Saturday, February 5, 2011

McCarthy: district tour reveals businesses tired of burdensome regulations

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

"It was great to be back in California this week.

  "One of the highlights this week was visiting Liberty High School and talking to some of the students there. It is this generation that will bear the biggest burden if we do not take immediate action to get our deficits and debt under control and I was honored to spend time with them. The students asked many insightful questions on topics ranging from health care to the Middle East.

  "For those who do not know, a federal judge in Florida this week ruled that the President’s health care law is unconstitutional because of a mandate that requires every American to purchase health care.  This week the Senate was in session and took a vote to repeal the government health care law.  Unfortunately, it failed by a vote of 47 to 51, but a bipartisan measure did pass a repeal of the 1099 reporting requirement. The House also has a bill (H.R 4) which I have cosponsored, to repeal this burdensome mandate that requires small businesses to file a 1099 tax form with the IRS for any purchases made of $600 or more.

  "I also took part in a town hall discussion with local small business owners to learn more about their concerns at the family owned business Abate-A-Weed.  Their message – stop the burdensome regulations coming out of Washington and Sacramento.  People want to keep more of their hard earned dollars to invest in their companies and have the ability to hire more employees.  Our local small businesses are the engine of our economy, and as we work to cut spending and reform our regulations, businesses like Abate-A-Weed should always be at the front of our minds.

  "I also met with Governor Jerry Brown in Sacramento this week.  While I believe Governor Brown has the state’s best interest in mind, we disagree on how to get there.  In Washington, we are trying to cut wasteful government spending and also grow the economy.  I don’t believe that families and small businesses across our state can afford $9 billion in tax hikes right now, especially when we have the second highest unemployment rate (12.3%) in the nation.‪ Our state needs jobs and we need to work to attract entrepreneurs back to our state – raising taxes is not the answer.

  "I finished off the week with a visit to San Luis Obispo County on Friday and was able to visit with students at Paso Robles High School and a local small business.  It was a great time and I hope everyone enjoys the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dennis Ralston checks in with Bakersfield and an alarming report on poverty in the bubble cities

 * ... RALSTON: I received a nice email from Dennis Ralston, one of the greatest American tennis players of all time who hails from Bakersfield. He recently had his left foot amputated but has been fitted with a prosthetic leg and is back at his game. "A friend forwarded your blog to me," he wrote. "We enjoyed it very much - a real trip down memory lane for us. Thanks for the mention. I am doing very well - have gotten back on the court to teach etc. Just wanted you to know we enjoyed it. We still count Bakersfield as our home - many years of wonderful memories there." Ralston graduated from Bakersfield High School and went on to play collegiate tennis at USC before joining the pro tour. He was  the No. 1 American player for three consecutive years in the 1960s and both played on and coached the U.S. Davis Cup team. He was once ranked No. 5 in the world.

 * ... SUNSHINE: Two straight days of sunshine and warming temperatures is almost enough to make one feel guilty given the snow and ice that is covering most of the country. Well, almost. These are the days that remind us why we all live here.

 * ... POVERTY: It's not surprising that there's been a spike in poverty after three bruising years of this recession. And it's also not surprising that the Central Valley shows up on most lists for suffering from some of the nation's worst economies. In a report in the January 29 edition of The Economist, the Sarasota, Florida, area saw a 4.5 percent jump in people living below the poverty line. Said the report: "All the other metropolitan areas that saw jumps of four points or more are also formerly fast growing southern and western states: Bakersfield, Boise, Greenville, S.C., Lakeland, Fla., Tucson, Az. Arizona now has the highest poverty rate in the nation, after Mississippi. The especially severe housing bust that ended the breakneck growth of these sunbelt cities has brought with it deprivation on a scale they have never previously encountered and are struggling to address."  (photo courtesy of The Economist)

 * ...  McGILL: The 1917-era McGill brownstone on 19th Street downtown has sparked a lot of interest. And now this from local art gallery owner Don Martin: "I was in Fishlips chatting with some friends about where I live and an older gentlemen sitting at the next table overheard the conversation. He asked if I lived at the McGill Building and what apartment number. He recalled babysitting in my exact apartment when he was in high school at BHS in the 1920s!"

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: If you are heading downtown tonight for the First Friday festivities, remember that the Guild House is now open for First Friday as well. For just $5 you get a glass of wine and a variety of home-made hors d'oeuvres, and the proceeds go to a good cause: the Henrietta Weill Child Guidance center.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're an east Bakersfield old timer
if you remember driving over the Mount Vernon overpass and being able to see the Thriftmart 'Big T' signs at College Center and Hillcrest, both at the same time!" Thanks to Joe Stormont for that one.

 * ... OLD-TIMER: And speaking of memories, one of my regular correspondents, Gene Bonas, dropped me a note the other day. "I thoroughly enjoy your blog. However, I can relate to so many of your 'old timer' comments that I remember something my dad used to say: 'You know you're getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.' I'm not there yet but I may be getting close!"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Get ready for another First Friday in downtown Bakersfield and an explosive wild flower season in our hills

* ... FIRST FRIDAY: Tired of the fog and cold and looking for some fun? Head downtown this Friday for the return of the First Friday activities, which took last month off. My advice: grab dinner at any of our downtown restaurants (Mama Roomba, Uricchio's Trattoria, Mexicali, La Costa Mariscos, Casa Munoz, The Padre to name a few) and then stroll through the art galleries, boutiques and antique shops or grab a cocktail at a speakeasy like the Alley Cat. The brainchild of First Friday is Don Martin,  a master marketer who always puts on a good show at his Metro Galleries on 19th Street. This week he's featuring photography by Samuel Wooten, a French born photographer and anthropologist whose work is really impressive. Also on display in nature photography by San Diego artist Peter Fay.

