Friday, July 2, 2010

McCarthy: Obama stimulus planned failed. Time to bring budget and debt under control

 Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his view from Capitol Hill:

  "As hardworking Americans, all of us keep track of our bank accounts, and as taxpayers, you should know what is in the federal government’s bank account.  This week, the Congressional Budget Office predicted
that our national debt will represent 62% of our economy by the end of the year, which is the highest level since World War II.  My colleagues at the Ways and Means Committee just published a summary of our country’s financial health, showing that our public debt is over $13 trillion and our minimum payment that is due in interest for 2010 is over $1.9 trillion.   Since the $787 million stimulus that was passed at the beginning of last year,

 Congress has increased our debtby 22%.  During this time, unemployment has hovered at over 9 percent, and private sector jobs have decreased by 2.3% but government jobs have increased by 14.9%.  Washington needs a new direction and it should not include increasing federal spending right now.

  On the legislative front, the House passed a Financial Regulatory Reform bill that will do more harm than good for our economy. It creates a new bureau at the Federal Reserve with sweeping authority
and a budget to create new government jobs in Washington, DC. Additionally, it creates an Office of Financial Research, empowered to collect personal information about all of our financial transactions.
Rather than focusing on private sector jobs, this expansion of government will only raise costs for consumers and small businesses. My colleagues and I came up with an alternative that would have addressed too big to fail and the failures of government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.   But it was rejected.  I continue to believe that Congress needs to be focusing on pro-small business policies that allow banks to lend to job creators that are the heart of our local economies.

  "This week, I coauthored and introduced the Federal Land Counterdrug Strategy and Enforcement Act (H.R. 5645).  This bill would require Federal land management agencies (i.e. the Forest Service, BLM, and
NPS) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy to produce a comprehensive plan to combat drug trafficking and production on our public lands, as well as increases the penalties for these crimes.
Earlier this year, I attended a meeting with officials from these agencies and was shocked to learn they had no such counterdrug drug strategy.  If you are like me and enjoy hiking in the Sequoia, Angeles, or Los Padres National Forests in our area, this is particularly troublesome--just imagine if a hiker stumbled across drug
traffickers, who are becoming increasingly violent, somewhere in the back country.  It is vital that our public lands are safe for us to visit and enjoy, and H.R. 5465 is a good first step to help ensure that.

  "I am looking forward to being home for the July 4th district work period.  I hope you have a good and safe 4th!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More dark economic news and the Padre's Drew Hall returns to work after jet ski accident

 * ... DARK DAYS: The news on the economic front has gone from bad to worse lately with all the talk of a double-dip recession and columnist Paul Krugman's warning that a depression is not out of the question. Now comes a study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center showing how far the pain has moved through the economy. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the study said that out of the 13 recessions since the Great Depression, "none has presented a more punishing combination of length, breadth and depth than this one." Even among those with jobs, three in 10 working adults have had their hours reduced and a quarter have taken a pay cut. Another 12 percent have been forced to take unpaid leave and 11 percent were forced to switch from full time to part time. Think about it: how many of your own friends and family members have taken pay cuts or been furloughed this year? Finally, the study said the recession had "ushered in a culture of frugality: 57 percent of those surveyed have postponed or canceled a vacation and seven out of 10 are buying less expensive brands. Nearly half have loaned money to someone in need."

 * ... PADRE NEWS: It was great to see Drew Hall back at work Wednesday night. Drew is the popular 31-year-old Padre Hotel manager who was critically injured in a jet ski accident at Lake Havasu. After suffering multiple skull fractures and almost losing an eye, he has made a miraculous comeback and is eager to get back to work full time.  (read my previous post here)   Drew has taken to Bakersfield and is still planning to buy a home here. He told me he received over 100 get well cards from folks around town. Meanwhile, Padre owner Brett Miller said the hotel had its best month ever in June, and business and leisure travelers are starting to discover his rooms. "The rooms have been on fire," he told me. "We are blowing away our guests with incredible service."

