Steven Yoder

Back Writer

Steven Yoder writes about business, real estate and criminal justice. His work appears in ViceThe American ProspectPacific Standard Magazine, Mic.com and elsewhere. Read more at www.stevenyoder.net. On Twitter @syodertweets.

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Fortress of Solvency

For families taking care of a special-needs child or adult, solid financial and legal planning gives a measure of control over an expensive future

The day that Jenny and Bob had their son Justin in 1994, they set foot in a new world. Jenny went into labor four weeks early, and her baby presented in the wrong direction — feet first. So he was delivered through emergency C-section. Once he was born, his heart rate dropped instead of rising, as it should have. For weeks it wasn’t clear whether he’d survive.

Apr 18, 2017 Steven Yoder

The Golden Promise

Most sports economists dismiss the idea that new stadiums boost local economies, but there are reasons to think the Golden 1 Center could be different

When Oleg Kaganovich was growing up in Michigan in the 1980s and early ’90s, his city of Grand Rapids was suffering the doughnut effect then typical of downtowns everywhere: Shoppers and residents were fleeing for the suburbs. By 1990, fewer than one in 10 residents shopped regularly downtown, a drop from about one in three in the early 1960s, according to a local newspaper.

Sep 6, 2016 Steven Yoder
Inside the control room of California ISO, headquartered in Folsom.

Will the Mega-Grid Get Built?

Cal-ISO maps out the prospects for a single power grid for the West — but skeptics want to know who will run it.

Cal-ISO is one of 38 system operators for the geographic area that covers everything west of the eastern boundaries of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. That compares with six system operators responsible for most of the rest of the country. “The divided operation of the western grid is not unlike having a bus with 38 drivers.”

Jul 12, 2016 Steven Yoder
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A Growing Green Debt?

As PACE takes off, realtors warn that unwary homeowners are complicating their finances

Call it the tale of two turfs. In summer 2014, 27-year-old Benjamin Triffo wanted to do something about his dry, unattractive yard. He owns a four-bedroom, four-bath duplex in Elk Grove that he’d bought in 2011, and his sprinkler lines were broken. But with the state passing rules last July that would allow fines for overwatering, Triffo quickly figured out that replacing his system and re-sodding would be like attaching a drain line to his checkbook.

Feb 23, 2016 Steven Yoder

The Endangered Blue-Collar Worker

While policymakers focus on the need for more grads with bachelor’s degrees, middle-skill jobs go unfilled

Douglas Stricker of Folsom, 58, knows all about the need for skilled laborers. In 1992, he launched Golden Development, a company that built storage tanks and other structures for refineries and chemical companies. He had a crew of between 20 and 40 workers but never could find enough reliable welders — even in jobs that paid up to $30 an hour.

Jan 11, 2016 Steven Yoder

Startups Meet the Smart Meter

SMUD wants to turbocharge technologies that can raise the IQ of its smart grid

Giving customers price incentives to use less energy during peak periods is a key feature of SMUD’s smart grid. That new metering system is designed to let both the utility and customers better monitor energy use in homes. Now SMUD is hoping to take its grid to the next level. It’s partnering with entrepreneurs who can give customers technology that lets them use SMUD’s price incentives to save money

Dec 29, 2015 Steven Yoder

Send in the Crowd

Equity crowdfunding offers small investors a slice of the pie, but will they take a giant hit?

Pauline Marx, 63, had been a pretty conventional investor in stocks and bonds until April 2014. But to her, the rock-bottom interest rates on fixed-income tools like Treasury bills and CDs felt like stuffing money under the mattress.Then a friend told her about Fundrise, a website that lets investors buy small shares of real estate ventures around the country.

Nov 24, 2015 Steven Yoder

Legal English as a Second Language

Why can’t lawyers communicate like other humans?

Richard Wydick has spent much of his professional life trying to change how lawyers write. In 1978, he led an article for the California Law Review with this broadside: “We lawyers cannot write plain English.” That piece created such a positive response that he turned it into a foundational book on legal writing that’s now in its fifth edition.

Oct 6, 2015 Steven Yoder
(elements from Shutterstock)

Be Careful How You Classify

How to avoid wage litigation in the age of the $10 hour

For California labor lawyers, the 2012 Brinker v. Superior Court ruling was something akin to Brown v. Board or Roe v. Wade. In a case involving meal and rest breaks for hourly employees, the court ruled that businesses must have a policy giving workers those breaks — but they don’t have to ensure that staff actually take them. It seemed like near-total victory for business.

Jul 8, 2015 Steven Yoder

Sales Pitch

Why more universities should offer sales training

The challenge of finding sales talent keeps some companies from growing or even surviving. That’s why sales training boosters say it’s time for university business schools to turn out graduates who can take sales jobs and quickly hit their numbers without months — or even years — of on-the-job training.

Apr 28, 2015 Steven Yoder
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The Black Box of Sales Hiring

5 tips for hiring good salespeople who stay

For all its importance to business survival, companies tend to fail miserably at hiring sales staff. A 2011 survey of more than 400 firms by DePaul University researchers found that hiring one seller costs $29,000. But a lot of that money flutters out into the ether; a third of recruits don’t make it through their first year.

Apr 23, 2015 Steven Yoder

Juris Prudence

Changes to the legal market are motivating attorneys to bootstrap

Alex Medina and Brandon McKelvey’s new law firm looks more like a bootstrapped tech startup than a high-end legal practice. It’s one model among the boutique firms whose numbers have taken off in the region this year. The improving economy, a buyer’s market for legal services, and the lures of startup culture have upended Sacramento’s legal landscape.

Oct 7, 2014 Steven Yoder
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Hidden Benefits

How an online MBA prepares students for today's workplace

Students who have opted for an online MBA instead of a traditional on-campus program often come into jobs better prepared for the challenges of remote work. If you’re skeptical of online college degrees, here are nine areas in which remote learning might give you an edge in the brave new world of the solo office.

Sep 18, 2014 Steven Yoder
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Missing Pieces

Is California's latest disability access law causing more lawsuits?

With California leading the nation in ADA lawsuits, two years ago state legislators enacted a reform designed to thread the needle between those positions by educating more businesses about their responsibilities so they would make required access changes. Today, no one can say whether compliance has increased. But the number of ADA lawsuits has soared.

Aug 27, 2014 Steven Yoder
Photo by David Angstead, shutterstock

The Big Squeeze on Small Credit Unions

They may be on the verge of extinction

On a hot, sunny morning last fall, 69-year-old retiree Pamela Chappell of Citrus Heights hit rock bottom. She was scraping by on Social Security checks and a tiny pension while paying for medication to treat her lymphedema, a painful swelling in her legs. Then she got a letter from the IRS warning her that it was about to empty her  savings account of $8,000 — every dollar she had — for back taxes.

May 31, 2014 Steven Yoder