Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Al Ries Speaks on Garmin and the GPS Industry

In case you haven't heard, I launched a new blog,, focusing on stock and global economic markets.

If you are an investor, you should be aware that GPS devices are among the hottest selling items, this past holiday shopping weekend. Garmin, the leader in GPS devices, has seen it's stock surge this week with the news.

However, competitors like Nokia and others will be making a big splash in this market, too. So will Garmin maintain it's big gains, and should it still be a "buy" through the holiday season...or has it already seen all it's gains on the good PR? contacted Marketing Strategist, Al Ries, for some insight. Al is co-author of "Marketing Warfare", "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing", and "Bottom-Up Marketing'; and author of "Focus" and "The Origin of Brands". (If you haven't read these books, I would read them all this holiday season.)

Stock Analysis: Al Ries Speaks on Garmin and the GPS Industry

The future of Garmin: Can they maintain the GPS leadership position? (No pun)

Many of you are familiar with Marketing Strategy legend, Al Ries. (If not, read more about him at

With GPS devices being the big break-out this holiday season, it was time to contact Al, to see if Garmin is the stock to go with, in the GPS category, or will Nokia and others who plan on launching their own GPS products, overtake Garmin's early leadership position in the market. Garmin is kinda the company who comes to mind in this booming category.

I even saw a Garming TV commercial today, for the first time. (And I monitor these things, so they must have just hit today!)

Strategy Update: Garmin stock has skyrocketed over the past two trading days, since news that GPS devices were all the rage this Black Friday shopping weekend, and the most popular ones are sold out, everywhere. (Although there are plenty of devices still on the shelves.)


I don't know how you feel about Jim Cramer, but he is cautious of Garmin's recent stock rise, because other big companies like Nokia and others will soon be entering the market (with far bigger marketing campaigns, I'm sure);

Best Buy is making their own generic GPS for their stores -- and Cramer feels they are going to merely be a commodity. So, Garmin may be a nice trade to take advantage of in the short-run, through the holidays...but after that...get out of the Garmin game.

HOWEVER, to those in the know, Garmin is "first" in the category (in my mind, at least). To bad they don't say, "Get a Garmin for the holidays." (You know the old "turn your name into the generic term routine.)

However, is it still too early to tell who is actually first in the mind of the consumer? (In other words, the GPS market position is still up in the air?)

Are these GPS devices UNLIKE MP3 players, where you MUST have an iPod, or be the biggest outcast on the planet. Or are they like commodities, as Cramer states.

So the short version of the question would be: Do you think Garmin has what it takes to be the leader in the minds of the GPS buyers, or will the 800 lb gorilla (Nokia, Best Buy and/or other competitors) stomp on them?

Al Ries: We feel that Garmin will continue to do relatively well because of two facts: (1) GPS devices are definitely a new category and will continue to sell as separate devices in spite of the fact that Nokia and others have incorporated similar functions into their smartphones. (2) Garmin is the leader.

However, the category itself is probably never going to to be a blockbuster in the sense that MP3 players and cellphones were.

As far as whether the stock is a good deal or not, that depends on a lot of issues outside of marketing ones.

A good example is Google. The stock is going through the roof because Google has announced expansion plans into a raft of new categories. All of these moves, in our opinion, are bad marketing moves, but good for the stock.

Bad marketing often drives up the price of a stock and makes it a good buy in the short term.

The biggest tip I can give you is to please read more about Al Ries at for summaries. And visit Al Ries has an Atlanta based firm with his partner and daughter Laura Ries who you may have seen on CNN and CNBC.
: investor resource site

Al's books and audio books are available at Amazon's link at

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NEW Website Resource Page For Stock Investors & Global Economic Trends

Click here for

It's one simple page you can go to for links to videos, live TV streams, news wires, updates and analysis. A one-stop resource page for financial investors in a global economy. I know a lot of people reading are investors in the stock and other financial markets. I know a lot of investors subscribe to a "buy and hold" strategy, because they are in it for the "long-run".

However, I think the time is now to start monitoring the markets and your portfolio with a little more frequency than in previous times. Zuma Dogg is elevating the "investors alert" level a couple notches. was created to allow you to more closely monitor the markets, and provide basic, fundamental (yet somehow innovative) investment strategies to help you avoid the financial land mines in this volatile market.

(I have a feeling even the harshest of ZD critics will be able to appreciate this site. No need to thank me. I simply put it together for myself, so I could have all the links I used each day, in one place.)

