Saturday, September 18, 2010

McCarthy to Pelosi: call a vote on extending tax relief

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

 "The Canyon Fire is expected to be contained this weekend. This year has been an active wildfire season, and I am glad to hear of the great cooperation between local, state and federal agencies that are working
so hard to protect our local communities from any further damage and that FEMA is being responsive to requests for fire management assistance grants.‬

  "Congress was back in session this week.  My colleagues and I called on Speaker Pelosi to hold a straight up or down vote on extending tax relief to all Americans and small business instead of raising taxes on
January 1, 2010. As I hear from local small business owners, it makes no sense to raise taxes during an economic recession. So far at least 38 Democrats have come out and supported this same extension.
  "Unfortunately, this week the Administration requested $20 billion more in federal spending from Congress before the year ends.  What our country needs is certainty for at least the next two years, not more of the unknown and unpredictable in government spending and higher taxes. ‪‬

  "Last week I updated you on the YouCut and how my colleagues and I have offered over $120 billion in spending cuts to date.  This week, the American people voted that Congress should collect $1 billion in
unpaid 2008 taxes from 97,000 delinquent federal employees; unfortunately the current majority overruled this common-sense fiscally responsible action on Thursday.  ‪‬

‪ "Saturday I will be out at Mojave Air and Space Port to celebrate its 75th anniversary.  This is a unique place, playing a significant role in cutting-edge research and development in the air and space field.
We are fortunate to have such a place in our backyard and California should place more of a priority on keeping and attracting the kinds of businesses at Mojave that produce the new technologies that will keep
America number one in high-tech innovation. ‪‬

‪ "Today is Constitution Day. On this day, the Founders signed our Constitution. My offices handed out pocket constitutions in honor of the day, which is officially recognized every September 17th by
Congress.  If you were not able to stop by and would still like a copy, call my office: 327-3611. ‬

‪ "As you may recall from earlier columns, over the past couple of months, citizens from all over the country have been providing input through the project.  We have listened to the
American people and today we released a summary entitled, “What We Heard” which reports on the priorities that Americans want included in the new governing agenda that will help get America back on successful path towards the future for the sake of future generations.  This new policy agenda will be unveiled in the coming weeks and I will be sure to keep you updated. Also this weekend the League of Dreams 2010
Basketball season kicks off on Sunday.  This is a great program started by Tim Terrio that provides sports opportunities for children with disabilities.‪ 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mountain lion sighted on Seven Oaks golf course and the sound and the fury over fat public pensions

 * ... MOUNTAIN LION: Was it a mountain lion or simply an overfed tabby? Either way some folks in the Grand Island development of Seven Oaks are abuzz over the reported sighting of the big cat. Said one resident:  "It was definitely a mountain lion and not a bobcat as it was very large. He was eating the neighbor’s dog food and when he was approached he ran off, jumped the five-foot tall wrought iron fence and ran onto the golf course at Seven Oaks. We aren’t that far from the river so maybe it had wandered away looking for food?" We already know about the cougars at Seven Oaks, but this is one intruder even the gates can't keep out.

 * ... THE BUZZ: Lots of talk in our community about the number of city and county employees who are earning more than $100,000 a year in public pensions. The Californian ran a list of some of the top earners, including former county Fire Chief Dennis Thompson who is pulling down $232,547 a year. (read the entire story here) But let's not gang up on the retirees. Shouldn't our anger be directed at our elected officials who negotiated these sweetheart deals in order to buy support from the public employee unions? As one reader, Caroline Reid, said:  "With the amount of money we are paying our public officials in retirement and what we paid them while they were working, we ought to have the safest, most crime free and law abiding city in the Valley, and surrounding areas. And the farmers shouldn't have to worry so much about water for crops. And, our taxes should keep going up but they will because we have the pensions."

* ... CHILDHOOD CANCER: John Schumacher, a teacher at Lakeside School, is about to part with his beard of over 30 years to help fight childhood cancer. His wife, Joan Knowlden Schumacher, said it's all part of a St. Baldrick's Foundation event to raise money to fight cancer. Moved by the story of a young boy's struggle with cancer, he decided to shave his beard to raise $250 and he'll have his head shaved to raise another $500. "He hasn't shaved his beard in over 30 years so this is a big event," his wife said. "He and his sister are UCSB alums and challenge other alums to donate Saturday." It will all happen at the Prime Cut on the corner of Brimhall and Calloway drive.

 * ... DRUM CORPS: Hats off to 16 Bakersfield area high school and college kids who won the world championship in a drum and bugle corps competition held in Indianapolis, IN. Reader Ann Olcott said the kids, members of the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps - B Corps, practiced all summer to win their second championship. "The sound from the drums and horns just blows you away," she said. Ann's grand daughter, Jami Olcott, was a member of the winning team. She is a 2010 graduate of Bakersfield High School.

