Saturday, December 4, 2010

McCarthy: BHS senior Darien Key wins Earl Warren Cup competition

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, submits his weekly view from Capitol Hill.

 "This week Bakersfield High School (BHS) held their annual Earl Warren Cup competition.  Jeremy Adams, a civics teacher at BHS created the competition to offer students a fun way to learn about the
Constitution and American government. This year, prior to the competition, Mr. Adams contacted me and requested that I participate in the competition by submitting video clips of myself and other members of Congress by asking questions for the students. I jumped at the opportunity and so did a number of my colleagues including: Sen. John Thune (SD), Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Georgia Rep. John Lewis and Republican Whip Eric Cantor.
  "The winner of this year’s cup was Darien Key, a senior at BHS. Darien won the competition after he correctly identified which constitutional amendment empowers the federal government to collect income taxes.
Darien said the 16th amendment, which was the correct answer. Congratulations to Darien on a job well done!

  "In the House this week the major issue of focus was whether or not Congress should extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Recently, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation reported that if the current
tax cuts were allowed to expire, 50% of all small businesses with an annual income above $250,000 would experience higher taxes. Since small businesses create over 70% of all new jobs, an increase of that
size could have a significant negative impact on businesses ability to maintain their current payroll or hire new employees.

  "On Thursday, the Democratic majority passed a bill that failed to extend the current tax rate for all Americans. Instead, what they did do is send a bill to the Senate that if passed in current form, would
create the single largest tax increase in our nation’s history.  At a time when Americans are surrounded by so much economic uncertainty, the last thing Congress should be doing is raising taxes.

  "On another note, I am always looking for ways to improve the lines of communication between constituents and my office.  On Thursday my office announced that we now have an iPhone Application available for
free on iTunes. This new app offers constituents access to all of the services available through my website on their cell phone.  If you  would like to download this service, please visit the iTunes store

‪ "Also, this week my office in Washington was moved to a different building. Our new location is suite 326 in the Cannon House Office Building.  The new office is on the 3rd floor of the Cannon building,
which sits on the east side of the Longworth building. If you are planning to make a trip to Washington D.C. sometime soon and would like to take a tour of the Capitol, please contact my office via the
website ( for more information.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bako Bits: A terrific First Friday is upon us, the Garces pool is set to open and Memorial gets $100,000 for its children's center

 * ... GARCES POOL: It looks like the new competition swimming pool at Garces Memorial High School is on schedule to be completed. Gordon Wetshoff, a Garces development officer, said water will go into the pool on Tuesday, December 7. It will have 12 practice lanes and 10 competition lanes and a diving area with a depth of 14 feet. It will also have two one-meter diving boards and one three-meter board. Garces is on a building spree that will soon include other projects as well. Said Gordon: "The next project is to try and have the new tennis courts ready for the start of school 2011. We need to raise an additional $400,000 plus and we are working hard at doing this. The Board wants very badly to have all our athletic teams be able to participate on our campus (except golf of course). The Garces girls team wants the courts ready for their season in August."

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: It's time for another First Friday in our emerging downtown arts district. What better way to support our downtown merchants than by taking in some art and dining at one of our wonderful downtown restaurants? Or, as a friend of mine does, start the evening at Cafe Med on Stockdale Highway and then migrate over to downtown. As usual, Don Martin over at Metro Galleries on 19th Street promises a terrific show. He'll feature the art of Gita Loyd, celebrating a decade of painting in Kern County, as well as something called "smallworks 2010" which will feature paintings, pottery, sculpture and other art by a slew of local artists. There is also some stunning (and affordable) small wood works from local artist Tom Christenson, the retired oil executive and husband of Realtor Mary Christenson. And while you're there, head over the Uricchios Trattoria for its classic Italian fare or Mama Roomba for some splendid Caribbean eats. There won't be a First Friday in January so don't miss this one.

 * ... MEA CULPA: I owe an apology to Donna McGuire, the owner of Serenity salon off Coffee Road. I reported that her salon was to be the subject of Bravo TV's "Salon Takeover" but McGuire says that is news to her. "We'd love any tips from anyone but we are really proud of our salon and business is good," she said. "We have a wonderful group of people here and we're involved in a number of community activities." McGuire is one of those local success stories. A product of South High School, she opened the salon four years ago and this year was it won the coveted "Best Of" award in the annual Californian reader poll.

