Friday, June 19, 2009

Rep. Kevin McCarthy: wrestling with the Democrats on taxes, looking for transparency in government

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, submits his weekly report from Capitol Hill. Let's hear it in his own words.

"First, special congratulations to Fruitvale Jr. High's National History Day team for winning the national title.
I finished up Friday afternoon doing the weekly “colloquy,” which is where a Republican leadership representative discusses with a Democrat leadership representative what is on the floor schedule for next week. If you would like to see this exchange, I posted the YouTube link on my twitter account ( I was selected to represent the Republican leadership and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) represented the Democrat leadership. Though we differ on many issues, the tone of the debate was civil and respectful. One instance of note during our exchange was the majority leader accusing some on the other side of aisle of filibustering a bill on the floor this week. Now I have only been in Congress for one term, but I do remember government class-filibustering a bill is a lot longer than taking 20 minutes to debate an amendment to improve a bill and save taxpayers’ money.

"The rest of the week was a full week of marathon voting in House, as we started the annual appropriations process. I believe that we should have open debate when it comes to using taxpayer dollars to fund the Federal government. Government funding bills (also referred to as appropriations bills) are usually offered in open debate, and members are allowed to offer different amendments in an open and transparent process to reduce funding levels or get rid of wasteful spending to save hard working taxpayers’ money.

"The House passed two funding bills: (1) the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS), and (2) the Legislative Branch funding bill. The CJS bill appropriates $64.4 billion for Fiscal Year 2010, which is 11.7% more than this fiscal year’s level, and the Legislative Branch bill totaled $3.674 billion, which was an increase of $237 million from this fiscal year’s level. It was unfortunate because like I mentioned before, as we started to debate amendments on the floor, the Majority leadership changed the floor rules midway into the debate to limit the number of amendments that could be offered. There were 127 amendments offered for the CJS bill that were designed to save taxpayer money, but the Majority leadership would only allow 23 to be debated and voted on. Washington needs more transparency, and offering amendments is one way to have the necessary check and balance on spending by challenging the status quo and letting the best idea be voted up or down. For the Legislative Branch spending bill, it was the same story. Only 1 of the 20 amendments offered was allowed to be voted on up or down. As we move forward, I hope future funding bills that we take up in the next couple weeks allow for greater cooperation and bipartisanship, and I told Mr. Hoyer that I would like to work to accomplish that.

"I also attended a Financial Service Committee hearing regarding legislation to help areas hit hard by foreclosure and unemployment. In my remarks, I commented on the causes of unemployment resulting from harsh water restrictions.

"I finished out the week by going on local radio with Bob Jamison on KCNQ from Lake Isabella, to talk and take questions from listeners. Bob and I discussed the need for more accountability and transparency in Washington. After finishing up on the floor Friday, I was able to meet a California National History Day winner, Hayden Mullin, an 8th grader from Paso Robles. His project, on the history of Levi Strauss, was entered into the annual national competition here in D.C.

"Next week, we may begin debate on national energy tax legislation, which could impose over $3,000 in extra costs on every household in America. Also on the agenda are other appropriation bills. Expect another busy week.

Short takes around town: Allen Road set to open, Reider's replacement and Rubio's juggernaut

Doing some house cleaning and came across some Bako Bits to share. But first let's all bid a fond farewell to the wonderful spring-like weather of the past month. It has certainly been a June to remember and now looks like our legendary Bako summer is about to descend upon us. So here we go:

* ... ALLEN ROAD EXTENSION: Not that it's official yet, but I hear the extension of Allen Road from Ming Avenue to White Lane in the Southwest will be opening within a week or so. This will instantly become a heavily traveled road and a much needed short cut for Southwest denizens. Be careful, however, because folks in the Seven Oaks area get on and off the bike trail there so beware of cyclists. The bike path extension now runs under the new Allen Road extension and out to Enos Lane.

