Thursday, August 13, 2009
Short takes around town: McCarthy's healthcare town hall meeting will be huge; Wendy Wayne's recovery and more economic storm warnings
Lots happening around town and more warnings that we have a long way to go before we can dig out of this hole. Here we go:
* ... HEALTHCARE REFORM: Spent lunch at downtown Rotary listening to Rep. Kevin McCarthy's take on the nation's political pulse and the battle over health care. Kevin said his upcoming town hall meeting on health care reform, set for Wednesday Aug. 26, has proved so popular he has been forced to move it a second time. It will now be held at the Icardo Center over at Cal State Bakersfield to accommodate an ever growing crowd. "We went from 300 confirmed to 800 overnight," he said. Kevin is dead set against the Obama legislation, but given the conservative temper of our community, it promises to be a lively forum nonetheless. Kevin always gets a warm reception at downtown Rotary, where he is a member and the membership consists of prominent business owners across town. It's a friendly audience and his message that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is crafting the reform legislation without input from either the White House or opposition was well received. Rotary president Duane Keathley, a partner with CB Richard Ellis, got a laugh when he presented Kevin with a special gift: a doctored picture of Duane and Speaker Pelosi for Kevin's desk.
* ... WENDY WAYNE AND A NIGHT OF MARGARITAS: The same Rotary club held its summer social Wednesday night at the home of Lou and Sheryl Barbich up in the Bakersfield County Club area. Lou and Sheryl are always terrific hosts but clearly one of the highlights of the evening was seeing Wendy Wayne, the former First Five Commission director who has been battling non Hodgkins lymphoma. (read previous post here) Wendy just underwent the grueling stem cell procedure and said the followup tests have all been positive. Though professing to some fatigue, particularly later in the day, she looked fabulous and seemed like her old self. Among the others attending were potato farmer Dick Porter and wife Becky, Castle and Cooke President Bruce Freeman, CASA director Coleen McGauley, the aforementioned Duane Keathley and wife Corey, H. Walker's Men's Store owner Tracy Walker-Kiser and husband Brian, Patti Houchin, AGM Radio Group president Rogers Brandon and wife Esther, Memorial Hospital CEO Jon Van Boening and wife Phillis, Uniglobe Travel owner Ray Watson, Northwestern Mutual's Paul Sheldon and wife Nesi and Steve and Pat Loyd of Loyd's Aviation.. The picture features Rotary president Duane Keathley and past presidents Dick Porter, Rogers Brandon and Richard Beene surrounding longtime Rotary secretary Evelyn Johnson.
* ... COMMERCIAL LOAN COLLAPSE: I've been warning about the next shoe to drop: commercial real estate and loans. Lots of evidence that things are tough and could get tougher, Moody’s predicts the default rate on corporate loans could rise from 2.4 percent last year to 12.8 percent by the end of this year – the highest level on record. Moody's says that isn’t surprising when you consider companies need to roll over $1.4 trillion in high yield bonds and loans in coming years, with more than half coming due in the next five years. Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, is warning investors that the chances for a “double dip” recession remain significant.
* ... MORE HOUSING WOES: A study by the National Association of Realtors finds that 82 percent of people don’t have enough money for a down payment and 80 percent are waiting for the job market to stabilize before buying a home.