 * ... TOP GUN: Kudos to 12-year-old Jason David, one of our community's sharp shooters out at the Kern County Gun Club. The seventh grader from Standard Middle School is an ace trap shooter and recently posted his first perfect score, shooting 100 straight in the California State Trapshooting Championships. He was C Class Champion and won in a shoot-off. He also was champion in the Intermediate Entry Level at the California Scholastic Clay Target Program. His team, the Oaktree Junior Claybreakers, is traveling to Sparta, Illinois, in July to compete in the National Championships.

 * ... OVERHEARD: Word on the street is that  HomeGoods is considering opening a store in the old Long's Drug building on California Avenue. HomeGoods is owned by the company that owns TJ Maxx and Marshalls and they have outlets all over the country. No announcement yet from the corporate office.

 * ... SNAKE BIT: I seem to be snake bit when it comes to reporting on Siobhan O'Rourke, the young lady who received a National Multiple Sclerosis Society college scholarship. She's heading to Biola University, not Cal State Bakersfield.

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Kimberly Fulenwider: You know you're from Bakersfield if "you remember the koi pond at Valley Plaza and the ginormous chandelier that swept down from above it! I loved looking at the fish as a child and throwing pennies into the pond."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dog gets tagged by graffiti vandals; how low have we sunk?

 So now taggers have taken to tagging dogs? That's what was reported in today's Californian and the picture by Casey Christie tells a thousand words. One wonders what these taggers were thinking, but hoping for rationality may be expecting too much. Read the entire story here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

China becomes top consumer for California almonds and welcoming another hot summer in Bakersfield

 * ... ALMOND DEMAND: Good news for our local almond growers. According to The New York Times, China is now the top foreign buyer of American almonds, "more than doubling its purchases from two years ago." That's according to the California Almond Board of California, which is launching an aggressive marketing campaign directed straight at the Chinese consumer. The Times said China purchased $737 million in tree nuts from the United States last year, a huge increase from the $89 million it spent just five years earlier. The California Almond Board is now spending $3.3 million to market our almonds to the Chinese consumer. The paper said Chinese consumers tend to buy nuts roasted, salted and in the shell.

 * ... HEAT IS ON: Where were you when Mother Nature snapped her fingers and ordered in the heat? I could almost pinpoint the time when I felt the end of our long happy period of mild weather. It was Sunday, around 10:30 a.m. and I was on a bike, out near Zerker Road and Porterville Highway, when I felt the full rush of a hot wind and knew instantly that summer was here.

 * ... REMEMBERING ALTON: Hard to believe it's been a full year since a motorist struck and killed Alton Saceaux. Alton was one of our community's true great spirits and a committed recreational cyclist. He was cycling home on South Union Avenue when he was struck and killed. (see a previous post here) His friends planned a twilight ride in his memory.  

* ... HIGHLAND ENGINEERS: It's not often that you hear of an entire family of engineers, but reader Randy Airey reminded me of at least one. He said his aunt, Marcelle Ansolabehere, is married to retired civil engineer George Ansolabehere. They have three daughters and all of them are civil engineers, and all went to Highland High. Monique finished at the top of her class at USC in 1985, Helene graduated from Cal Poly in 1988 and Denise also went to Cal Poly, graduating in 1990. Denise finished a masters in civil engineering in 2000 and Helene is working writing her Doctorate Dissertation from UCSB and will have a PhD is civil engineering. The girls have a brother, Tony, who graduated from USC in computer science. Wow.

