Santa Clara University

SCU in the News: January 2 to January 12, 2010

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Other (58)
Our Lady of Guadalupe presentation 12/11/2010 El Observador Text View Clip
Workers Behaving Badly 01/12/2010 Conference Board Review, The Text View Clip
Historians prepare to testify in Prop. 8 trial Tuesday 01/12/2010 KXTV-TV - Online Text View Clip
Ted Olson to Make Opening Statement in Prop. 8 Trial/Avail Info 01/12/2010 Fox Business Network - Online Text View Clip
Prop 8 plaintiff I want the discrimination to end 01/12/2010 KXTV-TV - Online Text View Clip
Mental Health Troubles in Youth Go Countercultural to Reverse the Trend 01/12/2010 Psychology Today - Online Text View Clip
Counterfeit goods ruling could have major effect on eBay 01/10/2010 Australian PC World Text View Clip
Inefficient Markets Are Still Hard to Beat 01/10/2010 Yahoo! Finance Text View Clip
EDUCATION NEWS FROM ACROSS THE NATION 01/09/2010 Jacksonville Business Journal - Online Text View Clip
Inefficient Markets Are Still Hard to Beat 01/09/2010 Wall Street Journal Text View Clip
Inefficient Markets Are Still Hard to Beat 01/09/2010 Wall Street Journal Text View Clip
Santa Clara University and Zipcar team up for car-sharing program 01/08/2010 San Jose Mercury News Text View Clip
SAVING ENERGY IS THE PLAN AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY. 01/08/2010 Mornings On 2 - KTVU-TV Text
Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University 01/08/2010 Business Review - Online Text View Clip
Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University 01/08/2010 San Francisco Business Times - Online Text View Clip
Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University 01/08/2010 Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal - Online Text View Clip
4 simple steps to savvy investing 01/08/2010 Business 2.0 - Online Text View Clip
4 simple steps to savvy investing 01/08/2010 Yahoo! Finance Text View Clip
Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University 01/08/2010 Washington Business Journal - Online Text View Clip
Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University 01/08/2010 Dayton Business Journal - Online Text View Clip
The Stock Markets Little Shop of Horrors And You Thought the Aftermath of 1929 Was Grim (123) 01/08/2010 Journal of Investing Text View Clip
Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University 01/08/2010 Business Review - Online Text View Clip
Zipcar expands to Santa Clara University 01/08/2010 Boston Business Journal - Online Text View Clip
Santa Clara University and Zipcar team up for car-sharing program 01/08/2010 Cupertino Courier - Online Text View Clip
Zip Cars Come to Santa Clara University 01/08/2010 KTVU-TV - Online Text View Clip
Zip Cars Come to Santa Clara University 01/08/2010 KRXI-TV - Online Text View Clip
Santa Clara University and Zipcar team up for car-sharing program 01/08/2010 York Daily Record Text View Clip
Santa Clara University and Zipcar team up for car-sharing program 01/08/2010 SiliconValley.com Text View Clip
TTORNEY GENERAL JOHN KROGER ANNOUNCES THE 2010 CLASS OF HONORS ATTORNEYS AT THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF 01/07/2010 Federal News Service Text
Two teens get 50 to life in drive-by shooting; advocates protest sentence 01/07/2010 KTXL-TV - Online Text View Clip
Health-IT experts discuss privacy and security requirements of computerized PHRs at upcoming forum 01/07/2010 News-Medical.Net Text View Clip
Solar Decathlon Gives a Lesson on the Value of Spray Foam 01/06/2010 SprayFoam Magazine Text View Clip
Global Social Benefit Incubator Green Tech Scholarships 01/06/2010 TechSoup Text View Clip
Win a 2010 Global Social Benefit Incubator Scholarship 01/05/2010 SocialEarth Text View Clip
Top campus card and security articles from 2009 01/05/2010 CR80 News Text View Clip
doing business. At Santa Clara University's Global Social 01/04/2010 Eyewitness News 4 Today at 5 AM - KOB-TV Text
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Centre Daily Times - Online Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Fresno Bee - Online Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Kansas City Star - Online Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 News Tribune - Online Text View Clip
GYPSY OF THE MONTH Michael X. Martin of RAGTIME 01/04/2010 Broadway World Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Sun Herald - Online, The Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 News & Observer - Online Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Bradenton Herald - Online Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Idaho Statesman - Online Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Lexington Herald-Leader - Online Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Olympian - Online, The Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Sacramento Bee - Online, The Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Tri-City Herald - Online Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Columbus Ledger-Enquirer - Online Text View Clip
Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa 01/04/2010 Tribune - Online, The Text View Clip
Engagement 01/03/2010 New York Times Text View Clip
Climate Wizard makes large databases of climate information visual, accessible 01/03/2010 Poten & Partners Text View Clip
Valley takes a new look at stock options 01/03/2010 Oroville Mercury-Register Text View Clip
Valley takes a new look at stock options 01/03/2010 Cupertino Courier - Online Text View Clip
Valley takes a new look at stock options 01/02/2010 Santa Cruz Sentinel - Online Text View Clip
Silicon Valley takes a new look at stock options 01/02/2010 Cupertino Courier - Online Text View Clip
Global Opportunities for the Serious Social Entrepreneur 12/29/2009 The Social Entrepreneurship Exchange blog Text View Clip


Our Lady of Guadalupe presentation | View Clip
12/11/2010
El Observador

Santa Clara University was featured in the Spanish newspaper EL Observador in its Dec. 11-17, 2009 edition on page 10. The coverage concerned the 13th annual presentation of "Our Lady of Guadalupe" and the recipients of the Santa Clara University's Juan Diego Scholarship. SCU freshman Martha Perez and alum Guadalupe Hernandez were quoted in the article, and AnaMaria Pineda, R.S.M. was featured in a photo. The article is in Spanish.

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Workers Behaving Badly | View Clip
01/12/2010
Conference Board Review, The

Winter 2010 By VADIM LIBERMAN | ILLUSTRATION BY BRIAN STAUFFER/THEISPOT.COM

Where do you draw the line?

VADIM LIBERMAN is senior editor of TCB Review. He has not taken home any paper clips...this week.

This article is written for workplace miscreants who steal from, lie to, bribe on behalf of, and deceive their bosses and businesses. Not you, of course. Not only is the angel on your left shoulder restraining Satan on the other side—page thirty-four in the company manual forbids such hijinks.

But ask yourself: Have you ever slipped a pencil from your desk into your purse? Ever surfed the Internet in the office to check the score of this afternoon's game? Dropped a holiday package in the mailroom outbox? If you answered no to all the above, congratulations! You'd be the ideal ethically pure executive—that is, if your no weren't an outright lie.

Oh, come on, you might be thinking—it's just a pencil. True, and no one's demanding that the SEC investigate Pencilgate. But you know that the issue isn't the pencil so much as the act of pocketing it. In the wake of Tyco and Enron, we've all heard CEOs, HR execs, consultants, and all sorts of alleged experts deliver ear­nest, zero-tolerance sermons upholding the sanctity of ethics, as if one small misstep by Bob in accounting represents a giant leap into the evils of corporate malfeasance. Indeed, the notion that to address a wrong is never wrong is hard to dispute—we've all seen what can happen to organizations and their leaders who elect to look the other way. Before you know it, there's rampant harassment, larceny, cover-ups, and Jeff Skil­ling. All Very Bad. But what about employee behavior that is simply bad with a lowercase b?

The executive who expenses a few kinda-sorta-but-probably-not-really work-related dinners or cab rides, the colleague who comes in a bit late every morning, the employee who charges a hotel-room movie to the company, the worker who expenses a new stapler and takes it home, the manager who knows he needs a receipt for a reimbursement of $25 but since he doesn't have one decides to submit two requests for $12.50 . . . the question isn't whether these individuals are acting unethically. They probably are. The real question is: Should a company care? Should organizations concern themselves with all of their workers' ethical infractions? Or just specific bad behavior? Or just specific workers? Or just at specific times? Where do you draw the line?

One Pencil at a Time

To begin with, you better not draw it at home with a company pencil, says Victoria Sweeney, ethics and compliance principal at KPMG. “It's pretty basic,” she instructs: “Don't take things that don't belong to you.” Ignoring Sweeney, every year we swipe about a billion dollars' worth of things that don't belong to us, from paper clips to stationery to all sorts of items that disappear from supply closets right around the time that kids start school each September. Research suggests that about a third of employees pilfer occasionally, half do so regularly, and about one-fifth steal large volumes . . . which covers pretty much everyone. Additionally, for every workplace criminal who embezzles millions, there are surely millions more who—one pencil at time—are gradually erasing their companies' profits.

There's another way to look at this, of course: Some sociologists suggest that pilferage actually benefits an organization, citing a “hydraulic effect,” whereby it's better to allow employees to release frustrations by engaging in minor ethical wrongs rather than clamp down on such actions, which could ultimately drive workers to act out in more detrimental ways.

But even with a better-the-devil-you-know approach, there's still a devil. As such, Rand Corp. organizational psychologist Jerald Greenberg characterizes pilfering as “deviant workplace behavior.” But you have to wonder: When multiple studies suggest that the majority of employees engage in such conduct and see nothing wrong with it, do most of us qualify as deviants? Moreover, since these types of infractions have ingrained themselves so pervasively into our work lives, maybe it's about time all organizations accept them as a normal cost of doing business—much as the retail industry prices products to account for employee theft.

After all, for companies to dispatch an ethics Gestapo to storm hallways and micromanage workers is probably not just futile but counterproductive. “To become that ethically critical might have negative consequences on the work environment and make everyone in the office uncomfortable,” says Michael Hoffman, executive director of Bentley University's Center for Business Ethics. “There has to be rationality, where you're not trying to be an ethical fanatic.”

So why not let employees get away with the small stuff? The answer, of course, is because it's unclear when small becomes big. You know the argument: A pot smoker today is a coke addict tomorrow. (Granted, the slippery-slope argument is itself so slippery that it often slides into absurdity supported by anecdotes but little concrete evidence. If every pencil thief became an embezzler, the only labor you and most everyone else would be doing would be the forced kind, behind bars.)

Still, a corporate criminal's first violation will never be the one that makes The Wall Street Journal, so it's understandable that an organization might worry that turning a blind eye to any ethics abuse might later lead to a painfully pricey slap across its face. “If the goal is to create an ethical culture, you must enforce the rules,” says Linda Treviño, distinguished professor of organizational behavior and ethics at Penn State's Smeal College of Business. “If you let the little things go, it sends a message that the rules don't matter.”

But where is the rule that says that all rules must always matter? “Companies often misplace energy at easy gotchas,” complains Steve Priest, president of Wilmette, Ill.-based Ethical Leadership Group. “Rules don't always need to be top priorities.” For instance, each year, corporations of all sizes ignore legal regulations and their own ethics codes by allowing and even encouraging March Madness basketball pools.

“Every one of these companies has made a conscious decision to look the other way,” Priest says. “So even companies that say they draw the line at illegal behavior, which is the easiest bright line to draw, don't do that.” And that's OK, he adds: “I don't want to work for a company where there's an ethics cop on every corner.”

How about just the public corner, then, where your organization interacts with outside stakeholders? “Inside an organization, managers ought to be allowed a fair bit of discretion in how they deal with workers' ethical lapses,” suggests Chris MacDonald, who writes the Business Ethics Blog and teaches philosophy at St. Mary's University in Halifax, “but if employees are treating outsiders unethically, then the behavior becomes an unethical act of the organization. That should never be condoned.”

What Price Ethics?

Suppose you discover your top salesman padding his expense account or charging a few too many dinners at the Four Seasons? Should you question him about his questionable activities?

Certainly, you'd be justified in asking him to right his wrongs, but he's your key rainmaker, and in this economy, you can't afford a drought by initiating a conversation that risks demoralizing him. So which is more vital to your enterprise—financial success or ensuring that one employee is following rules?

To answer that question, think back to the example of pilfering office supplies. It's easy to condemn stealing items ranging from copy paper to toilet paper (yes, it happens!) because it hacks into a company's operating budget. However, given that you risk a greater net loss by taking to task your top talent, playing dumb to his self-appointed “perks” might be not only your smartest move but also your most ethical if it means making enough money to keep other workers employed.

Unless, that is, the ethics of pocketing Post-Its, creative expensing of accounts, and other misdeeds hinges on something other than the immediate impact on your firm's financial health. By winking at your star performer's exploits, you're valuing his morale over that of the rest of your workforce, who will stare back at you in anger over what they'll surely perceive as unfair, preferential treatment. “Managers have to at least recognize,” MacDonald says, “that by taking these risks, there might be some kind of corrosive effect on morale,” which can cause productivity and corporate earnings to plummet in the long term. In which case, you're not really weighing egalitarianism against profit-making. By maintaining your eye on the bottom line, your actual conundrum is this: Whose motivation and productivity is more important when it comes to bringing in the cash—your high performer's or everyone else's?

Cost-benefit calculations are nothing new to business, but we don't like to think we're squinting through goggles with dollar signs when deliberating about ethics. Nonetheless, the capitalist within us is always battling our inner ethical Marxist. Consequently, “companies sweep stuff under the rug all the time,” says David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead. “They do it for their own self-interest, because they don't want to lose a good employee, or because they don't want to risk public embarrassment.”

Nevertheless, explanations for why organizations look the other way are not justifications—but they could be. How's this for a straightforward reply to an employee who whines about feeling demoralized by the injustice of double standards: “Hey, when you haul ass and get to the top of the sales chart, then we'll look the other way with you, too.” OK, you might not use those words, but at least they would clarify that the company draws its line based on performance. What's so unfair about that? After all, haven't elite employees earned the right to special consideration? Isn't the prospect of privileged treatment partly what drives us to excel?

“If the rules don't apply to high performers,” cautions Linda Treviño, “the rest of your employees will dismiss them as irrelevant. Perceived fairness is one of the most important aspects of an ethical culture.” And here's where slippery-slope thinking offers a legitimate warning: While someone who gets away with exaggerating an expense report by $5 probably won't ever misappropriate $5,000, his action nonetheless sends a message to other workers that the company makes some exceptions for minor theft. Consequently, more employees are likelier to model such behavior. Which isn't to imply that unethical employees can't compose a financially successful company. Take a hard look around your own workplace!

However, “if the top people are behaving with integrity, others will too, and you'll stand a better chance at having a financially stronger company in the long run,” counsels Andrew Singer, editor of the business-ethics journal Ethikos.

I

ntuitively, this all makes sense—except when it doesn't. Quite often, the only person aware of an employee's misdeeds is his manager. Since others can't mimic behavior they can't see, since this is a star performer reeling in astronomical profits, since there's no reason to think he'll become the next Bernie Ebbers, what does a manager stand to gain by confronting his subordinate, given a potential decrease in the worker's motivation, engagement, performance, productivity, and company profits?

“Look, when unethical behavior persists in the long run, it's a chronic disease that poisons relationships,” Singer says. “If the employee is very productive but doesn't live up to the company's values, then get rid of him,” adds Libby Sartain, who formerly headed up HR at Yahoo! and Southwest Airlines. “You can find somebody else who will produce and live up to the values”—especially if he's a senior leader.

Ah, the tone-at-the-top maxim preached about literally every facet of business. “The real culture is set not in value and mission statements but in how the boss behaves,” says James O'Toole, the University of Denver's Daniels Distinguished Professor of Business Ethics. “That is why the people at the very top have to hold themselves to the very highest standards of behavior. The leader has to be the most virtuous person in the organization.”

That a company's top people must be its most upright, however, automatically implies a hierarchical approach to ethics, in which a worker's ethical bar is only as high as his ladder rung. “The moral example leaders give is a fundamental and legitimate aspect of their overall leadership,” explains Kirk Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. “If they fail, it is a more serious flaw in their performance.” As a result, Hanson argues, corporations should apply the same ethical expectations regardless of a person's title, but those at the top should be subject to harsher punishments for similar ethical lapses. If a senior executive won't lead by good example, then the company should make an example out of him.

And here's an example: Rick Shreve, a business-ethics professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, tells a story from some years back about an employee who decided for himself to spy on a competitor. Rummaging through a Dumpster outside the ballroom where the competing company was holding a meeting, the worker unearthed a detailed product-introduction plan. He took the information back to his own organization, where he and his team spent a lot of time and money developing a competing product—until their chief executive got wind of the project.

The CEO gathered all the team's work on its new product and sent it to the competitor. He also hired a consultant and presented him with his firm's long-range plan as it appeared the day before his company snatched the information from the trash.

The CEO then instructed the consultant to determine whether his organization had departed in any way from its pre-existing plan that would indicate taking advantage of the dubiously acquired information. “That's a great story and a part of the company's culture now,” Shreve says. “It shows that, regardless of any impact on finances, the company won't look away from unethical conduct.”

Blurring the Lines

“When it comes to ethics, drawing a line is more art than science,” says Andrew Singer, but even so, you want to use the right brushstrokes in painting an ethical workplace. It's understandable if after performing the above mental acrobatics, with one what-if somersault spun into another, you're left too dizzy to dismount on an ethical line that isn't arbitrary. Having contemplated the severity of the act, an individual's job performance and title, group morale, and corporate profits, you're probably still wondering: When is it OK for your company to look away?

“You

can draw a line at a pencil, but does that really make sense?” asks business-ethics consultant Lauren Bloom. “You have to be reasonable, because if you become too draconian, you're not going to have an employee left in your office. Every situation will depend on its own merits. You need to have rules, but they need to be flexible. Unless you're talking about illegal things, ethics are always to some degree a bit of a judgment call.” This may be the worst advice you'll hear, since it continues to leave you staggering through a gray fog . . . but wait—it may also be the best advice, because it does offer a way out of the haze.

Where do you draw the line? The best answer is:

You don't. Acknowledging that you can't wholly separate black from white to account for reason and common sense doesn't necessarily trap you in an ethical maze. It's not only possible to work within the gray—it may even be preferable.

The reality is that that you can't codify everything. If you try, you'll end up with a thick corporate manual that your employees will bury in their file cabinets right under a folder labeled “1996 Invoices,” with HR's inevitable photocopied updates and additions recycled before reading. (Just ask Enron's bad boys at what point they consulted the company's sixty-four-page code of ethics.) Even if you could devise regulations to cover every possible scenario, chances are that your company is unlikely to follow all of them—since it probably doesn't even uniformly follow the rules it sets now. (Rest un-assured that your employees will discover ingenious ways to get around them, anyway.) Policies enforced randomly, unfairly, or not at all are useless. And yet no one would blame you for confusing some corporations' code of ethics with the IRS manual. Why this continued obsession with rules?

