Saturday, November 27, 2010

McCarthy: Time for Congress to make the necessary spending cuts

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives his weekly update from Capitol Hill. In his words"

 "I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their friends and family. President George Washington issued the first national thanksgiving proclamation in 1789 at the request of Congress. During the Civil War, in 1863, President Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November as day of thanksgiving and called on the country to seek healing and national unity.
 " However it was not until 1941, that Congress made the 3rd Thursday of every November a national holiday. I believe it is important that as a nation we continue to use this day as a time to reflect on what we are thankful for not only as a nation, but in our personal lives as well.

  "When Congress is back in session next week, all Americans will have a chance to choose what spending cuts they want the House to act on. There will be three items up for a vote and the item with the highest
number of votes will be taken to the House floor for an up or down vote.  Item one: eliminate unnecessary Congressional printing.  For example, when a member of Congress introduces a bill or resolution,
the Government Printing Office prints 200 hard copies and last Congress over 14,000 were introduced amounting to over 2 million printed paper copies.  An alternative to mandatory printing is just
keeping all bills and resolutions online for all to see and potentially saving over $35 million over 10 years.    "Item two: redirect the National Archives to just manage Federal records rather than spending $10 million a year on grants to help state and local governments preserve their records. 

"Item three: get rid of Federal agency broadcasting facility grant programs that have already finished their work, which could save taxpayers $250 million over ten years. To read more about these and to place your vote online or through text message, please visit:

  "As we work to turn our state and country around, elected officials have the responsibility ensure accountability in our government. Recently there have been a number of questions floating around
regarding the California high speed rail project. I believe as this project moves forward we have a responsibility to ask the tough questions and demand a realistic assessment. Since the project was
envisioned 14 years ago, the California High Speed Rail Authority predicted the project would cost $43 billion or more.  At a time with such economic uncertainty, it is important to ensure that we have an
honest discussion regarding the high speed rail project before obligating future generations with additional costs and debt.

  "Thank you to all the troops overseas and at home who sacrifice so much so that we at home can enjoy the freedoms that make America the greatest nation on earth. Enjoy the weekend and some of the big games,
and I hope to see some of you at the 33rd Annual Kern River Valley Christmas Parade in Lake Isabella on Sunday.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Valley air pollution control police threaten to shut down morning Pie Run fire. Yes, this is no joke

 * ... AIR POLICE: The Thanksgiving morning Pie Run,  an annual event at Hart Park that draws 300 to 400 hearty souls for a cold dawn jog through the hills, went off without a hitch. But for the first time in its long history, it was surrounded by drama. Why? It turns out someone at the Valley Air Pollution Control District read my earlier post about the pie run and became alarmed when they learned it featured a fire to warm to crowd. Next thing you know the arbiters of clean air were tracking down John Rous, the kindly retired insurance manager who has championed the Pie Run for years, and demanding that he give up on the idea of a fire. Rous appealed, arguing it was only a small warming fire that he made sure was extinguished when he left each year. But the District was not having it. Finally, Rous learned that, well, fires could be permitted but only if there was grilling involved, and only then the fire had to be commensurate in size with the amount of meat being cooked. Huh? It's okay to have a fire to grill a burger, but not to warm one's hands? Is this what we've come to? So for the first time ever, the Pie Run featured hot dogs that were grilled and later donated to the Homeless Shelter, along with all the other pies, cookies, muffins and cakes that were  left over. Meanwhile, it's comforting to know that while thousands of trucks spew pollutants into the air as they drive down Interstate 5, the local, taxpayer-supported air Nazis are scouring the newspaper looking for clues that health conscious insurgents like John Rous may be planning a warming fire. (photos below of John Rous and Pie Run participants)

 * ... COLLEGE KIDS: Nice to see so many college students home for the Thanksving holiday. They graduate from high school as slightly nervous "kids" and by the time they have a few semesters under their belts, they've got the college swagger and confidence that only maturity can bring. Among some of the kids back in town this weekend were Andrew Noriega, a freshman at the University of San Diego; Sam Brandon, a senior at the University of Colorado at Boulder; sisters Michele Keathley of Fordham University and Kim Keathley of Point Loma Nazarene in San Diego, and Dustin Glentzer, a recent graduate of Pepperdine. 

