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Archives: Jan. 2009

Jan.
30th

Skate dates, parties, lessons: roller rink due to open in three weeks

Roller skaters, rejoice.


There’s a new rink coming to town.


I’ve just spoken with Debbie Berg, who tells me that she, her husband, Dave, and daughter, Dacia Pendleton, will soon open their Wheelz Skate Arena at 2101 So. Mildred, there on the borderlands of Tacoma, Fircrest and University Place.


Already it seems that word has gone forth concerning the new project, as Berg has been receiving calls from school groups inquiring about renting the space for parties.


When it opens on Feb. 20, Berg says, the facility will offer public skating, private parties and skating lessons.

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Jan.
30th

A split buy for the embattled Air Force tanker?

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, the head of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, was in Alabama Thursday talking about the possibility of dividing the politically radioactive Air Force tanker deal between Boeing and its Euro-U.S. rival Northrop Grumman/EADS.


Murtha toured the site of a proposed Northrop Grumman/EADS aircraft plant at Mobile’s Brookley Field and talked to local civic leaders.


He hinted that the only way out of the years-long stalemate over the multi-billion dollar tanker deal may be to split the order between the rival companies.


The two companies have gone head-to-head twice now in competition with Boeing

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Jan.
29th

Columbia, Rainier Pacific and Frontier Bank report their earnings – or lack thereof – for the 4th quarter and 2008

Three regional banks released their quarterly and 2008 earnings reports today: Rainier Pacific, Columbia and Frontier.


I’ll be listening to conference calls from Frontier and Columbia, and I’ll report what I hear, but here’s the basics of today’s releases.


Columbia:

Net income of $1.8 million for the quarter, compared to $7.3 million for the same quarter in 2007. The results a loan loss provision of $13.3 million plus an additional impairment of $1 million due to the continuing decline of investments in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.


Net income for the year was $6 million, compared

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Jan.
29th

Free IRS filing help for taxpayers in Tacoma

The Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer Assistance Center in Tacoma is expanding its service for taxpayers eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.


The center will increase its outreach by opening for three upcoming Saturdays – Jan. 31, Feb. 7 and 21. The extra hours are being added, according to an IRS release, to help potentially eligible taxpayers who may not be able to seek assistance during the work week.


EITC is a credit that can result in a refund of more than $4,800 for some taxpayers. Taxpayers with an income of less than $41,646 may be eligible, depending

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Jan.
29th

Alaska Air Group: a big loss or a surprising profit?

Alaska Air Group today released results for its fourth quarter and full year that are either distressing or encouraging, depending on how you view them.


Alaska Air Group, parent company of SeaTac’s Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, either showed a $16.4 million profit for the quarter or a $75.4 million loss.


The difference is what accountants call “special items,” expense and income items that occurred during the quarter because of special, infrequent occurrences such as radical shifts in oil prices, corporate restructuring and the unscheduled retirement of uneconomic jets.


The company, in its corporate earnings release, led

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Jan.
28th

Starbucks closures Part II: The meaning of life

I’ve been listening to the conference call today between Starbucks and analysts, and one thing CEO Howard Schultz mentioned struck a chord.


He said he’d been spending time at Town Hall meetings with customers. He talked about “the meaning we have in peoples’ lives across America.”


OK, it’s your turn. Is Starbucks simply a place to buy coffee (or tea, a cookie, a sandwich) or is it somewhere that actually has meaning in the lives of Americans?


Does Starbucks have meaning in your life? What is that meaning?


Please comment.

Jan.
28th

Starbucks store closures in Tacoma and Seattle: no list yet, and a letter to employees

You’ve probably already heard about employee layoffs and store closures at Starbucks. For a look at the letter CEO Howard Schultz sent out to partners today, click here.


I’ve just signed off from the conference call with analysts, and you could hear the frustration in Schultz’s voice as he spoke of “the worst holiday shopping season since 1969″ and how “I believe we are navigating this storm effectively.”


About how there will be renegotiations with landlords over the rents paid at Starbucks locations, about maintaining the “value continuum” and how “we’re dealing with something we’ve never dealt

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Jan.
28th

10,000 jobs disappearing at Boeing?

The layoffs at Boeing’s Puget Sound-based Commercial Airplanes division won’t be increasing beyond the 4,500 the company announced earlier this year, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said today in an earning conference call.


McNerney set off a rush of anxiety among Boeing workers and area business people already traumatized by numerous layoffs when he said the company would reduce its payroll by about 10,000 workers this year.


That remark came early in the earnings conference call and immediate touched off new headlines around the country.


The new figure caught the company’s public relations and human resources people

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