 * ... BIG ORANGE: Received a nice email from Tony Wilder, a businessman in Kingsport, Tennessee, now home of retired county Resource Management Agency director David Price. David was deeply involved in our community while here and apparently he's now been drafted into the social fabric of Kingsport. Wilder said Price had recently graduated from Kingsport's ENCORE Leadership program and is now serving on the non-profit board of Kingsport Tomorrow. "And I just want to confirm that yes, he is now a rabid Big Orange fan and was even seen wearing a University of Tennessee pin on his lapel at a community function last week. But I also know that Bakersfield must be a very nice community because I can tell that Dave still has a big part of his heart there."

 * ... WILDFLOWERS: All this rain we've been having is certain to signal a terrific wildflower season in the hills of Kern County. In just a few months, the lupines, fiddlenecks and poppies will be in full bloom. Make sure you don't miss them this year. And wouldn't it be nice if we'd have water in the river all summer as well?

 * ... BONNIE'S BEST: Heard the other day from Laurie Watson, owner of Bonnie's Best Cafe over off 21st and F streets. Bonnie's Best is one of those locally owned downtown fixtures that always serves up superb food, and it also has a terrific meals "to go" program. Laurie wanted me to know that the Country Rose Cafe on H Street is not owned by Bonnie's Best but rather by  another person who used to work at Bonnie's Best. "I have not purchased the Country Rose Cafe," she said, adding that she is concentrating on keeping Bonnie's fare and customer service at the top of their game.

* .. BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Gregg Byrd: You know you're a Bakersfield oldie "if you have an original neon Coors sign from Trout's bar in your garage (given to me by my late father, Jack Byrd) and if you remember the Byrds Club, which was my grand father's bar a few blocks from Trout's."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A German POW returns to Delano to visit where he was held, and remembering Jack LaLanne

 * ... GERMAN POWS: More response on my earlier post about German and Italian prisoners of war working in local agriculture during World War II. Betty Kouklis wrote to say that her husband was working in Delano one day several years ago when he was approached by a stranger, accompanied by his daughter, son in law and grandson. Turns out the stranger had been a German prisoner in Delano and was given a trip by his family to return to Delano to visit where he was held. The camp was on 4th Avenue (now Garces Highway) across from where Delano Hospital is now located. Said Betty: "It was a small camp and he recalled the time our senior class sang Christmas carols from across the street, and hearing the music from the VFW Hall that was nearby. I have the letter he wrote after he returned to Germany and gave a copy to the Delano Historical Society. As far as I know there is no other document to verify the camp existed."

 * .... RIP JACK: Local resident Jack Skaggs, a retired California  State Patrolman, regaled some friends this weekend with a story about pulling over the late fitness guru Jack LaLanne in the summer of 1978. Skaggs was patrolling the Long Beach Freeway just north of the 405 when he noticed a pearl white Stutz Bearcat weaving. The license tag read "Reduce." It turned out to be LaLanne, who was quite sober and explained he was weaving because he was searching the radio dial for a favorite program. Skaggs said LaLanne insisted on getting out of the car and demonstrating his ability and  limberness, performing feats that were  impossible "unless you were in tip top shape and extremely flexible... mere mortals could not begin to duplicate what he did." Later Skaggs learned that LaLanne, who was around 64 then, was heading to Long Beach to swim the harbor while pulling dozens of rowboats. "He told me to stay in shape and I took those words to heart," said Skaggs, an avid cyclist and fitness buff.

 * ... FOLLIES: Robbie Bonas wrote to say how much she enjoyed reading about the "The High Fever Follies" put on by the Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. "It took me back to that wonderful experience of participating in 'the chorus line' and 'I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy' number with Phyllis Adams. I was very honored to have met, and danced, with Phyllis. I was in awe of how beautiful she was and how high she kicked those long graceful legs of hers! She was the energy and joy for all who participated in that production."

 * ... SPOTTED: Leon James "Lee" DeWyze Jr., winner of the ninth season of American Idol, was spotted at the Red Robin at Valley Plaza recently. Stephany Trevino is a server there and spotted DeWyze immediately. He was with his manager and two other men and were headed to Fresno when they stopped for lunch.

 * ... GUN CLUB: The Kern County Gun Club is hosting a "women's day" this Saturday, February 5. For $50, you get lessons in shooting trap and skeet. This includes free use of guns, all ammunition, free clay targets and lunch. Club manager Cyndi Benson told me she's trying to get more women into the shooting sports. Cyndi already runs a successful youth program at the club. The gun club is located adjacent to the Lake Buena Vista Recreation center.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Al Gutierrez: "You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer "when you recall attending rock and roll dances at the Rainbow Gardens on Union Avenue. They stars performing before standing room only crowds included Chuck Berry, the granddaddy of rock and roll, Little Richard and Fats Domino. The Gardens is now the Kern County Basque Club."