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Boiseans pack five-hour hearing to support anti-discrimination ordinance

Hundreds of Boiseans turned out for a five-hour public hearing last night, with nearly all in favor of a proposed city ordinance to ban discrimination in housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Citizens shared emotional stories of living in fear of losing their jobs if employers found out they were gay; business leaders said the ordinance will help the city attract employers. You can read the Boise Weekly's account here, and the Idaho Statesman's report here; and see KTVB-TV's report here and KBOI2 News' report here.

For some background, here's a link to my Aug. 5 story on how Idaho's cities are moving to ban such discrimination, after the the state Legislature repeatedly refused to consider legislation for a statewide ban. Boise's City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance Dec. 4.

Coldwater Creek on a roll, passes $4, in part due to reverse stock split

Catching up after some time away:  Sandpoint women's apparel retailer Coldwater Creek is faring better, stock-price-wise, since it went through a recent four-to-one reverse split.

The change took effect last Monday on the NASDAQ exchange where CTWR trades. A number of analysts have taken note and are moving their ratings from neutral to hold. They're citing improved apparel choices and a strong push to attract more purchases through customer loyalty programs.

The company's CEO and President Dennis Pence said, in a release, the split "was necessary for us to maintain our listing position on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, attract high quality investors and more effectively capitalize on the positive changes we have made to our brand which we believe will result in sustained long-term profitability and shareholder value."

The stock price this week is above $4.

The charts above and below show the stock's climb. The top one adjusts stock prices to agree with the new split price. The one below doesn't.

Also notable: daily volume is very small and is shown in the lines at the lower half of the chart below.

AM: Byway Restores Small-Town Feel

Traffic moves along the onramp of the $106 million Sand Creek Byway last week. New traffic volume counts obtained from the Idaho Transportation Department show that about 8,500 daily vehicles mid-week and 9,600 on Friday are using the two-mile shortcut around downtown Sandpoint. That includes all commercial trucks, which number around 1,500 a day. Story here. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Question: Do you prefer calling the new stretch of H95 through Sandpoint "byway" or "bypass"?

Long Bridge Swim Unique Experience

In this SR file photo by Jesse Tinsley, Hundreds of spectators line the long bridge in Sandpoint for the Long Bridge Swim, where swimmers try to swim the 1.5 mile distance from south to north.

On Big Major Cay located in the Bahamas you will find a family of pigs that do nothing but eat, sleep and swim. The hungry pigs happily throw themselves into the waves when they see a yacht and swim a few hundred feet to the vessel with the hopes of a free meal. While the unusual sight of a swimming pig has never been spotted on Lake Pend Oreille, last Saturday more than 800 swimmers entered the water to make the 1.76 mile crossing of the 18th annual Long Bridge Swim. The morning dawned clear and sunny as swimmers gathered at Sandpoint High School for a warm welcome from founder Eric Ridgway, the national anthem sung by local Kristine Oliver and also received the necessary information required to safely complete the swim/Hillary DeCecchus, Bonner County Bee. More here.

Question: How far do you think you can swim?

Sandpoint Bans Sex Orientation Bias

Sandpoint city attorney Scot Campbell walked along downtown Sandpoint on Wednesday. He drafted Sandpoint's new non-discrimination ordinance for sexual orientation and gender identity. (SR photo: Kathy Plonka)

Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce President Kate McAlister wasn’t expecting it when a woman in her 60s walked up to her at a community event, hugged her and started crying. “She said, ‘I want you to know that because of what you did, for the first time in all our lives I can take my partner to a Christmas party without fear of being fired,’ ” McAlister recalled. This was after McAlister helped push through a citywide ordinance in Sandpoint barring discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In Idaho, it’s still legal to fire someone because they’re gay, or to evict them from their home or deny them service in a restaurant. But it’s no longer legal within the city limits of Sandpoint/Betsy Z. Russell, SR. More here.

Question: Are you surprised that Sandpoint was the first city in Idaho that has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity?

