Friday, August 7, 2009

Rep. Kevin McCarthy: district surveys show overwhelming opposition to Obama-Pelosi health care reform push

Rep. Kevin McCarthy shares his weekly post with BakersfieldObserved. If you have any thoughts or feedback, post a comment. Here's Kevin.

'As I mentioned at the end of last week, Congress will not be in session during August and I will be back in California with a full schedule focusing on small businesses and listening to constituent views on the national health care reform debate.
Two events this August for your calendar:
* August 25-Bakersfield Small Business Forum, (Bakersfield Downtown Marriott) for anyone interested in starting a small business or current owners who are looking expand and improve, to RSVP, send an email to: or call my office: 327-3611.
* August 26-Health Care Town Hall Meeting (Bakersfield City Council Chambers) to discuss the ongoing health care reform proposals in Congress, to RSVP, send an email to: or visit my website: or call my office at: 327-3611.

On Tuesday, I hosted the Ralph Bailey show and my daughter Meghan joined me. Most of the show focused on the ongoing health care reform debate, along with the Cash for Clunkers program, my guests included Congressman and Doctor, Michael Burgess (TX), Congressman Kevin Brady (TX), and none other than our very own local Bakersfield Californian columnist, Lois Henry. We also talked with local Bakersfield resident and Hollywood actor Charles Napier about his new comedy, “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard,” which tells the story of a group of salesmen charged with saving a car dealership on the verge of bankruptcy. Next up was recent Congressional intern, Megan Duggan, from Tehachapi. She told us about her intern experience this summer working in our DC and Bakersfield offices – she did a great job for us. Our final guest was California Congressman Darrell Issa. Darrell is the Senior Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He was all over the news last Friday as he issued a warning to the Administration to not intimidate Members of Congress who are asking legitimate questions on the effectiveness of Speaker Pelosi’s $1 trillion stimulus as the nation’s unemployment continues to remain at above 9%.

"Wednesday, I returned to the Ralph Bailey show, this time as a guest of Lois Henry who was filling in for Ralph. We talked about the continuing need for transparency in regard to how current fees are being collected and spent by the U.S. Forest Service. We both agreed that before there are any new proposals of additional fees, the public needs to know how current funding is being used. I also announced that I had joined the Western Congressional Caucus and I will continue to work with other Members of Congress from western states to focus on public lands issues. From a big picture perspective, transparency is needed across the Federal government; we need to know how money is being spent before we spend more, and this goes for all areas, as we have seen more than one spending bill rushed through Congress this year without the chance of needed scrutiny. We also discussed the man-made water crisis in our state. I continue to work with my colleagues in the Central Valley to support legislation and find solutions to this crisis.

"Wednesday and Thursday evening I held tele-town hall meetings, using new technology to call around 30,000 households each night in Bakersfield. The topic of both meetings was health care reform. I also was able to take a simple poll from those who were listening and participating. I asked them to press # 1 if they supported the Democrat proposal and to press # 2 if they did not support the plan. 96% of those on the call the first night did not support the Democrat plan and 4% did. The second night yielded similar results, with 89% opposing and 11% in favor.

"Next week I plan to hold another tele-town hall meeting, again on the topic of health care reform, and this time I will be talking to San Luis Obispo County residents. August 25, my office will host a Small Business Forum in Bakersfield for anyone interested in starting a small business or anyone who currently owns and operates one. We will have local and Federal agency representatives there to answer questions and give support to our local small business owners. As a former small business owner myself, I understand the challenges facing small businesses, and I believe that Congress should be focusing on issues that will help these businesses and create jobs, and not impose additional expensive government mandates such as cap and trade or government-run health care. As California continues to tackle double-digit unemployment, and knowing that small business provide our nation with over 70% of our jobs, I want to make sure constituents of the 22nd District are provided with the tools and resources they need to succeed. In early September, my office will hold another Small Business Forum in San Luis Obispo County.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

KEDC pushes Alliance for Women in Energy; program reaches out to young women

Good to see the Alliance of Women in Energy (AWE) getting some traction locally. This is a group established by the Kern Economic Development Corp. (KEDC) last year to provide a forum for women in the fields of solar, fossil fuels, utilities and wind energy. Trish Reed, one of the marketing officers over at KEDC, tells me there was a big turnout for the group's networking meeting this week, which was hosted by Susie Geiger of Oxy and Carla Musser of Chevron. Trish says Chevron also opened its wallet to help make this happen. Groups like this are important and provide terrific role models for the young women in our community, particularly given the huge role that oil, wind energy and natural gas play in Kern County. AWE also has an outreach and mentoring program for young girls in high school in an effort to promote careers in energy. In a community with a high school dropout rate nearing 25 percent and a dismally low percentage of college graduates, this is important stuff. Let's wish this group all the luck.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bako bits: heading into another "First Friday" weekend and a crackdown at coffee houses?

