Saturday, August 28, 2010

McCarthy: Congress fiddles as $13 trillion debt grows

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

 "It has been good to be home in California for the August work period. I spent a lot of time this week visiting our military and space facilities that our district is so grateful to have.  First stop was the China Lake Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division.  I was able to get a sneak preview of the Dr. William B. McLean Laboratory, named after the pioneer designer of the Sidewinder missile.  This new facility will house labs and office space for our current and next generation of weapons development.
   "I also received an update on the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) work out at China Lake – the restricted airspace and expertise at the base make it the perfect location for this kind of testing.   Second stop was Mojave Air and Space Port.  I met with aerospace legend Burt Rutan and astronauts Mike Melvill and
Brian Binnie and saw White Knight Two. 
 "I also met Aviation Weekly’s 2009 Person of the Year, Dave Masten.  Masten has invented the Xombie,
a vertical take off and landing rocket vehicle.  I also visited Edwards Air Force Base, and got an update on the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) test program, and the Airborne Laser Test Bed. These are game-changing technologies, and I appreciate all the great work there!
  "My last stop was at NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility to visit SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy). This program will provide a new way of looking into space.

  "I also held an America Speaking Out luncheon in Ridgecrest.  As you may remember, America Speaking Out is an initiative that members of Congress are using to listen to the American people and hear their
solutions for the challenges facing our nation.  We had great turnout and an excellent discussion on the state of our fiscal situation both in California and nationally.   We discussed solutions that we can
employ to bring stability to our economy and keep America competitive in the world.  Unfortunately, right now Washington is ignoring the financial challenges that are looming over our country’s future, like the current $13 trillion national debt. 
 "When discussing job creation, we discussed policies on what will help our small businesses compete
with the rest of the world.  America has met challenges in the past and when America competes we win and we should never lose this mindset, especially now as our economy struggles to recover.  First,
let’s look at our business climate.  Keeping taxes low and unshackling burdensome regulations will help businesses innovate, expand, and create jobs.  Second, we need to get our financial house in order.
  "During this time of economic uncertainty, we need to stop digging the hole we are in and get our spending under control.  As Californians, we need to find ways to attract businesses to come to our state to create jobs, which is going to require us to really focus on the obstacles that are holding us back.  And as Americans, we need to revitalize that competitive spirit that has made our nation great.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

If it's 110 degrees it must be a Bakersfield summer, and more readers wax poetic of old Bakersfield


* ... OUR HEAT: This week's heat seemed just another oddity in our long unpredictable weather year. First we enjoyed the unusually mild, and long, spring that lasted well into the early part of summer. Remember how nice that was? It seemed like it would never end. And it really hasn't been that bad until - boom! - this week's temperatures soared above 110. And now what? They're telling us it could be 25 to 30 degrees cooler by this Sunday. Go figure.

* ... OLD EATERY: I had two readers contact me to correct an earlier post regarding a restaurant that was located on the west side of Chester Avenue a few blocks south of California. Turns out it was named "Mr. and Mrs. of Radio Fame" and featured pictures of local and regional radio personalities on the walls. The original tipster, Dick Porter, was apparently right about one thing: the food was superb.

 * ... BAKER STREET: Jo Lynn Moralez wrote to say she remembers when Baker Street was "a bustling business area with Kirby and Karl's shoe stores, music stores, furniture stores, flower shops, Snider's Cyclery and even JC Penney, which is where Stinson's is now. And let's not forget Richard's Toy Shop at the corner of Baker and Monterey where they wrapped your gifts and added a bow and a lollipop on each gift."

 * ... MORE RICHARD'S: Nice to hear from Michael Huston, vice president at Townsend Design, who added a comment about the old Tejon Theater. "The Tejon and Granada Theaters were locally owned by the Lemucchi family. And while the Tejon was a must for Saturday matinee's (including the Three Stooges) you day was not complete until you visited Richard's Toy Store. It was located right across the street, owned and operated by the Adams family. I can fondly remember balloon wrapped presents, the ribbon and of course the sucker attached to each package. Priceless memories!"

 * ... PILOT HONOR: Reader Monica Powell passed along a note that Capt. Wayne Dirkes, a Naval Test Pilot School student, received the 2009 Exceptional Pilot Award. The honor is presented annually to a pilot selected by each of the five military branches for exceptional deeds performed to assure mission success. Dirkes is a graduate of Bakersfield High School.

 * ... BRIDGE QUARRY: A reader's post about the old 24th Street bridge quarry triggered a response from old friend Rick Kreiser, president of Carneys business systems. "While my memories are foggy of the 24th Street bridge quarry, I distinctly remember dad telling me NOT to go in the water by the bridge!  Seems, he and mom were sitting on the levee one day watching my older sis, Carol, wade in the cool, knee-deep waters of the 'always-on' Kern…when she suddenly was NOT THERE!  Somehow, dad suspected the fate that had befallen her and dove into the spot where she disappeared.  Luckily, both he and Carol emerged after a minute or so (I’m told) and walked out – never to venture into that spot again.  Close call."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From contributor Riley Parker: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if "you rode bumper cars at Hart Park on the same day that you swam in the big green pool."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dealing with an invasion of dragonflies, the homeless and plunging home sales

* ... DRAGON FLIES: Gretchen Knaggs shot me an email wondering what is going on with all the dragonflies on the west side of town. "I'm not sure if it is just in our part of town (out near Brimhall and Old Farm roads) but it is really something else. There were close to 15 in our front yard the other evening!" Gretchen ended with her own memory of east Bakersfield. "You know you're an old school east sider if remember Plahn's Bakery on Niles near Mount Vernon. That's a throwback to my grandparents Eric and Agnes Plahn."

