Monday, October 20, 2014

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy: Government should be helping to solve our water problems, not imposing more bureaucracy and red tape

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

 "This week I joined agricultural leaders and policymakers from across the state to discuss the future of our agricultural industry at the first annual Kern County Agricultural Summit hosted by Bakersfield College. The importance of Kern County agriculture to our community is highlighted by the $6.7
billion worth of products produced in 2013. And this significance extends beyond county lines as we greatly contribute to California’s overall production, which happens to be the top agriculture producing state in the U.S. with over 80,000 farms and ranches.

 "The Summit came at a significant time for our community. For generations before us to the present, the rich Central Valley soil and long days of sun have established us as America’s food basket and have turned the ole shantytowns from the Grapes of Wrath into the community we all cherish today. But cultivating the land is hard work and the reliance on cooperation from Mother Nature is never certain. Our historic drought reminds us of that every day. But compounding the naturally occurring impacts are regulations from Sacramento and Washington to preserve the Delta smelt in lieu of water deliveries to our communities.

  "There is no doubt that the issue of water is the top priority for our agriculture industry and our state. What we never expected however, nor should any community anticipate, is our government becoming so disconnected from the needs and realities of the communities they are supposed to serve.

 "Our government should be focused on solving problems that exist within our communities and society; not piling onto challenges that are not proven to exist with more bureaucracy and regulations. In Washington, I am leading the House in a renewed approach to governing that focuses on results. This will be critical as we continue to forge a solution on a long-term California water bill. A result-oriented approach to a successful water bill will ensure water moves through the Delta, benefits State Water Project contractors, and creates more storage – including dams and groundwater banking. Absent these provisions, any California water bill will simply be business as usual. And that is unacceptable.

 "The drought’s effects are a daily reminder of the damage harmful governmental policies can have on our community.  Through events like this week’s Agricultural Summit, it will be imperative that as a community we remain informed on the actions from Sacramento and Washington and involved in working to reverse them. In Washington, my work to this approach drives me every day.





Sunday, October 19, 2014

Monday's Bako Bits: Is anyone else sick of the political attack ads that have flooded the airways? And veteran reporter Steve Swenson shares his battle with pancreatic cancer

 * … POLITICS: Is anyone else sick of the political attack ads that have flooded the airways? You'd think there would be weightier issues than how many times Pedro Rios voted while serving on the
Delano city council, or if Andy Vidak had suddenly "sold out" to the Sacramento politicians. But polling shows attack ads work, so get ready for another couple weeks of the incessant negativity.

 * … SEVEN OAKS: Hats off to the Seven Oaks homeowner who took things in his own hands after someone's dog kept leaving unwanted presents behind on his lawn. The homeowner put a small sign in the yard reading: "Is it really that difficult to pick up your dog's poop? Be a good neighbor!!" Ah, first world problems behind the gates.


 * … STEVE: Did you catch the essay by Steve Swenson in Sunday's Californian about his battle with pancreatic cancer? Steve spent 33 years as a reporter so it's no surprise that he writes with such honesty and wit, but this piece was moving in its authenticity and candor. Here's hoping Steve has many years left swinging his golf clubs and making that birdie now and then.



* … ENDEAVOR: It was so nice to see so many organizations reaching out to Endeavor Elementary School after someone burned down its playground equipment. This is one of the many things that gives this community such heart. Said Jay Stodder: "As published in the Californian Thursday,  several groups have stepped up to help pay for Endeavor Elementary  School's playground that was recently destroyed by arsonists. Among them is my place of employment, the Gaslight Melodrama in Rosedale. We're adding a benefit performance of Witches of Westchester to our schedule: Thursday October 24, 7 p.m."

 * … SCAMS: Yet another reader weighed in on this panhandlers who hit us up for money at local gas stations. "Another funny thing happened at that same station about a year ago. I was filling my car with gas when a gentleman with a young girl walked up to me and said that his wife and son were in an automobile accident near Fresno. He and his daughter needed bus fare to go to Fresno to be with them in the hospital. About two weeks later, the same gentleman at the same station approached me and said that his mother was near death at a hospital in Fresno and he needed bus fare hoping to visit her before she died.  I said, 'I'm sorry to hear that so much tragedy has happened to your family recently. Two weeks ago you needed money to go to Fresno to see your wife and son in a hospital in Fresno.'  If looks could kill… He left the station without talking to anyone else."