Blame it on lawyers. “Companies are writing forty-page codes to cover their backsides rather than writing rules employees can really live with,” Lauren Bloom complains. “Being compliant is the price of entry, a threshold,” insists Kathleen Edmond, Best Buy's chief ethics officer. “Ethics extends beyond legalities.” Putting aside that no culture in the world is 100 percent compliant anyway, according to Steve Priest, without rules to guide behavior, how can your company cultivate an ethical culture? By focusing instead on values and principles. Think of Google's now-familiar edict, “Don't be evil.” Yes, Google's and other firms' dos and don'ts are more aspirational than prescriptive. But vagueness is precisely their advantage. By offering guides rather than rules, they allow managers the freedom to use discretion. They permit managers to . . . manage.

Of course, slapping your corporate logo onto the Ten Commandments and calling it your ethics handbook is only the beginning, after which you'll realize that the real line to draw is between ambiguity and specificity. In sketching that fuzzy line, “companies will have lawyers in one room developing codes of conduct based on laws, and HR in another room working on values,” says Ron James, president and CEO of the Center for Ethical Business Cultures at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, “but this is an area where everyone, including the leaders, has to be involved.” People are more apt to follow rules when they've had a say in how they were developed. “It's Social Contract 101,” adds David Callahan. Additionally, because every ethical culture is unique, no consultant can possibly understand an organization's ethical landscape like the employees already working inside a company. “I've been asked to write a code of ethics for an organization, and I told them no,” Chris MacDonald says. “I can write it with them, but not for them. Companies need to have some ownership of their codes. And you definitely don't buy a code of ethics off the rack.”

Nonetheless, regardless of how you balance values with rules, the risk remains that different managers will deal with different employees unevenly. Bear in mind, though: Unequal is not the same as unfair treatment.

Forget about treating all your workers equally. You already don't. “We give people raises, bonuses, and promotions based on merit,” MacDonald explains. Your goal, then, is not equality but equal consideration, which entails addressing everyone with respect. “I don't want to come off as an HR weenie,” says Steve Priest, “but roughly two-thirds of incidents that come into ethics hotlines could have been eliminated if only the manager and the employee talked things through respectfully.”

The more transparent you are in explaining your ethics assessments, the less likely you'll give an impression that you're making decisions arbitrarily. For instance, if you intend to make merit-based exceptions when it comes to general policies regarding expense accounts or company time and property, you might want to put that in writing. For example, to address theft of office supplies, a company may choose to allow employees “reasonable use of company property for personal purposes” or “the occasional taking home of supplies of a nominal value.” Though some might argue that this would increase unethical acts, in actuality it only codifies existing behavior. “Mainly, managers need only to make sure that their decisions are defensible, reasonable, and do not take workers by surprise,” says Lauren Bloom.

T

o a certain extent, all this is simply good management rather than terribly sophisticated ethical focusing,” MacDonald says. Of course, you still want to do what's right, but most ethical quandaries don't offer clear win-win outcomes. But that doesn't mean there needs to be a loser. As long as you concentrate not on drawing a line but on always pushing it in the right direction, you're more likely to create a worthy ethical culture.

“It's all like raising children,” suggests Rand's Jerald Greenberg. “There's a general set of values and norms to guide their behavior. If you bring kids up right and they know what's expected, they will make the right decisions.” Most of the time, anyway.

When the Apples Aren't the Problem

People who do bad things aren't necessarily bad people. Most don't wake up and think, Today is the day I'm going to screw my company. But when they do, your company—by wagging a finger solely at such offenders—may be inadvertently giving itself the finger by ignoring a larger problem.

Now, no one's arguing against personal accountability, but sometimes it's the system, stupid. “When people misbehave, they're responding to perverse incentives,” explains James O'Toole, co-author of Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor. “When a salesman plays with numbers and moves sales forward or back into quarters, it is because he is rewarded for doing so.

“The problem is that we're spending a fortune on ethics training,” O'Toole continues. “When ethics trainers come in, they are exhorting and preaching to people down the line to be good. If that money were spent creating systems in which people are incentivized to do good, then you'd have a truly ethical culture.”

Rather than discourage your workers from being bad, encourage them to be good. Negative reinforcement reinforces nothing but negative feelings within your employees. “The problem is not with bad apples but with the barrel makers who create the system,” claims O'Toole, who recommends profit-sharing and stock ownership to increase positive peer pressure to do good. Workers who have a greater stake in a company are less prone to tolerate unethical behavior by others. Likewise, an open-book management approach, which shares financial numbers and greater decision-making among all employees, makes it that much harder to game the system.

Most importantly, de-emphasize the dollar, says Timothy Keane, director of the Emerson Ethics Center at Saint Louis University; he claims that “the focus on pure profitability puts undue stress on individuals.” Look back to 2002, when the state of New Jersey charged Sears, Roebuck and Co. with running auto-repair shops that charged customers for unnecessary work. The company responded by immediately scrapping its commission-based pay system. “You could say the Sears workers were bad apples without any morals,” says Working Ethics consultancy founder Marvin Brown, “but it was really an incentive system based on commissions that led to this. Once Sears changed its incentive system, that kind of behavior stopped.” —V.L.

Is Bad the New Good?

You can pretty much guess how a tough economy impacts ethics in the office: Nervous, unsure, and jittery employees act in all sorts of ways they otherwise wouldn't during better times. And that's great news! It's the silver lining to a blackened economy.

It is true that workers' ethical behavior changes during economic downturns, but not in the ways that you were probably thinking. According to recent research by the Ethics Resource Center, ethical behavior has improved since 2007. A bad economy, it seems, is good for workplace ethics.

The Center's 2009 National Business Ethics Survey shows that observed misconduct, willingness to report misdeeds, and pressure to cut corners all improved over the past two years, despite the recession. “The anxieties of a shrinking economy did not translate, in general, into a free fall in ethical behavior. Far from it,” said ERC president Patricia Harned.

The finding is no anomaly: The ERC survey detected a similar pattern between 2000 and 2003, when the dotcom bubble, 9/11, and numerous corporate scandals stunned the market.

Today's ethical silver lining, however, can easily tarnish. “I believe there's a bit of lag time when it comes to reporting misconduct,” explains KPMG ethics and compliance chief Victoria Sweeney. “It isn't always a bank robbery, where you see it right away. You may discover misconduct that happened during the recession when there's an uptick in the economy.” Indeed, right after 2003, as the economy picked up, ethical conduct went the opposite route. The explanation is obvious: No one wants to play a game of Catch Me If You Can with an employer if getting caught means getting fired.

Regardless, even though workers are behaving better these days, don't delude yourself into thinking that a recession has produced some ethical utopia. Though the ERC research indicates that the number of employees who observed workplace misconduct is down 7 points from 56 percent two years ago, that still means nearly half of all workers have witnessed lying, privacy breaches, expense- and timesheet falsifications, improper hiring practices, and company-resource abuse. So get ready, because when the economy recovers, who knows what a bursting ethics bubble will release? —V.L.

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Historians prepare to testify in Prop. 8 trial Tuesday | View Clip
01/12/2010
KXTV-TV - Online

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Testimony in a groundbreaking legal challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban resumes Tuesday with testimony from two Ivy League historians who will discuss the nation's experience with matrimony and anti-gay discrimination.

Nancy Cott is a U.S. history professor at Harvard and the author of a book on marriage as a public institution. She's set to take the witness stand for a second day.

Cott, a witness appearing on behalf of two gay couples who are suing to overturn Proposition 8, on Monday disputed assertions made by the measure's sponsors during the 2008 campaign that cultures around the world always have recognized marriage only as a union of a man and a woman.

"To think of marriage as universal, the same around the globe, simply is not accurate," Cott said, explaining that America's founders knew that group marriages were common in other societies and among some Native American tribes.

"The Bible is a document with characters that are practicing polygamy, which is the case with ancient civilizations."

After Cott is cross-examined by lawyers for Proposition 8's backers, who are defending the voter-approved initiative in court, Yale history professor George Chauncey is expected to testify about anti-gay bias. Chauncey also was an expert witness in a landmark gay rights case that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court invalidating a 1992 Colorado law that sought to prevent cities from extending civil rights protections to gays.

Monday marked the start of a two-week trial on a lawsuit in which two gay couples claim a California ban on same-sex marriage, which voters approved as Proposition 8 in November 2008, violates their federal constitutional rights. Prop 8 ban lawsuit

The plaintiffs are a gay couple from Burbank and a lesbian couple from Berkeley.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker is hearing the case without a jury.

Approximately an hour before opening statements, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a broadcast of the trial for at least 48 hours until justices could review last week's ruling to allow the proceedings to be shown later on YouTube.com.

The case is widely expected to eventually reach the country's highest court.

News10 Blog from San Francisco Federal Building

Reporters George Warren and Anne Makovec were at the trial, providing a real-time court blog.

3:16 p.m.:  No cross examination.  Stier is dismissed.

All four plaintiffs have now testified.

Plaintiff attorney Theodore Boutrous calls Professor Nancy Cott to witness stand. she taught at Yale, history of women and gender. In 2002 moved to Harvard. She's a historian. She's published eight books.

2:45 p.m.: No cross examination. Perry dismissed.

Olson calls Sandra Stier, 47, to the stand. Stier grew up in Iowa and moved to California after college. Works for Alameda County. Our family is blended, four boys. All their biological children.

Stier: "I'm gay. I learned it in my mid-30s. I was married before to a man. I got married in 1987 and lived most of the time in Alameda. At that time I did not know I was a lesbian. I had a difficult relationship, but it started with the best intentions. Divorced 1999.

"I met Chris in 1996. I was teaching a computer class and she was a student in my class. We later became coworkers and fast friends. I began to realize my feelings for her were unique, and taking over my thoughts. I was falling in love with her. I realized this in 1999. My marriage was troubled on many fronts. The end of my marriage was precipitated by my unhappiness and my husband's alcoholism. My sexual orientation had nothing to do with the divorce."

Olson: "Why are you a plaintiff?"

Stier: "I would like to get married. I want to marry Chris Perry. She's a woman and I can't marry her and I want to get married."

2:26 p.m. Olson: "Why are you a plaintiff in this case?"

Perry:  "Because I want to marry Sandy. I want the discrimination to end and a more joyful part of our life to begin.

"Growing up as a lesbian you never let yourself want it because everyone tells you you can't have it. I think what it means is your relationship is honored. People know what your relationship is. The state isn't letting me feel happy. The state isn't allowing me to feel my whole potential.

Olson: "Did you attempt to be married?"

Perry: "We did. In 2003 I proposed to Sandy without any way of knowing everything was about to develop. I did it to express my personal interest in her. It was around Christmas and we sat on Indian Rock in Berkeley. We sat down and I put my arm around her and asked would you marry me? She looked confused and said yes, but asked how would we do that?

"We started trying to figure out the day and the place and what we might say to each other. In the midst of doing that planning, we learned the city of San Francisco was permitting same sex marriages. February 2004. Sandy and I were reading about it and talked about going to SF to have this marriage. So we made an appointment and went to city hall. We brought all of the boys and my mom and we were married in city hall. As amazed and happy as I could ever imagine feeling. Some of the feelings were new to me. I'm still confused. We continued planning for our private ceremony so more people could come. We had an afternoon wedding in Berkeley for 100 guests, Aug. 1, 2004.

"A few weeks later the court said those marriages were not valid. The city of San Francisco sent us a letter that our marriage was not valid. We will return your marriage fees to you. That told me I'm not good enough to be married."

Olson: "How did you feel when the Supreme Court said you can be married?"

Perry:  "I was elated. We asked ourselves would we get married again? We couldn't bring ourselves to do it again right then. We hadn't recovered from the experience in 2004."

2:09 p.m.: Plaintiff attorney Theodore Olson calls plaintiff Kristin Perry, 45, to the stand. Born in Illinois but moved to California at age 2. Went to UC Santa Cruz, master's in social work at SF State. Works in child protection, child development. Once worked as a child abuse investigator for a Bay Area county. Now is the executive director of a statewide agency that provides support to families with children 0-5 years old.

Perry: "Sandy (Stier, co-plaintiff) is the woman I love. We live together in Berkeley. We have a blended family. We both brought two sons into our relationship. Her children are college-age, mine are in high school. After a long friendship with Sandy, I fell in love with her. I am a lesbian."

2 p.m.: Defense attorney Brian Raum: "You don't think kids need to be protected from same-sex relationships?"

Katami: "No."

Katami dismissed.

1:58 p.m.: Back in session. Katami being cross-examined by a defense attorney (don't have his name).

12:30 p.m.: Katami: "My state is supposed to protect me. It is not supposed to discriminate me."

Break for lunch before cross examination

Resume at 1:30 p.m.

12:20 p.m.:  Judge Walker sustains defense objection. Ad #3 will not be played. The connection is not clear that the Prop 8 folks had anything to do with the production of ad #3.

Boies introduces exhibit #1, Voter Information Guide from 2008. Katami still on stand. Reads argument in favor of Proposition 8 - Voting yes protects our children.

Boies: "What reaction did you have?"

Katami: "Once again that seems to be the punchline of the campaign. Jeff and I are informed voters. We are open to hearing arguments. We discuss them. But this punchline of protecting children, I go back to, what are you protecting them from? How does this generate? How does one even think of using that language. It's absolutely discriminatory. It puts me in a category where I don't belong."

Laptop battery fading. May switch to short notes from the Blackberry.

12:18 p.m.: Katami: "My heart was racing as I watched (the two Prop 8 commercials.) I was so angry. What do you have to be protected from? To categorize me as the devil (in the second ad) it just demeans you. It just makes you feel like people are making an effort to discriminate against you."

Boies wants to play a third ad, produced in 2009.

Boies: "Even after the campaign, the attacks continued."

Defense objects, not relevant.

Boies: "This is even more relevant than the campaign ads, because there was no political campaign. They have no function other than to try to demonize gay people."

11:50 a.m.: Katami: "I'm proud to be gay. I'm a natural born gay.

"Coming out was a natural process. I struggled with it quite a bit. When you're considered different from the norm you're put in situations you try to avoid. I succumbed to peer pressure. I had a girlfriend in high school because you needed one to go to the prom.

Boeis: "Have you experienced discrimination?"

"I have. One example I remember clearly was in college going out with some gay friends. Rocks and eggs came onto the patio along with slurs. It was a sobering moment, but I accepted it as part of our struggle, what we have to deal with.

"More currently, discussions over certain rights, particularly Prop 8. Discussions about my rights, and why I should be able to get married. Marriage is not for you people anyway. You hear that, and regardless of how proud you are (breaks up) you still feel the shame. I shouldn't have to feel the shame. Being gay doesn't make me any less American. Right now being gay means I am unequal. I have been relegated to a corner. I'm tired of reminders. I don't think of myself as somone who needs to be put in a corner."

11:35 a.m.: The defense does not cross-examine Zarrillo. Paul Katami, 37, takes stand. He is Zarrillo's partner. Examined by Boies. Katami  grew up in SF. Two siblings. Santa Clara University and UCLA for master's of fine arts. Works for Equinox Fitness in L.A.

"I would, most definitely, like to get married. I applied for a marriage license and were denied, May 2009.

"The primary reason is I have found someone I love and can dedicate the rest of my life to. My best friend and advocate and supporter. A natural next step.

"Being married allows us access to the language. Being able to call him my husband is difinitive. It comes with a modicum of respect. We both dislike 'lover.'"

11:34 a.m.: Zarillo: "We have not registered as domestic partners because it would relegate me to second class or even third class citizenship. It doesn't give due respect to the relationship we've had for nine years. Only marriage can do that.

"We hold marriage in such high regard."

"Discrimination is pervasive, especially after Prop 8. Prop 8 has emboldened other states to take similar actions and that makes it difficult. It's everywhere. It's a daily reminder of what I can't have.

"When Paul and I travel it's always an awkward situation at the front desk of the hotel. The individual will look at us with a perplexed look. You ordered a king size bed. It's that really what you want? It's awkward for both of us. Opening a joint bank account. Same thing. It would be a lot easier, it would crystalize it to be able to say my husband and I are here to check in. My husband and I are here to open a bank account."

11:29 a.m.: David Boeis, plaintiff attorney, questions Zarrillo.

Zarrillo: Paul is "the love of my life. I love him more than I love myself. I would do anything for him and I would like nothing more than to marry him." March will be 9 years together

"The word marriage has a special meaning. That's why we're here today. If it weren't so important, we wouldn't be here today. I want to share the joy my parents felt having the opportunity to be married. It's the next logical step for us.

"I think one's capacity to love can absolutely grow, and I'm confident that will happen with us.

"I would be able to partake in family gatherings, friends and work functions as a married individual standing beside my parents and my brother and his wife. The pride that one feels when that happens.

"It says these individuals are serious. They are in a committed relationship that one hopes will last the rest of their lives."

Boeis: Why haven't you had children?

Zarillo: "Paul and I believe an important step for us to have children is to be married. it would make it easier to explain our relationship to our children and afford us additional protections for our child."

11:17 a.m.: First witness Jeffrey Zarrillo, 36, takes stand.  He's one of the four plaintiffs.  In a relationship with Paul Katami, Zarrillo works for AMC Entertainment and is a general manager of operations, Los Angeles.

"I've been gay as long as I can remember.  I came out in stages.  Ultimately came out to friends and family back home in New Jersey when I was 30.  Why so long?  It's a very difficult and personal process."  (Breaks up on stand).

"You have to get to a point where you're comfortable with your own identity.  It was difficult where I grew up because of the perception of the lesbian and gay community."

11:02 a.m.: First witness to be called at 11:10. I'm (George) sitting two rows behind Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac from Davis (second couple to be married). They are among 13,000 same-sex couples grandfathered before Prop 8. They've gone down to the 17th floor to see if they can watch in person.

10:41 a.m: Cooper said, "Five states allow same-sex marriage, three of them imposed by courts (which is what initially happened in California). Same-sex marriage too novel for plaintiffs to discount long-term affect on families.  Damage comes from marriage being 'deinstitutionalized.'  Evidence will show deinstitutionalization of marriage has had negative impact in places like the Netherlands."

10:37 a.m.: Defense attorney Charles J. Cooper began speaking at 10:20.  I'm (George Warren) watching from the 19th floor ceremonial courtroom that is filled with audience sympathetic to plaintiffs, watching on a projection TV.  They are heckling Cooper as he makes statements such as the sole purpose of marriage is procreation.

10:11 a.m.:  The judge asked, "Why shouldn't the courts stand back and let this develop politically?"  Olson said, "Because that is why we have courts."

10:08 a.m.:  Olson said "speculation is an inadequate justification for discrimination" when it comes to concerns that same-sex marriage hurts traditional marriage."

10:01 a.m.:  Olson said same-sex couples are wearing "badges of inferiority" -- that their relationship is "different, separate, unequal and unworthy."

