Monday, October 27, 2014

Burger King abdicates...again

Burger King has been in the news lately, because of its forthcoming acquisition of the Canadian company Tim Hortons and its possible move to Canada. This, naturally, has everyone up in arms because an American company is fleeing American taxes. The critics rightly point out that since Burger King will contribute 73% of the revenue (in 2003 terms) to the combined company, the combined firm should be located, whoops, it seems I got my figures wrong. Based upon 2013 revenues, Burger King's US and Canadian operations will contribute a whopping 16% of the combined revenue, with another 11% from Burger King operations in the rest of the world. Yup, Tim Hortons will contribute 73% of the revenues.

A little sobering...but not surprising when you look at things at the local level.

Some time last week, the Burger King in Montclair at the corner of Central and Palo Verde closed its doors, joining closed Burger Kings in east Ontario and other locations.

You never hear about a McDonalds closing, and although you might have an occasional Arbys close here and there, it seems that a fair share of Burger Kings have closed over the last few years. And 3G Capital has been closing company-owned Burger Kings.

Or am I just hypersensitive to these closings?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Campaign overlap

On Sunday, I saw a Rudy Favila for Mayor sign on San Antonio north of 8th.

For those who don't understand the significance of this, Favila is running for mayor of Ontario.

San Antonio and 8th is in Upland.

Does this mean that the candidates in the contentious Upland election will campaign in Ontario?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

If you marry your sister, it keeps the meth lab in the family (this is about ONT, of course)

As you read the title of this post, some of you are saying, "Oh, he's going to talk about THAT." Others are wondering what's going on.

But before I get into the topic in question, I want to lay out several truths.

First, from the perspective of the city of Los Angeles, it is in the city's interest to retain the so-called "LA" Ontario International Airport. The airport, although distant from the city, provides three benefits to Los Angeles: (1) a source of revenue; (2) a source of pride and patronage; and (3) removal of a potential competitor against the city's crown jewel, Los Angeles International Airport.

Second, again from Los Angeles' perspective, if the city does have to sell the airport to Ontario, it makes sense to sell it for a price as high as possible. That's just good custodianship of tax dollars. Los Angeles, as far as it's concerned, legally bought the airport from Ontario years and years ago, and it doesn't want to just give it away without getting anything in return.

(As an aside, former Ontario mayor Howard Snider used to go door to door and sell Kiwanis breakfast tickets. Snider, back in the day, was instrumental in selling the airport to Los Angeles in the first place. One time when he was selling pancake tickets, I mentioned that the airport sale was certainly in the news a lot. The elderly Snider didn't offer any comment, either because he didn't recall the earlier sale, or chose not to do so.)

The third truth is from the perspective of the city of Ontario. Obviously, Ontario wants to buy the airport for a price as low as possible. In fact, the city would be tickled pink to acquire the airport for free. Hence the lawsuit - and the outrage that I'll be talking about in a minute.

The fourth truth concerns Press-Enterprise columnist Cassie MacDuff. MacDuff is most widely known as a columnist. Now she may also do some regular reporting, but her primary claim to fame is as a columnist. And columnists provide opinions.

Which is germane to an email exchange between Warren Adams, an advisor to Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA, the government entity that controls both LAX and Ontario International Airport), and Stephen Martin, Chief Operating Officer of LAWA. You see, Adams had seen a Cassie MacDuff piece on the Ontario Airport fight, and Adams decided to share it with Martin, along with this comment.

I thought reporters were supposed to be objective? She has been relentless in her views.

Return to my fourth truth - MacDuff was writing as a columnist, not a reporter.

LAWA's Martin chose to provide an email response, which included the following.

Not in the inbred Inland Empire.

Return to my third truth. There are some who are focusing on that "inbred" comment and using it to try to pry Ontario International Airport away from LAWA. Both Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner and Congressman Ken Calvert - both of whom are up for re-election - issued strong statements.

“I was appalled by the statements that were made, and I think, frankly, it shows their ignorance of the Inland Empire economic market and what goes on out here,” Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner said Tuesday. “I don’t think most of these people have even been to the Inland Empire, and it’s reflected in their statements. It shows their ignorance.”...

On Monday, Congressman Ken Calvert, R-Corona, called for Martin’s immediate termination. He called Martin’s statement “offensive and highly unprofessional.”

Others, however, are taking clearer heads over the whole "inbred" brouhaha. One of those people is Cassie MacDuff herself:

They just don’t like my opinions. As a columnist, I’m fine with that. They are entitled to their views. I’m entitled to mine.

