National Signing Day 2019: USC football live updates

Live updates on Wednesday, Feb. 6 as the USC football team finalizes its recruiting class on National Signing Day.

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USC preview | UCLA live updates | Southern California high school updates

 

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Signing Day 2019: Live coverage of local high school athletes signing their college letters of intent

Follow along for live updates of Southern California high school athletes sign their national letters of intent on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019.

Viewing on a mobile device? Follow all the updates here.

UCLA live updates | USC live updates | Spotlight on Kyle Ford

 

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Bargain Hunter: Free staged reading of ‘Catch-22’ in Sierra Madre

Off The Page, a free staged reading series, will present “Catch-22” at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. The adaptation by Joseph Heller follows the classic story about a fighter pilot trying to get out of the military by showing that he is mentally unstable. The theater is at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre. For more information, call 626-355-4318 or go to www.sierramadreplayhouse.org.

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Hello, tax season! 6 tips to help you find a CPA

It’s a new year and you might be looking to make a change in your business or personal “team” for this year. That team might include your CPA, life coach, attorney or financial planner.

Today, let’s look at the CPA. A CPA is distinguished from other accountants by stringent state licensing requirements which include required hours of college credit earned, the successful completion of a standardized uniform national examination, an experience requirement and mandatory minimum education classes each year.

You might be quite comfortable with your CPA, but it’s still a good idea to take stock of your situation and see if that person is still a good fit for you. If circumstances have changed, or you have never used the services of a CPA in the past, you might want to look for someone new.

Review your CPA’s professional experience

For instance, your past choice of a CPA may have been based on the business you owned at the time. However, if the nature of your business has changed, you may require additional knowledge or experience from your CPA. Other changes such as pending retirement, a sale of a business, a divorce, estate planning or the death of a family member may require a CPA who has experience in those areas and can prepare the required tax returns.

Does your CPA communicate well?

Do they call you back or respond to your e-mails within 24 hours? Do they talk to you using technical language such as the IRS tax code sections or do they use plain English and simple terms? They should take the time with you to answer your questions without continually looking at their watch to see the time or talk about their next appointment arriving.

Are you looking for a large or small firm?

Large firms might have the experience and expertise you need for your particular situation. If you have an unusual issue that comes up, they probably have someone else in the firm that can help with that particular area. For some people, a small firm is more comfortable where they know all of the staff and are greeted by name when they walk into the office. A small firm might not be able to meet every one of your needs, but they probably know other CPA specialists that they can refer you to easily.

Do you really need a CPA?

If you need an audit of your financial statements, then you do need a CPA. Only a CPA can report on financial statements prepared by AICPA standards. If you are looking for someone to do your bookkeeping, maybe there is an internal bookkeeper that you can hire, or a bookkeeping service that would fit your need instead of hiring a CPA. For tax purposes, you can find enrolled agents, registered tax preparers and even tax programs such as Turbo Tax to do simple tax returns. With the new tax law, it is projected that an increased number of people will be doing their own tax returns this year instead of using a CPA.

How much does a CPA cost?

Large firms usually charge more. Small firms have lower overhead costs, and, therefore, less costs to pass on to you for their services. Both large and small firms charge for the experience level of their staff or partners.  Also, if the individuals have special expertise in special fields, they will charge more for those services. Make sure that you find a CPA that will meet your needs and then make sure that you are comfortable with the fees they will charge you for their services.

What services does the CPA offer?

For businesses, they can help you set up your accounting systems, and accumulate, analyze and report financial and operations information for management decision-making. They can prepare audits, reviews and compilations required by the people you do business with, and provide management consulting services for your individual business.

For individuals, they can help with financial plans, budgets and retirement planning, developing an estate plan, and assessing insurance needs. They can also work with seniors, act as a trustee and prepare court/trust accountings.

There are many other services a CPA can offer for a business or for individuals that are not listed here.

Before you make a selection, interview at least three CPAs. Ask the same questions of each one, and be sure to request references.

Next week we will be looking at another team member for your business or personal team.

Marcia L. Campbell, has worked as a CPA for over 25 years specializing in seniors, trusts, estates, court and trust accountings and probate litigation support.  You can reach her via email at Marcia@MCampbellCPA.com.