9:54 a.m.: Olson saif the plaintiffs have "suffered at the hands of their fellow citizens."

9:47 a.m.:  Olson saifs the Prop. 8 campaign promoted discrimination.

9:44 a.m.:  Plaintiffs' attorney Theodore Olson is making his opening statements on behalf of the gay couples who are suing.   He said, "Marriage is central to life in America," and "domestic partnership has nothing to do with love."  He's concerned there are different categories of people in California.

9:25 a.m. Judge Vaughn Walker is talking about the YouTube ruling - called it highly unfortunate that this issue hasn't been brought up in the past.  Said it's important the federal system utilize the means that are currently available and urges 'sensible movement forward. He said the public feedback via e-mail has been overwhelming in support of it.

Supreme Court's Ruling

The high court on Monday said it will not allow video of the trial to be posted on YouTube.com, even with a delay, until the justices have more time to consider the issue.

It said Monday's order will be in place at least until Wednesday. Opponents of the broadcast say they fear witness testimony might be affected if cameras are present.

Justice Stephen Breyer said he would have allowed cameras while the court considers the matter.

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Ted Olson to Make Opening Statement in Prop. 8 Trial/Avail Info | View Clip
01/12/2010
Fox Business Network - Online

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 11, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ ---- The federal trial over the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 will begin Monday, January 11 with an opening statement by attorney Theodore Olson, who with David Boies is leading the legal team assembled by the American Foundation for Equal Rights to litigate the case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Opening statements will be followed by testimony from Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, who comprise two couples who wish to be married but who were denied marriage licenses because of Proposition 8.

AVAIL INFO: please contact press@equalrightsfoundation.org

NOTE: POLICE OR COURTHOUSE CREDENTIALED MEDIA ONLY

For courthouse access information, visit: https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cand/09cv2292/

For information about remote viewing locations, visit: http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/news/watch-prop-8-trial-live/

Visit http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org for updates regarding potential broadcast of trial, photos, any available footage, court filings, live tweets from the courthouse and more.

Plaintiff's case is outlined at http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/legal-filings/plaintiffs-trial-brief/

Olson and Boies notably represented George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore respectively in the 2000 Supreme Court case that decided the presidency.

At trial, Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, will weigh witness testimony, a multitude of documents and other evidence, and arguments presented by some of the nation's most distinguished attorneys.

"This unequal treatment of gays and lesbians denies them the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution," the plaintiffs' suit states.

According to the suit, Prop. 8:

Violates the Due Process Clause by impinging on fundamental liberties.

Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Singles out gays and lesbians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of "second-class citizens."

Discriminates on the basis of gender.

Discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

Olson and Boies will also point out the "crazy quilt" of separate, unequal and unconstitutional classifications of people that Prop. 8 has compelled the California government to create:

Opposite-sex couples who have full marriage rights

Same-sex couples who have no marriage rights

Same-sex couples married between May and Nov. 2008 whose current marriages are recognized, but who will be unable to remarry if widowed or divorced

Same-sex couples married in other states who may petition California for recognition.

The defendants have the burden of demonstrating that Prop. 8 is narrowly drawn to serve a compelling government interest. Olson and Boies will demonstrate at trial, however, that the initiative fails to advance even a single legitimate interest. Tellingly, when asked by Chief Judge Walker at an Oct. 14 hearing to identify any harm to opposite-sex marriage that would result from marriage equality, the defendants' attorney answered "I don't know."

The case against Prop. 8 has proceeded with uncommon speed toward trial. In an order issued after the first hearing in the case, Chief Judge Walker stated: "Given that serious questions are raised in these proceedings ... the court is inclined to proceed directly and expeditiously to the merits of plaintiffs' claims. ... The just, speedy and inexpensive determination of these issues would appear to call for proceeding promptly to trial."

"More than 30 years ago, the United States Supreme Court recognized that marriage is one of the basic rights of man," the suit states, referring to the Court's decision in Loving v. Virginia.

Chad Griffin, board president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, noted that near the time when the Supreme Court struck down interracial marriage bans with its 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, a Gallup poll found that 73 percent of Americans did not approve of interracial marriage.

While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown were named defendants in their official capacities, along with other state and county officials, Prop. 8 is being defended in court by a prominent conservative organization, the Alliance Defense Fund. Gov. Schwarzenegger earlier filed a brief that did not dispute the unconstitutionality of Prop. 8, and called for swift action by the courts. Attorney General Brown, the state's chief law enforcement officer, filed a brief agreeing with the plaintiffs' position that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional.

The ACLU, Lambda Legal, and National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) are participating in the case as amici (friends of the court) in support of the plaintiffs. The City and County of San Francisco, led by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, are supporting the plaintiffs' team as co-counsel, with a specific focus on the negative impact Prop. 8 has on government services and budgets. Herrera and Stewart led the legal battle toward the California Supreme Court decision that struck down California's previous same-sex marriage ban.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights Advisory Board, which was announced January 9th, includes Julian Bond, Lt. Dan Choi, Margaret Hoover, Dolores Huerta, Cleve Jones, Stuart Milk, David Mixner, Hillary Rosen and Judy Shepard. For more information, see http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/press-releases/american-foundation-for-equal-rights-names-advisory-board/.

Olson is a former U.S. Solicitor General and is widely regarded as one of the nation's preeminent constitutional lawyers, and has argued 55 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. Boies ranks as one of the leading trial lawyers of his generation, having secured landmark victories for clients in numerous areas of the law. This is the first time they have served alongside each other as co-counsel.

Kris Perry and Sandy Stier have been together for nine years and are the parents of four boys. Perry is Executive Director of First 5 California, a state agency that promotes education and health for children under five. She holds a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MSW from San Francisco State University. Stier is Information Technology Director for the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services Agency. She is originally from Iowa and is a graduate of the University of Iowa. Perry and Stier first tried to marry in 2004, after the City of San Francisco began issuing licenses. They live in Berkeley, CA.

Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo have been together for eight years. Katami is a fitness expert and business owner who graduated from Santa Clara University before receiving his graduate degree from UCLA. Zarrillo is the General Manager of a theater exhibition company. A native of New Jersey, Zarrillo graduated from Montclair State University. Having wanted to marry each other for more than two years, they considered options including traveling to other states for a "civil union," but felt any alternative fell short of marriage. They live in Burbank, CA.

They have issued the following joint statement: "We and our relationships should be treated equally under the law. Our goal is to advance the cause of equality for all Americans, which is the promise that makes this nation so great."

SOURCE American Foundation for Equal Rights

Copyright (C) 2010 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

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Prop 8 plaintiff I want the discrimination to end | View Clip
01/12/2010
KXTV-TV - Online

Tish Palamidessi C. Johnson 5 hrs ago

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Monday marked the start of a two-week trial on a lawsuit in which two gay couples claim a California ban on same-sex marriage, which voters approved as Proposition 8 in November 2008, violates their federal constitutional rights. Prop 8 ban lawsuit

The plaintiffs are a gay couple from Burbank and a lesbian couple from Berkeley.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker is hearing the case without a jury.

Approximately an hour before opening statements, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked a broadcast of the trial for at least 48 hours until justices could review last week's ruling to allow the proceedings to be shown later on YouTube.com.

The case is widely expected to eventually reach the country's highest court.

News10 Blog from San Francisco Federal Building

Reporters George Warren and Anne Makovec were at the trial, providing a real-time court blog.

3:16 p.m.:  No cross examination.  Stier is dismissed.

All four plaintiffs have now testified.

Plaintiff attorney Theodore Boutrous calls Professor Nancy Cott to witness stand. she taught at Yale, history of women and gender. In 2002 moved to Harvard. She's a historian. She's published eight books.

2:45 p.m.: No cross examination. Perry dismissed.

Olson calls Sandra Stier, 47, to the stand. Stier grew up in Iowa and moved to California after college. Works for Alameda County. Our family is blended, four boys. All their biological children.

Stier: "I'm gay. I learned it in my mid-30s. I was married before to a man. I got married in 1987 and lived most of the time in Alameda. At that time I did not know I was a lesbian. I had a difficult relationship, but it started with the best intentions. Divorced 1999.

"I met Chris in 1996. I was teaching a computer class and she was a student in my class. We later became coworkers and fast friends. I began to realize my feelings for her were unique, and taking over my thoughts. I was falling in love with her. I realized this in 1999. My marriage was troubled on many fronts. The end of my marriage was precipitated by my unhappiness and my husband's alcoholism. My sexual orientation had nothing to do with the divorce."

Olson: "Why are you a plaintiff?"

Stier: "I would like to get married. I want to marry Chris Perry. She's a woman and I can't marry her and I want to get married."

2:26 p.m. Olson: "Why are you a plaintiff in this case?"

Perry:  "Because I want to marry Sandy. I want the discrimination to end and a more joyful part of our life to begin.

"Growing up as a lesbian you never let yourself want it because everyone tells you you can't have it. I think what it means is your relationship is honored. People know what your relationship is. The state isn't letting me feel happy. The state isn't allowing me to feel my whole potential.

Olson: "Did you attempt to be married?"

Perry: "We did. In 2003 I proposed to Sandy without any way of knowing everything was about to develop. I did it to express my personal interest in her. It was around Christmas and we sat on Indian Rock in Berkeley. We sat down and I put my arm around her and asked would you marry me? She looked confused and said yes, but asked how would we do that?

"We started trying to figure out the day and the place and what we might say to each other. In the midst of doing that planning, we learned the city of San Francisco was permitting same sex marriages. February 2004. Sandy and I were reading about it and talked about going to SF to have this marriage. So we made an appointment and went to city hall. We brought all of the boys and my mom and we were married in city hall. As amazed and happy as I could ever imagine feeling. Some of the feelings were new to me. I'm still confused. We continued planning for our private ceremony so more people could come. We had an afternoon wedding in Berkeley for 100 guests, Aug. 1, 2004.

"A few weeks later the court said those marriages were not valid. The city of San Francisco sent us a letter that our marriage was not valid. We will return your marriage fees to you. That told me I'm not good enough to be married."

Olson: "How did you feel when the Supreme Court said you can be married?"

Perry:  "I was elated. We asked ourselves would we get married again? We couldn't bring ourselves to do it again right then. We hadn't recovered from the experience in 2004."

2:09 p.m.: Plaintiff attorney Theodore Olson calls plaintiff Kristin Perry, 45, to the stand. Born in Illinois but moved to California at age 2. Went to UC Santa Cruz, master's in social work at SF State. Works in child protection, child development. Once worked as a child abuse investigator for a Bay Area county. Now is the executive director of a statewide agency that provides support to families with children 0-5 years old.

Perry: "Sandy (Stier, co-plaintiff) is the woman I love. We live together in Berkeley. We have a blended family. We both brought two sons into our relationship. Her children are college-age, mine are in high school. After a long friendship with Sandy, I fell in love with her. I am a lesbian."

2 p.m.: Defense attorney Brian Raum: "You don't think kids need to be protected from same-sex relationships?"

Katami: "No."

Katami dismissed.

1:58 p.m.: Back in session. Katami being cross-examined by a defense attorney (don't have his name).

12:30 p.m.: Katami: "My state is supposed to protect me. It is not supposed to discriminate me."

Break for lunch before cross examination

Resume at 1:30 p.m.

12:20 p.m.:  Judge Walker sustains defense objection. Ad #3 will not be played. The connection is not clear that the Prop 8 folks had anything to do with the production of ad #3.

Boies introduces exhibit #1, Voter Information Guide from 2008. Katami still on stand. Reads argument in favor of Proposition 8 - Voting yes protects our children.

Boies: "What reaction did you have?"

Katami: "Once again that seems to be the punchline of the campaign. Jeff and I are informed voters. We are open to hearing arguments. We discuss them. But this punchline of protecting children, I go back to, what are you protecting them from? How does this generate? How does one even think of using that language. It's absolutely discriminatory. It puts me in a category where I don't belong."

Laptop battery fading. May switch to short notes from the Blackberry.

12:18 p.m.: Katami: "My heart was racing as I watched (the two Prop 8 commercials.) I was so angry. What do you have to be protected from? To categorize me as the devil (in the second ad) it just demeans you. It just makes you feel like people are making an effort to discriminate against you."

Boies wants to play a third ad, produced in 2009.

Boies: "Even after the campaign, the attacks continued."

Defense objects, not relevant.

Boies: "This is even more relevant than the campaign ads, because there was no political campaign. They have no function other than to try to demonize gay people."

11:50 a.m.: Katami: "I'm proud to be gay. I'm a natural born gay.

"Coming out was a natural process. I struggled with it quite a bit. When you're considered different from the norm you're put in situations you try to avoid. I succumbed to peer pressure. I had a girlfriend in high school because you needed one to go to the prom.

Boeis: "Have you experienced discrimination?"

"I have. One example I remember clearly was in college going out with some gay friends. Rocks and eggs came onto the patio along with slurs. It was a sobering moment, but I accepted it as part of our struggle, what we have to deal with.

"More currently, discussions over certain rights, particularly Prop 8. Discussions about my rights, and why I should be able to get married. Marriage is not for you people anyway. You hear that, and regardless of how proud you are (breaks up) you still feel the shame. I shouldn't have to feel the shame. Being gay doesn't make me any less American. Right now being gay means I am unequal. I have been relegated to a corner. I'm tired of reminders. I don't think of myself as somone who needs to be put in a corner."

11:35 a.m.: The defense does not cross-examine Zarrillo. Paul Katami, 37, takes stand. He is Zarrillo's partner. Examined by Boies. Katami  grew up in SF. Two siblings. Santa Clara University and UCLA for master's of fine arts. Works for Equinox Fitness in L.A.

"I would, most definitely, like to get married. I applied for a marriage license and were denied, May 2009.

"The primary reason is I have found someone I love and can dedicate the rest of my life to. My best friend and advocate and supporter. A natural next step.

"Being married allows us access to the language. Being able to call him my husband is difinitive. It comes with a modicum of respect. We both dislike 'lover.'"

11:34 a.m.: Zarillo: "We have not registered as domestic partners because it would relegate me to second class or even third class citizenship. It doesn't give due respect to the relationship we've had for nine years. Only marriage can do that.

"We hold marriage in such high regard."

"Discrimination is pervasive, especially after Prop 8. Prop 8 has emboldened other states to take similar actions and that makes it difficult. It's everywhere. It's a daily reminder of what I can't have.

"When Paul and I travel it's always an awkward situation at the front desk of the hotel. The individual will look at us with a perplexed look. You ordered a king size bed. It's that really what you want? It's awkward for both of us. Opening a joint bank account. Same thing. It would be a lot easier, it would crystalize it to be able to say my husband and I are here to check in. My husband and I are here to open a bank account."

11:29 a.m.: David Boeis, plaintiff attorney, questions Zarrillo.

Zarrillo: Paul is "the love of my life. I love him more than I love myself. I would do anything for him and I would like nothing more than to marry him." March will be 9 years together

"The word marriage has a special meaning. That's why we're here today. If it weren't so important, we wouldn't be here today. I want to share the joy my parents felt having the opportunity to be married. It's the next logical step for us.

"I think one's capacity to love can absolutely grow, and I'm confident that will happen with us.

"I would be able to partake in family gatherings, friends and work functions as a married individual standing beside my parents and my brother and his wife. The pride that one feels when that happens.

"It says these individuals are serious. They are in a committed relationship that one hopes will last the rest of their lives."

Boeis: Why haven't you had children?

Zarillo: "Paul and I believe an important step for us to have children is to be married. it would make it easier to explain our relationship to our children and afford us additional protections for our child."

11:17 a.m.: First witness Jeffrey Zarrillo, 36, takes stand.  He's one of the four plaintiffs.  In a relationship with Paul Katami, Zarrillo works for AMC Entertainment and is a general manager of operations, Los Angeles.

"I've been gay as long as I can remember.  I came out in stages.  Ultimately came out to friends and family back home in New Jersey when I was 30.  Why so long?  It's a very difficult and personal process."  (Breaks up on stand).

"You have to get to a point where you're comfortable with your own identity.  It was difficult where I grew up because of the perception of the lesbian and gay community."

11:02 a.m.: First witness to be called at 11:10. I'm (George) sitting two rows behind Shelly Bailes and Ellen Pontac from Davis (second couple to be married). They are among 13,000 same-sex couples grandfathered before Prop 8. They've gone down to the 17th floor to see if they can watch in person.

10:41 a.m: Cooper said, "Five states allow same-sex marriage, three of them imposed by courts (which is what initially happened in California). Same-sex marriage too novel for plaintiffs to discount long-term affect on families.  Damage comes from marriage being 'deinstitutionalized.'  Evidence will show deinstitutionalization of marriage has had negative impact in places like the Netherlands."

10:37 a.m.: Defense attorney Charles J. Cooper began speaking at 10:20.  I'm (George Warren) watching from the 19th floor ceremonial courtroom that is filled with audience sympathetic to plaintiffs, watching on a projection TV.  They are heckling Cooper as he makes statements such as the sole purpose of marriage is procreation.

10:11 a.m.:  The judge asked, "Why shouldn't the courts stand back and let this develop politically?"  Olson said, "Because that is why we have courts."

10:08 a.m.:  Olson said "speculation is an inadequate justification for discrimination" when it comes to concerns that same-sex marriage hurts traditional marriage."

10:01 a.m.:  Olson said same-sex couples are wearing "badges of inferiority" -- that their relationship is "different, separate, unequal and unworthy."

9:54 a.m.: Olson saif the plaintiffs have "suffered at the hands of their fellow citizens."

9:47 a.m.:  Olson saifs the Prop. 8 campaign promoted discrimination.

9:44 a.m.:  Plaintiffs' attorney Theodore Olson is making his opening statements on behalf of the gay couples who are suing.   He said, "Marriage is central to life in America," and "domestic partnership has nothing to do with love."  He's concerned there are different categories of people in California.

9:25 a.m. Judge Vaughn Walker is talking about the YouTube ruling - called it highly unfortunate that this issue hasn't been brought up in the past.  Said it's important the federal system utilize the means that are currently available and urges 'sensible movement forward. He said the public feedback via e-mail has been overwhelming in support of it.

Supreme Court's Ruling

The high court on Monday said it will not allow video of the trial to be posted on YouTube.com, even with a delay, until the justices have more time to consider the issue.

It said Monday's order will be in place at least until Wednesday. Opponents of the broadcast say they fear witness testimony might be affected if cameras are present.

Justice Stephen Breyer said he would have allowed cameras while the court considers the matter.

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Mental Health Troubles in Youth Go Countercultural to Reverse the Trend | View Clip
01/12/2010
Psychology Today - Online

To maximize good mental health we might need to go countercultural.

