Muñoz Schnopp bankruptcy filing reshapes 44th District race

Port Hueneme City Councilwoman Sylvia Muñoz Schnopp filed for personal bankruptcy on March 12, the same day she dropped out of the race for a State Assembly seat.

Muñoz Schnopp, a Republican, had filed a statement of intent to run in the June primary for the 44th Assembly District. The district covers most of Ventura County, following the Highway 101 corridor from Thousand Oaks to Oxnard. Camarillo Republican Jeff Gorell holds the office now, but instead of running for a third and final term, he is taking on Julia Brownley, D-Oak Park, for her seat in the US House.

On March 12, the last day for candidates to file their final declarations of candidacy, Muñoz Schnopp announced she would not run for Assembly after all. The same day, she filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in federal court in Santa Barbara, declaring $463,793 in assets and $527,756 in debts.

Muñoz Schnopp said her financial trouble was “one of the reasons, but not the whole entire reason” that she dropped out of the Assembly race.

“I prayed about it, and the answer was that I should step aside,” she said.

That leaves three candidates in the race: Democrat Jacqui Irwin, a Thousand Oaks city councilwoman; and Republicans Rob McCoy, a Thousand Oaks pastor, and Mario de la Piedra, who owns an insurance agency in Camarillo.

During her brief candidacy, Muñoz Schnopp won the endorsement of Grow Elect, a political action committee that recruits, trains and supports Latino Republican candidates.

“She has been a successful local elected official in the district, and I think she impressed a lot of people,” Grow Elect President and CEO Ruben Borrales told the Business Times.

Grow Elect sees the 44th Assembly race as one of the most important in the state. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by a narrow margin and the population is more than 40 percent Latino.

With Muñoz Schnopp out of the race, Grow Elect is now supporting De la Piedra, Barrales said.

Muñoz Schnopp, 54, was elected to the Port Hueneme City Council in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. From 1993 to 2001, she worked at ATamp;T Wireless, eventually rising to the positions of regional director of marketing and public affairs and national director of multicultural initiatives. She was laid off in 2001, and since then she’s run her own consulting business, taught classes at Oxnard College and worked at outdoor gear retailer REI.

Muñoz Schnopp said the income from consulting, teaching and serving on the council never approached her salary with ATamp;T Wireless.

According to her bankruptcy filing, she has $2,054 in monthly income and $3,822 in monthly expenses. Her largest debts are $421,926 in three mortgages on her Port Hueneme home, and $85,830 in credit-card debt.

“It has been a very humbling experience,” she said. “It’s where I can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my constituents and say, I know what it feels like to be laid off, I know what it feels like to go through these situations.”

She said she hasn’t decided yet whether to seek higher public office someday. For now, she’s dedicating herself to the Port Hueneme City Council.

“Thank goodness we live in a country that recognizes the need to start over, and gives people hope and a future,” she said. “It’s really the only option for me right now. … I believe that my doing what I need to do and getting a restart will allow me to look at other options in the future.”

Barrales said he thinks Muñoz Schnopp still has a bright future as both a City Council member and a potential candidate for state office. “So many Californians have gone through similar situations. It’s a tough economy,” he said. “The one thing I do know about Sylvia is she’s a fighter, she’s a survivor. I’m looking forward to her continuing to serve.”

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Pros and Cons of Making Your Boyfriend an Authorized User on Your Credit Card

If your boyfriend doesn’t have a credit history and you want to help, you can share one of your accounts with him. The account would show up on his credit report and his creditworthiness will build. However, there are two ways to share an account and it is crucial to know the difference between them. Plus, you do want to weigh the good with the bad when it comes to sharing an account in general.

Authorized user vs. joint account holder

As the first sharing method, adding your boyfriend as an authorized user grants him permission to use your account (with his own card), but he is not responsible for the bills and has no power to make changes to the account. The second method, making him a joint account holder, gives him equal responsibility for the account, including the bill, and gives him the power to make changes to the account. Since your boyfriend lacks experience with credit, we would not recommend adding him as a joint account holder.

Pros and cons to adding an authorized user

Making him an authorized user satisfies a happy medium: You can help your partner build his credit without losing autonomy of your finances. Still, consider if your help is necessary. This decision is not to be taken lightly, so weigh the following pros and cons.

