Friday, December 24, 2010

McCarthy: lame duck session is over, time to roll up the sleeves and get to work

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) presents his year-end blog. In his words:

 "This week, the House marked the end of a chaotic lame duck session with the passing of a Continuing Resolution (CR) which will keep the federal government operating through March 4, 2011.  On January 5, 2011, the 112th Congress will be sworn in and immediately following I will join my newly elected colleagues on implementing legislation that will provide the common sense solutions our country needs. We have to get America’s economy thriving again so Americans can get back to work.

 "On Monday, I announced my nominations for the United States Service Academies.  Each of the nominees went through a competitive selection process, including an individual interview by the Academy Interview Committee (a committee comprised of local leaders like Monique Rogers, the Corporate Administration and Marketing Director for AARC Technologies and Richard Beene, President and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian).  All of the students nominated displayed the focus, honor and courage necessary to serve our country as future leaders; I commend them for their accomplishments thus far, and wish them well in their future endeavors. From Bakersfield, Mark Van Kopp was nominated to attend the United States Military Academy, in West Point, NY.  Van Kopp is a senior at Bakersfield High School and plans to double major in History and English.  He will also be following in the footsteps of his older brother, 2nd Lt. Samuel Van Kopp, a 2010 West Point graduate.
 "At my office today, I presented Leonard Corwin, a Bakersfield World War II veteran, with an early Christmas gift.   Mr. Corwin served with the 1st Marine Division in the Asia-Pacific on Okinawa, and following his discharge, he never received the proper recognition and medals for his service.  After a request from his family, my office worked hard to ensure Mr. Corwin’s sacrifices were recognized and today I presented him with these prestigious awards. All in all, Mr. Corwin received 7 awards including: the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, China Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Navy Occupation Service Medal.  Moments like this are priceless, and I am happy my office was able to assist Mr. Corwin in securing this much deserved recognition.  As we celebrate Leonard Corwin’s dedication to our nation, let’s not forgot the men and women around the globe who daily give up so much to defend our nation and our way of life.

 "Thank you for reading my update this week and I hope each of you have time to enjoy this Christmas holiday with your family and friends.  Until next week, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mourning the loss of the disappearing community bank and wondering why sprinklers are running in the middle of a flood

 * ... FLOODING: With half our town flooded, don't you think we should be shutting off the sprinklers? Apparently not, at least over at Sing Lum School in Campus Park. According to reader Kevin Ammann, he was walking his dog near the school, in an area that had been closed due to flooding, and noticed the school sprinklers on full blast. "Heck, the city was still running two pumps trying to lower the sump at the park next to the school. And, I know it isn't just the school that is clueless. I've seen some houses with sprinklers running while it was raining. Heck, during the winter months, once a week can be too much." Well noted, Kevin. (photos by Henry Barrios)

 * ... WONDERFUL LIFE?: This is the time of year to catch up "It's a Wonderful Life," the inspirational Jimmy Stewart classic in which he portrays a small town banker in the fictitious town of Bedford Falls. So it was interesting to read a Reuters story noting that while Stewart's character (George Bailey) "remains emblematic of a benign banking system, most Americans probably don't realize he's the most endangered species in finance." Why? The news service noted that hundreds of community banks, including our own San Joaquin Bank, have failed or sold out in the last few years, "a consequence, unintended or otherwise, of government and regulatory decisions codifying the biggest banks as infallible." Some 300 banks will fail this year, and Reuters said another 860 banks remains on its "troubled bank" list.

* ... GARCES POOL: The new competition swimming pool at Garces Memorial High School has now been filled with water and will officially open on January 7. The new facility has been named the Salvucci Aquatics Center and represents just the latest in a long line of capital improvements at the private Catholic school. Following the ribbon cutting, the pool will host the first swim practice of the year. The school has now set its sights on building eight tennis courts on campus.