Heading into what promises to be a terrific weekend. How did we go from temperatures nearing 110 to a high today of 85? Hope it lasts. Here we go ...

* ... GET OUT OF THAT SEAT DEADBEAT: Read with interest a front page story in the Wall Street Journal today about coffee houses cracking down on all those folks who take up valuable space gazing into their computers-for hours on end. The Journal says this crackdown on loiterers - folks who show up for the free Wi-Fi, order one cup of coffee and sit there for hours-is a direct result of the recession during which revenue per table is all important. Haven't heard of anything similar locally, either at the multiple Starbucks or at the popular Dagny's downtown, but you couldn't blame them. Said the Journal:

"Amid the economic downturn, there are fewer places in New York to plug in computers. As idle workers fill coffee-shop tables - nursing a single cup, if that, and surfing the Web for hours-and as shop owners struggle to stay in business, a decade-old love affair between the coffee shops and laptop-wielding customers is fading."

* ... DOWNTOWN: WHERE THE ACTION IS: Don't forget about the "First Friday" fun downtown tomorrow night. Don Martin over at Metro Galleries is sprucing up the place and promises some new art to consider. Make a night of it and have dinner at Uricchio's or Mama Roombas and then hit the art galleries. It all starts around 6 p.m. and goes well into the evening, and you are bound to see a few dozen of your closest friends. If Cafe Med is more your cup of tea, make sure you check out the Friday Eye Street entertainment section in The Californian and take advantage of the 20 percent off Cafe Med coupon, good for weekends. You'll find it on page D12.

* ... MENTO BURU AT FISHLIPS: If you're in the mood for some of the Caribbean salsa/jazz/swing of popular local band Mento Buru, head over to Fishlips on 18th Street Saturday night for a party celebrating the release of the band's new CD. This is one of the most popular bands in Bakersfield and they always - without fail - put on a good show. Starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, admission is $5 for those 21 and over. Fishlips is located at 1517 18th Street.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Coming soon: the new weekday tabloid Bakersfield Californian. Tell us what you think

For all you newspaper readers out there, be prepared for a mild (and hopefully pleasant) surprise when you open your Californian on Monday, August 17th. That's the date we are launching our new weekday Californian tabloid, which will offer more local content than ever before in an attractive new package. The tabloid will run Monday through Friday while Saturday and Sunday will remain the traditional broadsheet. So why did we do it?
* ... Our research shows local sells, so we wanted to produce a product with deeper and richer local content. There will be national and international news, but less of it. Studies show readers increasingly view this as "commodity" content while local is both exclusive and more relevant to their lives.
* ... We think readers are going to love the more convenient size. Tabs are particularly popular with older readers who find it more convenient to read the paper without folding it multiple times. Our focus groups loved it.
* ... Many of the new elements will resemble a magazine as we move away from simply reporting breaking news to more trend and analytical reporting.
* ... One of the goals was to get better results for our advertisers, and we have designed the product so the ads stand out better.
* ... And finally, we believe in experimenting and trying new things. Our business is more competitive than ever before and we simply have to evolve.
* ... Next up? A complete redesign of and our family of websites. Stay tuned.
A couple of examples of the pages:

Now, to be sure, we are bound to get some push back from folks who recoil from the term "tabloid" and don't want their local paper to resort to "tabloid journalism." Our obligation is to prove that won't happen and to produce a daily newspaper that will offer readers the best view of our community day in, and day out. We've been around for more than 100 years, and we plan to be around for another hundred.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Local agriculture and business leaders to host federal regulators: teach these folks about Kern ag!

If you work in a regulated industry, how many times to get to sit down with the regulators to teach them about your business? That's exactly what is happening this week when a bunch of federal regulators (think EPA, USDA, OMB) show up to get a first hand view of California farming and agriculture. According to Beth Brookhart Pandol, some local alumni from the California Agriculture Leadership program will be hosting these regulators, including Mike Young, Kevin Andrew, Mike Turnipseed, Greg Wegis, Jaime Nickel, John Lake, Steve Murray, Edwin Camp, Rob Geis, Gary and Cynthia Icardo, Adam Icardo Marcia Wolf, Mona and Pete Pankey and of course Beth. In her words:

"The goal is to acquaint these people with California farming since they are deeply involved in regulations, decisions, opinions and legislation that affect California farming. The thinking is that if they get a first hand view of the way California farming operates, they will be better enabled to make decisions that sometimes have horrendous effects on farming," she said.

Beth said the schedule starts with dinner at Woolgrowers tomorrow and then the regulators split up with their host family. There will be tours of Grimmway Farms, the Kern County Water Agency and the Nickel Ranch. Let's hope they leave with a better appreciation of what it takes to run a business in the breadbasket of America. My bet is they will.