Friday, April 1, 2011

McCarthy: GOP House budget will deal with long-term issues involving Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

 Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), files his weekly report from Capitol Hill. In his words:

"There’s been a lot of news this week. It’s been 41 days since House Republicans passed a bill to significantly cut spending and fund government through the end of this fiscal year. So far, the Senate hasn’t stepped up with a plan to cut federal spending. Regardless of their failure, Republicans are continuing to fight for necessary spending cuts.

  "In addition to our efforts to cut discretionary spending, my colleagues and I are preparing to propose a budget that will set our nation on a new course. The federal government currently spends approximately $3.5 trillion every fiscal year, but borrows forty cents for every dollar spent. This is unsustainable. The negative impact our debt has on job growth and investment will only be increased without immediate action. That’s why we will be taking on the biggest drivers of our debt, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, to help preserve them for current and future generations.
 Currently, these programs consume a huge portion of our budget, and without action to save them, they will eventually consume every tax dollar received by the federal government, while adding trillions to our debt. The Republican budget will present a responsible plan to protect these programs, while putting our country on a path to prosperity.

  "Since Republicans took control of the House, we’ve set a record pace for cutting spending and red tape standing in the way of job growth. On Tuesday, the House voted to end an ineffective government-run
program, saving nearly $30 billion that would have been spent in TARP funds. Your hard-earned taxpayer dollars should not be wasted on ineffective programs, and you can guarantee I’ll continue fighting to put an end to this wasteful spending.

  "The House also took action on an issue that hits close to home for many in our community. Thursday, we passed the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, the first step in preventing duplicative and
burdensome EPA regulations from being implemented. If these regulations were allowed to go into effect, farmers, ranchers and all responsible pesticide users in Kern County would be saddled with costly new and duplicative permitting requirements, resulting in job losses in our community. The bill now goes to the Senate, and I will push for them to quickly pass it.

  "Wednesday, Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed an end to California’s drought, but that doesn’t change much for our famers and ranchers who are suffering because of this man-made water crisis. In spite of this
proclamation, it’s projected our farmers and ranchers won’t receive all the water they are entitled. This is unacceptable and due in large part to federal and state restrictions on delta water. This man-made water crisis must be addressed without delay so we can get people back to work. I will continue to work with our farmers, ranchers and local communities to fight for a long-term solution to California’s water

  "We still have much work to do, and I’ll be fighting for our community every step of the way.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thefts pick up in a bad economy, Cal State's new basketball coach and a 100th birthday

* ... MORE THEFT: In another sign that some folks will stop at nothing, thieves are stealing flocks of pink plastic flamingos that girls from St. Francis Parish School use to raise money for Relay for Life. That's right. Pink plastic flamingos used by school kids to raise money to fight cancer.  Here's how it works: The Challenge team girls target the lawns of potential donors and "flock" them with the flamingos in a good spirited way to raise money. But now, according to principal Cindy Meek, the flamingos have disappeared from two lawns, one in the Bakersfield Country Club area and the other in Westchester. "Obviously the girls are disappointed," Meek said. "They were raising a lot of money for the cancer society." 
* ... NEW COACH: Now that CSUB has a new basketball coach in former Naismith Coach of the Year Rod  Barnes, Athletic Director Jeff Konya can turn his attention to finding a new women's volleyball coach and an athletic conference that will accept Cal State. Barnes coached at Ole Miss and took the Rebels to the Sweet Sixteen and last coached at Georgia State, where he inherited a mess of a program fraught with academic issues. Over coffee at Starbucks, Konya told me there was a lot of interest in the job, so much that he had to change his cell phone number to keep the callers at  bay. Among those who expressed interest was former UCLA and Georgia coach Jim Harrick.
* ... EAST BAKO: Reader Pat Glenn wrote to say  "thank you for your blog column. It has brought back so many memories, and it's great to see the names of some of my old friends that I haven't seen in years. John Pryor, Jack Saba and Glen Worrell were all classmates, and Paul Summers was from our neighborhood, though I don't know if it's the same Paul that was quoted in your column. Some things I don't remember, but there are others that haven't been mentioned yet.  I don't remember the Bob White drive-ins, but there was Bob White's malt shop on Baker Street. The owner's name was Bob White and they did use the logo of the namesake bird. East Bakersfield was a separate little town then, and we went across the street to Bloomfields' drive-in at lunch from Washington Junior High, or would walk down Baker to Bob White's. There were several diner-type cafes, a couple of dime stores, Pennys, an open front grocery store (R.K. Market), right in the middle of town,  Snyder's Bicycle Shop, and of course, Saba's Men's Store.  There were no supermarkets then, but mom and pop stores scattered throughout the neighborhoods. In those days parents didn't have to worry about the kids playing out after dark, and in the summertime Jefferson Park was filled with kids. In the evenings there was an outdoor skating rink with music, amateur entertainment at the small amphitheater, free equipment (such as basketballs and ping pong) that could be checked out, all free, except for a small charge to get into the swimming pool.
 * ... COPPER THEFT: More on the rash of copper thefts across our community. From reader Stephen A. Montgomery: "A house I'm watching being built was in the framing stage and had just been wired prior to other work and someone came and cut out most of the electrical wire. They got probably 20 bucks worth of copper but cost the builder about three grand to repair and replace the damage. They now have all the openings to this house boarded up when their when their backs are turned." 
 * ... BIRTHDAY: Happy birthday to Wanda Stone, who turned 100 this past week. Her grandson, Mike Tasos, flew in from north Georgia with his wife Vicki, and sons Christopher and Gregory to join the celebration. "She's lived in the same Oildale house since the 1940s," he told me. "Came from Oklahoma. Still sharp as a tack and lives at home. Sweetest lady around. Still as sharp as Bill O'Reilly's tongue." They celebrated her 100th  at Christ the King Church in Oildale.
*  ... WHO KNEW? The Rolling Stones, longtime country music fans, sang about Bakersfield in 1978 in their song “Far Away Eyes” on the album “Some Girls.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Old jail lions guarding fraternity house in Reno