Make sure you check out all the videos from Jim Cramer, Fast Money,, Dr. Deming and of course...ah hem...Big ZD. (And the site was even designed so haters can easily avoid the ZD videos!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

VOLATILE STOCK MARKET: Go to for Tuesday Nov. 20,

Many readers are invested in the stock market exchange.

Since the market seems to be volatile, I know some of your "buy and hold" (long-term) investors have been caught off-guard, and they have seen their stocks tank before they even noticed.

So I spent some time today, and put together an update of some of the information floating around the internet that may help you re-focus your investment strategy:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Zuma Dogg's Master Thread About Home Depot in Sunland-Tujunga

(from based on 100% community input.)


Some folks from the area contacted me directly and conveyed the situation from a very empathetic "local community angle" -- and they tipped me to some things I haven't heard about before and even faxed over more pages of related documents (proof that backs up some of their concerns) and helped tie together the big picture in the mind of ZD (based on their tutelage).

So here is a re-cap of my notes based on these conversations and I will try and scan some of these documents they sent over.

First of all, the first thing that was mentioned is that the Home Depot they want to build in the old K-mart location is less than 500 feet from an LAUSD school (approx 450 ft). Home Depot and Latham & Watkins don't want you to know that. They tried to ignore that fact till the very end of the application process.

Also, consider the Home Depot site is on a liquefaction earthquake "fault zone". This means during an earthquake the land turns to quicksand.

So when you are storing pesticides, hazardous chemicals and other toxic stuff (as Home Depot does) -- you don't want that 450 feet away from a school.

Plus, all those Home Depot delivery trucks will bring a smog parade to the school area on a daily basis. (Move recess indoors, please!)


If the Home Depot permit calls the project a "project", suddenly LAUSD needs to sign off on it, entirely. In other words, the LAUSD school board could actually nix the Depot (project) and stop it dead in it's tracks.

So maybe that's why the mayor spent like crazy to make sure Tamar Galatzan was elected to the LAUSD school board in that district. Yeah, it's Tamar's district. Tamar's Husband is Brendon Huffman from VICA. Huffman and VICA were pushing the Home Depot project for the area. And of course, peoples' ears are ringing from the chatter of Galtzan for Wendy Greuel's Council seat. (And I have a feeling Tamar will vote on the Home Depot/Latham & Watkins side on this one.)

But before we get into why Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo's relationship with Latham & Watkins will lead to a settlement where Home Depot gets to build the damn thing, no matter what anyone has to say in the community, here are some other environmental and other issues:

In the case of a school emergency, or local emergency in general (requiring evacuation), there is only one street in and out of the are on the evacuation route -- Foothill Blvd. One little spill at Home Depot, and the evacuation route is cut off, according to one local resident.


The Tujunga-Wash (dirt and rock area) provides 15% of the drinking water for the City of Los Angeles in the form of mountain run-off. (It's the ONLY uncontaminated source in L.A. "Home Depot chemical (spill/run-off) would put that water supply at risk", said a caller to Big ZD.

There is also an L.A. RIVER tributary (arm of L.A. River) that runs through the Home Depot property (at the far corner). If there is a liquid chemical spill, it will contaminate the LA RIVER!


Any decent meteorologist will tell you that the Home Depot location is a high wind velocity area. So if there is a chemical contamination spill (release) -- it could blow into the Valley like toxic halitosis.


(Price Is Right loser sounder) Whomp, whomp, whomp, whomp...(deflated) whooooomp): Oh's a "Wildlife Corridor", too. I am told you can see coyotes and other wildlife running along side the K-mart property.


The reason Home Depot/Latham & Watkins does not want this to maintain "project" status is because LAUSD becomes a decision maker, and guess what...

Zuma Dogg is looking at a faxed copy of the letter from LAUSD "Office of Environmental Health and Safety" expressing concerns with the proposed Home Depot development dated February 7, 2007. (Not that long ago!)

"The site is located about 450 feet north of Apperson Elementary School and school pedestrian routes along Woodward Avenue pass adjacent to the east side of the development. Since the project may have a significant impact on the environmental integrity of our school facility, we believe that all of the potential environmental impacts related to the project need to be fully evaluated to ensure the health and safety of all our students and staff."

YIKES! NO WONDER THEY DON'T WANT IT TO BE A PROJECT IF LAUSD GETS TO MAKE THE FINAL "YEAH/NEY"!!! a "project", it would bring South Coast Air Quality Management (a state agency), and they are even stricter than CEQUA. They develop their own"air quality code" for each area. And it is stricter for school areas.

Now, in case you didn't know: Latham and Watkins was on the advisory board to help TIGHTEN air quality regulations around schools...

