Friday, December 11, 2009

McCarthy: Democratic spending out of control, Congress needs restraint

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) provides his weekly update to BakersfieldObserved. Feedback? Post a comment on this site.

 "Today, I joined my colleagues in introducing H.R. 4262, the “CAP the DEBT Act” to stop Congress from its out of control borrowing and spending on the backs of our children and grandchildren. This bill would help restore their future through 3 steps: (1) accountability, (2) transparency, and (3) adult supervision. First, the bill restores accountability by requiring Representatives to take a straight up or down vote on raising the debt. Second, the bill requires transparency by exposing members’ votes that raise the debt, rather than the current way of hiding them in procedure. Third, this bill restores adult supervision in Washington by requiring a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives, which will hold members accountable for their vote and not allow them to hide behind attachments in other budget resolutions. 
 "On Wednesday, I sent a letter to Secretary Geithner urging him to adhere to the Troubled Asset Relief Program’s (TARP) December 31, 2009 expiration deadline.  I also urged the Secretary to dedicate all returned funds and other revenue to reducing the national debt.  I believe the longer the remaining unspent TARP funds and revenue remain on the table, the more likely it is that the House Democratic leadership tries to use it for unrelated spending purposes. The immediate emergency has ended, and TARP must end as well. 
 "In case you missed it, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic unveiled the Burt Rutan-designed SpaceShipTwo Rocket plane at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The unveiling drew California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.   The 60-foot-long craft’s new name: the VSS Enterprise.  This is a forward-thinking, innovative partnership with amazing results-ordinary folks can go into space.  We should be focused on federal policies to encourage this kind of innovation and free thinking, and not stifle them with bureaucracy and regulations. 
 "I finished up the week with a visit with the Open World Russian Delegation which will be heading to Bakersfield next week.   The Delegation was formed to give Russian professionals exposure to America’s democratic government and our free-market system.   In Bakersfield, they will join organizers, Brian and Kay Pitts, to continue their exchange experience.  I am sure they will receive a warm Bakersfield welcome.  To see pictures of their visit, check out Kevin McCarthy." 

Southbound: two weeks in south Georgia in the land of fried pickles and collard greens

I am spending two weeks in south Georgia to recharge with old friends, returning after Christmas. Posting on this blog will be sporadic at best. Thank you for reading BakersfieldObserved for the past year. The blog will celebrate its one-year anniversary  on December 24.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stockdale Highway construction mess cleared up and Stinson's says thanks to its customers

 * ... THE MESS THAT IS STOCKDALE HIGHWAY: If you live in Bakersfield, I don't need  to tell you what a mess Stockdale Highway has become with the long overdue repaving and widening. The stretch from Highway 99 to California Avenue is a particular problem, and after getting caught in that mess several weeks ago, I have simply avoided it. And apparently so have a lot of other people. The businesses along that popular stretch of Stockdale Highway have felt the drop in business, which is the last thing they need in a recession. So it was nice to hear from Barry Goldner, a principal in the Klein DeNatale Goldner law firm, that the city relented and reopened most of the lanes at the appeal of local businesses. Said Goldner:

  "The problem was particularly acute at Stockdale Fashion Plaza. The irony is that the City was spending stimulus funds to improve the roads, and choking out (albeit inadvertently) the businesses that would ultimately benefit from the road improvements. At the urging of the businesses in Stockdale Fashion Plaza, the City opened up Stockdale Highway to six lanes. Now, traffic flow is restored. Stockdale Fashion Plaza is back and the roads are clear--six lanes of traffic."

  So if you're like me and have been avoiding that part of town, feel confident you can return to Cafe Med, Christine's, the Gourmet Shop, Houston Jewelers, the Outback Steakhouse and other businesses at the Stockdale Fashion Plaza without spending 30 minutes staring at your knuckles in traffic. Thanks to Barry Goldner for the tip.

 * STINSON'S THANKS ITS CUSTOMERS: I had the chance to stop by the annual customer appreciation lunch put on by Stinson Stationers at the company's 60,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility in East Bakersfield. Company president Ben Stinson does this every year, treating more than 600 customers to a barbeque lunch with dozens of free door prizes. The locally owned company, founded in 1947, has succeeded and held off the big box stores through a steady mantra of over the top customer service, Bakersfield style. Hats off to Ben and his crew at Stinson's.

