Friday, June 25, 2010

Rep. Kevin McCarthy: sanction legislation will work to keep Iran from going nuclear

 It's that time of week to hear from Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) to get his view of the week on Capitol Hill. In his words:
"This week marked the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War and on Capitol Hill there was a ceremony recognizing the great many sacrifices our nations’ veterans made during the war. Attached is a picture of the ceremony.

 "Threats to our national security still exist today.  This week the House passed a bill of which I am a cosponsor that will protect our nation.  The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act (H.R. 2194) is designed to stop the Iranian regime from continuing to pursue nuclear weapons along with sponsoring terrorism in other countries by imposing harsher economic sanctions.  I also joined other members yesterday in writing a letter to the President calling on him to immediately enforce these sanctions to make this legislation successful.  Also on the legislative front, I cosponsored two other commonsense, good-government bills.  The first one, H.R. 5016, would help secure our borders by prohibiting Federal land agencies (i.e. Forest Service, National Park Service, BLM) from using environmental policies to block the Border Patrol from securing the border on public lands that adjoin it.  The second bill is H.R. 5529, the Children of Fallen Warriors AMT Relief Act.  This bill would prevent the survivor benefits children receive if a parent is killed while on active military duty from being subject to the punitive Alternative Minimum Tax.  These children’s parents made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and the survivor benefits they are entitled to ought not to be taxed at the exorbitant AMT rate.

 "Looking at our state unemployment, I know that families and small businesses are working hard to make ends meet during these challenging times. Washington can’t seem to operate with the same sense of urgency.  This week House majority leaders announced that they would not be offering a budget for the Federal government this year, the first time since 1974.   Hard working Americans have had to make
tough budget choices, and Washington must do the same.  Not passing a budget is like going on a road trip but never looking at a map. Americans deserve better and our children deserve better.
    "The good news is that there are tools being utilized by Americans to tell Washington which direction our country should go. continues to grow with new account users and ideas that will be incorporated into a new governing agenda for the next Congress; please join the discussion if you have not already. YouCut also continues to grow rapidly. Passing the 1 million vote mark this week, people voted to bar new funding for an expansion of the IRS for the enforcement of the new individual health care mandate under the new health care law that continues to not live up to its promises of lowering costs, reducing the deficit, and protecting seniors’ benefits.
   Cutting this funding expansion would save us between $5 and $10 billion and once again, I joined Republicans and Democrats in voting for this spending cut.  Unfortunately it did not pass with the final vote being 243 to 181.  To vote next week, visit:

BakersfieldLife July issue: look for it this Saturday

 Make sure you check out this month's BakersfieldLife magazine. The July issue features "summer sips" with the best local drinks around town for a Bako summer. There's also the local faces and personalities of the "Red Couch" and "Guys on the Green." Available this Saturday.

Bakersfield rap featured on YouTube

 A YouTube sensation, gathering thousands of hits.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Remembering the Lakeview Gusher and I take some heat for criticizing public employee unions

* ... LAKEVIEW GUSHER: If you think the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is bad, consider the 1910 Lakeview Gusher that blew between the towns of Taft and Maricopa. The total volume of oil spilled at the historic Kern County gusher was 378 million gallons, the equivalent of nine million barrels. The Deepwater Horizon blowout has yet to reach half that size. I'm not downplaying the economic and environmental impact of the Gulf disaster, but the Lakeview Gusher still stands alone in terms of sheer volume. In fact, it remains the largest oil spill in history. The Lakeview spill took 18 months to get under control and created a lake that workers actually crossed in wooden row boats. (photos courtesy of the West Kern Oil Museum

 * ... REMEMBERING DUDLEY'S: Faithful reader Glen Worrell recalled that the old eastside eatery  Dudley's (on the corner of Mt. Vernon and Quincy Street) primarily catered to boys while the girls ate across the street at Hopi's. "I worked at Dudley's my junior year (at East Bakersfield High School). Dudley had a platter of spaghetti and beans with one slice of bread (a penny a slice for more bread). That was 15 cents. There was also tamale and beans for 20 cents - no bread. Dudley also had a plate lunch that featured meatloaf, mashed potatoes and a vegetable (no bread). You could always get a slice of bread for a penny. About half way between Quincy Street and Flower Street was another place for students to eat. Boy and girls both ate there. That's where the smokers went. I still mix spaghetti and beans together at Woolgrower's!"

* ... COUNTY WORKERS: Reader Mona Martin took me to task for suggesting that public employee unions haven't felt the same pain as private sector workers in this recession. She noted her husband has worked for the county for 24 years and argues it has been anything but a cakewalk. "One would think that after 24 years our family wouldn't have to bite our nails until they bleed during budget hearings, but we always do, and let me tell you, it has gotten old." She went on to say that he has been reassigned and suffered multiple pay cuts. "We are not getting rich off his job, only expecting what was promised for his sacrifice of pay increases ... Please reconsider your impression that county workers don't know how to suffer cutbacks."

 * ... BIG JOE: Had a nice chat the other day with local trainer Joe Peterson, one of our community's true competitive athletes. I found him at Yokuts Park after his morning boot camp ended and he shared his thoughts about competing in the most recent Race Across America bicycle race. It was his 11th time doing the race - that is amazing in itself - and this time his mixed tandem team broke the previous RAM record by 5 1/2 hours. "And it was the first time I went across the entire country without one drop of rain," he told me. "In fact we had very little wind even in Kansas." Congrats, Joe.

  * ... SPOTTED: Saw this on Twitter, posted as a re-tweet by Rep. Kevin McCarthy: "Think Wimbledon tickets are expensive? Our national debt has gone up by $1,729,000,000 during the Isner versus Mahut match."

