Saturday, December 11, 2010

McCarthy: Now is not the time to raise taxes

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

"In legislative business this week, the House continued to try and finish end-of-the-year work before Congress adjourns.  Still on the agenda is extending the current tax law so American families and small
businesses are not hit with tax increases on January 1, 2011. Raising taxes while our economy continues to struggle is the last thing Americans need from congress. Currently there is  a lot of discussion
happening on this issue, and I am waiting to review the details. I hope to report specifics soon.

  "Also this week, the House came together to pass a year-long fix to the Medicare physician reimbursement system so doctors and other medical professionals can continue serving Medicare patients. This year-long
fix was entirely paid for by repealing provisions of the recently enacted health reform law that would have resulted in wasteful government overspending.   Next Congress, I intend to work with my
colleagues for a more permanent solution, focused on fiscally responsible legislation that does not add to the debt, and ensures our seniors continue to have access to the medical service they need.
  "You might remember that over the last year I spent time working on a project to gather Americans ideas and concerns called America Speaking Out (ASO). That projected resulted in new governing agenda for
congress called the Pledge to America.  One of the priorities in the Pledge is for Congress to work harder to communicate with the constituents they serve.

 " This week we released the new Congressional schedule for the next Congress.  One of the new changes in the schedule allows Members next year to spend an entire week each month in their district. This increased time at home will allow members more time to listen to their constituents’ and their ideas.  Another change
that was made was allocating more time for committee meetings to allow more time for oversight as legislation is reviewed and debated.
  "Though these changes may seem small, I believe they will help get Congress back to the principles our Founding Fathers envisioned. Thomas Jefferson once said, congress needs to have “direct and
constant control by the citizens,” and I believe these changes are a step in that direction.

  "Last December, the Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club implemented a project through the Wreaths Across America (WAA) organization to place wreaths on graves in the Bakersfield National Cemetery.  WAA is a
national organization that works to honor our nation’s Veterans who are now gone by placing a wreath on every grave in national cemeteries across the country.  If you would like to help with this project, you
can do so this Saturday at the Bakersfield National Cemetery.  For more information please visit:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

One man's success story in the middle of a recession, and more bad form involving people and their cell phones

* ... SUCCESS: Here's my feel-good story of the day. This one comes from Tom Myers, a 1996 graduate of Cal State Bakersfield who has certainly had his share of ups and downs in this economy. After graduating, Myers worked for 10 years with First American Title Co. before leaving to try his hand at real estate development. He got caught up in the real estate crash and "ended up shooting myself in the foot after the project failed. A month after I left the land development firm, I went to an interview with Farmers Insurance to look into becoming an independent self-employed agent. Needless to say, I will have finished my fourth year at the beginning of March 2011 and even though it has been a struggle, I have managed to start a business in a down economy without so much as taking a single penny from unemployment or charity. This is not to say that both have value and there are people deserving of it, but to point out if you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day. Teach him to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime. Perhaps it's time that we start teaching others to fish." And by he way, Myers was named 2008 Career Agent of the Year at Farmers.

 * ... BAD FORM: What is it about cell phones that turns people into such inconsiderate dolts? Anthony Meeks, lease manager for Lamar Advertising, was at Russo's Books the other night to hear former Secret Service agent Clint Hill talk when a man in the audience received a call on his cell phone. "Apparently he felt the call was important enough to take, but he didn't have the common courtesy to excuse himself so the others could hear Agent Hill. I am no longer amazed at people's disrespect of others, especially on their phones, but even this surprised me. I would assume that to be sitting in the front means he arrived early and has a genuine interest in the subject, but even that wasn't enough for him to go a few minutes without contact from the outside world." Good grief.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A man in my peer group casually mentioning that he was diagnosed with a "mega colon" following his first colonoscopy. What does it say when men of a certain age in Bakersfield all know gastroenterologist Dr. Rabinder Bhogal on a first name basis?

 * ... KELEHER'S COOKIES: Received a nice note the other day from local artist Barbara Reid, who wanted to share a story about a special brand of holiday cookies. Turns out the family that owns and operates Keleher Shorthand Reporters makes cookies for its clients every holiday season. "Every year my family has looked forward to a plate of home-baked deliciousness from the Keleher kitchen," Reid said. Jean Keleher is a graduate of North High and now a member of East Rotary. Reid described her as "one of the hardest working and nicest home grown ladies I know."

 * ... BIG-TIME SPORTS: Now that Cal State Bakersfield has gone Division 1 in sports, we're starting to see some big-time schools put Bakersfield on their travel schedules. The University of Colorado will be in town on Jan. 2 to play the Runners in basketball, and in March the Runners will host The Ohio State University baseball team at Hardt Field.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Another one from reader Jack Kelley: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you "remember when the Bakersfield Hospital was located at the northwest corner of 19th and R Street, by Central Park. I had my tonsils removed there by Dr. Joe Smith in 1935."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

More feedback on the Valley Air Pollution Control District and doing a good deed to others just to do it...


* ...PIE RUN: My recent rant against the Valley Air Pollution Control District for being heavy handed with the Thanksgiving Pie Run bonfire elicited a string of positive responses, with the exception of this one. "Sounds like the staff of the air district is just doing their job, in response to a report of illegal activity," said one reader who asked that I withhold her name. "It's the law that bonfires can't be held.... You owe them an apology. I for one enjoy clean air, and think fouling it with a bonfire is idiotic. Stop whining."