  * ... UNIVERSITY OF PACIFIC SENDS TWO HOME: Local residents Tom and Sherry Sharp alerted me that their daughter Taryn, who graduated from Centennial High in 2000, is now back home working as a pharmacist at Sav-On Drug inside Albertson's on Coffee Road and Olive Drive. Taryn swam all four years at Cal State Bakersfield, graduated with honors and then went to the pharmacy program at the University of  Pacific in Stockton. She married Jeffrey Jolliff in 2004. He graduated from Garces Memorial and also from the pharmacy program at UOP in Stockton. He is now a pharmacist at Kern Medical Center. His parents are Terry and Eloise Jolliff of Joliff Enterprises, a long time custom home builder in Bakersfield. 

 * ... RIDGEVIEW KID RETURNS: Yet another proud mom, Victoria Martinez-Tate, tells me her daughter Alexis Olivas is back in town. Alexis graduated from Ridgeview High School, went to Bakersfield College for two years and then transferred to the University of California Santa Barbara where she earned a B.A. in history and a B.S. in biology. She worked both in northern and southern California and is now employed by Grimmway Farms as a qualify control laboratory manager. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Museum show on homelessness, loss opens this week

 Make sure you check out the new show over at the Bakersfield Museum of Art focusing on homelessness and loss. This promises to be a terrific show and includes - among other things - some startling photographs by Felix Adamo. The show opens this Thursday, Dec. 10, and runs through next February.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Whose idea of a "no burn day" is this?

  I was headed west on Truxtun Extension around noon Tuesday when I saw smoke billowing into the sky over near the Cal State campus. The sky was filled with smoke but alas, turned out to be a controlled burn over near the maintenance facility on campus. The authorities are citing folks for having a fire on "no burn" days and this is allowed?

Central Valley, Noriega Hotel get some positive ink and more kids come home to roost

* ... A TOAST TO THE CENTRAL VALLEY: It's always nice to see the Central Valley get some positive reviews from time to time, particularly given the bad rap we have with our neighbors to the north and south of us. The Valley has often been called the "other California" because we always take a back seat to our sexier neighbors in SoCal (LA, San Diego) and NorCal (San Francisco), even if those of us who live here recognize what wonderful communities we have. So it was nice to get some recognition from "Californiality," one of my favorite blogs written by Mark Lorier(read the entire thing here). A couple excerpts:

"While agriculture is king, this Valley has great cities like Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto, Stockton, Redding, Visalia and a hundred great towns. High rise buildings, wealth, luxurious shopping, museums, art galleries, wineries, live theaters, concerts, professional sports, world-class dining and refined culture are all here.  It's a gigantic society with all of the amenities.

  "I hear older residents lamenting about how young people leave the Central Valley after receiving degrees from local universities.  Many of these young folks are lured away by great offers elsewhere, and why not?  They're smart, ambitious, talented young Californians with a high-quality California college education.  Anyone would want them! 

 "What these young folks may not know is that, with the way things are headed in this era, California's Central Valley will grow in importance and stature as humanity moves into a tumultuous future."

* ... NORIEGA HOTEL GETS SOME INK:  It was also nice to see the Noriega Hotel and the Central Valley get some ink in The New York Times recently. The Times did a roundup of Central Valley eateries and chose Noriega's for its Basque cuisine. (read the entire post here) Said the Times:

  "The history of the southern San Joaquin Valley can be read in its food. Old Town Bakersfield is home to a handful of Basque restaurants, a legacy of sheepherders who moved to the valley in the late 1890s, after years of working for others. According to Nancy Zubiri, author of “A Travel Guide to Basque America,” 95 percent of the sheep in Kern County are now owned by people of Basque descent. Farther north, in Hanford, Portuguese dairy farmers still make Old World-style cheese. Recent Laotian immigrants operate Thai and Vietnamese restaurants in Visalia."

 * ... A COUPLE MAKES BAKO HOME: Wayne Kress, a principal over at the commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis, added his newlywed neighbors to the list of kids who have come home, Chris Travis and Christina Beechinor Travis. He said Chris graduated from the University of Arizona and now works in sales for Lightspeed Systems and Christina earned her degree from Santa Clara University and now works for Aera Energy.

