CARB Job-Loss-Bowl

One Member Story is All Too Familiar – Bye-Bye Golden State

This is a story that I know resonates with many today concerning the influence of CARB regulations on many members that are 60 years or older.
Several years ago I had the opportunity to meet a distant relative for the first time – an aunt. Always interested in my family history, I asked why they had left Oklahoma and came to California. She told me that her family had been able to make it through the “Great Depression” in the 1920’s because they lived on a farm and were able to raise chickens, had a garden and even a milk cow, so the family was always fed. While it was rough they managed to survive until the Dust-Bowl drought years hit in mid to late 1930’s, and that was the end. They packed up and headed for California, known to all back then as “The Land of Opportunity.”

I would like to share with you now a story about the Dust Bowl in reverse, good people, hardworking taxpayers who are giving up on California and heading to other states because of over-regulation.

Let me introduce you to long-time CCTA member Eddie Leimkuehler. Eddie left his native state of Ohio in 1975 and moved to California. Always wanting to move forward after working several years in the auto-body painting industry, with some help from friends, Eddie learned to drive a truck and soon after had his Class A license. So began his new career as an owner-operator truck driver.

It was 1990 and he bought his first truck, a 1978 International with transfer boxes and trailer and went to work hauling for Industrial Asphalt. In 1996, he upgraded to 1984 Kenworth W-900 and kept the transfer set until 1999. That year, he replaced that unit with a 1990 Kenworth W-900, and with a ten-wheel box. It was at this time that I first met Eddie on a “wet-batch” concrete job, which we did together for many years.

In 2006, he purchased a 1999 Peterbilt, and decided to put a Super-10 box on. So off he went traveling throughout the state, towing his travel-trailer, always hoping the industry would improve enough to get ahead again. Isn’t it ironic that he was like many in our industry – a recycler of rather newish and valuable used well maintained trucks? Enviros claim the importance of recycling all the time, but apparently newer used trucks are not on their green lists. And then to add insulate to injury, they tax us and redistribute the grant funding to those that need it least – big corporations. Such hypocrisy!

By late 2008, the recession “construction depression” hit us all with vengeance. As I have stated before, the construction industry was especially hard hit, and Eddie like many felt it to the bone. With little income, he was forced to rely on credit cards, desperately trying to pay his bills and keep his credit rating up. To save costs, he bought himself a 25-ft. travel trailer, which he towed behind his truck, and followed the work, he was often gone from home for many months at a time.

In December 2013, realizing the end was coming soon (at least for him) with all the CARB regulations just around the corner, he once again used his credit cards and put down $5,000 on a diesel particulate filter (DPF), filing for the “Good Faith Effort” extension. However, when he applied for a loan to finance the filter balance for $11,000 he was turned down at least twice.

Why? Despite a FICO score of 741, his trucking business Debt vs. Income ratio was not acceptable by any lender. So went his future in trucking here in California.

Even utilizing his traveling business model to stay busy, he has recently come to the sad realization that at 62 years old, there is not much time to make back his investment. Draining his retirement is not an option at this point. And if things couldn’t get any worse, the filter manufacturer is now refusing to return his DPF down payment.

Not so shocking, Eddie, like so many, is giving up on the “California Dream.” At this point he is putting his house up for sale and moving east, to Wagner, Oklahoma. He recently said to me, “I have suffered many hardships through the years, no work, slow work, and even late pay. I survived them all, but I can no longer fight CARB and the costs of living here.”

Reminds me of what my aunt said about leaving Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years. So let’s just call all these environmental rules to control us as the CARB-Bowl and what it really is; a massive exodus of workers and retired folks to other states.