Friday, March 19, 2010

McCarthy: it's decision time on health care. It's time to do what is right and oppose this bill

 On the eve of the vote on health care reform, Rep.  Kevin McCarthy weighs in on the issue. In his words:

 "In less than 48 hours, the People’s House will make a decision. The question is, should Washington listen to the people, or will Washington tell the people it knows better than them.  We can scrap this bill, or Washington can impose a government takeover of our health care.
  In less than two days, we will know who is listening.‬‪ The current health care bill before Congress will spend a total of $1.2 trillion, while increasing taxes by over $500 billion.  The bill will hit many small businesses with a tax hike immediately, when many of these same small businesses are feeling the brunt of the recession.  For instance, David Altig, the head of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta found that while small businesses accounted for just 9 percent of all the jobs lost in the 2001 recession, in the current one, 45 percent of all job losses have come from small businesses. We also know that over 70% of newly created jobs are produced from small businesses.  So, shouldn’t we be helping these small businesses, especially when Kern County is facing an unemployment rate of 17.1%.

  "It doesn’t have to be this way.‬‪ America is strong, but this bill weakens the small business job creating engine that we need to run on all cylinders. Jobs are my number one priority, and it should be a priority for this Congress.  This is one of the reasons I oppose this bill, and I am working to ensure it doesn’t become law.  It is an up hill fight, but a fight worth fighting.  ‬‪
  " To show that this healthcare takeover is not only bad policy, but bad process, look no further than the backroom deals it’s filled with. There are special provisions for Tennessee, Montana, Connecticut, North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, and even Louisiana.  This bill is still full of the giveaways that the president said he wanted to remove.  I know I am not alone in saying, enough is enough.‬‪

  "For instance, earlier this week I sent out an email to all my constituents who signed up for email alerts on my website asking them if they thought it was time to scrap this health care bill and start over. 85% said yes.  We all realize that we need to fix healthcare, but this is the wrong approach. ‬‪That is why my colleagues and I are working to try and stop this massive expansion of government which isestimated to create an additional 16,000 new IRS employees to enforce
the new taxes and penalties.  We know we need health care reform, but not this bill. There is a another way. It is time for common sense solutions that will lower health care cost like ending junk lawsuits that cause doctors to practice defensive medicine, addressing preexisting conditions, and increasing competition by allowing Americans to buy health insurance across state lines.

  "I will be spending my weekend making this case along with my colleagues, and I hope to report positive developments next week.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Oxy finds huge new oil reserves in Bakersfield and the story of an incredible bike journey

 * ... OXY HITS IT BIG:  The latest issue of Forbes magazine says that Occidental Petroleum, which it calls the "untrendiest of the big oil companies," is proving that the days "easy oil" are not yet over. Forbes says Oxy's announcement of a big new oil reserve near Bakersfield last year is turning out to be "the biggest onshore oil discovery" in the country in the last three decades. It apparently may have as much as 1 billion barrels of oil, all relatively easy to extract. All this of course is good news for our local economy and the oil companies that provide so many jobs and capital for investment. Said Forbes: "That the gusher is situated in a hydrocarbon basin that has been picked over for 100 years validates Oxy President Steven Chazen and Chief Executive Ray R. Irani: the best place to find new oil is in old oilfields." (click here to read the full story)

* ...  BIKE TREK: Reader Kimberly Thompson shared an inspiring story about her son Jacob and two of his adventure-loving friends. Turns out that the threesome completed an epic 3 1/2 year bike ride that began in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, and ended in Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego. She said that's a distance of some 34,000 kilometers (roughly 20,400 miles) that took them through 14 countries, arriving last in Argentina on January 10. (check out his website here) Jacob graduated from Centennial High School in 2000 and UC Santa Cruz in 2005 with an MA in Education. He currently works as an independent studies teacher in Taft for the Kern County Superintendent of Schools as he "contemplates his next adventure." Check out their website at for some videos of this truly epic adventure.

 * ... RABOBANK: Had a chance the other day to meet Anker Fanoe, the new regional president of Rabobank. Fanoe replaced Michael Olague, who ended up in a similar position with Bank of the Sierra. Fanoe's wife and children are in Sacramento trying to sell their house and he's anxious to get them to the south valley. His first impression of Bakersfield: the people could not be nicer or more welcoming. I met him at the Rabobank Arena during a reception for sponsors of the upcoming Tour of California, a pro cycling race that will end its Stage Five with a sprint up the Panorama bluffs near Bakersfield College on May 20. The Dutch-based bank has long sponsored a pro cycling team and is one of the supporters of the California tour. It will be a good show.

