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Business Briefs

Simitian earns perfect mark on annual consumer scorecard

The Consumer Federation of California recently recognized state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) for his 2010 voting record with a 100 percent score on its annual legislative scorecard.

“Senator Simitian has been a steadfast advocate for California consumers,” said Richard Holober, executive director of the CFC. “Both through the legislation he has authored and other bills he has supported, he has consistently fought for consumer rights.”

Simitian, who represents Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, was one of four senators described by the consumer-rights organization as “standout legislators (who) deserve special recognition as consumer champions,” based on perfect or near-perfect scores over the past six years.

“I’m grateful for this recognition from an organization that champions consumer rights,” Simitian said. “While we have made progress in protecting consumers over the last few years, work remains to be done. I will continue to put forward legislation to safeguard consumers.”

Two of Simitian’s bills were among the nine senate and four assembly bills the CFC used to rate legislators. Both were privacy-protection measures: SB 1268, signed into law, prohibits transportation agencies from sharing personal information collected as part of FasTrak and other automated toll payment systems, and SB1166 – approved in the Legislature but vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – specified the information that potential victims of a database security breach must receive to learn how to protect themselves against identity theft.

“I’m not giving up on better information for potential victims of database breaches,” Simitian said. “The bill is a common-sense improvement to a law that served as a national model. I’ll be reintroducing it this year.”

For more information, visit

Library, SBA partner for entrepreneur series

The Los Altos Library, in partnership with the Small Business Administration, has scheduled four workshops designed to aid the novice entrepreneur make the best business decisions. The workshops begin at 7 p.m. in the Program Room of the Los Altos main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road.

• Jan. 19: “Marketing Research: Discover Your Niche,” by marketing expert Cheryl Downing. The more start-up business owners know about the customer they are targeting, the more effectively they can market their businesses. Topics include identifying the customer’s key characteristics, understanding why they would buy and determining a competitive advantage.

• Feb. 7: “Clarifying Your Entrepreneurial Vision.” Learn how to select criteria in evaluating different options for a potential business. The class walks through the steps necessary to help identify business direction.

• Feb. 23: “Small Business Ownership: What Business Is Right for Me?” Topics include why now is a good time to invest in business, how to finance a business purchase, franchise myth-busting and how to build a personal business model.

For more information, call 948-7683 or visit

ECH explores reducing ownership in surgery center

The El Camino Hospital Board has authorized management to discuss the possibility of becoming a minority owner in the El Camino Surgical Center through the sale of units to current or new physicians.

Located in the Willow Pavilion on the hospital campus in Mountain View, the surgical center is a multispecialty ambulatory facility with six operating rooms, one procedure room and 12 postoperative beds.

Currently, the hospital owns 51 percent of the center. Discussions between the hospital and surgical center’s management team are expected to continue for a couple of months.

Local non-profits benefit from realtor foundation

The Silicon Valley Charitable Foundation donated $44,800 in 2010 to a variety of non-profit organizations that help low-income individuals and families in Silicon Valley.

The foundation is a trust that makes grants available to organizations from donations by the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors (SILVAR), affiliate members and friends.

“Local non-profits have been hit hard by the weak economy and unemployment,” said 2010 foundation President Lisa Keith. “We thank our members and friends who, even in this difficult year, have been very generous with their donations.”

Grant applicants are evaluated on the need for the expenditure and the number of people served; the impact on the recipient organization; location of the community served; financial soundness and efficiency of the organization; accuracy and completeness of application; structure of volunteer organization and level of volunteer support; and appropriate use of the Foundation’s previous grants (if applicable).

Local 2010 recipients include Abilities United, the Community Health Awareness Council, East Palo Alto Kids Foundation, Friends of Deer Hollow Farm, JustREAD (on Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District campuses), Kara and the Westwind 4-H Handicapped Riding Institute.

As part of the foundation’s Scholarship Program, now in its 11th year, representatives presented $1,000 scholarships to 18 graduating seniors from public high schools in Silicon Valley communities.

For more information, call SILVAR at (408) 200-0100 or visit

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