Rich Brooks, a partner in Tatum LLC, works for a Tatum division called Kinetic Advisors LLC, a boutique firm for middle-market debtors in distress. Brooks often sits between the borrower and the bank to help the two sides work out a deal.

Rescue Me

Working out a deal when a banker calls

It’s the meeting no business owner wants, an adult equivalent to sitting in the principal’s office.

Only instead of a principal, the person calling you in is a banker. And instead of the dreaded “permanent record,” the folder on the desk is an agreement for a business loan, a line of credit, equipment financing or some other form of borrowed money that helps keep the company afloat.

Sep 1, 2009 Robert Celaschi
The Edmund G. Brown California Aqueduct (shown here near Westley in Stanislaus County) stretches about 400 miles, carrying water from Northern California to users in the south.

Hydrating the System

The state's water woes and its faltering economy

Most recognized California as “the Golden State” long before lawmakers adopted the official nickname in 1968. But while California’s standing as the land of big ideas and golden opportunities is well-earned, so too is its recent reputation as a state in perpetual crisis. In few places is this more evident than the state’s ongoing debate over its aging and unsustainable water management system.

Sep 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Researchers have found that decision making can exhaust the brain.

Brain Exam

A play-by-play of your body's most important organ

What’s your brain doing right now? What was it doing when you woke up, got hungry, went to work, danced, made love, got angry, got happy, fell asleep and dreamed? Judith Horstman is a local writer and frequent Comstock’s contributor. Her new book, “The Scientific American Day In the Life of Your Brain,” chronicles hour-by-hour what goes on in your brain through a typical day and night.

Sep 1, 2009 Judith Horstman
(Photo: istockphoto.com)

Dancing with Deception

Making sense of cognitive impairment

Uncle Bert seemed normal to me, so I wondered what was going on when a phone call ripped into an otherwise peaceful Monday. It was Dave, a trusted family friend. “Honey, your uncle has dementia, and all his friends are very concerned about it,” he said. “You need to do something.”

Aug 1, 2009
(Photo illustration: C.J. Burton)

Organizational Misbehavior

Are you grooming or stifling tomorrow's leaders?

With the national economy stumbling along like a wounded animal, the only steady growth these days is in the number of workers being shown the door. But while layoffs can be demoralizing, those workers who remain on the job may find “the Great Recession” to be a huge career booster.

Aug 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen

Air Time

Mary Nichols on statewide solutions to global issues

Mary Nichols is no stranger to innovation. As one of the nation’s first environmental attorneys, Nichols has spent her career protecting natural resources at the state and federal level. She also served as the California Air Resources Board Chairwoman from 1978 to 1983, and now she’s at it again.

Aug 1, 2009 Rich Ehisen
Students at Folsom Lake College receive hands-on training in classrooms such as these used to teach water and wastewater management.

(Photo courtesy of Los Rios Community College District)

Filling the Gaps

How local colleges plan to meet work force needs

It may seem odd that local colleges, universities and vocational schools are putting energy into building a large base of qualified workers in an economy that is already showing double-digit unemployment and forcing many to leave retirement.

Aug 1, 2009 Bill Romanelli
From May 2008 to May 2009 the price of lumber and plywood fell 13.8 percent nationwide, and suppliers such as Pacific Coast Building Products' Anderson Lumber are grappling with the aftermath.

Material Witness

Construction costs' momentary lapse of reason

The cost of lumber, steel, asphalt and other construction materials has been on a wild ride since the early part of this decade, but don’t be fooled by the relatively placid prices in 2009. Industry players say it’s likely just a brief respite before the roller coaster starts climbing again.

Aug 1, 2009 Adam Weintraub