Saturday, January 8, 2011

McCarthy: time for common-sense values and new accountability and transparency in government

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), gives us his weekly report from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "The new Congress was in session this week for first time and I am truly honored to continue serving the people of the 22nd District as your Representative.  I am humbled and thankful that people from Kern and San Luis Obispo Counties traveled all the way to Washington to watch me get sworn in.  This Congress, I will also be serving my colleagues in a new role as the Majority Whip.  The job of the whip is to make sure operations on the floor run smoothly and that communication lines are open between leadership and members of Congress.  I will be fighting for  our common-sense values as we start to make tough decisions to help America regain its economic strength and soundness for present and future generations.  

  "There is a lot of work to do in this new Congress and it could be likened to taking over a struggling company and now reorganizing it to make it work better. It is my goal to operate the House with more transparency and accountability. Last year, my colleagues and I, through the America Speaking Out project, created a new way for Americans to directly communicate their concerns and priorities with their elected officials.  With the feedback from you in the 22nd District and from people all across America, we were able to present a new approach to governing with A Pledge to America.   In this new Congress, we now have the opportunity to humbly establish a more accountable and effective government that will help create jobs, end economic uncertainty, stop out-of-control spending, and reform Washington. "

Here is what happened this week.  Our first order of business was to establish the rules for how the House will be run.  Under the new rules, all House bills introduced will be required to cite Constitutional authority for further consideration.  Second, bills introduced will be available to all members for three calendar days for review before being considered on the floor.  Third, tax increases cannot be used to pay for new mandatory spending and bills that would increase mandatory spending over one, five, or ten years will have to cut current spending of equal or greater amount in order to be considered.  To review all new rules, visit:

  "Also, Washington must always remember the origin of its governing authority – the people, which is why this Congress began with the reading of the Constitution.  As Patrick Henry said, “the Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

  "Finally, the House passed a resolution that reduces House operating budgets from top to bottom.  Budgets of leadership offices, committees, and individual member offices all have been cut to save taxpayers an estimated $35 million in the first year.  There is more work to be done though and I will keep you updated.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bako Bits: CSUB gets ready to honor five alumni and a diaper story you're not going to believe

 * ... CSUB HONORS: Hats off to four well deserving local folks who have been chosen to enter the Cal State Bakersfield Alumni Hall of Fame. It's remarkable how many community leaders have come out of CSUB and this is a stellar group. It includes Ben Stinson ('79), owner of Stinson's Stationers; Jon Van Boening ('92), president of Bakersfield Memorial Hospital; John Hefner ('85), retired from the Fruitvale School District; and Christine Frazier ('84), Kern County Superintendent of Schools. A dinner will take place at the Petroleum Club of Bakersfield Saturday, February 19. Call (661) 654-3211 for tickets.

  * ... FRENCH VISITOR: Ever consider hosting a foreign student in your home? If so here's your chance. Susan Peninger is local coordinator for Horizon's du Monde, a French company that brings French students to the United States for home stays. She's looking for a family willing to house a 16 or 17 year old for 10 days between February 15-25.  The student needs a place to sleep or can share a room with a like gender. The students want to experience life with an American family and are expected to follow your house rules. If interested call Susan at (661) 332-7147.

 * ... IVY LEAGUE: Always happy to pass along some good news about our high achieving local youngsters. Alicia Mathur, a senior at Stockdale High School, has been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania school of engineering and will be starting her studies in the fall. Her brother, Neil, is a senior at Princeton University. Two local kids in the Ivy League making us all proud.

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that the pair of huge lion statues that once graced the steps of the old Kern County Jail were sold to a fraternity at the University of Nevada in the early 1960s when the building was torn down?

  * ... DIAPERS: Sick of hearing me rant about those in our community who so casually discard their diapers in our parks and on our streets? Well this story will really make you sick. Kyle Estle, a partner in Dallis Higdon and Associates, told me about finding literally dozens of used diapers on the roof of a rental on 33rd Street. "I don't really enjoy the diaper entries but I'm glad you are raising awareness so maybe some will change their behavior. Anyway, one of our appraisers was doing an apartment inspection in Bakersfield and took the attached picture. (go to to see the picture) Apparently the former tenants were too lazy and disgusting to throw their used diapers in the trash and instead used their neighbor’s roof." The picture is almost too graphic for a family newspaper, but it shows what must be three or four dozen diapers, piled up, on a flat roof. Apparently the tenants next door just tossed their used diapers out the window onto the roof next door.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when you have to explain Tule fog to others.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Personal bankrupties shoot up 25 in California and what does your multi-media experience look like?

 * ... BANKRUPTCIES: Should not have been surprised to read that the number of Americans filing personal bankruptcy shot up 9 percent last year. That's according to the Wall Street Journal which cited stubbornly high unemployment and the plunging value of our homes. California had one of the worst rates, up a full 25 percent, while the Southeastern states in the Deep South were faring much better. The rate of bankruptcies in Arizona, another state plagued by foreclosures, rose 24 percent.