SO HOW COULD THEY PRETEND NOT TO KNOW A SCHOOL IS LESS THAN 500 FEET AWAY!?!? First of all, according to the City of Los Angeles/Department of City Planning, Parcel Profile Report (01/15/2007) -- Under "500 foot zone" question, it says, "NO"! (As in, "Oh no...") However, under "Environmentally Sensitive Area" says, "YES"!

So did someone not see the school? Because Latham & Watkins is suing the City over this -- and if they fought for tighter regulations around schools -- I HOPE they wouldn't be talking out of both sides of their ass and violating the safety of the parents, kids, teachers and staff on their own issue!?!?

And speaking of shadiness, Zuma Times was told the City had to throw out a FALSE traffic report submitted by Home Depot claiming there would be even less traffic when HD opens as there currently is with the closed K-Mart.


City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has close relationships with Latham & Watkins (and they say L&W keeps Antonio's Mayoral re-election and Gubernatorial dreams alive. So look for the City Attorney's office to settle the lawsuit and grant the permits to Home Depot with a slightly scaled back plan. (For example, that location is not supposed to have the traditional outdoor displays you are so used to seeing at Home Depot. But I'm sure with some "mitigation" they will be able to even get around that.

Delgadilldo will claim he has to issue the project permit Depot is aksing for because the City didn't handle it correctly, and they have to cave in to avoid losing big in court. AND, due to Latham & Watkins work it does with the City of Los Angeles/so many conflicts of interest, Rocky's "butter finger factory" will have to hire outside counsel to handle the case. But don't worry, they will settle, because the City needs a Home Depot there, because they will be claiming Eminent Domain all over the area and will be developing the shiznit out of it. (So long quaint neighborhood! You're about to get jammed with mega-developments of thousands of new homes in the area, even though the area cannot accommodate the growth.) But that's why the City needs the Home Depot there. Even though the community residents want something to replace the types of amenities and everyday items they were getting at K-Mart.

Now, they have to drive to Burbank for things -- and so now people are shopping for other things in Burbank (as long as they are making the trip), and that's killing the local business in the area. (So F*CK YOU!)

So no wonder Wendy could be for it being a project. She knows they're gonna get what they want anyway. Cause I don't think Wendy would be very comfortable going against the Latham & Watkins agenda if she wants to be elected Shitty Controller. (Do any CM's husbands sit on any related boards? pushing the Home Depot project?)


According to the Parcel Profile reports from the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Planning and Dept. of Building and Safety;

1. The Home Depot will be located on a Liquefaction site, in a Fault Zone, in a High Wind Velocity, Hillside Grading, and Environmentally Sensitive Area.

2. Home Depot has only requested permits using the address on Foothill Blvd.

3. Home Depot has neglected to use the address 10355 Woodard Ave. which clearly shows Apperson Elementary School is within 500 ft.

4. All previous permits pulled by Kmart corporation used BOTH addresses.

5. The majority of the building sits in Parcel 3 (the Woodward address).

Environmental Quality Issues

1. The LAUSD has written a letter expressing concerns that they were not notified and requested evaluation of Environmental Impacts to ensure the health and safety of the students and staff.

Traffic Safety and Pedestrian issues are being ignored.

1. The LAUSD magnet school bus stop is at this intersection. (Hello trucks!)

2. Plus 2 MTA bus stops used by students. (Hello trucks!)

3. The streets at this intersection are very narrow.

4. Woodward is the north/south pedestrian route for four (4) local schools.

An email circulating that someone sent me says, "Why are large trucks being allowed to exit the construction area and head down Apperson Street past an elementary school on streets that are clearly too small and not constructed for these types of vehicles." And adds, "This contractor is blatantly and knowingly working around the building permit processes that are put in place to protect California residents. It seems that this contractor is being allowed to do this without challenge or recourse.

And the fact that they did floor and roof re-construction at the Kmart site already says to some people, including the area's CM Wendy Greuel means THAT makes it a project.

NEW Classic ZD videos on YouTube
back to mayor sam's blog

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How Does One Go About Dismantling Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)? They shoot horses, don't they?


After the past couple months, and especially the past couple weeks, hearing a lot of horror stories from parents about LAUSD and speaking to LAUSD personnel...i really get the combative, stonewall, cover-your-ass, pretend everything is perfect vibe from these LAUSD people.


It's gotta be broken up. people on mayor sam are talking about letting
it go bankrupt as a way of shooting it like a horse that you put out of misery.

Is this possible? how do you dismantle the school district?