* … MEMORIES: Ronal Reynier is one reader who enjoys it when we reprint old front pages of The Californian. A recent one from 1911 raised a few questions for him:  "Where have they gone?" he asked, referring to all the small communities in the valley. "In this issue they print about Toltec and the Catholic Colonization in the Rio Bravo district. In this era each oilfield and farming area had their own small village. Most are long gone or swallowed up by other cities such as Bakersfield; but the names live on. The most common live on in our daily lives as areas we know of as Rosedale, Greenacres, Rio Bravo, Smith's Corners, Greenfield, Heck's Corners, or how about Mexican Colony?  Its been in the news a lot lately; how many of you have ever been to Tupman? From a 1916 map of Kern County I counted 47 that are no longer there."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bako Bits: beware of all those panhandlers at our local gas stations and who in the world would put a metal clamp on a dog's leg to keep him tethered?


 * … SCAMS: I can't get enough of these scams going on around town. Listen to this reader who had an encounter at the downtown AM/PM gas station where a nicely dressed young man was seen using a plastic container to pour gas into his own car. "While I was filling my car, I saw him talking to another
customer and heard him say he ran out of gas in the country; a friend picked him up, and brought him to the gas station.  'If you could just fill my gas can with gas, I think I will have enough to get my car back into town.' Sounds honest enough; clean cut guy; not asking for money. But he would take the full gas can to his car, parked behind Subway, poured it in his car tank and then went back to the station, telling the same story to another unsuspecting customer."

 * … BAD FORM: This week brought a torrent of bad news, starting with the discovery of a stray black dog who was found with a large metal clamp piercing his leg. The clamp was used to tether the dog to a post, and veterinarians believe it was put there about a week ago. What kind of monster would do this to a dog? Then, later this week, someone burned down the playground equipment at Endeavor Elementary School in Rosedale.


 * … GOOD ADVICE: But every bad deed is answered by someone like Drew Douglas, who at just 9 years old has something to say about our litter problem. In a well thought note to The Californian, she said this: "Littering is bad but people do it anyway… Littering hurts animals, the ground and the earth. If you’re one of those people, then I would try to stop as much as you can. Littering destroys the world with trash! Me and my friend found all kinds of trash at our school and we threw it away. Don’t you want a better, cleaner place to live too?" Sound advice.

* … FOODIE: I have two recommendations if you are in the downtown area: The Union Station Deli across from the post office on 18th Street offers excellent service and a killer pot pie soup, and The Wall Street Cafe on L Street features one of the best beet salads I have ever had.

 * … CARR: Local talk radio host Ralph Bailey, who boasts an impressive deep knowledge of sports and the Oakland Raiders in particular, dropped me a note to share a few differences between the pro football debuts of brothers David and Derek Carr. "In David's first 167 pass attempts he was sacked 41 times, while Derek, even behind the blocking of my Raiders, has only hit the ground three times, according to CBS Sports. From a loyal yet miserable Raider fan." Thanks Ralph. (file photos of the Carr brothers)




 * … KUDOS: Hats off to the folks at Chevron for volunteering to clean up trash along China Grade Loop. Said reader Carole Cohen: "There were at least 15-20 volunteers working, and the before/after difference is quite spectacular. Take a drive through the area - start at Manor - and enjoy the results of their hard work. Thanks to all who participated for a job well done."