Professor Jean Twenge from San Diego State University released a remarkable study today to be published in Clinical Psychology Review that has gotten a good deal of media attention. It claims that five times as many high school and college students are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues as youth of the same age who were studied during the depression of the 1930's. The study looked at results from the MMPI (the most commonly given psychological test for decades) finding that anxiety, depression, hypomania, and psychopathic deviance scores were particularly elevated relative to previous generations. This is especially alarming since psychotropic medication as well as psychological treatments for mental health issues in youth are so much more common, accepted, and used today than in previous generations. These results are consistent with studies conducted by other researchers in recent years all suggesting that the mental health functioning of our youth is worse (and not better) off than those youth in earlier years. While these studies are correlational and thus cause and effect statements can't be made, it may speak to factors in our society that contribute to mental health troubles. There are many to consider: for example, high stress, high expectations for success, wealth, beauty, and so forth.

As a college professor teaching students generally between the ages of 18 and 22, I certainly worry about the pressures that I find my students under and the lack of coping skills that some of them experience. We discuss these issues regularly in my health psychology and clinical psychology classes here at Santa Clara University and in individual student advising. There are no simple answers of course but I often find myself counseling my students to do the following:

1. Take care of your body

Students stay up too late, drink too much alcohol, are often too casual about sexual behavior, and eat foods that are high fat and high calorie (e.g., pizza, burgers). They need to find ways to reverse these trends. Easier said than done but a must nonetheless.

2. Take care of your mind

Students tend to distract themselves by being plugged in 24/7 with iPods, cell phones, computers, and other gadgets. It's sad to walk across campus and see most students on cell phones rather than talking with peers as they walk from one class to another. I encourage them to unplug, spend some time in nature, engage with friends and contemplative practices, and so forth all without technology involvement for at least part of their day.

3. Take care of your soul

Students often are interested in spiritual dimensions of life but many don't find the faith or traditions of their parents or grandparents satisfying, Finding groups and activities that nurture their spirit through the religious and spiritual traditions have many benefits. Contemplative practices, spiritual and religious rituals and fellowship, engaging in social service to help others all help to take care of the spirit and soul.

4. Take care of others

We all know that we live in a narcissistic culture. While we too often think it's all about me, it isn't! As I've articulated in earlier blog posts, being attentive to the needs of others, volunteering, working in solidarity with those who are poor, oppressed, marginalized, and so forth not only helps others but also helps ourselves.

5. Watch out for social comparison

Students and all of us likely make judgments about ourselves through observation of our peers. We judge our attractiveness, fitness, wealth, intelligence, and so forth by observing those around us. If we are tuned in to the cultural messages in the media, we can quickly feel lousy. Following the glamorous lives of the celebrities can make us feel pretty worthless. So, put down People Magazine!

6. Go Countercultural

To maximize good mental health we often must go countercultural. If we go with the flow of our society we are likely to develop all sorts of physical and mental health problems. No surprise that mental health functioning among youth is worse today than in the past. Avoiding mass media, eating healthy, exercising, doing things for others, engaging the spiritual and sacred, working to be less narcissistic, are all pretty countercultural now in our society.

So, doing the right thing for the mental health of youth might mean taking some deep breaths and finding a way to take care of ourselves and others in ways that are countercultural. This is very hard to do of course but perhaps very much needed.

No easy solutions but maybe if we follow these few suggestions we'll someday reverse this disturbing trend. Our youth's mental health may just depend on it.

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Counterfeit goods ruling could have major effect on eBay | View Clip
01/10/2010
Australian PC World

If decision upheld, company would have to spend millions more on anticounterfeit methods, change business processes

Linda Rosencrance (Computerworld) 08/07/2008 08:19:55

If a French court ruling against eBay for allowing the sale of counterfeit goods on its Web site is upheld, it could have far-reaching effects for the way the online auction company does business.

Last week, the Tribunal de Commerce in Paris fined eBay US$61 million for allowing the sale of Louis Vuitton Malletier and Christian Dior Couture counterfeit goods on its Web site. The court also ordered eBay to stop allowing the sale of perfume manufactured by Christian Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy and Kenzo, which can be sold only through an agreed-upon network of distributors.

EBay, which said it will fight the decision, said it was an attempt by LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton Malletier and Christian Dior Couture, to protect uncompetitive commercial practices at the expense of consumer choice and the livelihood of law-abiding sellers.

Jorge Espinosa, an intellectual property attorney at US-based Espinosa Trueba, said that if the decision stands, it would make it harder for Internet companies such as eBay to allow the sale, or resale, of brand-name products.

"As a result, brand owners will ... be able to extend their control over products beyond the first sale, effectively making themselves gatekeepers for litigation-shy online auction houses," Espinosa said in his blog. In addition, the ruling will either cause eBay to shut down its French Web site or spend millions of dollars to implement methods to take down auctions for counterfeit goods that appear on its sites worldwide, legal experts said.

"EBay might believe it has to set up custom implementations on a country-by-country basis to better reflect local law, but the consequence is that it imposes some significant costs," said Eric Goldman, assistant professor and director of the High Tech Law Institute at the Santa Clara University School of Law. "EBay has the capital to do it, but they don't want to because it's expensive to build the technology differently. They also think it would result in a poor consumer experience, and it would reduce consumer choice, which is exactly what they don't want to do."

EBay agreed that it would most likely have to change its business model.

"If we have to change our business in relation to this ruling, it will be a massive undertaking," said eBay spokeswoman Nichola Sharpe. "We don't view it as just affecting eBay France, but affecting all eBay sites globally."

The legal experts also said that other luxury goods makers are waiting to see the outcome of eBay's appeal to determine whether they will also go after eBay for allowing the sale of counterfeit goods.

"A hot issue in copyright law right now is an Internet site's responsibility for what users post and whether it is responsible for the misuse of the intellectual property of others," said Carole Handler, an intellectual property lawyer at US-based Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, in an e-mail. "With this decision, the responsibility of online retailers for the sale of counterfeit merchandise has now come under scrutiny in the same context."

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Inefficient Markets Are Still Hard to Beat | View Clip
01/10/2010
Yahoo! Finance

Can't anyone here play this game?

With the market so erratic at pricing stocks, it is tempting to think you can do better.

Between the Dow Jones Industrial Average's record in October 2007 and the bear-market low in March 2009, 's stock fell 94%. Then, by year-end 2009, it went up 380%. It wasn't just financial stocks that acted like yo-yos: Over the same period, 's stock fell 87%, then more than tripled.

How can such crazy swings in price be "efficient"? As millions of smart buyers and sellers compete to maximize their wealth, they update stock prices with all the relevant information that's available. That's what an "efficient market" means. It presumes that the market price is the best estimate of a stock's intrinsic value, or what all its current and future cash flows are worth.

But the fact that the market price is the best available estimate doesn't mean that the market price is right.

In 1974, the great financial analyst Benjamin Graham wryly described the efficient-market hypothesis as a theory that "could have great practical importance if it coincided with reality." Mr. Graham marveled at how , which traded at $140 a share in 1973, had sunk below $20 in 1974: "I deny emphatically that because the market has all the information it needs to establish a correct price the prices it actually registers are in fact correct."

Mr. Graham proposed that the price of every stock consists of two elements. One, "investment value," measures the worth of all the cash a company will generate now and in the future. The other, the "speculative element," is driven by sentiment and emotion: hope and greed and thrill-seeking in bull markets, fear and regret and revulsion in bear markets.

The market is quite efficient at processing the information that determines investment value. But predicting the shifting emotions of tens of millions of people is no easy task. So the speculative element in pricing is prone to huge and rapid swings that can swamp investment value.

Thus, it's important not to draw the wrong conclusions from the market's inefficiency. "The evidence does suggest that the market is not rational," says , a finance professor at Santa Clara University in California. "But watch out for the voice of the devil inside of you saying that therefore it must be easy to beat the market."

For one thing, hindsight blinds you to the truth. Last March, in the bowels of global financial panic, it was far from clear that Bank of America would survive and that the stock was dirt cheap.

The market had priced such companies as if they might go out of business because plenty of information suggested that was a possibility, and because fear was then so pervasive that optimism felt almost like a form of irrationality.

So, while it may seem obvious today that Bank of America is a survivor, most investors didn't think the market price for the stock was too cheap last March. As Prof. Statman puts it: "The market may be crazy, but that doesn't make you a psychiatrist."

Looking back at how cheap stocks got last spring, you may conclude that any idiot should have known to be buying them hand over fist. But mutual-fund investors sold out of stocks all year long; in March alone, at the very moment when stocks were cheapest, fund investors dumped $25 billion worth.

Furthermore, money managers chase whatever's hot and shun whatever's not. Those who are the best at this game attract more money in rising markets and lose fewer clients in falling markets, pushing prices further away from Mr. Graham's "investment value." These are the last people who will go against the grain to buy cheap stocks at the bottom.

In the short run, at least, the herd behavior of the pros makes it even harder for you to take a winning bet against the "speculative element" in a stock's price. It takes superhuman courage to buy into a hurricane of selling.

Finally, even money managers who can beat the market may leave clients lagging behind the market. Consider a fund manager who outperforms the averages by 2.5 percentage points annually, before expenses; that's a spectacular return. But his trading costs and management fees are likely to eat up at least 2.5 percentage points, leaving his clients no better off than if they had bought an index fund that simply mimics the returns of the overall market.

That's why, even after the crazy swings of the past decade, index funds still make the most sense for most investors. The market may be inefficient, but it remains close to invincible.

Write to Jason Zweig at intelligentinvestor@wsj.com

Buzz up!

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EDUCATION NEWS FROM ACROSS THE NATION | View Clip
01/09/2010
Jacksonville Business Journal - Online

GSU gets stimulus for West Nile research [Atlanta]

4-year degree approved for Trocaire [Buffalo]

Mercantile Library completes facelift [Cincinnati]

Toyota gives $300K to Louisville schools [Louisville]

UH and faculty union will resume talks [Honolulu]

Rural schools to get $5M for solar [Phoenix]

Apollo financials rise, officials have little to say on DOE review [Phoenix]

Drexel University holding financial aid workshop [Sacramento]

Intel commits $200M to math, science education [San Jose]

Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University [San Jose]

New online high school starting in Washington [Seattle]

Related Group sells downtown Miami lots [South Florida]

Accrediting agency anoints Meredith [Raleigh/Durham]

Luddy's Thales to add third campus [Raleigh/Durham]

EDSI teams with Wake Tech on job training [Raleigh/Durham]

Most Read Education News

USF fires Jim Leavitt, begins national search for new coach [Tampa Bay]

Related Group sells downtown Miami lots [South Florida]

UC, CSU get funding restored in Schwarzenegger's budget [San Jose]

Anthem College offers new degree programs [Phoenix]

Places for People gets $100,000 in tax credits [St. Louis]

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Inefficient Markets Are Still Hard to Beat | View Clip
01/09/2010
Wall Street Journal

...The evidence does suggest that the market is not rational, says Meir Statman, a finance professor at Santa Clara University in California. But watch out for the voice of the devil inside...

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Inefficient Markets Are Still Hard to Beat | View Clip
01/09/2010
Wall Street Journal

...The evidence does suggest that the market is not rational, says Meir Statman, a finance professor at Santa Clara University in California. But watch out for the voice of the devil inside...

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Santa Clara University and Zipcar team up for car-sharing program | View Clip
01/08/2010
San Jose Mercury News

Parking at any university campus is usually a pain, both in terms of finding a spot and then paying for it.

On Thursday, Zipcar will formally introduce what it bills as the "world's largest car sharing company'' at Santa Clara University, joining a growing list of campuses nationwide to participate in the green-friendly program.

Two Zipcars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all faculty and staff, students 18 and older, as well as anyone in the public who is at least 21 years old. The rental price includes gas, insurance, 180 free miles, roadside assistance, and yes, reserved parking spots on campus in front of Bannan Hall. Cars can be taken off campus.

Zipcar and university officials stressed in a statement that they are jointly trying to be greener, by "reducing the need for individual cars and the associated congestion and emissions." Santa Clara University joined the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007 to become "climate neutral" by 2015.

Faculty, staff, and students can join Zipcar by paying an annual $35 fee, and then $8 per hour or $66 per day during the week, and $9 per hour or $72 per day on weekends. Students also get $35 in free driving credit as part of a launch promotion. The general public can join at regular Zipcar rates. More information is available at www.zipcar.com/scu.

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SAVING ENERGY IS THE PLAN AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY.
01/08/2010
Mornings On 2 - KTVU-TV

SAVING ENERGY IS THE PLAN AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY. THAT'S BECAUSE ZIPCAR IS INTRODUCING WHAT IT IS CALLING THE WORLD'S LARGEST CAR SHARING PROGRAM ON CAMPUS THERE. TWO ZIPCARS WILL BE MILD AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS, FACULTY AND STAFF. THE RENTAL PRICE RESERVES GAS AND PARKING ON CAMEL, CAMPUS. FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO KTVU. COM.

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Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University | View Clip
01/08/2010
Business Review - Online

Zipcar, described as the world's largest car-sharing program, will debut at Santa Clara University Jan. 14.

The university will join nearby campuses like Stanford and the University of California-Santa Cruz, which also offer the program.

Two self-service, fuel-efficient cars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, located in reserved parking spaces in front of Bannon Hall on the Santa Clara campus. They will be available to students 18 and older, as well as university faculty and staff. Even members of the general public at least 21 years ago age will be able to use the cars.

Zipcar membership costs $35. The vehicles cost $8 per hour to drive or $66 per day weekdays, and $9 per hour or $72 per day weekends. Gas, insurance, 180 free miles, reserved parking and roadside assistance are included in the package.

"The addition of Zipcar at SCU gives students the ability to take off-campus trips where public transportation isn't accessible," Lindsey Cromwell, the university's sustainability coordinator, said in a statement. "The university is also encouraging faculty and staff to carpool more often and use Zipcars to attend any off-site meetings or events."

David Goll can be reached at 408-299-1853 or dgoll@bizjournals.com

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Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University | View Clip
01/08/2010
San Francisco Business Times - Online

Zipcar, described as the world's largest car-sharing program, will debut at Santa Clara University Jan. 14.

The university will join nearby campuses like Stanford and the University of California-Santa Cruz, which also offer the program.

Two self-service, fuel-efficient cars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, located in reserved parking spaces in front of Bannon Hall on the Santa Clara campus. They will be available to students 18 and older, as well as university faculty and staff. Even members of the general public at least 21 years ago age will be able to use the cars.

Zipcar membership costs $35. The vehicles cost $8 per hour to drive or $66 per day weekdays, and $9 per hour or $72 per day weekends. Gas, insurance, 180 free miles, reserved parking and roadside assistance are included in the package.

"The addition of Zipcar at SCU gives students the ability to take off-campus trips where public transportation isn't accessible," Lindsey Cromwell, the university's sustainability coordinator, said in a statement. "The university is also encouraging faculty and staff to carpool more often and use Zipcars to attend any off-site meetings or events."

David Goll can be reached at 408-299-1853 or dgoll@bizjournals.com

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Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University | View Clip
01/08/2010
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal - Online

Zipcar, described as the world's largest car-sharing program, will debut at Santa Clara University Jan. 14.

The university will join nearby campuses like Stanford and the University of California-Santa Cruz, which also offer the program.

Two self-service, fuel-efficient cars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, located in reserved parking spaces in front of Bannon Hall on the Santa Clara campus. They will be available to students 18 and older, as well as university faculty and staff. Even members of the general public at least 21 years ago age will be able to use the cars.

Zipcar membership costs $35. The vehicles cost $8 per hour to drive or $66 per day weekdays, and $9 per hour or $72 per day weekends. Gas, insurance, 180 free miles, reserved parking and roadside assistance are included in the package.

"The addition of Zipcar at SCU gives students the ability to take off-campus trips where public transportation isn't accessible," Lindsey Cromwell, the university's sustainability coordinator, said in a statement. "The university is also encouraging faculty and staff to carpool more often and use Zipcars to attend any off-site meetings or events."

David Goll can be reached at 408-299-1853 or dgoll@bizjournals.com

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4 simple steps to savvy investing | View Clip
01/08/2010
Business 2.0 - Online

(Money Magazine) -- I've been writing about investing for nearly a quarter of a century. And if I've learned one thing after counseling Money readers through three recessions, three stock market crashes, and two derivatives debacles (yes, two: 14 years before the recent flare-up with mortgage-backed securities, derivatives tripped up several government income and money-market funds), it's this: Savvy investing need not be complicated. Just focus on what's most important to stay on the path to financial success and filter out all the noise along the way.

To do just that, follow this four-step program:

Find personalized rates:

Cable-TV investing shows may make you feel like a slouch if you're not constantly searching for hot new investments. But I've seen too many Next Big Things turn into the Next Big Letdowns -- limited partnerships in the '80s and, recently, mutual funds that replicate hedge fund strategies, to name two.

In reality, smart investing is more about assembling a group of tried-and-true assets that give you diversification than trying to predict tomorrow's top gainers. "I'd rather have mediocre funds in the right mix of categories than great funds without an underlying allocation strategy," says Charlottesville, Va., financial planner David Marotta.

The reason is that asset classes, more than individual picks, drive your long-term returns. Creating a well-rounded portfolio isn't that hard. Marotta figures you need only five or six funds that cover key assets such as large and small U.S. stocks, foreign shares, and bonds -- plus maybe another that invests in natural resources, real estate, or other inflation hedges.

Birthdays and anniversaries are the milestones of our lives. So it's not surprising that we tend to think in annual terms when gauging our portfolios. Yet it's dangerous to think of investing as a sprint rather than a marathon.

Why? If you're seeking the best gains over the next 12 months, you'll naturally gravitate toward more volatile investments because they'll give you a better shot at big short-term gains. But your odds of picking those winners year in and year out are extremely slim.

"It's like someone on a hot streak at the roulette wheel," says York University finance professor Moshe Milevsky. "You know it's not going to last." What's more likely to happen is that you'll end up in investments that go down just as quickly as they went up.

When was the last time you heard someone brag about his razor-thin mutual fund expenses? Probably never. That's because high returns are a lot sexier than low fees.

Still, you're better off paying as much attention, if not more, to what your funds charge than to past performance. "The probability of a manager outperforming going forward is small," says Financial Engines chief investment officer Christopher Jones. "But fees are far more predictable." And remember that every dollar you pay in fees reduces the returns you get to keep -- and that can add up over the long haul.

To gauge the effect of costs, I used Morningstar's database to sort all large-cap stock funds with 15-year records into four groups, based on expenses. I then compared each group's average annualized 15-year returns. Result: The higher a group's fees, the lower its average return. This mirrors an analysis that Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis (two heavyweights in the investing world) include in their new book, The Elements of Investing.

