Saturday, February 19, 2011

McCarthy: Republicans focused on reducing the debt, creating jobs and holding down the size of government

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) submits his weekly report from Capitol Hill. 
 "This week, House Republicans focused our efforts on removing barriers to job creation. Our top priority is getting people back to work and getting the size of government under control. We pledged to the American people we would save $100 billion this year, and we have followed through on that promise. This is an important step in stabilizing the economy and giving job creators confidence the federal government is getting its fiscal house in order. By having an open process that allowed for everyone’s voice to be heard, Republicans were unified in our effort to put the country back on a path where our children have the chance for prosperity.  The open process under which the debate took place allowed for members of both parties to put forward ideas and vote on the best way to move the country forward.  In the end, we debated over 150 amendments, defunded Obamacare, and proposed to cut $100 billion for this year alone.
 "That was a stark contrast to the budget proposal the President outlined on Monday, where he punted on taking the lead to address the long-term crisis facing our nation.  Instead, he proposed $8.7 trillion in new spending, $1.6 trillion in new taxes and would add $13 trillion to the national debt by 2021.  This is not the right direction for the future of our country. Republicans in the House are instead working on a plan to address the long-term problems we are facing.  You can be sure there will be real and meaningful changes within our proposal to end the reckless spending that has defined Washington for too long. 
 "While we focus on getting people back to work, we’re reminded that two years ago, the stimulus bill was signed into law with the promise it would put people back to work. Unfortunately, we’ve only seen unemployment numbers continue to rise and too many people in Bakersfield, and across the country, are still looking for work.  One thing is clear: our country has lost more than 1.8 million jobs since the stimulus was passed by Democrats, evidencing the fact that more spending is not the answer.  The more government borrows, spends and regulates, the harder it will be for businesses to access capital and create jobs.  Focusing on cutting government spending now is foundational for removing barriers for job creation and growing our economy for the future to make America more competitive.
 "There is still much work left to do. We must make tough decisions today so that we can put our country back on a path toward prosperity.  I have always said the best ideas are not in Washington, but in our communities.  I’d encourage you to continue to share with me your stories of burdensome regulations that are stifling job growth or ways we can cut spending so we can get to work making it easier to create jobs at home and across the country. 
 "Thank you for reading.  And on a personal note, let us remember the life of former BHS football coach Paul Briggs, who I had the honor to play for.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Remembering with the Civic hosted the Rolling Stones, the Jefferson Airplane and so many other rock favorites

 * ... BASQUE PRAISE: The new edition of the LA Weekly threw Bakersfield some love, focusing on our Basque restaurants as well as our unique character. Writer Jonathan Gold, a former Los Angeles Times writer, noted he has a soft spot in his heart for our community.  Wrote Gold: "Bakersfield, a scant two hours away, offers the not-inconsiderable pleasure of being in a place that is neither Los Angeles nor part of greater Los Angeles, a town that is thoroughly Californian but can also feel a lot like the good parts of Oklahoma. It's the home of the Bakersfield Sound, the Merle Haggard/Buck Owen/Rose Maddox thing that brought a bit of grit back to country music, and without it the radio now would probably sound even more like Taylor Swift. But mostly, at least for me, there is the old-fashioned cooking at one of the city's Basque dining halls, huge, multicourse feasts originally intended for the Basque shepherds staying at the local boardinghouses. They have become so popular that the few sheep men who show up are treated like local celebrities." (photo courtesy of the LA Weekly)

* ... CONCERTS: Old friend Rick Kreiser, owner of Carney's Business Technology Center, dropped me a note after reading about the rock band The Doors appearing at the Civic Auditorium in 1968. Not only was he there, but it prompted a flood of  memories when famous bands regularly showed up at the Civic. "How about half-way up left center to catch the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean with my Janzen shirt, baby blue Levis, and Converse low tops (all from Bud Johnson's in Hillcrest) with my mother! Or perhaps sitting in Orchestra Row T, seat 1, for the greatest rock and roll band in the world (still)... Mick and the boys in July of 1966 with the Standells, McCoys and Trade Winds opening the show. I painted the entire outside of our College Heights house in exchange for the price of a ticket ... six bucks!" Finally, Kreiser remembers when Civic manager Chuck Graviss pulled the plug on Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane during the haunting rock ballad 'White Rabbit' at the stroke of midnight, resulting in the rock goddess leading a few hundred angry fans down Truxtun Avenue to show the police how unhappy they were."Thanks for the memories, Ricky.  