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From Facebook: You know you're from Bakersfield if you remember "cruising Chester Avenue and Stockdale Highway on date night and the drive-in theater right off the freeway at the airport exit."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bakersfield to Ridgecrest in three minutes ... just for fun... from YouTube by Andy Waite

The misguided furor over the latest fee hike at Cal State and what's with all the flies in Bako?


* ... CAL STATE FEES: It's unfortunate that Cal State trustees had to increase undergraduate fees by 5 percent this year, but I have little sympathy for those crying foul. Times are tough, the state is broke and the 1960 California legislature's promise of a tuition-free college education is now nothing more than an historical curiosity. The total university fee will rise to $4,230 per year, and while that's not cheap, it is still a bargain by any standard. Consider this: the average annual tuition for a public school in the U.S. is more than $7,000 a year, and it's almost $26,000 a year for private schools. For Cal State students, the increase comes to about $200 a year - a small price to pay for an excellent California education.

 * ...  BAKO LOVE: Reader Michelle Humecky passed along a "bravo" to civic booster Sheryl Barbich's list of everything that is right about living here. Now prevention services facilitator for the Kern County Network for Children, Humecky lived in Orange County for a few years before returning to graduate from CSUB. "It is great to enjoy the fresh faces around town ... (and) when going to the movies or eating out people still know your name. I also am thrilled to see the connection between public service agencies and private business... we are all in this together, and what happens on the east side of town impacts what happens in Seven Oaks! I have great expectations for the future of Bakersfield!"

 * ... KISER TO OXY: Heard the other day that Brian Kiser is leaving Rio Tinto Minerals and heading to work for Vintage Production California, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum. Brian worked at the U.S. Borax Plant in Boron for 17 1/2 years, the last 7 1/2 with Rio Tinto. He was there during the recent strike as part of the management team and is looking forward to giving up the long daily commute from Bakersfield to Boron. Brian is married to Tracy Walker-Kiser, owner of H. Walker's Men's Clothing Co. If you are involved in our community at all, you have seen this couple working at fund raisers and attending community functions. As Tracy told me: "It's going to be weird and exciting for us. He now has the opportunity to stay up late and sleep until 6 a.m." Congrats, Brian.

 . * ...LORD OF THE FLIES: Okay, so what is it with the fly infestation lately? I've got so many flies around my house I fear I'm turning into Jeff Goldblum's character in the 1986 movie "The Fly." A few  flies this time of year are to be expected, but this season seems particularly bad. They are swarming over patios and porches on every side of town. I'm looking for a good remedy to get rid of them. Thoughts?

 * ... SPOTTED: Is it really acceptable, even in casual Bakersfield, to wear your flat-brimmed black baseball cap during dinner at one of our nicer restaurants? 

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if  "You remember where Brock's Big Top was, and why." (In the parking lot of the Westchester shopping center while the damage at the store from the 1952 earthquake damage was being repaired.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

No housing recovery until 2012? And a list of reasons to love where you live ...


 * ... 2012 EVENT? It was sobering to read a story in the Wall Street Journal talking about the long slump in the housing market. Ethan Harris, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist, said the story on housing "isn't that it's going to collapse, it's just that it's not going to recover. We're not going to see a real recovery in the housing market until the foreclosure process gets worked out. That's ... a 2012 event."  So hold on for another couple years of tough times in housing.

* ... ABOUT TOWN: Mother Nature spotted us another weekend of wonderful weather, which has become the talk of the town. The common refrain: Can you believe it's mid June and we have weather like this? I took advantage of it by eating alfresco at Uricchio's Trattoria, one of my favorite downtown eateries. Owner Claire Uricchio told me business has been brisk. In fact, the entire downtown bar and restaurant scene seemed to have a good weekend.

* ... LOVING BAKO: Civic booster Sheryl Barbich submitted her own list of reasons why we should all love Bakersfield. Among them: it has an attainable, quality lifestyle where money goes further, and there is year-round sun and an abundance of outdoor recreational activities. It also possesses an "open, generous spirit" and its proximity to the mountains, coast and both Los Angeles and San Francisco makes it an ideal location. And lastly, there is the "unique, quirky sophistication," a big city with small town charm. That's a pretty good list. What's on your list?

 * ... PRODIGAL SON: Had a chance the other night to meet Scott Christian, a proud graduate of Arvin High School (1984) and Cal State Bakersfield (1989) who is now vice president of finance for Nexa Technologies in Irvine. Christian's classmate at Arvin High was Don Martin, owner of downtown's Metro Galleries, and they spent the evening recalling former Arvin High principal Jack Schulze, who served from 1967 until his death in 1997. "We were lucky to be there when he was principal," said Martin. "He didn't put up with any nonsense and we got a great education there."

 * ... DATEBOOK: From the quarterly bulletin of the Kern County Historical Society: It was 70 years ago that three school districts - Old River, Ordena and Paloma - came together to create the Lakeside Union School District. The first superintendent was Alfred Glanz and the first elected board included George Hill, Laz Simoni, Raymond Copus, Grover Fugitt and Baptiste Suburu.

 * ... STREET SCENE: Wild-eyed young man with shaved head, shirtless of course, hanging out of a blue pickup in front of the 24th Street Cafe haranguing the driver of a small black Toyota, screaming road rage obscenities over some perceived slight. Time to put the shirt back on and find a good therapist.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Terry Willey: "You know you're from Bakersfield if you sometimes forget the sky comes in colors others than gray or brown."