Then who takes over the education system?

The most skeptical side of zd has always felt that the mayor was sent to kill-off lausd/neuter it as much as possible.

I have been all focused on the construction budget, and front-end loaded management contracts,and the non-transparency/no-accountability of non-profit charters and all that shady potential...(AND THOSE ARE VERY REAL CONCERNS...ESPECIALLY WITH ANTONIO SETTING UP HIS OWN EDUCATION NON-PROFIT)

But after speaking with parents and administrators (and LAUSD's combative,
a-hole/cover-up/deny everything nature...

Maybe the powers that be who backed Antonio to take over the school system are correct in their premise.

So then what happens? how do you do it, beyond the slow and grueling process of doing it through charters? Is that the only/fastest way?

In a related matter...i was already given the "heads up" that ZD's blogging services will be required over Antonio's Eastside High School take-over plan. (Of course the people contacting me are AGAINST it.)

So i am gonna start aksing them which is worse? Antonio or LAUSD?

I KNOW that there is going to be a faction that will be against Antonio on any and
everything, just because he slammed the door on so many people he made campaign promises to -- and his overall shadiness.

And I think he's shady as hell, you know...

But LAUSD is maybe even 2% worse. So it's like 49% vd 51% as to who is worse. And the edge MAY go to Antonio.

Any thoughts as to the chances of Antonio running his cluster, better LAUSD-losers -- and how you can put an end to the entire district.

back to mayor sam's blog

Saturday, November 10, 2007

L.A. Unified Officially Becomes A Helpless Laughing Stock By Overpaying Teachers $53 Million, Then Asking Them To Pay It Back Before Christmas (LOL!)

excerpt from

L.A. Unified tells teachers to refund over-payments (LMFAO!)

The district paid about $53 million too much to 36,000 workers. They are given until Dec. 10 to decide whether to pay or fight.

In the latest fallout from a badly flawed payroll system that has plagued the Los Angeles public school system for nearly a year, officials have taken steps to recoup $53 million they calculate has been overpaid to about 36,000 school district employees.

Teachers and other staff in the Los Angeles Unified School District must either trust the district's claim that they were overpaid and repay the money -- or dispute the calculations and face further chaos come tax season.

For Genie Penn, a veteran second-grade teacher at Overland Elementary on the Westside, the choice is clear.

"All of a sudden they've decided I owe them $9,000?" asked an exasperated Penn, who has a graduate degree in business. "I know I owe them some money, but it is not that much. Until they can show me some proof of how much I owe them, I am not paying a dime. It's just absurd. It's mind boggling! But I guess when you work for LAUSD, nothing should surprise you."

Affected employees -- the vast majority are teachers -- have until Dec. 10 to choose whether to repay the district the entire amount they received, request a repayment plan, repay only the amount they believe they were overpaid or refuse to pay anything.

Any employee who disagrees with the district's overpayment calculation and refuses to pay some or all of the money will have to wait for L.A. Unified and union officials to work out a process for how such disputes will be resolved. Zeronian and David Holmquist, interim chief operating officer, said they expect those plans to be finalized early next year.


After months of mounting confusion and frustration, many are dubious of the computer system's ability to accurately calculate over-payments. Several teachers pointed to an earlier attempt by the district to determine over-payments and under-payments that was marred by widespread inaccuracies.

Penn, for example, is flummoxed because the district claimed during the summer that she owed a couple of hundred dollars and now says she owes nearly $9,000. As far as she can tell, the new figure is impossibly high because she is paid only about $4,000 each month and, as far as she can tell, the only overpayment she received was a month's pay while she was on leave.

"These numbers just don't make any sense," echoed Stephen McDonough, a sixth-grade music teacher at Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, who was told he owes $1,900. "Nobody is clear on how they came up with them. They are asking me to take their word for it and pay them a third of my salary right before the holidays. I can't do it."


Holmquist urged employees to trust the district. But he could offer only a tenuous reason to do so, saying that the relative success of this month's payday indicates that repairs made so far to the payroll system appear to be working. Some technical glitches remain unresolved, however, and 3,000 employees are estimated to have had paycheck problems this month.

Are the calculations "100% guaranteed? No," Holmquist said. "But it's highly probable. We have a higher degree of confidence than ever before that we are accurate."

[OH GOOD! I'm sure people are bending over backwards to trust you and pay whatever you ask, as soon as possible, now that you have a "higher degree of confidence" in the accuracy.]