 * ... POWER COUPLE: Heard that Betty Eaves is the incoming president of the Assistance League, one of the more prominent charities in town. Apparently this is Betty's second stint as president of the AL. She is married to Ron Eaves, the chairman of the board at the Golden Empire Gleaners, another important local charity. This is one couple who chooses to give back to their community. (Betty shown below in photo taken by Casey Christie)

 * ... MEA CULPA: I goofed on Monday in referring to Siobhan O'Rourke as a "he." As reader Michelle Beck noted: "Lovely mention for Siobhan O'Rourke, but I wanted to mention that she is a she, not a he. Her name is Irish and is pronounced 'Sha-vaughn.' My dad and her dad have been friends for years. She is a great kid and deserved the recognition." Siobhan received a scholarship from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and plans to enter the nursing program at Cal State Bakersfield. She graduated from Bakersfield Christian High School.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield if you "know Thursday night is steak night at Narducci's. Ten bucks for a steak and the set up."

Clay Shirky: How cognitive surplus will change the world | Video on

Clay Shirky: How cognitive surplus will change the world | Video on

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Who's living in that empty house next door? And looks like Dick's Sporting Goods is coming to Bako

* ... THE BUM NEXT DOOR: How'd you like to have a vagrant living in the empty home next door? That's exactly what happened to a friend of mine in one of the nicer neighborhoods in our town. The house had been foreclosed and my friend spent her time keeping its yard tidy. One day, she and her husband noticed the back door open, went to close it, and found the thermostat set at 66. The empty home's Realtor later told her a vagrant had been living in the house, happily using its electricity and enjoying a roof over his head. A long recession and thousands of empty homes can spell trouble. This story ended happily: the house has sold and a new family is moving in.

 * ... SCHOLARSHIPS: Kudos to two high-achieving local kids who received scholarships from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to go to college. Frontier High's Paige Brock and Bakersfield Christian's Siobhan O'Rourke were among 300 lucky students from across the country to receive money to help with school expenses. Brock was diagnosed with MS just before her 17th birthday and has since shown a strong, positive attitude. She'll receive $1,000 and plans on attending Cal State Bakersfield's nursing program. She hopes to become a labor and delivery nurse. O'Rourke said her mother was diagnosed eight years ago, throwing her into a new role at home. She received $2,500 and will attend Biola University in La Mirada to major in English. She hopes to either teach English or write. Hats off to both of these kids.

 * ... GLEN'S TAKE?: From reader Glen Worrell: "You know you're a Bakersfield old timer when Ray and Joan Dezember's daughter (Becky, I hope!) was in the fourth grade at Caroline Harris School where I was principal in 1965. She was more than great in the standing broad jump (9 feet plus?) I came to Bakersfield in 1937 and I'll have one of his 'I Love Bakersfield' stickers if I get there before they are gone!" 

 * ... FLIES BE GONE: A number of readers wrote with the same remedy to rid my side yard of pesky flies. The solution: put several pennies in plastic bags, fill them with water and hang them around the yard. "I was amazed and happy as they were driving us all inside. Worth a shot and cheap to boot!" Lynn Bailey said. John Rodenburg said the reflection/prism effect of the water-filled bags, along with the pennies, scares the flies. "We tried it a few days ago since flies like to feast of our hygienically-challenged pug this time of year. It appears to be working like a charm!" he said.

 * ... THE BUZZ: So what will come of the mess that befallen county Supervisor Michael Rubio, who up until a few days ago was a shoo-in to become the new state senator from the 16th District? Problem is, he doesn't live in the 16th Senate District but rather the 18th District. This is clearly not Rubio's fault since he has been voting in the 16th District and registered there. (the boundary is just yards down the road) It was a problem caused by the county elections office, and if someone officially challenges Rubio's ability to represent the district, he may be disqualified to run. Rubio is one of our community's rising young stars, but this legal snafu would derail his meteoric rise, at least temporarily.

 * ... OVERHEARD: It appears that Dick's Sporting Goods, another national chain, may be coming to Bakersfield. Workers are busy remodeling the inside of the old Linens 'n Things at the Northwest Promenade and someone spotted blueprints from Dick's. No official word but appears we have a new business in town. 

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM:  You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if  "you remember the teletype machine in the lobby of the Padre Hotel and know why it was there. (So the horse players in the bar could get the race results."