 Pros:

  • Help him build credit. Assuming you have good credit card habits (on-time payments, low debt-to-credit ratio, etc.), that will be reflected on his credit report and help him build good credit.
  • Earn more points. If it’s a rewards card, his purchases will also count toward your rewards points, so you can get to your reward goals that much faster. Some credit card companies also give bonus points for adding an authorized user.
  • You maintain control. As the account holder, you have the power to control his spending. You can accomplish this in one of two ways. First, don’t give him a physical credit card, and he can’t spend on your account at all. Some credit card companies will let you choose if you want a physical card for your authorized user. Otherwise, the authorized user’s card is mailed to the account holder, so you have the option of passing it along to him or not. Second, your credit card company may allow you to set spending limits for authorized users. If so, you can decide how much he is allowed to spend on your account. Since he has no power to make changes to the account, he cannot request a card for himself or change his spending limit.

Cons:

  • You are liable for his spending. If he has a card and you choose not to or are unable to set a spending limit for him, he might run up a lofty bill for you. Even if he has every intention of being responsible, people have a tendency to spend more money when it’s not their own. This is especially worrisome if you break up. If you don’t remove him from your account right away, he has the power to do a lot of damage to your finances. And he won’t be liable for any of it.It could hurt your credit. He could max out your card or even just put a high balance on it. Since one of the factors that affects your credit score is debt-to-credit ratio, that could have a negative impact on your credit.
  • It could hurt his credit. On the flip side, if your credit card habits aren’t so great, it could hurt his credit. Missing or making payments late or racking up high balances yourself will have the same negative impact on his credit. Also, when he is removed from your account, there might be a dip in his credit score. Make sure that he opens his own credit card as soon as he begins to establish credit so he can continue building his own credit rating after you remove him.

If you take the proper precautions, you can easily add your boyfriend as an authorized user, help him build credit, and protect your credit at the same time. Without the proper precautions, though, it could just as easily hurt you both.

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Attorney gets prison time for laundering money for Gold River man

A Southern California attorney has been sentenced to prison for her role in helping a Gold River businessman conceal assets from his ex-wife.

Derian Eidson, 50, of Yorba Linda, a suspended member of the California bar, was sentenced Wednesday by US District Judge Troy L. Nunley in Sacramento to 10 years and one month in prison and fined $200,000 following her conviction at trial on two counts of money laundering. The court found that Eidson #x201C;betrayed the trust that she took when she swore to uphold the laws of the state of California and the United States,#x201D; according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

According to evidence presented during her trial, Eidson was an insurance defense lawyer in 2001 when she met Steven Zinnel, 50, of Gold River. The two began a romantic relationship and a nearly decadelong relationship transacting in assets that Zinnel had illegally concealed during child-support litigation and personal bankruptcy.

Testimony during the trial established that Zinnel#x2019;s motivation was to hide assets from his ex-wife and children. Eidson#x2019;s motivation was identified by the court as #x201C;greed.#x201D; As part of the scheme, prosecutors said, Eidson used her attorney-client trust account to conceal funds.

Together with Zinnel, Eidson established a shell company, Done Deal, for the purpose of receiving distributions from Zinnel#x2019;s silent partnership in a Carmichael-based electrical infrastructure company. Keeping Done Deal and the Done Deal bank account in Eidson#x2019;s name allowed Zinnel to conceal his ownership interest in the company from the bankruptcy court and family court, authorities said.

Once Zinnel#x2019;s debts were discharged, Zinnel and Eidson used the Done Deal account as #x201C;an ATM,#x201D; according to the court.

Zinnel was sentenced March 4 to 17 years and eight months in prison for his role in the scheme.

Call The Bee#x2019;s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Read more articles by Cathy Locke

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Payday Lending: 3 Million Louisiana Loans

  You live on a limited income, paycheck to paycheck. Now your next paycheck is in jeopardy, because your car won’t start. What to do?

There’s that payday lending store around the corner, so you go take out a loan and buy a new battery for your car. You give the lender a post-dated check for the amount of the loan, plus interest and fees. The lender cashes your check after you get paid. Done deal, right?