* ... RUBIO RAKES IT IN: I was over at the new wine bar Imbibe off Truxtun last week and happened upon a Michael Rubio fund raiser. The county Supervisor is running for the State Senate 16th District seat being vacated by Sen. Dean Florez. He's a shoo-in to win it, particularly since former Fresno assemblywoman Sarah Reyes dropped out. Rubio is something to watch in public: smooth, working the room, collecting a ton of money, fluent on all the issues. His war chest is now approaching $400,000, so I doubt he'll have serious opposition. Among those attending were Joe and Mimi Audelo, former city councilman Mark Salvaggio, Joe Drew of Tejon Ranch and his wife Jan (I'm not implying he was there on behalf of Tejon because I don't know), local divorce attorney Karen Gaul, lawyers Tom DeNatale and Jay Rosenlieb, DA candidate Lisa Green and husband Jeff of Grimmway Farms, and a host of others. The picture below is of Michael and daughter Iliana.

* ... 100 PERCENT PECKERWOOD: Read with interest the story in today's Californian about the Oildale gang terrorizing Hart Park. This appears to be a group of clueless losers from the bowels of Oildale, self-made white supremacists who have nothing better to do on weekends than drive over to Hart Park and prey on Hispanic families enjoying a picnic. And get this: the name of the gang is the Peckerwoods. Now, I'm from Georgia, went to college in South Georgia, and even there Peckerwood is an extremely derogatory term for Southern white trash. And these guys have embraced it? Glad to see the police and DA crackdown on these knuckleheads.

* LARRY'S REPLACEMENT: Had a chance to share a glass of wine the other day with outgoing County Schools Superintendent Larry Reider, who is out as of the end of June. He tells me his replacement, Christine Lizardi Frazier, will be an instant hit. She's a 30-year educator who joined the superintendent's office in 1996. She's also done some impressive work in Compton when our Kern County office was down there trying to straighten that mess of a school system out. Looking forward to Ms. Frazier taking the lead. Below is her picture.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seth Godin: "safe is risky," and only the purple cows get the attention

Another thought provoking piece from marketer Seth Godin on organizations, marketing and risk taking. This is a long one - 17 minutes - so either just skip it or settle in with a cup of coffee. If you're in the media business - newspapers, radio, TV, ad agency, digital, blogger, photographer etc - or for that matter any kind of retailer, this is for you. Around the 14 minute mark Seth talks about "safe is risky," and organizations that fail to take risks - and sometimes that means substantial risks - are destined to eventually wither and fail. Media has a lot to learn from this. Interested in your thoughts. Enjoy.

Note to Dolores Huerta: your commencement at CSUB bombed because it wasn't about the kids

The fallout over Dolores Huerta's commencement speech this weekend at Cal State Bakersfield continues with The Californian filling its Opinion pages today with letters criticizing it as nothing more than a rally for the United Farm Workers. You be the judge for yourself, but I gave a listen and have to agree: it was just awful. Horrible topic, bad delivery, uninspired, full of class warfare rhetoric. And that's too bad, because the day your son or daughter graduates from college is one of the great special days for families-a brief shining moment that should be recognized by a well prepared speaker. The best commencement speeches (and there are many) are aimed at the students themselves. Some are funny, some dry, but they all talk about the future and the accomplishments these kids have made to reach this point. Dolores simply dusted off her standard stump speech full of UFW platitudes and predictable drivel that had absolutely nothing to do with the graduates. At least that's the way I see it. Here's a hint to Dolores: next time someone asks you to do a commencement, spend more than three minutes preparing and think about the kids, not you. Let me repeat that: it's not about you! And to CSUB: the fact that someone is in the news should not be the sole criteria for having them give a commencement. Look for someone to be uplifting and forward looking and please, focus on the kids.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"The Team:" a great pep talk by a great coach and lessons for everyday life

Came across this old audio clip of former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler and thought I'd share it, not because I am a rabid Wolverine fan - though my daughter is a sophomore there - but rather because it speaks to so many situations in life: work, family, relationships. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bako bits: Huerta's speech raises cackles, a monster appears in court and goodbye to Larry

Lots happening around our community, plenty of controversy, Supervisors considering budget cuts, Dolores Huerta's commencement speech at CSUB and the dad accused of blinding his son finally shows up in court. Let's get to it:

* ... THE FACE OF A MONSTER? We finally got a fresh look at 34-year-old Angelo Vidal Mendoza, the man accused of eating out one of his son's eyes and badly damaging the other in what appears to have been a drug-induced craze. So there he was, in his wheelchair from a previous violent incident, draped in a pink blanket no less. Let's give him his innocence until proven guilty, but the cops say this is the guy who turned on his own son, gouged out his eye and then took an axe and broken ceramic to his own legs to pretend that he was a victim of a gang assault. What a dad! If guilty, that's a monstrous story by a monster of a man. Meanwhile little Angel, now 4, is said to be recovering the sight in one eye while a fund has been established in his name. Read the Californian's midday briefing here.

