Friday, January 30, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: House to vote on repealing Obamacare to return healthcare decisions back to the people

 House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "Super Bowl weekend is an exciting time for everyone, even if the Chargers, 49ers, Raiders, or whoever your favorite team is won’t be taking the field. But in our community, the big game has even
greater significance this year. For the Boron High School football team, they are experiencing the trip of a lifetime. After entering (and winning!) the NFL’s Together We Make Football contest, they won a trip to Arizona and tickets to Sunday’s game. We are so proud of the Boron community for pulling the support together and showing the country the ‘pride’ of Kern County.

 "But before we settle in to watch the Seahawks face the Patriots, it was a week of flurried activity in Washington (literally and figuratively).

 "The House has started the 114th Congress off to a fast start. In the opening weeks, our goal is to pass dozens of important bills that were approved by the House last Congress but were held up by the Democrat-led Senate. This includes the Hire More Heroes Act, which helps small businesses grow and veterans get jobs. It includes the Keystone pipeline and other legislation that upgrades our energy infrastructure. We passed legislation that redefines full time as 40 hours, after Obamacare lowered it to 30. And we also passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, legislation that will reform the VA by improving veterans’ access to mental health care resources, helping ensure veterans get the help they need after serving and protecting our country. These bills all passed out of the House with bipartisan support, and some have even passed out of the Senate.

  "Unfortunately, the President’s response hasn’t always been supportive of these measures as he has threatened more vetoes this quickly than any President since they became a formal practice.

 "Despite the resounding message by voters last November to hold Washington accountable and get some things accomplished, the President has ‘veered left’ and does not appear to be willing to work with Republicans in Congress. But the House of Representatives is intimately tied to the will of the people. We talk with our constituents every day, and when we are in our district, we listen to our constituents in meetings, in the grocery store, at the gas station, and in our houses of worship. The House has committed that the priorities we hear will indeed be the priorities of the House.

  "Next week, the House will vote to repeal Obamacare which has increased costs and reduced coverage for health care. Pulling this bill from its roots is an important first step to returning the health care decisions back to the families making them. And at the same time I have instructed the committee chairmen of the Energy and Commerce, Education and Workforce, and Ways and Means Committee’s to develop patient-centered solutions to replace Obamacare. Ours will put individuals and families in the driver’s seat and use the principles of choice and competition to make high-quality health care more affordable and accessible for all.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Clinica Sierra Vista to open a new facility to serve the needy on the east side, bad form on the bike path and discovering the "Sonny burger" at Mexicali restaurant

* ... CLINICA: The east side of town has an important new health center that will open on Monday. It's called the East Niles Community Heath Center and it represents the latest venture by Clinica Sierra Vista to expand its coverage for underserved and low-income residents. I toured the facility this week
with Clinica CEO Steve Schilling and his board chair, local plaintiffs attorney Matt Clark, and left impressed with the color and vibrancy of the new facility, which represents the future of local health care. The goal: provide an attractive, modern facility to get folks out of hospital emergency rooms and into comprehensive health care plans. The East Niles building will also house the family practice residency that used to operate out of Kern Medical Center, but is now under the Clinica umbrella, the Rio Bravo Family Residency Program.

 * … ACHIEVER: Hats off to Lauren Naworski, a 2011 graduate of Garces Memorial High School who will graduate in June from UC Santa Barbara. She is now interning at Fox Sports in Los Angeles where her first assignment was to help compile footage for coverage of Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski's 1,000th victory. She will graduate with a double major in communications and political science and is a member of the Alpha Phi sorority. She is the daughter of Andy and Julie Naworski.

 * … GOOD FORM: Janelle Kaufman lives across the street from the Olive Drive Elementary School and was impressed when a school gardener stopped working and removed his hat when the school broadcast the pledge of allegiance in the morning.

 * … BAD FORM: To the woman who allowed her small dog to weave all over the bike path, almost taking down a cyclist after nipping him in the leg: keep your animal on a leash before the unthinkable happens. And to all your cyclists out there: slow down. The bike path is a multi-use facility, not your personal velodrome.

* … FOODIE: Mexicali is famous for its south of the border dishes, but it also offers one of the best hamburgers in town. Next time, try the twin-patty "Sonny burger." You will not be disappointed.

 * … CAR DEALERS: Brian Kelly poses an interesting question: "The movie 'Psycho' was partially filmed here. There is a scene where Ms. Leigh gets another car. I believe the master shot shows another car lot across the street. Does anyone remember where these places were? Chester Avenue? Union Avenue?"