Sandpoint is first Idaho city to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation; others lining up

Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce President Kate McAlister wasn't expecting it when a woman in her 60s walked up to her at a community function, hugged her and started crying. "She said, 'I want you to know that because of what you did, for the first time in all our lives I can take my partner to a Christmas party without fear of being fired,'" McAlister recalled.

This was after McAlister helped push through a new city-wide non-discrimination ordinance in Sandpoint barring discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In Idaho, it's still legal to fire someone because they're gay, or to evict them from their home, or deny them service in a restaurant. But it's no longer legal in Sandpoint.

"When it passed, there was a round of applause from the audience," said Sandpoint Mayor Marsha Ogilvie, who added that she was surprised to learn that Sandpoint was the first Idaho city to enact such a law. Sandpoint's seen no opposition to its ordinance, which passed unanimously. Pocatello is now drafting a similar ordinance; its city council could take a vote on it as soon as this fall; and Boise is now looking into an ordinance. Said McAlister, "If tiny little Sandpoint can do this, anybody can do it. I'm not sure what's stopping us."

Idaho appears to be in the early stages of a process that's already happened in neighboring states. In Oregon, a dozen cities or counties, including Portland, Salem, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene and more, had passed local non-discrimination ordinances regarding sexual orientation before a statewide non-discrimination law was enacted in 2007. In Washington, local laws also were passed in a dozen cities and counties before a statewide law passed in 2006. Spokane's local ordinance passed in 1999; Seattle's passed back in the 1970s. In Utah, 15 cities or counties have now enacted non-discrimination ordinances for sexual orientation, including Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County, which did so with the strong support of the Mormon church, the state's dominant religious organization.

But Utah hasn't yet passed a state law, despite repeated attempts in the Legislature. And in Washington, the process was a long one - the bill there was introduced every year for 29 years before it finally passed. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and my sidebar here on how in neighboring states, employers have led the push to enact such laws.

Coldwater Creek sets election for reverse split, plus details the range of split

Coldwater Creek, looking to keep its stock listed on the Nasdaq, is preparing a special election for stockholders to approve a reverse stock split.

The election is now set for Friday,  Sept 21 at 9:30 a.m. at the women's fashion retailer's Sandpoint office. 

Our earlier story last week didn't have the date. It also then didn't have the reverse split.

The proposal is a reverse split no less than 1-for-3 and not more than 1-for-6. The vote gives the company board the option to choose the level of split.

If you're a stockholder and want to get a ballot, this link gets you what you need.

To read the full proxy proposal, it's linked just below this text box.


Ospreys to be featured during Festival at Sandpoint

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Ospreys are going to grab a little of the spotlight Sunday (Aug. 5) during the popular Festival at Sandpoint musical extravaganza.

Biologist Janie Fink, founder of Birds of Prey Northwest, will present a program with live raptors during the Festival’s Family Day Concert.

The Festival's two-week concert series is held at Memorial Field, right below the nests of two osprey pairs that have delighted Festival-goers for decades. When the light poles were replaced last fall, nesting platforms were included on two of the new poles and a webcam was focused on one of the nests.

Birdwatchers have had the privilege to watch online video streaming as the osprey family advanced through courtship, nest building, egg laying, hatching and rearing of the young birds.

At Sunday’s Family Concert, featuring a day of activities for kids and a performance of “Pinocchio” by the Spokane Youth Orchestra, Fink will be giving a 30-minute program on Idaho raptors. She’s bringing live birds that her center is rehabilitating after injury — including an owl, eagle, falcon, hawk and osprey — for kids and adults to see up close.

The Family Concert activities begin at 4:30 p.m.; admission is $6.

Coldwater Creek proposes reverse stock split to remain listed on the Nasdaq

Sandpoint women’s apparel retailer Coldwater Creek is proposing a reverse stock split to keep the company trading on the Nasdaq market.

A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission proposes a vote by Coldwater shareholders to approve the split. Neither the date for the election or the split ratio has been decided, said company spokeswoman Bobbi Earle.

The Nasdaq rules state a company’s stock will be delisted if it remains below $1 a share for 90 days following a notice of possible delisting.

