Saturday, October 16, 2010

McCarthy: federal budget deficit now tops a trillion dollars and let's count the votes of our service men and women overseas

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

 "This week we learned that certain states have failed to get ballots to our overseas military personnel in enough time so that their votes can be properly counted.  This is infuriating.  Last October, Congress
worked together to enact a bipartisan law that requires state and local election jurisdictions to transmit ballots to overseas and military voters no later than 45 days before a general election.
  "Today, joining with neighboring Congressman Buck McKeon, the Senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee, we sent a letter to the Department of Justice calling on them to address this issue.  In order to ensure that our overseas servicemen and servicewomen are not disenfranchised, we are urging the Justice Department to work with the Department of Defense and election officials to send ballots by
express delivery so that their ballots can be counted.

  "Speaking of military service, my office will host an Academy Forum on Saturday, November 6th for all students interested in attending one of our nation’s U.S. Service Academies.  If you know of a student who is
interested please let them know that they can RSVP by emailing my office at or by calling 327-3611.  The forum will be held from 10:00 to 11:00 am at the Kern County Board of Supervisors’ Chambers, and representatives from each Academy will be
there, along with various visiting cadets and midshipmen who will be able to offer a first-hand account of what school and life are like at the academies.  Parents are welcome to come too.

  "It was great to be in Taft today to help celebrate the city’s 100th Anniversary during Oildorado Days.  As you know in the late 1800’s, oil was discovered and overnight Taft was born.  Taft has a rich
historical connection to America’s domestic natural energy production, and I was proud to celebrate its rich heritage today.   To celebrate its centennial, Taft unveiled the long awaited Oil Workers Monument,
which was created and sculpted by Kern County’s own Foothill High School graduate, Benjamin Victor.  It stands 40 feet tall and weighs 13 tons and is now the largest bronze monument in California.  Check
out pictures on my from today’s unveiling.  If you did not have a chance to visit Taft this weekend, Oildorado Days will continue next weekend.  For more information on a
good family outing, visit:

  "Not to end on a negative note, but today a sobering report from the Administration informed us that the federal deficit for 2010 is expected to be $1.29 trillion, which means that the federal government
borrowed 37 cents out every dollar it spent.  How we act on this news will impact future generations.  In A Pledge to America, my colleagues and I put forth a plan that we can act on now to stop out-of-control
spending and reduce the size of government.  To read it, visit:  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bakersfield tops list of cities with the worst air and recalling Trice Harvey's "political whore" remark

 * ... OLE TRICE: Weighing on the weak public apology Jerry Brown offered Meg Whitman after comparing her to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels,  Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain recalled a 1994 incident involving our own Trice Harvey, a former Republican assemblyman from Bakersfield. Harvey had called Republican Paul Horcher a "political whore" for voting for Willie Brown as Speaker. Democrats demanded an apology and Harvey shot back: "I'm sorry he's a whore." You have to love ole Trice.

 * ... BAD AIR: A report by the American Lung Association has ranked Bakersfield as having the worst air to breathe in the nation. This hardly comes as any surprise given the San Joaquin Valley's reputation but it's never encouraging to see us so high on any such list of dubious distinction. Rounding out the top ten were Los Angeles, Fresno, Visalia-Porterville, Birmingham, Ala., Hanford, St. Louis, Mo., New York City, Pittsburgh and Sacramento. Said one report on the list: "Wondering what's in the air in Bakersfield? Unfortunately it's heavy smog and pollution that cloud the sunny city. Financially reliant on petroleum extraction and refinement, it's no surprise that this west coast town falls in the top three of ozone levels, long-term and short-term particle emissions and levels are rising each year. It looks like the residents of Bakersfield need to cook up ways to get clean"

 * ... BURGLARIES: The rash of burglaries across town has continued into the fall seemingly unabated. Readers have told me of break-ins in virtually every area of town, from the Bakersfield Country Club area to Laurelglen to Westchester. In the downtown area where I live, there have been three burglaries in the last two weeks, and all at homes with alarm systems. Police characterize these as classic "smash and grab" burglaries where the thieves are in and out in two or three minutes, taking flat screen TVs, jewelry, computers and whatever will fit into a pillowcase.

