Saturday, June 5, 2010

McCarthy: time to reform Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) presents his weekly report from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "Congress is not in session this week, so I was pleased to be home and hear from neighbors about what is happening nationally, regionally, and locally. One of the best ways to do this is to hold a traditional
town hall meeting where everyone can come together and engage in a conversation sharing ideas and concerns. This week, I held an ‘America Speaking Out’ town hall where a good crowd joined me to discuss the issues they want this Congress to address. 

 Topics ranged from the need to address our national debt, national security concerns, illegal immigration, and energy policy. I was pleased that that we had a robust discussion and that the discussions remained respectful and productive.

  "Thank you to everyone who came to the town hall, and for those of you who were not able to, you can join the discussion and offer your ideas by visiting my website or join the national discussion at
  "Leading the field by a significant margin this week on YouCut’s electronic chopping block is reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Both are government sponsored entities that back private mortgages, and in the last year and a half, they have received a combined $145 billion in tax payer funding.  To date Congress has not considered a plan to revise their practices and recoup the taxpayer funds. This news comes as no surprise, but is important, as the Congressional Budget Office recently reported that taking action to make these companies more accountable (by ending their government conservatorship, shrinking their portfolios, establishing minimum capital standards, and bringing transparency to taxpayer exposure) could generate savings of up to an estimated $30 billion. If you want to participate in this vote go to:

  "College students continue to start their internships in both the Washington D.C. and Bakersfield offices.  Starting in my Washington office this week is Jordan Goh, a BHS graduate and junior at USC working on a degree in international relations. Also beginning their internships in the Bakersfield office are Megan Dunphy and Matt Heidrick. Megan is also a BHS graduate and a junior at Toronto University studying international relations and peace and conflict studies.  Matt is a graduate of Stockdale and a current double major
in history and political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I welcome all the new interns, and look forward to updating you as new ones arrive.

  "Next week Congress will be back in session.  I hope to see your ideas on  Have a good week."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Bob is back and Bakersfield breathes a sigh of relief

High drama in Bakersfield when the statue of Bob at the new Bob's Big Boy franchise on Ming Avenue was stolen by three hooded teenagers a few weeks ago. Well, a woman returned Bob, wrapped in a blanket in the back of her truck, and handed him over to manager Fran Smith this morning. Bob is fine, save for a hairline crack on his head, and he is safely inside the lobby.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scrivner's stand on unions picks up some support while others ponder: Where in the world is Bob's Big Boy?

* ... UNION POWER: Zack Scrivner, the city councilman running for 2nd District County Supervisor, seems to have struck a nerve with voters by taking on the unions over soaring pension costs. Most folks in the private sector have taken pay cuts, been furloughed and witnessed their retirement funds ravaged while city, county and state worker unions continue to protest even the most modest of cutbacks. Some unions have responded with a sharp edged advertising campaign against Scrivner, but clearly many folks are warming to Scrivner's challenge to the unions to belly up and take their share of the cuts. One Tehachapi voter told me she was voting for Scrivner because "it's time government workers start to live like us in the private sector. If they don't like the cutbacks, they can always leave their jobs and join us in the private sector!"

 * ... JUST BRAGGING: Barbara Billington wrote in to do a little bragging on her granddaughter, 2004 North High graduate Alison Tolladay. She graduated from Fresno State in 2008 and just now earned her master's in public policy from Pepperdine University. She is currently working as an intern for the LA Lakers in their community relations department raising money for the Lakers Youth Foundation. Last year, Alison and some of her friends started a group called "Just Like You" that provides after-school programs to Los Angeles elementary schools. The programs focus on viewing the world in a different way and becoming global citizens. Billington said Alison "learned compassion and philanthropy from her membership with the Assistance League of Bakersfield's, Assisteen Auxiliary, which obviously has made an impact on her future goals. This is just another example of local girl makes good."

 * ... ROAD RAGE: More responses to my earlier post (read it here) on drivers who try to scare cyclists  off the road by coming close to hitting them. One reader, Marty Richardson, wrote that cyclists should stay off the roads to Woody simply because they are so dangerous. It brought this response from reader Jerry Sutliff: "Clearly Ms. Richardson doesn't get it. Bicyclists have the right of way when the cyclist and the driver are going in the same direction, at least here in California. It appears she wonders what you and your fellow cyclists are doing in her roadway. Good luck."