 Local resident Terry Egland was in Reno recently and shot these pictures of the old lions that once stood guard outside the Kern County Jail. After the jail was demolished because of structural damage in the 1951 earthquake the lions were taken to the University of Nevada-Reno to stand guard in front of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If it's almost April, it must be time for another First Friday in downtown Bakersfield

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: There's a spectacular art show opening this weekend to kick of the First Friday festivities downtown. Don Martin, known as "the mayor" of downtown because of his relentless push to improve the central business district, says the opening of "From the Desert to the Sea" may be one of his best productions yet. The show features a stunning collection of California landscape paintings featuring Los Angeles-based artist Mary-Austin Klein. In addition to Klein, artists from Santa Barbara to the high desert will be featured, giving the opening its title. The show is sponsored by the Kern Community Foundation and Memorial Hospital Foundation and part of the proceeds will go to the Children's Medical Center at Memorial. The weather should be warm so make sure the Metro Galleries on 19th Street is on your itinerary Friday. And of course, all the downtown eateries, bars, shops and art galleries will be buzzing with activity starting around 5 p.m.

* ... AL BALDOCK: Al Baldock, the legendary Taft College football coach and one of the most successful community college coaches ever, died two years ago but will never be forgotten. And now the Taft College Foundation has named its annual fund raising golf tournament in his honor. The Al Baldock Memorial Athletic Golf Classic will be held Friday, April 8, at the Buena Vista Golf Course. Baldock, a 1954 graduate of the University of Southern California, coached at numerous colleges before returning to Taft College in 1976 where he taught for 16 seasons. While Baldock was coaching at Alan Hancock Community College, he gave NFL great John Madden his first job coaching. Madden later wrote a sizable check to start the Al Baldock Memorial Scholarship Fund. (Baldock photo by John Harte)

 * ... CRIME TIP: Always find a secure place to hide your spare car keys, either in a safe or some place hard to find. Police say burglars often find your spare keys when they are in your home and then return within two or three days to take your car, a double insult to your privacy and security.

 * ... WINE TASTING: If you are looking for a way to sample some good wine, meet friends and support a great cause, consider this Saturday's 3rd Annual Wine Tasting and Auction to support the American Cancer Society. It will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Motor City Lexus in the auto mall on Gasoline Alley.  I have attended this event and it's well worth the price of entry ($40 in advance, $50 at the door). It features wine from 20 Central Coast wineries and food from some of our community's best restaurants. And you can do it while supporting the fight against cancer, a disease that has affected almost every family I know.

 * ... SPOTTED: Retired Sheriff Carl Sparks worked the room like a rock star politician at the recent Kern County Sheriff's Department Reserves Awards dinner. Known for his salty tongue and keen wit, the beloved former sheriff was telling folks about his new love for mountain biking. Also attending were judge Michael Lewis, Sheriff Donny Youngblood and retired Sheriff Mack Wimbish.

