Saturday, January 22, 2011

McCarthy: Republicans in House pushing reform and bills to curtail spending

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

‪ "This week my colleagues and I took the first of many steps to rein in wasteful government spending as we promised in the Pledge to America.  On Tuesday, we voted to pass legislation that would save taxpayers $35 million over 10 years by eliminating the mandatory printing of Congressional bills and resolutions.  You may remember this issue from an earlier update--each time a Member of Congress introduces a bill or resolution, 200 copies are printed by the Government Printing Office.  This is a lot of unnecessary paperwork in the digital age when bills are made available online.‬

‪ "On Wednesday, we voted to repeal the Democrats’ job-destroying health care law.  I joined 244 of my colleagues in a bipartisan vote to keep our Pledge to America promise to repeal the government takeover of health care, which the American people continue to oppose.  If not repealed, this law will increase our nation’s budget deficits and debt and impose new mandates and penalties on employers that will make it harder for small businesses to create the jobs our nation needs.  My colleagues and I are now calling on the Senate Democratic leadership to allow this bill to be debated and voted on by the Senate.‬

‪  "On Thursday, the House passed H.Res. 9, which starts the replacement process for the health care law by instructing House committees to assemble commonsense legislation that will actually improve our nation’s health care system and lower costs.  The resolution requires any legislation these committees develop to eliminate job destroying regulations, lower health care premiums by increasing competition and choice, preserve the ability of an individual to keep a health care plan if they like it, provide those with pre-existing conditions access to affordable coverage, reform the liability system and increase the number of insured Americans while not encouraging the insolvency of entitlement plans and increasing taxes on hard-working Americans. ‬

‪ "Next Tuesday, the President will be coming to Congress to give the annual State of the Union address.  I hope to hear from him that we can work together to cut out-of-control Washington spending and create jobs.  On the House floor, we will be considering a resolution to reduce non-security spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels for the remainder the year. We will also consider legislation to end the taxpayer funding of presidential election campaigns and party conventions, a proposal that could save Americans $520 million.  This is a spending cut American taxpayers chose as part of the YouCut program to reduce federal spending and the deficit.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Local businesses sell out to foreign companies and remembering when Judy Garland came to town

 * ... LOCAL BUSINESS: Interesting to note that two long-time privately held local businesses, Physicians Automated Labs and Townsend Designs, have been sold to foreign companies. PAL sold to an Australian company looking for a way to enter the American market and Townsend, which makes orthopedic braces, was purchased by an French company with similar ambitions. Coming out of this recession U.S. and foreign corporations are sitting on billions of untapped capital, and my guess is these won't be the last well-run local companies acquired by outside interests.

 * ... JUDY GARLAND: Had a nice call from long-time resident David Kropf, who remembered a special day in 1931 when a young Judy Garland came to Bakersfield. "It was October 4, 1931, and Judy's father drove her from Lancaster in a 1928 Chevy. She was nine years old at the time. She sang at the Masonic Temple on 18th Street. It was a Monday night and the Santa Ana winds were blowing, but a thousand people showed up."  Kropf said Judy's father, Frank Gumm, played the piano while his daughter sang. Eight years later, at the age of 16, Garland was cast as Dorothy Gale in "The Wizard of Oz." She died at 47 due to a drug overdose.


 * ... SHOTGUN SPORTS: The Kern County Gun Club is offering free lessons in the basics of gun handling and trap and skeet shooting for youths aged 7 to 18. The club will provide the guns, ammunition, targets and instructors on February 12, March 19, April 9 and May 7. The instruction starts at 9 a.m. Call Cyndi Benson at (661) 205-8569 for more information. The club is located adjacent to the Lake Buena Vista Recreation Area and has always offered a robust youth program in the shotgun sports.

 * ... BAKO MEMORY: Reader Shirley Strickler dropped me a note asking if anyone else remembered the public dances at the Armory and Lake Ming in the late 1960s. "I saw the Isley Brothers at the Armory. The crowd was never very big and for the most part in control. there was a live band every time and they were mostly local bands. You could never do this is today's world - the riot would be big and people would be dead!"

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? The building that houses the Buena Vista Museum on Chester Avenue was originally a JC Penny's store? It later moved to 19th Street and Chester Avenue in 1949. The building is now owned by Michael and Cheryl Artz who also own the historic brownstone (McGill apartment building) at 19th and B street.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From fellow Rotarian Vince Bertolucci: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you remember the large swimming hole, called the plunge, at Belle Terrace and Union Avenue. They also had a dance pavilion with named bands. I heard Jimmy Dorsey there when I was young."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A northern California city comes out of bankruptcy with steep cuts in union pensions, and more defense of the NRA

 * ...PENSION REFORM: With all the talk about rising pensions costs, experts say the city of Vallejo in the Bay Area may provide a road map for reform. The city has the dubious distinction of being home to the largest municipal bankruptcy in years, and it is now submitting reforms to a federal judge. According to the Wall Street Journal, union salaries and benefits rose to make up 80 percent of the city's budget, untenable by any standards. The city has now reached new contracts with the police, fire and management unions that - among other things - will shrink health care benefits for retires to $300 a month, down from $1,500 a month. The former city manager of another Bay Area city said Vallejo was "an example of how compensation and benefits had been part of the politics of the city and it ultimately got the city in trouble." Sound familiar?

 * ... GLEANERS: One of the great benefits of living in California is the abundance of fruit trees that grace our yards. Many of us have an orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit tree somewhere on our property. And this is the time of year when so much of our back yard fruit goes unused. The folks over at the Golden Empire Gleaners would love to redirect some of that fruit to the needy. Pam Fiorini, Gleaners executive director, is looking for community groups that would be willing to pick fruit at homes of folks who want to donate it. It could be a Scout troop, church group or an individual. Or, if you can do it yourself, ,you can drop off the fruit at the Gleaner warehouse at 1326 30th Street, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. Or call and arrange for it to be picked up, (661) 324-2767. 

