Saturday, November 20, 2010

McCarthy: America is at a crossroads. Time to turn away from big government and spending

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

 "This week, both Republicans and Democrats voted to elect their leaders for the next Congress starting in January.  I was nominated for the position of Majority Whip and was elected by my colleagues unanimously
on Wednesday.  I am humbled and honored to be selected to serve my colleagues.  I want to thank our community for allowing me to serve and trusting me with this opportunity.  I will make sure that our local values will be at the leadership table.  I will make sure that our local values will be at the leadership table.  The job of the Whip is to oversee the floor operations of the House, and my colleagues and I plan to advance common-sense policies that are designed to promote economic growth and job creation.  Also included in the new governing agenda from the Pledge to America will be bills that will restore accountability and transparency in government to ensure that your tax dollars are spent wisely, efficiently and effectively. 

 " I believe America is at a crossroads and we must make every effort to turn away from the path of record unemployment and increasing national debt to that of stability and growing prosperity.  "On January 1, 2011, all taxpaying Americans will experience a tax increase unless we stop it.  Tax increases on American families and small businesses is the last thing that is needed as our economy
struggles to rebound from economic turmoil.  American families do not need the amount of hard-earned money they take home to decreased, and American businesses should not be discouraged from investing in our economy and growing our workforce with taxes going up. Raising taxeswhile our economy is trying to recover is out of touch with the needs of the American people.

"With our national debt currently more than $13 trillion, I have long believed that Congress needs to make spending cuts before we adjourn this year.  Through the YouCut Program, proposals have been made to
cut more than $155 billion, including this week’s proposal to cut funding for National Public Radio.  Unfortunately, each measure has been defeated by Speaker Pelosi despite bipartisan support for our proposals.  Additionally, House Republicans have called for the ending of the practice of earmarks as another step to rein in spending—this week House and Senate Republicans took that step.  I hope the
President, who has called for earmark reform in the past, will encourage House and Senate Democrats to join us moving forward.

  "On Friday, I lead a bipartisan group of 41 members in sending a letter to the United States Forest Service urging the Agency to prioritize and protect robust and diverse access and recreation in the national forests as the Forest Service National Planning Rule is developed.  As someone who enjoys using public lands for recreation with my family, I know the importance of keeping our national forests accessible for
use.  The final Planning Rule is due out next year, and hopefully the Forest Service will ensure that the American people can fully enjoy their national forests."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More feedback on the power of union contributions and a survey shows some loss of confidence in marriage

* ... UNION POWER: More reader feedback on my musings about how Meg Whitman and the unions that fought her could have better spent their money by donating to charities. From Roger Jones: "Yes the unions did spend money to get Brown, Boxer elected and defeat Whitman and Fiorina. If you want to be able to limit the money unions spend then it should work both ways. Stop corporate contributions to elect those that benefit corporations. We do not cry and we do not give away anything. So at least before you and others make such uneducated comments please contact these unions as to how those contributions were made." Thanks for your comments, Rog, but I never suggested limiting union contributions. Rather, I simply wondered aloud how much good could have come if the unions and Whitman had steered some of those millions toward charitable causes.

 * ... GHOST STORY: Heard the other day about a short film that was filmed on location here in Bakersfield featuring a lot of local talent. It's called "Ghost" and it is portrayed as "a stunning portrait at the underground hardcore scene of Bakersfield." It was written and directed by Bakersfield native Caitlin Bond Murray, who attends the Art Institute of Los Angeles in Santa Monica. A graduate of Bakersfield High School, she is the daughter of local residents Patrick and Deanna Murray.  Some of the scenes were shot at Jerry's Pizza downtown.

 * ... DIVORCE: Did you see the story saying that four in 10 people now feel that the institution of marriage is becoming obsolete? Not sure what to make of it but the numbers speak for themselves: almost 30 percent of children under 18 now live with a parent or parents who are unwed or no longer married. I am personally astounded at the number of long-term marriages that are ending once couples become empty nesters, for a variety of reasons. I recall hearing one woman argue that every person should be married three times: once in our 20s and 30s, another time in our 40s and 50s and a third partner for the last final run to the end. Here's my take: Why not approach marriage like we do home mortgages? You could opt for a 15-year marriage, or 20 or 30 years if you're more confident. Then, if things are going swimmingly at the end of the term, you could always "refinance" and extend the marriage, but you are under no obligation to do so. And if the parents of your potential partner are a bit nutty, you might want to opt for the 5-year "variable term" marriage that will be reassessed just a few years down the road. 

