Friday, June 11, 2010

McCarthy: Washington needs some adult supervision; tax and spending has to stop

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, gives us his weekly report from  Capitol Hill.  In his words:

 "I continue to believe that Washington needs more adult supervision, accountability, and common sense.  Congress continues to borrow and spend money our nation does not have. For the last 20 months
Washington has spent more than it has taken in—racking up the national debt.  In the first 8 months of this fiscal year alone, the deficit has exceeded $940 billion.

  "This week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress of the dangers of our national debt. During a hearing before the House Budget Committee, he stated our national debt is on an unsustainable
path and in order for Congress "to retain the confidence of the public and the markets, Congress should be planning now how [to] meet [the] looming budgetary challenges.”

  "What a thought. Congress could change the prevailing borrow-and-spend culture and show it’s willing to rein in government spending and restore fiscal accountability by offering a responsible budget now. But, Congress has yet to pass a budget (nearly two months overdue), and the national debt has swelled to more than $13 trillion. What’s worse, the Treasury Department predicts in five years the debt could be as high as $19.6 trillion.

  "Enough is enough.  We can’t just ignore our fiscal realities by refusing to pass a budget.  We need to develop a responsible budget that cuts spending and gets our nation back on track to fiscal sustainability. Our children and grandchildren do not deserve a future with fewer opportunities because they have to pay off the debt we have created today.
  "Speaking of kids, in Washington this week, I met with students from Bakersfield’s Downtown Elementary School. Mrs. Brenda Mayer and her students joined me for a discussion about Congress on the Capitol
steps while they were in town for their 8th grade graduation trip. Congratulations to all the students who are on their way to high school.

  "Also this week in D.C., I had the chance to catch up with Bret and Sally Selby and their family, who were all visiting from Bakersfield. While with the Selbys, I had the honor of presenting their son,
Christian, a Congressional certificate recognizing his recently received Eagle Scout award.

  "On Saturday, in Bakersfield, I will be recognizing eight students from the 22nd Congressional District who have been nominated and accepted to one of the U.S. Service Academies for the Class of 2014.  I am
happy to see such a large group of our local students enter the prestigious U.S. Service Academies, and I am confident that they will make excellent officers. I commend them for joining all the generations of young Americans who have chosen to serve our country today.

  "Lastly, discussions on continue to provide interesting ideas and conversations on American priorities by allowing all Americans to offer their ideas through its open online forum.  If you would like to offer your ideas, you can do so by visiting and signing up.  I look forward to reading your ideas and hope everyone has a great week.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Padre Hotel manager now stable after horrific jet ski accident and more love for the Ohio State Buckeyes

* ... JET SKI ACCIDENT: If you have spent any time at the new Padre Hotel downtown chances are you've seen or met Drew Hall, the 31-year-old manager who makes everyone feel at home. Now it's our turn to reach out to Drew, who was in a horrific jet ski accident on Lake Havasu earlier this week. Drew and two other Padre managers were on jet skies when Drew went down and was accidentally hit by another jet ski. (police say no alcohol was involved) Family members say he suffered multiple skull fractures and  may lose sight in one eye, but the worst is over and he is now out of intensive care and in stable condition. His aunt said he is talking, though confused and groggy, and doctors say there are no neck or spinal injuries.  He's currently at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas where he was flown after the accident. His parents, who live in Virginia and visited Drew at The Padre recently, flew in to be at his side. A graduate of James Madison University, Drew has worked for the company that owns the Padre for several years and recently was promoted to general manager of the iconic Bakersfield hotel. He had planned to stay in Bakersfield and recently engaged a Realtor to find him a home. Please keep this young man in your thoughts and prayers.

* ... NEW PARTNER : Heard the other day that Matthew C. Clark has been named a partner in the law firm of Chain, Cohn and Stiles. Clark is a graduate of Garces High School and Loyola Marymount University and joined the firm in 2006. He's a graduate of Leadership Bakersfield, helped the Stockdale mock trail team for four years and recently was named to the board of Clinica Sierra Vista.

 * ... BUCKEYE LOVE: Got a nice note from Dan Schaffer, operations manager at KAXL Radio here, telling about his love for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He actually went to Ohio University but has a Buckeye tree in a large pot on his back patio. "It has a problem with the extreme heat here in Bakersfield, but I try to keep it moist with a mist spray every afternoon at about 3 p.m. in the summer and in the winter, I periodically dump a bag of ice on the soil to simulate snow. The seed that I planed was given to me by a friend who had brought it here from Columbus." Schaffer noted that the music worship leader at First United Methodist Church, Andrew Irvin, is an Ohio State grad. "Go Bucks!" he said.

