Friday, April 22, 2011

McCarthy: bill would revoke the EPA's mindless attempt to penalize the Valley because of our unique conditions

 Majority Whip Rep. Kevin  McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill.

 "I have often found in government that the best solution to a problem is the most common-sense approach. That’s why I’ve proposed two bills in Congress that would inject common-sense into some of Washington’s
regulations that are adversely affecting us here at home.

  "Washington’s problem with over regulation means that all of us in Kern County are pitching in to pay a $29 million fine for violating an air standard that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already revoked. EPA replaced this standard, known as the 1-Hour Ozone Standard, in 2005 with the current standard, known as the 8-Hour Ozone Standard. However, a federal court subsequently reinstated the penalties of the 1-hour standard, meaning that we're paying a fine for the old standard while also working to comply with the current standard.
 "And now EPA is trying to move the goal posts by proposing to tighten this standard so much it could end up banning cars, trucks, tractors and new businesses in the Valley. This regulation fails to take into account our unique topography, weather and natural ozone levels, which Valley residents have no control over. My bill repeals the 1-Hour Ozone standard and fine, as well as prevents EPA from implementing any changes to the current 8-hour standard for five years until a Local Advisory Committee can report to Congress on compliance feasibility. It’s just common-sense to have one reasonable air standard to comply with so we can all breathe easier.

 "Public access to Federal lands is another area that needs some common-sense. Decades ago, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service conducted studies on their Wilderness Study Areas and
Inventoried Roadless Areas to determine their suitability for wilderness. The agencies concluded that a combined nearly 43 million acres were not suitable for wilderness. However, Congress never acted
on these recommendations so these lands have been managed under restrictive practices similar to those reserved for wilderness.
 "My bill changes this by releasing these lands for multiple use, meaning more recreational and responsible resource development opportunities. It also reinforces local control and management of these lands. I
believe we need to protect and preserve our natural wonders, but I also believe when lands have been deemed unsuitable for wilderness they shouldn’t be kept under lock and key.

 "This notion of common-sense is even something that is starting to permeate the fiscal culture of Washington. Our Path to Prosperity budget takes a fact-based approach to our fiscal crisis and faces head-on what is driving our out-of-control debt and deficit. In fact, the Path to Prosperity will start to reverse our debt clock while also reforming our vital health and retirement security programs in a way that upholds the integrity of the programs while putting them on a path to sustainability.

 "I will continue to work to keep up the common-sense solutions and welcome any suggestions to that end.

Local TV anchor Gaylen Young dies in Utah car accident

 Gaylen Young, a long-time fixture in the Bakersfield media scene, died in a car accident in Utah. He was 59. Apparently Young was a passenger in an SUV driven by his 16-year-old son when it veered into oncoming traffic and hit another car, throwing Young from the car. Young was an anchor at KGET and more recently wrote a business column for The Californian.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Padre Hotel fights false rumors it is closing and the Cal State baseball team readies to host Kansas State

 * ... ROAD RUNNERS: If you haven't been to Hardt Field to support the Cal State baseball team, now is your chance  to do so. The red hot Road Runners, in only their third year of existence, will play eight games over 11 days at Hardt Field out at the Southwest campus. This includes two games against Kansas State on Monday and  Tuesday followed by UC Irvine. The team is 24-8 going into the Thursday night game and is playing some of the best Division 1 baseball in the country. These kids certainly deserve our support.

 * ... ON THE MOVE: Former Padre Hotel special events director Liz Netherton has joined Freestyle Entertainment, a locally owned company run by brothers Mark and Jared Perry. Liz will be marketing the company to the Central Coast as it expands its operation. She will be living in Shell Beach.

 * ... PADRE: Speaking of the Padre, it is alive and doing well according to owner Brett Miller. But apparently the hotel has been deluged by calls asking if it is going out of business. The reason? It all started after the The Californian ran a story saying it was closing. The story was actually part of a weekly historical feature called "Kern's Past," dated 1961, when then owner Spartacus Miller did announce he was closing the classic landmark property. But of course that was 50 years ago and today, the newly restored Padre is up and running and doing a brisk business.