 * … PETS: The other day I mentioned the annual effort to collect blankets for stray dogs and cats that is planned for Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Petco on Gosford Road. Turns out I didn't correctly identify the group accurately. The organization is called Busters Pet Fund. Kudos to these folks who care for the strays among us.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The never ending scams that exploit the kindness of strangers, this one appearing at gas stations around Bakersfield, and get ready for the Bakersfield Film Festival coming up next month

 * … SCAMS: Here is yet another example of the scams going on around town. The person who submitted this asked not to be named. Here is his story: "A few weeks ago I was filling up at a gas
station near Taft Highway and Highway 99. Two young men came up to me, one carrying a gas can, and said they needed help. The older looking one said his father had a heart attack and they were trying to get to Los Angeles to see him. They said they were out of money and gas and they pointed towards an older, white, Ford Explorer. I said sure, just pull your car around I will fill it up for you, so they did. As they were filling up I asked the one whose father had the heart attack, what is your father’s name was and if I could pray for him. He said sure and I prayed and they both hugged me and thanked me, and then they took off. I finished my business at the gas station and proceeded to head to the post office on Larson Lane. So I got on the 99 North and low and behold there was that same white Ford Explorer right in front of me heading North instead of South to Los Angeles. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought they might be getting something to eat. As I got off on White Lane to turn on to Wible, there is another gas station. The same white Ford Explorer pulled in to the station, I thought surely not, hopefully there was a good explanation. So I went ahead to the post office knowing that I would have to come back by the gas station, and as I passed back by the gas station, there was those same two me, with their gas can, going around to every customer. I thought about confronting them, and taking the situation into to my own hands,  but then I remembered Romans 12:19; and left it in God’s hands."

* … FESTIVAL: Mark you calendar for the weekend of Nov. 7-9 when the Bakersfield Film Festival gets under way at the historic Fox Theater. The festival will feature some 50 movies over four days, including "Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound" and an inspiring Spanish documentary called "Unstoppables." Tickets are just $10 per day or $20 for all three days. (file photo from Unstoppables.)


 * … SPOTTED: A friend posted this on her Facebook page: "Seeing as I drive up and down Union Avenue everyday, I'm kinda used to seeing people do strange stuff. This morning was a winner. Traffic came to a screaching halt by the on-ramp to 58 as a dude crossed the street (against the light of course) on a pogo stick... I think I saw that on an episode of the Roadrunner once."

 * … CARR: This from the news source SF Gate: "Oakland Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr of Bakersfield has more four-touchdown games (1) than his brother, 2002 No.1 overall pick, David, had in his 11-year career (94 games)."



 * … THE WALK: If you are looking for a way to spend a splendid day while helping a terrific cause, consider attending the Kern County National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk this Saturday at the Park at Riverwalk? Registration is at 9 a.m. and the walk program starts at 10 a.m. KBAK anchor Kurt Rivera, emcee of the event, reminds me that mental illness is all too common but yet gets so little exposure. You can register at the walk itself or beforehand online at http://namikerncounty.org/main/

 * … BLANKET DRIVE: It's not too early to start putting away old blankets for the annual blanket drive at Petco on Gosford Road. This one is put on by a group called Love Buster and the group wants to collect blankets, towels and dog and cat beds. Volunteers will be at Petco on Saturday, Oct. 25.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Craig Holland says you may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember "Congoland with Jean-Pierre Hallet at 30th and F streets where Lyles Beauty College is now."







Sunday, October 12, 2014

Monday Bako Bits: Dr. Ravi Patel to appear on First Look this week to talk breast cancer awareness and noted bluegrass great John Jorgenson to appear in Bakersfield for the Guitar Masters series

* … CANCER: October is breast cancer awareness month and a brief look at the statistics are humbling. For example, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2014, an estimated 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer were
expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,570 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. And, about 2,360 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in men in 2014. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000. On Tuesday, at 9 a.m. on NewsTalk KERN 1180 and on First Look with Scott Cox, I will be talking with Dr. Ravi Patel of the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center about the progress being made against this deadly disease.


* … SPOTTED: I spotted this post on a friend's Facebook page: "I've totally been taken advantage of… at the gas station on the corner of Cali and Oak this man told me he was trying to get to the hospital because his wife was in an accident. He left the house without his cell and wallet and ran out of gas. He was dressed nice and had an older Ford Taurus. He reminded me of my dad. Then a few days later I saw him running the same scam at another gas station."

