Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday farmer's market, Bakersfield

 Some random shots from the Saturday farmer's market at the corner of Brimhall and Calloway drives in the Action Sports shopping center. It's good to see these markets thriving around town. Much of this produce some from Lamont, Arvin and other farms around Kern County, as well as Reedly and other Central Valley towns.

Friday, July 23, 2010

McCarthy: Citizens offer their own spending cuts on America Speaking Out website

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

 "It was great to see high school students from the District this week in Washington. On Tuesday, my office welcomed Taylor Holliday, a junior from Frontier High School and a new participant in the 2010 House Summer Page Program.  As a page, Taylor will assist Members of Congress by answering telephones, delivering mail and assisting the Capitol staff with other various duties. On Thursday, I met and spoke with several students from the district involved with the Future Farmers of America and the National Young Leaders Conference. To see pictures visit: and for more information on the Congressional Page program, visit my website:  Also, this week in my Bakersfield office, my staff welcomed another new intern, Matt Morea  Matt is a graduate of Bakersfield High School and currently a junior at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying electrical engineering.

 "Legislatively this week, the House failed to seriously consider spending cuts to save money for the American people. Did you know that for every dollar Congress spends, it has to borrow 43 cents from future generations? This is why my colleagues and I continue to ask Americans which wasteful spending programs they think should be eliminated through a program called YouCut. To date, over 1.3 million votes have been cast online and Republicans have offered this Majority over $120 billion in spending reductions.  Unfortunately, none of the reductions have been approved despite bipartisan support. On YouCut this week the winner would eliminate taxpayer subsidies for first-class travel on Amtrak. Currently, Amtrak is losing money on their first-class passengers’ tickets, and to make up for it the government subsidizes the losses with your tax dollars.  By getting rid of this subsidy, Congress could save taxpayers more than $1.2 billion over the next 10 years.  This kind of savings could be used for something better, like paying back our ever-growing national deficit, which by the way is now, is predicted to be a record $1.47 trillion.

 "Likewise, continues to generate ideas and solutions from all over the country. On the ASO website this week, the Leader of House Republicans, Congressman John Boehner, posted a video regarding transparency in Washington.  n the clip, Leader Boehner reminds listeners that for too long, Washington has ignored the voices of the American people.  No longer should Congress be allowed to pass bills that neither the American public nor legislators have the opportunity to review.  To reform this broken process, both Leader Boehner and Congressman John Culberson introduced a bill to require Congress to publicly post all legislation that will be voted on at least 72 hours before the vote.  By doing this, Americans, as well as their representatives, would have ample time to review bills and know exactly what they are voting on.

Lastly, next week is the last week Congress will be in session before I come back to Bakersfield to work in the district for the month of August.  Have a good week.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

CSUB's big gamble to attain Division 1 status and more feedback on trash in our parks

 * ... THE BIG GAMBLE: Hats off to Cal State Bakersfield for its successful drive to attain Division 1 status for its sports programs. A well connected  group of alumni and boosters were behind this, arguing D-1 status will add to the school's image and give the programs better leverage in recruiting top athletes. But not everyone supported the drive, saying the school instead should be putting more emphasis on its academic programs to lure a different kind of student to the university. In the best of worlds,  supporters hope CSUB will follow in the footsteps of schools like Gonzaga, the small Jesuit university in Spokane, Washington, that has gained national stature via a highly successful Division 1 basketball program.

 * ... BILL KIZER: In a time when so few people value loyalty to their employers, it's nice to hear cases  like that of William "Bill" Kizer. He retired recently from Today Cleaners where he worked for 55 years. That's right, more than five decades at the same place of work. Three generations of family ownership worked with Bill, including Jeff Newman Sr. who credits him with teaching him the ropes of the family business. In addition to that, eight other members of Bill's family worked at Sparkle or Today cleaners. Current company president Jeff Newman Jr. joined in a party to celebrated Bill's retirement. How many folks retire at the age of 86 after 55 years at the same job?

* ... TRASH WOES: I clearly hit a nerve with a recent post about our parks being strewn with litter after a weekend. Reader Pat Napier wrote to note that while traveling in Mexico "you will notice that all the parks and beaches look just like the ones here in Bako after a weekend or holiday.... strewn with beer bottles, watermelon rinds, potato chip packages etc, waiting for the tide to come in and wash it all away. What a shame to trash a beautiful country just like what is being done to Kern County." My take: there's lot of bad behavior in our community and it usually has more to do with education and upbringing than nation of origin.

 * ... STINSON'S: Stinson's Stationers, one of our town's iconic family owned businesses, held a shoe drive last week and collected almost 500 pairs for the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter. Business development manager Heather Henderson told me company drivers picked up the shoes along their routes or customers dropped off the shoes at the various Stinson's locations. And they did it all in one week.

 * ... LOCAL BOY: Reader Joel Hoffman was watching a Detroit Tigers versus Texas Rangers game on Brighthouse Networks the other day when the announcer mentioned the Ranger's pitcher - Colby Lewis - was from Bakersfield. He's listed as a 31-year-old right handed starter who stands six foot four and weighs in at 230 pounds.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Anne Grogan: You know you're from Bakersfield when "you see people lining up to have their photos taken next to the Bob's Big Boy statue as if it were a national monument."