Not always, according to David Gray with the Louisiana Budget Project.

“That leaves insufficient funds for other necessities like groceries and rent,” Gray explains, and says that leads them into what advocates of payday lending reform refer to as “the debt trap.” “As a result, customers will oftentime take out a second payday loan to repay the first, and then a third to repay the second,” Gray adds.

That’s confirmed by a new report from the state Office of Financial Institutions. It says the average payday loan customer in Louisiana repeat borrows a dozen times in a year, and ends up paying over $800 in interest and fees on a $300 loan. The report, compiled in response to an act of the 2012 Legislature, also shows Louisiana residents took out 3,126,278 payday loans in 2013, and paid $145,665,345 in interest and fees. Of those fees, more than $2.5 million was assessed solely for bounced checks.

Several lawmakers have filed bills to cap payday loan interest–which currently averages 416% annually–at 36% APR. A Senate version of the bill was amended in committee to remove the cap, and instead simply limit borrowers to ten loans per year. The full Senate is scheduled to debate SB 84, by Senator Ben Nevers (D-Bogalusa) today.

Senator Danny Martiny (R-Kenner) explains why he pushed to change that bill.

“Are you going to make that two-week, $350 loan for 4 dollars and ten cents?” Martiny asks, acknowledging there’s little profit in a 36% interest cap. “If you pass the bill, a lot of people are just going to get out of the business.”

While the new report on the economic impact of payday lending in Louisiana may or may not be brought up on the Senate floor this afternoon, it’s sure to be brought up in the House Commerce Committee. That committee is scheduled to hear a House version of the bill to cap payday loan interest at 9:00 this morning.

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The Star’s View: Liberal budget will rack up more red ink

If you are carrying a large debt, does it really matter? For most families it does, and if they don’t keep their finances in check, it means making difficult decisions, doing without things or even facing personal bankruptcy. Borrowing money isn’t an option.

If you’re a government, those rules don’t apply. You can still keep racking up the red ink and driving up the debt because there’s always someone to pay the bills — the taxpayers.

That’s certainly been the case in Ontario over much of the past decade. As the Fraser Institute recently pointed out, Ontario is much deeper in debt than California — the jurisdiction that’s often considered the poster child for fiscal irresponsibility.

“The numbers tell the tale. Despite the province’s smaller size, Ontario’s $267.5 billion (Cdn) outstanding government debt is higher than California’s $144.8 billion (US),” Jason Clemens and Sean Spear of the Fraser Institute recently wrote.

“Ontario, for example, devotes 9.2 per cent of its revenues to interest payments, a figure more than three times higher than California’s 2.8 per cent.”

And interest on Ontario’s debt amounts to about $10.6 billion a year. In two years it will be $12.2 billion. Interest payments eat up money that could be used for vital services such as health care, education, infrastructure investment or tax reductions.

In fact, in January 2013, then finance minister Dwight Duncan — somewhat of a late convert to austerity — called interest payments on the debt “a ticking time bomb.” Duncan also said that once the deficit is eliminated in 2017-18 — the goal he set — the focus should turn to paying down a growing debt which he called “not sustainable.”

When the debt is boiled down, every Ontarian owes $20,166 (Cdn) compared to $3,844 (US) for every California resident.

Now the Liberals no longer seem to share Duncan’s concern about either interest payments or the debt. That became clear last fall when Finance Minister Charles Sousa said that the government would not “cut for the sake of cutting” in order to stick to short-term deficit targets. (The deficit was $11.3 billion in the just-completed fiscal year, which was actually higher than $9.2 billion in 2012-13.)

“We cannot cut our way to prosperity.” The answer, said Sousa is new jobs, “the surest, fairest path to higher revenues and a balanced budget.” He’s right on that count, except there’s no real plan to create a climate that encourages job growth.

However, there does seem to be a plan to ramp up spending in the spring budget — by nearly $6 billion. That’s according to confidential Ministry of Finance documents that were leaked to the Progressive Conservative party this week.

PC Leader Tim Hudak also revealed that the Liberals have set up a secret “BLT” or Budget Leaking Team to leak portions of the budget as part of a public relations effort in advance of what could be a spring election. The BLT’s rollout plan shows the Liberals have scheduled 39 different announcements over the 27 days leading to what would be a May 1 budget.