* ... TRICE: Former state Assemblyman Trice Harvey called to say he remembers the old Weather Bird that sat on the roof of a building on Chester Avenue. When it rained, the bird stayed in its house and when it was sunny, it came out and stood under the son. Trice also said that once, while a youngster, he saved a young girl from drowning at the 24th Street bridge quarry. "Everyone was so busy taking care of the girl that nobody thanked me!" he said.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From my friend Riley Parker: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you "would never wear a shirt to high school that didn't come from Coffee's University Shop."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Morning report: the cover is removed on our public pensions

 Some notes from the news in our community this morning:

 * Make sure to check out the story in today's Californian that shows that more than  174 city and county employees are pulling in more than $100,000 a year in public pensions. Former county Fire Chief Dennis Thompson tops the chart with a pension of $223,547 a year. Former city Police Chief Bill Rector's pension is $160,557.

 * Sad to hear that a recent graduate of Garces High School, Dominic Phillip Cornejo, lost his battle with cancer. He was 19 and a product of the Catholic education system, including Garces and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. A Rosary service is set for Friday at 7 p.m. and a Mass will be held this Saturday at 10 a.m., both at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church on Columbus Street.

  * The City of Shafter has long been known for its progressive policies and now it's tackling the complex issue of raising the educational standards for its children. Read Lois Henry's column on this innovative program.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bakersfield a "hot bed of sex?" You be the judge

 Hilarious blog posted by Californian writer Steve Mayer on a new survey by Men's Health magazine in which Bakersfield was ranked No. 9 on the list of cities that are a "hot bed of sex." Say what? Usually we get noted for bad air, or poverty, or heat but this survey - suspect as they all are - lists Bakersfield among those cities where sexual activity is rampant. Said Steven:

 "Bakersfield, the results are in: When it comes to S-E-X, you are smokin’-hot. You sizzle.
 Either that, or  you’re cheap and tawdry.
 According to the October issue of Men’s Health magazine, which hits newsstands Tuesday, Bakersfield is  among  America’s top-10 “Hotbeds of Sex.”
 Bakersfield was rated No. 9, behind Austin, Dallas and Houston, Texas towns where the salsa is spicy, and apparently the locals are, too.
 Of course, like all these lists, the results tend to cause the eyes to roll when you consider the criteria used to reach the conclusions.
 This time around, Men’s Health looked at four basic criteria: condom sales; birth rates; sex toy sales; and rates of sexually transmitted diseases as determined by state health departments.
 "Kind of takes the wind out of your sails, doesn’t it?

 Click here to read the entire post.

As the city gets ready to launch an anti-littering campaign, used diapers show up in local parking lots

 * ... OUR SHAME: Got a call the other day from Dianne Hoover, director of our city Parks and Recreation Department. Turns out she is spearheading a new effort to heighten public awareness about littering, which by any measure is out of control in our community. Hoover is clearly frustrated with the way some of our citizens literally trash our parks on the weekends, leaving behind everything from paper cups and plates to soiled diapers. How many times have you driven down one of our streets and watched as some knucklehead nonchalantly (and without shame) tosses his fast food wrappers out the window? "In some ways it means changing our culture," Hoover said, "and that's not easy to do." But at least it's a start, and it deserves all of our support. Interested? Have ideas? Call Hoover at 661-326-3866 or email her at

 * ... SPOTTED: And this is why Hoover's campaign is so important. I was running errands the other day and ended up at Target on Rosedale Highway, where I was greeted with a used diaper sitting near a small bush on the concrete median, not 15 feet from a Target trash container. Later that day I ended up at the new Target on Stockdale Highway where - surprise! - I found my second used diaper of the day in the parking lot next to a black Chevrolet SUV, baking in the afternoon heat. Ever wonder about the lessons these mothers and fathers will be handing down to these infants? And so it goes.

 * ... NON-PROFITS: It's that time of year when the non-profits are rolling out their annual golf tournaments to raise money, and it should come as no surprise that many are lightly attended. Charitable giving is down, unemployment is up and every business person I know has battened down the hatches to ride out this recession. Few people are writing checks for $500 to field a foursome anymore, no matter how worthy the charity. One recent non-profit tournament had half the turnout as last year, and given the dismal economic outlook for the next year, I don't think things will get better anytime soon.

 * ... CANCER FIGHT: If you do have a couple of spare bucks, and you want to support a worthy cause, check out the Pyrenees Fiesta this Saturday from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Bakersfield City Firefighters Hall on Wible road. Fifty dollars gets you dinner, dancing an an auction and proceeds benefit the Mendiburu Magic Foundation, which focuses on cancer research and serves local families who have a loved one fighting cancer. Contact Brian Mendiburu at for details.