 * … OVERHEARD: "You are a true '08er if you live south of Decatur (street)."

 * … GUITAR MASTERS: If you appreciate great musicians, then you should consider attending the final session of the Guitar Masters season this Thursday over at American Sound Studios, 2231 R Street. The brains behind this series is local businessman Rick Kreiser, and he told me this final session will feature multi Grammy winners John Jorgenson (Desert Rose Band, Hellecasters, Elton John) and Jim Cox (Mark Knopfler, Lyle Lovett). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the cost is $30 with a cash bar by Cafe Med. (file photo of John Jorgenson)


 * … SABA Congratulations to Tom Saba and the folks over at the Saba Agency, the creative media group that is now celebrating 25 years in business locally.

 * … MEMORIES: The memories of life when Baker Street was the center of town keep rolling in. Consider this one from Richard Giachino: "I also have some great memories of Baker Street. I went to Saint Joseph's, remember watching all the pretty girls across the street at Washington Junior High.
Mothers Bakery was great. Tejon theater, where forgive me Mr. Lemucchi, we would walk in backwards while people were leaving after the movie was over! I also worked there after, but kept that to myself. Great memories and great times!"

 * … MORE MEMORIES: And finally this last word on the old Golden Crust Bakery from reader Dennis Claxton: "My dad was a salesman for Golden Crust Bakery, one of the 60 salesmen employed by Golden Crust in Bakersfield. In the summers, between the ages of 9 and 11 years old, dad would take me on his route which covered Taft, Maricopa, and Ford City.  He would wake me around 4 in the morning to go down to load his truck.  The smell of the fresh bread is something you don’t forget.  We would travel to the stores and restaurants that were on his route.  When we arrived at Jo’s restaurant, in Taft, i would get a piece of fresh pie or cake from the owner.  One time, again in Taft, i was at the back of truck and a guy rode up on a horse to go inside the market.  He asked me to hold his horse, and of course i said yes.  As soon as the rider walked into the store, this huge animal stepped on my foot and i couldn’t get him off, that hurt. In Ford City, my dad and I would meet Al Green, aka “Whitie”, and have lunch. Al, founded Pizzaville here in Bakersfield, and from time to time still drops into the business, now run by his son.  At the end of the work week, my dad would pay me $10 for the weeks work.  I still have one or two of the Golden Crust key rings and i think i have one of his old work shirts, lots of good memories."

House Majority Leader McCarthy: While the world focuses on the Ebola virus, the Central Valley continues to battle Valley Fever

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

 "The health of family and friends is so often at the top of our minds that we toast to good health at dinners, take daily vitamins to keep our immune systems strong, carry around small bottles of de-sanitizer in our bags and pockets, and console those who have fallen ill.  And as we are all aware, the front pages and nightly news programs over the past month continue to lead with the spread of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. I share the concern of many about this disease making its way onto our shores.  Our public health officials are working diligently to ensure any cases that are found here at home are isolated immediately as well as preparing to control and ultimately defeat this horrible illness in the West African countries where it has stricken thousands.


 "We also know that more must be done about indigenous diseases as well.  In the arid Central Valley, we have a disease called Valley Fever that is also a frequent topic in our local and regional news.


 "For decades, so many of our neighbors were stricken with an illness that could not be identified or treated with any certainty that one would be fully healed. Much of the country outside of the Valley, including the medical community, was virtually unaware of it. This led to frustration and concern in our communities over the seemingly helpless fight. It left us with only the blind hope that a loved one wouldn’t contract the disease.


 "It is my goal to change that.

 "Our community symposium last year has focused much needed attention on Valley Fever, and our discussions have not stopped. Recently, I discussed our current effort with Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I remain in contact with CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden and NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins as we continue our work to raise awareness about the disease as well as develop our random clinical trials on Valley Fever treatments.