For Ontario’s hard-pressed taxpayers, it looks like the worst possible news on budget day — increased spending, continuing deficits and more debt. And maybe new taxes.

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Supporters of payday loan limits point to new data

Advocates for payday loan reform used the report at a House Commerce Committee hearing to back Rep. Ted James proposal to cap payday loans annual interest rate at 36 percent.

They argued the report shows how payday lenders, which offer short-term loans with high interest rates, trap people in to debt.

This is a long vicious cycle of debt, said James, D-Baton Rouge.

But that didnt sway the committee, which voted 10-8 against James proposal.

Opponents of the measure said it would shut down the storefront lending industry in Louisiana. They also argued that an annual percentage rate should not apply to payday loans since they are supposed to be short-term.

Its illogical to apply APR to these loans, Troy McCullen, of Louisiana Cash Advance, said.

McCullen and other payday loan industry representatives spoke against the bill at the hearing.

Rep. Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge, said nobody forces borrowers to turn to payday lenders and they are responsible for understanding how the loans work.

Supporters of the bill said borrowers do not have a choice in many cases because they are in a desperate state made more desperate by payday loans.

The committee heard testimony from several supporters, including representatives from Together Louisiana, AARP Louisiana, the left-leaning Louisiana Budget Project, the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops and individuals who have had personal experiences with payday loan debt.

AARP Louisiana released a statement after the hearing expressing disappointment in the ruling.

Paying off a payday loan with over 400 percent interest is unfair, the statement said.

The vote broke down on party lines, with Republicans voting against James bill and Democrats voting for it.

Voting against the proposal were Reps. Greene; Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge; Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge; Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette; Thomas Carmody, R-Shreveport; Lance Harris, R-Alexandria; Kenneth Havard, R-Jackson; Paul Hollis, R-Covington; John Morris, R-Monroe; and Stephen Pugh, R-Ponchatoula.

Representatives who supported the bill were Kenny Cox, D-Natchitoches; Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria; Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe; Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe; Stephen Ortego, D-Carencro; Vincent Pierre, D-Lafayette; Edward Price, D-Gonzales; and Eugene Reynolds, D-Minden.

While the committee rejected James interest cap proposal, it did approve Jacksons bill asking that payday lenders give credit report agencies their borrowers positive credit history.

Mondays vote doesnt end the debate. Other proposals on the House and Senate floor would add other types of restrictions to payday lending. James plans to amend bills that deal with payday lending on the House floor to make sure they address the debt cycle.

Its a long way from finished, he said.

Online:

House Bills 239 and 730 can be found at www.legis.la.gov

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Louisiana senators rewrite payday lending restriction bill

Community members shared their payday loan experiences at Elm Grove Baptist Church Tuesday night and learned more about the service from Together Baton Rouge, a non-partisan local advocacy group.

(Renita D. Young, NOLA.com | The Times Picayune)

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Legendary movie star Mickey Rooney dies at 93 (with 2005 Miami Herald …

Mickey Rooney, the Hollywood legend who worked in show business for more than nine decades, died Sunday at age 93.

In the late 1930s, Rooney was the worlds top box office attraction. Hes most famous for the Andy Hardy pictures and Lets put on a show musicals he made with Judy Garland during their years at MGM.

I interviewed Rooney, his wife Jan and stepson Chris in 2005, when the Rooneys appeared for a week at Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. A few years ago, Rooney accused Chris of elder abuse and he separated from Jan.

I interviewed Rooney two more times: Once in 2007, when Warner Home Video released a DVD box set of his musicals with Garland; and in 2011 to discuss a movie he made with MGMs blonde bombshell, Jean Harlow.

Heres my first Mickey Rooney interview that ran Feb. 6, 2005, in the Miami Herald:

MICKEY ROONEYS HARD-WIRED FOR SHOW BIZ BY STEVE ROTHAUS srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Five years before the movies talked, 2-year-old Mickey Rooney sang and danced.

In no time, he moved from Americas burlesque stages to Hollywood. By 1939, Rooney was the worlds No. 1 box-office attraction – bigger than Gable, Garbo and Garland.