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Southern California has two of the top 5 on Yelp’s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants for 2019, a nationally ranked list

  • A view of the main entrance at The Blind Rabbit in Anaheim. The Blind Rabbit, a speakeasy in Anaheim, placed No. 4 on Yelp’s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants for 2019, a nationally ranked list. (File photo by Ed Crisotomo, SCNG)

  • Leonard Chan, co-owner shows a hidden entrance at The Blind Rabbit in Anaheim.The Blind Rabbit, a speakeasy in Anaheim, placed No. 4 on Yelp’s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants for 2019, a nationally ranked list. (File photo by Ed Crisotomo, SCNG)

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  • A view of the interior of The Blind Rabbit in Anaheim. The Blind Rabbit, a speakeasy in Anaheim, placed No. 4 on Yelp’s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants for 2019, a nationally ranked list. (File photo by Ed Crisotomo, SCNG)

  • Ying Chang, from left, co-owner/ managing partner, her husband Robert Adamson, co-owner/ managing partner, and Leonard Chan, co-owner stand together at The Blind Rabbit in Anaheim. The Blind Rabbit, a speakeasy in Anaheim, placed No. 4 on Yelp’s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants for 2019, a nationally ranked list. (File photo by Ed Crisotomo, SCNG)

  • Cucina Urbana in San Diego, which has sister locations called Cucina Enoteca in Irvine, Newport Beach and Del Mar, slipped in at No. 98 on Yelp’€s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants for 2019, a nationally ranked list. Seen here, Cucina Enoteca at Fashion Island. (File photo by Nick Koon, Orange County Register SCNG)

  • Cucina Enoteca at Fashion Island in Newport Beach is Cucina Urbana’s sister restaurant. Cucina Urbana in San Diego was voted No. 98 on Yelp’s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants for 2019, a nationally ranked list. (File photo by Nick Koon, Orange County Register SCNG)

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Yelp’s Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants for 2019, a nationally ranked list, rates two Southern California spots known for wine and cocktails higher than some legendary fine dining rooms.

The Blind Rabbit in Anaheim, a speakeasy, appeared at No. 4 and Barrique, a wine bar in Venice, took the No. 5 spot. Here’s the shocker, both ranked higher than San Franciso’s Gary Danko with its dozen Five Diamond ratings from AAA, Relais & Châteaux designation, Michelin ratings and multiple James Beard Awards, including Best New Restaurant, Best Service and Best Chef — California. Danko came in at No. 11. The two So Cal spots also muscled out Per Se, Thomas Keller’s gourmet ivory tower in Manhattan, which was listed at No. 22.

Here’s how Yelp tallied the ratings. “We identified restaurants on Yelp with a large number of reviews mentioning the words ‘romantic,’ ‘Valentine’s Day’ and ‘date night’ and ranked those spots using a number of factors including the total volume and ratings of reviews mentioning the relevant keywords.”

To make sure the lineup was geographically diverse, they limited the list to two restaurants per metro area.

A third Southern California restaurant, Cucina Urbana in San Diego, slipped in at No. 98. It’s actually a boutique chain with sister restaurants called Cucina Enoteca in Irvine, Del Mar and Newport Beach.

Yelp reviewers have spoken and it seems they don’t love white linen and formal service on date night or maybe it’s fear of the pricey check. Let’s face it, there’s nothing romantic about morning-after arguments over credit card debt. Maybe that’s what makes sneaking into a speakeasy with shareable plates, stiff cocktails and cozy seating a lot sexier.

For the complete list visit  www.yelpblog.com/ 2019/02/yelps-top-100-most- romantic-restaurants-2019.

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Five ways to motivate employees and drive results

How do you motivate employees and drive results at the same time?

When we think about a results-driven leader, we picture someone who is driving with an intense focus toward a goal. Eyes front. No nonsense. A person who embodies the message, “Get out of my way, I will win!”

On the other hand, motivation requires a leader possess a high degree of people skills, directing his or her energy toward inspiring and building positive relationships with their team. This requires taking the time to help employees develop new skills and talents along the way to success.

This is a lot to ask!

How do you, as leader, manage all this without losing your own focus or momentum?

Here are a few simple shifts that will help you both drive and motivate your team.

1. Leverage is your best friend – embrace it.

As a leader, you may feel as though you bear the burden of full responsibility to achieve the goals that have been placed before you. Not so!

Your job is to set the vision, map out the course, assign responsibilities, teach people the right steps to excel, and coach them to the finish line. If you feel as though you are pulling and dragging people to reach this finish line, you are carrying weight that doesn’t belong to you. You have disempowered your team. Your team wants to feel valued and that they contribute toward the larger picture. Put on your coaching “hat” and get out of the way.

2. Your foundation is everything.

Your foundation consists of your plan, your people, and the resources to do the job.

A. Is your plan solid? Does it contain the “teeth” to leave no room for question? If your people are stalling at certain points, this means you need to clarify how to move forward. And are you regularly checking to see if the plan is moving your team in the right direction? This tells your team you care about them and their success.