 * ... CARNIVAL: Al Sandrini, manager over at Sundale Country Club, wrote to remember the old carnival that once entertained thousands down near the Kern River. "I can't say I am 100 percent correct, but I think the carnival at the river was set up just about where the 24th Street exit from northbound 99 is located," he said. "I remember that we would walk from the carnival and go into the river and walk out and cool off. The water at this point was about two feet deep and ran very slowly."

 * ... MEMORIAL RIDE: Friends of the late Paul White, the retired educator who died of a heart attack while riding his bike last week, have established an educational fund in his name to help struggling young teachers at the Panama Buena Vista School District. To raise money for the fund, the first Paul White Memorial Bike Ride will be held on Saturday, February 26, at Yokuts Park. It will start at 9 a.m. and head out to Hart Park and back, riding past Greenlawn Mortuary and Cemetery on Panorama where he is buried. The cost is $20 per rider. Interested? Contact Margaret Patteson at or just show up at 8:30 a.m. on the day of the ride.

 * ... SPOTTED: A beautiful picture of Bakersfield's Tiler Peck, a member of the New York City Ballet, in a performance of Balanchine's 'Divertimento No. 15' in the Arts section of The New York Times. The story praised Peck's "brightness and keen musical responsiveness" in the performance. (photo courtesy of The New York Times)

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Jack Kelley: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer "if you remember the River Theater in Oildale, which later became Buck Owens' recording studio."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Litter: It's beneath us" may be the city's new anti-litter campaign

 * ... LITTER CAMPAIGN: It looks like the city may have settled on a new slogan for an aggressive anti-litter campaign for our community. The expected new slogan came from Californian Opinion editor Robert Price, a master wordsmith who came up with a clever double entendre that should play well: "Litter: It's beneath us." Price said he dreamed up the phrase after a blog item I posted referring to a woman who complained when her daughter's class was asked to pick up trash after recess at a local elementary school. The mother apparently told the principal that doing so was "beneath" her child. Dianne Hoover, city parks and recreation director, hopes to engage the media and other civic organizations to send a strong message that folks need to take pride in their community. It's an uphill battle, but it has my support.

 * ... LOCAL BOY: It was nice to learn recently about a local product who has gone on to an amazing career in science and the military. Brandon Arritt, a 1991 Highland High School graduate and United States Air Force Academy appointee, is now working at an Air Force Research Laboratory facility in New Mexico. One of his latest projects: working on a NASA-deployed solar "sail" that uses the velocity of photons to propel or slow objects in space. His mother, Leellen Arritt, works in the county Roads Department. Never one to brag about her son, it fell to another county employee (Allan Krauter) to tell me about Brandon's success.

 * ... RACQUET CLUB: The Bakersfield Racquet Club, the historic tennis and fitness club at the corner of Truxtun Avenue and Pine Street, has finally landed a new restaurant tenant. Moo Creamery has announced it will open a second location at the club and will start serving lunches there on March 1. Luigi's Delicatessen had planned to run the restaurant but later backed out.

 * ... TAFT ROTARY: Sheri Horn Buck lives in Bakersfield but spends a lot of time in Taft, where she is heading up the relatively new Taft College Foundation. And though she's a member of North Rotary, she's spending a lot of time bonding with the good folks at the Taft Rotary Club. Last week was the club's Valentines Day Dinner where Charlie Beard, president of General Production Services, was honored as Citizen of the Year for his work on the Oil Workers monument. The ladies award was given to Tina Leikam, owner of Taft Dominoes Pizza. And for Sheri? She was made a Paul Harris Fellow (Paul Harris is the founder of Rotary), a recognition that Taft has truly become her second home.