 * ... WARREN'S: Suzanne Bunker-Kishimoto wrote to correct an earlier reader about a drive-in on Chester Avenue. She said it was actually Warren's drive-in (Wayne's being the dairy). "My father, the late Bruce F. Bunker, had the first law offices nearby on Chester Avenue. It was always a big treat for us to have lunch with dad at Warren's because we got to eat their cheeseburgers in the parked car, this being at a time when people didn't dine in their vehicles very often."

 * ... WHO KNEW? The “Bakersfield Sound” is not just a nickname for country music, it’s actually a defined style, which is inspired by use of pedal steel guitar, the Fender Telecaster electric guitar and intense vocals.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dealing with Cal State's image problems and another successful Cioppino Night with West Rotary

 * ... MORE CAL STATE: There has been a lot of feedback on Cal State Bakersfield's decision not to provide a senior discount for Roadrunner baseball games. And the fact that I raised the issue at all has led some to believe I am attacking the university. So let's be clear: I am a big fan of CSUB and believe it is an integral part of our community. The "senior discount" issue for Roadrunner baseball is albeit a small one, but indicative, some believe, of an insular view of the world held by certain administrators. Certainly these strained town-gown relationships are not uncommon in college towns across the country, but they can cause substantial damage among potential donors and supporters. This has never been more true than today, when CSUB and other universities are increasingly dependent on the generosity of alumni and local donors to make up for severe state budget cuts. And if perception is reality, CSUB does have an image problem. As retired educator and CSUB alum Craig Holland wrote me: "It is great that someone is finally stating what those of us who have been in town for 30 plus years have known."

 * ... CSUB: Along those lines, reader and CSUB volunteer Adele Davis wrote to point out that ticket prices at CSUB events are determined by each department. The Music Department, for example, has always offered a senior discount while students with ID are allowed in free. "There is a general admission price, a senior/faculty/alumni price (usually the same but not always) as well as a student price which includes any students over 12 from any school. Since we stopped charging CSUB students, our CSUB student attendance was increase greatly," even if they are not attending to complete course requirements.

 * ... CIOPPINO:  West Rotary held its hugely successful "Cioppino Night" Saturday  at Monsignor Leddy Hall at Garces Memorial High School. If you don't attend any other fund raiser, this is one that is well worth the $75 ticket price. Fresh clams, salad, cioppino, wine and dessert and all for a good cause. The profits went to the Pediatric Care Unit at Memorial Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and the West Rotary Foundation. Among those West Rotarians I spotted were President Jim Darling, president-elect Rikki Foster, past presidents John Wells and Mike Rubiy, Bruce Jay, David Gay, Rick Kreiser, Kevin Burton.

 * ... MOVERS: Ed Taylor, community banking president for Wells Fargo Bank, is leaving town to take another position with Wells in the Washington, D.C. area. Ed has been a friend of the non profits and will be missed. Over at KGET, morning co-anchor Katie Harlan has left the set to join the communications staff at Pacific Gas and Electric. Lastly, Bryan Burrow has left his vice president job at Bank of America to join IES Engineering.

* ... CSUB TENNIS: Here's a cause worth supporting: a golf tournament to raise money to help maintain the women's tennis program at Cal State Bakersfield will be held Monday, April 4, at Seven Oaks Country Club. The cost is $125 a golfer and tee sponsorships are available for $100. There will be auction items from some of the top tennis players in the world, including Rafal Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters. Call Regina Kuger at (661) 706-8858.

* ... MUSEUM: Good news from the Bakersfield Museum of Art where three events drew record crowds. Museum marketing director Beth Brookhart Pandol said the Western Day event drew 1,400 folks last summer, Dia de los Muertos packed in 1,600 this fall and the recent Freedom Day attracted 750. "Thanks to the many partnerships, including those with the Bakersfield Californian, KERO, Buckley Radio and Bright House Networks, plus many, many others, we were able to branch out to new audiences to provide them with a cultural experience and entertainment," she said.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Jemina Rowe shared this gem from her youth when she worked at the old Wayne's Drive-In located on North Chester by the river. She worked there during her college years, 1940-1944, and remembers when an Army unit leaving Northern California would call in an order. "They wanted 200 hamburgers, 200 cheeseburgers, 400 fries and 400 milkshakes. They said they would pick them up by 5 p.m. as they were going to camp across the street. We would put the order together, freeze the milk shakes and put the burgers in the warmer. Sure enough, between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. three or four Jeeps would arrive to deliver them across the street. I've often wondered if anyone got what they ordered."