* ... HUERTA SPARKS CONTROVERSY: Lots of chatter on blogs and Facebook on a commencement speech that United Farm Workers founder Dolores Huerta gave at CSUB. Haven't yet seen a copy of the speech or seen a video but some folks are howling over its content, which was variously described as predictable and boring (on the tame side) to rabidly divisive and pedantic in tone. One poster told this to Californian editorial page editor Bob Price:

"Yawn. So, if anybody 'complained' or disagrees with Huerta's radial, left-wing world view then they are automatically attached to Rush, O'Reilly or Savage? What a load of dung! Sorry, the woman is a judgmental, anti-business polarizer, and CSUB should immediately apologize to the graduates who were trapped into listening to her pitiful harangue." Wow!

Bob says The Californian will have a package of letters to the editor on the controversy this Thursday, so be ready for it.

* ... SAYING GOODBYE TO LARRY: When someone as popular as Larry Reider retires, there are bound to be more than a few roasts and goodbye parties. Larry is longtime Kern Superintendent of Schools Larry Reider, who truly is one of the great public servants of our community. He's finally calling it quits but promises to hang around. I hear the Mendiburu Magic Foundation, on which Larry serves as a board member, will hold a dinner in his honor on June 18 at Wool Growers Basque Restaurant. A bigger communitywide dinner will be held Friday, July 10, at the Bakersfield Museum of Art (Larry served on that board too). If interested call Irma Tiner at (661) 636-4632. Tickets are $60 each and a table for eight can be reserved for $480. No host bar at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Twitter's break out day: when it took a revolution to prove a technology

I've written about Twitter before, stressing its importance while advising everyone to get comfortable with the technology. It's fashionable in some circles to dismiss Twitter, or to use it simply to share with the world what you had for breakfast. But sometimes it takes a world-shaking event to disprove all the doubters, and that's exactly what I believe has happened to Twitter with the events transpiring in Iran. Tehran is awash in protests and violence after the election was allegedly stolen, and it's being played out not on the networks or the pages of the newspapers, but on Twitter of all things. Want the latest from witnesses, the Iranians themselves, in their own words, or their own pictures? Go to Twitter. Want analysis? Go to Twitter. If you simply go to the most popular Twitter topics and click on #iranelection, you'll find links to incredibly graphic and timely sites like the one here, or another one here. I'd be happy to give photo credit but the photographers - in obvious fear for their own safety - are simply snapping photos, posting them on Twitter and hope the world is watching. It's time for you to watch from the best seat possible, Twitter. Amazing, isn't it?

Local leaders make final push to land major pro bicycle race; the waiting begins

As mentioned here before, the final push has been made to make Bakersfield a stop on the 2010 Amgen Tour of California bicycle race. I got a copy of the city's official "entry" to land a tour stop and it was an impressive piece of work. A dozen or so letters of support from local business leaders, maps proposing race routes around town and lots of details on what a terrific host we would be. Bakersfield has never seen anything like a pro cycling tour coming to town, and it would be something we wouldn't soon forget. All the greats would be here: Lance Armstrong and his Astana team, the great Spaniards Carlos Sastre and Alberto Contador, the big Belgian sprinter Tom Boonen and those crazy Aussies like Robbie McEwen and Cadel Evans. The group of supporters, led by folks as varied as Action Sports owner Kerry Ryan and local lawyer Jay Rosenlieb, has raised $160,000 in pledges already. Now the waiting begins. We should know something within a month or so. Past Amgen tour winner Levi Leiphiemer (an American) is shown in the picture and other pictures are courtesy of Lyne Lamoureux.