Challenging the district over the repayment totals, however, comes with considerable risk. In the letters to employees, Zeronian warned that once the December deadline passes, employees will be responsible for the total amount of the alleged overpayments, including the amount the district withheld for taxes.


If Penn, the elementary school teacher, for example, refuses to pay and it is ultimately determined the district calculations are right, she will have to repay the district $8,983 -- the $6,068 the district overpaid her and the $2,915 it took out for taxes. It would then fall to Penn to try to get the excess tax money back from state and federal agencies. If the district tally for Penn is wrong, L.A. Unified will have to issue her a revised income tax form.

"It is going to be a tax nightmare for people to try to unravel," said Patty O'Connell, a partner at the accounting firm Holthouse, Carlin & Van Trigt in Los Angeles.

"These are their mistakes," he said. "If they think they put too much money in my pocket and they want to discuss it, they can come out to me at school, prove it, and then we can work something out."

[Guess what blew it...not you're gonna have to eat the loss. Are you crazy??? You think you are gonna sort this out, and disrupt these teachers lives and turn their financial world upside-down? YOU'RE GONNA BE EATING MOST OF THAT $53 million you big f*cking dummies! (AND WE ALL KNOW WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS SYSTEM AND WHY IT WAS SELECTED! Just ask Monica Garcia...she should be able to tell you! Cause when your cronies have a payroll system to just GOTTA use that one!)

full article


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Los Angeles City Council Wants To Help Spark "Writers Guild" Strike Talks!

LA City Councilmember Eric Garcetti must have been listening to Springsteen's "Dancing In The Dark" when he thought of this one. ("You can't start a fire without a spark.") Here's to hoping the magic powers of LA City Council can start a spark.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Los Angeles City Council strongly endorses
the effons of hoth the Writers Guild or America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to reach a just and decent contract for all parties involved in this labor dispute, calls on both parties to resume bargaining negotiations with the federal mediator, and URGES both parties to continue their negotiations in earnest until a satisfactory agreement is reached. To facilitate this effort we offer City lor other City property as a neutral location for the parties to re-start contract negotiations.
Back to Mayor Sam's Blog

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Is U.S. About To Lose It's Foothold As #1 World Economic Power Over Sub-Prime Lending Crisis? (Will US Banks Be Forced To Merge With "World Bank"?)

To those of you checking in for the first name is Zuma Dogg. And if you wonder why you should care about my opinion on the following story -- I posted a warning that the sub-prime lending bubble was about to burst, triggering a recession -- THREE MONTHS BEFORE IT HIT THE NEWS HEADLINES. Original Story (see date)


The US banks are going to have to surrender/merge to the International Monetary Fund (World Bank) next year, right after the elections.

Next year, one by one, the US banks are going to start to fall like dominoes. First Citibank, then Bank of America, and so on -- because of the sub-prime lending crisis.

Why? These banks' liabilities will have to be written-off and absorbed by a bigger bank. The World Bank is the only one big enough that I can think of.

First, there will he a big stock sell-off; then a merger as stockholders are forced to "give it up" to the I.M.F. (International Monetary Fund).


When property values "devaluate", more and more people will default (simply walk away) from their sub-prime loans. If you are paying back a loan for what was originally a $400,000 piece of property -- now only worth $200,000 -- some people will simply walk away from the loan and default.

THEN, the banks are stick with the properties people walk away from. And the bank's equity (property value) doesn't cover the liability of defaulted loan (See "negative amortization".)

In February/March of 2008, the Federal Bank will have to RAISE interest rates -- to help raise the value of the US dollar -- but it will be too late. (And if they CUT rates, it will only make it worse/devalue US dollar even further).

And here's why the Fed will have to RAISE rates, when consumer confindence and spending will be so low: THE OVERSEA BILLIONAIRES, LIKE THE OIL MOGULS IN THE MIDEAST DON'T LIKE SITTING ON THE US DOLLAR AS IT BECOMES LESS AND LESS VALUABLE. That will cause them to switch to Euros and other currencies.

So with low consumer confidence (due to subprime concerns); a terrible holiday retail season on the way, then raising the interest rate to help bring up the value of the dollar -- will cause consumers to cut-back even more (out of fear), causing a recession...followed by hyper-inflation, that will cause further consumer spending cut-backs, which will trigger a depression.

Then Greenspan will have to step in as Chairman of the I.M.F. (Oh, didn't you hear?)

If you project it all appears as though for the first time ever, the US may lose it's number one ranking as the number one economic force in the world and may become beholden to the new global economic leaders.

Might not be very comfortable, economically, the next sixty to a hundred years on this side of the pond.

18 months