah you work their long term because you have too.  To all the people working at fast food, it is not a career.

Kinda weird they drew Panera Bread out of this law.  Really weird.  I would rather work at Panera than any fast food joint sans In-N-Out or Chick-fil-A.  I mean folks if you have children working, like a first job, they now will make more $$ at Burger King than Panera Bread.  Think about it.

Liberalism is a brain disease.  This moron Gavin thinks giving folks $20 an hour will magically fix poverty … it will not.  It just creates higher rent and other expenses for food.  It also expands a permanently unemployed class of folks.  Business will always find a way. No one is paying $25 for a burger, fries and a Coke. 

So, there you have it folks … get a career at Burger King and Have it Your Way.  Yikes.

The Chief

Credit Cards and Dave Ramsey Way

Credit cards, they are a polarizing thing.  Some will tell you never to obtain one, others will declare you need one, or you won’t be able to rent a car/house/apartment, buy a house or car, or what if some emergency comes up.  I will examine both ways in this blog. 

Personally I have 3 credit cards.  I use all 3 for different things, one is all my auto-payment bills (utilities, internet) one for work expenses (reimbursement), and another for literally emergency/pleasure use (think going out etc.)  I track all purchases when statements come in monthly.  I receive a paper bill each month… never auto pay with a credit card.  I do not open or use a card simply for earning “points” or “miles” as I think and believe both are a scam.  I cash in my “earnings” each year and do something with them, usually buying items off Amazon as that tends to be the best use.  I tried to use it for airfare, and quickly found out the price of a ticket in points was unreal compared to just booking as usual.  With my method I am able to track my expenses by category and find out exactly where I spend too much, and adjust as necessary.  I always pay the bill in full, and have never paid a fee or interest.  Don’t feel good for me as the credit card company still makes money off me, as the swipe and usage fees charged to the merchant on each swipe are not avoidable. 

I bought my house in large part due to my 820 credit score and got a lower interest rate to boot.  I was also able to lease a brand new Toyota Tacoma after my old vehicle finally kicked out again due to said credit score.  (I have since paid it in full, and owe nothing on it.)

This isn’t to say you should go get a credit card, many get by without, quite a few by choice, and you can still buy houses/cars and rent houses/cars without a credit card.  It’s just a longer, tougher, nerve wracking process.  The point of this blog isn’t to whack anyone without a card, it’s a choice, I live my way, you are free to live yours.

Now for the folks who need/needed or understand Dave Ramsey’s advice. 

Some do not need a credit card, nor should they own one.  Credit cards create a false euphoria when used, you simply swipe it, and are worry and carefree until the bill is due.  Even then they offer a convenient “minimum payment option” of a nominal amount say $40.  In addition each time you log into the website to view/pay bill you get a prompt saying sign up for paperless billing, quite literally every time, there is no way to opt out.  Mess up and click on the link, well good luck getting taken off paperless billing.  They bill it as a “green initiative….you are doing right by the environment.”  Give me a break; a paper statement of roughly 3 pages, and a mailed envelope?  That isn’t causing the ice caps to melt Al Gore.  These are corporations and while they make money each time you swipe the plastic they make even more when you opt out of a monthly paper statement.  But wait there is more…

You forgot to pay the bill this month…. just by a day darn it!  Well, you get hit with a late fee, your interest rate goes from probably 17% or so to about 38% which, oh by the way, they can do since that is the agreement you agreed to when you applied.  Of course, you didn’t read the fine print, you needed the card to earn miles or points.  Oh, they also report that missed payment to the 3 credit bureaus, watch what happens to the interest rate on your other cards, suddenly that 17% turns into about 30%  But that’s ok, you only missed one payment and you will make it up next month.

It not just fees and extra interest, it’s your entire buying pattern that changes.  Suddenly you find yourself going down each aisle at the grocery store, you only went there for 8 things, but your basket turned into a cart full, which turned a $25 total into about $175.  But you had to get 3 more bags of chips because they are on sale, and you earned “points.”  Ditto for those spices in the spice aisle that will migrate to the back of the pantry, but hey you earned a few points, and they were on sale… the cool red tag said so.  Now you are swiping so freely you lose track and forget how much you spent… hello, surprise bill.  You make the minimum payment but keep spending, you do so because, well you always get a bonus in December, so you will pay it off then.  You don’t get the bonus, or even if you do the interest compounds daily, and is on your bill monthly.  All of a sudden that 1-3% cash back doesn’t look so great on 19% interest charges now does it?