Now in his ninth decade in show business, Rooney is back where he began: singing and dancing on stage. Through Feb. 13, he appears (with wife No. 8, Jan) at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, part of the Great American Follies series.

Ive been performing 82 years, Rooney said. I think everybody is born to do what they do.

Rooney was born to entertain. His mother, a chorus girl, gave birth to him while she performed on the road. Little Joe Yule Jr. joined the act in 1922.

Since he was 2 years old, he has supported his whole family, said Jans son, Chris Aber-Rooney, who produces Rooneys current vaudeville-style act. At 84 years old, hes still supporting everybody.

In Hollywood from 1927 to 1934, Rooney (then called Mickey McGuire) cranked out hundreds of comedy short subjects. Stardom came in 1935, when Warner Bros. cast 15-year-old Mickey Rooney as Puck in A Midsummer Nights Dream. He stole the show from James Cagney, Joe E. Brown, Dick Powell and Olivia de Havilland.

Rooney moved to Metro Goldwyn Mayer, which cast him in a B picture called A Family Affair. His 1937 role as teenaged Andy Hardy led to 21 more pictures in the series, one of Hollywoods most prolific and successful.

The Andy Hardy series contributed to 55 percent of the gross profits for Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Rooney said.

His pay at the time: $2,000 a week and $25,000 upon completion of each motion picture. No residuals from theatrical reissues – or later TV and home-video sales.

Through 1941, Rooney remained the worlds top box-office star. He played Young Tom Edison, starred opposite Spencer Tracy in Captains Courageous and Boys Town, and launched the career of 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor in 1944s National Velvet.

Along the way, he teamed with Judy Garland to make MGMs most-successful musical duo. Among their blockbuster hits: Babes in Arms; Strike Up the Band and Girl Crazy.

MGM coached other young performers how to sing and dance, but not Garland and Rooney.

We had talent, he said. Director-choreographer Busby Berkeley didnt tell us how to dance. He just showed us what to do. You know how long it took to film those numbers? Two days!

Rooneys star began to fade during World War II, when he enlisted in the Army. After the war, he returned to MGM. He had a few more hits, including a turn as composer Lorenz Hart in 1948s all-star Words and Music.

Soon after, Rooney left MGM and began performing on television and in nightclubs. He became equally well-known for his tumultuous private life, including personal bankruptcy, 11 children and eight marriages.

Wife No. 1, in 1942: the late movie queen Ava Gardner. She never wanted to be a star, Rooney recalled. She just wanted to be a person.

Six divorces and one marital tragedy later (fifth wife Barbara Ann Thompson was shot to death in 1966), he met singer Jan Chamberlin, 36, in 1974. They wed four years later and are still together.

Being married to Rooney is hard, very hard, said Jan, who travels and performs with him. When youre thrust into a life like that – an arena – at first its a little overwhelming. While you love the adulation and the admiration, you want to make sure you say the right things to people. It can be a lose-lose situation.

She didnt marry Rooney for his fortune. He has none.

While Rooney was in the Army, his mother borrowed his childhood MGM earnings, according to stepson Aber-Rooney, 45. When it came time to collect the money they gathered for him, there wasnt much left. He doesnt like to remember things like that.

Hes been so bitter all his life. Hes mad at himself that he never knew how to save his money.

To supplement his income, Rooney makes TV commercials. One you wont see: a cold-remedy ad that was supposed to air during todays Super Bowl. In the commercial, set in a sauna, Rooneys towel accidentally drops, revealing his rear end.

Rooneys stepson said multiple takes had been shot of Rooney running out of the sauna fully covered. In one shot the stars towel accidentally fell off. That was the take producers chose to use.

Fox TV nixed the ad, not wanting to air another wardrobe malfunction after last years Janet Jackson debacle.

Rooney wont discuss the ad, except that hes glad it wont air. Hed rather talk about his act and how he still travels the world, giving interviews, singing and dancing.

I see him when hes not working, his stepson said. Hes frail. He doesnt know what to do. The only time you see him happy, smiling, is when hes on the stage.