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation writer and poet who influenced a generation with his novel "On the Road," stayed in Bakersfield at the old Padre Hotel several times during his cross country jaunts? Bakersfield is mentioned in "On the Road" and the late Spartacus Miller, the Padre's owner, told folks that Kerouac stayed at the Padre for several days at a time.

 * ... LOCAL LAD: Sometimes you are just born with good genes. And that seems to be the case with Jeffery Mulock, who at 24 seems to be on the verge of becoming the next great male model. A 2004 graduate of Liberty High School, Mulock was enrolled in college in San Diego when he was discovered by a fashion scout drawn to his rugged All American good looks. He has since adorned the cover of the Turkish fashion magazine 'Cosmoman," appeared in a BLK Jeans brochure and modeled in Germany and Greece in addition to Turkey. His parents are Roberta Pearce and Ellery Mulock.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know  you're from  Bakersfield when "it's not unusual to see oil derricks adorned with Christmas lights."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Smoking rates decline in California and Memorial Hospital gives Ed Shuler a proper send off

  * ... SMOKING RATES: It looks like Californians are slowly kicking the smoking habit. A new state department of public health survey shows the percentage of residents who smoke in California is 13.1 percent, well below the national average of 21 percent. Here in Kern County, 17.1 percent of us smoke but really, we can do better than that. Other counties weighing in were Los Angeles at 10.4 percent, Ventura at 11.8 percent, Santa Barbara at 11.6 percent, Fresno at 11.2 percent and Orange at 10.9 percent. According to the Los Angeles Times, as of last year California had seen a 38 percent decrease in smokers since 1990. Now that's progress.

 * ... MILITARY ACADEMY: I had the privilege recently of serving on a committee, appointed by Congressman Kevin McCarthy, that selected candidates for the military academies from the 22nd Congressional District. Each member of Congress gets to appoint four principal nominees to attend the Air Force Academy, West Point, the Naval Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy. We interviewed 32 kids, all high achieving and terrific youngsters, from McCarthy's congressional district. It was inspiring to see these kids walk through the door, one after the other, each one impressive in his or her own way. Those chosen were Mark Van Kopp, 18, of Bakersfield High School, headed to West Point; Spencer Marsh, 18, of Paso Robles, headed to the Naval Academy; Courtney Bishop, 18, of Desert High School in Edwards, headed to the Air Force Academy; and Travis Farewell, 17, of Tehachapi High School, headed to the Merchant Marine Academy.  (pictured below are Courtney Bishop, Travis Farewell, Mark Van Kopp and Spencer Marsh)

 * ... SHULER'S FAREWELL: Ed Shuler stepped down from the Board of Directors of Memorial Hospital this week, wrapping up a full 26 years on the board. Shuler, who is 88 and looks maybe 60, helped guide Memorial through its affiliation with Catholic Healthcare West, ensuring the hospital remained an affiliate of Mercy Bakersfield and CHW while retaining governance and ownership here in Bakersfield. Hospital president Jon Van Boening told me Shuler was "an invaluable asset" during the tricky affiliation process. "He's given so much time and so much of his life to this hospital," Van Boening said. During Shuler's term the hospital added 238 beds with the addition of the East Tower in 1988 and the West Tower in 2009. Shuler is a geologist, former president of the downtown Rotary Club and former employee of Getty Oil.

 * ... SEXTANT WINES: Ran into Craig and Nancy Stoler at a Christmas party the other night and they brought me up to date on their family business, Sextant Wines. The winery is doing well and the Stolers said business is steady and getting  better. Craig is a graduate of Bakersfield High School and later Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He joined the family business in 1991 and is now CEO of Sunridge Nurseries. Nancy is a proud Scot from Highland High School. The couple has four girls, own a home in Avila Beach and visit friends and relatives on the weekends here.

 * ... MINIATURE GOLF: Local architect Bruce Biggar dropped me a note to recall yet another miniature golf course, this one on Oak Street where Barnett's Tire Center now stands. "My father's office and construction yard was next door to the north. During the summer, one of my jobs was to trim the bushes along the property line and to clean up the mess." 

