Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bike versus squirrel square off in Bakersfield: cyclist wins (sort of)

 I spotted this picture making the rounds among cyclists in Bakersfield. Posted on  Facebook by the Finish Line bike shop, it shows what can happen if a squirrel runs across the bike path at the exact wrong time. The unidentified cyclist went over his bars and was banged  up pretty good. The squirrel didn't make it. 

McCarthy: financial regulatory reform bill misses the point and increases spending and limits consumer options

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) shares his thoughts with his weekly report from Capitol Hill.
 "As I travel back to Bakersfield each week, I am continuously reminded that what our nation needs is to focus on improving our business climate so our entrepreneurs and small business owners can create jobs.   ‪
  Last February, Congress debated a trillion dollar stimulus bill promised to “stabilize our economy and prevent unemployment from rising above 8%.”  The latest unemployment numbers are at double digits.  I believed there was a better approach and helped draft another proposal that focused on providing relief to struggling small businesses.‪‪

  "Then, in June the House passed a cap and trade bill. This legislation is estimated to increase Americans’ energy cost by thousands of dollars annually and cost jobs if it becomes law.  My colleagues and I worked on legislation that focused on an “all of the above approach” to increase all types of energy production ranging from wind, oil, solar, natural gas, hydrogen, geothermal and nuclear.‪

  "Then, last month, a health care bill was pushed through the Congress. Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued their latest analysis of the President’s new health care law.  CMS confirmed that our nation’s health care costs will increase ($311 billion more), rather than decrease, over the next 10 years.  All the while, our first priority should be focused on improving the businessclimate so private sector jobs can be created. ‪

  "This week, the debate in Washington center around a financial regulatory reform bill that raises many serious concerns.‪ First, this bill creates a new government entity that will approve the financial products that consumers can use, limiting credit and investment options for small businesses and families, which ultimately will not create more jobs.  Second, the bill does nothing to address Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both government-sponsored entities have cost taxpayers $126.9 billion and no one knows how much more in the near future as their financial stability is on questionable footing. Third, the bill does not allow for the fundamental principle of the free market: freedom to fail and innovate. ‪

  "The overarching problem is that we cannot afford these programs.  Many of you probably heard of the idea floated of imposing a “value added tax” (VAT).  A VAT would essentially be a national sales tax that would be collected by retailers on top of what state and cities already collect. I am very suspicious of this tax especially if it were coupled with our current income tax.‪ Ideas like the VAT, cap and trade, oil severance taxes, or additional health care taxes misses the broader point: we need more private sector jobs and we cannot continue to spend and borrow money we do not have.  We need to cut spending and improve our business climate in order to move toward a path of prosperity.  California continues to suffer from double-digit unemployment and Kern County is at 18.3% and I believe that proposing additional taxes and regulations are not the path to prosperity.

  "I was glad to see in DC this week Bonnie Kaufman and her husband George.  Bonnie is the Assistant Principal at James Monroe Middle School (Ridgecrest) and is also the National Association of Secondary School Principal’s California Assistant Principal of the Year.  Today,

  "I visited Liberty High School and spoke to two civics classes and this weekend, I will in attendance to help celebrate their 100 years of education"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More great political theater Kern County style and applause for those Foothill High students and their scholarships

 * ... FOOTHILL SCHOLARS: There's more good news over at Foothill High School where two seniors, Monique Maher and Roxana Munoz, have been selected to receive the prestigious Gates Millenium Scholarship. This award basically pays for their education through a PhD,  or in Monique's case, medical school. In addition Monique, Jasmen Barrena, Noemi Ferman and Vanessa Saavedra were selected to receive the $20,000 Dell Scholarships. Lead school counselor Joan Herman said the school could not be prouder of these kids. These young people really show the best of Kern County and it's good to see their work being recognized in such as important way.

 * ... METTLER CONTROVERSY: Is there a weirder story this week than the revelation that Assembly candidate Ken Mettler recruited opponent Shannon Halloway to run as a straw candidate, allegedly to confuse voters and help Mettler defeat a third opponent, Shannon Grove?  This is great political theater, but disappointing given widespread voter desire for transparency, good character and across-the-aisle cooperation to solve our problems. As long-time local political observer Vic Pollard said, "You couldn't make this stuff up in a million years." Stay tuned for the next chapter in the story of "Ken and Shannon and Chad and Shannon." (Mettler and Grove shown below)

* ... AND THE RAIN CAME: Always amazing how chaotic our community becomes after a little rain. Traffic lights go on the blink, roads shut down, cars smash into each other and shallow-rooted trees pop out of the ground. You'd think we had never seen rain the way it disrupts our lives. If you were caught in the gridlock on Rosedale Highway, Oak Street or Stockdale Highway on Tuesday, you know exactly what I mean.

* ... KEVIN'S HUMOR: Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) spoke at the annual Congressional Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington, D.C., this week. The event raises money for the National Press Club Foundation and is attended by hundreds of journalists and legislators. said McCarthy was a last minute fill-in for Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) and did get off one zinger: "Money is so tight, New York governors have been forced to sleep with their wives again." Ouch!