During my career at Money, I've seen stock prices fall more than 20% in a single day (Oct. 19, 1987) and twice drop by roughly half over longer periods (March 2000 to October 2002 and October 2007 to March 2009).

But if those crashes led to similarly steep losses in your portfolio, you can't blame the market entirely for your misfortune. More often than not, to paraphrase Shakespeare, the fault is not in the markets, but in ourselves. When things are going well we tend to get overconfident and plow more money than we should into risky assets, making us overly vulnerable to downturns. And when a setback inevitably arrives, says Santa Clara University economist Hersh Shefrin, "We bail out and focus so much on safety that we're not positioned to capture gains when the market turns around, which it typically does very quickly."

Rather than swinging between euphoria in up markets and depression in down ones, you're better off keeping your emotions -- and strategy -- on an even keel. Granted, achieving that Zen-like outlook is easier said than done. But the more you can maintain your equanimity and resist Wall Street's entreaties to fiddle with your investments, the fewer mistakes you'll make -- and the more wealth you'll end up with in the long run.

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4 simple steps to savvy investing | View Clip
01/08/2010
Yahoo! Finance

I've been writing about investing for nearly a quarter of a century. And if I've learned one thing after counseling Money readers through three recessions, three stock market crashes, and two derivatives debacles (yes, two: 14 years before the recent flare-up with mortgage-backed securities, derivatives tripped up several government income and money-market funds), it's this: Savvy investing need not be complicated. Just focus on what's most important to stay on the path to financial success and filter out all the noise along the way.

To do just that, follow this four-step program:

1. Don't obsess over the "best" investments.

Cable-TV investing shows may make you feel like a slouch if you're not constantly searching for hot new investments. But I've seen too many Next Big Things turn into the Next Big Letdowns -- limited partnerships in the '80s and, recently, mutual funds that replicate hedge fund strategies, to name two.

In reality, smart investing is more about assembling a group of tried-and-true assets that give you diversification than trying to predict tomorrow's top gainers. "I'd rather have mediocre funds in the right mix of categories than great funds without an underlying allocation strategy," says Charlottesville, Va., financial planner David Marotta.

The reason is that asset classes, more than individual picks, drive your long-term returns. Creating a well-rounded portfolio isn't that hard. Marotta figures you need only five or six funds that cover key assets such as large and small U.S. stocks, foreign shares, and bonds -- plus maybe another that invests in natural resources, real estate, or other inflation hedges.

2. Think long term, not year to year.

Birthdays and anniversaries are the milestones of our lives. So it's not surprising that we tend to think in annual terms when gauging our portfolios. Yet it's dangerous to think of investing as a sprint rather than a marathon.

Why? If you're seeking the best gains over the next 12 months, you'll naturally gravitate toward more volatile investments because they'll give you a better shot at big short-term gains. But your odds of picking those winners year in and year out are extremely slim.

"It's like someone on a hot streak at the roulette wheel," says York University finance professor Moshe Milevsky. "You know it's not going to last." What's more likely to happen is that you'll end up in investments that go down just as quickly as they went up.

3. Keep a tight rein on costs.

When was the last time you heard someone brag about his razor-thin mutual fund expenses? Probably never. That's because high returns are a lot sexier than low fees.

Still, you're better off paying as much attention, if not more, to what your funds charge than to past performance. "The probability of a manager outperforming going forward is small," says Financial Engines chief investment officer Christopher Jones. "But fees are far more predictable." And remember that every dollar you pay in fees reduces the returns you get to keep -- and that can add up over the long haul.

To gauge the effect of costs, I used Morningstar's database to sort all large-cap stock funds with 15-year records into four groups, based on expenses. I then compared each group's average annualized 15-year returns. Result: The higher a group's fees, the lower its average return. This mirrors an analysis that Burton Malkiel and Charles Ellis (two heavyweights in the investing world) include in their new book, The Elements of Investing.

4. Keep a tighter rein on yourself.

During my career at Money, I've seen stock prices fall more than 20% in a single day (Oct. 19, 1987) and twice drop by roughly half over longer periods (March 2000 to October 2002 and October 2007 to March 2009).

But if those crashes led to similarly steep losses in your portfolio, you can't blame the market entirely for your misfortune. More often than not, to paraphrase Shakespeare, the fault is not in the markets, but in ourselves. When things are going well we tend to get overconfident and plow more money than we should into risky assets, making us overly vulnerable to downturns. And when a setback inevitably arrives, says Santa Clara University economist Hersh Shefrin, "We bail out and focus so much on safety that we're not positioned to capture gains when the market turns around, which it typically does very quickly."

Rather than swinging between euphoria in up markets and depression in down ones, you're better off keeping your emotions -- and strategy -- on an even keel. Granted, achieving that Zen-like outlook is easier said than done. But the more you can maintain your equanimity and resist Wall Street's entreaties to fiddle with your investments, the fewer mistakes you'll make -- and the more wealth you'll end up with in the long run.

Buzz up!

Return to Top



Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University | View Clip
01/08/2010
Washington Business Journal - Online

Zipcar, described as the world's largest car-sharing program, will debut at Santa Clara University Jan. 14.

The university will join nearby campuses like Stanford and the University of California-Santa Cruz, which also offer the program.

Two self-service, fuel-efficient cars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, located in reserved parking spaces in front of Bannon Hall on the Santa Clara campus. They will be available to students 18 and older, as well as university faculty and staff. Even members of the general public at least 21 years ago age will be able to use the cars.

Zipcar membership costs $35. The vehicles cost $8 per hour to drive or $66 per day weekdays, and $9 per hour or $72 per day weekends. Gas, insurance, 180 free miles, reserved parking and roadside assistance are included in the package.

"The addition of Zipcar at SCU gives students the ability to take off-campus trips where public transportation isn't accessible," Lindsey Cromwell, the university's sustainability coordinator, said in a statement. "The university is also encouraging faculty and staff to carpool more often and use Zipcars to attend any off-site meetings or events."

David Goll can be reached at 408-299-1853 or dgoll@bizjournals.com

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Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University | View Clip
01/08/2010
Dayton Business Journal - Online

Zipcar, described as the world's largest car-sharing program, will debut at Santa Clara University Jan. 14.

The university will join nearby campuses like Stanford and the University of California-Santa Cruz, which also offer the program.

Two self-service, fuel-efficient cars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, located in reserved parking spaces in front of Bannon Hall on the Santa Clara campus. They will be available to students 18 and older, as well as university faculty and staff. Even members of the general public at least 21 years ago age will be able to use the cars.

Zipcar membership costs $35. The vehicles cost $8 per hour to drive or $66 per day weekdays, and $9 per hour or $72 per day weekends. Gas, insurance, 180 free miles, reserved parking and roadside assistance are included in the package.

"The addition of Zipcar at SCU gives students the ability to take off-campus trips where public transportation isn't accessible," Lindsey Cromwell, the university's sustainability coordinator, said in a statement. "The university is also encouraging faculty and staff to carpool more often and use Zipcars to attend any off-site meetings or events."

David Goll can be reached at 408-299-1853 or dgoll@bizjournals.com

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The Stock Markets Little Shop of Horrors And You Thought the Aftermath of 1929 Was Grim (123) | View Clip
01/08/2010
Journal of Investing

Do stocks always beat bonds? Do stocks necessarily beat inflation by 6%7% over long periods? Data from select foreign markets and pre-1926 U.S. markets call these shibboleths into question. Better to regard stocks as always a risky investment, independent of holding period, and regardless of immediate prior returns. Thus, buying after stocks have declined by 40% is no panacea. And, severe declines in excess of 40% are more common than with conventional asset allocation models, as the halcyon decades following the Depression might suggest.

Edward F McQuarrie is a professor at Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA. emcquarrie@scu.edu

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Zipcar rolls into Santa Clara University | View Clip
01/08/2010
Business Review - Online

Zipcar, described as the world's largest car-sharing program, will debut at Santa Clara University Jan. 14.

The university will join nearby campuses like Stanford and the University of California-Santa Cruz, which also offer the program.

Two self-service, fuel-efficient cars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, located in reserved parking spaces in front of Bannon Hall on the Santa Clara campus. They will be available to students 18 and older, as well as university faculty and staff. Even members of the general public at least 21 years ago age will be able to use the cars.

Zipcar membership costs $35. The vehicles cost $8 per hour to drive or $66 per day weekdays, and $9 per hour or $72 per day weekends. Gas, insurance, 180 free miles, reserved parking and roadside assistance are included in the package.

"The addition of Zipcar at SCU gives students the ability to take off-campus trips where public transportation isn't accessible," Lindsey Cromwell, the university's sustainability coordinator, said in a statement. "The university is also encouraging faculty and staff to carpool more often and use Zipcars to attend any off-site meetings or events."

David Goll can be reached at 408-299-1853 or dgoll@bizjournals.com

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Zipcar expands to Santa Clara University | View Clip
01/08/2010
Boston Business Journal - Online

Zipcar, described as the world's largest car-sharing program, will debut at Santa Clara University Jan. 14.

The university will join nearby campuses like Stanford and the University of California-Santa Cruz, which also offer the program. Zipcar is based in Cambridge, Mass.

Two self-service, fuel-efficient cars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, located in reserved parking spaces in front of Bannon Hall on the Santa Clara campus. They will be available to students 18 and older, as well as university faculty and staff. Even members of the general public at least 21 years ago age will be able to use the cars.

Zipcar membership costs $35. The vehicles cost $8 per hour to drive or $66 per day weekdays, and $9 per hour or $72 per day weekends. Gas, insurance, 180 free miles, reserved parking and roadside assistance are included in the package.

"The addition of Zipcar at SCU gives students the ability to take off-campus trips where public transportation isn't accessible," Lindsey Cromwell, the university's sustainability coordinator, said in a statement. "The university is also encouraging faculty and staff to carpool more often and use Zipcars to attend any off-site meetings or events."

David Goll can be reached at 408-299-1853 or dgoll@bizjournals.com

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Santa Clara University and Zipcar team up for car-sharing program | View Clip
01/08/2010
Cupertino Courier - Online

Parking at any university campus is usually a pain, both in terms of finding a spot and then paying for it.

On Thursday, Zipcar will formally introduce what it bills as the "world's largest car sharing company'' at Santa Clara University, joining a growing list of campuses nationwide to participate in the green-friendly program.

Two Zipcars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all faculty and staff, students 18 and older, as well as anyone in the public who is at least 21 years old. The rental price includes gas, insurance, 180 free miles, roadside assistance, and yes, reserved parking spots on campus in front of Bannan Hall. Cars can be taken off campus.

Zipcar and university officials stressed in a statement that they are jointly trying to be greener, by "reducing the need for individual cars and the associated congestion and emissions." Santa Clara University joined the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007 to become "climate neutral" by 2015.

Faculty, staff, and students can join Zipcar by paying an annual $35 fee, and then $8 per hour or $66 per day during the week, and $9 per hour or $72 per day on weekends. Students also get $35 in free driving credit as part of a launch promotion. The general public can join at regular Zipcar rates. More information is available at www.zipcar.com/scu.

Contact Lisa Fernandez at

408-920-5002.

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Zip Cars Come to Santa Clara University | View Clip
01/08/2010
KTVU-TV - Online

SANTA CLARA, CA -- Zip Car is introducing the world's largest car sharing program at Santa Clara University in an attempt to save more energy.

Beginning next week two zip cars will be made available on campus for a 24 hour basis for students, faculty and staff. The rental price will include gas, insurance and reserved parking on campus.

For more information go to www.zipcar.com/scu.

Copyright 2010 by KTVU.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Zip Cars Come to Santa Clara University | View Clip
01/08/2010
KRXI-TV - Online

SANTA CLARA, CA -- Zip Car is introducing the world's largest car sharing program at Santa Clara University in an attempt to save more energy.

Beginning next week two zip cars will be made available on campus for a 24 hour basis for students, faculty and staff. The rental price will include gas, insurance and reserved parking on campus.

For more information go to www.zipcar.com/scu.

Copyright 2010 by KTVU.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Santa Clara University and Zipcar team up for car-sharing program | View Clip
01/08/2010
York Daily Record

Parking at any university campus is usually a pain, both in terms of finding a spot and then paying for it.

On Thursday, Zipcar will formally introduce what it bills as the "world's largest car sharing company'' at Santa Clara University, joining a growing list of campuses nationwide to participate in the green-friendly program.

Two Zipcars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all faculty and staff, students 18 and older, as well as anyone in the public who is at least 21 years old. The rental price includes gas, insurance, 180 free miles, roadside assistance, and yes, reserved parking spots on campus in front of Bannan Hall. Cars can be taken off campus.

Zipcar and university officials stressed in a statement that they are jointly trying to be greener, by "reducing the need for individual cars and the associated congestion and emissions." Santa Clara University joined the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007 to become "climate neutral" by 2015.

Faculty, staff, and students can join Zipcar by paying an annual $35 fee, and then $8 per hour or $66 per day during the week, and $9 per hour or $72 per day on weekends. Students also get $35 in free driving credit as part of a launch promotion. The general public can join at regular Zipcar rates. More information is available at www.zipcar.com/scu.

Contact Lisa Fernandez at

408-920-5002.

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Santa Clara University and Zipcar team up for car-sharing program | View Clip
01/08/2010
SiliconValley.com

Parking at any university campus is usually a pain, both in terms of finding a spot and then paying for it.

On Thursday, Zipcar will formally introduce what it bills as the "world's largest car sharing company'' at Santa Clara University, joining a growing list of campuses nationwide to participate in the green-friendly program.

Two Zipcars will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all faculty and staff, students 18 and older, as well as anyone in the public who is at least 21 years old. The rental price includes gas, insurance, 180 free miles, roadside assistance, and yes, reserved parking spots on campus in front of Bannan Hall. Cars can be taken off campus.

Zipcar and university officials stressed in a statement that they are jointly trying to be greener, by "reducing the need for individual cars and the associated congestion and emissions." Santa Clara University joined the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007 to become "climate neutral" by 2015.

Faculty, staff, and students can join Zipcar by paying an annual $35 fee, and then $8 per hour or $66 per day during the week, and $9 per hour or $72 per day on weekends. Students also get $35 in free driving credit as part of a launch promotion. The general public can join at regular Zipcar rates. More information is available at www.zipcar.com/scu.

Contact Lisa Fernandez at

408-920-5002.

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TTORNEY GENERAL JOHN KROGER ANNOUNCES THE 2010 CLASS OF HONORS ATTORNEYS AT THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF
01/07/2010
Federal News Service

SALEM, Ore., Jan. 6 -- The Oregon Attorney General issued the following news release:

Attorney General John Kroger today announced the appointment of six promising new lawyers for the Honors Attorney Program at the Oregon Department of Justice.

"We're recruiting the best lawyers in the country," said Attorney General Kroger. "We're honored that they chose public service."

The two-year program is highly competitive and designed to attract exceptionally qualified recent law school graduates or judicial clerks with an interest in public service. Honors attorneys obtain a broad range of experience by working in several areas within the Department of Justice and often advance to leadership positions at the Department and other public service jobs.

Jose Klein is currently a law clerk at the Oregon Supreme Court for Justice Martha Walters. Klein graduated from Harvard Law School in 2008, where he was awarded a Human Rights Fellowship. He received an MA from the University of Amsterdam in film and television studies and a BA from Vassar College.

Rebecca Johansen currently works as a law clerk for Justice Thomas A. Balmer at the Oregon Supreme Court. Johansen worked as a law clerk at the Oregon Federal Public Defender. She graduated from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2008 tied for first in her class. She has a BS in Psychology from Santa Clara University.

Janet Borth, a third-year student at the University of Oregon School of Law, is a Senior Editor for the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation. Borth graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BS in Zoology and has worked as a flight attendant, a laboratory technician, and a management analyst for the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Devin Huseby landed a judicial clerkship with Judge Ancer L. Haggerty in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon after his admission to the Oregon State Bar in 2008. Huseby is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Honors Program. He has an AB in International Studies from Vassar College.

Jessica McKie is in her final year at Lewis & Clark Law School. She co-authored the first two chapters of the Oregon State Bar publication, Interpreting Oregon Law, edited by Hon. Jack Landau. She currently juggles an internship at the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office and a clerkship with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Portland. McKie is a former fourth grade teacher with a BA in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Allison Woo is a third-year student at Stanford Law School where she writes for the Stanford Law & Policy Review and works as an Immigration Intake Reviewer for a legal aide clinic in East Palo Alto. Woo has experience working as a judicial extern in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California and as a project manager for the American Red Cross. She has an MA in Sociology and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.

Attorney General John Kroger leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department's mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.For more information please contact: Sarabjit Jagirdar, Email:- htsyndication@hindustantimes.com.

Copyright © 2010 US Fed News (HT Syndication)

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Two teens get 50 to life in drive-by shooting; advocates protest sentence | View Clip
01/07/2010
KTXL-TV - Online

More than two dozen youths and advocates gathered in front of the criminal courts building in downtown Los Angeles to support two young males who were sentenced today to 50 years to life in prison for a fatal drive-by shooting.

A jury convicted Steven Menendez, 17, and Jose Garcia, 19, of murder in July in the March 2007 death of 16-year-old Danny Saavedra.

Saavedra was playing basketball in the 500 block of 82nd Street in South Los Angeles when he was shot in what police described as a gang-related attack. Afterward, officers pursued a vehicle matching the description of the one used in the killing, and when Garcia and Menendez got out, they were arrested.

Both later said they were just passengers and identified the shooter as Noel Velasco, a 26-year-old member of the Street Villains gang. Velasco was never charged and was shot to death three months later.

Saavedra's parents and siblings spoke at the sentencing and told prosecutors they considered the sentence appropriate, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

“These were two admitted gang members who went into rival gang territory, and they drove around not once but twice, slowed down and shot and killed a 16-year-old boy who had no gang connection,” Robison said.

But supporters of Garcia and Menendez said they did not deserve such harsh sentences.

“My son has never been locked up before,” said Menendez's mother, Maria Luisa Borrego, 34, of Downey. “I don't think this is justice at all. It's more like vengeance.”

Rachel Veerman coordinates a support group for Menendez and other parents whose children are in jail or detention. She said her own son narrowly escaped being charged as an adult after friends took his car and used it in a drive-by shooting.

She said her son's lawyer persuaded a judge to keep the attempted murder case in Juvenile Court, and her son was ordered to spend two years in state detention. He is now a freshman at Santa Clara University.

“We've been seeing more and more of these outrageous sentences — it just doesn't make sense,” Veerman said. “They should pay for what they did, but now they're just throwing them and our tax dollars away.”

Some supporters considered today's sentences a partial victory: Garcia had faced life without parole. About 250 prisoners convicted for crimes committed when they were youths are serving such sentences statewide, according to Kim McGill, an organizer with the Inglewood-based Youth Justice Coalition.