 * ... HOMELESS: A local therapist took issue with my earlier post citing "one of the nuttier" areas of our community populated by the homeless and recently released parolees. Wrote Ethel C. Katz: "The 'homeless denizens' and 'scary looking parolees" are often suffering from chronic illnesses. They do not chose to live on the streets but without the necessary medication are relegated to them or to jails ... Most of this population do not have middle class homes to go to nor do they have incomes to purchase medication which would quiet their 'animated conversations with invisible partners.' A bit of sensitivity would go a long way to helping this under-served population." Sorry if I sounded insensitive, and I understand the issues, but it nevertheless is a nutty scene.

 * ... HOME SALES: Hard to be optimistic after hearing that home sales dropped 27.2 percent in July in another signal that this recession has a lot of life left in it. Regionally, the west dropped 25 percent and across the country, homes in the distressed category accounted for more than a third of all sales. This is not good news folks. It's easy to underestimate how important steady growth and a healthy real estate market are to our local economy, but the consumer is wary and lacking confidence. On the plus side, it is a great time to be in the market: mortgage rates are near historic lows and there is a lot of property to choose from. But consumers remain skittish, banks have raised their lending standards and many folks are just sitting on the  sidelines until this mess gets better.

 * ... UCSB: Local attorney Harley Pinson and his wife Cindy will be hosting a reception for all the young people heading to UC Santa Barbara. The Pinsons, both Gaucho grads, will host the incoming freshmen, their parents and local UCSB alumni on Sunday, September 12 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Meetings like this allow the kids to exchange contact information for car pooling and are great opportunities for the parents to learn more about the school. If interested, call Harley at (661) 599-5584.

 * ... OLD EATERIES: Local farmer Dick Porter shot me a message recalling a restaurant that his parents took him to in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Called "Mr. and Mrs." it was located on the west side of Chester Avenue a few blocks south of California. "Their specialty was pan fried steaks, not breaded, just steaks fried in pans. I can still smell the absolutely fabulous aromas coming from the frying pans just across a stool counter. I can remember the floors were black and white linoleum tile and there were pictures of movie stars on the wall. Just fantastic food!"
  * ... SPOTTED: From reader Sue Allred: "Observed in the dress department at a Valley Plaza department store on Memorial Day afternoon. A young man said to a woman: 'If you choose a dress in the next 15 minutes I will pay for it.'" And Sue added: "You know you're from Bakersfield if on your summer walks you know what 'follow the shade' means. It can lead to some great new paths."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield  old timer if "you remember what was on the northeast corner of 19th Street and Union Avenue before Stan's Drive-in. (the old street car barn)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dealing with a community that trashes its parks and resisting the rash of summer burglaries

 * ... OUR TRASH:  A lot of folks have contacted me to vent their frustration with the way our parks and green areas are trashed virtually every weekend. Bonnie Farrer was one of them.  "In Singapore if you are caught littering you are forced to clean the streets as punishment. I have driven through Hart Park and seen dirty diapers by the road. This is unacceptable, especially since there are litter bins all over the park. I also saw a woman throw a gum wrapper out her window as if it were the natural thing to do. Let's do something. Yes, we have a $1,000 fine for littering but I think it is unrealistic. Let's lower the fine and then enforce it."

 * ... CRIME WATCH: Had the chance to chat with Police Chief Greg Williamson the other day, and he told me that home and commercial burglaries are up 9 percent. Why? High unemployment, a dismal economy and the state prison system dumping literally hundreds of unsupervised parolees in Kern County. The chief's advice? Lock your doors, lower your window shades, leave the alarm on, don't leave valuables visible in your home or car and if you see something suspicious, report it immediately to the police.

 * ... MEMORIES: Speaking of old Bakersfield, reader Don Enebo recalls the old Tex's Barrel House that was located just off the Garces Circle. "In spite of its reputation, it was probably better than the Deja Vu which is in the same old neighborhood," he said.

 * ...  HEY BARACK: Heard from Philip Brandon, a recent Garces Memorial High graduate who is now living and working on Martha's Vineyard where President Obama is vacationing. Turns out that among Philip's odd jobs  is one working as a full service gas station attendant at the Airport Mobile station in Edgartown. And to keep his job while the president was vacationing Philip had to receive special clearance from the Secret Service. You just never know when a black Suburban might pull up and some familiar figure rolls down the window to bark a presidential order: 'Wipe the windows, check the oil and fill her up."

 * ... EAST BAKERSFIELD: And reader Don Kurtz wanted to wax poetic about old east Bakersfield, adding these thoughts: "How about Tiny's Diner downtown, or Clark's Broiler at Union and Monterey? Or the hamburger grill across from Jefferson Park on Beale Avenue? The Fosters Freeze at Niles and Union or Blue Jays Ice Cream Parlor on Bernard across from Longfellow School. This is just a start of really bringing back good memories of East Bakersfield and a little bit of downtown." Thanks for sharing, Don.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if "you remember the name of the dairy at North Chester and the river and the full name of the person who owned it. (Wayne's Dairy, owned by Wayne Peacock)