 * ... WHERE'S BOB?: So what happened to that Bob's Big Boy statue that was stolen at the new Ming Avenue franchise in town? County supervisor Mike Maggard, on vacation on the coast over Memorial Day, got a chuckle when he happened on a miniature Bob's Big Boy replica in a Cayucos antique store. "I wonder if any others have made similar 'Bob sightings' as they have contemplated the intriguing question, 'Where in the world is Bob?'"

* ... NEW NORMAL: Amazing how the split between Al and Tipper Gore has caught our interest. After 40 years, you'd think they were well past the time of calling it quits. But, as the Wall Street Journal reported, divorces of marriages in the 30 to 40-year range have become the "new normal." And divorce rates among those married between 1970 and 1974 have taken "the biggest generational jump" ever, according to the University of Michigan. The New York  Times, chiming in on the Gores, said the dissolution of long-term marriages was particular to the baby boom generation. "In a sense," the paper said, "getting divorced is the iconic baby boomer act."

 * ... OVERHEARD: A correctional officer giving advice to his mother: "If you want the best health care money can buy, commit a felony and go to prison."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember where Bakersfield's first escalator was. (Fedway, 21st and Chester).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Roy Ashburn talks about coming out as a gay man with Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times

 Los Angeles Times reporter and columnist Patt Morrison spoke frankly with state Sen. Roy Ashburn about his decision to come clean on being gay. Ashburn speaks openly and candidly about his secret life and how it affected his life in and out of politics. Listen to the interview here. Click on programs and find Patt Morrison.

Who needs a truck when you are an expert at improvisation? A drive down Union Avenue

 This picture was taken recently on Union Avenue by Dennis Utt. It speaks for itself but here are his thoughts: "When I saw this car I had to take a picture to send it out as proof. Two by fours on the roof so as not to scratch the pain job, four by ten gate on top being held on by the firm grip of the passengers out the right hand side of the window, front left tire blown out and they were still going down Union with no intention of stopping. Image was taken with a cell phone."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Check out the Women Art Exhibit at "First Friday" and recognizing four women who enrich our community

 * ... ART SHOW: It's time for another "First Friday" downtown and with this weather we have been having, you don't want to miss it. Downtown will be alive so grab some dinner and then make the rounds of the art galleries and other shops. Make sure you catch the first "Women Art Exhibit" at Metro Galleries on 19th Street, featuring the work of local artist Barbara Reid and several other fine artists, including Betty Hock, Bonnie Hineline-Kempner, Gita Lloyd, Heidi Rufeh and Lily Stockman. Gallery owner Don Martin always puts on a good show this one is worth seeing. Then make sure to support our locally owned restaurants (Uricchio's, Mama Roomba's, La Costa Mariscos, Mexicali, Casa Munoz, Cafe Med among others) or the renaissance of the privately owned Padre Hotel and grab a bite.


* ... DENATALE LAW: I received a nice post from Tom DeNatale, one of the partners over at Klein, DeNatale and Goldner. Turns out his two daughters are both following in his footsteps. His oldest girl, Erin, just graduated (Magna Cum Laude) from the Whittier College of Law. She attended high school at Stockdale and earned her undergraduate degree from CSU San Marcos. Meanwhile his younger daughter Shannon, a graduate of Liberty High School and UC Santa Barbara, graduated (Cum Laude) from the law school at Santa Clara University. 

 * ... HEAT WAVE: Are you ready for the heat? After a spring that was richer, fuller and sweeter than usual,  we're looking at temperatures in the 90s this weekend and north of 100 on Monday. The heat has been knocking at our door, so get ready for it.

 * ... SCARY ROAD: Reader Marty Richardson called to warn cyclists about the dangers of riding on the Granite to Glennville road. I had blogged earlier about the driver of a late-model maroon Ford pickup who takes delight in almost hitting cyclists by refusing to pull to the left even when the road is wide open and clear. Marty lives in Bakersfield but has had property in Glennville for years. "You guys just shouldn't be on that road. It has no shoulder and it's just too scary. I don't want to hurt you and I don't want to get hurt." My view: let's all use our heads and share the road so we all can enjoy the beauty of Woody and Glennville.

