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One Month Left to Apply for SBA Disaster Loans

Calif droughtSacramento – Director Tanya N. Garfield of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Disaster Field Operations Center – West today reminded small, nonfarm businesses in 57 California counties and neighboring counties in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon of the May 18 deadline to apply for an SBA federal disaster loan for economic injury. These low-interest loans are to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the drought in the following primary counties that began on January 1, 2014.

Primary California counties:  Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Orange, Plumas, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura and Yolo;

Neighboring California counties:  Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sutter and Yuba;

Neighboring Arizona counties:  La Paz and Mohave;

Neighboring Nevada counties:  Clark, Douglas, Esmeralda, Lyon, Mineral, Nye and Washoe;

Neighboring Oregon counties:  Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lake.

According to Garfield, small nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. “EIDLs may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” said Garfield.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster. EIDL assistance is available regardless of whether the applicant suffered any property damage,” Garfield added.

The interest rate is 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance in drought disasters.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955 or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance programs, visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster.

SBA Field Operations Center – West, P.O. Box 419004, Sacramento, CA 95841

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2015 DROUGHT BRIEFING – Four Years and Counting: Impacts and Actions

CrestACWAThe Crest Theatre in Downtown Sacramento is use to hosting a movie premiere or a captivating concert, but on Thursday, April 9th over 300 people including legislators, state and federal officials, and the public flowed into the historic theatre to witness something much more important than the latest indie film. In fact, it could have all the makings of a horror or disaster film, but it is for real and a happy ending can’t come soon enough. The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) presented the 2015 Drought Briefing – Four Years and Counting: Impacts and Actions.

By now, we have all heard about the drought and the affects it is having on our state. Just last week Governor Brown issued an executive order urging all Californians to conserve water and mandate statewide water agencies to reduce usage. ACWA pulled together the state’s top water officials to address some of the crucial issues and challenges we may inevitably face. Representatives from Cal OES, the California Natural Resources Agency, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Department of Fish and Wildlife, State Water Resources Control Board, Cal FIRE, and California Farm Bureau Federation presented information on what may be expected on water operations, the environment, fire response, agriculture, and water conservation.

“We felt it necessary to bring the public, the thought leaders, the elected officials, and the press together in
order to make them aware of the challenges we face,” said ACWA Deputy Executive Director of External Affairs Jennifer Persike. “It’s going to take all of us to get through this so we want people to understand where we are, what the impacts are, and how they can be a part of the solution, especially when it comes to conserving.”

The session opened with a presentation by Climatologist Michael Anderson, who presented the latest snowpack survey, 6% of normal, the lowest on record. Last year the snowpack at this time was 25% of normal. This means water normally filling streams and reservoirs this time of year will not be coming. In addition, Anderson displayed graphics comparing yearly climate change in the state. Last year was the hottest on record.

“The message today was very clear, we are in a very difficult situation and we have to take action within a complex system and this is everyone’s responsibility,” remarked California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird. “We are trying to get the message out and everybody has to contribute.”

With the governor’s latest order, cities can no longer install ornamental landscaping or yards in new housing developments requiring potable water unless they use drip irrigation. Urban water districts have been mandated to cut usage by 25%. Exactly how the agencies go about meeting these goal remains to be seen, but they are looking at many options.

“This is going to be painful. It is smart to take conservation measures now, because we do not know when this will end,” said Felicia Marcus, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, which oversees water allocations for the state. “We should not be playing Russian roulette with Mother Nature because we will lose.”

Of course you cannot discuss drought without talking about wildfires. While lightning can cause wildfires, most are caused by humans and preventable. “We are already on track for it to be a very busy fire season,” said Daniel Berlant, Information Officer for Cal FIRE. “We have been staffing and obtaining equipment throughout the winter in preparation of the fire season.”

Cal OES Inland Region Administrator Eric Lamoureux spoke on how local, state, and federal agencies are capable of working together to resolve issues. It is Cal OES ‘ responsibility to help pull together the appropriate state agencies to be as creative, collaborative and move quickly in responding to these challenges.

Cal OES Inland Region Administrator Eric Lamoureux discussing efforts to help drought affected communities.

Cal OES Inland Region Administrator Eric Lamoureux discussing efforts to help communities.

Lamoureux described how more than 600 wells have gone dry near the town of Porterville in Tulare County and how Cal OES is helping these communities by supplying bottled water, bringing in tanks of water, and setting up portable showers.

“The state government is working with Tulare County in trying to find other solutions until rain does come,” said Lamoureux. “The impacts in 2015 are more profound than those in 2014 and it is the job of Cal OES to get the necessary resources to communities.”

The audience attending the briefing, as well as more than 700 watching online, was reminded that as we continue to deal with the issues at hand, we need to look at the long term sustainable solutions.

“Collaboration is key and Cal OES stands ready to assist the real people that deal with the real day to day impacts of the drought,” emphasized Lamoureux.