Nasdaq sent that notice to Coldwater Creek in mid-June. Its share price was last above $1 on May 10. Since then its price has fallen to 45 cents and as high as 80 cents.

It closed Monday at 63 cents.

While struggling to revive its stock price, the company has earned some market support because of a recent infusion of cash from equity firm Golden Gate Capital. Last month the San Francisco-based fund announced it’s lending Coldwater Creek $65 million.

In exchange, Golden Gate Capital gets to choose two directors to Coldwater Creek’s board.

Sandpoint Lotto Winner: ‘Cool, I Won’

In what could be described as the understatement of the century, a Sandpoint man who won $1 million in the lottery last week told himself, "Cool, I won." Brian Reed was coming home from a fishing trip on Lake Pend Oreille Saturday, when he made a fateful stop at the Travel American Plaza in Sagle. "I asked for a $5 quick pick, but actually had an extra dollar so I got three," Reed said in a press release issued by the lottery Wednesday. The middle pick was the winner. How did the new millionaire react?  "I didn't get too excited, I just said 'Cool, I won'," Reed said. Reed told the lottery he plans to invest his winnings in some business ventures and spend more time with his grandchildren/Melissa Deis, KXLY. More here. (KXLY photo)

Question: Yeah, yeah, I know — a million bucks ain't what it used to be. But how would you react if you won that amount?

Coldwater Creek’s week started with a bang, and then the market grew cautious

This past week Coldwater Creek got a dose of cash from a major investor. The announcement that Bay Area private equity firm Golden Gate Capital was lending $65 million helped boost the company's public stock to above 80 cents per share.

That's the highest it's been in since May.

Since Tuesday, the stock has drifted a bit lower, as can be expected. The good news: It's closing higher than it was last week.

The charts below, from Yahoo Finance, show the stock price over the past week. 

On Friday Coldwater Creek filed an amended report summarizing the investment from Golden Gate. Here's the explanation for where the $65 million will go: 
"The proceeds of the Term Loan Agreement will be used for debt repayment, to finance the acquisition of working capital assets, and for other general corporate purposes.  On July 9, 2012, the Company used $14.8 million of the proceeds to repay its term loan with Wells Fargo Bank."








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Youth outdoor program teaches teen leadership

OUTDOOR EDUCATION — The Sandpoint-based Selkirk Outdoor Leadership & Education (SOLE) is offering two five-day outdoor leadership programs for teens in August.

Boosted by a grant from The North Face, cost for the sessions is only $50.

Youths will be on the go with activites including backpacking and kayaking and delving into a variety of activities such as wildlife rehabilitation, trail maintenance and environmental science.

Space is limited for the sessions, which start Aug. 5 and Aug. 14.

Info: (928) 351-7653; www.soleexperiences.org.

Sandpoint ospreys hatch 1st chick under web cam

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Ospreys nesting above War Memorial Field in Sandpoint hatched their first chick Monday, and a web cam is giving viewers an up-close and personal view as the adults feed the bird.

The emergence of another chick could happen any day — or hour.

The first chick to hatch was being fed this morning around 9 a.m. The camera is positioned perfectly to see the action as though you were in the nest.

With a web cam fixed above the nest platform, the public was able to watch the ospreys arrive on April 10 to begin building their nest and go through courtship.

In late April, the camera caught skirmishes between the pair that adopted this nest and a second osprey pair that was attempting to hijack the nest. (The field on Lake Pend Oreille has two osprey nests.)

The Sandpoint Osprey Cam is a collaboration of the City of Sandpoint and Sandpoint Online with corporate support by Avista and Northland Communications. Consulting biologist is Jane Fink of Birds of Prey Northwest.  Moving the nest and puting up the web cam was no easy task. Read about the project.

The Sandpoint Online web page includes a chat feature for osprey watchers to trade observations, plus  Fink is providing an interpretive blog.

The number of daily page views grew into the thousands on May 7, when the female osprey laid the pair's first egg at 12:48 p.m.  (above left). That egg hatched on June 18.  The second should hatch any hour or day.

The parents will be feeding fish to the birds every few hours for weeks.  Enjoy the show.