 * ... WENDY'S RUN: It looks like Wendy Wayne is serious about her willingness to replace Michael  Rubio on the Board of Supervisors. Rubio of course is headed to the State Senate and the governor is expected to appoint someone to fill his remaining years on the Board. Wendy, the former First Five commissioner and local civic activist, is extremely popular locally and has said she would indeed serve if tapped.  And now, a local group is out promoting her candidacy. On Tuesday, at 12:30 p.m. at Mill Creek Park, there will be a "rally" to promote Wendy for the post. Expect to see a number of local heavyweights there supporting her candidacy. Other names that have come up for consideration include Karen Goh, director of the non-profit Garden Pathways, and Pete and Nicole Parra. 

 * ... OVERHEARD: A mother talking about an email from her 20-something son: "He told me he's looking for a woman who is a lady in public and a TSA screener in the bedroom."

 * ... RED MOTORCYCLES: Had a nice chat the other day with Evelyn Johnson, the beloved and long-term secretary for the Rotary Club of Bakersfield, the downtown club that meets every Thursday at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. She remembers when the city police department motorcycles were red, though she can't find anyone else who remembers them. "I don't consider myself an old-timer," she told me, "though I was born in Fellows, not far from here but gone now. I do remember that Bakersfield PD had red motorcycles though I'm the only one who remembers that." Anyone else out there remember that?

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Thanks to regular reader Craig Holland for this one: "You know you are a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember getting your weather forecast on Channel 10 from Marge Stiles and her see-through weather map (in black and white!)"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Colby Lewis returns home for winter break, Robert Swift ends up in Japan and getting ready for another Pie Run

* ... PIE RUN: It's almost time for the Pie Run, one of the great Bakersfield traditions that comes every Thanksgiving. Started by retired insurance manager John Rous years ago, the Pie Run is a perfect way to start Thanksgiving with 300 to 400 of your closest friends. At the crack of dawn every Thanksgiving hundreds of local runners, cyclists and walkers (with their dogs of course) show up at Hart Park for a chilly morning jog (or walk) in the hills overlooking the park. Everyone brings a dessert (usually a pie but also doughnuts, coffee cakes etc) which are all eaten after the folks descend from the hills in front or a roaring bonfire. It all starts at 6 a.m. so arrive early. Look for the bonfire. If you haven't experienced the Pie Run, this is the year to do it.

 * ... GIVING THANKS: I always find a moment this time of year to jot down some of the things for which I am thankful. Try it yourself. It's a revealing exercise that can't help but make you feel blessed, despite any  challenges you face. Here's my list:
 1) I am thankful to have a job and health insurance and work for a company that truly cares about its people.
2) I am thankful to live in this wonderful community. Yes we have our challenges, but the inherent goodness of so many people here is impressive.
3) I am thankful for two smart, beautiful daughters who never cease to amaze me.
4) I am thankful for having the most wonderful friends, truly outstanding and giving people, who are always there when I need a sympathetic ear.
5) I am thankful for my health.
6) I am thankful for Jeff and Katie Dunlap, the previous owners of my little bungalow, who left me Latte, an adorable gray tabby who greets me with a sharp meow and long body stretch each and every time I pull into the driveway.
7) I am thankful for the wisdom that comes with age that teaches you to tune out the petty and embrace the positive.
8) I am thankful to live in this great country that - wounded as it is in this economy - is still the best place on earth.
9) My friends: did I mention that?
10) And finally, I am thankful for living in a generous community that embraces anyone who wants to be involved.

 * ... ROBERT SWIFT: Saw a story in The Wall Street Journal the other day noting that Bakersfield's Robert Swift is now playing professional basketball in Japan. The story noted that Swift's team, the Tokyo Apaches, had been purchased by a U.S. hedge fund. Swift played at Garces Memorial High School and later for the Seattle Sonics in the National Basketball Association before being cut. (photo courtesy of the NBA)

 * ... SPOTTED: Colby Lewis, the North High grade and Texas Rangers ace pitcher, was spotted at Lifetime Fitness the other day. According to Sheryl Barbich, who was there working out, Colby walked in to spontaneous applause. Welcome home, Colby.