 * ... LAURA WOLFE: Some good news for the local arts community. Laura Wolfe, who left Cal State Bakersfield as a fund raiser, is taking over the Arts Council of Kern as its executive director. Laura will become interim director in January for six months at which time the board will reassess the position. My bet is the board will hire her full time after that. Laura is deeply ingrained in this community and active on a number of boards. She replaces Jeanette Richardson.

  * ... PAPER BOYS: Dr. Wil Flickinger dropped me a note sharing his own memory of that terrible 1952 earthquake that caused so much destruction around town. In his words: "Other 'old timers' were at the Bakersfield Californian rolling papers for delivery while my brother and the paper boys had already taken to their street corners. When the brick Californian building that still stands as it was to this day, started to jump and shake, a bunch of the guys panicked and  ran for the open bay door. As they saw the curtain of brick dust pouring off the top of the building, they returned and joined me in ducking under the nearest stainless steel work bench they could find. As we had numerous smaller after shocks from the first big one in July, some of us kept our heads. As the magnitude of the 30-second quake subsided,  I was able to peer out through the big bay loading dock door as the quake settled, I saw the top of the Tegeler Hotel pour off like a waterfall into 19th street. What an indelible sight that was. That sight capped the second big quake and memories of the hundreds of aftershocks of 1952!
   " I and some of my friends then meandered out to observe the damage. As I quickened my step down to 19th street I moved toward  K Street and to the Kress building where my brother's corner was located. There was debris in the streets. I went by Lerner's Dress Shop on the south side of the street between Chester and K and noted it being completely collapsed where I believe there was the one other fatality of that quake. My brother and the Kress building were okay, and unbelievably my mother, who had been at work in our family business, Flickinger's Farm and Garden store (also  in a brick reinforced building ), at 18th and O streets was already there. I  was assured they were okay and then returned to work. The Californian building itself was undamaged except for the little library and private office brick building at the north side.  Since we had pretty well finished our route preparation, numb as the experience left me,  I think I remember we took to the road to deliver our 2,400 papers to South Bakersfield, and Greenfield south past Schweitzer's corner that day, or did we?

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield if "you long for the minestrone soup at Woolgrower's once the weather turns colder."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More angst over rising college tuition costs while the UC System goes shopping for out of state students

* ... COLLEGE TUITION: My earlier post on the rise in tuition in the Cal State System prompted an e-mail from former Bakersfield resident Sandy Nozick, who follows my blog from her home in Colorado. Like many Californians, she was frustrated by the seemingly endless annual increases in state college tuition. "My daughter left SF State after two years because of money and when she tried to return, she was one of the 20,000 students cut last year and then again one of the 20,000 students cut this year. I worked for the county library. Our staff was cut by one third two summers ago and another 10 percent last summer." Is she happy in Colorado? "The masthead for the late Rocky Mountain News said, 'tis a privilege to live in Colorado.' And it's true."

 * ... MORE TUITION: And speaking of tuition, another sad and inevitable result of this mess we're in is being playing out in the admissions programs of the UC System, possibly at the expense of California applicants. According to The Los Angeles Times, the cash-strapped UC System is now actively seeking to increase the number of out-of-state students simply to get the extra $23,000 in annual tuition it charges for non-residents. It seems this can only hurt the chances of deserving California students of getting into the already highly competitive UC System.

 * ... MUSIC AWARDS: Proud parents Linka and Tim Chapman wrote to tell me that their daughter, Celeigh (Kaylee) Chapman, has been nominated for a Hollywood Music Media Award. Celeigh attended Thorner School, then Compton Junior High and later graduated from East High School. She then went on to the USC Thornton School of Music and now works for Sony/Columbia Creative Licensing. She was nominated for the song "I'm Lucky." Good luck to this young achiever.