 * ... COLLEGE GRADS: Laura Camp grew up in Bakersfield, graduated from Southern Methodist University and now lives in Washington, D.C., but keeps up with her hometown by following my blog online. She wrote to share the good news that her younger brother, Donald 'Max' Camp III, as well as three of her cousins are all graduating from college this May. "My cousin McKenzie Camp will be graduating from Eastman University in Rochester (NY) and heading to San Francisco and cousin Katie Camp will be graduating from San Diego State University and coming back to Bakersfield. My cousin Jack Pandol Jr. will be graduating from Washington and Lee University (VA) and brother Max from Southern Methodist University (TX) and am excited to have them both join me in D.C. after graduation. All my cousins, siblings and self included attended Bakersfield Christian High School."

 * ... NEW EATERY: A new restaurant has opened downtown in a building in the center of the arts district. It is called Chef's Choice Noodle Bar and is owned by the same family that owns the Thai Orchid off Brimhall Road and Dr. Nick Hansa, a local pulmonologist. I had a chance to dine there last week and it was excellent, pulling on the flavors that the Thai-born Dr. Hansa and his wife know so well. Locals are hoping the best for this effort. In the past 10 years there has been a revolving door of restaurants and bars at 19th and Eye streets, including Downtown Joe's, Capistrano's and the Do Wop Diner.

 * ... STREETCARS: From my mailbox: Lillian Rea wrote to tell me that she was "the last passenger to ride all the way to the car barn at midnight, February 28, 1942, on old number 17. The conductor was Mark Wade, and my husband. He called me and asked me to come and ride into the barn on his last run. And so it was, that I became the last person to ride on the last street car to run in Bakersfield. Making me a true Bakersfildian." Indeed, I think that qualifies you.

 * ...WHO KNEW? Bolthouse Farms sells nearly a billion pounds of carrots a year under a number of different brand names and supermarket labels. Only Grimmway Farms, a few minutes down the road in Bakersfield, sells more, and just barely. Together, the two companies control more than 80% of the carrot market in the United States. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Time for some old fashioned story telling and celebrating wildflower season in Kern County

 * ... THE PORCH: Every family has that aunt or uncle who can tell a story and  leave you in stitches with laughter. And now there's a new effort in town to bring back the lost art of story telling, and it will kick off this Thursday, April 21, at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. This is all the bran child of the museum's David Gordon, who is looking for folks who want to tell a true story in front of a live audience. "Stories must relate to the theme and must be in story form – no random thoughts or observations. True stories only (honor system) and no stand-up routines, notes or cards. Strictly the spoken word. Stories can be funny, sad, incredible, poignant - whatever direction your story takes. The time limit is 5 minutes. A panel of judges will rate the stories on a scale of 1-10. First place winner receives a prize. Winners of the first series of story throw-downs (to be held over the next year) will go on to a Story-off and compete for even better prizes!" he said. The throw down will run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and the cost is $5 per person."

 * ... COFFEE: Had a few readers ask where they could buy Covenant Coffee, roasted by a local organization who uses the profits to help foster children in Kern County. Covenant gets its coffee from Africa, Mexico and other countries but sells it locally. You can order exactly what you want through its website ( or visit Covenant's local offices at 1616 29th Street.

 * ... WILDFLOWERS: It's that season again to view our famous wildflowers, and they are out in abundance along the bike path headed west toward Enos Lane. And so is the water. The recharge basin is brimming with wildlife almost the entire way to Enos Lane to Interstate 5, and it's worth a visit. With that said, apparently there was so much rain this year that the high grasses are choking off the wildflowers along the Grapevine, which is always a spectacular sight.

