Friday, December 4, 2009

McCarthy: it's all about jobs, water for the Valley and sensible healthcare reform

 It's time for the weekly update from Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. His report from Capitol Hill

 "As we all know, our local economy is directly impacted by a lack of water as we see cropland dry and fallow.  On Wednesday, the California State Water Project announced its water allocation for 2010 would be the lowest in its history. Congressman Nunes (Tulare) and I are trying to get Congress to turn on the pumps and bring needed water to the Central Valley. This time we are using a discharge petition to force a straight up or down vote on our bill to waive regulatory burdens that restrict Delta water pumping, which would restore California water flow. 
 "During these challenging economic times that test our country’s resolve, a book I have been recommending for a historical perspective is “The Forgotten Man” by Amity Shales.  The book describes the struggles of spending programs not reaching the common American person – the book highlights the forgotten man.  Today’s scenarios involving government intervention and economic challenges we face are similar and there are lessons from this book to get our country back on track. 
 "Today’s record deficits and double-digit unemployment are unacceptable. The trillion dollar stimulus has failed to create the jobs that were promised. Our families are struggling, and we all have our own stories of the effects. Whether it is a neighbor or family member who has been laid off or someone we know losing their home, the effects are real.   My colleagues and I have crafted common-sense job creating policies that should be revisited.  Just this week, my friend and colleague Eric Cantor unveiled a no-cost stimulus that will make needed changes to help American businesses create jobs.
 "In addition to ideological bills like cap and trade that will kill American jobs, this week the Senate debate began over the Democrats’ government takeover of healthcare (H.R. 3590).  This bill could create a government-run healthcare plan that could cause as many as 114 million Americans to lose their current coverage, while raising taxes on small businesses to pay for the trillions in spending. I will continue to fight to ensure this bill does not become law.
"Tuesday evening President Obama also addressed the nation with his plan to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.  The President finally decided to support General McChrystal’s request to reinforce our troops and commit to the counterinsurgency strategy he laid out in April.  Whenever a tough decision is necessary to send our troops into harm’s way, I believe we must ensure our goals are clear, our strategies can work, and most of all, our troops have the resources they need to succeed.  
 "Lastly, I hope many of you were able to attend the Earl Warren Cup at Bakersfield High School. Unfortunately, I was unable to be there, but I was able to record and send in a few questions for the contestants.  Congratulations to winner, Wesley Elrich, his classmates, and government teacher Jeremy Adams for all his hard work to promote enthusiasm for constitutional knowledge. 

Sports Illustrated Tablet: the future of media?

 Check out this video of a prototype of the new Sports Illustrated "Tablet." The future of media? Just stunning. Check out the story here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Valley tries to lure the young and talented back home, and remembering Lenore Carter

 *... LURING YOUNG TALENT BACK HOME:  I've spent a lot of time chronicling many of the local kids who have decided to return home, so I was curious to read about an organized effort in Fresno aimed at reversing the brain drain. (read the entire post here) The Fresno effort is aimed at taking advantage of a tough economy to lure back departed talent and to take advantage of the energy and creativity of these young workers. From a story in the Fresno Bee:

 "Though unemployment rates are high in the Valley, employers here say they still need educated professionals in many fields. The recession, along with family ties, may provide an incentive for some who left to return.
Along with new ideas, so-called boomerangs "also come back with a renewed interest and passion for the area," said Mike Dozier, chief operations officer of the Office of Community and Economic Development at California State University, Fresno.
 "The challenge has long been figuring out how to lure these former Valley residents -- especially those between the ages of 28 and 38 -- away from their big cities, vibrant life and higher-paying jobs."

 There is certainly evidence that a lot of local kids have made the decision that Bakersfield is a good place to live and work, although many others have opted to leave and never return, often citing the diversity of jobs and opportunities that only larger cities can provide. But the Fresno effort is interesting and worth following, and perhaps something we should consider here.

 * ... SOME DUKIES RETURN TO BAKO: Locally the list of kids who have come home grows longer every day. The latest to contact me was Ami Shugart who was a valedictorian from Bakersfield High School in 1996 and cum laude from Duke University in 2000, having "spent a good portion of the latter four years camping on mud-saturated pizza boxes in a cheap, soggy tent as a Cameron Crazy in Krzyzewskiville." (If you need this explained, you don't follow college basketball.)  Ami later attended law school, decided it wasn't for her and came home to raise her boys, now 4 and 2 years old. And she reminded me that her friend, local dentist Dr. Benjamin Lin, graduated with her at Duke in 2000. A graduate of Highland High, he apparently attended dental school in Pennsylvania.