* ... ANNIVERSARY: Nice to hear that Abate-A-Weed, a locally owned weed and insect control company, is celebrating its 45th year in business. The company was founded in 1965 by Jona Feil and Marvin Bartel and later expanded into the sales of chemical and lawn and garden equipment. It changed ownership in 2001 when Dennis Penner and Darrell Feil, Jona Feil's son, partnered together to continue the business. Hats off to these folks.

  *  … DOC BOCK: Heard recently that Matthew Bock, son of local CPA Jim Bock, is well on his way to a career in medicine. Matthew, who graduated from Garces Memorial High, UC Davis and the Drexel College of Medicine, will start a pediatric cardiology fellowship next July at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. It’s a three-year program. He was one of only 125 people to earn this type of fellowship. He is currently in his third year of residency at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Jolie Brouttier: You know you're from Bakersfield "if you start salivating at the mouth and thinking about Smith's cookies when you see a yellow happy face!"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Green Frog Market looks to expand and remembering the 1952 earthquake

* ... GREEN FROG: Ran into Scott Hair, owner of the Green Frog Market, over at his "little Frog" market at the corner of Alta Vista and Bernard Street. I'm a big fan of the smaller, more intimate "little Frog" and running into Scott gave me a chance to run down some rumors that he was thinking about opening a location downtown. He said he has always been interested in the downtown/Westchester area and in fact had a piece of property picked out, but decided later against it when the numbers just didn't add up. But Scott said he's not giving up on downtown and is actively looking for ways to expand Green Frog's footprint with smaller "neighborhood" stores that focus on fresh meats and vegetables and more healthy foods. He'd also like to open a Green Frog to serve the growing Northwest and Southwest corridor and has people actively looking for locations. Green Frog was first established in 1934. The "little Frog" on Alta Vista is 18,500 square feet and the larger market on Columbus is a full 34,000 square feet. (Californian photo by Felix Adamo)

  * ... LUIGI'S: Speaking of iconic Bakersfield institutions, stopped by Luigi's on 19th Street Saturday for a birthday lunch in honor of Thomas Johnson, a Liberty High School physics teacher. (It's always nice to hear people like Tom tell me how much they love their work) Saturday lunches at Luigi's are a Bakersfield institution and you're bound to run into at least a half dozen people you know. When the college kids come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Luigi's will be the preferred venue to reconnect with old friends. (painting below by Larry Jason)

 * ... UNION POWER: Reader Thomas Harmon took me to task for wondering aloud how Meg Whitman might have spent that $140 million on charitable causes instead of her failed gubernatorial campaign. Harmon asked why I didn't ask the same question of the powerful unions who also spent millions to defeat Whitman. "What a joke," he wrote. "These unions cry about their pensions and give away millions to put people like Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer back in office." Harmon is absolutely correct, of course. The unions never think twice about flexing their political muscle to defeat those who dare to oppose the feather-bedding of their pensions and salaries when there are other ways to spend that money.

 * ... 1952 EARTHQUAKE: Reader Gene Bonas wrote to share his memories of the 1952 earthquake which changed the look and feel of Bakersfield forever. "Al Gutierrez reminded me I'm an old timer because I vividly recall the collapse of the roof of the Kern County Equipment Company building.  I remember this well because I was standing on the southwest corner of Baker and 18th Streets selling The Bakersfield Californian to passing cars and people waiting to board the city bus. I was leaning against the stop sign when the shaking started. I thought, at first, the shaking was caused by a train passing by on the tracks just 30 feet south of where I was selling. The shaking intensified to a point that I literally hugged the stop sign to keep from falling down. As I looked toward where Woolgrowers now stands, I saw a large cloud of dust and later found out about the collapse of KCEC's roof and the unfortunate death of a KCEC salesman." (photos courtesy of the Kern County Museum)

 * ... HONORING A VET: For a little inspiration you might want to head over to Frontier High School tomorrow evening (Tuesday) for a special (and free) presentation to honor all veterans, and specifically the Tuskegee airmen. The school band, the Marching Titans, will perform at 7 p.m. At 6 p.m. there will be an All-American hot dog dinner with chips and a drink for a $3 donation.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Patsy Sadler: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if
you "saw Sonny and Cher perform at the Civic Auditorium before they were really known, around 1965."