 * ... SPOTTED: Young woman in a new red Ford Mustang, turning west on California Avenue from Oak Street while blissfully texting on her cell phone, nearly running two cars into the oncoming traffic.

 * ... RADIO: There are some amazing things happening in downtown Bakersfield these days: new restaurants, an emerging arts district, a fresh new spirit that brims with confidence. One of the urban pioneers behind this transformation is Don Martin, the owner of the Metro Galleries art boutique on 19th Street. I'll be interviewing Don this Friday at 10 a.m. on "Californian Radio" on SmartTalk1230 about the changes downtown. Can't listen at work? You can download a free application that allows you to listen to the radio on your cell phone. Just Google or search for "Tune In" to download the app.

 * ... ST. FRANCIS: The annual barbeque to support the St. Francis Parish is set for Thursday, April 28, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. This is always a good evening to mingle with Monsignor Craig Harrison and dine on some excellent steaks, fettuccine alfredo, green beans and salad. This is an adult only affair and tickets are $25 each. Contact (661) 327-4734 for tickets or stop by the office at 900 H Street to buy tickets. 

 * ... WHO KNEW? Kern County experienced its own gold rush in 1851 when gold was discovered on the Kern River. One of those who sent teams to mine the gold was John C. Fremont, known as "the Pathfinder."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Barry Goldner honored with Bench and Bar award, Monty Byrom and other local notables

 * ... GOLDNER: Kudos to Barry Goldner, the local attorney who will be honored with the  Kern County Bar Association's Bench and Bar Award on Thursday, April 28, at the Petroleum Club. This is a prestigious award in the legal community and recognizes outstanding service to the administration of justice and contributions to the profession. Barry is a principal at Klein DeNatale and Goldner and is married to Teri Goldner, a former judge who now serves as county counsel. Their daughter, Rachel, will graduate from Garces Memorial High School this year and will attend Fordham University in the fall.

 * ... MONTY BYROM: Had a chance to stop by the Buck Owen's Crystal Palace Saturday to take in the music of Monty Byrom, founder of the country rock band Big House. I had not been to the Palace in some time and was reminded of what a pleasant venue it is on any given night. Big name acts regularly appear there, but you can enjoy it just as much with the house band or a local talent like Monty Byrom, who wowed the audience with his rendition of Roy Orbison's song "Crying," a darkly emotional ballad that was No. 1 on the charts way back in 1961.

 * ... LIGHTSPEED: Lightspeed Systems, a locally owned technology company, is expanding its footprint in the downtown area. The company, owned by Rob and Judi McCarthy, has taken possession of the old Youth Authority building at the corner of 19th and F streets. The building is now being spruced up and remodeled, a welcome sight considering its checkered past. A few months ago a fight broke out among some of the youthful offenders hanging around outside, leading to the stabbing of one man.

 * ... ILLINOIS BOUND: Stephanie Green dropped me note to inform me that Josh Gallington, who kicked for Bakersfield Christian High School and Bakersfield College, has won a full scholarship to play football at Northern Illinois University. NIU's first game is at home against Army on September 3. They will also face off against Big Ten power Wisconsin on September 17 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

 * ... TUMBLEWEEDS: Frances Cagle Sinclair wrote to say she "got a huge chuckle of your mention of tumbleweed snowmen. When I was doing my student teaching in Fresno (1959) I imported some Lost Hills tumbleweeds, sprayed them white and put together a snowman for my fourth grade class. It was quite a feat getting those 'weeds' in my little Chevy for the trip."

 * ... HOST FAMILIES: My friend Sue Peninger is once again looking for families to host a French exchange student this summer. The program is called Horizons du Monde in which French students are placed with American families between July 29 and August 18. This is always an interesting program and folks who have done it rave about the experience. If you are interested, call Sue Peninger at (661) 332-7147.

 * ... WHO KNEW? Covenant Coffee is a local Bakersfield company that gives all its profits to support foster youth. Its coffee comes from Tanzania but is packaged right here in town.