Friday, September 18, 2009

McCarthy: Strip ACORN of funding and go back to the drawing board on healthcare reform

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) shares his thoughts on the week. Disagree? Have a question? Post a comment below. Here goes...

 "My office welcomed two new interns, Ashley Mettler and Philip Kibbey who are both from Bakersfield.  Ashley attended Liberty high school and recently graduated from UC-Santa Barbara.  Phillip attended Stockdale high school and will graduate from Cal-Poly SLO in December.  I am glad to have both of them working in my office.

 "I joined my colleagues in introducing legislation that would defund the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and also signed a letter to the Administration asking that it disclose and stops all Federal funding of ACORN.  I also joined a bipartisan vote of 345 Members of the House (172 Democratic Members and 173 Republican Members) to pass an amendment to incorporate the legislation I cosponsored Tuesday to defund ACORN.  I am glad the House could come together and take this common sense action to defund a group that has a history of criminally suspect activity.  The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. 

 " Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Senate’s health care reform bill that had been in development for quite some time.  Similar to the discontent surrounding H.R. 3200, bipartisan support was lacking and both sides have not been pleased with the product. Congress should come together and restart the process; and listen to what was said in our town hall meetings.  I believe we should be pursuing solutions that ensure that the government does not hinder the doctor/patient relationship, does not deny care on the basis of age or gender, and does not continue to run up record deficits at a time of record debt that is a drag on our children and their children’s future. I believe that we should craft a solution that supports access to affordable health coverage even if someone loses their job, does not deny access to coverage based on preexisting conditions, and supports real medical liability reform, which some predict could save $210 billion/year in defensive medical costs.

 "The Administration also chose to cut the European missile defense system that was to be based in Poland and the Czech Republic.  This announcement came the same day as the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran has the ability to produce a nuclear bomb and is pursuing a missile system to carry such a bomb.  Such moves by the Administration are concerning as we have already seen cuts to the Airborne Laser program that is being tested at Edwards Air Force Base, which is designed to take out missile threats that have already been launched.  I don’t think this is the kind of message to be sending to growing dangerous adversaries that threaten our security and our allies’ security.  Thanks for reading."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The consequences of drunk driving: another "life interrupted" while a local program gets some much deserved recognition

  Received a lot of email and comments on the death of Kathy O'Daniel, the 54-year-old Bakersfield resident who was killed in an apparent drunk driving incident outside Santa Rosa. Kathy and her husband Chuck lived in Bakersfield for years, raising five kids and always remaining active in their church, and they left behind many friends. Kathy was invariably cheerful and a terrific, devoted mother, and folks were understandably stunned to hear of her death. (read the previous post here) Services have now been set for Saturday, Sept. 26, at 11 a.m. at Calvary Chapel Petaluma, located at 1995 McDowell Boulevard. Meanwhile, I hear that Kathy's 15-year-old daugher Kelcee, who was injured in the accident, is doing better but has a long recovery in front of her.
 Given the latest tragedy it was good to learn that the local effort to spread the word on the dangers of drinking and driving won some much deserved recognition. The program is called "A life Interrupted DUI Mobile Crash Exhibit" and is run by the Bakersfield Police Department and some concerned citizens, including local businesses like State Farm Insurance, Hall Ambulance, W.A. Thompson and families who have lost children in traffic crashes. The program was just named the California Crime Prevention Program of the Year, a well deserved honor for these folks who have worked so hard. One of those involved is Nancy Chaffin, the Californian's Human Resources vice president who lost her own son Jeff in a DUI incident eight years ago. In that incident (Jeff was not driving) Jeff was among four teenagers killed when Michael Hugh Curtis crashed on Seventh Standard Road. The program started in 2002 and involves taking the wreck of a car to local schools and showing kids what could happen. I've seen the presentation and it's a moving and (hopefully) effective program.  (that's a picture of the trailer below)

 Police chief Bill Rector  has thrown his full support behind the program as have companies like Three-Way Chevrolet, which donated a new Chevy truck, and State Farm which threw in $68,000 to build the trailer. Every death is tragic, and no one affiliated with the program is claiming this is a panacea, but it is encouraging that only one teen died locally in an alcohol related accident in 2007, compared to 12 in 2002. There was also an 18-month period between 2007 and 2008 when there wasn't a single teen killed.