B. Do you have the right people in place? If you have a chronic underperformer, the finger should point back at you. What does this person need in order to perform more effectively? Have that conversation and if you discover that you are part of the problem, adjust and rewind. If, on the other hand, you find that the person simply isn’t the right fit, do yourself, the employee, and the rest of the team a favor and have the critical conversation that has been looming for some time.

C. Are you providing your team with the resources they need to do the job? This is a big item. If you are asking them to reach the seemingly impossible, you also need to identify what they will need in order to achieve this. A runner can’t run without a well-mapped out course and the right amount of energy bars and water. Likewise, your team member can’t perform to capacity unless he receives the right kind of support and resources. What do your team members need in order to work more effectively? Ask! This helps them to see you have their best interests in mind and want to see them win.

3. “Rinse and repeat” should be your mantra. It’s not how many steps; it’s how many right steps.

Be careful that you don’t throw your team off course if you aren’t seeing big results quickly. Check your direction, and check the steps you have outlined to get there. I recall leading a multi-million dollar campaign that had never before been achieved. As I learned to put together the strategic plan that ultimately helped us reach and exceed $21.3M in four years (unprecedented!), it was a real eye-opener to realize that just five steps, when repeated over and over, reaped the lion’s share of our results.

Have you identified your own multi-step formula? When you do, and you allow your team to flex and grow while working these steps, it allows them to master these, as well, because they must repeat them many times.

People love learning, and they love achieving. This is motivating. And that is what this does.

4. Evaluate often and collaboratively. You need to have regular meetings set up to evaluate progress – no surprise (but I’m astounded at the number of leaders who don’t do this).

However, if you want to motivate your people, if you want to help them learn and grow, you will want to conduct your evaluations in a different way.

First, be sure you begin these meetings with celebrating what has gone well. Identify what is working and recognize people for their efforts.

Secondly, identify the “points of learning.” What didn’t work as well as you had hoped? Have your team dissect this with you and keep the focus on the moves and tactics that needing adjusting. No finger-pointing.

Third, address any big concerns, and allow the team to give input as to how these concerns might be addressed. You are allowing them to participate in creative problem-solving and to give them a “voice” in the solution. Again, feeling as though you are part of the solution and that your thoughts count is very motivating and reminds people that they are important to the larger picture.

5. Celebrate. It is always a sad sore spot with me when leaders are recognized for achievements and efforts, and the team goes unrecognized.

Begin with your team – recognize them for efforts even if you can’t recognize for results.

Identify what about their contribution was helpful – get specific. In other words, saying “Good job on last week’s efforts, Dan,” rings hollow. But “Good job on your efforts to negotiate with our competitor, Dan. I believe your connecting with them will bear fruit,” is much different. Tell them why you are recognizing them and be sincere.

And when it comes time for you as leader to be recognized in bigger meetings, don’t forget to call out how your team helped to win. You truly could not have done this yourself – and you need to recognize this with others.

If you truly want to motivate and inspire your people, let them know they are an integral part of the success.How do their contributions make a difference? And then, allow them to use these gifts to do so.

Your job is not to run the course alone – it is to coach an entire team to break that ribbon at the finish line. It is when you finally embrace this that you will reach those great results.

Patti Cotton works with executives, business owners, and their companies, to elevate and support leadership at all levels. Her client roster includes privately-owned small businesses and such entities as Bank of America, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Harvard University, Sysco, Edward Jones, Morgan Stanley, Girl Scouts of America, and more.  Reach her by email at Patti@PattiCotton.com

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Inland economy ranks high in national study

Twelve months of solid job growth pushed the Inland Empire’s economic status closer to the top levels, a study released Thursday by the Milken Institute found.

In the “Best Performing Cities”  study of 200 major metropolitan areas that measured job and wage growth along with the expansion of technology development, the Inland region ranked 15th. That represents a five-point jump from the previous year’s report.

The nonprofit, non-partisan Milken Institute studied job growth for a 12-month period that ended August 20, as well as the five years before that. San Bernardino and Riverside counties had the third-best short-term increase and ranked seventh from 2012 through 2017.

However, the region ranked lower in short- and longer-term wage growth in and the expansion of a technology-based economy. As a percentage of total economic output by the technology sector, the Inland region ranked 131st of the cities studied.

Wage growth slowed

Also, the report cited “extremely low” educational attainment. Only 21 percent of the population over age 25 has a bachelor’s degree or better, compared to 31 percent nationally. That is a factor that has kept Inland wages from growing as fast as the availability of jobs.