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Disaster Loans Now Available to Businesses Impacted by Drought in Northern California

SBA LogoSacramento – Small, nonfarm businesses in three California counties and two neighboring Oregon counties are now eligible to apply for low‑interest federal disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the drought in the following primary county that began on February 10, 2015, announced Director Tanya N. Garfield of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center – West.

  • Primary California county: Del Norte;
  • Neighboring counties: Humboldt, Modoc Siskiyou;
  • Neighboring Oregon counties: Curry and Josephine.

“SBA eligibility covers both the economic impacts on businesses dependent on farmers and ranchers that have suffered agricultural production losses caused by the disaster and businesses directly impacted by the disaster,” Garfield said.

Small, nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

“Eligibility for these loans is based on the financial impact of the disaster only and not on any actual property damage. These loans have an interest rate of 4 percent for businesses and 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations, a maximum term of 30 years, and are available to small businesses and most private nonprofits without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship,” Garfield said.

By law, SBA makes EIDLs available when the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an agricultural disaster. Secretary Tom Vilsack declared this disaster on April 8, 2015.

Businesses primarily engaged in farming or ranching are not eligible for SBA disaster assistance. Agricultural enterprises should contact the Farm Services Agency about the U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance made available by the Secretary’s declaration. However, nurseries are eligible for SBA disaster assistance in drought disasters.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Disaster loan information and application forms are also available from SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955 or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. For more information about SBA’s disaster assistance programs, visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster.

The deadline to apply for these loans is December 8, 2015.

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Avoiding Online Tax Scams

T-5 days before Tax Day!

Cutting TaxesTax season, just like holidays, is also time for tax scams, with numerous online scams that attempt to steal people’s tax refunds, bank accounts, or identities. Last year, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates it paid $5.2 billion in fraudulent identity theft refunds in filing season 2013.[1]Websense Security Labs reported in 2014 it saw approximately 100,000 IRS-related scams in circulation every two weeks.[2]

This year, we need to be especially careful in light of the Anthem Breach, in which data from approximately 80 million customers was exposed, triggering new phishing attacks offering false claims of credit monitoring services.

Users who have already filed their taxes this season can still be vulnerable to tax-related scams. Many schemes take advantage of users by alleging to have information about the filer’s refund, or noting a problem with the return that was previously filed.

One scam that has already been impacting users this season involves phishing emails claiming to be from Intuit’s TurboTax. The emails prompt users to click on links to verify their identity or update their accounts in an attempt to download malware to the victim’s machine, or steal data such as Social Security numbers or financial information.     

Below are some of the most common email scams users should be cautious about:

  • The email says the user is owed a refund and should forward a bank account number where the refund may be deposited. Once the scammer has the bank account information, that account will see a big withdrawal, not a deposit.
  • The email contains exciting offers or refunds for participating in an “IRS Survey.” This fake survey is actually used to acquire information to perform identity theft.
  • The email threatens the user with fines or jail time for not making an immediate payment, or responding to the email.
  • The email includes a “helpful” downloadable document (e.g. “new changes in the tax law,” a tax calculator, etc.). In reality, the download is a malicious file intended to infect your computer.

How to Avoid Becoming a Tax-Scam Victim 

  • Do not respond to emails appearing to be from the IRS.  The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through email or social media to request personal or financial information. If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS, send it to phishing@irs.gov.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited emails and do not provide sensitive information via email. If the email appears to be from your employer, bank, broker, etc., contact the entity directly.Do not open any attachments or click on links contained in unsolicited or suspicious emails.
  • Carefully select the tax sites you visit. Use caution when searching online for tax forms, advice on deductibles, tax preparers, and other similar topics. Do not visit a site by clicking on a link sent in an email, found on someone’s blog, or in an advertisement. The website you land on may look just like the real site, but it may be a well-crafted fake.
  • Secure your computer.  Make sure your computer has all operating system and application software updates. Anti-virus and anti-spyware software should be installed, running, and receiving automatic updates. Ensure you use a strong password and different passwords for each account.

Cal OES Holds First Board Meeting of the Year for First Net at the APCO Western Regional Conference

FirstNet by NumbersSacramento, CA – California is leading the way for emergency responders with the first nationwide, high-speed, wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety.

At the front of this effort is the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), Public Safety Communications for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN) and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). The informal board meeting held today is the first of six scheduled to be held throughout California this year.

“Information discussed at todays meeting with board members shows the challenges we are facing with FirstNet partnering with us,” said Cal OES Telecommunications Governance & Services Branch Manager Sue Plantz. “We look forward to holding a more lengthy discussion at our initial stakeholders meeting that will be held in June.”

Officials participating in today’s panel included: Sue Plantz, Cal OES; Adeline Zendejas, CA Department of Technology; Kevin Guerrero, CA Department of Forestry and Fire Protection; Lori Young, CA Highway Patrol; Heather Hostler, CA Governors Office of Tribal Affairs; Craig Johnson, CA Emergency Medical Services Authority; and Jeff Johnson, FirstNet Authority.

Panel Pic

“California teams have been assertive and involved with FirstNet, making sure that we understand their needs and goals,” said Jeff Johnson, Vice Chairman for FirstNet Board of Directors. “California is one of the most prepared states that we’ve met to date.”