 Pictured above are Nancy Chaffin, Police Chief Bill Rector and Sgt. Greg Terry. Photo courtesy of The Californian.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Memorial Hospital launches major push to bring a much-needed Children's Hospital to Bakersfield

 Memorial Hospital has launched an aggressive plan to bring a children's hospital to Bakersfield, alleviating the need for countless of our ill children to be shipped to Madera or Los Angeles for treatment. This is one of those high profile campaigns you are going to hear a lot of about, and I think it's an important one to support. The idea, according to Memorial CEO Jon Van Boening, is to create a "hospital within a hospital" dedicated to kids. Bakersfield isn't big enough to justify a stand-alone children's hospital, but it certainly is big enough to have a facility here that can absorb most of the younger patients. The hospital will include:

 ... Neonatal Intensive Care Unit - This NCIU offers state of the art monitoring technology for patients who remain hospitalized for weeks or months.
 ... Expanded Pediatric In-Patient Department: Memorial will upgrade and expand the Pediatrics Dept. from 12 to 22 accute pediatric beds.
 ... Pediatric Intensive Care Unit: This PICU will be the only dedicated PICU in the southern Valley and feature eight beds for seriously ill children.
 ... Out-patient Clinis: Our area is now underserved by specialists such as Pediatric Cardiologists and Endocrinologists, meaning kids have to be flown to Los Angeles or Fresno/Madera. Specialty clinics on the Memorial campus will provide these critical services in a local setting.

 In all the children's center will have some 60 beds and the costs are estimated at around $3 million. This is a worthwhile effort, spearheaded by Van Boening and development director Sue Benham, and it deserves our support. No doubt we'll be hearing  more about this as the months go by.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some perspective on college tuition, the man who fathered 1,000 kids and bringing back the Bakersfield Business Conference

 * ... BUSINESS CONFERENCE REDUX? Interesting to read in The Californian that local attorney George Martin is resurrecting the Bakersfield Business Conference, once the premier "must see" signature event in town. The business conference had a great run but when ended in 2005, truth was it was well past its prime. In fact, it had been almost comatose the last few years. Like a lot of things, folks simply grew weary of the same speakers and the same theme year after year. (It also lost its sense of humor, opting for too many F.W. De Klerks and too few Jay Lenos or Rich Littles) The business conference was not the only event that has run  its course (the Beautiful Bakersfield awards and the Garces Gala are two others that need serious makeovers, in my opinion) so let's hope George has the vision to make it something more than  listening to retired prime ministers followed by fireworks and a do-wop  '50s band in the evening.

 * ... SOME PERSPECTIVE ON TUITION HIKES: Students at CSUB and across the state are understandably upset  at the seemingly endless tuition hikes they've faced as the state and the Regents deal with this economic mess. But some perspective is in order. Even with the latest increase, the average in-state student in the Cal State system will be paying $4,827 a year (check out a more complete report here). Now I recognize that's not peanuts, but despite all their issues California's public colleges and universities remain some of the best in the world, and at $5,000 a year, that's a bargain. Even the more expensive and selective UC system is looking at tuition and fees of around $8,900 (full report here) but when you consider schools like UCLA, Cal Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara, it's still a bargain. As a comparison, check out this chart here that shows comparable tuition and fees at public schools in other states. Some examples:

University of Virginia: $10,364
 Rutgers Univesity: $12,462
 University of Michigan: $13,189
 University of Illinois: $13,015
 Ohio State University: $8,679
 Texas A and M: $8,385

 * ... FAREWELL TO ROGER POPPEN: Old friend Holly Culhane tipped me to a retirement celebration honoring one of the real institutions in our community, Roger Poppen of Laurelglen Bible Church. Roger has been head pastor over at Laurelglen for the past 20 years, overseeing the growth of the church from 600 attendees to more than 2,000 on any given Sunday. (The church is located on Ashe Road) The farewell for Roger and wife Naomi will be held this Sunday at 10 a.m. at Centennial High School. For more information call 661-833-2800 or go Best wishes to Roger and Naomi in this next chapter of their lives.

 * ... MAN WHO FATHERED 1,000 CHILDREN: Enjoyed hearing from Jenna Odlin, who was naturally proud to report that her father, lawyer Marc Widelock, was being honored for his role in helping local residents in the adoption process. According to Jenna, Widelock will be the recipient of the United States Congressional Coalition on Adoptions "Angels in Adoption" Award.  The honor is bestowed on individuals by Congress who have demonstrated a commitment to improving the lives of children through adoption. Said Jenna:
 " He didn't do this all by himself; he had the help of birth parents (those who choose to place a child for adoption), surrogates, egg and sperm donors, prospective adoptive parents (families who wish to adopt), and intended parents (parents who have contracted with a surrogate)."
 She said her father's practice focuses on family formation (e.g. Adoption and Alternative Reproductive Technology) and Juvenile Law. and has been involved in over 1,000 adoptions, helping to form families from Maine to Alaska and "does it all from his Bakersfield office!"