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if "you remember driving to Stockdale Country Club from Oak Street to Fairway Drive on a two-lane road and the only building in view was a small Shell Oil Company building on the south. It was Joe Shell's oil company, not the 'other' Shell Oil Co." Thanks to John Pryor for this contribution.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Karen Goh's rookie mistakes, celebrating the big tipper around town and unions denounce Scrivner as the 'devil'

* ... JUST EMAIL ME: By all accounts Karen Goh, who went from director of a religious-based non-profit to an appointment to the Kern County Board of Supervisors, appears to be a good choice. I know Goh from the downtown Rotary club and can tell you she is both smart and articulate. But to most of the residents of the Fifth District, she's a virtual stranger. Which is why it's so puzzling that she consistently declines to speak in depth to reporters, choosing instead to communicate via sound bites or email, as in "just email me your questions and I'll send you a statement."  What keeps Goh so busy that she can't share her views with her constituents? Posting pictures to her Facebook profile? Playing Guitar Hero? I doubt it. Going silent is a rookie mistake for a public official, particularly a freshman like Goh whose views are unknown. It only leads to idle speculation, which in this case has her taking orders from local political power broker Mark Abernathy. I have no doubt Goh is qualified for the job, but I couldn't tell you where she stands on a single substantive issue. (She did tell KGET TV that she supports jobs, but gosh, who doesn't?) Eventually Goh will need to prove she is not anybody's puppet and can stand on her own. (photo by Felix Adamo)

 * ... THE DEVIL? The other newcomer to the Board of Supervisors is Zack Scrivner, whose past and positions - unlike Goh's - have been picked apart and dissected like a lab rat. Scrivner led the much-needed pension reform while on the Bakersfield City Council, incurring the wrath of the powerful police and fire unions. And they haven't forgotten him. On the California Professional Firefighters website, 2nd District, Scrivner is likened to "the devil" for daring to rein in pension costs. "The supervisor race that we  lost will have a greater impact then the two city council seats we won," said firefighter Derek Robinson. "The devil now sits on the Board of Supervisors and pension reform is coming, like it or not." Scrivner told me the remark was "unfortunate" and "inflammatory" and added this: "I think it's interesting and perhaps telling that he characterizes the election of Rudy Salas and Russell Johnson to the Council as wins for the unions, but goes on to say that my election trumps those victories. I guess time will tell."

 * ... BIG TIP: Remember that generous patron who tipped his server a sweet $5,000 last week at Cafe Med? Well now I learn that after leaving Cafe Med, he went to the Padre Hotel where he tipped a bartender $2,000. That's right. Seven thousand dollars in tips. Merry Christmas.

 * ... THE BUZZ: Everyone is talking about the rain, which has made our bone dry community appear more like Seattle, albeit for a brief few days.  It's been non-stop for days and let's hope it fills the reservoirs and means we'll have water in the river again next summer. One thing is for certain: if you have a leaky roof, you know it by now. 

  * ... DUSTIN'S DINER: Folks over in Haggin Oaks are continuing the long tradition of Dustin's Diner, a hot cocoa and cookie stand that collects money for the homeless through the holidays. This all started years ago on St. Cloud Lane when Dustin Kilpatrick, son of Dave and Danielle Kilpatrick, started the stand with the help of neighborhood kids. It has since grown huge, regularly collecting more than $10,000 a year for the Bakersfield Homeless Center. So if you want to enjoy the Christmas lights and help the homeless, drop by the dinner now located at 2301 Haggin Oaks Boulevard. It runs through December 23.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Robert E. Holland: You know you're an East Bakersfield old timer if "your mom sent you to the Green Frog Market for an item and reminded you to pick up the new copies of Women's Day and Family Circle at the check stand that were given out at no charge."