 * ... BURGERS: From reader Al Caetano, a proud Bakersfield native: "I look forward to reading your column. Today's mention of Jumbo Burgers brought back fond memories of cruising Stan's, Michener's and making a slight detour to Jumbo's for cheap burgers. I really loved the special sauce. Being from south of town, a special memory as a little boy was mom taking me to Canady's nursery on Taft Highway west of Pumpkin Center. Canady's had a monkey cage in front and I just loved watching the monkeys while mom shopped for plants. Not sure about the spelling. These visits would have taken place in the mid 1940s."

 * ... ENOUGH: Sunny Kapoor took me to task for my obsession with littering in our community. "Enough already about the dirty diapers! I, like most others, am absolutely disgusted in the manner in which some people choose to dispose of them, but the story about it being tossed out of an SUV to hit another SUV is make believe at best! Maybe we should allocate space to speak of other great happenings in our community, like the awesome Oildorado Days in Taft or the weekly soccer players at the Kern County Soccer Complex playing 'the beautiful game.''

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield "if you think using your turn signals is an optional exercise."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An afternoon jog and photos of the Mohawk bridge

 Don Martin, owner of Metro Galleries downtown, shot these pictures of the new bridge at Mohawk and Truxtun extension on his afternoon run along the river. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

San Joaquin Bank nears an ominous anniversary and a Rudy Giuliani sighting at Seven Oaks Country Club

 * ... SAN JOAQUIN: Hard to believe it's been almost a full year since San Joaquin Bank was shut down by federal and state regulators. It was October 16, 2010, when a dozen or so regulators in dark suits swept into the bank at the end of the day and closed it forever. So far this year, the FDIC has shuttered 129 banks, well on track to eclipse the 140 closed last year. Since the financial crisis started in 2007, 297 banks have been closed, bringing the loss to the FDIC Deposit Insurance Fund to $72.6 billion. Most of the employees and executives at San Joaquin have landed jobs elsewhere and as time marches on, the bank and its considerable imprint it left on this community become little more than a curious and sad historical footnote.

 * ... SPOTTED: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, one of the speakers at the Bakersfield Business Conference, was seen playing golf at Seven Oaks Country Club on Sunday. Sheri Horn Bunk, head of the Taft College Foundation, and friend Mary King spotted Giuliani playing behind them and stopped to pose for a few pictures. Said Sheri: "We drove back to the hole where he was finishing up his putt and acted like we had lost a club. And I said to the body guard who was a bit like a Sopranos character, 'that man looks like Rudy Giuliani' and he said it is. Rudy walks over with cigar in tow and says 'hello ladies!' We took the picture and both Mary and I said 'can we post it to Facebook?' And he said 'yes please do!' We all cracked up and he continued to play behind us. He also signed two scorecards for us and personalized them too."


* ... VALLEY FEVER: Local civic leader Sheryl Barbich wrote in with a warning to folks who are new to our community and are not familiar with Valley Fever. Said Sheryl: "Your comment about (Ralph) Bailey reminded me that Soraya Coley, Provost at CSUB, has one of the stories that people traveling through here need to know. She and her husband were recently vacationing in Hawaii when he suddenly got sick. Of course, no one there knew anything about Valley Fever, so they tried all kinds of TB tests, etc.  Fortunately, Soraya phoned Dr. (Horace) Mitchell who suggested that it might be Valley Fever. Sure enough! With input from Dr. Royce Johnson, her husband wound up in the hospital at UC San Francisco.  He only recently went back to work part time.  I’ve heard stories (Pauline Larwood and Sandy Larson) about people visiting from other countries/states, who got sick when they went home, were not diagnosed properly, and ultimately died." That's sound advice.

* ... NIGHT WALK: Reader Lynn Finch reminded me of the Light the Night Walk this Saturday, a fund raiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, whose mission is to find a cure for the blood cancers. This is a worthy effort and the event will be held at the Marketplace on Saturday starting at 5 p.m. with the walk following at 7 p.m. Lynn's own son, Chad Hathaway, is an 11-year survivor. He had leukemia and underwent a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor. My own mother, Julia Squier of Scottsdale, Arizona, died of lymphoma two years ago.

