Saturday, January 15, 2011

McCarthy: Congress needs to focus on restoring America's econonic stability

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

 "It was a somber week on Capitol Hill as we paused to remember and mourn those who died and those who were injured in this tragic and unthinkable shooting incident in Tucson. My colleague, Congresswoman Grabrielle Giffords, who I came to Congress with in 2006, is making improvements, and Judy and I continue to pray for her full recovery, as well as for the families of those who lost loved ones last weekend.
 "Next week, Congress will be back in session as we refocus on restoring America’s economic stability by cutting spending and reducing burdensome regulations so small businesses can thrive.  One item in particular in A Pledge to America that we said we would focus on in our new governing agenda was the repeal of unfunded or onerous Federal mandates that hinder job creation and adversely impact small businesses. 
 "One of the most burdensome mandates that was enacted into law is a provision requiring small businesses to file a 1099 tax form for any purchases of $600 or more they make.  Also known as the 1099 reporting requirement, this will require so much costly and time consuming paperwork for small businesses that even the IRS has indicated it is not prepared to process and handle it all.  These types of requirements are burdens that stifle small business expansion.  That is why I cosponsored and strongly support Congressman Dan Lungren’s bill, the Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011 (H.R. 4), that would repeal the 1099 reporting requirement. 
 "In addition, this week several of my colleagues from California and I sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee asking it to consider legislation to withhold funding for the U.S. Forest Service to implement the agency’s 2005 Travel Management Rule (TMR) in California.  Like many of you I enjoy using our public lands for many recreational activities such as hunting and off-roading.  Unfortunately, the TMR, combined with a Forest Service decision to designate certain single lane, gravel or dirt roads as “highways” in national forests in California, could potentially result in up to a 90% reduction in off road vehicle (OHV) routes in our forests.  This is unacceptable, especially given the Forest Service has been provided ample information from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the public that these dirt roads do not constitute a highway.  Hopefully, the Forest Service will change course on this issue and listen to CHP and the public.  If not, I look forward to working with the Appropriations Committee to preserve OHV and other recreational opportunities in our national forests. 
 "Thanks for reading and have a great weekend as we remember the work and legacy of the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We're drinking more wine and eating less meat and a big wedding planned at St. Francis

 * ... FACTOIDS: Read an interesting piece in The New York Times about our changing society. The data comes from the 130th edition of the Statistical Abstract of the United States, the annual profile of the nation published by the Census Bureau. Some facts:
  - As a nation we ate less red meat and also ate fewer veggies, but drank more wine.
  - The marriage rate is the lowest since 1970 but divorces have held about the same.
  - A record 41 percent of all live births were to unmarried women. That is up 22 percentage points since 1980.
  - In 2008, there were 7.3 million adults in jail or on parole or probation, a record high.
  - In 2007, airport screeners confiscated 1.1 million knives, almost 12,000 box cutters and 1,416 guns.
  - And finally, four states - Minnesota, Iowa, North Carolina and South Dakota - have more pigs than people.

 * ... GOOD VIBES: Mimi Audelo, an executive at San Joaquin Hospital, had a nice surprise the other day at the downtown Starbucks on 24th Street. "When I got to the window, the young lady, who was very happy and having a very good time, told me my coffee was paid by the car in front of me. What a surprise. I know I didn't know the person in front of me. The young lady told me I was about the sixth or seventh car that had been paid by the car ahead. I had to keep the surprise going and the fun! What a great way to start the new year."

 * ... WEDDING: Big wedding planned for Saturday over at St. Francis Church when Nicole Thurman and long-time boyfriend Jack Campbell Jr. tie the knot. Monsignor Craig Harrison will preside over the ceremony and a reception will follow for several hundred folks at Bakersfield Country Club, which has been spruced up for the event. Proud parents are Jack and Bonnie Campbell,  Steve and Terri Haupt and Van Thurman, the bride's father. The couple graduated from Garces Memorial High School and Jack currently plays defensive tackle for Cornell University. (photo courtesy of Cornell University)

 * ... SPOTTED: A Twitter post by Lisa Plank. who works over at the Bakersfield Association of Retarded Citizens:  "A hooker waved at me as I drove by. I may have to find another way to and from work as I am apparently on Union Ave entirely too much."