 * ... AND THERE ARE MORE: Carol Formanek sent  me an email telling me about her son, Arin Formanek, a 2003 graduate of Stockdale High School who graduated from UC Santa Barbara. He is now working at Vintage Production CA LLC, which is a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corp. And speaking of Stockdale High, two more Mustang grads, siblings Tim and Toria Gooding, are back in town. Tim went to Point Loma Nazarene in San Diego and is now a financial analyst for Vintage Petroleum in Bakersfield and Toria graduated from Vanguard University and is working on her credential and substitute teaching in the Panama Buena Vista School District. Welcome home to Arin, Tim and Toria.

 * ... REMEMBERING LENORE  CARTER: Received a wonderful email from Art Sherwyn, the local artist, art teacher and former tennis coach at Stockdale High School who was remembering the life of Lenore Carter, who died last week. Lenore was the wife of Warren Carter and mother of Ken Carter, president of Watson Realty. She died Thanksgiving afternoon after battling cancer. Said Art:

 "I coached both of their sons, Doug and Ken, in basketball and football at McFarland High School in the 1970s. I was only in my 20s and their support and friendship was very well received, and welcome at a time when I was young and searching. They were outstanding role models for me to learn from; they were some of the most caring, compassionate and giving people I have ever been involved with, and their greatness as people provided me with a view that has enhanced my own life."

 What a wonderful tribute to Lenore, who will be buried Friday in Cayucos, her home away from home. A local memorial will be held at Olive Drive Church on Saturday, December 12.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Beaver is back: another busy day on the bike trail

 The Bakersfield bike trail beaver is back, as evidenced by his handiwork as seen these photos. This is a tough one: do we protect the beaver (who after all is just doing what he knows how to do) or do we protect the lovely shade trees that have grown along the bike trail behind the Park at the RiverWalk in Southwest Bakersfield? These photos were taken Wednesday morning (Dec. 2) by Jim Pappe, a bicycle commuter who works at Lightspeed Systems downtown as a software engineer. Thanks for sharing, Jim.


Museum show to feature homeless photos by Felix Adamo

 I have already plugged the upcoming show on homelessness, loss and isolation at the Bakersfield Museum of Art that runs from Dec. 10 through February 21, 2010. Here are two strong photos by Californian photographer Felix Adamo to give you a taste of the show. I think this will be a strong show. The first one is titled simply "1816 18th Street" and the second "Steve and Queenie." Enjoy.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More kids decide to call Bakersfield home, the obesity epidemic and the museum puts the spotlight on homelessness and despair

 * ... FROM NIAGARA TO BAKO: I received a nice email from Michele Magyar, who added her son Zak Brown to the growing list of local kids who went off to college and chose to return to Bakersfield. Zak graduated from Garces Memorial, went to Bakersfield College for two years and then transferred to Niagara University on a partial swimming scholarship. Niagara, a Division 1 school, is 15 minutes outside of Niagara Falls and 30 minutes from Buffalo, N.Y.  His mother added: "He was fortunate enough to have Greg Gallion (CEO Houchin Blood Bank) as a business mentor and did an internship in the marketing department of Kern Schools Federal Credit Union the summer before he graduated from college."  Zak is now the Senior Marketing Officer/Insurance Specialist for the credit union at the administrative offices on Ming Avenue.

 * ...  ONE COMES HOME TO TEACH: I also heard from Jenell Mahoney who told me proudly about her daughter, Amanda (Mahoney) Isaac, who graduated from Centennial High in 1998, went on to Chico State and is now teaching elementary and middle school vocal music for the Norris School District. Her other daughter Megan is now married and living in Perth, Australia, but is hoping to move to back to Bakersfield with husband Ben next year. As Jenell says, "then we'll have another bird back in the nest!"

 * ... HOW FAT ARE WE? Read with interest the Californian story this week showing just how out of shape Kern County school children are compared to state averages. Only 24 percent of fifth graders and 31 percent of seventh graders passed all six areas of a state physical fitness test that is less than demanding. This is our collective shame as we pump our children full of fast food and set them up for a lifetime of disabilities, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The obesity epidemic is alive and well locally, thanks in part to fast food that is priced more cheaply than nutritious foods and parents who don't do enough to instill good eating habits in their children. Surely we can all do better than this.

