Jerry’s Journeys from September 5, 2012 Issue
We just celebrated Labor Day paying tribute to the economic and social contributions of American workers. Nowhere else on this earth can you find the opportunities that we have in America.
My parents and grandparents came to the United States through Ellis Island in the 1930s having settled in Massachusetts. They came to California in the early 1940s after many of their friends believed the stories of the Golden State and climate. They bought a small dry cleaners in San Gabriel in 1947 and worked very hard to attain their American dream. They often worked until 11 p.m. many evenings wanting a better life for their three children.
In 1955 my parents bought an Amana Freezer store in Temple City for $32,000. My father had a tough time getting a loan from our local First Western Bank and Security Pacific Bank. My father was from the old school; having paid everything in cash he had no credit history. He was my hero. I would watch everything he did and tried to emulate him, even smoking which killed him in 1969. That was when I stopped smoking 3 packs a day. I would ride my bicycle from Pasadena after school to the store to help him. Of course I could not make the 7-mile trip without stopping at Bob’s Big Boy on Colorado Boulevard and getting 3 Big Boys and stuffing them into my saddlebag only having to reach in twice during the ride.
Fifty years ago I was the youngest person in the State of California to receive my dry cleaning license at the age of eighteen. I remember traveling to downtown Los Angeles to take the six-hour test. I was presented with little swatches of fabric with different stains; it was my job to not only identify the fabric and stain but to also safely remove it on the spotting board. I had to prove to the examiners that I not only knew how to identify fabrics, but to press and finish various garments.
In 1987 California Legislators removed everything regarding consumer protection, including the licensing of dry cleaners. There was even a $5,000 bond to protect the consumer removed. Now everyone, including you can open a dry cleaners without any knowledge. The only thing this did was to create inept dry cleaners keeping the Small Claims court busy with unhappy customers and giving all cleaners a bad name.
Things have changed a lot in the dry cleaning business in the last 30 years. Solvent has gone from $1.25 a gallon to $42 a gallon. The thing that has me the most upset is how the Feds, State of California, and County are trying to get their hands into both my pockets, not calling what it really is, a tax but using the euphemism “fees”. California has become the state most un-friendly to business in the nation. It is no wonder that many businesses are relocating to Nevada, Colorado, and Texas.
I am going to name some of these yearly fees that several years ago were not even in existence. South Coast Air Quality Management District; $623. Boiler inspection and license; $552. This one is my all time favorite, $930 to the Los Angeles County Fire Department to list my hazardous waste.
Hello Fire Department…I do not have anything flammable or hazardous here. I thought I already paid you when I paid my property tax each year. Here is the best part, if you do not pay the $930 on time and in all one payment they assess a 40% penalty. When I complained about the penalty fee they said the Legislature built that into the fees. I know because I paid the 40% penalty one year. I never received the invoice, they said it was my responsibility to know that it would be coming in December. They send the invoice by regular mail but they want you to send the payment registered mail.
The only fee that I am happy to pay each year is the modest $75 business license fee from Temple City. At least I feel that I am getting something. Just in the last 45 days I have had my tree trimmed in front of the store, red curbs repainted along with the street number, and a new American flag on the light standard, not to mention blowing the dirt off my sidewalk.
Temple City gives me more bang for my buck than any other form of levies and it is at the local level where it belongs without the government taking out their administrative fees. Wake up Temple City and smell the camellias, the $75 needs to be $200. It’s worth every penny.
I have said all this to let you know that the government did not help build our business. It was built with the desire of my parents to experience the American dream and own their own business through blood, sweat, and tears.
Don’t get me wrong, America has always been and will continue to be the land of dreams. I would just like less government raiding our cities of redevelopment money and using school districts for their own piggy bank to fund their wasteful pork projects.
My favorite saying is, “I am here from the government and I am here to help”. If you ever hear that, hang on to your wallet. Tell them no thank you and run as fast as you can. The small business owner is the backbone of this great country; more jobs are created by small business than any other.
This has been a rough 4 years for the small business owner. Many of my customers are out of work, many businesses have closed or laid off people. If it comes down to paying their mortgage, putting gas in the car, putting food on the table, guess what…cleaning your clothes, keeping your draperies fresh, buying new draperies is going to come in last.
I am Jerry Jambazian. I am not running for any elected position but I approve this message.
See you soon…