 * ... RUMBLE: This is a big weekend for local cycling fans. On Saturday is the Rio Bravo Rumble, which features mountain bike races and a 5k and 10k walk and run. Kids race for free so this is always a popular venue for families. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. and the race begins at 9 a.m. All proceeds go to Bike Bakersfield.

* ... CYCLOCROSS: And don't forget the state Cyclocross Championships which will be held this Sunday at Hart Park, running from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. If you haven't taken in this cycling sport, this is a good chance to see some of the best riders in the west tackle an off-road course full of obstacles. Sam Ames, manager over at Action Sports, always puts on a good show and predicts some 300 riders will participate.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Robert Mergler: You might be from Bakersfield if  "you were one of us shaking Ronald Reagan's hand at the Harvey Auditorium for the Lincoln Day celebration in 1962.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Study suggests Valley housing recovery could take decades, and assessing your risk of disease

* ... HOUSING WOES: Economists have a grim new warning for areas like Bakersfield that were ground zero in the housing bubble: we may be in for years of a long-term decline that will be unlike anything we have ever seen. This is the conclusion of a recent Rockefeller Institute study, cited by The Los Angeles Times, that noted former boom towns like Bakersfield could take literally decades to recover. Said one expert: "The housing boom elevated home prices in a number of areas far, far above what can be supported by the economic fundamentals, and so prices have fallen significantly, and they will remain below their previous peaks for a decade, or even two decades." The result: foreclosures are turning developments on the outskirts of metro areas "into the nation's newest slums. Complicating any recovery for these beaten-down areas is the difficulty predicting which neighborhoods will fare worst."

 * ... DISEASE RISK: If you knew a blood test could accurately predict if you would eventually contract a disease, would you take it? According to a study at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, an overwhelming number of Americans would. Of course all this is hypothetical, but it indicates the willingness of most of us to deal with reality. As it stands now, all we can do is deal with the predictive numbers. Here are some odds of an adult developing certain diseases, as compiled by the Wall Street Journal from data provided by the National Cancer Institute: About 16 percent of men born today will be diagnosed with prostate cancer; of adults who live to 55, the risk for Alzheimer's is about 17 percent for women and 9 percent for men; for people with no heart disease at the age of 50, more than half of men and 40 percent of women will go on to develop it in their lifetime; about 12 percent of women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime; and half of us will develop arthritis of the knee by the age of 85. 

* ... NRA DINNER: Local gun rights supporters are putting together a dinner to raise funds for Friends of the National Rifle Association. The Southern Valley chapter is organizing the dinner, set for Friday, February 4 at the Bakersfield Elks Lodge. Last year the Friends of the NRA granted over $492,000 to Central California shooting and  hunting programs. These dinners are always fun and feature both live and silent auctions and special drawings for custom knives, firearms and NRA commissioned art. Interested? Call Cyndi Benson at (661) 205-8569 to purchase tickets. Individual dinner tickets are $50 and group packages are also available.

 * ... OTHER CALIFORNIA: A pretty damning story on the Central Valley is making the rounds among our community's policy makers. It was written for the National Review by Victor Davis Hanson, a former Fresno State professor who now works at the Hoover Institution. In it, he decries the slow decline of the Central Valley and lashes out at the coastal elitists who simply don't seem to care. While the state champions diversity, he notes some areas of the Valley are almost 100 percent Hispanic, virtual ghettos existing in an over regulated state. "Trash piles are commonplace out here - composed of everything from half-empty paint cans and plastic toys to diapers and moldy food. I have never seen a rural sheriff cite a litterer, or witnesses state EPA workers cleaning up these unauthorized wastelands. So I would suggest to Bay Area scientists that the environment is taking a much harder beating down here in central California than it is in the Delta. Perhaps before we cut off more irrigation water to the west side of the valley, we might invest some green dollars into cleaning up the unsightly and sometimes dangerous garbage that now litters the outskirts of our rural communities."