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The rush to e-books continues and celebrating some good Mexican grub in Bakersfield

 * ... AMAZON: It was interesting to read in The New York Times the other day that the sale of digital books had overtaken the sale of hard cover books. At least that's what is happening at Amazon, which reported the sale of electronic books on the Kindle and other e-readers had finally surpassed hard covers. Amazon chief executive Jeffrey Bezos said it was amazing "considering we have been selling hard cover books for 15 years and electronic books for 33 months." Amazing, indeed.

 * ... GOOD DEED: A nice post from readers Peter and Emily Hernandez: "Recently, there have been a lot of unfortunate events happening in our community: crime, animal cruelty, negative press about our town, etc. However, during these bad times, there are still good people in our community who do good deeds. Our family would like to acknowledge and thank Chris Kowal for finding our family dog at a local AM/PM. Hearing a stranger on the phone saying 'I found your dog Honey' brought such a good feeling to our family. There were so many things running through our mind about what could happen to our dog, especially after seeing a dog hog tied in the paper and one spray painted. However, despite what people and surveys say about our community, we do have people who care for one another and do good deeds. The phone call my wife received from Mr. Kowal was not from a stranger, it was from a good person in our community, who is one of many people who do good deeds.

 * ... RANCH MARKET: Something else that is special about our community is the abundance of quality and authentic Mexican restaurants. Mexicali, La Costa Mariscos, The Red Pepper, Sinaloa and Casa Munoz, are just a few. But don't forget the Ranch Markets which offer casual inside dining in addition to their other standard offerings. I stopped by the branch over at Niles Street and Mount Vernon where they were grilling chicken outside and went home with some Mexican tacos or some Oaxaca cheese.

 * ... EGGHEADS: Mensa is the national high IQ society and it's safe to say it's a club that wouldn't have me as a member. But despite that, give the local Mensa group props for coming in second in Mensa's CultureQuest , a national competition to promote and test for cultural literacy. The local team is known as the Tumblin Tumbleweeds and consists of Carl Bryan, a retired math teacher and a public address announcer for Bakersfield College, Suzanne Bryan, a physician's assistant at Bakersfield Family Medical Center Urgent Care, retiree Jim Crawford and Linda Robinette from Ridgecrest. A team from Central Indiana won the competition.

 * ... MORE COACHLIGHT: Reader Patti Bailey wrote to share her own memories of the staff of the old Coachlight Inn. "I celebrated by 21st birthday there (many years ago!) Four months before that I had a very major, serious spinal surgery and was in a body cast with much pain and discomfort. The wonderful staff there made me feel like a queen and not someone to stare at. I will never forget that special evening and those special people."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Kurt Seeger: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if you remember "two taverns, both located in the middle of a residential neighborhood, on North Baker Street called the College Inn and the Bluffs."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Earning your money in a recession and more areas of town hit with rash of burglaries

 * ... REALTOR PRAISE: There are few harder jobs in this economy than being a Realtor. The real estate market is in a major funk, home prices have been sliding for three straight years, credit is tight, banks can be difficult to work with and the appraisal business is a mess. Many Realtors who were flying high several years ago have simply gotten out of the business, but the hardiest of the lot remain, and they can be invaluable. I sold a house recently and encountered the usual challenges of the 2010 Great Recession: an escrow that fell through, a low appraisal,  picky buyers, price concessions and seemingly endless open houses. It was an agonizing ordeal and would never have happened without the diligence that my Realtor - in this case Mary Christenson of Watson Realty - gave my case. How many times have you come home to find your Realtor on her hands and knees with a bottle of Pledge shining your wood floors? Our community is blessed with many good Realtors, and this year they are earning every penny of their commissions.

 * ... FARMER'S MARKET: Had the chance to check out the new farmer's market over at the newly renovated Mill Creek Park behind the Bakersfield Museum of Art. There were about a dozen vendors and the fruit and vegetables were splendid: fresh corn, tomatoes, various kinds of squash, scallions, melons, strawberries, blue berries, dried fruit and herbs. It runs every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is worth checking out. Another farmer's market is out at the corner of Brimhall Road and Calloway Drive on Saturday mornings.

* ... MAN OF GOD: Rev. Peter J. Pacini, Bakersfield High School class of 1985,  was in town recently on his way to a new assignment in South Bend, Indiana. That might prove touchy for Rev. Pacini, particularly since he graduated from USC - one of the University of Notre Dame's arch rivals - in electrical engineering. He will be installed as pastor of St. Adalbert and St. Casimir parishes in South Bend, home of the Fighting Irish. His parents are local residents Pete and Rosemary Pacini.

 * ... CRIME WATCH: Here are more neighborhoods that readers have told me that have been hit with burglaries over the last few months: Laurelglen, Silver Creek,  Oleander, Westchester and the Bakersfield Country Club area.

  * ... COACHLIGHT: Reader Barbara Fleming added her own memories of the old Coachlight Inn. "Every time you have written about the Coachlight Inn my heart has smiled. My husband Jim was district manager of the Social Security (office) when we met. The Coachlight Inn become our place that we loved to go for romantic dinners, a martini and great conversation. The place is still high in my memories."

* ... BAKERFIELDISMS: Two gems from reader Fred McCaa: You know you're  from Bakersfield when "you can get sun burn by moonlight, and if you fail to stop at the stop sign, just stop twice the next time."