 * ... TBC FOUNDATION: I'm fortunate to work for a family who truly believes in giving back to the community. The Bakersfield Californian Foundation represents the family owners (not the company or newspaper itself but rather family interests) and it recently awarded $81,450 in grants to a couple dozen organizations. Among them were the Bakersfield Music Theater, National Alliance on Mental Health, Boys and Girls Club, League of Dreams, Bakersfield Museum of Art, Bakersfield SPCA, Kern Bridges Youth Homes, Paramount Bard Academy and the Bakersfield Police Activities League.

 * ... OLIVIER WINS: Heard that Clint Olivier, the former KGET Channel 17 news reporter, won his race for a seat on the Fresno City Council. Janet Beckman, his mother-in-law, says Olivier won with a convincing 62 percent of the vote. Her daughter Alisha is married to Olivier.

* ... OVERHEARD:  Reader Randy Fendrick shares this jewel of a story: "I was standing in line at the bank when a woman on a cell phone next to me was sharing her conversation with everyone within earshot... when she reached into her shoulder hand bag, took out an open bottle of beer and proceeded to take a big swig. Some how your column came to mind." Only in Bako. 

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield if  "you remember the name of the theater on Baker Street just south of Kentucky. (The Rialto)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Padre Hotel's Drew Hall undergoes six-hour surgery after jet ski accident

 Drew Hall, the 31-year-old manager of the Padre Hotel who was severely injured in a jet ski accident, underwent a six-hour surgery to repair multiple skull fractures and appears to be stable. That's what relatives and friends tell me about Hall's surgery at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas. Drew was critically injured on Lake Havasu Tuesday when he fell off his jet ski and apparently was hit by another jet ski. He was airlifted to Las Vegas where he underwent surgery, and relatives say he is responding to verbal commands. Drew's parents flew in from Virginia. Drew's aunt is posting updates on his condition so check back with this post or ones posted earlier. Keep this young man in your thoughts and  prayers.

Padre Hotel manager critically injured in jet ski accident on Lake Havasu

 I heard today that Drew Hall, the popular young manager of Bakersfield's Padre Hotel, has been critically injured in a jet ski accident on Lake Havasu. Padre owner Brett Miller told me that Drew and a couple other Padre managers were taking some time off at the lake when they went jet skiing on Tuesday. Apparently Drew went down and was hit in the head by another jet ski. He was airlifted to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas. Miller said Hall, who is in his early 30s, had responded to a doctor's command to squeeze his hand and that surgery was scheduled. Drew is a popular figure at the Padre and had planned to settle down in Bakersfield, enlisting a Realtor to help him find a home.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Father Craig heads for Russia with iPad in hand and what about a "I Love Bakersfield" campaign?

 * ... HIGH ACHIEVER: Reader Georgann Greene wrote to tell me about a remarkable young man who is about to graduate from UCLA. He's Richard Rodriguez, a 2006 Centennial High graduate who was the first in his family to go to college. He is also a hemophiliac and has received treatments at the UCLA Medical Center his whole life. Yet despite this, he is graduating with a major in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. Richard spent last summer studying and working in a science lab at Harvard University. His goal is to become a research physician specializing in blood disorders. Now, that's a high achiever.

* ... HAPPY 90TH: An anonymous caller left a happy birthday wish for John Evelyn, a longtime Bakersfield resident who will turn 90 years old this week. Apparently John is a regular hiker of the Panorama Bluffs and has amassed quite a fan club over the years. The caller said he's headed to Morro Bay to celebrate his 90th and wanted to wish him all the best. Happy birthday John.

 * ... BAKO LOVE: If New York can have its ubiquitous "I LOVE NEW YORK" slogan plastered on T-shirts and car stickers, how about a "I LOVE BAKERSFIELD" campaign? At least that was the thought of Ray Dezember, the retired banker and Bakersfield booster who took the idea to Sheryl Barbich, head of the local Vision 2020 effort. Ray wrote a check and Sheryl ordered 5,000 "I Love Bakersfield" car stickers. Expect to see them around town. You can pick them up at the downtown Chamber of Commerce or the Bakersfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.