 * … MEMORIES: Steve Urner wrote to remember when he was a child in the 1960s when he rode his mo-ped tdo the Bakersfield County Club for a part-time job. "Nothing but foothills," he said.  "I also rode the mo-ped to Ewing’s on Alta Vista as the evening dishwasher (1964).  Jack Ewing would come back and flick his cigar ashes in the disposal throughout the evening as he visited with patrons. Great bunch of people."

 * …. MEMORY: Kurt Seeger says you might be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember the minature golf course on Mount Vernon Avenue where the Sizzler now stand. Pinball games were just a nickel a play.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Remembering the old west heritage of Bako when folks would ride horses into local bars on a bet, and more crime hits local neighborhoods

 * … CRIME: Jack and Jane Skaggs have lived in the Olive Drive area for years, enjoying their quiet street and a seven-foot tall, globed light fixture in their front yard that they would routinely
decorate for Christmas and Halloween. The other day it disappeared, unbolted and hauled off by thieves in the darkness of the night. "That thing must have weighed more ethan 300 pounds," said Skaggs, a retired California Highway Patrol officer. "It was seven feet tall. Where did they put it when they drove away? People will steal anything."

 * … HORSES: In an earlier blog post I wrote about a man riding his horse into the bar at the old El Tejon Hotel on a bet. Well, it looks like there was a similar event around 1932 during the Frontier Days celebration. Reader Mimi Hull said her brother, Milton Rudnick who was then just 4 years old, was on the back of a horse ridden by George Hoskings when they rode into The Padre Hotel. The horse's name was "Cacahuate" (Spanish for peanut). "George picked him up at our home on Oleander and they proceeded to ride downtown to join the celebration. George was doing his best to celebrate the occasion  and was 'feeling no pain.' He decided it would be a good idea to rid  into Sholar's  Market, which was across the street  from the Padre. Since they wouldn't let them ride into the market, he decided to just go across the street into the Padre Hotel. They made it into the hotel, but a crowd gathered when George tried to ride up the elevator…. By this time, Milton, who had ridden on the back of George's horse many times, was crying and begging, 'Please don't put my friend in jail.' In the midst of all this, one of our dad's friends, Art Alexander, came forward and announced that he knew the boy was one of Oscar Rudnick's children and that he would see that he was returned to his home."

 *… MORE HORSES: And there was this note from J.J. Gianquinto: "Thank you for the mention of the individual who rode his horse into the El Tejon, and for printing the response this morning.  Given the nature of the society in Bakersfield during the 1930s, there could have been more than one cowboy riding into the lobby. Charlie Dodge had presented a pair of chaps to me. Very old, obviously antiques. He stated the significance of them was that they were worn by an individual who was
wearing them when he rode into the lobby. I recall he mentioned the first name 'Gordon,' which made sense because the initials on the chaps were GSR. Charlie and I spent many hours chatting while on horseback, and at various functions. How I now wish I had taken the time and opportunity to have memorialized those chats in writing, or on tape. Charlie and Mary, together, had a great treasure of knowledge about Bakersfield and the people who lived here. No wonder, since they were both in police work here for so many, many years."

 * … CAR DEALERS: Lots of feedback on our old car dealers, including this from reader Karen Boehning: "There was a question about the owner of Columbus Motors. His name was Bob Gomez. The original business was built for Leo Meek VW, then reopened as Gardner Porsche-Audi. Next was Cantrell Porsche-Audi. Bob Gomez then purchased and became Columbus Motors. My husband, Chuck, worked for all the these dealers before leaving and opening his own shop, Stockdale Automotive. Also, it was not where Lowe’s is located. That was College Shopping Center.  Columbus Motors was located on the next corner just east, which is now an equipment rental business."

 * … MEMORIES: And finally, Geraldine Sproul added yet more: "Before Bill Hawk sold Oldsmobiles the dealer was Schweitzer Motors. He was on Chester but, not near the other dealers. The Chrysler dealer was Hubbard Motors. Rolfe Lowden sold Hudson cars. (Bet most people do not even remember this car.) The Packard dealer was Hackett Motors."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

In a fog shrouded valley, head up the Kern River canyon to find the sun, remembering the old Tam O'Shanter and identifying who was the cowboy who rode his horse into the old El Tejon Hotel bar

* … GLOOM: This was a gloomy, fog shrouded weekend here, but I found one way follow the sun.
Accompanied by six friends, we drove up the Kern Canyon with our mountain bikes in tow, hit crystal blue skies and temperatures in the 60s, and did a brisk ride on the fire road to Cow Flat.  Even if you don't ride, put some boots on and take advantage of nature's beauty just 45 minutes out of the fog.