The Board of Directors Meeting today included a review and approval of the December 2014 Meeting Minutes, FirstNet update and State Consultation process overview, discussion of California’s State Consultation with FirstNet, future meeting items and announcements including the CalFRN Board of Directors Meeting which is scheduled to be held in June 2015.  Attendees of the APCO Western Regional Conference had the opportunity to attend this meeting and provide comments throughout the discussion.

For more information about visit www.firstnet.gov.

Strengthening A Weak Link

Communications seems to be a weak link in many areas and public safety communications is no exception. Bringing together public safety communications and emergency management is part of Governor Brown’s initiative to strengthen this vital link.

9408051199_67395dc4b5_zThis is just one of the issues being addressed at this week’s Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Western Regional Conference. The 5-day conference in Downtown Sacramento is the largest gathering of public safety communications west of Mississippi. The convention offers hundreds of industry training and educational sessions for public safety personnel and boasts over 50,000 square feet of the latest in communications industry innovation, new insights, tools and networking.

One of the event’s key presenters was Assistant Director Karen Wong of Public Safety Communications at Cal OES. In her presentation, Wong shared how California is setting precedence in the strategic framework and tactical direction of 9-1-1 network infrastructure, FirstNet and much more.

This conference is bringing together over 800 public safety communications officials throughout the western region to discuss pertinent issues such as the rollout of FirstNet.

DSC02784Featured this morning during the opening session was Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci who expressed gratitude to the hundreds of public safety and public service practitioners who provide a range of support including law enforcement, fire protection, emergency management, and other services to millions of people in the western states every year.

“In order to effectively provide these services, the State’s public safety agencies must be able to communicate as they prepare for, respond to, and recover from routine and emergency operations, natural disaster, and even acts of terrorism,” said Ghilarducci.

If you are in the Sacramento area, you don’t want to miss the 7th Annual California Mobile Communications Center Rally that’s going to be held on Thursday April 9th outside the convention center. This event will feature some of the newest and most state of the art Mobile Command Center Vehicles in use today by Public Safety Agencies.

About Cal OES Public Safety Communications

PSC serves the State of California by providing public safety communications to the State’s first responders and oversight of the 9-1-1 system to the People of California. The PSC is dedicated to the preservation and protection of human life and public safety by delivering reliable and dependable communication services keeping the public connected during times of crisis.

About APCO International

APCO International is the world’s oldest and largest organization of public safety communications professionals and supports the largest U.S. membership base of any public safety association. It serves the needs of public safety communications practitioners worldwide – and the welfare of the general public as a whole – by providing complete expertise, professional development, technical assistance, advocacy and outreach.

Cal OES Building Namesake a Big Personality, Tireless Advocate: Passes Away

Cal OES is saddened to learn of the passing of William “Bill” Campbell. If you don’t know the man, you may recognize the name: our headquarters building is named after him.

Bill Campbell passed away on March 22, 2015 at the age of 79. He was born on July 24, 1935 in Moon Township, Pennsylvania; he was laid to rest Saturday, March 28, in Orem, Utah.

Campbell May 9 2001

Bill Campbell at Building Dedication May 9, 2001

Bill served over 20 years in the California Legislature as an Assemblyman and a Senator. As Senator, he served as Chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee, Minority Leader of the Senate, and leader in emergency preparedness, which led to the State Office of Emergency Services named “Senator Bill Campbell Building.”

“We have lost a member of our emergency services family,” Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said. “Bill was a great public servant and we’ll all miss his tireless support for OES and for public safety advocacy.”

The Sacramento Bee noted that the perpetually affable Campbell once served as Republican leader and with a wide repertoire of corny jokes, was a popular master of ceremonies for political events throughout the state. Former Gov. Gray Davis said in an e-mail that Campbell “helped solve a lot of problems,” during Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s first two terms. “He had a good heart, and came from the generation of moderate Republicans that wanted government to function efficiently, not grind to a halt,” Davis said.

Campb w Zagaris and Gov Davis

Bill Campbell with Former Governor Gray Davis

More than a decade after leaving office, Campbell led the blue-ribbon commission that investigated the causes of the 2003 Southern California wildfires and recommended ways to prevent future disasters. The large commission – state and local emergency response officials, state and local politicians of all stripes – was a showcase of Campbell’s ability to find consensus, one of his greatest talents as a lawmaker.

“There were left wingers on the environmental side and right wingers and he brought that whole panel together,” lobbyist Jerry Haleva said. “Just like when Alan Robbins and Diane Watson were fighting over busing in the San Fernando Valley, he was able to find a middle ground.”

On the first page of the commission’s report, Campbell wrote:

“Unless and until public policymakers at all levels of government muster the political will to put the protection of life and property ahead of competing political agendas, these tragedies are certain to repeat.”

The most extensive account of Campbell’s career, including many insider stories of legislative intrigue, was written by Greg Lucas, now the state librarian, in his political blog, California’s Capitol, in 2008. You can find it here.

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