 * ...BULLDOG COMES HOME: Proud mom Mary Santomen, who works at Golden Valley High School, emailed me about her son Samuel Blue. He studied engineering at Bakersfield College for two years, went on to graduate from Fresno State and is now back home working for Meyer Civil Engineering Company, which had a role in the Mill Creek project development.

* ... HEAVY DOSE OF CONSERVATISM: Local attorney George Martin isn't breaking any new ground with his lineup for the next Bakersfield Business Conference, now set for next October 9. Former Bush administration White House player Karl Rove has joined the lineup, along with Dick and Lynne Cheney, Barbara Bush, Mitt Romney and event keynoter Sarah Palin. Martin is following a predictable path here, assembling a lineup that looks a lot like Fox News but one that is guaranteed to be a hit with Bako's rock hard conservative audience. The real key will be the venue, and that hasn't been determined. Martin has always provided an incredible outdoor setting for the business conference, in the past turning the Cal State campus into a lush green setting looking like the infield grounds at the Churchill Downs. He wants to land the Park at Riverwalk, but it's not yet a done deal.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A California "brain drain" and a local girl is gravely injured in a Long Beach accident

  * ... CALIFORNIA BRAIN DRAIN? Here's something new to consider: the high cost of living in California and the rising cost of a university education is leading to a statewide "brain drain" of college kids out of our state. That's the conclusion of  "The Capitol Weekly" that said for the first time since the 1980s, California sent more college kids out of state than it received from other states. This is amazing stuff and points to the  increasing cost of a California bachelor's degree combined with other factors like state and local taxes and housing costs that are sending kids elsewhere. Read the entire story here but consider this excerpt:

   " ... the state has registered a net loss of college graduates annually for many years. Whether this is attributable to cost of living or other factors, the fact remains that the state is subsidizing the education of people who contribute to another state’s economy. The ideal situation ... is to recruit people who do most of their schooling elsewhere, come to California for college or graduate school, then stay and join the workforce."

  "Nevertheless, public higher education in California is still on course to produce slightly fewer graduates, with somewhat more debt, in the coming years. And these things are happening at a time when the state needs more graduates.

* ... PRAYERS FOR  A LOCAL KID: I was shocked to learn this weekend that Macey Kibbee, a local Bakersfield girl now attending Cal State Long Beach, was in a horrific accident and is hospitalized in critical condition. Macey, a sophomore at Long Beach, was jogging last Thursday afternoon when she was stuck by a car and thrown onto the windshield. Family members say there was serious swelling of the brain and that she was put into a medically induced coma, but she is (hopefully) now showing signs that the worst may be over and at least once responded to verbal commands. This is every parent's nightmare and a scenario that you simply cannot allow yourself to imagine once you send your youngster off to school.  (Follow her recovery on the family blog here) Macey graduated from Stockdale High School in 2008 and was part of a large group of high achieving, good kids that included my own daughter. She is one of a number of local kids who are attending Long Beach State, a popular state university that draws heavily from the Central  Valley. She is now surrounded by family and friends at Long Beach Memorial Hospital.

 * ... TWO MORE WHO CAME HOME: I heard from Carol Dokolos who added her two sons to the long list of local kids who went off to college and later home to contribute to our community. Nick Dokolos is a North High graduate who earned his teaching credential at Biola University and is now teaching at Columbia Elementary  School. Brother Marcus Dokolos is also a North High grad, majoring in engineering at beautiful Westmont College and is now working for Porter and Associates Engineering. Nick is also the person behind the local Segway rentals this Christmas, having done something similar in Door County, Wisconsin, during the summers.

* ... ANOTHER FIRST FRIDAY: You missed something special if you didn't attend the "First Friday" celebrations downtown. The weather was crisp, hundreds of folks were milling about listening to outdoor concerts and checking out the art galleries, and the atmosphere was electric. These downtown events keep getting better and are at their best in a fall evening in scarf and sweater weather. Don Martin's Metro Galleries was packed and the hors d'oeuvres provided by the new sushi restaurant Enso on 19th Street were superb. Downtown has certainly had its issues and bad publicity in recent years, and deservedly so, but its revival is worth our support. I saw many local folks there, including former Weill Institute head Jeff Johnson, local artist Barbara Reid, attorney David Cohn and wife Debby, oil engineer Bob Ellison and wife Patricia of Southwest Bakersfield, local artist Chalita Robinson and many more.