 * ... YMCA: From Dave Wilkerson of the YMCA: "Just wanted to let you know that thanks to Kari Grimm-Anderson and Grimmway Farms the YMCA for the first time ever has programs for the kids in the Arvin-Lamont area. Grimmway is paying half the cost per child, paying for uniforms, soccer field etc. What a blessing this is for the kids in this area of Kern County."

 * ... OPEN HOUSE: Remember the open house for prospective students at Garces Memorial High School is this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader and All-America skeet shooter Ken Barnes: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you "remember buying two hamburgers, fries and a small drink for 60 cents at the Jumbo drive-in on Golden State Avenue. Or, if you were one of the kids who shot arrows into the Big Indian I put up at my tire store on the Garces Circle."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Busy weekend in old B-town with the Business Conference and other activities

* ... WEEKEND: Could not have asked for better weather for the return of the Bakersfield Business Conference, held under the big white tent out at Cal State Bakersfield. By all measures it was a huge success and no matter your politics, you have to tip your hat to local attorney George Martin, his son Brandon and all the others who worked hard to bring such big name news makers to town. Thanks to the Business Conference, the downtown Padre Hotel enjoyed its first fully booked weekend since its reopening, and restaurants across town were all doing a brisk business. The Padre also benefited from hosting the 20th reunion of the class of 1990 of Garces Memorial High School. At Uricchio's Trattoria downtown, the wait was a full hour and a half on Saturday night.

 * ... FORECLOSURES: The housing market, still sputtering as it works through a virtual tsunami of foreclosures, may be in for yet more trouble with Bank of America's decision to freeze evictions and some foreclosures because of questions over mistakes in handling the paperwork. As one local Realtor told me: "Foreclosed homes make up almost half my sales, and if you take that away, what will be left?" The hard truth is the market will never fully recover until we work through the thousands of foreclosures working their way through the system. Stay tuned for more developments on this story as the politicians weigh in to micro manage the process.

 * ... SPOTTED: This from a friend who was driving down Highway 178 last week: "I was in the left lane and I saw what appeared to be a woman on her knees in the back of a rather large SUV in the center lane just ahead of me. All of a sudden the back window rolls down and out the window at a pretty incredible speed a dirty diaper flung out... catching and sticking to the windshield of another SUV that was following the culprit, obviously following a little too closely. Ewww. Gag. This is an anonymous report. Could be my windshield next time!"

 * ... BIRTHDAY RIDE: Hank Pfister, the long-time tennis pro at Stockdale Country Club, celebrated his 57th birthday with a hundred-mile bike ride to Panorama Heights. Pfister and 19 other locals climbed more than 10,000 feet in the ride that took six and a half hours. During a long pro tennis career, Pfister was once ranked as high as 19th in the world on the ATP Tour.

 * ... OPEN HOUSE: Gordon Westhoff, a fellow gym rat who also happens to be director of admissions at Garces Memorial High School, reminded me that the annual Garces Open House for prospective students will be held Saturday, October 17 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.Garces has a long tradition of serving our community and has always provided a quality education.

* ... CSUB: The CSUB Alumni Association will hold its fall mixer at The Padre Hotel on October 21 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Prospect Lounge. The new "Runnertini" martini - it is made with blueberry and lemondrop to signify school colors - will be unveiled. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at

 * ... PROUD DAD: This from reader Gregg Hazle on his daughter, West High graduate Stacy Jo Craig. "She has been in the Air Force for 23 years and received her promotion to Lieutenant Colonel on Oct. 4 in Huntsville, Alabama. She has served in Desert Storm and in England, Turkey, Spain, Baghdad and many other postings. We are proud of our gal."

 * ... HAPPY JACKS: Reader Betty Hylton wrote in response to my earlier post on Happy Jack's Pie 'n Burger restaurant. "The original owner who founded Happy Jack's was Jack Boltz and it opened in the early 1960s. I don't remember the exact year. He was the purchasing agent at Union Oil Co. on F Street and left to start his own business. He must have sold the business to the Rosales family. So Happy Jack's has been at the location at least 45 years or more. I enjoy your Bakersfield Observed column." Thanks for the kind words, and the correction, Betty.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM:  You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember what KERO-TV was before it was channel 23. (Channel 10)