* … PASSING: The passing of long-time Bakersfield College chemistry professor Patricia Lee caught the attention of one of her former students, Martha Turner Ingle. She said: "My high school chemistry teacher had announced that 'girls have no place in this class.' Mrs. Lee understood what I and many others had experienced and she went to great lengths on her own time to help us catch up. I just wanted to offer one last tribute to a fine teacher. "

* … EASTSIDE: Living on the east side of town doesn't get the attention it deserves, at least according to Jeanne Schamblin. "Once you come down the hill past Morning Drive, you enter a beautiful valley which I feel should be given the name of Rio Bravo Valley. We aren't really a part of 'east Bakersfield' but in our own part of town. We have Rosedale, Greenacres, Oildale, Seven Oaks, Southwest, Northwest etc… we deserve our own identify such Rio Bravo Valley… We've been the 'red headed stepchild' of Bakersfield long enough. Take a look at our area: beautiful homes on hills, gated areas, golf course living, a lake, soccer park."

 * … MEMORIES: Gerald Sutliff was moved to share a memory from 1957 when he was a bus boy working at the Tam O'Shanter when it was owned by Jack Ewing. "One evening when Jack was away I came out of the kitchen to find the wait staff, all women, standing in a cluster;  They seemed to be upset about something.  I asked what was going on? They told me there was a negro couple waiting by the entrance  None seemed willing or able to act. I grabbed a fresh table napkin draped over my arm and assumed the appearance of what I thought a head waiter should look like. I went to couple and offered them seating which they took. Then one of waitress came the table and took the couple's order.  Nothing was said to me about it by Jack or other staff."

 * … CAR DEALERS: One more memory of all those old car dealers that are now gone, this one from Erik Cortez. "All these memories of old car lots and no one has mentioned the old Columbus Porsche dealership on Columbus between Mount Vernon and Haley which is now Lowe's. My father was friends with the owner but can't remember his name. My father is 78 so this happens. I remember my father's Porsche 924 turbo burning down on the Grapevine and going with him to pick up his new Porsche 944 non-turbo. Everyone was super friendly at that car lot. I believe it was a VW and Audi dealership as well since my sister's convertible VW Rabbit was picked up from there too, with a red bow wrapped around it as well. Can anyone remember that owner's name?"

 * … HORSE BAR: Trudy Hodges cleared up the question about who rode a horse into a local hotel back in the day. Said Hodges: "Sheriff Charlie Dodge told the story about my grandfather riding his horse into the El Tejon Hotel. His name was P.J .Branson .. There was a photo of my grandfather at the bar with his Stetson hat on and on the back of his horse called Babe  My grandfather was the first Parks and Recreation Manager in Kern County and as a child I lived at Hart Memorial Park in a large white house.  My mother grew up at the park. The reason that my grandfather rode Babe into the bar was because of a bet, probably made with the sheriff."

House Majority Leader McCarthy: President Obama more interested in posturing than finding common ground

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

   "The Constitution says that the President 'shall from time to time give the Congress Information of the State of the Union.' Through most of our history, the President has provided to Congress a state of the union through either a letter or a speech, and President Obama continued that tradition this past week.
 "Through the election in November, the people made it clear that they want our country to go in a different direction. At the state of the union, the President had an opportunity to do more than just claim he wanted to work with Republicans, but to actually put forward ideas that we could work together on and that the American people want.

 "Unfortunately, the President missed this golden opportunity. Though he said he was willing to work with Congress, he threatened to veto four different bills during the speech alone—the largest number of veto threats in a state of the union in memory.
 "And when he moved on to offering proposals of his own instead of just shooting down ideas from Congress, he went back to the same tax-and-spend, big-government ideas that the American people have made it very clear they don’t want.

  "So far, it seems the President would rather continue his political posturing instead of finding common ground.

  "There is a simple formula for divided government to work together. First, you need a Congress that passes good bills that both sides can support. Next, you need a president that is willing to work with Congress to find areas of agreement so both parties can accept the resolution.

 "In the opening weeks of this new year, the House has been keeping up its side of the bargain. We’ve passed bipartisan bill after bipartisan bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, rein in the Washington  "regulatory regime, reform the permitting process for natural gas pipelines, stop the taxpayer funding of abortion, and more. But the President has already threatened to veto seven bipartisan House bills. In total, these bills have received 123 Democrat votes.

