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SACRAMENTO, CA – The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) already is seeing results from a new multi-agency partnership that targets individuals who are breaking the law and making it increasingly difficult for law-abiding licensed contractors to compete for business. CSLB estimates that on any given day, tens of thousands of licensed contractors and unlicensed operators are breaking the law and contributing to the state’s underground economy. These individuals and companies will be at the top of the Labor Enforcement Task Force (LETF) target list.
LETF, which was launched January 1, 2012, is comprised of investigators from CSLB, the Department of Industrial Relations, Employment Development Department, and Board of Equalization, in collaboration with the Insurance Commissioner and Attorney General’s Office. Partners have broadened information-sharing and the use of new enforcement technology to improve the way they target businesses in the underground economy.
“Contractors need to understand that they can’t cheat to compete,” said CSLB Registrar Steve Sands. “By combining our resources and sharing information like never before, we will target and find the worst offenders, licensed or not.”
Teams of investigators are already working side-by-side and have conducted 16 targeted enforcement operations throughout the state since January 2012 that have resulted in dozens of citations and thousands of dollars in fines. The operations are not limited to weekdays. At least one has taken place on a weekend and more weekend operations are on the calendar.
A recent operation in Orange County resulted in legal actions against a long-time illegal operator. Benito German Lopez Cruz, 47, of Orange, is believed to have underbid legitimate contractors on plastering jobs by hundreds of thousands of dollars during the past several years. A CSLB investigator cited Lopez for contracting without a license and failing to secure workers’ compensation insurance for three employees who were working with him. The citation comes with $4,500 in fines. The Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement issued Lopez a stop order (that prohibits the use of employee labor until they are covered by workers’ compensation insurance) and citations for $7,750 in fines for failure to carry workers’ compensation and for paying employees in cash. Lopez also will be audited by the Employment Development Department.
A criminal case settled last week highlights the severe consequences of these types of business and contracting violations. On February 24, 2012, Michael Amzie Holley, 43, of Murrieta, was sentenced to one year in jail and ordered to pay $510,000 in restitution for failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance for an injured employee and failing to pay insurance premiums for unclaimed employees who were paid in cash. In 2009, CSLB revoked the contractor license of So Cal Roofing Company (#797707), owned by Holley. The criminal activity came to light after an incident in March 2003, when one of Holley’s employees fell off of a roof and was injured. When that employee filed a workers’ compensation insurance claim, Holley denied that the injured employee worked for him. He also had filed paperwork with CSLB certifying that he had no employees.
According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, in February 2010 Holley agreed to plead guilty to multiple felony counts associated with insurance and tax fraud. Holley purchased a minimum workers’ compensation policy from the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) and failed to state that he employed subcontractors, paid workers in cash to hide the fact that So Cal Roofing Company had workers, hired unlicensed employees, and leased employees from other companies. He received insurance based on his false declarations, allowing him to underpay his insurance premiums. In addition, to hide the fraud and to avoid paying state taxes, Holley failed to file an accurate tax return.
In addition to construction, LETF addresses illegal activity in the agricultural, automotive, garment, restaurant, and warehouse industries.
CSLB enforcement representatives (ERs) were given state authority to issue job site stop orders where employee workers' compensation insurance is lacking, beginning January 1, 2011. But ERs can also issue the orders without being at a physical location. Starting in November 2011, ERs in CSLB's Investigative Centers began issuing stop orders to contractors without valid workers' compensation policies. The first stop order was issued from the Sacramento Investigative Center (IC). In this case, a consumer complained that a licensee hired to make repairs on a home addition had an exemption on file with CSLB, but was using two employees for the project. CSLB's investigator issued a stop order and administrative citation for filing a false workers' compensation insurance exemption. The licensee was cooperative, and obtained a valid policy for his workers within two weeks.
SACRAMENTO– Ten illegal operators are headed to court next month following a Contractors State License Board undercover sting operation conducted at a Chico home on April 14, 2011, with investigators from the Butte County District Attorney’s Office.
CSLB investigators posed as property owners, inviting suspected illegal operators to bid on home improvement projects such as concrete, landscaping, fencing, painting, and tree trimming. Those who bid more than $500 received notices to appear in court for contracting without a license. California law requires that all home improvement projects valued at more than $500 for labor and materials be performed by a licensed contractor.
Some suspects are facing additional charges for illegal advertising and soliciting excessive down payments. State law requires that contractor license numbers be in all advertisements. Those who are not licensed may perform work valued at less than $500, but their ads must state that they are not a licensed contractor. Contractors are also prohibited by law from soliciting a down payment larger than $1,000 or 10 percent of the contract price, whichever is less.
This is not the first time Thomas Christopher Chadwick, 38, of Bangor, and Alvaro Barajas Garcia, 45, of Chico, have been caught in a CSLB sting. Both were issued notices to appear during a September 14, 2010 operation at a Chico mobile home park. Garcia pleaded guilty and was fined $1,010 for contracting without a license. Chadwick pleaded not guilty and is set for trial on one count of contracting without a license on June 20, 2011. Garcia and Barajas are now charged for a second offense which carries a penalty of up to $5,000 and at least 90 days in county jail.
“This sting should serve as notice that CSLB and its partners are serious about cracking down on illegal contracting activity in Butte County,” said Registrar Steve Sands.