 * ... ROAD RAGE: More feedback from my post on cyclists almost being killed by irate drivers on the road to Woody. This from reader Layne Logan: "As much as I'd like to see the guy who tried run  your fellow cyclists off the road get his just desserts, I'm afraid I have to side with (reader) Marty Richardson on this one. It appears to me that (an earlier reader) didn't quite comprehend what Richardson was saying. She didn't say anything about the cyclists doing anything illegal, only that the road was dangerous. While the rise of riding can never be eliminated, it can be minimized. I ride daily, but on wide roads or roads with marked shoulders or bike lane. Just because you're legal doesn't mean you're safe. Being in the right (legally) will be little consolation to you or your family if you end up badly injured or killed (remember Norm Hoffman). As I told my kids when teaching them to drive defensively - you can be dead right."

 * ... IPAD: Ran into Monsignor Craig Harrison at The Padre Hotel the other afternoon and he was busy showing off his new iPad tablet from Apple. He was clearly impressed with the iPad's impressive array of applications but admitted he was a novice at technology. Father Craig also told me he was preparing for a trip to St. Petersburg, Russia, with 60 other folks from the parish. Cutting edge technology meets old world Mother Russia.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember the names of Bakersfield's two first-rate Jewish delis around the corner from each other. (Dave's on Chester and Joe's around the corner on 21st Street.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More toxic loans about to hit the local real estate market and a reader sounds off on arrogant cyclists on the Woody road

 * ... HOUSING WOES: There's more evidence that we've got a long way to go before our real estate market recovers. Experts are now predicting that 3.5 million homes nationally will go into foreclosure this year (up from 2.8 million last year) as risky adjustable-rate mortgages set in 2005 reset and unemployment lingers. That's the word from RealtyTrac senior vice president Rick Sharga, who warned foreclosures will continue to rise until they plateau in late 2011. "The second wave of toxic loans is about to hit," Sharga said this week. High unemployment and rate resets will drive the foreclosures, as well as a move toward "strategic defaults" where folks decide it just doesn't make any sense anymore to keep paying on an underwater mortgage. Lastly, and this is scary, Sharga said the next wave of foreclosures will hit more middle and upper class people with prime mortgages. So if you thought the worst of the meltdown was over, think again.

 * ... EYESORES: And speaking of foreclosures, there's not a neighborhood in town that is immune from the tell-tale signs of imminent foreclosure: once proud lawns overtaken by knee-high weeds, no cars and no signs of behind the darkened windows. Next time you are driving around town, count the number you see. It's a sobering exercise.

 * ... HELLO LANCE: We were all disappointed when Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong crashed and didn't appear in Bakersfield at the end of Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race. But it turns out he did make an appearance here, although under unforeseen circumstances. After crashing outside of Visalia, Armstrong was rushed to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and was treated for his crash wounds. Hospital CEO Jon Van Boening said he was alerted to "get to the hospital now!" when word arrived that Armstrong was on his way. "He had his own orthopedic surgeon and his own entourage," Van Boening told me. "I told him we were happy to see him in Bakersfield, but it was too bad it was at the hospital and not the race!"

 * ... DEZEMBER SALUTE: Nice to see retired banker Ray Dezember honored  with a legacy award by the downtown Rotary Club. Ray and wife Joan, both Whittier College graduates, are known as perhaps the most philanthropic couple in town, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to worthwhile causes over the years, most of it without fanfare or recognition. Rotary president Duane Keathley delivered the tribute for Ray, who was accompanied by Joan, son Brent and wife Anna and daughter Katie Werdel.

 * ... CYCLISTS: Yet more feedback on the debate on cyclists on the road to Woody. This from reader Mike Wenzel: "All slow traffic is required to move to the right side of the road and allow faster traffic around. The bicyclists on Woody road arrogantly refuse to do this. The excuse seems to be 'we pay taxes too.'  After having to follow these arrogant egocentric bicyclists a few times in the mountains, I took a great deal of joy in listening to their self righteous whining about pedestrians on the bike path. failing to move over for them. This 'I own a bike-I am the center of the universe' attitude is comical. Maybe if bicyclists extended a little courtesy to other they may receive a little themselves. By the way, I own a bicycle myself." 

 * ... MAYOR OF DOWNTOWN: It was nice to see Don Martin, owner of Metro Galleries on 19th Street, recognized with a Beautiful Bakersfield award for promoting the arts. Known by his friends as the "mayor of downtown," Martin has done more for the local arts scene than any other single individual, and he deserves the recognition. A born marketer, Martin was the creative genius behind the "First Friday" arts festivals downtown.

 * ... EAST BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're an East Bakersfield old-timer if  "your mother dropped you off every Saturday morning for the all-day movies at the Granada Theater."