 * ... TBC FOUNDATION: Seven local non-profits have been selected by The Bakersfield Californian Foundation for monetary grants. Among those receiving funds were the Ready to Start reading program, $15,000; Here's Life Inner City Bakersfield, $5,945.90; Society for Disabled Children, $5,000; Arts Council of Kern, $5,000; Garden Pathways, $5,068; Community Action Partnership, $6,012, and the Kern County Library, $3,000. The Foundation is not part of the newspaper but is run by publisher Ginger Moorhouse and her daughter Tracey Cowenhoven, who serves as director. It is operated as a separate entity and focuses on early childhood education.

 * ... MEMORIAL: Had a chance to attend the end of the year dinner and meeting of the Memorial Hospital Foundation Board at Luigi's this week. Memorial President Jon Van Boening and chief development officer Sue Benham always run a crisp meeting and this one included some good news for the new children's pediatric hospital at Memorial. Turns out the Waterman Foundation of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield, the downtown club, is donating $100,000 over three years to help the children's hospital grow. The donations cover the terms of past Rotary president Duane Keathley, current president Harry Starkey and 2011 president Tracy Walker-Kiser.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Jack Kelley: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember the passenger trains running from Bakersfield to Los Angeles from the depot on Baker Street."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Retailers happy with Black Friday sales and remembering when city cops rode red motorcycles

 * ... BLACK FRIDAY: The early reports from local retailers after Black Friday were encouraging. The crowds were out and folks were spending again like the good old days. It's clear our economy cannot get back on track until consumers have the confidence to spend, so while this is early, it is certainly encouraging. And I was amazed to learn of one woman's sojourn on Black Friday. Shanan Mallard, a Human Resources specialist at The Californian, began her shopping at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and didn't end until 4:30 p.m. Friday. That's a 21-hour grind that took her to Wal-Mart, Best Buy, ToysRUs, Target (every one in town) and multiple trips to Valley Plaza. Now that's commitment.

 * ... KUDOS: Congratulations to Sam Ames, the popular and super-fit manager of Action Sports over on Brimhall and Calloway. Ames won the state cyclocross championship in the Master's Elite Division (40-44 age group) in Glendale last weekend. His next challenge will come at Hart Park in the Northern versus Southern California Cyclocross Championships on Sunday, January 16. This event is hosted by Ames and the Kern Wheelmen Bicycle Club. Ames and his wife Andrea have two children and live on the east side of town. She is a teacher at Old River Elementary. (Ames shown below along with wife Andrea (right) and friend Betsy Ramsey.)

 * ... OVERHEARD: A local runner commenting on the move by the Air Pollution Control District to shut down the warming fire at the annual Hart Park Thanksgiving Pie Run: "They do it because they can. The truckers have their lobby, the farmers have their lobby, the oil guys have their lobby, so they pick on all of us who have no lobby. It's beyond ridiculous."

* ... RED CYCLES: Heard from several readers who answered Evelyn Johnson's query if anyone  remembered when Bakersfield police motorcycles were painted red. Said Bob Schilly: "As a student at KCUHS (Kern County Union High School) in the mid to late 1940s we observed the Bakersfield police cruising the streets around the campus on their red motorcycles.  We later saw that they were missing for a few days and then when we next saw them they were painted black and white. We later learned that this was due to a local attorney being cited for speeding who contested the ticket and won because the California Vehicle Code required that vehicles used primarily to enforce the Vehicle Code must be painted black and white.  It is interesting to note that he did not say he was not speeding however."

 * ... MORE CYCLES: And reader Jack Kelley added this: "Sheriff Tom Kelley rode a red motorcycle when he stopped me and chewed me out for not stopping at a stop sign at Baker and Flower Street in 1945... I was a student at East Bakersfield High School. My mother was a resident of the great town of Fellows and her father was John Going... thanks Evelyn Johnson for the memories."

 * ... RILEY'S TAKE: And finally, Riley Parker affirmed that "Evelyn’s memory is quite clear... The officers wore khaki tan shirts and medium brown trousers, soft caps and communicated with the dispatcher using call boxes that were located throughout the city. When I walked the foot beat on Baker Street in 1969, I used the call boxes that were mounted on the north side of the McMahan’s furniture on Baker Street, and in the alley south of Sumner Street, east of Baker Street on the wall of what is now the Arizona CafĂ©. It was the Chinese Kitchen at that time and was operated by Raymond Louie."

