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Alex Rodriguez: The Guy we Love to Hate

 

I’m going to talk a little baseball today. It’s been on my mind since hearing about it and then watching a recap of the eventful New York Yankees/Boston Red Sox game on Sunday, August 18. I know most everyone hates Alex Rodriquez, public enemy number one in the baseball world, but just indulge me.

For those unaware, Alex Rodriquez and twelve other players were suspended by Major League Baseball in early August due to their connection with Biogenesis, a Florida “anti-aging” clinic, and for their alleged (and now admitted) use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Rodriguez was given a 211 game suspension, while the twelve others were all given 50 game suspensions, effective immediately. Rodriguez’s suspension would have taken him all the way through the 2014 regular season. Simple enough. He may very well deserve every game he is suspended. However, under the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the players and Major League Baseball, players have the right to appeal their suspension and continue playing until the appeals process has finished. Alex Rodriguez has appealed and has returned to playing for the Yankees. I know people hate this; I know players hate this. But let the man have his due process. The CBA lays out the rules of how contracts work in MLB. Deal with it and stop complaining. (Yes, you can have an opinion, but I’m done listening to those who think he shouldn’t be playing.)

So, what about that “eventful” game from Sunday, August 18? Well, the starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, Ryan Dempster, apparently doesn’t approve of Alex Rodriguez. In the second inning, Dempster plunked Rodriguez on the fourth pitch. This was after he pitched behind Rodriguez on the first pitch and then threw two more pitches inside. It seemed pretty obvious to me that this was an intentional hit. The sportscasters calling the game agreed it was, too (give a watch and listen; those Red Sox fans sound horrible cheering when A-Rod gets hit). Okay, players get intentionally hit for all sorts of reasons, but come on, four pitches! He made his intentions beyond obvious, even though he is not admitting to it. I would have thought this obviousness would have gotten Dempster an ejection, but no, the home plate umpire Brian O’Nora simply gave warnings to both dugouts. Yankee manager Joe Girardi stormed onto the field and let O’Nora have it (rightfully so) and was subsequently ejected from the game. Rodriguez took his base and then exacted his revenge in the fifth inning when he cranked a solo shot. The Yankees ended up coming from behind and winning, so Dempster may have just ignited a third place Yankee team at the wrong time of the season (Red Sox slugger David Ortiz agrees with this idea).

Luckily, MLB decided to suspend Dempster, but unfortunately for only five games. Five games for a pitcher is no problem. He doesn’t pitch every night and by the time the five games go by he’ll be fresh for his next start. It’s like no suspension happened. The suspension is weak and should have been for more games. At least there was a suspension. No action from MLB would have implied approval that it is okay to hit Alex Rodriguez. The suspension makes some kind of statement and says there are consequences for your actions. Alex Rodriguez will most likely suffer the consequences of his actions soon enough, but let him have his due process. In the mean time, how about you just pitch to him and strike him out to show that you don’t respect him.

 

 

There are so many good things going on in Reno right now, and you don’t have to look far to find them!

When you ask the question, What makes a neighborhood great?, the answers include “It’s always a bunch of individuals coming in who think the potential for their community is bigger.” And “A great neighborhood usually evolves organically with its residents.”

MIDTOWN is a prime example of this. Check out the latest edition of Reno Magazine’s profiles of 17 Midtown pioneers who invested in Midtown, whether 17 years ago or six months ago and are fueling its renaissance. This group believes and is totally invested in “Buying Local” and caring about local business.

Sam Sprague, Micano Home and Garden: “When people starting thinking about buying locally, it will help Reno out so much – that’s when the sidewalks will change, the economy will change, the money will be going back into our community.”

Christian and Kasey Christensen, SÜP Restaurant: “The couple envisions Midtown as a spot reminiscent of San Diego’s Gaslamp District with its destination feel and dense population of businesses.”

Bernie and Tim Carter, Carter Bros Ace Hardware: “What Midtown has developed into is a philosophy: To develop that old-town center core in Reno,” Bernie describes. “That’s why we’re involved with mom-and-pop type stores.”

Next project up for the Carter Brothers…the historic, 81 year old, former downtown Reno post office designed by famed architect Frederic DeLongchamps. Can’t wait to see that one!

Arthur Farley, Brasserie St. James: “…all my favorite neighborhoods aren’t downtown, they’re right at the edge of downtown.”

Other Midtown owners and businesses include Hillary Schieve, Plato’s Closet & Clothes Mentor; T. Duncan Mitchell, Chapel Tavern; Eloy and Rachel Jara, Midtown Wine Bar; Eric and Monique Baron, The Melting Pot; Esther Dunaway, PolyEsthers; Christopher Costa, Reno Public House; Peter Burge and Laura Conrow, Wedge-A Cheese Shop; Tammy Borde, Chocolate Walrus; and Amber Solorzano, The Creative Coalition of Midtown.

What makes a great neighborhood? Just ask the Midtown folks.

And while you are reading through Reno Magazine catch the interview with Monica Harte, General Director of the Nevada Opera Association. Monica is bringing a fresh new perspective to Nevada Opera with a goal of introducing opera to new audiences in our community while maintaining exceptional productions for seasoned opera fans. I’m now one of those new to the opera fans!