 * ... HEADED TO ESPN: Celia Kelly, a CSUB communications student, is headed to work for ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, in the production assistant trainee program. Celia graduates in June and credits her internship with sports anchor Greg Kerr and local TV station KBAK.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM:  You know you're from Bakersfield when "a quarter inch of rain turns your 10-minute commute into a full half hour."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Target strikes back at those unwelcome solicitors and local kids head off for advanced degrees

* ... TARGET SOLICITORS: One of my pet peeves is being unceremoniously greeted (or harassed) by those in-your-face solicitors outside mainstream businesses. I'm not talking about the Girl Scouts or Salvation Army here, but rather those scruffy looking types asking for money for some obscure organization that may or may not be legitimate. We've all encountered them and it's never a pleasant experience running the gauntlet of their pleadings and "God bless yous." So it was nice to see the folks at Target striking back. On Sunday the new Target store on Stockdale Highway stationed one of its own employees outside advising customers that the "solicitors" were not endorsed by the store. Target clearly wanted to dissociate itself from this questionable crowd and I found it an effective maneuver.

 * ... FUTURE ARCHITECT: Kudos go out to Katie Gilfoy, who is graduating in June from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and headed to the University of Southern California master of architecture program. Katie is a 2005 graduate of Stockdale High School and the daughter of Kelly and Gail Gilfoy. Her mother is one of the staffers at the Bakersfield Museum of Art and dad Kelly is sales director for Specification Sales, a plumbing and safety firm based in Ontario, Ca.

 * ... DAVIS BOUND: Also nice to hear that Camille Horvath, daughter of Alex and Joyce Horvath of Northwest Bakersfield, is heading to UC Davis to spend the next four years. Camille will graduate from Frontier High School and is among a lucky group of local kids to be accepted by a school in the UC system. Alex is head of photographer at The Californian and Joyce is an X-Ray technician at Truxtun Radiology Medical Group. (Camille and proud mother shown below)

* ... MORE TREASURES: Reader Stephen Montgomery responded to my recent post about locally owned eateries with his own list of "hidden treasures" in our community. "When you said 'hidden' I couldn't help but think of one of our favorites. T. L. Maxwell's Restaurant is well hidden in a 19th century building also well hidden behind the Haberfeld Building. While Terry isn't a credentialed chef he has developed his own excellent menu and does a superb job of paring wine with a fine meal. All this in a vintage interior rich in atmosphere. Another is Rosa's Italian restaurant in east Bakersfield. Lucky is the diner who discovers they are serving an-off menu item like lamb shanks. Another favorite eatery is Bit of Germany. The food served here is really German and the place has been a long-time survivor having been burned out. Best wishes and happy dining!"

 * ... REMEMBER BONNIES: I failed to include Bonnies Best Cafe as one of the recommended locally eateries that  never seems to disappoint. Bonnies is located at the corner of 21st and F streets and specializes in sandwiches and dinners-to-go. Laurie Watson is the owner and her daughter Katie is banquet manager over at the new Padre Hotel.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when "you notice your car overheating before you drive it."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bakersfield Road Race ... 400 show up to race to Caliente and back ....

 Some random shots of the Sunday road race out on Bena Road, coordinated by Sam Ames at Action Sports. Enjoy.

Three lost children arrested in savage beating of grandmother while life goes on for the rest of us ...

 * ... BRUTAL BEATING: What are we to make of the arrest of three teenagers in the savage beating death of 81-year-old Dorothy Session in her east Bakersfield home? Here we have three runaway teens, all apparently so lost and angry that they allegedly beat this poor woman to death for no apparent reason. One thing we can agree on is Sheriff Danny Youngblood's assertion that these "kids" gave up their rights to childhood when they beat this grandmother to death. And for what? To burglarize her home? The suspects were identified as David Deshawn Moses, 17, and sisters Angelique Elandra Nash, 17, and Katila Ann Jean Nash, 15. (Photos courtesy of KERO-TV)

* ... BIKE RACE: I headed out to the USA Cycling bicycle road race off Bena Road on Sunday, a truly stunning day that featured more than 400 riders from across California. This was one of those events that attracts a narrow niche of enthusiastic followers but it showed off our community beautifully. The 30-mile route went from Towerline Road down to Caliente and back. I spotted a number of local riders there, including Hank Pfister, Mike Marotta, Jeff Simpson, Mike Hudson, Pam Awe, Mike Noel, Tom Morgan, David Rous, Adam Hensley and Gareth Feldstein just to name a few. The event was coordinated by Sam Ames from Action Sports.

* ... YOUNG KARPE: Was pleased to hear that Robert Karpe, son of Ray and Lisa Karpe and a senior at Garces Memorial High School, has decided to attend college at the University of South Carolina. Robert's final two choices were South Carolina and Tulane University, and after some soul searching he decided to head to Columbia, S.C. to spend the next four years as a Gamecock. Robert's father Ray is the chief operating officer at Terrio Therapy-Fitness.

 * ... HIDDEN TREASURES: One of the great things about our community is the number of locally owned restaurants with outstanding food and service, many tucked away in out of the way places. There's Luigi's Restaurant and Delicatessen of course, Uricchio's Trattoria, Cafe Med, 24th Street Cafe, Woolgrower's, Goose Loonies, Sequoia Sandwich Shop and all the Basque eateries. I had a chance to stop by two of my favorites this weekend, Casa Munoz over on Union Avenue where service and the Mexican fare is always over the top, and the Great Castle Chinese restaurant also on Union Avenue. Try the seafood noodle soup at Great Castle, large enough to feed two and with some left over.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when you "know that Hodel's used to be at Valley Plaza."