 "As I’ve always said, I am willing to work with anyone who is willing to work. So far, the President hasn’t shown that he’s willing to work with us. He needs to set his sights higher than the veto pen.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tracy Leach forms a group to tell a positive story about the oil and gas sector, an indie-folk singer comes to Bakersfield and Brock Bonetti shines as a star of the Texas A&M swimming team

 * … ENERGY: Keep an eye on a new organization that is working on behalf of our oil and gas sector here in Kern County. Founded by Tracy Leach, the Kern Citizens for Energy is focused on countering some of the misinformation being put forth by environmental and anti-fossil fuel groups. This is long overdue, primarily because the energy sector has done a lousy job talking about its safety record and the benefits of oil and gas exploration. If you don't think the energy sector is important here, consider this: the sector employs some 12,000 people directly, but indirectly supports some 50,000 jobs throughout Kern County.

 * … MUSIC: In music news about town there is a talented singer and musician coming to town this Sunday over at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Her name is Lauren Shera, an indie-folk singer who has recorded some terrific melodies. The show is hosted by Passing Through, a local group of businessmen dedicated to bringing good live music to our community. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the show at 6 p.m. It's worth checking out.

 * … BONETTI: Congratulations to former Stockdale High swimmer Brock Bonetti, who has been named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week as a member of the Texas AM swim team. Bonetti led the Aggies to a victory over rival Southern Methodist University with an individual and relay first place finish. He is the son of Brett and Cindy Bonetti.

 * … CAR DEALERS: More nostalgia about long-gone car dealers, this memory compliments of my friend Rick Kreiser. "An Austrian (I think) cat named Fred Clad had the original Fiat dealership in the spot at the foot of westbound 178 currently occupied by a Hookah lounge (across from – then – Ed Fant Buick).  I lusted for months over a bright red 1963 Austin Healy 3000 as the East Bakersfield swim bus braked for the stoplight at the end of the freeway every day back in 1970. Mom thought ‘it was too old’ for Little Richard’s first auto investment, so the co-signer effectively canned that deal in favor of a 1967 Triumph. He did his own PR with the catch line 'Fred Clad Imports…twunty-forz and N'…guess you had to hear the accent to appreciate it. Which, curiously enough, I do fairly often. You see, Fred’s still at it some 55 years later. I rent him a couple of spaces in my building where he details and flips used cars!"

 * … MORE CARS: And Robert Mergler added this: "Concerning recent comments on auto dealerships of past years, has Van Wyk's VW on 24th Street been overlooked? I bought my first Volkswagen there in 1962. "

 * … HOUSING: The housing market will soon be entering its critical spring phase, and new home builders are slowly getting back into the action. Lennar Homes will hold a grand opening for its Chateau Series model homes at Mountain Gate II this weekend. The tract is located in the southwest just north of Taft Highway and east of Ashe Road.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Ronal Reynier said you may be a real Bakersfield old timer if you remember "when the local hills were covered each spring with California poppies, and the area below the Grapevine was covered with hundreds of acres of blue lupines. In those days the scenic routes marked in maps were indeed scenic. At times the Carrizo Plain could be covered so densely
with poppies and yellow daisies you could not see the ground. At Carrizo Plain you can still see wild elk and prong-horned antelope on the hills, if you're lucky.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bakersfield grows west toward a new "epicenter," the owners of Pyrenees Cafe benefit from customer and employee loyalty and a new sports radio program makes its debut

 * … GROWTH: The intersection of Panama Lane and Gosford Road is positioned to be the
"epicenter" of growth in the southwest and could eventually be as large a retail center as the Northwest Promenade. That's according to Vince Roche, a partner in the commercial brokerage firm Cushman and Wakefield, who was my guest on First Look with Scott Cox. Roche said that intersection, which just a few years ago was a sleepy little farming area, will provide the same kind of retail coverage that the Northwest Promenade does off Rosedale Highway. Roche also said that Total Wine, another larger wine retailer, is actively looking for locations in Bakersfield. And finally, Cushman and Wakefield has also branched into agricultural development and has hired Kevin Palla to head that operation.

 * … FOODIE:  If you want an example of the benefits of both customer and employee loyalty, look no further than Rod and Julie Crawford, co-owners of Pyrenees Cafe. Before buying Pyrenees, Julie was the long-timer manager of the popular Narducci's Cafe (right next door) until she was booted out in a dispute with owner Jimmy Narducci. What happened? More than 20 Narducci's employees (many of them with more than eight years at Narducci's) followed Rod and Julie next door to Pyrenees, where business is popping, and the customers followed. "We could not be happier," Julie told me. "When you treat people right, they are loyal."