McGill said her group supports proposals to revise such strict sentencing laws. The Fair Sentences for Youth Act, sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and scheduled for consideration by the state Assembly later this year, would allow some youths sentenced to life without parole to qualify to have their sentences reconsidered and be released.

“They learn much more in the community about what it means to be a good human being than they do in prison,” McGill said.

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Health-IT experts discuss privacy and security requirements of computerized PHRs at upcoming forum | View Clip
01/07/2010
News-Medical.Net

A key cornerstone of President Obama's health-care reform efforts is a national web of computerized Personal Health Records (PHRs), provided by a burgeoning industry of health-IT providers such as Google, Microsoft and IBM. But before this industry can be fully built out, health providers, technologists, and legislators need to agree on a slew of privacy and security safeguards and standards.

An upcoming forum at Santa Clara University, Privacy Protections for Patient-Empowered Care, will cover some of the pressing issues and key recommendations the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Trade Commission will likely present to the United States Congress on February 18. Congress has asked for recommendations for privacy and security requirements for certain Personal Health Record vendors and others whose activities are not governed by regulations that currently apply to health-care providers.

For example: Should there be legal consequences if personal health record information is leaked, even inadvertently, to marketers or to commercial data brokers? Are there cutting-edge, foolproof ways of hiding identities in such data to minimize damage from such leaks?

The forum, taking place January 20 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the St. Clare Room of the Harrington Learning Commons, Sobrato Technology Center, and Orradre Library at Santa Clara University, will feature two health-IT experts at the epicenter of federal discussion on the issue:

Dr. Paul Tang, MD, who sits on the privacy and security subcommittee of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, will lead a panel on the array of Public Health Records under consideration, how they would work, and their implications for patient privacy.

Deven McGraw, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology's Privacy Project, will discuss how third-party applications currently access and use personal data, and how such practices could be expanded with national health records. She'll also discuss the emerging consensus around PHR privacy policy.

Forum participants —including legal experts, health providers, technologists, and social scientists — are expected to touch on a range of issues important to patient-empowered care: business practices; technical IT infrastructure; legal issues and policy frameworks.

The forum is co-sponsored by Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology, and Society; the High-Tech Law Institute of the Santa Clara University School of Law; and SCU's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

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Solar Decathlon Gives a Lesson on the Value of Spray Foam | View Clip
01/06/2010
SprayFoam Magazine

Two teams of American students shone at this year's Solar Decathlon, a competition sponsored by the United States Department of Energy.
The contest, sponsored in part by the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), challenged students to spend two years designing, building, and running the most “attractive, effective, and energy-efficient solar-powered house,” according to the Department of Energy. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman announced the awards on October 16 in a ceremony at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) won second place with a score of 897.3 out of 1,000 possible points, while Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts students, or “Team California,” won third place with 863.089 points. Team Germany, the student team from Darmstadt, Germany, won first place for the second time in a row by scoring 11 points more than the UIUC team.

Both of the top American teams put spray polyurethane foam (SPF) to work in the structures of their energy-efficient homes.

NCFI Polyurethanes donated Insulstar spray foam for UIUC's 800-square-foot “Gable House.” The UIUC team partnered with Illinois-based model home-manufacturer Homeway Homes to spray the two-component, closed-cell foam, which contains 20 percent renewable agricultural products. Homeway combined the Insulstar spray foam with Honeywell Enovate blowing agent to create the rebranded “Energy Strength Spray Foam Insulation System,” according to Ryan Abendroth, a senior architecture major at UIUC.

The team sprayed 8 inches (20.3 cm) of foam in the home's walls, 9.25 inches (23.5 cm) in the open web joist floor, and 10 to 12 inches (25.4 to 30.5 cm) in the roof, Abendroth said. They sprayed from the outside in against an interior layer of oriented strand board (OSB).

These innovations helped the team earn high marks in the contests where insulation mattered most.

UIUC's team placed seventh in the Engineering Contest, which considered the home's energy efficiency. They came in second, only 0.356 points behind the winning German team, in the Comfort Zone Contest, which required their home to maintain a temperature between 72° F (22.2°C) and 76°F (24.4°C) and a relative humidity between 40 percent and 55 percent. The team also placed second in the Net Metering Contest by producing four times the amount of energy than their house consumed.

Spray foam also helped Team California to win big in the insulation department. The team earned 100.239 out of 150 possible points in the Net Metering Contest and 63.088 out of 100 possible points in the Comfort Zone Contest. The team placed second in the Engineering Contest with 95 out of 100 possible points—only one point behind the winning team from Minnesota.

To achieve a superior level of insulation, Team California used Demilec (USA)'s SEALECTION Agribalance spray foam, which has more than 20 percent refined vegetable oils in the resin, on their 800-square-foot “Refract House.” California-based Spray Foam Energy Solutions sprayed the two-component, open-celled, semi-rigid polyurethane foam on the home's walls, ceilings, and under the floor.

“It looks and feels like angel food cake and has great insulating properties,” said Mikell Warms, a junior civil engineering major at Santa Clara University who led the project's windows and doors team and was part of the thermal team and the construction team.

Although students were not involved in the actual spraying, the organizational process of working with a spray foam contractor still provided an important lesson, Warms said.
“School safety protocol did not allow students anywhere close to the insulators, and we basically had to stop construction for two days while it was going on,” he said. “Given the time constraint we were on, this was a huge test in patience!”

On the first day of spraying, Team California also had a run-in with a building inspector.
“The city of Santa Clara building and electrical inspector happened to come again the day that the insulators showed up and hadn't known about the spray foam we were using,” Warms said. “I had to run to the computer lab and print off every piece of technical information or documentation I could find concerning the product—thank goodness Demilec was well-organized in their website—and after they looked at the documentation, they decided it was OK to allow the insulators to begin. They were worried about the electrical wires running through the walls and whether or not the insulation would harm them.”

Warms said the two-year project, which he started as a freshman, also taught him the importance of a home's thermal envelope. He calculated the U- and R-values of the windows and insulation to determine whether the team could heat or cool the structure with the solar energy it was producing.

“At that point I thought the process I was forced to go through was fairly tedious, and I did not begin to understand until the competition just how important what I was doing was to the success of our project,” he said. “One of the large reasons why we didn't do even better than third place was because our windows and sliding doors allowed far too much air infiltration. When it started to rain and get cold, we didn't have enough energy to power our thermal systems and still stay under net zero energy. No matter how effective our insulation was, it was as if we had no barriers to the external temperatures because of our doors and windows.”

Lessons like those are a big part of the reason for the competition, according to Solar Decathlon organizers and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

“As part of the building competition, the next generation of green engineers, architects, designers, and professionals gain valuable experience that will help them to lead America toward a clean energy future,” Chu said.

With the benefits of spray foam instilled in the students, SPF can now be a part of that future. And as the green building industry continues to grow through events like the Solar Decathlon, hopefully that future will be a little bit sunnier.

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Global Social Benefit Incubator Green Tech Scholarships | View Clip
01/06/2010
TechSoup

This year the Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI), a joint project of the Skoll Foundation and Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology, and Society , will focus on green technology. They are looking for 20 or so people or social enterprises that are interested in providing electricity in some way to people in developing countries — and providing them with full scholarships valued at $25,000 each for the GSBI program, taking place from August 14 through 28, 2010 in Silcon Valley, California.

Now in its eighth year, the Global Social Benefit Incubator is a year-long capacity-building program for leaders of social benefit enterprises. The core of the program is the two-week in-residence session (mentioned above), but perhaps more than that, GSBI provides participating social entrepreneurs with membership to a network of educators, professionals, mentors, and other well-placed people willing and able to help get innovative projects successfully off the ground.


read more

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Win a 2010 Global Social Benefit Incubator Scholarship | View Clip
01/05/2010
SocialEarth

The Global Social Benefit Incubator of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University was promoted in the blog SocialEarth.

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Top campus card and security articles from 2009 | View Clip
01/05/2010
CR80 News

The top stories from the campus card market in 2009 included a controversial patent on web revalue, a series of pieces on campus card banking programs, and a nationwide assortment of innovative card programs from Boston to Montana. The CR80News editorial team and the rest of the AVISIAN Publishing staff are working hard to bring you the best in campus ID and security insight once again in 2010. Here's to the New Year, our ninth publishing CR80News!



Top ten news items from 2009 Identification Systems Group unveils new multi-application smart cards
March 6, 2009 CardSmith rolls out city-wide college card program in Boston
October 13, 2009 Morehead State goes contactless with iCLASS and Odyssey PCS
July 23, 2009 U.S. bank adds banking services to campus cards at six colleges
July 30, 2009 Four million college students using smart cards for multifunction campus IDs via Santander
November 18, 2009 Heartland Payment Systems increases OneCard functionality
March 7, 2009 A gunman, a fake student ID, and a lesson in identity vetting for campus card offices
December 2, 2009 Montana school improves residence hall security with CBORD, NICE
January 8, 2009 Wells Fargo rolls out new debit card program at Texas A&M
March 6, 2009 Report: JSA Technologies patent could be invalid
July 1, 2009 Top library items from 2009 Despite economy campus banking partnerships grow
May 21, 2009 Wireless door locks provide relief at Mount Holyoke College
March 26, 2009 Lost ID card? It will cost you
March 19, 2009 iPhones invade college campuses, but will they replace the student ID?
June 10, 2009 Quiet war being waged on JSA patent
April 22, 2009 Top podcasts from 2009 Episode 26: Who cares about ID technology standards anyhow?
March 5, 2009 Episode 35: Laser engraving ID cards
July 15, 2009 Episode 16: New HSPD-24 to standardize processes for sharing of biometric data between federal agencies
June 23, 2009 Episode 43: Santa Clara University goes contactless
December 1, 2009 Episode 8: Interview with Mifare hacker Karsten Nohl
April 2, 2008
Top videos from 2009
Digital ID Solutions talks about its laser engraving card printer
Coppin State expanding Eagle Card functionality
University of Texas at Arlington automating systems while focusing on safety
Colorado State expanding RamCard program

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doing business. At Santa Clara University's Global Social
01/04/2010
Eyewitness News 4 Today at 5 AM - KOB-TV

I know. My diet? Well yesterday I had an apple turn over Mmm hmm, I know it's sort of my weakness -I always keep it in the house Well, that and Boston Cr me Pie, White Chocolate Strawberries, ya ya -oh! and Key Lime Pie I've already lost some weight [ Female Announcer ] Yoplait Light -with 28 delicious flavours at about 100 calories Babe, what are you doing? If you want to expand your mind without shrinking your wallet we've got a lesson for you. Debra Alverone hit the books to find ways you can learn for less. Brushing up on some skills or learning a new language could cost you quite a bit but what if you could learn for free? We'll show you a way to open up your mind without opening up your wallet. Want to learn a language well if you've got a little extra time on your commute let's say to and from work you can turn your car or train ride into a master class. Commuters start your podcasts. Audio only please if you're driving save the video for the train commuters. I don't know much about it. Mike let me introduce you. There are hundreds of podcast you can download to your iPod iPhone or MP3 player on just about every subject out there. Some have just audio and some also have video. Perfect for a train commute. Want to brush up on Spanish or Italian in time for your next getaway well with podcasts like the Learn Spanish Survival Guide and learn Italian pod you can learn the lingo without having to pay hundreds of dollars for software or classes just open up iTunes and search for whatever interests you. I learned some conversational French before a recent trips to Paris while just driving to work and I also catch up on the news by downloading podcast of programs I enjoy but am just not home in time to see like Meet the Press and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. I use them for newspaper articles book reviews and music sometimes. And if you're like learning the old fashioned way or maybe just want to catch up on the classics or not so classics here's another lesson. There's a whole bunch of Web sites that let you trade books with people across the country for just the cost of stamps. Bookmooch. com is one of them. Here's how it works. You list the books you have on your shelves but no longer want then you get points for listing books an even more when you fulfill a request and mail a book to someone then use your points to get books you really want from others and it only cost you a bunch of stamps. We logged on and found the bestselling Eat Pray Love then we searched some bookstore sites and found it listed four between 13 and 15 dollars. I think it would be pretty good. I just spent 40 dollars on books for my son if I'd known about that it might have been an easier way to do it. We all know books are free to borrow at your local library but next time you're there check out your branches computer classes career counseling and even film talks and you can learn something. The Silicon Valley exports a lot of things but nothing they have to offer is more valuable than knowledge. As Garvin Thomas shows us when there's a chance to gain some of that knowledge people will come from all over the world to get it. Think of it as a two week long graduate level course on doing good while doing business. At Santa Clara University's Global Social Benefit Incubater a dozen social entrepreneurs as they're called from all corners of the world have gathered to learn from some of Silicon Valley's best about how to make their businesses better. I think that there's a number of things that I'm hoping to be better at. Andrew Tanswell is in from Madagascar. His business Tough Stuff is all about bringing light and power to some of the poorest people in the world. Tough Stuff makes a flexible and durable solar panel which powers an LED light as well as charges batteries and cellphones. Tanswell says in a place like Madagascar where the average family makes barely 300 dollars a year more than 100 of that is spent on oil candles and battery charging. He says his products to do it all for just 20 dollars. It's like giving somebody 100 dollars a year almsot a new aid program. We'll be providing household level solar panels, But that aid program doesn't get off the ground without a little aid for itself first. I want to see people being lifted out of poverty and that's what we're going to be able to do together. And so at the end of their two weeks of learning each entrepreneur gets 20 minutes for pitching.

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Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Centre Daily Times - Online

- San Jose Mercury News

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

Civil engineering students at Santa Clara University have partnered in the past with nonprofit Village Projects International to develop inexpensive, "green" buildings. (MCT)

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling — by choice — under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed — a library and an onion storage shed — out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students — Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger — said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families — 7,700 miles away — with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students' project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

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Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Fresno Bee - Online

Posted at 05:25 AM on Monday, Jan. 04, 2010

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Kansas City Star - Online

Posted on Mon, Jan. 04, 2010 07:23 AM

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
News Tribune - Online

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



GYPSY OF THE MONTH Michael X. Martin of RAGTIME | View Clip
01/04/2010
Broadway World

A childhood in the dance studio, musical theater training at a conservatory, and then start hitting those open calls. That's one path many follow into gypsy-dom. Michael X. Martin, who tallied enough Broadway chorus credits to earn the Gypsy Robe on Ragtime's opening night, followed another. He didn't take dancing or singing classes as a kid. He majored in English and performed only sporadically until senior year in college. And he came to New York in his mid 30s, a veteran actor of Shakespeare and other nonmusical classics.

His résumé since moving to NYC isn't typically gypsy, either. In addition to ensemble tracks in Ragtime and six previous musicals—9 to 5, All Shook Up, Man of La Mancha, Oklahoma, Kiss Me, Kate and Les Misérables—his Broadway credits include featured roles in Curtains and 1776. He's played principal roles off-Broadway and regionally, and even gotten to do some of musical theater's most coveted leads, like Javert and Don Quixote, on Broadway as an understudy.

What has been typical in Martin's career, for gypsies and all other performers, are the ups and downs. For Martin, 2009 started with ups: He'd just wrapped a run at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles of a brand-new musical, 9 to 5, that was slated for a spring debut on Broadway. The last new musical he'd done at the Ahmanson, Curtains, had also moved to Broadway and ran for nearly a year and a half—through June 2008—with Martin playing the part of Johnny the stage manager the whole time. But then came some downs. 9 to 5 didn't impress critics and closed after just four months. In the fall, Martin was back on Broadway in the revival of Ragtime, which did impress critics—possibly more than the original 1998 production had. But it struggled from the start at the box office, and rumors quickly started swirling that it would shutter after the holidays. They, unfortunately, proved true, as Ragtime is scheduled to close this Sunday, Jan. 10, less than two months after opening.

Martin's attitude toward the ups and downs of the business: “If you expect anything more than what is guaranteed you in the contract—for you to go, I think this is really going to be a big hit—you're setting yourself up for a fall. As far as how long a show runs, that is anybody's guess at anybody's time.” The short lives of his most recent Broadway efforts have not marred his memories of them. He remembers 9 to 5 as “great fun... Dolly Parton was wonderful, and I really liked working with Joe Mantello.” And he recalls that “the audience, on a nightly basis, was going nuts for the show: standing, screaming. I'm not exaggerating: When those three women would come down [for the curtain call] every night, there would be a roar from the audience.

“Usually, shows with that kind of response run longer than four months,” he adds, “so that was a little baffling and disheartening.” As for Ragtime, in recent weeks it too has had “insane” audiences, according to Martin. “You just have to scratch your head: To do two in a row that would have that audience response and have them both close so quickly, you kind of feel like there's no gravity. As I told my wife, there's no one in the world more leery of a sure thing than me.” The only conclusion he can draw about Ragtime's fate is “That's just the nature of the business. The bottom line is, every night you're still going out and doing your job and trying to make it all work.”

Martin's roles in Ragtime include two historical figures, J.P. Morgan and Admiral Peary. Though he didn't need to do any research since, he says, director Marcia Milgrom Dodge is “a research hound, [who] provides you with an unbelievable amount—volumes and volumes,” Martin found some additional information of his own online. He'd also read the E.L. Doctorow novel on which the show's based (though he'd never seen the movie or any stage production of it). “There were some great scenes in the book that involved J.P. Morgan that you don't see in the play; that's research material right there, even though Doctorow may have taken some liberties,” says Martin, describing his process of re-creating someone from real life: “I don't look anything like Morgan, so I thought, Okay, this is where I try to infuse the character with the same intentions he had. He's the richest man in the world—you have to have a certain decisiveness about you, you're used to getting your own way... The scene where there's a hostage in his library and he has to wait outside until they coax Coalhouse Walker out. Well, he was probably a man who wasn't used to waiting for anything, ever. Something like that can inform the character. Or you read that he had this huge red nose, and he would catch people looking at it and he would just glare back—I guess he had a glare that could melt steel. You might find places to slip that in, not that you want that to govern your whole performance.”

Another bit of history Martin uncovered while working on Ragtime inspired him too. During rehearsals at the Hilton Theatre, he learned that his grandmother's brother, an actor named Raymond O'Brien, had been performing at the Lyric (the Hilton's pre-renovation incarnation) 80 years earlier. He'd met his great-uncle twice before O'Brien died when Martin was 12, and the only Broadway credit he knew of his was a production of Ibsen's Ghosts featuring the early-20th-century international star Alla Nazimova. Then Ragtime stage manager Jim Woolley, a theater history buff, did some research for Martin and produced a list of 14 Broadway shows that O'Brien had appeared in—including The Three Musketeers at the Lyric. “I would give anything to sit down with him over a couple of drinks just to talk about his career and what theater was like back then,” Martin says of his uncle, his only relative to precede him in showbiz.