* ... COMING HOME: Always nice to hear when folks make it back to town after establishing themselves elsewhere, and the latest to return comes via Daniel Klingenberger of the employment law group of Dowling, Aaron and Keeler. He told me that Micah Nilsson and Cheryl (Smith) Nilsson recently returned after being gone well over a decade. Micah is working at the law firm while Cheryl is taking care of their three boys. This couple has quite a resume, having lived in Idaho, Chile, San Luis Obispo, Utah, Hawaii, San Diego, Davis and Monterey. They met at Chipman Junior High and both graduated from Highland High where Cheryl was senior class president and Micah served on the student government association board. After a circuitous path, Cheryl graduated from Cal Poly SLO and Micah from Brigham Young University-Hawaii. They are happy to be back home raising their family.

* ... ART DEALS: If you're an art lover and believe in supporting the local arts you will enjoy "Art A Go-Go" over at the Bakersfield Museum of Art this Saturday. Here's the deal: local collectors have been donating art to the museum, which it in turn will sell to support local programs. Museum marketing director Beth Pandol says there are some terrific pieces for sale, some at bargain prices. This is a free event at the museum, and hats off to chair Cynthia Icardo and her crew for pulling all this together. Said Beth Pandol: "We have an amazing amount of art that has been donated. It's been a big surprise to see how much has come in. There's something for every taste and style. Paintings, prints, posters and lots of just nice, empty frames.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: This one comes from longtime journalist and Californian colleague Evan Jones: You know you're from Bakersfield "if your funeral is followed by a car wash." Ouch!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bakersfield Commons retail project looks for traction and Newsweek throws Rep. McCarthy some love

 * ... BAKERSFIELD COMMONS: Had a chance this week to catch up with Daniel Niemann, project manager for the huge Bakersfield Commons mixed retail, commercial and residential development at the corner of Brimhall and Coffee roads. The project will go before the Planning Commission this Thursday (5:30 p.m. in the City Council chamber) and Niemann hopes it will finally gain some traction. The first phase is 600,000 square feet of retail plus another 200,000 square feet of commercial, and he believes our market is ready for some upscale retail. Niemann told me that Dillard's department store has already signed a "letter of interest" (nonbinding of course) and that JCPenny would be the other anchor. With a jobless rate of 17.1 percent, Kern County should be receptive to a project that promises to bring 4,600 construction jobs and 11,000 permanent jobs once fully built out, but there have been issues over the impact on local traffic flow. That said, there's no doubt that parcel will eventually be developed and we could use the jobs. With a little luck, the project could go before the City Council in June. We'll see. (to read a previous post on the project, click here)

 * ... THE NEW NEWT: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) received some valuable recognition this week when Newsweek magazine ran a two-page spread calling him the "new" Newt Gingrich of the Republican party. (click here to read the entire piece) The story referred to McCarthy as an optimist and one of the GOP's "young guns" who was trying to repeat the 1994 Republican  "Contract with America" engineered by then House Speaker Gingrich. Late last year, the story added that House Minority Leader John Boehner assigned McCarthy the task of helping the GOP overcome the rap of being the "party of no." Though times have changed McCarthy is clearly one of the GOP's rising stars and someone to be watched.

* ... LORI'S KIDS: Reader Lori Drury sent me an email to update me on her children and their accomplishments. Her oldest daughter is Lindsay Rath, a 2002 graduate of UC San Diego who later went into the Navy and medical school. Her travels took her to Philippines, Japan and Thailand. She will move back to San Diego in August to begin a residency in anesthesiology. Her brother, Jason Meeks, went to UC Davis and later UC San Francisco Medical School, also studying anesthesiology. He is awaiting word on where he will do his internship. Another daughter is Christa Kenney, a nurse who graduated from Cal State Bakersfield who is  now working in the neonatal intensive care unit at Memorial Hospital. Finally, there is a younger daughter who is attending high school and wants to be a registered dietitian. As Lori said: "I guess we could start my own hospital if I had any more kids!"

 * ... LOU ELLA'S: Got a nice note from Bitsy Ming sharing her recollections of the old Lou Ella's children's store on Baker Street. Bitsy (her husband is Garrett Ming of Jim Burke Lincoln Mercury) spent countless hours at Lou Ella's as a child, playing with owner Brenda and Armanda's dogs. "My best friend Sara Mettler (Nilson) and I often went with our mothers and purchased identical outfits so we looked like Cindy Brady or my preference, Buffy of Family Affair. Our Cotillion clothes were purchased at Lou Ella's complete with gloves and stockings. Much later, after we had the misfortune of outgrowing Lou Ella's, we were back purchasing baby shower gifts and then even better our own children's clothing and blankets. It was hard believing it was our children's turn to lay with Armanda and Brenda's dogs as well as their toys while we completed our purchases."

 * ... TONY SPOTTED: NASCAR driver Tony Stewart was spotted last Thursday night dining at the Petroleum Club and apparently had great things to say about the food and service. No word on what brought him to town.

 * ... COLLEGE BOUND: Anna Keathley, a Bakersfield High senior and chair of the Assisteens, will be attending Loyola Marymount University in the Fall. Thanks to her mother, Marianne Keathley, for sharing the good news.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISMS: You know you're from Bakersfield when "you remember the two times in the last 25 years that it snowed and you remember everything you did that day."