Meantime, check out this incredible osprey fishing video and brief yourself with Fink's answers to osprey FAQ»

Cost cutting in Sandpoint and across the country: Coldwater Creek’s job cuts

Recently we took a look at the slow and painful progress Coldwater Creek has made in recovering from a difficult retail-apparel market.

One thing we couldn't get, in time for the story, was the change in headcount for the Sandpoint publicly traded company (CWTR is the Nasdaq symbol).

Cost cutting certainly has occurred. In 2010 the firm had 9,680 total workers, with 738 in Idaho.

As of June 2012 the numbers are 6,912 total employees and 589 in Idaho.

Mag: Sandpoint Is ‘Where To Retire’

Bonner County is already well-known among folks around the country as a prime spot to rest after a hard life’s work. Now that reputation has spread even further. “Where To Retire,” a nationwide magazine that assists individuals in selecting a retirement location, will feature Sandpoint in its upcoming June 19 issue. In a feature entitled “Laid-back Lakeside Living,” the magazine staff list out the many qualities that make Sandpoint a popular destination for retirees seeking an exciting location to spend their twilight years. In addition to Sandpoint, the magazine also examines seven other towns known for their great lakeside locations — Traverse City, Mich., Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., Murray, Ky., Gainesville, Ga., Granbury, Texas, Lake Tahoe, Calif. and Nev. and Lake Havasu City, Ariz./Cameron Rasmusson, Bonner County Bee. More here. (Rich Landers SR photo of hikers on Gold Hill overlooking Sandpoint)

Question (for those considering it): Do you plan to retire in a North Idaho town?

Sandpoint Third-Graders Pen Book

The third grade classes at Farmin Stidwell Elementary School have announced publication of their book "A Third Grade Guide to Sandpoint." According to a news release: "This fun, fact filled book offers a narrative of the history, activities, people, and places of the Sandpoint through the clear-eyed perspective of third graders from Farmin-Stidwell Elementary School in Sandpoint. Readers will learn why these students believe Sandpoint is an amazing place to live.  Each of the 60 third-grade students chose an aspect of Sandpoint to write about.  They researched, wrote, and illustrated with drawings and photographs, stories about everything from local parks to restaurants, wildlife, events like the Festival at Sandpoint, and the Long Bridge Swim and even some of our senior housing options." A publication celebration is scheduled at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the elementary, located at 1626 Spruce St. in Sandpoint. The book of over 100 pages is available for $7.95 through CreateSpace.com here and Amazon.com

Question: Were you a good writer as a third-grader?

Viggo To Screen Movie In Sandpoint

"A Dangerous Method" is something of a change of pace for actor Viggo Mortensen (pictured, in AP file photo) and director David Cronenberg. In their previous collaborations, the two created a pair of organized crime stories noted for their moral complexity and explosive kinetic energy. However, their third film, which explores the relationships between Sigmund Feud, Carl Jung and Sabina Spielrein that gave birth to psychoanalysis, draws the tension back into the power of the human intellect. Residents have a chance to check the film out for themselves Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Panida Theater, complete with an introduction and a Q&A session hosted by Mortensen himself. The screening will benefit both the Panida Theater and KRFY Community Radio. Tickets cost $12 and are available at Pedro's, Pack River Potions, Eichardt's Pub and at the box office on the evening of the showing, if any remain. Doors open at 6:30 p.m./Cameron Rasmusson, Bonner Daily Bee. More here.

Question: Is it worth a trip to Sandpoint and $12 to you to sit in on a Q-and-A with Viggo Mortensen re: his latest movie?

Sandpoint readies for CHaFe 150 and 80 mile rides June 2

BICYCLING — A few slots remain open in the June 2 CHaFE 150 bicycle event ride out of Sandpoint.

The 5th annual catered event includes 150- and 80-mile ride options in a Gran Fondo format.

Sign up online.

Read on for details.

Sandpoint ospreys starting family under web cam

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Things have been looking up for a pair of ospreys since groups in Sandpoint organized to relocate a nest that had to be moved at Sandpoint’s War Memorial Field during renovations.