* ... ANOTHER FIRST FRIDAY: It's time for another "First Friday" in the downtown arts district. Don Martin, owner of Metro Galleries and one of the guiding forces behind the revival of the arts downtown, told me this Friday will  kick off a "Concert in the Alley." Each month a different band or solo performer will stage a concert in the Wall Street Alley. This Friday, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., will feature Joel Jacobs and his band. (Bakotopia magazine is one of the concert sponsors) In addition, Metro Galleries will be kicking off Abstract Impressions, contemporary paintings by New Orleans artist Karoon, local artist Johnny Ramos and modern pottery by Dan Slayton. There will be live music, hors d'oeuvres and a no host wine bar by the new Enso Japanese Restaurant. Of course Metro Galleries is just part of the downtown scene. There will also be live music at Dagny's, a wine tasting and appetizers at Little White Dress, art on the streets and horse drawn carriage rides.

 * ... HOBOS TO STREET PEOPLE: Given the economic funk and record unemployment we are all living with, could there be a better time for an art exhibit on homelessness, loss and isolation? That's the theme of a show coming to the Bakersfield Museum of Art that appears - at least in my view - as one of the most promising exhibits ever at the museum. It's called "Hobos to Street People" (click here for the full lineup) and it features photographs by Felix Adamo, paintings by Pat Berger, sculptures by Joe Brubaker and art by James C. McMillan. This is really powerful stuff and I urge you all to consider taking in all five of these exhibits. The show will run from Dec. 10 to Feb. 21, 2010, and will feature the works of 30 artists "working over the last 75 years to document the tragedy of homelessness."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lenore Carter loses her fight with cancer, more local kids return home and CSUB women's tennis


* .. DEMOLITION OF OLD THREE-WAY CHEVY: One of the longtime institutions of Bakersfield, the old Three-Way Chevrolet dealership on California Avenue near Highway 99, has been torn down by the bulldozers. The dealership moved to the auto mall and the prime acreage - it's one of the busiest intersections in town - has been put on the market by Grubb and Ellis-ASU Associates. Tom Anchordoquy, a principal in the firm, told me the 12.4-acre site was purchased by local attorney and businessman Tim Lewy in July. He said 10 acres actually front California Avenue with another 2.4 acres on Easton Drive. He said Lewy was "in the preliminary discussion stage with several tenants, while he considers the overall master plan for the property."  In another time this prime piece of property would have been gobbled up and developed immediately, but thanks to scarce capital and a deepening recession it is being turned into another vacant lot in town-at least for the time being.

 * ... MORE KIDS WHO HAVE RETURNED: Thanks to all who are submitting names of youngsters who went away to college, got their degrees and chose to return to make Bakersfield home. The list keeps growing. A few more: Dr. Travis Thurman, a Highland High graduate, went off to Texas A and M, spent some time in Grenada and is now associated with San Joaquin Veterinary Hospital. Another Highland grad is Dr. Kurt Sturz, a pediatric dentist who went to Oregon and came back to establish his own practice. Finally, Rebecca Andrews graduated from Bakersfield High in the year 2000, went on to UC San Diego and earned her master's from Boston University. She's now working as a speech pathologist at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital. I will post yet more names of local kids who returned on Wednesday. Keep those names coming.

 * RIP LENORE CARTER: I was saddened to hear about the death of Lenore Carter, wife of Warren Carter and mother of Ken Carter, president of Watson-Touchstone Realty. Lenore died at home on Thanksgiving in the care of Hoffman Hospice after battling cancer. Warren and Lenore are longtime Bakersfield residents, well known because of their active roles in our community and their ownership of Watson Realty, now known as Watson-Touchstone Realty. The Carters have a home on the coast and were shuttling between here and there after turning over the company to son Ken. In April, Lenore was diagnosed with non-small cell adenocarcinoma in her left lung. Ken told me his mother's cancer was a type of lung cancer and "she never smoked a day in her life." He said the family had gathered together for the end after the long illness and "it was sweet in the end. We were all there." Lenore was just 73. Graveside services will be held Friday in Cayucos and a memorial will be held in Bakersfield on Saturday, December 12 at the Olive Drive Church. She fought a valiant fight. Prayers for the family.

 * ... CAL STATE WOMEN'S TENNIS: Got a nice email from Molly Busacca, one of the owners of Secure Systems, pitching the Cal State women's tennis team for some publicity. She was enthusiastic about coach Dan McCain who was not only a national high school and college champion but also played on the professional circuit. McCain graduated from the University of Michigan, where he played No. 1 on the Wolverines tennis team, and he received a post bachelor's degree from Illinois State, where he served as assistant coach of the women's team. While there, Illinois State won back to back Missouri Valley Conference titles. Check out the Roadrunners' website here for a schedule of the upcoming season. My younger daughter played all four years varsity tennis at Stockdale High School and one of her fellow Mustangs, Julie Hutton, is a scholarship player at CSUB. It's a team worth following.