 * ... LEMONADE LOCKS: Touched base the other day with Kelly Giblin, administrator over at the LeBeau Thelen law firm. Turns out she has a new side business trying to help those who are losing their hair because of cancer or other ailments. The idea: in-home consultations with a full line of wigs. "Having been diagnosed with alopecia several years ago and going through the trauma of losing my hair, I realized that there is a huge need in this community for this type of service. I also realized how embarrassing, intimidating and impersonal it can be to try on wig in the middle of a store if you are suffering from hair loss." The business is called Lemonade Locks: when life hands you lemons, call Lemonade Locks. Interested? Call (661) 900-6672.

 * ... NRA: Another email from a reader defending the National Rifle Association. Said Karla Jadwin: "I am the widow of Tom Jadwin, lifetime member of the NRA and two time chair of the annual Friends of the NRA dinner here in Bakersfield. The group fund raiser about which your reader complained, raises money to educate the youth in our area about firearm safety. Period. It's not much of a stretch of understand the purpose there: saving lives! It saddens me to see the uniformed public decry all firearms. Perhaps legislation should eliminate automobiles since so many senseless deaths are caused on the nation's roads by those enormous hunks of metal?" 

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know the Kern Valley Bank opened for business on the southeast corner of 18th Street and  Chester Avenue on July 6, 1889. The next day, July 7, was the great fire that leveled downtown, including the bank. The Goodwill is now located in that spot.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Bill Black: "You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember the good root bear at the "Q-ne-Q drive-in on Chester Avenue in the late 1940s." Bill was a student at Bakersfield Junior College at the time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Yet another case of animal cruelty ... this time in Tehachapi

 Teagan, a 3-year-old tabby owned by the Hesbon family in Tehachapi, was apparently shaved and then set on fire this week. Kara Hesbon said she heard Teagan outside, opened the door and found the cat covered in burns. Apparently she had been partially shaved before being doused with a flammable and set on fire. Thanks to Melissa Vreeman over at KERO TV, news of Teagan's plight has traveled throughout the social networking community and prayers are pouring in, as well as donations to help in Teagan's recovery.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A day of cyclocross at Hart Park....

 The California state Cyclocross championships were held Sunday at Hart Park. It pitted the best from Northern California against the best of Southern California...


Should the presence of freshly paroled prisoners make us nervous? And is the NRA responsible for the Tucson shootings?

 * ... EX CONS: There are few bigger fans of columnist Valerie Schultz than me, but even friends can disagree. Valerie, who writes an often poignant, insightful lifestyle column for The Californian, took me to task last week for voicing the fears of many when busloads of freshly paroled ex-cons show up at the downtown bus station. She advised prayer and a little sensitivity and said even blog entries can "damage a person's fledgling hopes." First, I both work and live downtown, so I confess being a tad more sensitive than the average Joe when groups of parolees are dumped downtown and fade into the adjacent residential neighborhood. And yes, I'm all for prayer and this is a nation of second chances. But the hard truth is that California's recidivism rate is 70 percent - the highest in the nation - meaning that seven out of every 10 parolees who walk out of that bus station will end up back behind bars. Can you imagine the outcry if these guys were being released at The Marketplace? Or Seven Oaks? Or near Riverlakes? As a friend told me last Friday; "A friend of mine who works for Probations told me if the public knew the backgrounds of the people they are paroling because of overcrowding, there would be a revolution." It's time to relocate the bus station to a less intrusive area. (photo from movie 'Sin Nombre')

 * ... NRA HEAT: I also took some heat from reader Robin Walters, who was incredulous that I would publicize an upcoming fund raiser for the National  Rifle Association (NRA). "Are you serious?" Walters wrote. "Encourage a 'fun' dinner to support the ability of anyone to carry a 30-round clip for their Glock to public meetings and places where people congregate." I concede our nation is on edge after the Tucson shooting, but Walters is clearly off target (no pun intended) here. First, 30-round clips like the kind used in Tucson are illegal in California but more important, it's an insult and a cheap shot born of ignorance to compare people who enjoy the shooting sports to some wing nut who opened fire on a crowd of innocents. Robin:  I'd be happy to buy you a ticket to the NRA dinner, set for February 4, so you can meet some of our community's  most decent and honorable people.

 * ... GOOD DEED: Health care professional Darlyn Baker wrote to talk about an unexpected good deed. In her words:  "After reading what you wrote about Mimi Audelo's Starbucks' experience in today's paper, I wanted to share with you an act of kindness bestowed upon me by a perfect stranger. Last week I was at the drive through Starbucks on Oswell.  It was taking a very long time for the car in front of me to leave.  I see the driver and the employee pleasantly chatting as if no one else was in line.  By now there were five cars behind me.  The driver soon leans out of her window and with a big smile hollers to me, 'I'm sorry.  It's not my fault.  I only bought two drinks but they made them wrong.'  Finally she leaves.  When I go to pay, the employee says, 'She paid for yours!'  I was truly humbled and my emotion changed from annoyance to gratitude.  How nice that was of her.  I will never forget her nice gesture.  She has inspired me to do the same."

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that the first studio for KERO-TV 23 (then Channel 10) was the ballroom at the old Hotel El Tejon where the Bank of America tower is now located?

 * ... STONES: From local political consultant Gene Tackett: "Old timer? No way. But I did see the Rolling Stones play the Civic (auditorium) in August 1966. I got lots of satisfaction!"

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when you always thankful if there's water in your river.