 * ... YOUNG GUNS: Interesting to note, also in the Wall Street Journal, that the new Republican leadership in the House of Representatives signals a marked generational shift. For example, incoming Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, from Bakersfield, is 45 years old while the outgoing whip, James Clyburn, is 70. The new House Republican leader is Rep. Eric Cantor, who is 47. He replaces Democratic leader Steny Hoyer, who is 71. Said the Journal: "The broader question is what substantive impact  this wave of new, young Republicans will have on Congress's work. Mr. Cantor says the generational change will produce more unconventional approaches - and that the newcomers' common denominator is a commitment to attack government spending."

 * ... TABLETS: Spent a full day crossing the country on airplanes the other day and couldn't help but notice the explosion of iPads, Kindles and other tablet-like devices carried by passengers. One middle aged man seated next to me spent the five-hour flight shuffling among his iPad, a Dell laptop, a newspaper, his Blackberry, and a hard-cover book on golf. His travel companion was reading a book on a Kindle and doing the crossword puzzle from The New York Times. Talk about a multi media experience.

* ... LOCAL SYMPHONY: Jerome S. Kleinsasser wrote in to comment on reader Walter Stewart's observation about the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, referring to Antonin Dvorak's  Symphony in E-Minor No. 9. "Our community is blessed to have such a dedicated and accomplished ensemble of players with a tradition dating all the way back to 1932 in the depth of the Great Depression. The Symphony continues to regularly provide our community with the finest in orchestral music. The next concert is on February 5. I hope you will join us."

 * ... FLYOVER: Ever seen one of spectacular military flyovers at a college football game?  I witnessed one involving some vintage World War II era fightsers at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., and now I learn one of our local kids was flying a Navy FA/18 E during the flyover at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Tyler Hurst, a 2000 graduate of Stockdale High School and later the Naval Academy, was piloting one of the four jets that swooped low over the Rose Bowl, according to this parents, Marilyn  and Dave Hurst. They said the jets were part of VFA 147, the Argonauts, stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station.

 * ... RESOLUTION: How is this for a New Year's resolution: let's all commit ourselves to getting into shape and shaving those excess pounds. Kern County has one of the highest obesity and heart disease rates in the state, and it's time we got off that list.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From Kurt Seeger: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if  "you saw Jim Morrison at the Doors perform at the Civic Auditorium in the 1960s."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Prepare for another surge in foreclosures and a Dezember girl opens a museum in Qatar

 * ... HOME SALES: Looks like we're in for more turbulence before we see a real recovery in the local real estate market. Analysts now say the recent drop in the foreclosure rate was only temporary, caused by lenders "putting the brakes" on repossessions because of the focus on faulty foreclosure practices. But now the big banks are expected to restart foreclosures  "with a vengeance," signaling a surge in repossessions this in the first quarter of this year. RealtyTrac vice president Rick Sharga told The Los Angeles Times that the U.S. housing market's recovery "would be set back three months because of the delays involved in the foreclosure fracas." Meanwhile, local Realtors are digging in for another bumpy ride before things start to improve.

* ... DEZEMBER GIRL: Here's a unique way to spend New Year's: Longtime  Bakersfield residents Brent and Anna Dezember ushered in the New Year halfway across the globe in Qatar, visiting their eldest daughter Michelle. Michelle is director of education for the Museum of Modern Art, Mathaf, Qatar. As a member of the executive team, she served as master of ceremonies for the opening of the museum as her proud parents looked on. She has been in Qatar about a year. Michelle graduated from Santa Clara University, was a Fulbright Scholar, studied at the University of  Barcelona and worked at the Brooklyn Museum before heading to Qatar. (photo courtesy of the Santa Clara University)

 * ... MIGS: Carl Bryan wrote in to join the chorus of local folks recalling Migs Apsit, the popular Bakersfield High School teacher who used to lead tours of the country during the summer. "I was fortunate enough to participate in Migs' USA tour the summer of 1960 (after my freshman year). Migs and his wife (nicknamed Tiny, I believe) and a few other chaparones accompanied by about 65 students on a big bus that went generally counter clockwise around the country. In seven weeks we passed through 37 states." Bryan noted that Migs was the head football coach at East. "Because of Migs' college football background (at USC, I believe) East High ran a single-wing offense. Migs also had the nickname of 'Hoppy' because he had been a part-time stand-in double in the movies for William Boyd, who played the part of Hopalong Cassidy."

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? The stately brick home located at 20th and B streets was built for Ellen Baker, the daughter of town founder Col. Baker. The house later became a Catholic boy's home and is now restored as a private residence and law office.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Walter Stewart: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if "you remember when the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra was giving concerts when Anton Dvorak's Symphony in E minor No. 9 (From the New World), Op. 95 was known as Symphony No. 5. This is not a joke." I'll have to trust you on that one, Walter.