 * ... 4-H: One group that never gets enough publicity is the 4-H Club, so I am happy to pass this along from Teri Filkins, community service project lead for the Stockdale West 4-H Club. The club is partnering with Houchin Community Blood Bank and holding a blood drive on Thursday, December 9, from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. There will be light appetizers and other refreshments for donors. Interested? Call 661-588-8321 for details.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when "you complain when it's hot, complain when it's cold, wish it'd stay somewhere between 60 and 80 degrees year round but hope it snows on Christmas!"


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nicole Parra takes a shot at the local paper, Irma Carson bows out and remembering the big 1952 quake

 * ... NICOLE IS OUT: So Nicole Parra is out of the race to succeed State Senate bound Michael Rubio on the Kern County Board of Supervisors.  "I have lived in Fresno for the past two years, I am president of Parra Consulting, and never considered a move or appointment to the Kern County Board of Supervisors," she wrote in a terse email to me and others. " I was flattered that some community leaders in Kern County did approach me three months ago, but I politely declined.  All your staff had to do was check the requirements for the appointment and see I was registered and voted in Fresno County. As far as your coverage of the appointment process in the Bakersfield Californian, it has been compared to 'tabloid material.'  It is obvious you, your staff support Wendy Wayne and have tried to discredit my father Pete Parra in the process." Don't you just love local politics? Turns out our staff did its work while Nicole was being coy and evasive about her intentions. I wonder if Nicole, as president of Parra Consulting, advises her clients to be more forthcoming.

 * ... GOODBYE IRMA: One local politician who rarely played games is Irma Carson, who is stepping down from the City Council after a long career. As Gretchen Wenner wrote in a Sunday profile in The Californian, Irma broke many barriers in Bakersfield and can look back proudly on doing a lot for her ward. With Irma, you always knew where she stood, even if you didn't agree. Good luck, Irma.

* ... OUR TRASH: Sick of hearing about the trash in our town? Well so am I but Marilyn Wilson offered an ingenious way to dealing with litter. "In traveling to various cities and towns in North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Carolina and Florida, one of the things that I most noticed was how clean their highways, roads and cities were compared to California and particularly Bakersfield.  Many people in these states take pride in how their cities and states look as it is a reflection on them who live there. I had read where one of these cities had a program called:  Will Work for Pay.  Why couldn't the city of Bakersfield establish a program like this where there would be no liability or benefits but would give people an opportunity to earn cash in keeping Bakersfield clean? I could see that it might start with 1) those who are on the street corners asking for donations, 2) people in front of stores and in malls asking for change to get on a bus, 3) people at gas stations asking for money for gas, 4) young people in juvenile hall, those at the Lerdo facility and those in half way houses 5) and people who are living at the Homeless Shelter, Rescue Mission and Salvation Army Mission. These people could earn money, self respect and dignity and at the same time contribute to the community in which they live.  I see this as a win - win situation for all who would participate." Nice thought.

 * ... 1952 QUAKE: Reader Joseph Harper was just 11 years old when the big 1952 earthquake shook Bakersfield, but he remembers it as if it happened yesterday. He was asleep and when the quake hit, "my bed did a jig clear across the room almost to the other side. Then as the house started to settle the second shock hit... When the second shock hit I went up and as I came back down I hit just to the edge of the bed, enough to slip it upside down right on top of me. Talk about a rude awakening!"

 * .. TAKEOVER: Heard the other day that the popular cable show "Salon Takeover" with Tabatha Coffey may be filming in Bakersfield this week. The show, in which Coffey gives salons tips to improve their business, is supposed to be filming at Serenity on Coffee Road. The show runs on the Bravo network. (Photo courtesy of Bravo TV)

 * ... CRABFEST: Mark January 21 on your calendar for Crabfest, the annual fund raiser for St. Francis Parish School. This year it will return to Harvest Hall at the Kern County Fairgrounds. This is a wonderful fund raiser featuring outstanding crab an all for a good cause. Table sponsorships are available for $1,000.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From regular contributor Jack Kelley: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you "remember the rodeos at the old fairgrounds at what is now Sam Lynn Park on North Chester."