 * ... WOODY: Spent part of last weekend up on a ranch between Woody and Glennville, owned by local businessman Mel Atkinson. I've done a great deal of traveling, and I would be hard pressed to name a more naturally beautiful setting than those stone and rock covered hills between Woody and Glennville. Another reason to count our blessings. (photo courtesy of Blake School District)

 * ... CHINA LAKE: Sometimes you forget how big and diverse our county is. Dave Dmohowski reminded me of this when he spotted a nugget in a commercial real estate report about the construction of a two-floor, 170,000-square-foot Weapons and Armament Technology Center at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake. It was a $63.8 million project built by Barnhart Balfour Beatty.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Jack Kelly: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you can remember the Union Oil 76 sign halfway up the Grapevine on the old Highway 99. You could see it at night from Bakersfield."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A tribute to a long-term marriage and more on all that cash Meg Whitman spent

 * ... WHITMAN'S CASH: Reader David Hess weighed in on the millions Meg Whitman spent on her failed bid for governor. In his words: "You could use your column to do a little economic educationMeg Whitman (and  her opponents) helped the economy, probably more than by donating the millions to charity.  She did  not have a bonfire and burn cash. She paid for 'things and "services.' While I know very little about the economics of public relations, those millions had to be spent through advertising companies, public  relations firms, printers, mailing houses, television stations and even newspapers. Those entities did not burn cash either. They 'employed' writers,  computer operators, secretaries, janitors, and pizza delivery people.. From a free enterprise economic point of view, it is better that the decision about how it  was spent was made by Meg Whitman, all the individuals who contributed either to or against her campaign... and all those mentioned above, rather than a government planner." 

 * ... OUR TRASH: Reader Hillary Bowden weighed in on the city's plan for a major anti-littering campaign. "I remember that recently a 'caring' mom complained about her child's school (Thorner?) requiring the students to clean up the campus after recess and lunch. Her main complaint was that it was 'beneath' her child to pick up garbage. Maybe Ms. Hoover (City Parks and Recreation Director Dianne Hoover) should start with parents like that!! I propose billboard across town: 'Don't be a slob - pick up your crap!' Thanks for the opportunity to gripe."

* ... LOVE STORY: Old friend Dan Giordano reacted to the story on marriage becoming obsolete with this valentine to his wife, Patty: "Forty years ago I was attending college (USC) studying to be a physical therapist. I was making it day by day working three jobs with marriage the furthest thought. One weekend I had nothing to do, no work no study, nothing. So I decided to come home to visit my family and get together with some friends. That weekend I had a chance meeting with a girl named Patty…..a girl I knew from before... but this meeting was somehow different. This meeting, that weekend, I knew from the first moment that this was the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, the girl I wanted to marry. Three months later I asked her to marry me and eight months later January 30 1971 we were married. Looking back I can’t think of a better way to have spent these last forty years. Raising our girls Megan and Jennifer and now enjoying our children’s families. I wouldn’t even change the ups and downs... My final comment on this subject is a wish to those who commit to a life of marriage… live that life with love and commitment and, after forty years, to have the same feelings with their spouse I have toward the person I gave my love and commitment. It’s a good feeling."

 * ... NANNY STATE: One day we're going to learn you can't legislate good parenting skills. That thought occurred to me when I read a story that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a law that said restaurants cannot put free toys in meals that exceed set thresholds for calories, sugar or fat. As the story said: "Libertarians are livid, parents are peeved and even advocates of healthier fast food think the ban will be counterproductive." The move was seen as a direct shot at McDonald's and its "happy meals."

* ... DONATION: Hats off to PCL Industrial Services which recently donated $10,000 to the Golden Empire Gleaners. In a time of such great need and stress, it's always encouraging to see local companies stepping up to help. PCL is an employee-owned business with a large office in Bakersfield and has long been active in the community.

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Thanks to reader Jack Kelly for submitting this one: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember the street car running from Chester Avenue to Baker Street at the railroad tracks."