 * ... FOUR WOMEN: It's always nice to see good things happen to good people, so I was happy to learn that four local women will be honored by Garden Pathways as "Women with a Heart for Bakersfield" They include Kim Albers, Cathy Butler, Susan Hersberger and Dayna Nichols. They'll be honored at a "High Tea" at Seven Oaks Country Club  on Wednesday, June 9. Albers is co-founder and director of Flood Bakersfield Ministries, which helps the homeless, and Cathy Butler is the longtime president of the Downtown Business Association. Susan Hersberger is public affairs director of Aera Energy and also a long-time civic activist, and Dayna Nichols is CEO of Castle Print and Publication which regularly gives back to the community. Proceeds from the event will provide mentoring and educational services for youth and families facing poverty. Interested? Call Karen Goh at 661-633-9133. (Seen below are Nichols, Butler, Albers and Hersberger)

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: This one from reader Terry Willey: "You know you're from Bakersfield when you remember when summer heaven was a swamp cooler and a popsicle."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Road rage almost takes out a cyclist and local dairymen face tough times in this recession

 * ... ... CASA FRIEND: Lauren Burson could be a poster child for what we all want our children to be. She's only a fifth grader at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, but she has already learned the benefits of generosity and caring. Every year on her birthday, in lieu of birthday presents, she asks friends and family to make a donation to a charity of her choice. This year, on her 11th birthday, she chose CASA of Kern County. "We were touched by her generosity and give kudos to her parents, Les Burson and Susan Walker Burson, for encouraging philanthropy at such an early age," said Teresa Fahsbender, CASA's resource development manager.

 * ... GRANUCCI-LAFOND: Had the opportunity to officiate a wedding for a wonderful young couple on Saturday, Matthew Granucci and Denise LaFond. Picture perfect day and the Metro Galleries looked splendid for the wedding. Matthew and Denise met at Thompson Junior High, lost touch when both went to different high schools but reunited at UC Santa Barbara when Matt randomly moved in across the street. Now that's a love story. Denise is the daughter of Steve and Lisa LaFond and Matt  is the son of Peter and Susan Granucci.

* ... PROUD DAD: Reader Ralph Bartel dropped me a note to update me on all the San Diego State Aztecs in his family. His daughter, Emily Joann Bartel, received her masters in education counseling from San Diego State on May 23, finishing with a 4.0 GPA and graduating summa cum laude. Older brother Benjamin Bartel also graduated from SDSU (class of 2007) and is teaching high school in San Mateo. Both Ralph and his wife Kathryn also graduated from SDSU (class of 1974), making the entire household loyal to
 the Aztecs.

* ... GETTYSBURG GRAD: Good to hear that Centennial High graduate Steven Moxley has graduated from Gettysburg College, magna cum laude. He received a bachelor of arts in computer science with three minors. He is now headed to George Washington University to work on his master's in science and technology policy in the Elliott School of International Affairs. And there's more. His father Larry Moxley told me  that Steven has a paid summer internship with Google. Not a bad gig. His brother, Richard Moxley, will start his sophomore year at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in early August. Two high achieving lads.

 * ... ROAD RAGE: Had a scary moment Sunday while cycling with my group on Granite Road headed toward Woody. A late model maroon Ford pickup truck, with a blue disabled sticker on its rear license plate, almost took out a cyclist who was riding straight and as far to the right as possible. The road was clear and this was clearly a case of someone attempting to brush us off the road, or worse. Turns out this same truck is known for terrorizing cyclists and one day, someone is going to get hurt. What makes people so angry? Bet this guy is just a prince at home.

 * ... OVERHEARD: What's going on with the local dairy industry? Heard from a friend at Uricchio's the other day that Central Valley dairymen are suffering. The dairymen are getting less for their product, and they are stuck with high fixed costs (the cows have to eat and you have to milk them.) Wasn't long ago when our local dairy industry was booming and farmers from other parts of the state were moving here. So what's causing the steep drop in prices? Yet another industry suffering in this long recession.

* ... EAST BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're an East Bakersfield old timer if you remember getting your foot X-rayed every time you went into Ricard's Bootery.