MacDuff then goes on to say that the issue isn't what LAWA has said, but what LAWA has (or hasn't) done.

But all of this should not obscure what was revealed by Ontario’s court filings in its lawsuit to get the airport back: Los Angeles World Airports slashed ONT’s marketing budget to focus its attention on growing LAX.

No wonder the airport has lost 45 percent of its passengers and scores of flights.

According to witnesses whose statement became public last week, LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey and then-Deputy Executive Director Michael Molina directed underlings to pull back from marketing ONT and instead put efforts into LAX, where the international terminal was being rebuilt.

Now perhaps I should follow the lead of Cassie MacDuff, and of others such as San Bernardino County Supervisors Janice Rutherford and Gary Ovitt, who argue that the future of Ontario International Airport should be decided on the issues, and should be considered in a calm, fair manner.

But that's too much work, so I'll go into the gutter instead. (And I'm not even running for re-election.)

While he may claim otherwise, Stephen Martin is pretty much talking about incestuous behavior. However, incestuous behavior can also occur in business relationships, as this 2010 Daily Breeze article noted. In this case, a losing bidder on a LAWA proposal was complaining that "two other companies vying for the contract have conflict-of-interest issues that likely would not withstand a legal challenge." In the process of discussing the various conflict of interest issues, this tidbit came out:

Chad Molnar, the LAX field deputy for Councilman Bill Rosendahl, whose area includes the airport, pointed out that the global airport community is so tiny it's virtually impossible to find people who haven't worked in or have connections with both the public and private sectors within the industry.

For example, the LAX website notes that Stephen Martin, chief operating officer for Los Angeles World Airports, also worked for a decade as a consultant to LeighFisher, one of the consulting companies Host complained about.

To paraphrase another person named Martin, airport management is not pretty.

Oh, and one more thing: LAWA's headquarters is at 1 World Way, which happens to be where LAX is located. If LAWA truly wants to encourage LAX use, then perhaps they should free up their headquarters for use by the airport, and relocate their headquarters to an underused LAWA facility in a much lower-cost area.

Yes, I'm proposing that LAWA move its headquarters to Terminal 4 of Ontario International Airport, where several of the gates have been closed due to the traffic downturn.

Imagine if Stephen Martin, other LAWA personnel, and consultants like Warren Adams had to come to Ontario every day for work. Rather than the noise and the glut of traffic on Century Boulevard, they'd be driving by the wide open fields near Archibald Avenue. Instead of heading to the Lakers practice facility after work, they'd be taking in Ontario Reign games. And, if we in the IE do our best to live up to our stereotypes, there'd be more methamphetamine available to the LAWA executives than they'd ever be able to score near LAX.

Heck, there might even be a preacher who would let Stephen Martin marry his sister. (I don't think the pastor of this church would perform the ceremony, however.)

Oh yeah, there's a mayor election in Ontario

I wrote about Ontario's last election for mayor, so I guess it's time that I write about the upcoming election. But I'm going to do so in the context of Route 66, which isn't even in Ontario.

A couple of Sundays ago, I was there for the last day of Ontario's version of a Route 66 festival. (San Bernardino's version is coming up later.) Even on the last day of the event, there were still a lot of people there, and when you have a lot of people at a single location, the crowds attract something.

No, I'm not talking about flies or pickpockets.

I'm talking about politicians.

It makes sense, since politicians want to make contact with the people, and especially in a local election, personal contact will go a lot farther than expensive, brief television ads.

So as I was walking down Euclid Avenue, I spotted a booth on the sidewalk for Rudy Favila. I figured that I'd pick up some campaign literature, and the volunteer who handed me the campaign literature was - Rudy Favila.

I told him that I was considering Favila, but not Avila. In addition to general concerns about Avila's antics, Favila has a personal issue with Avila, since Avila endorsed Favila for mayor at one point, and then decided to run himself. (Avila is free with his endorsements; he endorsed Paul Leon for State Senate in 2013.)

Anyway, Favila with an F had a live voter in front of him, and he did not want to waste the opportunity, so he told me about his idea to solicit a number of brief proposal papers from potential business owners, select the best of those ideas, and temporarily waive the business registration fees while the business were just starting. Frankly, this reminded me of some of Favila's initiatives when he was on the Ontario City Council several years ago, when he just liked to get a couple of people together and get something done.

After listening to Favila's pitch, I walked on down the street and ran into the Paul Leon booth. Leon was not present, but he had been at the Route 66 festival previously. The Leon volunteer did not provide me with a speech - but did provide me with a bottle of water on that hot day. I don't THINK that counts as bribery...