“Wages is a long-term concern, and a big part of it is educational attainment,” said Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of research at Beacon Economics and the UC Riverside Center for Forecasting. “It’s a chicken-and-egg issue. Is the mix based on concerns about the workforce, or is it the other way around?”

Provo, Utah, ranking high in job and wage growth, topped the list of the 200 cities. It was followed by San Jose, Austin, San Francisco, Dallas, Raleigh, N.C., Orlando, Seattle, Fort Collins, Colo., and Salt Lake City.

Orange County, LA County lose ground

Orange County was ranked 56th and declined nine slots from the previous year. Los Angeles County was number 81 and fell 20 places.

Many of the high-ranking cities were propelled by single industries. The report cited technology growth traced to Brigham Young University as the main reason Provo topped the list. Tesla’s battery factory pushed Reno, Nev., from 35th-best city last year to number 11.

For the Inland Empire, that main engine was the logistics sector. Milken cited a 140 percent increase in distribution jobs between 2012 and 2017, as well as Amazon’s $4.7 billion investment in 10 fulfillment facilities during a four-year period. This growth has given residents more spending money, which spurred some growth within service sectors.

The region’s universities are producing workers with degrees. “But students tend to look elsewhere for employment after graduation,” the report states.

Kleinhenz said it was important to note that the Inland Empire ranked higher than any metro in California outside of the two Bay Area technology hubs. Several Central Valley cities, such as Stockton, Merced and Fresno, all rose sharply in the study.

“These are points of reference that we use when we talk about how good or not good the Inland Empire is doing,” Kleinhenz said.

The cost of doing business …

The cost of doing business varies from county to county. Kleinhenz said that plays a role not only in Inland growth, but in the recent lack of growth in both jobs and in the workforce, in Orange County. Also, for many workers, it is too expensive a place to live.

Los Angeles County has been trying to fix some of those issues by adding multifamily housing, which may be helping to attract more workers.

“There’s a little more of a dynamic there than in Orange County, but clearly Los Angeles still ranks low,” Kleinhenz said.

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Senior Living: You are what you eat – and that includes your brain

By David W. Hart, Ph.D. 

Contributing writer

Did you know that epidemiologists who study the effects of diet on longevity have described ours as the Standard American Diet, otherwise known as the SAD diet? The acronym alone might tell you everything you need to know about the negative health outcomes related to Americans’ typical food regimen.

It’s no secret that eating processed foods, sugary drinks, sweets, an overabundance of red meat and dairy, and limiting intake of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals may increase an individual’s risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.  But did you know that what you eat is also significantly correlated to cognitive impairment that may be symptomatic of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or another dementia?


David W. Hart, Ph.D.

Researchers have identified patterns in the results of studies on longevity: metabolic health, most commonly controlled by diet and exercise, has a significant effect on the incidence and prevalence of AD.

A seminal study published in JAMA Neurology found that older adults with a history of diabetes were 65 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Another study on the correlation between diabetes and brain function found that women who had type II diabetes had poorer cognition. Obesity has also been identified as a significant and independent risk factor for Alzheimer’s and midlife obesity, defined as having a body mass index greater than 30 and midlife, increased risk for AD by up to 74 percent. Additionally, higher rates of unhealthy cholesterol (LDL) in coupled with marked hypertension were also associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease by 2.8 times. When it comes to overall brain health, the old saying you are what you eat has never been more relevant.

We know that Alzheimer’s disease is reaching epidemic proportions with the number of Americans diagnosed with the disease expected to reach nearly 16 million by 2050. Sadly, a cure is nowhere in sight and identifying specific lifestyle strategies shown to potentially lower risk for the disease is critical. The good news: we know what to do. The not so good news: we may not be motivated to do it. Let’s change that!

Diet’s impact

The Mediterranean Diet is consistently linked to lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease. Of the five countries with the longest average life expectancies, all have diets composed primarily of whole foods, grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish – the hallmarks of a Mediterranean style diet. Interestingly, residents of Japan have a lower rate of the disease than Americans; however, Japanese Americans have a higher rate than those living in Japan. Can you guess the primary contributing factor in the discrepancy between the two populations? That’s right! It’s partially diet!

Researchers at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging found that seniors 65-94 who ate fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least once weekly were at 60 percent less risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease than those who ate fish rarely or never.

In another study, conducted by the Departments of Medicine and Neurology at UCLA, curcumin, the active ingredient in the curry spice turmeric, was shown to prevent formation of amyloid plaques, one of the hallmark neuropathological changes in Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, as published in the Annals of Neurology, when dietary habits of 2,258 elderly men in New York were followed across four years, researchers found that the rate of Alzheimer’s disease among those seniors who adhered most strictly to the Mediterranean diet was 40 percent lower than among those didn’t follow diet.