In addition to the suspects caught in the sting operation, CSLB and the DA’s office will conduct follow-up investigations on at least two licensed contractors who are suspected of having employees who are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Contractors are legally required to purchase workers’ comp coverage for all employees to protect homeowners from liability if a worker is injured on their property.
“The Butte County District Attorney’s Office welcomes the opportunity to work with agencies like CSLB to ensure compliance with our state’s consumer protection laws,” said Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey. “It is also critical that Butte County contractors who provide good jobs and pay their proper taxes and insurance are not put at a competitive disadvantage by these illegal operators.”
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. More information and publications about hiring contractors are available on the CSLB website or by calling 800-321-CSLB (2752). You can also sign up for CSLB e-mail alerts at www.cslb.ca.gov. CSLB licenses and regulates California's more than 300,000 contractors, and is regarded as one of the leading consumer protection agencies in the United States. In fiscal year 2009-10, CSLB helped recover nearly $42 million in ordered restitution for consumers.
Seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment increased in 38 states in March and decreased in 12 states and the District of Columbia, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on Tuesday. Compared with March 2010, employment increased in 47 states and D.C. and decreased by small amounts in three states: Kansas, -0.5%; New Jersey and New Mexico, less than -0.1% each. The biggest year-over-year percentage gains were in North Dakota, 4.2%; Vermont, 2.8%; Alaska and Texas, 2.4% each.
In contrast, construction employment rose in only 19 states in March, fell in 27 plus D.C., and was level in four (Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa and New Hampshire), an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America showed. Over the year, construction employment climbed in just 16 states plus D.C., dropped in 33 states and held steady in Vermont.
The largest year-over-year percentage gains in construction employment were in Tennessee, 6.3%; Texas, 5.1%; Wyoming, 5.3%; and Delaware, 4.2%. The largest decreases were in West Virginia, -11%; Wisconsin, -8.0%; Georgia, -7.6%; and Nevada, -7.5%. (BLS combines mining and logging with construction in six states plus D.C. to avoid disclosing data about industries with few employers.)
Albany, N.Y. (April 19, 2011) — States' tax revenues finished strong in 2010, continuing a trend toward gradual fiscal recovery, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government's latest State Revenue Report.
State tax revenues grew by 7.8% in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to the fourth quarter of 2009, according to Rockefeller Institute research and Census Bureau data. This is the fourth consecutive quarter that states reported growth in collections on a year-over-year basis. Forty-two states reported tax revenue growth during the fourth quarter, with nine showing double-digit growth.
Preliminary figures for January and February 2011 indicate further strength in state tax revenues this year. Overall collections in 45 early-reporting states showed growth of 9.5% compared to the same months of 2010, and 7.5% compared to the same months of 2009.
Local tax revenues, however, have experienced the reverse trend. Tax collections by local governments declined by 2.3% in the fourth quarter of 2010, mostly driven by declines in property tax collections. This is the result in part of the lagged impact of falling housing prices on property tax collections. Before the fourth quarter of 2010, local tax revenues remained relatively strong for most of the period during and after the last recession. Such a lag in the recession's impact on local government coffers is somewhat typical, say report authors Lucy Dadayan and Donald J. Boyd.
"Most local governments rely heavily on property taxes, which tend to be relatively stable and respond to property value declines more slowly than income, sales, and corporate taxes respond," Dadayan and Boyd write.
It is hard to decide which barrier to economic recovery to be most worried about today: the Japanese industrial collapse, inflation from soaring commodity prices, or the emergency financial aid requested by Portugal. All of the headwinds battering the economy are gusting today. Crude oil has jumped to over $111/barrel on the shutdown of Libyan oil production and the continuing protest demonstrations on the fringe of the Arabian Peninsula. Japanese manufacturers announced factory reopening plans that keep production far below normal for at least of month and then depressed for at least several more months. Portugal has become the fourth European country unable to service its massive debts from overspending.
FORT ATKINSON, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Cygnus Business Media, a leading B2B media company unveiled an iPad app for their new magazine Sustainable Construction at the recent ConExpo. The magazine serves as an addition to the company's extensive construction portfolio which includes Asphalt Contractor, Concrete Contractor, Construction Distribution, Equipment Today, Pavement, Rental Product News and the leading construction portal, ForConstructionPros.com.
Using Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, the company's digital group created a user-friendly interface that, when downloaded, organizes content, social media tabs, short films, video, images and product information. For viewing, it includes dual axis and natural gesture navigation and pop-up captioning. Cygnus Digital is an early adopter of the technology. The Sustainable Construction iPad app was among the first 200 created using the new Adobe suite.
"The functionality of this app allows for a more personal engagement with sustainable construction products," says Publisher Nancy Terrill. "Readers can choose to open graphically-enhanced sidebars for additional information or zoom in on specific points of interest within the story or a photo. We've also incorporated video, which provides the user a visual component to upcoming stories. New stories will be added consistently that can be downloaded into the Sustainable Construction iPad app."
Prior to the launch and without any announcement or marketing, Terrill noted over 500 apps of Sustainable Construction had already been downloaded, 60 percent from Europe, Asia and the Middle East
"Apps offer numerous ways for Cygnus Business Media to present content and more," says Tom Kohn, executive vice president of Cygnus Business Media Digital. "Users simply download new stories at their leisure and have access to additional information and data within one content piece that comes in the form of videos, graphs, tables, podcasts, and links just to name a few. One story can now provide thousands of words, pictures and video and it's all available in one organized place."