 * ... HAWTHORNE SCHOOL: The 1952 earthquake changed the face of Bakersfield forever, destroying so many historic buildings that were replaced by the rather bland architectural styles of the 1950s. One of buildings that is lost forever is the old Hawthorne School that once stood at the corner of 24th and O streets. Reader Tom Mullins said his family ran a small grocery store across the street from the school and "I watched a newly repaired wall section collapse into 24th Street when the August quake hit. Repair workers had just left for the day minutes before and were lucky they weren't on the scaffolding at the time."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Loretta Pedroza: You know you're from Bakersfield "if you remember the horn honking on the Helm's Bakery truck when it came into your neighborhood and you ran out to buy bread or whatever goodies you talk your mom into."

Monday, February 14, 2011

A picture tells a thousand words ....

 Longtime Bakersfield photographer John Harte shared with me this wonderful photo that both showcases his talent while telling the sad story of the collapse of California's real estate market. John said he has been dabbling in high dynamic range photography and captured this image of the once proud sign for the now defunct McAllister Ranch in Southwest Bakersfield.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A walk down memory lane at the McGill brownstone and the old Fontana Pie store

 * ... BROWNSTONE: Another memory came in of the stately McGill  brownstone located at 19th and B streets. Reader Marilyn Sullivan said her grandmother, Erma Payne, once lived next door to the brownstone in a 1911-circa home on 19th Street. "As a small child, I remember the apartments as a looming presence next to my grandmother's beautiful camellia garden, made possible by the presence of the shade from the apartments," she said. "The camellia garden was like so much of my grandmother's big house (with two scary basements); it was delightful and scary at the same time. Speaking of the 1952 earthquake, very little of grandmother's house was damaged (a few bricks fell from the chimney) compared to the damage at the apartments." Erma Payne was the wife of James Bruce Payne, who worked with his father at the original Payne and Son Funeral Home. They built what is now the red brick home of the Junior League. The Payne house next to the McGill still stands, on the south side of 19th Street. (photo is of the Junior League building, original Payne and Son Funeral Home)

 * ... FONTANA'S: Here's an interesting bit of local history, told to me by Joyce (Actis) Weingarden. "You recently ran a column about Fontana Pies and Dorothy Fontana. Dorothy and I are cousins. We haven't seen each other since 1994 and your column made her decide to find family ... We are now in contact. Dorothy and I are cousins because her mother, Eda Fontana (pie matriarch) and my dad, O.J. 'Rusty" Actis (O.J. Actis Junior High) were brother and sister. They came over from Italy as immigrants in 1914 and contributed so much to Bakersfield. My dad was on the Panama School Board (no Buena Vista at that time) for 31 years, the longest of any board member." Turns out Joyce was born here, moved away for 40 years and five years ago came back to the farm started by her grandfather, John Sandrini, in 1904." Welcome back, Joyce.

 * ... PAUL WHITE: More than a half dozen readers wrote to say how moved they were with the Friday memorial service for Paul White, the retired educator and fitness buff who died of a heart attack last week. St. Francis Church was packed and at least a hundred folks had to wait outside. Reader Glenn Worrell said he spoke with Paul's family and was told Paul ran both the New York and Boston marathons, and once participated in a 150 mile run. While working at Sunset School early in his career, Paul apparently ran from Bakersfield to the school where he showered and dressed for a day of teaching and coaching. That's commitment.

* ... MARATHON: Hats off to Don and Sharon Brakebill who completed the marathon run in Greece last summer. Thousands of runners competed in the run, which started in Marathon and ended in Athens. The Brakebills were the owners of Carriage Jewelers and remain active runners to this day. They have now retired to the City in the Hills and can be spotted almost daily running the hills of the Northeast.

 * ... BOOK DRIVE: The Bakersfield SPCA is gearing up for its annual used book sale, one of its big fund raisers of the year. Spokesman Chuck Nordstrom says the drive will be run from the last week of April through May. So if you have some books you'd like to donate to this most worthy cause, haul them over to the SPCA offices on Gibson Street off Rosedale Highway.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield if "you get mad every time you see 'Best of Times' and Taft wins at the end."