With a web cam fixed above the nest platform, the public has been able to watch the ospreys arrive on April 10 to begin build their next (see photos above) and go through courtship.

In late April, the camera caught skirmishes between the pair that adopted this nest and a second osprey pair that was attempting to hijack the nest. (The field on Lake Pend Oreille has two osprey nests.)

The Sandpoint Osprey Cam is a collaboration of the City of Sandpoint and Sandpoint Online with corporate support by Avista and Northland Communications. Consulting biologist is Jane Fink of Birds of Prey Northwest.  Moving the nest and puting up the web cam was no easy task. Read about the project.

The Sandpoint Online web page includes a chat feature for osprey watchers to trade observations, plus  Fink is providing an interpretive blog. The number of daily page views is in the thousands and growing especially this week:

Monday at 12:48 p.m. the female laid their first egg (above left).

Soon we'll all be able to watch the hatching and raising of a brood.

Meantime, check out this incredible osprey fishing video and brief yourself with Fink's answers to osprey FAQ»

Pucci retires from Schweitzer Ski Patrol after 45 years

WINTER SPORTS — "The end of an era is upon us," says the announcement from Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

As the resort shuts down for the 2011-2012 season, Ski Patrol Director John Pucci will be retiring after 45 years as a patroller  and 38 years as the director at Schweitzer.

Ultrasound Backers Want Hearing

Six supporters of Senate Bill 1387 drove from Sandpoint to Boise to lobby for the bill. After a 10-minute hallway conversation with House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loerstcher early Tuesday, they remain frustrated that the bill has yet to receive a hearing. "We came 500 miles," said Judy Howrey, board chair of the Life Choices Pregnancy Center in Sandpoint, which offers free ultrasounds. "We want to find out about the meeting and why it was canceled." Loertcher canceled a hearing on SB 1387 last week, after objections were raised in a closed-door Republican caucus. "There is no hearing scheduled," said Loertscher, R-Iona, who was headed to his office for a private meeting with two prominent backers of the bill, Kerry Uhlenkott of Right to Life of Idaho and Julie Lynde of Cornerstone Family Council, the Idaho affiliate of Focus on the Family/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Do you think the 2012 session will end session without the ultrasound bill hearing?

Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/03/27/idahopolitics/supporters_idaho_ultrasound_bill_press_hearing_chairman_loertsch#storylink=twt#storylink=cpy

Video cams will produce YouTube videos from Sandpoint’s Chairlift Pitch contest

The folks at Sandpoint Forward who are sponsoring a Chairlift Pitch contest next week have a pretty solid idea. We summarized that idea in a story earlier this week.

The guy whose head hatched the Chairlift Pitch contest is Mark Rivers, who lives in Boise most of the time but also works as a consultant for Sandpoint's economic development folks.

One detail we were not able to add to the story is Rivers' other idea: he plans to have a helmet cam attached to some of the judges who accompany the seven contestants up the chair lift. 

Later, Rivers said they'll add some of the videos to a YouTube channel, so folks can hear the pitches from the seven company owners.

The prize of the contest is $1,000 plus six free months of office space in downtown Sandpoint.

Coldwater Creek improves 4Q results but records $99 million loss for the year

Sandpoint's Coldwater Creek released earnings numbers on Wednesday for the fourth quarter and fiscal year.

The basics:  Fourth quarter produced a loss of $12.8 million, compared to a loss one year ago of $34.7 million.

For the 12 months ending Jan. 28, the loss was $99 million, versus $44.1 million for the previous fiscal year.

See a more detailed summary of the numbers in Thursday's Spokesman-Review at at Spokesman.com.

Johnson: Paul Comfy In His Own Skin

The conventional wisdom holds that Paul must win somewhere – and fast – or risk running out of steam as the primary campaign grinds on. He would seem to have a far shot in three states with a GOP caucus today – North Dakota, Alaska and Idaho. The Idaho GOP establishment is aligned with Mitt Romney and the state’s sizeable Mormon population is almost certain to give him an advantage, but – a big but – the insurgent wing of the Idaho GOP, the group that has come to dominate a good deal of the party’s business, is entirely capable of sending Romney and his Idaho supporters a big message. We’ll see if they do. It may be worth noting that while Paul was drawing 1,300 up the road in Sandpoint, Gov. Butch Otter, a Romney surrogate, was speaking to a crowd of 100 in Coeur d’Alene/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here.