Martin, 55, estimates that Ragtime is approximately the 150th show he's been in as a professional actor. (The X, required by Equity to distinguish him from another Michael Martin, is his real middle initial—for Xavier.) Early in his career, he'd do about eight shows a year, as he was a company member at regional theaters that performed rotating rep. Right out of college in 1976, Martin was accepted in the apprentice program at the now-defunct California Actors Theater in Los Gatos, near his hometown of San Jose. After a couple of seasons there, he headed to San Francisco and spent two years at the American Conservatory Theater. In addition, he was working summers at PCPA Theaterfest in central California—which he joined year-round in the mid '80s. He also became a company member at Denver Center Theatre for seven years prior to moving to New York in 1991. At those four theaters out west, he appeared in such plays as Saint Joan, Major Barbara, Table Manners, Ah, Wilderness!, Indians, Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Visit, Hay Fever, The Crucifer of Blood and Christopher Durang's A History of the American Film. He also did new works as well as several Shakespearean roles, among them Orsino in Twelfth Night, Laertes in Hamlet, Bertram in All's Well That Ends Well, Cominius in Coriolanus and Launce in Two Gentlemen of Verona. All the while, Martin admits, “I never had any interest in coming to New York. There are so many actors throughout the country who have wonderful careers and enjoy their theater lives and never set foot in New York.”

But one day circa 1990, “I just woke up one morning and was like, I think I might want to go to New York and see what's out there,” he says. He spent the next year planning a relocation and on Aug. 2, 1991, arrived in the Big Apple. Just over a month later, thanks to a referral from an actress he knew at the Denver Center, he was starring as El Gallo in The Fantasticks, then still playing down on Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village. The next year, he went out on tour with Les Misérables. During his year and a half on the road, he graduated from the Les Miz chorus to Javert. He then came back to New York and understudied Javert on Broadway, playing an ensemble track that included Grantaire.

From time to time while he was in Les Miz, Martin would drop in on some friends who were in Blood Brothers, playing next door at the Music Box. On one of those visits, he was introduced to a Blood Brothers cast member named Shauna Hicks. Martin and Hicks married in 2000 and are now the parents of a 5½-year-old son, Sean. These days, Hicks performs primarily as a headliner on cruise ships. Early in their marriage, Martin went along with her on a two-week Caribbean/Amazon cruise and performed onboard. It's the only time they've worked together besides a pre-marriage production of Company at Cleveland Play House, where he was Harry and she Amy. (Martin had done Company two previous times—in 1983 at PCPA Theatrefest, when he played Bobby, and at Denver in 1989, as Paul.)

In 1994, Martin was in the inaugural cast of A Christmas Carol–The Musical, directed by Mike Ockrent and choreographed by Susan Stroman, that would play Madison Square Garden every holiday season for a decade. “That production was very special to me 'cause that was the first show I did in New York that was original, I was there at the very beginning,” says Martin. “Mike Ockrent was a delightful person, and Susan Stroman's work was great. It was a fun company, we did 15 shows a week, and it was a wonderful experience. To have that be your first new show was a real blessing.”

He returned to the MSG Christmas Carol in 1995 and 1996, understudying Scrooge every year. Martin next performed on Broadway in the spring of 1997, in a limited run of the Tim Rice/Alan Menken King David that reopened the New Amsterdam Theatre in advance of The Lion King's premiere. He was then featured as founding father Josiah Bartlett in Roundabout Theatre's revival of 1776. Starting in the fall of 1999, he was on Broadway for four years straight, in a succession of revivals: Kiss Me, Kate, Oklahoma and Man of La Mancha. In all three of those shows, just as he'd done in Christmas Carol and Les Miz, Martin got to go in a principal role he understudied.

Once, when his wife came to see him cover the part of Jud in Oklahoma, she overheard the couple sitting next to her talking after they'd opened their programs. “One said, ‘Honey, look, Michael X. Martin is going on for Jud.' And the husband said, ‘Oh, you've got to be kidding me!'” Martin's wife engaged them in conversation and discovered that the last Broadway show they'd seen was Kiss Me, Kate—at a performance where Martin went on as Fred/Petruchio. “They went to see the Tony Award-winning performance of Brian Stokes Mitchell and they're stuck with Michael X. Martin,” he laughs, “and then the next show they saw, Oklahoma, I'm sure they were eager to see the Tony Award-winning performance of Shuler Hensley, and they were stuck with Michael X. Martin.” When his wife revealed that she was married to this Michael X. Martin, “they were very nice,” he says. “Maybe they were just trying to maintain some social grace, but they were very complimentary about both performances.”

Off-Broadway, Martin originated principal roles in a number of musicals—some, like Polly Pen's Bed and Sofa, that were well-received and have had a life in regional theater; others, like one called Jack's Holiday (as in Jack the Ripper, whom Martin did not play), produced by Playwrights Horizons in 1995, that have been largely forgotten. And some that seemed promising but fell short, such as an adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling story Captains Courageous starring Treat Williams. With a creative team that included Jerry Mitchell, Catherine Zuber and Jonathan Tunick, Captains Courageous was presented by the Manhattan Theatre Club in early 1999, and it remains one of the bigger disappointments in Martin's career. “I thought it was a lovely show. When they're good shows, you just want them to get their due,” Martin comments. “One of the heads of Sony Records was in our rehearsal room saying ‘When can I record this?' It was a beautiful score, but we didn't want to record it before we opened—we wanted to get it in our bones first. Then the reviews were mixed, and we never saw that guy again.” The show also closed early.

On TV, Martin has done multiple episodes of every series in the Law & Order franchise, playing everyone from a Midwestern tourist to a crooked CEO to a judge. But he hasn't had any nonmusical stage roles since coming to New York, and rarely even auditions for them. “You don't often see people jump the fence,” Martin says. “When you audition in New York, they want to see you in a very small, specific, easy-to-identify category. It's tricky to go between plays and musicals in New York.” This is the polar opposite of what Martin experienced pre–New York. “In regional theater, when you walk in to audition, they try to see you in as many varied roles as you could do—to hire you for a season,” he says.

Nonetheless, Martin says opportunities have expanded since he moved to NYC in the early '90s. “At that time, the ABC's [theater listings] in the New York Times was, like, a quarter of what it is now. What's changed in the 18 years I've been here is there's a lot more going on now. When I was doing Christmas Carol, a lot of the dancers were saying ‘There are no dancer shows on Broadway anymore.' Then Susan Stroman really came to the foreground, and Fosse came out, Chicago came out. Now there's some great dancing shows on Broadway.”

Interestingly, many of the musicals Martin has done since coming to New York—from Les Misérables and A Christmas Carol, through Captains Courageous, Man of La Mancha and Kiss Me, Kate, right up to Ragtime—are based on literary classics. “Perfect for an English major,” says Martin, who received a bachelor's in English from Santa Clara University. He's even played the title role in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (a musical adaptation composed by Phil Hall and produced at North Shore Music Theatre in 1996) and costarred in a musical about author Henry James, Polly Pen's Embarrassments, at Philadelphia's Wilma Theater.

Martin had selected English as his major because he'd enjoyed the courses in high school and wanted a liberal arts education. He performed in his first play during senior year in high school and then did one show each of his first three years in college. “Just before my senior year, I said: I'm going to get this into my system, or out of my system,” he explains. So as he was completing his English degree, he sang in the choir and performed in as many school productions as he could, among them A Streetcar Named Desire, The Fantasticks, A Man for All Seasons and The School for Scandal.

He has taken voice lessons over the years but virtually no dance classes since they were required of all Jets and Sharks for a community theater production of West Side Story he was in thirtysomething years ago. In place of formal theatrical training, Martin was schooled on the job. “You can learn by training, and sometimes you can learn just by working with good people,” he says. And as a repertory company member, he was tested as no classes could have done. “Nothing, nothing is more exciting than doing rotating rep,” he says. “Between a Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, you might do three different roles. One year at PCPA, I did Bo in Bus Stop and at the same time Lancelot in Camelot and Johnny Tarleton in George Bernard Shaw's Misalliance.”

Those days of doing several shows at once are far behind him, but in the past couple of years Martin has begun multitasking in another way. He now has a sideline, albeit uncompensated, as an editorial cartoonist for the Riverdale Press, the weekly newspaper (circ. 12,000) serving the Bronx neighborhood where he lives. Martin had given up drawing as a hobby when he finished school, but his interest was revived after actor Gerry Vichi joined the cast of Curtains—and spent his offstage time painting in the dressing room. “He's an excellent abstract artist, and he did about 150 paintings in the six months he was there,” says Martin. “When I told him I used to draw, he almost got angry with me: ‘You have a kid now and you don't draw?!' The next day, I showed up to the dressing room—there was paper there, pencils, pens. He had brought in all this stuff. I started drawing again for fun in the dressing room and I haven't stopped since.” Last year, Martin decided to take his “hobby” a step further and contacted the Riverdale Press about contributing editorial cartoons on local politics and happenings; the paper's been running them for the last six months or so.

Martin has a few small projects, like readings, lined up after Ragtime closes but will of course be looking for a new job. He isn't focused on any particular show or part, though. “Actors,” he says, “are often asked: What role do you have your eyes set on? I feel: Stuff you don't think about and couldn't even consider falls in your lap sometimes, and that's much more interesting than any scenario I could have created.

“I don't know what's next, but I haven't been disappointed yet so I will maintain that viewpoint.”

Photos of Michael X., from top: wearing the Gypsy Robe, which he received for being the Ragtime ensemble member who's done the most Broadway shows; on stage with Dolly Parton during a 9 to 5 curtain call, with him in costume as Consolidated Industries CEO Mr. Tinsworthy; as a new immigrant, on left in top row, in the opening scene of Ragtime; performing Curtains' “It's a Business,” at far left, with (from left) Christopher Spaulding, Debra Monk and Michael McCormick; arriving at 9 to 5's opening-night party last April; in a Curtains curtain call, right, with Ernie Sabella; passing the Gypsy Robe to Joseph Medeiros of White Christmas. [Ragtime photo by Joan Marcus; Curtains performance photo by Craig Schwartz; all other photos by Walter McBride/Retna Ltd.]

"Gene's Time" is a web series coming from the minds of Benjamin Schrader, Aaron Galligan-Stierle, and Mark Aldrich, cast members of the Broadway Revival of RAGTIME. Originally intended to entertain the cast and crew, "Gene's Time" follows the misadventures of RAGTIME's newest swing Gene as he begins his daunting task of covering EVERY role in the show. The news has yet to be broken to Gene about RAGTIME's future, but with his go get em' attitude and Quixotic perseverance, Gene will prevail.

The Canadian premiere of Broadway's rockin' goodtime musical ROCK OF AGES will feature some of the country's hottest musical theatre talent when it begins performances at the Royal Alexandra Theatre on April 20, 2010. The cast made their first appearance performing on CityTV's 2010 New Year's Eve Bash.

"Gene's Time" is a web series coming from the minds of Benjamin Schrader, Aaron Galligan-Stierle, and Mark Aldrich, cast members of the Broadway Revival of RAGTIME. Originally intended to entertain the cast and crew, "Gene's Time" follows the misadventures of RAGTIME's newest swing Gene as he begins his daunting task of covering EVERY role in the show. The news has yet to be broken to Gene about RAGTIME's future, but with his go get em' attitude and Quixotic perseverance, Gene will prevail.

"Gene's Time" is a web series coming from the minds of Benjamin Schrader, Aaron Galligan-Stierle, and Mark Aldrich, cast members of the Broadway Revival of RAGTIME. Originally intended to entertain the cast and crew, "Gene's Time" follows the misadventures of RAGTIME's newest swing Gene as he begins his daunting task of covering EVERY role in the show. The news has yet to be broken to Gene about RAGTIME's future, but with his go get em' attitude and Quixotic perseverance, Gene will prevail.

Purchase Tickets Click Here to Purchase Tickets to Ragtime

Adrienne Onofri, one of BroadwayWorld's original columnists, created and writes the Gypsy of the Month feature on the website. She also does interviews and event coverage for BroadwayWorld, and is a member of the Drama Desk. Adrienne is also a travel writer and the author of Walking Brooklyn: 30 Tours Exploring Historical Legacies, Neighborhood Culture, Side Streets, and Waterways (Wilderness Press, 2007).

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Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Sun Herald - Online, The

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
News & Observer - Online

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Bradenton Herald - Online

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Idaho Statesman - Online

Copyright: © 2010, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Lexington Herald-Leader - Online

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Olympian - Online, The

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

http://www.mercurynews.com (weblink)

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Sacramento Bee - Online, The

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Tri-City Herald - Online

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer - Online

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engineering students sacrifice holiday, work on buildings in Africa | View Clip
01/04/2010
Tribune - Online, The

| San Jose Mercury News

Six hours after Laura Skinner finished her last exam, she and her college friends hopped on a jet for Christmas break, loaded with sunblock.

But they're not kicking back on a beach in Cabo or Cozumel. The four Santa Clara (Calif.) University students have been toiling - by choice - under the blazing sun in the West African nation of Ghana.

Barely out of their teens, the aspiring civil engineers are helping villagers construct two buildings the students themselves designed - a library and an onion storage shed - out of compressed earth and concrete bricks that won't rot in heavy rains like the region's usual mud and thatched-roof structures.

Christmas Day was their first break since they landed in Ghana after a 19-hour journey two weeks ago. The students - Skinner, Brie Rust, Spencer Ambauen and Erica Fieger - said they were homesick for their families, but still jazzed about their project, which benefits the villages of Gambibigo and Zebilla.

"How many people can say they've been able to help a community (or two, in our case) for the better," Skinner, 21, wrote in an e-mail to the Mercury News. "I see this as one of those 'once in a lifetime' opportunities."

The students spent their first Christmas Day apart from their families - 7,700 miles away - with some of the villagers, teaching each other card games. Most of the villagers in the northeastern region are Muslim and don't celebrate Christmas, though the modest hotel where the students are staying put up a few Christmas lights.

All civil engineering students at Santa Clara University must complete a senior design project, but they're not required to actually build it. Last year for the first time, a different group of civil engineering students from the college began trying to help Africans develop inexpensive, "green" buildings by working with the nonprofit Village Projects International on a 10-by-15-foot demonstration building in Ghana.

The vegetable storage unit is particularly important because farmers can sell their onions for up to 10 times longer in the dry season if they can figure out a method to safely store them.

The students raised about $12,000 in grants from the university for airfare and materials, but will need to raise more when they return home because the buildings needed more concrete mortar than expected. So far, the library in Gambibigo is 70 percent complete, and the storage shed in Zebilla is 30 percent done.

"Yes, there has been a downturn in the U.S.," said Rust, co-president of Engineers Without Borders. "But after being here, it has only emphasized how fortunate we really are in the U.S. and how thankful we all should be for what we have."

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about the Santa Clara University students'

project in Ghana and find out how you can help, call 408-554-4774.

Return to Top



Engagement | View Clip
01/03/2010
New York Times

Do you sit in class hoping you won't be called on to discuss that (oops, I never finished it) book? Or do you eagerly linger at office hours to probe one more idea? That is, how engaged are you? More than 1,200 colleges and universities have participated in the National Survey of Student Engagement since it was first administered in 2000 by the Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research. The survey has become a widely accepted tool for assessing what undergraduates gain from attending their colleges. Institutions use the results for internal diagnostics. Below, some share results of a few indicative questions from 2009 or 2008 surveys of their seniors. Highest numbers in each category are in bold type.

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Climate Wizard makes large databases of climate information visual, accessible | View Clip
01/03/2010
Poten & Partners

A Web tool that generates color maps of projected temperature and precipitation changes using 16 of the world's most prominent climate-change models is being used to consider such things as habitat shifts that will affect endangered species, places around the world where crops could be at risk because of drought and temperatures that could cripple fruit and nut production in California's Great Central Valley.

Climate Wizard, a tool meant for scientists and non-scientists alike, is being demonstrated by The Nature Conservancy in Copenhagen, Denmark, in conjunction with the climate summit underway there. It also is the subject of a presentation Tuesday, Dec. 15, at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco and a paper just released online by the Public Library of Science's PLoS ONE with Evan Girvetz as lead presenter and lead author. Girvetz worked on Climate Wizard during postdoctoral work at the University of Washington's School of Forest Resources and just accepted a job with The Nature Conservancy.

"Climate Wizard is meant to make it easier to explore climate data in an interactive way," Girvetz says. "It makes the data accessible in ways that are more intuitive, even for people who are not climate scientists."

For example, data used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the science organization evaluating the risks of climate change, is made visual and more readily understandable through Climate Wizard. Politicians, resource managers and citizens are all potential users, Girvetz says. Find Climate Wizard at http://www.climatewizard.org/.

Climate Wizard, a joint effort among the UW, University of Southern Mississippi and The Nature Conservancy, lets users focus on states, countries or regions around the world and apply different scenarios to generate color-coded maps of changes in temperature and precipitation that can, in turn, be used to consider such things as moisture stress in vegetation and freshwater supplies.

Users can choose from a number of parameters. For example, one can look at the climate of the past 50 years or projections for mid-century, the 2050s, or toward the end of the century, the 2080s. Among other variables, one can generate maps based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes' estimates of greenhouse gas emissions being high, medium or low in the future.

One can consider the projections from each of 16 individual climate models. Girvetz recommends using one of the newest features added to the program, the ability to create an ensemble of some or all of the 16 models. Want to average the temperatures of, say, the 12 climate models that forecast the largest temperature increases? Climate Wizard can do so almost instantaneously.

"Ensembles can give a better range of future possible climate changes compared to using a single model," he says.

Girvetz was the project's analytical lead, taking the 16 climate models and organizing the data from them so they could be queried. Chris Zganjar of The Nature Conservancy brought expertise about user experiences and George Raber of the University of Southern Mississippi developed a Web site to connect to the data sets organized by Girvetz. Other authors on the PLoS ONE paper are Edwin Maurer, Santa Clara University; Peter Kareiva, The Nature Conservancy, Seattle; and Joshua Lawler, UW assistant professor of forest resources.

"Because of the size and format of the datasets, climate data are notoriously unwieldy," Lawler says. "Climate Wizard makes those data readily available to a much wider audience."

(c) 2010 NewsRx Science via VerticalNews.com

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Valley takes a new look at stock options | View Clip
01/03/2010
Oroville Mercury-Register

Stock options may be the gas that Silicon Valley runs on, but two years of falling stock prices left a lot of tanks on empty last year. Yet as it heads into a new decade, the valley's options culture remains surprisingly resilient.