Kathy O'Daniel, former Bakersfield resident, killed in Santa Rosa crash

 Was saddened to hear that Kathy O'Daniel, a former Bakersfield resident now living in Rohnert Park, was killed yesterday (Sept. 14) in a car crash near Santa Rosa. Kathy was 54. Kathy and her husband Chuck and their five children, lived in Bakersfield for at least a decade before they left in 2002. Chuck worked at The Californian as advertising director and one of his daughters, Kacee, also sold advertising here. Before that he was manager of the old Harris Department store at East Hills Mall. Early reports said Kathy was driving on Llano Road with one of her other daughters (15-year-old Kelcee) when they were hit by a late model Jeep. Police believe the driver of the other car may have been drinking, but that has not been firmly established. Kelsey has been hospitalized in critical condition. (Read the initial report of the crash here) (Photo courtesy of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

Monday, September 14, 2009

From the archives: when a picture is worth a thousand words about the manufacturing muscle of America 60 years ago

 Thought I'd share this wonderful historic photo of the Ford, Willow Run factory that turned out B-24 bombers during the Second World War. Local historian George Gilbert Lynch circulated the photo and explained the assembly line was located near Detroit Michigan and was a mile long. According to George, the B-24's were made by Ford Motor Co. via license from the Consolidated Aircraft Co.of San Diego. The plant covered 80 acres and employed more than 40,000 people. The photo is from the Library of Congress. Said George: "This Ford, Willow Run factory ran 24/7 during WW2 and shows how we won the war. Every 56 minutes another B-24 Liberator Bomber rolled off the end of the assembly line. We could build them faster than the Axis could destroy them."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

From fashion week to baby carrots to representing Bakersfield at the U.S. Naval Academy

 Putting the spotlight on people and things around our community...

* ... THE DISMAL STATE OF CALIFORNIA: Was interested - but not surprised - to read the results of a statewide poll showing Californians have lost faith in their state government. The survey was done by the Public Policy Institute and was carried by the Los Angeles Times and The Californian. It's good to know I'm not alone in having lost almost all confidence in the legislators in Sacramento to work together to turn things around. The poll found that 73 percent of those polled said state government was run for the benefit of the few and only 23 percent of Californians felt the state government would "do what is right." Is anyone surprised by this?

* ... TEN YEARS OF SANDWICHES: The Sept. 11 anniversary came and went as the nation remembered the 2001 terrorist attacks. But for Jeff Simpson 9-11 has a happier meaning. Jeff and partner Gary Blackburn own Sequoia Sandwich Co., the popular Bakersfield deli with three locations locally. (They opened a fourth in Clovis about a year ago) Jeff told me Sept. 11 marked their 10-year anniversary in business in Bakersfield. Jeff and  Gary were bankers before getting into the restaurant business and in the past decade have become firmly entrenched  in our community. Jeff also revealed his first date with wife Karen was on a Sept. 11, another reason why 9-11 has special meaning in his life.

 * ... FASHION WEEK AND THE GRIMM GIRLS: It's fashion week in New York and that likely means sisters Melissa and Catie Grimm are somewhere in the Big Apple taking in the new designs. The Grimms are scions of Grimmway Farms, the world's largest carrot producer and one of Bakersfield's most respected family owned business institutions. The sisters run Carrots, a high end clothing boutique in San Francisco's Jackson Square, located at 843 Montgomery Street. I visited Carrots' website recently and thought it was stunning. If you'd like to check it out, do so here.

 *  ... LOCAL KID SHINING AT THE NAVAL ACADEMY: It was nice to get an email the other day from Dave Ewert, who joined  with me in coaching a girl's National Junior Basketball (NJB) team a few years back. (We had a less than successful season but we had the best girls.) My daughter Hannah and his daughter Carolyn were teammates and went their separate ways: my daughter to Stockdale High and eventually the University of Michigan and his to Centennial High and eventually to the Naval Academy. Was pleased to hear that Carolyn is now in Annapolis playing volleyball and succeeding beyond all expectations. I picked this up from the Naval Academy website after a recent game:
"Individually for Navy, freshman Carolyn Ewert (Bakersfield, Calif.) is pacing the Navy offense with an average of 2.82 kills per set while also ranking second on the team with 1.55 digs per set. Joining Ewert with an average of multiple kills per set are Abbie Merkl (Sr., Upper Marlboro, Md.) and Meghan Carpenter (So., Frederick, Md.) with averages of 2.41 and 2.00 kills per set, respectively."

 Dave said he and his wife will be going back for a football game this fall and to visit Carolyn, another local product making the old hometown proud.