Question: Is there anything to be made of Paul attracting 1,200 in Sandpoint (and probably 2,000 in Moscow) while Butch Otter subbing for Mitt Romney attracted only 100 in Coeur d'Alene?

PM: Sandpoint Turns Out For Ron Paul

Dominic Brauer of Sandpoint holds a sign outside the Bonner County Fairgrounds before a town hall meeting with Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, Monday in Sandpoint. Story here. (AP Photo/Matt Mills McKnight)

Paul Attracts 1200 In Sandpoint

Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, waits backstage with wife, Carol before a town hall meeting at the Bonner County Fairgrounds Monday in Sandpoint. (AP Photo/Matt Mills McKnight)

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul drew a crowd of 1,200 supporters to a noon rally at the Bonner County Fairgrounds in Sandpoint today, the AP reports, a crowd the campaign called “massive;” this AP photo shows Paul addressing the crowd. The rally comes as Idaho's Super Tuesday GOP presidential caucus approaches tomorrow night; at 7 p.m. local time, in every one of the state's 44 counties, Republicans will gather at local caucuses to decide which GOP candidate the state should support for the presidential nomination/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Even if Ron Paul won Sandpoint, would it matter in the grander scheme of things?

New Gen Takes Over Local Mortuary

Over the course of 45 years in business, Dale Coffelt has grown close to the community he serves. He has seen children grow into grandparents and watched as one generation gave way to the next. Perhaps more than anyone, he has been there when community members passed away, comforting families, making a hard and heart-breaking situation, in his words, “softer.” Coffelt Funeral Services was established in 1970 after he took over the operation of the business and the associated Pinecrest Cemetery from Bud Moon, whose father started Moon Funeral Services back in 1922. Dale still remembers the day he entered the building at the corner of Division and Pine, not because it was particularly notable, but because it was the first entry in what would become a long and illustrious local career/David Gunter, Bonner County Bee. More here. (Photo from Coffelt Funeral Service Web site)

Question: The article goes on to say how Dale Coffelt is passing down his funeral service to his grandson. I tip my hat to families like the Coffelts who serve their communities in such a way. But I can't imagine why anyone would want to be in the funeral business. Is Digger out there?

Ron Paul To Visit Moscow, Sandpoint

Ron Paul has tentatively placed Moscow back on his campaign trail ahead of Super Tuesday, seeking a larger venue after his first visit was to a shut-out crowd. According to an email from a campaign staffer, the Texas congressman plans to visit three Idaho cities Monday — Sandpoint at 11 a.m., Moscow at 2 p.m., and Idaho Falls at 7 p.m. Paul's staff is currently fleshing out a contract with the University of Idaho to use the Kibbie Dome, said Karen Calisterio, north Idaho regional director for the campaign/AP.

Question: How important are the results of the Washington (Saturday) and Idaho (Tuesday) caucuses to Ron Paul GOP presidential hopes?

Coldwater Creek lowers fourth quarter expectations, but sees a turnaround

Sandpoint clothing retailer Coldwater Creek lowered its earlier estimate of losing 13 to 21 cents per share for the fourth quarter. It now expects losses in the 18 to 24 cents per share range.

During fourth quarter of 2010 the company saw a loss of 40 cents per share.

In an an update to its fourth-quarter guidance, Coldwater CEO Dennis Pence said the women’s apparel retailer saw softer than expected sales in late December including post-Christmas sales.

The company’s fiscal year and quarter ends Jan. 28. It reports year-end results on March 7.

Pence said sales at the Creek's premium stores during the last nine months of 2011 were 26 percent lower than the same period a year before.

But citing what he sees as a turnaround, Pence noted the fourth quarter’s 9 percent comparable decline in sales is a step in the right direction and reflects better management of inventory and expenses. The company said it expects to reduce expenses for the fiscal year by $20 million to $25 million.