The answer for some companies in 2009, including Google, Intel and eBay, was to hit the reset button by exchanging options that became worthless (or were "underwater") because of the falling stock market for ones that reflected the new, lower share prices.

Options give workers the right to buy company stock at a preset price, offering them the opportunity to profit if those shares increase in value.

For companies that did not do an exchange, the improving economy and rising share prices helped take care of the problem, lifting many options near or above the water line.

A study by Equilar, a Redwood City compensation consulting firm, shows options of top officers at 140 valley companies gradually surfacing above water during the last half of the year.

At the end of their fiscal years, an average of 61.4 percent of top executives' options were underwater, the study found, but by Christmas Day, only 46.9 percent of those options were, reflecting the economic rebound of the year's fourth quarter.

"We've had a rough year but stock compensation continues to be an essential tool in the total compensation," said Emily Cervino, director of the Certified Equity Professional Institute at Santa Clara

University.

"Here in Silicon Valley, if a company is not willing to pay talent with some form of equity compensation, they just don't have the ability to compete for that talent. It's almost a right of passage."

But their luster has dimmed. They've been challenged by accounting rule changes, competition from other forms of employee incentives and especially a decade of stock declines.

"They're not incentives when they are not worth anything," said Scott Fingerhutt of Equilar.

Companies are reassessing their use of options, said Don Lindner of WorldatWork, a nonprofit association that studies compensation.

"Everything I've seen is that stock options are a very important aspect of compensation, especially in the high-tech area, and will remain so," Lindner said. "Have they toned them down some? Yes."

Companies grant options with a "strike price," which is the price at which an employee can buy shares. The options must be held for a period of time before they can be exercised. The gain from options comes from the difference between the strike price and the price of the stock when it is purchased. When they exercise options, employees can choose to sell the stock right away or hold onto the shares. Most employees sell to lock in the gains they've experienced.

Options are perceived by companies as a way of motivating, rewarding and retaining workers. But they work best for companies in a growth mode whose stock prices are advancing rapidly. That wasn't the story for most of this decade, which saw the Nasdaq plunge 44.2 percent.

"Pretty much every company has some options underwater," said Ann Costelloe, who heads the Bay Area executive compensation practice for Watson Wyatt.

Google took a straightforward approach to the problem that few companies could afford. It issued a new option for every underwater option in March at a strike price of $308 a share when the stock hovered near its lowest point in 2009. Google closed Thursday at $619.98 a share. It was an expensive gesture, since Google had to account for that switch as an expense on its books.

Advanced Micro Devices did an option exchange earlier in the year for employees, excluding top executives. A spokesman said Wednesday that all of the exchanged options are now above water, although they won't vest until August.

Two years ago, the company began to move from options for the general employee population to restricted stock — shares that cannot be sold for a fixed period of time.

Even before the turmoil of the past two years, other tech companies were becoming more selective about who gets options, according to compensation experts.

"For a while, they provided grants across the board, and quite honestly, a lot of folks didn't value them, particularly when they went underwater for so long," said Costelloe of Watson Wyatt.

Also, a change in accounting rules in 2004 took away the tax advantages of using options as part of compensation.

Although options are still favored by many valley companies, there is a trend toward balancing them with restricted stock. The advantage of restricted stock for employees is that they can profit from any increase in the share price, like an option, but the shares will still have value even if the price of the stock falls below the price at which the restricted shares are granted, because employees can sell the stock at the lower price and reap the proceeds.

Big companies have another challenge — they are years past their startup days, when their stock was posting large, regular gains.

"It's very easy in a hot startup to grow stock value from pennies to dollars," said Adeo Ressi, founder of TheFunded.com, a site where entrepreneurs review venture capital firms. "It's very hard, in a 10,000- to 30,000-person organization, to move your stock price."

But despite the bruising market decline and these other factors, it's not as though the valley has lost all interest in options.

"Silicon Valley is still very much the place of broad-based employee equity," said Brett Harsen, a vice president of Radford, a San Jose compensation consulting firm. "It's definitely not the place of options to the extent it was a decade ago, but they're still very important."

In fact, while the drop in share prices sent many options underwater, it also made new options much more attractive, Harsen said. "There is a motivation for companies to double down on their options when the stock market is down. You can load up your employees with a lot of low-priced stock options."

And after the worst decade in history, things may be looking up for options, said Lindner of WorldatWork. "Going forward, this could be the best time, as the market comes back. I've been through five recessions, and during at least two or three of them, I've heard 'death of options' or of some other component of compensation. It never happens."

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

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Valley takes a new look at stock options | View Clip
01/03/2010
Cupertino Courier - Online

Market gyrations and accounting rules change the way companies and employees look at them,

Stock options may be the gas that Silicon Valley runs on, but two years of falling stock prices left a lot of tanks on empty last year. Yet as it heads into a new decade, the valley's options culture remains surprisingly resilient.

The answer for some companies in 2009, including Google, Intel and eBay, was to hit the reset button by exchanging options that became worthless (or were "underwater") because of the falling stock market for ones that reflected the new, lower share prices.

Options give workers the right to buy company stock at a preset price, offering them the opportunity to profit if those shares increase in value.

For companies that did not do an exchange, the improving economy and rising share prices helped take care of the problem, lifting many options near or above the water line.

A study by Equilar, a Redwood City compensation consulting firm, shows options of top officers at 140 valley companies gradually surfacing above water during the last half of the year.

At the end of their fiscal years, an average of 61.4 percent of top executives' options were underwater, the study found, but by Christmas Day, only 46.9 percent of those options were, reflecting the economic rebound of the year's fourth quarter.

"We've had a rough year but stock compensation continues to be an essential tool in the total compensation," said Emily Cervino, director of the Certified Equity Professional Institute at Santa Clara

University.

"Here in Silicon Valley, if a company is not willing to pay talent with some form of equity compensation, they just don't have the ability to compete for that talent. It's almost a right of passage."

But their luster has dimmed. They've been challenged by accounting rule changes, competition from other forms of employee incentives and especially a decade of stock declines.

"They're not incentives when they are not worth anything," said Scott Fingerhutt of Equilar.

Companies are reassessing their use of options, said Don Lindner of WorldatWork, a nonprofit association that studies compensation.

"Everything I've seen is that stock options are a very important aspect of compensation, especially in the high-tech area, and will remain so," Lindner said. "Have they toned them down some? Yes."

Companies grant options with a "strike price," which is the price at which an employee can buy shares. The options must be held for a period of time before they can be exercised. The gain from options comes from the difference between the strike price and the price of the stock when it is purchased. When they exercise options, employees can choose to sell the stock right away or hold onto the shares. Most employees sell to lock in the gains they've experienced.

Options are perceived by companies as a way of motivating, rewarding and retaining workers. But they work best for companies in a growth mode whose stock prices are advancing rapidly. That wasn't the story for most of this decade, which saw the Nasdaq plunge 44.2 percent.

"Pretty much every company has some options underwater," said Ann Costelloe, who heads the Bay Area executive compensation practice for Watson Wyatt.

Google took a straightforward approach to the problem that few companies could afford. It issued a new option for every underwater option in March at a strike price of $308 a share when the stock hovered near its lowest point in 2009. Google closed Thursday at $619.98 a share. It was an expensive gesture, since Google had to account for that switch as an expense on its books.

Advanced Micro Devices did an option exchange earlier in the year for employees, excluding top executives. A spokesman said Wednesday that all of the exchanged options are now above water, although they won't vest until August.

Two years ago, the company began to move from options for the general employee population to restricted stock — shares that cannot be sold for a fixed period of time.

Even before the turmoil of the past two years, other tech companies were becoming more selective about who gets options, according to compensation experts.

"For a while, they provided grants across the board, and quite honestly, a lot of folks didn't value them, particularly when they went underwater for so long," said Costelloe of Watson Wyatt.

Also, a change in accounting rules in 2004 took away the tax advantages of using options as part of compensation.

Although options are still favored by many valley companies, there is a trend toward balancing them with restricted stock. The advantage of restricted stock for employees is that they can profit from any increase in the share price, like an option, but the shares will still have value even if the price of the stock falls below the price at which the restricted shares are granted, because employees can sell the stock at the lower price and reap the proceeds.

Big companies have another challenge — they are years past their startup days, when their stock was posting large, regular gains.

"It's very easy in a hot startup to grow stock value from pennies to dollars," said Adeo Ressi, founder of TheFunded.com, a site where entrepreneurs review venture capital firms. "It's very hard, in a 10,000- to 30,000-person organization, to move your stock price."

But despite the bruising market decline and these other factors, it's not as though the valley has lost all interest in options.

"Silicon Valley is still very much the place of broad-based employee equity," said Brett Harsen, a vice president of Radford, a San Jose compensation consulting firm. "It's definitely not the place of options to the extent it was a decade ago, but they're still very important."

In fact, while the drop in share prices sent many options underwater, it also made new options much more attractive, Harsen said. "There is a motivation for companies to double down on their options when the stock market is down. You can load up your employees with a lot of low-priced stock options."

And after the worst decade in history, things may be looking up for options, said Lindner of WorldatWork. "Going forward, this could be the best time, as the market comes back. I've been through five recessions, and during at least two or three of them, I've heard 'death of options' or of some other component of compensation. It never happens."

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

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Valley takes a new look at stock options | View Clip
01/02/2010
Santa Cruz Sentinel - Online

Stock options may be the gas that Silicon Valley runs on, but two years of falling stock prices left a lot of tanks on empty last year. Yet as it heads into a new decade, the valley's options culture remains surprisingly resilient.

The answer for some companies in 2009, including Google, Intel and eBay, was to hit the reset button by exchanging options that became worthless (or were "underwater") because of the falling stock market for ones that reflected the new, lower share prices.

Options give workers the right to buy company stock at a preset price, offering them the opportunity to profit if those shares increase in value.

For companies that did not do an exchange, the improving economy and rising share prices helped take care of the problem, lifting many options near or above the water line.

A study by Equilar, a Redwood City compensation consulting firm, shows options of top officers at 140 valley companies gradually surfacing above water during the last half of the year.

At the end of their fiscal years, an average of 61.4 percent of top executives' options were underwater, the study found, but by Christmas Day, only 46.9 percent of those options were, reflecting the economic rebound of the year's fourth quarter.

"We've had a rough year but (stock) continues to be an essential tool in the total compensation," said Emily Cervino, director of the Certified Equity Professional Institute at Santa Clara University.

"Here

in Silicon Valley, if a company is not willing to pay talent with some form of equity compensation, they just don't have the ability to compete for that talent. It's almost a right of passage."

But their luster has dimmed. They've been challenged by accounting rule changes, competition from other forms of employee incentives and especially a decade of stock declines.

"They're not incentives when they are not worth anything," said Scott Fingerhutt of Equilar.

Companies are reassessing their use of options, said Don Lindner of WorldatWork, a nonprofit association that studies compensation.

"Everything I've seen is that stock options are a very important aspect of compensation, especially in the high-tech area, and will remain so," Lindner said. "Have they toned them down some? Yes."

Companies grant options with a "strike price," which is the price at which an employee can buy shares. The options must be held for a period of time before they can be exercised. The gain from options comes from the difference between the strike price and the price of the stock when it is purchased. When they exercise options, employees can choose to sell the stock right away or hold onto the shares. Most employees sell to lock in the gains they've experienced.

Options are perceived by companies as a way of motivating, rewarding and retaining workers. But they work best for companies in a growth mode whose stock prices are advancing rapidly. That wasn't the story for most of this decade, which saw the Nasdaq plunge 44.2 percent.

"Pretty much every company has some options underwater," said Ann Costelloe, who heads the Bay Area executive compensation practice for Watson Wyatt.

Google took a straightforward approach to the problem that few companies could afford. It issued a new option for every underwater option in March at a strike price of $308 a share when the stock hovered near its lowest point in 2009. Google closed Thursday at $619.98 a share. It was an expensive gesture, since Google had to account for that switch as an expense on its books.

Advanced Micro Devices did an option exchange earlier in the year for employees, excluding top executives. A spokesman said Wednesday that all of the exchanged options are now above water, although they won't vest until August.

Two years ago, the company began to move from options for the general employee population to restricted stock — shares that cannot be sold for a fixed period of time.

Even before the turmoil of the past two years, other tech companies were becoming more selective about who gets options, according to compensation experts.

"For a while, they provided grants across the board, and quite honestly, a lot of folks didn't value them, particularly when they went underwater for so long," said Costelloe of Watson Wyatt.

Also, a change in accounting rules in 2004 took away the tax advantages of using options as part of compensation.

Although options are still favored by many valley companies, there is a trend toward balancing them with restricted stock. The advantage of restricted stock for employees is that they can profit from any increase in the share price, like an option, but the shares will still have value even if the price of the stock falls below the price at which the restricted shares are granted, because employees can sell the stock at the lower price and reap the proceeds.

Big companies have another challenge — they are years past their startup days, when their stock was posting large, regular gains.

"It's very easy in a hot startup to grow stock value from pennies to dollars," said Adeo Ressi, founder of TheFunded.com, a site where entrepreneurs review venture capital firms. "It's very hard, in a 10,000- to 30,000-person organization, to move your stock price."

But despite the bruising market decline and these other factors, it's not as though the valley has lost all interest in options.

"Silicon Valley is still very much the place of broad-based employee equity," said Brett Harsen, a vice president of Radford, a San Jose compensation consulting firm. "It's definitely not the place of options to the extent it was a decade ago, but they're still very important."

In fact, while the drop in share prices sent many options underwater, it also made new options much more attractive, Harsen said. "There is a motivation for companies to double down on their options when the stock market is down. You can load up your employees with a lot of low-priced stock options."

And after the worst decade in history, things may be looking up for options, said Lindner of WorldatWork. "Going forward, this could be the best time, as the market comes back. I've been through five recessions, and during at least two or three of them, I've heard 'death of options' or of some other component of compensation. It never happens."

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

Return to Top



Silicon Valley takes a new look at stock options | View Clip
01/02/2010
Cupertino Courier - Online

Stock options may be the gas that Silicon Valley runs on, but two years of falling stock prices left a lot of tanks on empty last year. Yet as it heads into a new decade, the valley's options culture remains surprisingly resilient.

The answer for some companies in 2009, including Google, Intel and eBay, was to hit the reset button by exchanging options that became worthless (or were "underwater") because of the falling stock market for ones that reflected the new, lower share prices.

Options give workers the right to buy company stock at a preset price, offering them the opportunity to profit if those shares increase in value.

For companies that did not do an exchange, the improving economy and rising share prices helped take care of the problem, lifting many options near or above the water line.

A study by Equilar, a Redwood City compensation consulting firm, shows options of top officers at 140 valley companies gradually surfacing above water during the last half of the year.

At the end of their fiscal years, an average of 61.4 percent of top executives' options were underwater, the study found, but by Christmas Day, only 46.9 percent of those options were, reflecting the economic rebound of the year's fourth quarter.

"We've had a rough year but (stock) continues to be an essential tool in the total compensation," said Emily Cervino, director of the Certified Equity Professional Institute at Santa Clara University.

"Here

in Silicon Valley, if a company is not willing to pay talent with some form of equity compensation, they just don't have the ability to compete for that talent. It's almost a right of passage."

But their luster has dimmed. They've been challenged by accounting rule changes, competition from other forms of employee incentives and especially a decade of stock declines.

"They're not incentives when they are not worth anything," said Scott Fingerhutt of Equilar.

Companies are reassessing their use of options, said Don Lindner of WorldatWork, a nonprofit association that studies compensation.

"Everything I've seen is that stock options are a very important aspect of compensation, especially in the high-tech area, and will remain so," Lindner said. "Have they toned them down some? Yes."

Companies grant options with a "strike price," which is the price at which an employee can buy shares. The options must be held for a period of time before they can be exercised. The gain from options comes from the difference between the strike price and the price of the stock when it is purchased. When they exercise options, employees can choose to sell the stock right away or hold onto the shares. Most employees sell to lock in the gains they've experienced.

Options are perceived by companies as a way of motivating, rewarding and retaining workers. But they work best for companies in a growth mode whose stock prices are advancing rapidly. That wasn't the story for most of this decade, which saw the Nasdaq plunge 44.2 percent.

"Pretty much every company has some options underwater," said Ann Costelloe, who heads the Bay Area executive compensation practice for Watson Wyatt.

Google took a straightforward approach to the problem that few companies could afford. It issued a new option for every underwater option in March at a strike price of $308 a share when the stock hovered near its lowest point in 2009. Google closed Thursday at $619.98 a share. It was an expensive gesture, since Google had to account for that switch as an expense on its books.

Advanced Micro Devices did an option exchange earlier in the year for employees, excluding top executives. A spokesman said Wednesday that all of the exchanged options are now above water, although they won't vest until August.

Two years ago, the company began to move from options for the general employee population to restricted stock — shares that cannot be sold for a fixed period of time.

Even before the turmoil of the past two years, other tech companies were becoming more selective about who gets options, according to compensation experts.

"For a while, they provided grants across the board, and quite honestly, a lot of folks didn't value them, particularly when they went underwater for so long," said Costelloe of Watson Wyatt.

Also, a change in accounting rules in 2004 took away the tax advantages of using options as part of compensation.

Although options are still favored by many valley companies, there is a trend toward balancing them with restricted stock. The advantage of restricted stock for employees is that they can profit from any increase in the share price, like an option, but the shares will still have value even if the price of the stock falls below the price at which the restricted shares are granted, because employees can sell the stock at the lower price and reap the proceeds.

Big companies have another challenge — they are years past their startup days, when their stock was posting large, regular gains.

"It's very easy in a hot startup to grow stock value from pennies to dollars," said Adeo Ressi, founder of TheFunded.com, a site where entrepreneurs review venture capital firms. "It's very hard, in a 10,000- to 30,000-person organization, to move your stock price."

But despite the bruising market decline and these other factors, it's not as though the valley has lost all interest in options.

"Silicon Valley is still very much the place of broad-based employee equity," said Brett Harsen, a vice president of Radford, a San Jose compensation consulting firm. "It's definitely not the place of options to the extent it was a decade ago, but they're still very important."

In fact, while the drop in share prices sent many options underwater, it also made new options much more attractive, Harsen said. "There is a motivation for companies to double down on their options when the stock market is down. You can load up your employees with a lot of low-priced stock options."

And after the worst decade in history, things may be looking up for options, said Lindner of WorldatWork. "Going forward, this could be the best time, as the market comes back. I've been through five recessions, and during at least two or three of them, I've heard 'death of options' or of some other component of compensation. It never happens."

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

Return to Top



Global Opportunities for the Serious Social Entrepreneur | View Clip
12/29/2009
The Social Entrepreneurship Exchange blog

The Global Social Benefit Incubator of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University was featured in the blog the Social Entrepreneurship Exchange blog.

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