Finally, if you haven’t heard the new bustle about town, check out the Biggest Little City Campaign. This is another grassroots project that’s all about showing the good things in our community. Go to their website and read stories of why people live in Reno. Share your story. What’s your Big…and Little?

So what’s happening in Reno? Plenty to be proud of. Pioneers are paving the way. Jump on board.

 

 

 

 

In order to have your “hobby” considered a business, you must be pursuing the activity with the intent of making a profit. If this is not the case, the activity will be subject to the IRS hobby loss rules, which provide that such losses are generally deductible only to the extent of income produced by the activity. Furthermore, hobby expenses (only to the extent of hobby income) are deductible as a miscellaneous itemized deduction and are subject to the two-percent-of-adjusted-gross-income floor.

Referencing a recent article in The Tax Adviser, the determination of whether or not your hobby can be classified as a business involves a number of considerations.

These and other relevant facts and circumstances must all be considered in determining whether any particular activity is a hobby or a business.

But to end on a positive note, an activity is generally presumed NOT to be a hobby if net profits result in any three of five consecutive tax years ending with the tax year in question.

 

 

There are two types of IRAs that individuals can create themselves, with extremely different characteristics. One is a regular IRA, for which the contributions are deductible.

A regular IRA will put you ahead if you’re in a high tax bracket when you make the contributions and expect to be in a lower bracket when you retire and take the distributions. For instance, if you are single and your taxable income is greater than $183,250, this contribution of up to $5,500 isn’t taxed at 33%. Assuming you take the distribution after you’re 59 1/2 years old and withdraw this $5,500 when your taxable income is less than $36,250 you are only taxed at 15%. This yields a tax savings of 18%, or $990.

The other type of an IRA is a Roth. With a Roth IRA, you can contribute up to $5,500 per year after tax. After you reach 59.5, you can withdraw any amounts you wish tax free. This is advantageous if you, or your spouse, will have significant pension, investment or other types of income when you retire. The contributed amount and all the gains are tax free. I may be pessimistic, but I think that by the time I reach 59.5 the government will have raised tax rates to pay down the deficit. A Roth IRA will protect people from this scenario. It is also a useful retirement vehicle if you are in the 15% tax bracket, as I can’t envision taxes for a single person making over $15,000 a year ever getting below this tax rate.

Another reason that I am fond of a Roth IRA is that it isn’t subject to the same harsh early distribution penalties as a regular IRA. With a regular IRA, if somebody ever becomes destitute or needs money for emergencies they will be penalized 10%! (There are exceptions for medical insurance premiums for the unemployed, qualified higher education expenses and up to $10,000 for a first time home purchase).

This takes away the whole tax savings of a regular IRA as outlined above. I for one don’t like the idea of the government having a certain level of control over when I can take out my money. On the other hand a Roth IRA’s early distributions are only penalized above the contributed amounts. This means that the 10% penalty will only kick in after all the contributions are withdrawn first, the earnings are the only portion that could be penalized. So if I put in $50,000 over 10 years and that money has grown to $100,000, I could take out the $50,000 of contributions with no penalty and no tax. This I like as it gives me more control over my money in addition to not worrying about unknown future tax rates.

Another rule to keep in mind is that contributions can only be made if the taxpayer makes under a certain amount. For a Roth IRA, the $5,500 contribution limit is $110,000 in adjusted gross income for single people and $173,000 for married couples. For a regular IRA, and for active participants in an employer retirement plan, the contribution limit is $59,000 for single people and $95,000 for married people. People not involved in an employee retirement plan have no income limit in order to contribute to a regular IRA. So, especially if you’re invested in a 401k at work which has the same withdrawal characteristics as a regular IRA, put some money into a Roth IRA!

 

It’s my turn again. The dreaded blog is due. What to write always seems to drive the “dreaded” part of a “blog is due.” So, I fired up Google News and started reading away. There was definitely much to write about, but I wanted something local. Clicking on the News Near You section didn’t highlight any particularly interesting articles, but it did remind me to take a peek at the Reno Gazette-Journal’s website (yes, sometimes there is more than just pictures of events). Since I don’t actually have an RGJ subscription, I was limited by the number of articles I could read. So, I proceeded carefully and looked for an article about something local to click on. I was intrigued when I stumbled across the title “Reno Rebirth: Could downtown Reno be a home for students?” I clicked away and was happy to discover a blog filled with all things Reno. (Oh, and the blog isn’t limited by having a subscription or not.)

Reno Rebirth is a blog “devoted to Reno’s economic recovery.” Reading that tagline would make one primarily think about business, but economic recovery relates to all aspects of life and Reno Rebirth makes that clear. Blogs are posted a few times a week from a variety of writers with topics ranging from Reno being a city where people are active and exercise to the number of arrests made at the 2012 Santa Crawl. The blog does allow for comments via Facebook login, so people are adding their opinions to the blog as well. There is also a Twitter feed on the main page where you can catch some additional local information. Here are a couple of blog posts I found interesting:

So, if you have some time, take a peek at the Reno Rebirth blog and don’t forget to keep an eye out for Barnard Vogler’s weekly blog, too.

 

 

 

 

 





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