 * … SPORTS RADIO: Bakersfield's newest all sports radio station, ESPN 1230 AM, has announced the launch of the Greg Kerr Show, weekdays from noon to 1 p.m.. Kerr is the dean of sports anchors in Bakersfield, having been the senior sports anchor for KBAK Channel 29 for over 20 years. The Greg Kerr Show will discuss local and national sports, feature great sports legends from the community, and engage the audience to call and share their opinions. ESPN Bakersfield 1230 AM is also the new home of The Jim Rome Show, weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

 * … CAR DEALERS: Not many of us have a memory like Stan Anderson, particularly when it comes to some of our long-gone car dealers. "Like Marilyn Kendig I can’t forget the Leo Meek Automobile jingle that we all heard so many times with the evening news," he wrote. "Another old time car dealer was Motor Center (not to be confused with Motor City).  Motor Center, which was located where the downtown GET terminal is today, sold all GM vehicles under one roof until GM decided to go to separate franchises. When they split Motor Center’s franchise up many of the brands went to managers from Motor Center. Adams took the Pontiac franchise, Gene Winer got Cadillac, and Bill Hawk got the Oldsmobile franchise. I’m not sure if Ed Fant who had the Buick dealership came from the Motor Center breakup. Before Highway 178 joined up with 24th Street, most all these dealers lined 24th Street."

 * … OVERHEARD: A local man is talking about spending the weekend on the Central Coast. "We were coming back on Highway 46 and I swear, as soon as we hit the Kern County line we hit fog. It was a total buzz kill."

 * ..,. MEMORY: J.J. Gianquinto posed this question for all you history buffs out there: (former sheriff "Charlie Dodge often told the story about a relatively prominent man in Bakersfield, initials GCR, who rode his horse into the lobby, and maybe the bar, of the old El Tejon Hotel.  Do you, or does anyone else, know who that person was?"

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Residents on Bakersfield's east side lament the lack of services, squatters take over houses on 24th Street and remembering those local car dealers from long ago

 * … EAST SIDE: Marilyn Sullivan is a proud resident of the east side, but she is frustrated by the lack of services in the area. "Take a drive out 178 on our in- progress freewa.  You can't help but notice the complete lack of commercial development east of Morning Drive. Our councilman has said it's
because of the recession, lack of rooftops, Caltrans, etc. There are many housing developments but no grocery stores. However, the new freeway will make it more pleasant  and easy to drive out to the west to shop and buy groceries. Just one Sully's corner (Ming and Buena Vista), or a Brookside deli and gas, a Trader Joe's (Greenfrog left a good location), a clean, modern sports bar, would be wonderful. Why isn't somebody (city of Bakersfield) doing something (incentives) to bring commercial development to the northeast? … I've lived in the northeast for eight years. In that time, very little has changed, except for government projects." (photo by Fred Castillo)

 * … SQUATTERS: It looks like squatters are taking over some of the homes on the north side of 24th Street that have been purchased by the city for the eventual widening process. Neighbors said that one house that was recently vacated had been taken over by a homeless couple and their dog but were chased away. As the project drags on, we can likely expect more of this.

 * … LIBRARY: For all you old timers out there, the Baker Street branch library will celebrate its 100th birthday this May, and the Friends of the Baker Library will be holding an open house. Susan Bennett told me the group is putting together a scrapbook of memories and family pictures of the library. If you want to share, bring your pictures to the library where they will be copied and returned to you. The celebration is set for Saturday, May 9, from noon to 3 p.m. The email for the group is

 * … EAST HIGH: There is an impressive group of high achievers who will be inducted into the East Bakersfield High School hall of fame next month. Among those to be honored are Superior Court Judge David Lampe, oilman Chad Hathaway, Jack Randolph, Michael Dellostritto, Dr. David Smith, Terry Maddux, Carl Bryan and Steve Gradowitz. The event will be held at the Marriott Hotel on Saturday, Feb. 28. Tickets are available at the EBHS finance office.

 * … CAR DEALERS: A few readers added to the conversation about old auto dealers. Said Marilyn Kendig: "What about Leo Meek Automobiles? I hear that little ditty over and over in my head and can still sing it ---- '2 - 7 - 1 -1 Chester Avenue, Leo Meek Automobiles.' I miss that." And Bobbi Womack added: "Don't forget the Packard and foreign car dealership at 23rd and H street (northeast corner) and
Haberfelde Ford on Eye Street."

 * … MEMORIES: This memory from a reader reacting to a recent post on the old Vincent's bicycle shop. "Well my first Schwinn came from Snider's. Wheeling in the backdoor in the alley off Baker for service (early 1960s). Still there, on Union Avenue now, selling bikes and best locksmiths in town."