 "Just this week, it was announced that Kat DeBurgh, who has been working with us to develop a continuing medical education program on Valley Fever, will be taking over at the Health Officers Association of California (HOAC) as their Executive Director.  She has been instrumental in HOAC’s efforts to educate California doctors and public health officials on this disease. A Valley Fever CME raises awareness of this disease with medical providers, helping them make earlier diagnoses that can potentially reduce the length and severity of Valley Fever in patients. I look forward to continuing to work with Ms. DeBurgh on Valley Fever and other important public health issues in the Central Valley and California.

 "While the fight against any unknown pathogen can be long, just a year after the Valley Fever symposium, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released positive news that a potential treatment drug for Valley Fever was going to be fast-tracked into clinical trials. In 2012, Congress passed what was called the GAIN Act, which helps provide support for treatments for fungal and bacterial diseases. The news of a potential treatment, nikkomycin Z, entering the critical clinical stages through the GAIN Act highlights the strides our community has made in fighting Valley Fever.


 "More progress must be made and we continue to collect real data on this potential treatment. But progress alone towards curing a disease that was largely off the radar of health officials no more than four years ago gives us reason to be optimistic that our neighbors who are suffering from the disease could soon find relief and that future generations will not have to resort to hope alone in the fight against Valley Fever.

 "Enough cannot be said of the hard work of the people in our community, from Dr. Claudia Jonah, the Einstein family, the Larwoods, Dr. Royce Johnson, and countless others, who make the time and commitment to continuing the fight against a disease that has affected too many of our loved ones.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Looking for Catholic parishioners? You will find them at Costco, at least according to a local monsignor, and get ready for the annual Via Arte out at The Marketplace


 * … VIA ARTE: Make sure you remember that Via Arte is set for this weekend over at The
Marketplace in the Southwest. This is always an amazing experience as chalk artists line up to show off their talents in the parking lot. The event is free, of course, and it runs all day on Saturday and Sunday.


 * … SPOTTED: A roadside sign has this inspirational message: "You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you."

 * … OVERHEARD: A one-liner from Monsignor Craig Harrison: "I love Costco. I see more parishioners there then at church."


* … GOOD FORM: Tonya Grier was impressed when her son, who attends West High, found that someone had hit his car but left a nice note on the windshield. It stated 'I hit your car and I am soooo sorry, I had to go to work, but here is my number, call me so we can exchange info. Sara.' "The damage wasn't too bad, so I wanted to call the young lady and thank her for having integrity and good values by leaving a note, and also inform her that I know she is a student, so don't worry about it, best success in her future for doing the right thing.," said Grier. "(But) The number was disconnected! I was so angry, and she didn't leave her last name. I told my son, we will pray for her, God sees all."

 * … KIWANIS: If you want to support a good cause while enjoying some vintage cars, head to Olive Knolls Church of the Nazarene this Saturday to enjoy a car show sponsored by the Oildale Kiwanis Club. Ralph Korn told me proceeds from the show go to help needy youngsters.

 * … SERVICE: Another tip of the hat to a local company that provides excellent customer service. This time it's the folks over at Stability Home Access, who dropped what they were doing to install a grab bar in the bathroom of Jim Murphy who had just been released from UCLA Medical Center after leg surgery. Thanks to Jim's wife, Connie, for sharing her story.

* … MEMORIES: Warren E. Pechin, a local architect, shared with me this walk down memory lane regarding the old Golden Crust Bakery. "I actually worked at the bakery before school started the spring semester of my senior year at Bakersfield High School and for about five summers afterwards except for the summer of 1967 when I was in summer school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo taking architecture classes. The bakery was owned by George Martini and employed about 60 people producing the products of the bakery. I was one of the summer relief help hired to allow the full-time employees to rotate through vacations. Among the other 'helpers' were Steve Anderson of S.C. Anderson, Danny Ronquillo, who eventually wound up being a Fresno City Councilman, and Radon Fortenberry, who eventually was the athletic director at Shafter High School. The bakery closed in the summer of 1968 or 1969 and I went from making $4.20 an hour to $2 and hour at Wright and Metcalf, a local architecture firm who designed the Civic Auditorium and Bakersfield College and many other buildings in Bakersfield. All of us 'helpers' rotated through some of the regular jobs at the bakery, although I worked mainly in the packaging of bread and on the ovens, Steve worked with the engineers and maintenance staff, Danny worked in the dough room, and Radon boxed bakery goods and helped load the trucks for the various drivers (about 20 other employees besides the 60 mentioned earlier. The experience of working in the bakery was quite interesting and the pay was excellent for the time compared to many other jobs of students."