The last and most worrisome is deferred interest charges.  And yours truly almost got caught in this.  I had just bought a house, and my down payment took every dollar that was not in my retirement account.  I know cry me a river!  At my house I had no washer, dryer or fridge.  The dishwasher was quite literally on its last leg, and the oven/stove and microwave had been through a lot.  In fairness the family I bought it from had moved out 3 years prior and let their grandson live there rent free.  Everything else was fine, but I needed appliances, using my parent’s wasn’t going to cut it.  Enter Pacific Sales, conveniently located inside the local Best Buy.  They had a big sale going as it was a three day weekend, and to be fair I shopped around and for all seven appliances I needed it was the best deal by far.  The total came to about $3,500 I reckon, then after the installation and “other” parts required for said appliances we were at about $4,000.  Obviously I didn’t have the kind of coin, and right on cue they had a financing offer.  No interest for 1 year!  Just get the store branded credit card.  Even better I was told 3 months of no payments applies as well…. how great 1 year and 3 months of zero interest!  There’s a catch, I will get to it later.  2 months later, the tires needed to be replaced on my Explorer, about $1,100 worth.  Of course, they have you by the proverbial balls, since they can pull the “your car isn’t road worthy so we cannot let it leave card.”  Again, they pulled a great offer, 1 year no interest, and $200 off.  I didn’t want to do it, but hey… why not right? If you are keeping score at home, I now have 2 store cards, and about $4,800 in monies owed.  I was making minimum payments on the balances each month, $100 on the appliances, $50 in the tires… because…. Well, time value of money, right?  I was going to pay them off later, but had other things to worry about. 

Well at the bottom corner of the statement, there is/was a box, it stated deferred interest.  This box was the way the store makes money.  You see the store likely is losing on the deal offered up front, but they stand to gain a large amount from these deferred charges.  Luckily for me, in both cases I caught this before it became a problem at all.  To give you an idea, had I been a month late on the tires, the interest would have been $350, on top of the $900 I would have paid.  Had I had just paid in full that day, $1,100 would have been the damage, instead I would have paid about $1,250.  The appliances would have been far worse, deferred interest would have been about $1,500.  Again, look at the deal upfront, and the deal had I not paid in full in the “promo-time.”

Don’t believe me?  Check out these quotes from the earnings reports of Macy’s and Nordstrom

Macy’s executives disclosed on Tuesday that rising delinquencies cut credit card revenues to $120 million in the second quarter, down $84 million from the previous quarter. While Nordstrom’s credit card revenues rose 10% in the first half of this year, company executives said Tuesday that delinquencies are now above pre-pandemic levels and could “result in higher credit losses in the second half and into 2024.”

US department stores see higher credit delinquencies amid strained spending

Credit cards are big $$$ for these corporations, and a large part of the earnings numbers.  Keep in mind interest earned is basically “free money” to these groups.  They only have to mail out a statement each month.

The last item I wish to address is when you pay with plastic it truly is “buy now, pay later.”  Items purchased may or may not show up on the next bill.  Take this for example, I paid for a tank of gas Tuesday this week, in the amount of $80, I used my trusted cash back card.  Well, my statement closed Monday night, so the gas I bought will not be on Septembers bill, it will be on Octobers.  Let’s just say in September I owe my house insurance, in addition to my other utility/recurring expenses, well my October bill will be higher thea I likely budgeted.  This is another trick the credit card companies do not want you to know.

In closing I do not hate credit card companies, nor do I completely agree with Dave Ramsey that you should not have one.  I will agree with him on the fact it creates bad buying habits, and unsafe financial practices. 

Use my example, if you are not careful, those appliances, or tires quickly become very expensive.  Dave doesn’t need me shilling for him, he offers and does good things, especially for folks who find themselves not realizing the pitfalls of “2% cash back.”  If you don’t carry a card… more power to you. I don’t judge, if you messed up previously… I don’t care, just don’t do it again.