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The CFPB releases its “Data Point” report on payday lending

On March 25, 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its secondreporton payday lending. This report followed awhite paperon payday lending and deposit advance products that the CFPB issued in April 2013.

The report, which the CFPB styles as a Data Point, presents an analysis of more than twelve million storefront payday loans that payday lenders made in 2011 and 2012. The report focuses on the prevalence of consumers rolling over and renewing payday loans during a twelve-month period. Major findings of the report include:

  • Consumers roll over or renew more than eighty percent of payday loans within fourteen days, even in states in which borrowers are required to go through a mandatory cooling-off period between loans.
  • Half of all rolled over or renewed loans involve loan sequences that cover a period of at least ten months.
  • Borrowers with such rollovers or renewals rarely amortize the principal amount of the loans between the first and last loan of a sequence.
  • Borrowers who are paid monthly, such as government benefits recipients, are disproportionately more likely to have loan sequences extending eleven months or more.

The CFPBs release of the report coincides with its field hearing on payday lending, which the CFPB held in Nashville, Tennessee. In hisprepared remarks, CFPB Director Richard Cordray noted that a place exists in the market for small-dollar loan products and that the CFPB is not concerned about every payday loan made to a consumer. However, he stated that the data supported a conclusion that the payday lending business model is dependent on continuous rollovers and renewals, which he characterized as debt traps. Director Cordray added that the CFPB is in the late stages of developing new rules to keep small-dollar credit available to borrowers without the risk of such debt traps.

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Greg Zyla: Buick versus Pontiac, and GM history

Q: Hi, Greg. I’d like to know your opinion of Buick versus Pontiac and the decision to keep Buick and drop Pontiac by General Motors (GM). I’ve read your columns on Buick’s popularity in China as being the major reason, but from your way of putting things, what are your opinions less the China reason? Larry D., Dover, Del.

A: Larry, there are so many variables to this question, but Ill do my best and try to give some historic input, especially where Buick is concerned.

Buick was the very first car that GM founder William “Billy” Durant held in his business holdings. In 1908, Durant formed General Motors with this one Buick offering. Thus, if one looks at the decision whether to keep Buick or Pontiac solely from a historical stance, Buick is the “godfather” of all GM brands.

The inventor of the Buick was David Dunbar Buick, a Scottish industrialist who started with horseless carriages in 1903 following success as one of the founders of how to apply porcelain to steel bathtubs. Durant bought Buick’s car, formed GM and then purchased the Oldsmobile brand later in 1908. In 1909, Durant gained control of Cadillac, Elmore and Oakland (Pontiac), lost control of GM in 1910 and exited, and then in 912 the Elmore was removed as a car offering. Durant’s exit from GM in 1910 came under extreme debt pressure and a depression in car sales.

Not to be outdone and showing excellent business savvy, Durant regained control of GM in 1915 after secretly buying Chevrolet from Gaston and Louis Chevrolet. He completely re-organizing GM in 1916 but in 1920, Durant again lost control of GM via share holder option rights, and this time was unable to regain control.

Still, Durant’s efforts formed the multi-brand company we know today, and he’s considered a genius by everyone in the car industry for his undaunted efforts. After losing millions in the 1929 stock market crash, Durant filed for personal bankruptcy and ended up running a bowling alley in Detroit. He suffered a stroke in 1942, recovered, and then died in 1947. He pretty much lived on a $10,000-a-year pension from GM during his later years.

Back to Buick and Pontiac.

Along with Durant ‘s legend and Buick’s history, this is perhaps the top non-China sales reasons for Buick’s survival over Pontiac, the latter an exciting brand with its own legend. Oakland was GMs mid-level car brand built from 1907–1909 in, not surprising, Pontiac, Mich., by Oakland car Company. Oaklands former name as horse drawn carriage was the “Pontiac Buggy.”

When GM acquired Oakland in 1909, it produced Oakland cars until 1931, when it suspended the brand. However, an Oakland “Pontiac” arrived in 1926, which was smaller and lighter than the full size Oakland.

After the Oakland discontinuation,. Pontiac survived as a “companion brand” to Chevrolet. By the late 1950s, Pontiac became the performance division of General Motors, and did well in both drag racing and NASCAR.

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