* ... LARSON'S DAIRY: Randy Hamm, the long-time journalism adviser over at East Bakersfield High School, wants to know about a hippopotamus, named Sam, who apparently lived at the old Larson's Dairy on Larson Lane. "We moved into that neighborhood in 1983, and there was no sign of a hippo by then. Maybe some of your readers will remember this."

 * ... THOMPSON'S: Michelle Beck adds her memories of the old Thompson's Petland. "My grandmother, Emilie Butterfield, worked at Thompson's Petland from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.  Thompson's didn't sell typical pets like cats and dogs, but they did sell hamsters, parakeets and snakes. They also sold some more unusual pets, such as golden mantle squirrels and small monkeys.  One time, my grandmother brought a sickly monkey home over the weekend, because it wasn't eating well and needed special attention. My mom, Kathy Davis and my aunt, Judy Worley, had pet golden mantle squirrels from Thompson's when they were young girls. My grandma told me a story about a time when a customer wanted to buy a particular snake from a terrarium containing six or seven snakes. The man who usually took care of the snakes was on his break, and told my grandmother the customer would have to wait until the man's break was over. My grandma said, 'Who needs you? I'll do it myself!' stormed out, grabbed the snake and put it into a bag for the customer.  I can remember going in there during the 1970s when I was a kid. I don't think they were still selling monkeys and squirrels by then, but I can remember many terrariums of fish and reptiles as well as cages of birds. I loved going there."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when "you know summer is never really over until the Kern County Fair wraps up."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Marv Steinert checks in and time to share Ysabel Forker's guacamole recipe

 * ... MARV: It was good to catch up with Marvin Steinert at my downtown Rotary Club meeting last week. He was there with his longtime wife Nadine, and son Greg. If you remember, last year Marv suddenly and unexpectedly came down with "temporal arteritis," a condition that blinded him virtually overnight. A man of deep spirituality and faith, Marv dealt with his blindness and continued his generosity to the community that he so loves, writing a check for $50,000 to Memorial Hospital's drive to create a children's medical center. Good to have you back, Marv.

* ... BOOZE CHECK: Local advertising agency owner Marlene Heise got a chuckle when she ordered a box of wine that was delivered by United Parcel Service. On the box was a warning reading: "Adult signature required.... Do not deliver to an intoxicated person." Say what? So are UPS drivers now going to be administering field sobriety checks?

 * ... SPOTTED: An early morning cyclist said several hundred Muslims gathered at Yokuts Park Friday morning, presumably to mark the end of Ramadan. I suppose it's a good thing that it went virtually unnoticed, particularly in this climate of hair-trigger tempers,  talk of burning Korans and the ninth anniversary of September 11.

* ... WEEKEND: Another beautiful weekend in town. Perfect weather, almost fall-like in the morning, and every neighborhood festooned with American flags remembering the sacrifices of so many on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings. Huge crowds enjoyed the annual Village Fest as well as the Greek Festival on Truxtun Avenue. It was also nice to see a large group from Cal State Bakersfield spending their Saturday cleaning up trash along the river and bike trail on Truxtun Extension as part of the Day of Giving Back.

* ... WEATHER BIRD: Reader Fred Cierley wrote to recall working as head usher at the California Theater while he was in high school in the 1950s. "On the west side of Chester Avenue between 19th and 20th street, on the top of one of the buildings was a very large neon sign that was called the weather bird. When it rained, he stayed in his house, but when the weather was clear and sunny, he would come out and stand under the sun. I think it was taken down in the 1960s when I was in the service. Does anyone remember it?"

 * ... YSABEL'S RECIPE: Several readers have asked for Ysabel Forker's guacamole recipe that was featured in a recent Bakersfieldism, so here it is, But first some background on Ms. Forker: she taught Spanish at Bakersfield College for decades and kindly gave out the recipe to hundreds of students through the years. One reader described her as "a large-boned woman with coal black hair and a dark complexion... a presence in the community and in the local and statewide Republican party... She was born in 1892, probably in Bakersfield. She, her brother, Wilfred, and her sister, Alma (Trowbridge), were prominent figures in Bakersfield for decades. Ysabel Forker graduated from Kern County Union High School, probably in 1911, and from UC Berkeley in 1915. As best I can determine, she began teaching college Spanish in Bakersfield in 1915 or 1916. I don't know when she retired, but she was still there in 1961. She died in 1980." Her recipe (serves eight to ten): one can of "Ortega" chiles, two green onions, one-half clove garlic, one lemon, two teaspoons of olive oil, two large avocados,  salt and pepper.
 Now, split open chiles, remove seeds and veins, then chop fine. Chop green onions very fine. Mash garlic in small quantity of salt. Mash avocado meat, then mix well with chopped chiles, onions, garlic and while mixing add lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Beat mixture well, cover and place in cool place until ready to use. Note: The can of Ortega chiles would be the four-ounce size.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from  Bakersfield "if you think stop signs are just a suggestion."