As far as renting a car goes, yes, if you have no credit card it may be tougher, may even need to check a couple of companies to rent you one, but you will find one.  As for buying a house/car, sure there will be more hoops to jump through and you may need to shop around for a bank who will “manually underwrite you” but if you qualify for the loan, you get it.  Federal law. 

Johnnie Does

PS check out the value of those “points” I think is a good site, it will show you the best/worst uses for them, and you can see firsthand how some banks…cough…Citi… cough, devalue points if you use them certain ways.

Elk Grove City Council Enters the Business of Lending to Business

You may be confused by the title of this blog, and you should be.  William pointed out in his most recent writing that most in CA love big government; specifically, being told what to do by government.  However, what if they knew the government was guaranteeing loans to business owners who are already successful?

Enter the City of Elk Grove.  The City Fathers have decided to pick losers and winners in the local economy using your tax dollars for the wager. The remainder of this blog documents this very socialist behavior in our once very Republican community.

Old Town Elk Grove’s future barbecue restaurant and bar took a large step closer to its completion thanks to the Elk Grove City Council’s recent approval of a $500,000 loan deal.

LowBrau’s Slow and Low Smokehouse, a project of restauranteur Michael Hargis’ Slow and Low, LLC, is currently slated to open at 9700 Railroad St. in the next one and a half to two months, Hargis told the Citizen on June 29.He also owns Sacramento dining establishments such a Beast + Bounty, a Michelin-rated restaurant; and the LowBrau Bierhall.

During their June 28 regular meeting, the Elk Grove City Council unanimously approved an agreement for that loan, which is a commitment from River City Bank to Slow and Low, LLC to fund the costs of final tenant improvements, opening and initial operations of the new restaurant and bar.  The vote was unanimous.

Because the loan was contingent upon a third party agreeing to provide a repayment guarantee as security, if Slow and Low, LLC defaults on its loan, the business’s owner, Michael Hargis, asked the city if it would serve as that third party.

Yes, folks, a Michelin Star restaurant is a big deal. Think Gordon Ramsey or Wolfgang Puck… It is one of those places where frog legs cost $125 a plate, and you get 1 leg …I though frogs had 2 legs, but I digress.  Low Brau I have been to before, it’s a German sausage/food themed place where you guessed it, the beer flows freely.  It is a cool place; I do not have a gripe with either restaurant.  Where I have a gripe is why are we, the taxpayers, guaranteeing a loan to a guy who runs not 1 but 2 very successful places to eat?  Can’t someone else lend him the cash?  Specifically, the Small Business Administration (SBA) or Chamber of Commerce or maybe a bank?  I thought when you wanted a business loan that you had to have a business plan, profit/loss projections, costs, and a plan to pay it back?  Maybe times have changed?

Slow and Low, LLC is responsible for the loan that must be paid in full within five years.

As a guarantee that the bank would be reimbursed if the business defaulted on its agreement to pay off the loan, the city has pledged a collateral cash deposit in funds that were already deposited by the city at that bank.

Another element of this contract includes the use of a security agreement, in which the city will place a lien on the business’s restaurant equipment, if the loan is not paid in full prior to the deadline to do so.

In a worse-case scenario, a defaulted loan would result in the city losing some or all of its pledged deposit with River City Bank.

However, the city’s potential loss of $500,000 would be less impactful, considering that the restaurant equipment and Hargis’ 7001 Garden Highway, Sacramento property is relatively equal in value, noted Darrell Doan, the city’s economic development director.

“We have that first deed of trust in Mr. Hargis’ personal property (on the Garden Highway), and we also have the lien on the restaurant equipment (for the Railroad Street restaurant project),” he said. “We could foreclose both of those interests – in theory take title to his personal property, take title to the restaurant equipment.”

Although Doan mentioned that he does not foresee the worse-case scenario occurring, he presented that possibility for the purpose of providing full disclosure.

Doan noted that if Hargis is able to pay off the loan, the city will “experience no loss.”

“During that time, (those funds) would have earned the same interest on that deposit as we would have had we not created this security arrangement,” he said.