 * ... SOUP MIX: Stopped by the farmer's market at the corner of Brimhall Road and Calloway Drive Saturday morning and was impressed with the winter vegetables. This is soup weather and all the fresh produce was there: onions, potatoes, beets, radishes, lettuce, kale, nuts, garlic, herbs, brussel sprouts and so much more. These local farmer's markets are well worth supporting.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if "you remember when South Chester ended at Terrace Way. It did not go through to Union Avenue until after World War II." Thanks to reader William Upshaw for that one.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Luigi's won't be opening second outlet at the Racquet Club, and Jagels is roasted in retirement

 * ... LUIGI'S OUT: It looks like the near perfect marriage of Luigi's Delicatessen and the Bakersfield Racquet Club won't be happening after all. If you recall, Luigi's was expected to open a small second branch at the downtown Racquet Club, replacing Big Popy's Deli which left at the end of the year. But now Luigi's co-owner Gino Valpredo says the family has had second thoughts and decided to pass. "We really need to focus on getting our rhythm" at the main 19th Street location, Gino told me. "We're sorry if we disappointed anyone." And who can blame him for focusing on his core business in this economy? But the idea of a second Luigi's location was intriguing to many, especially to all those loyal customers who know you have to arrive at 11 a.m. or earlier if you expect to get a table later in the week. Meanwhile, the Racquet Club will continue to look for a new vendor for its coffee and lunch shop.

 * ... JAGELS ROAST: They packed the house at the Crystal Palace to roast retiring District Attorney Ed Jagels last week. Lois Henry, the Californian columnist who has tangled with Jagels over the years, wasn't invited but decided to crash the party instead and was warmly welcomed. There was a long list of speakers, including Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Police Chief Greg Williamson and even longtime courts reporter Steve Swenson, who got in some real zingers at Jagels' expense, all said with love. But it was Jagels himself who stole the show when he got his turn at the podium. Responding to Chief Williamson's dig at how long Jagels had served, Jagels retorted that he too remembered back when the police department actually had fitness standards (a clever shot at the chief's weight).

 * ... SICK BAY: Heard the other day that old friend David Price, the retired director of the county's Resource Management Agency, is facing some medical issues. Dave is one of the nicer and most decent public servants Kern County has produced and last year retired to Johnson City, Tennessee, becoming a fan of the University of Tennessee Volunteers at the expense of his alma mater, Fresno State. But now he's now being treated for numbness and unsteadiness caused by calcification of his upper neck vertebrae, leading to compression of his spinal cord. He's scheduled to see a specialist at the University of Virginia next month. "You can imagine what a shock this is," he told me. "I knew I had some problems from prior diagnostic work but nothing like this... The scary part is I've been warned that even a seemingly small bump on the head could result in total paralysis, including ventilator." Keep this special man and his family in your thoughts.

 * ... SMALL WORLD: You never know when you're going to run into someone from Kern County, wherever you are. It happened to Lt. Jordan Buzzell, a pediatric dentist at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, when had a chance encounter with Sgt. Michael Walth at the Miramar dental clinic. Buzzell is a 1998 graduate of Taft Union High School and Walth is a graduate of Maricopa High, class of 1999. Said Buzzell: "We didn't know it but we are both stationed here at Miramar and met yesterday when Michael came in for an appointment with me. I am actually a pediatric dentist now on temporary assignment to this clinic after serving two years in Japan... so the fact that we met was even more surreal. Michael has already served on two deployments to Iraq and Kuwait and is now awaiting word on duty as a recruiter for the Marines."

 * ... SPOTTED: Monsignor Craig Harrison moving through the crowd at the Padre Hotel bar like a rock star, shaking hands, chatting and causing one women to remark: "Someone has to introduce him to me. I'm ready to become a Catholic!"

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader William Upshaw: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember the sugar cane field at Oak Street and Brundage Lane."