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Chain Cohn Stiles buys a landmark building in downtown Bakersfield, a golf tournament raises $200,000 for charity and a trip down memory lane for readers recalling the good old days

* … DEATH: The law firm representing the family of Nancy Joyce Garrett, the 72-year-old woman killed in an early morning crash with a Kern County sheriff's deputy, is waiting for a Highway Patrol investigation before deciding whether to file suit. That was the word from Matt Clark, a partner
at Chain Cohn Stiles, who appeared with me on First Look with Scott Cox Tuesday morning. Garrett was a beloved grand mother who spent her last night with her family at a Los Angeles Dodgers game. Clark said the extended family was so close that they shared breakfast once a month, and the day she was killed it was her turn to host the family breakfast. The CHP investigation could take several months before the decision is made whether to go to trial. If a lawsuit is filed, it will be the second fatal accident in a short period of time involving a Kern County Sheriff's deputy on North Chester. (Facebook photo of Nancy Garrett)







* ... CHAINLAW: And speaking of Chain Cohn Stiles, the law firm has just closed escrow on a 30,000 square foot building at the corner of Chester Avenue and 17th Street (1731 Chester). The plaintiff's law firm, which has been headquartered in the Bank of America tower downtown for more than 20 years, will renovate the building and use the ground floor for its main offices. Dave Cohn, principal partner, said the firm has been looking for its own home for several years now and he expects the renovation to last several months. Cohn said the firm was committed to staying downtown to continue in its revitalization. The building was originally constructed in 1899 as a bank but has morphed through the years, its last incarnation as the downtown headquarters of The Goodwill. (Chainlaw file photo)


 * … MEMORIAL: I am always impressed by the generosity of this community, and it was certainly on display recently at the Larry Carr Memorial Golf Tournament benefitting the Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Foundation. The tournament raised an impressive $200,000 to benefit the Robert A. Grimm Children’s Pavilion for Emergency Care at the Lauren Small Children’s Medical Center. Hats off to BMHF board chair Rogers Brandon, golf committee chair Jenny Waguespack and two big sponsors, Valley Republic Bank and Terrio Therapy.

 * … MEMORIES: Cheryl Rodriguez of Arvin responded to an earlier reader's mention of a theater south of Lamont. "In the 1950s that was known as the south Lamont Drive-In and the road he referred to was located next to Robert A. Teller's plum orchard. Mr. Teller was my grandfather. The Lamont post office and the South Kern Court now stand where the orchard was. The drive-in sign remained for many years after the theater was torn down. Also, there was the Rancho Theater in Arvin. It had a beautiful moving neon wagon wheel sign high atop the building. That sign was replaced a few years ago by a pizza sign. This was a slap in the face to longtime citizens who regarded the wagon wheel as a historic icon."

 * …. DRIVE-IN: And finally, one last memory of the Lamont drive-in compliments of Carlos Luna. "Regarding the theater located south of Lamont after you crossed the rail tracks and heading
towards Weedpatch, it was the Thunderbird Drive-In. ... Furthermore, Lamont also had a walk in theater on main street next to the school. Pretty good for a small town way back when."

 * … MORE MEMORIES: I need to correct an earlier writer who referred to a wonderful old business called Mom's Bakery. John Pryor reminded me the correct name was Mother's Bakery and it was located on the west side of Baker Street just south of Kentucky Street. Said John: "Owned by the Mellas family, they were famous for delivering a truly 'baker's dozen' of any item.  If you ordered a dozen doughnuts, you always found 13 in your sack! One of their sons, Angelo Mellas, was a classmate at East High where he was a student leader and fierce lineman on the Blades football team -- including our senior year when we beat the Drillers (20-19) for the very first time."