This Doan fella seems like a real piece of work, but his actions are on point for a government official.  Let me make a bet with taxpayer money and if it goes wrong, we will seize the man’s house and the equipment in the bar.  If it goes well, I can parade around calling myself an economic growth genius and apply for a job in a bigger City.  It’s literally heads I win, tails you lose.

Just to make things clear here, I do not know this Hargis guy who owns the restaurants, nor do I know his finances, or business acumen.  But I will make an assumption, he is quite good at his craft, a Michelin Star is not given out like candy on Halloween, they are quite rare.  Keeping it is even harder.  I have never had a bad meal at Low Brau. 

But why is he privatizing the profit, while socializing the loss?

Opinion of blogger:

This deal reeks.  Sorry I’ll say it.  The idea that the City will have a lien on his house tells me he may be mortgaged to the hilt.  His agreement should be between the bank, the landlord of the building he will occupy, and himself.  Why is the City involved at all?  This smells like Darrell Doan wanted to see a BBQ joint in Elk Grove and talked this guy into starting one and guaranteed his loan. In addition, I think the bank didn’t like his business plan or profit/loss estimates moving forward so they balked at the loan. 

Also pay attention to this statement:

Hargis, who has already spent about $750,000 on this restaurant and bar project, told the Citizen that he feels confident that his barbecue business will open on Railroad Street and the loan will be paid in full.

Why is the tenant making all the improvements to the building?  Typically, the landlord does this in exchange for higher rent/increases in rent annually.  I have not seen many of these arrangements lately.  It gives me pause.  Especially since the Dust Bowl Brewery that went in directly next to this proposed site made a lot of improvements, then ripped them out and put other ones in.  (Note, the buildings are old brick train station type buildings that got a ton of updating). 

Continuing my concerns, the location is in Old Town. It’s far away from the city center and is not easy to get to.  Think of one lane in each direction street, stop lights/neighborhood homes/very scarce parking.  Simply put, not many work in the area, and most who live there work far away so locals likely will not be partaking.  The BBQ business is also very fickle, either folks like it or not, and usually the owner finds out his BBQ is not as great as he thinks it is.  I watched as “The Rib Shack” near my office bit the dust in a bout a year’s time.  The location is also very set back from the road, and visibility will be little as it will be behind the Dust Bowl Brewery and a couple of housing units being built.  I would be remiss not to add that the neighborhood directly to the east of this is known for its meth heads and crack cocaine deals.  Just ask a local, one told me any Amazon package left on the porch longer than about 30 minutes is stolen.

In closing I will say this is the new America.  It used to be you took a chance, and if you hit it, you could hit it big, or even hit it to where you made a good living working in your own business.  Now the profit is enjoyed by the owner, and the loss is shared by the citizens.  It is sad, but it’s what it has come to.  Frankly you would be foolish not to get into it if you can.  This town is playing with house money quite literally as we built a casino.  One has to wonder if it will decide to have a BBQ joint inside or nearby their casino?  The plans are to build a hotel and amphitheater.  Most in central or west Elk Grove likely have never heard of Old Town Elk Grove or really care.  Quite frankly, if you live in either area its likely quicker and easier to go downtown than to travel to East Elk Grove and deal with the aforementioned parking and logistics issues getting to the area.

We are spending 1.25 million on something that is so far from a sure thing the owner (of 2 restaurants) has to personally put up his house and kitchen equipment as collateral?  Huh?  Also, the kitchen equipment, may seem like it’s worth a lot, no one buys that stuff second hand.  It’s likely useless, and only has scrap value.  Also, they say this guy’s house is worth 500k?  How can that be possible?  They claim he lives on Garden highway, for those of you not familiar Garden Highway (essentially the levee road in most of Sacramento County) which means he has a view/close proximity to water, so his home value is bunk.  My small 1700 square foot house in aforementioned East Elk Grove in a tract home neighborhood is worth north of $650k according to Zillow.  A lot is not adding up here.  I think he does not own his house free and clear; he likely has a large note payable on it via a bank, backed by the house as collateral.  No bank is letting the City of Elk Grove foreclose on it if they are owed money.

Again, folks here we are privatizing the profit, socializing the loss.

The Chief