Workshops

  • To learn more about the science and practice of a brain healthy lifestyle, join the South Bay Dementia Education Consortium for a free workshop facilitated by Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai – directors of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center and the authors of “The Alzheimer’s Solution: A Breakthrough Program to Prevent and Reverse the Symptoms of Cognitive Decline at Every Age.” The workshop is from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Redondo Beach Main Library, 303 N Pacific Coast Highway. To RSVP, call (310) 374-3426 ext. 256.
  • If you’d like to join me for my monthly “Aging Matters” series, our next session is from noon – 1:30 p.m. Feb. 5 . We will continue our discussion on how to effectively adapt to the frequent changes that come with age by tapping into the wisdom of resiliency. To RSVP, you can email me at dhart@abc-seniors.com.

In the meantime, be well.

David Hart, Ph.D., is the director of clinical services at Always Best Care Senior Services in Torrance and is a faculty member in the Department of Counseling at California State University, Fullerton.  Hart, founding chair and member of the South Bay Dementia Education Consortium, specializes in working with older adults with dementia and their families. For more information, go to alwaysbestcaresouthbay.com or contact him at dhart@abc-seniors.com or at (310) 792-8666.  

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Taco Bell is bringing back Nacho Fries for a three-peat

Taco Bell is bringing back its Nacho Fries  on Thursday, Jan. 24, for a limited time. But a lucky few customers could get them earlier.

The news comes a year after Nacho Fries made their debut on the Dollar Cravings menu, quickly becoming the Irvine-base fast food chain’s most popular launch ever. It sold more than 53 million orders of the spicy spuds in five weeks.

Taco Bell took Nacho Fries off the menu, but brought it back for a few weeks in July. Next week’s return will be a three-peat.

Nacho Fries will cost $1.29, up 29 cents from a year ago. The Dollar Cravings Menu has since mutated into the Value Cravings menu, opening the door for slightly higher prices.

Taco Bell originally promoted Nacho Fries with movie-like commercials featuring actor Josh Duhamel uncovering a conspiracy by the “burger people” to keep french fries out of the chain.

This time, Taco Bell is sending out a team of “fryologists” on “Fryday,” Jan. 18 to give out free Nacho Fries to “unsuspecting customers” nationwide. But customers probably won’t be that unsuspecting, because Taco Bell has released a list of restaurants they will visit.

Three are in Southern California:

–303 West Imperial Highway, Brea

–2222 Barranca Parkway, Irvine

–4101 Campus Drive, Irvine

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Democrat who lost D.C. bid in November says he’ll try for Sacramento next

Dave Min, a UC Irvine law professor who was endorsed by the California Democratic Party in his unsuccessful congressional bid last year, will challenge Orange County GOP state Sen. John Moorlach in the 2020 election.

Min finished third in the June primary for the 45th Congressional District, missing the November runoff by 4,099 votes to Katie Porter, who went on to win the seat in November by defeating Mimi Walters.

Following the loss, Min said he was unsure of his next step in politics but kept hearing from former supporters who urged him to run for public office again. Eventually, he decided to compete for the 37th Senate District.

“We built a really strong and amazing grassroots movement and had hundreds of volunteers for our campaign,” said Min, 42, who lives in Irvine with his wife and three kids.

Min said he plans to make “protecting our environment, ending the gun violence epidemic, building more affordable housing, and protecting our immigrant communities” core platforms of his campaign.

Moorlach has served in the state Senate since 2015, winning a special election that year and then earning a full term in 2016, when he beat his Democratic opponent by 14 percentage points. The former Orange County Supervisor has branded himself a fiscal conservative who has sought pension reform at all levels of government. He launched his political career when he predicted Orange County’s 1994 bankruptcy during a successful bid to become the county’s treasurer-tax collector.

In contrast to Moorlach’s 24 years of experience as an elected official, Min has never held public office. Instead, Min points to a political resume that includes time as a senior policy advisor for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress and as policy director for the Center for American Progress.

The 37th Senate District runs along the coast from Huntington Beach to Laguna Beach and stretches inland through Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Tustin, and up to Orange, Villa Park and portions of Irvine. Republicans hold a 5 percentage point voter registration lead in the seat, but that’s half the of the advantage the GOP had four years ago when Moorlach one his first full term. The district also overlaps with several House seats and state assembly districts that swung Democratic in 2018, continuing a trend that has seen Republicans losing more and more federal and state seats in recent years.

If elected, Min, a first-generation Korean-American, would be the first Asian American Democrat to represent Orange County at the state level.

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