 * ... KARPE HONOR: Nice to hear that Lisa Karpe has been honored as the 2010 Volunteer of the Year for the Southern California chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This is a big honor for such a large chapter that reaches from San Diego north to Fresno and east to Las Vegas. The award noted that she created a program called Caring Connection, which involves visiting MS patients in skilled nursing facilities. Her husband is Ray Karpe, chief operating officer of Terrio Therapy and Fitness, who also volunteers with the MS Society. Their eldest son, Robert, is a freshman at the University of South Carolina while brother Adam is a senior at Garces Memorial High School.

 * ... GOOD DEED: Here's something you don't expect every day: Destiny Jimenez, a Bakersfield College student, was at a Jack in the Box drive through near Oswell and Highway 58 recently when the cashier told her that her bill - $13 - was paid by the customer before her. Apparently it was "Pay if Forward Day" and folks were out there doing one good deed after another. "There's really nice people out there," Jimenez said. "I want to do it for someone so they can do it for someone else."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: A good one from reader Jimmie D. Hill: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if "you played at the miniature golf course that was a tad north of the little Green Frog Market at Bernard Street and Alta Vista Drive in the late 1940s and early 1950s."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Is the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control Board out of control? One businessman thinks it is ...

 * ... AIR BOARD: The backlash against the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District continues. If you recall, the air district came down hard on the annual Thanksgiving Day "Pie Run" because - brace yourself here - the runners had the audacity to have a small bonfire to warm themselves after the run. I am now beginning to hear from others, business people, who share similar stories. Gordon Cantrell, manager of Electrical Motor Works off 21st Street, wrote in with another story that smacks of heavy-handed APCD tactics. "We were recently fined (actually, it was just a request for funds) for 'violations' of our permits to operate. In the so-called violations, it indicated that we used spray cans to paint our motors. In our permits, it indicates that we may use non approved methods of painting only for touch up and repair items. This means small areas that need to be touched. This is exactly what we have done in the past. In the 'violation' there was no proof of any date, no color, no amount sprayed, nothing to indicate that anyone had seen anything at all, just a simple fact that we purchase spray paint was the only evidence submitted.... We are very careful to comply with the laws and rules set forth legally.... It's very difficult to fight the government, but when it comes to the government misusing its authority, I believe we should all stand up together and just say NO." Bonfires and spray cans. In this economy, and at a time when we should be helping small business, this is what the Air District does with its time?

 * ... BRAINPOWER: Bakersfield showed up on another listof dubious distinction the other day, and it's not the kind of publicity we need. According to the Huffington Post, Portfolio ranked 200 cities in terms of "brain power," calculated by earnings and educational achievement. And you guessed it, we made the list of the ten "least brainy" cities in America. Merced topped the list, followed  by McAllen, Tx., Brownsville, Tx., Visalia, Bakersfield, Yakima, Wash., Laredo, Tx., Hickory, N.C., Fort Smith, Ark., and Modesto. Not surprisingly the top five smartest cities in America were all college towns: Boulder, Ann Arbor, Washington, D.C., Durham, N.C. and Fort Collins, Co.

 *  CIOPPINO: It was good to hear from Barry Rosenfeld that the we have a date for the Bakersfield West Rotary's 18th annual Cioppino Feed: Saturday, March 26. I attend a lot of fund raisers in town and without a doubt this is my favorite. (The St. Frances Parish School's Crabfest is a close second) Cioppino feed combines an informal night of catching up with your friends while enjoying a hearty meal of clams and cioppino over at Garces High's Leddy Hall. If you haven't been, this is the time to start. Ticket prices will remain at $75 and West Rotary is looking for sponsorships and auction items. For more information call chairperson Angie Paquette at 661-617-3217.


* ... MEMORIES: Carl Bryan wrote to remember 1953, the year after the great earthquake. "We lived in a two-story house at 1724 Camino Primavera (near East High), and I turned eight that June (between my second and third grade years at Horace Mann School). Several times that spring and summer my father woke me up in the very early morning hours so that we could sit in what we called the sun room to wait for a big flash in the east. We now know these as the Operation Upshot-Knothole, U.S. Nuclear Tests at the Nevada Proving Ground, and they were apparently well publicized. The other event of that year that I remember very clearly was the first test pattern broadcast on KAFY-TV, which became KBAK-TV soon after. Our family had often visited Uncle Bill and Aunt Sally on Ray Street in Oildale to watch Los Angeles KTLA-TV (the Spade Cooley show, Roller Derby, and wrestling from the Olympic Auditorium) via a huge antenna on a very tall roof tower that blew over several times each year.  I seem to remember that the test pattern included a drawing of the Father Garces Statue."

 * ... INTERNMENT CAMP: Joyce M. Collins dropped me a nice note about a dark green produce stand that stood near the intersection of Golden State Highway and Union Avenue. "It suddenly became empty in 1943 when the couple that ran it were sent to a Japanese internment camp." Anyone recall their names?

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you "recall the days of very small kitchen ovens when people used to have their turkeys roasted at bakeries like Cottage Bakery across from the old Williams School on Niles Street.