Friday, June 24, 2011

McCarthy: Obama's move to tap into petroleum reserves a cheap gimmick to win votes, but creates no jobs

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

"The Obama Administration’s decision to release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve this week underscores the problem with the President’s energy policy. This was a decision to
score political points, pure and simple. Americans consume 19 million barrels of oil every day, which means that the 30 million barrels of oil the President is releasing could be consumed in a matter of 36 hours. And it doesn’t create a single job.

 "House Republicans have passed four pieces of legislation since May that would allow Americans
to start taking advantage of our own abundant energy resources, create hundreds of thousands of American jobs and reduce our dependence on unstable foreign oil.

  "One of these bills is H.R. 2021, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011, which the House passed on Wednesday. This legislation reduces regulatory duplication to allow responsible oil production in Alaska to move forward, which could produce up to one million barrels of oil per day. This level of production could create tens of thousands of jobs throughout the U.S. and actually offset foreign oil imports by seven percent – a win-win for America’s economy and energy security now and in the future. While it will take some time to ramp up to maximum production, certainty that more oil will be coming into the market could help ease prices today.

  "My colleagues and I also took action to revamp our patent system this week to keep America the leader in technological innovation. If we just look at the latest developments in the past fifty years, advances
in science, medicine and technology have truly transformed our daily lives. I don’t know what my kids would do without their cell phones. Our country remains the world leader in patents, but our global competitors are catching up. Lawmakers in Washington have long been discussing needed reforms to our patent system so the U.S. can stay number one, and on Thursday, Democrats and Republicans in the House  came together to pass the America Invents Act. In a nutshell, this legislation contains reforms that will make it easier for innovators,
who produce new technologies that drive economic growth and generate jobs, to obtain and defend their patents.

  "Speaking of technology, I had a very productive discussion with residents in East Kern this week during a telephone town hall meeting. I like to do these live calls regularly to speak directly with you, hear your concerns and answer your questions. I am planning one for Bakersfield soon, so I hope you’ll participate when I call.

  "Also this week, we had a reception in Washington for all the Congressional Art Competition winners. Christiana Kallemeyn, the winner from California’s 22nd District, was in attendance with her family, and it was great to spend time with them.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

State Farm transferring another 175 to Bakersfield and Dave Price is left a quadriplegic after four operations

 * ... STATE FARM: It looks like State Farm Insurance is transferring more employees to Bakersfield as it closes its Fresno and Rohnert Park offices. That's according to Richard Chapman, president of the Kern Economic Development Corporation. I had coffee with Chapman and his vice president, Cheryl Scott, and they told me another 175 State Farm employees are headed to Bakersfield. Of course that's good news for everyone, particularly Realtors, since these folks will be purchasing homes in a buyer's market.

 * ... SICK BAY: David Price, the former country administrator who retired two years ago and moved to Tennessee, is now a quadriplegic after four operations on his neck to relieve pressure on his spinal chord. This is devastating news to his many friends in our community, who remember Dave as a friendly, extremely witty administrator who would always lend a helping hand. In March he was admitted to the University of Virginia hospital to have surgery for a condition called Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hyperostosis. Said his wife, Liz: "It appeared that the surgery was a success as he was feeling good, walking, talking and eating. On the second or third day trouble began with his tongue swelling. To make a long story very short, he has undergone four surgeries on his spinal column. He suffered an infection that setup in his spinal cord due to a hole that occurred in his esophagus during one if his procedures but we don’t know which one.
David is now quadriplegic, has a feeding tube and a tracheotomy. The doctors do not know how much function Dave will be able to regain. We do know that the window of possibility is two years. We would appreciate your prayers, specifically that he will regain his normal voice, that he will regain the ability to eat normal food very soon. We do believe that God can heal and we welcome all prayers for complete healing."

 * ... THE BUZZ: Rumors were swirling this week that the newly renovated Padre Hotel was being sold. But according to owner Brett Miller, it could not be farther from the truth. Miller said some employees got the wrong idea when he told them he was negotiating a "buy out" with a farming organization. In hotel parlance, that means the group wanted to rent the entire hotel for a convention, not actually purchase it. "Some people thought they were buying the hotel," he said. "I have no intention of selling the Padre. It's doing terrific!" 

 * ... STANFORD: Hats off to Raechel Paine, daughter of Maria and Eddie Paine, who just graduated with her masters degree in psychology from Stanford University. This Bakersfield High product landed a recruiting job at until she pursues her PHd.

 * ... ART AWARD: Ginny Espinoza wrote to mention that her oldest grandson, Andrew Hawley, was awarded the coveted George Award for his photographic entries recently. He was among the CSUB students who participated in a gallery show of local students.

 * ... OLD GLORY: And finally Glen Worrell wrote to thank the good folks over at Goin Postal on Brimhall road for offering up new American flags in exchange for older flags. "It is a great and generous thing for Goin Postal to do," he told me. "There is only one bad part... I fly my beautiful American flag over my house knowing it was made in China. On the other hand, no matter where I bought my flag it would be made in China."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Retired securities broker Vince Bertolucci says you might be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember the big swing dances at the old La Granada ballroom at the corner of 16th and Eye streets near the railroad tracks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Kern County YMCA tries for a comeback and a damning new report compares state overregulation with Islamist Iran

 * ... YMCA: If you're like me, you've often wondered what happened to the Kern County YMCA.  Back in the day when it was located at 22nd and O streets, The "Y" was an integral part of life in Bakersfield, but a series of missteps has left it all but invisible to the community. But the "Y" is coming back, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated board of volunteers and a new CEO in retired South High teacher and construction company owner Clete Harper. I had coffee with Clete and Dave Wilkerson, a long-time board member who is committed to bringing the "Y" back to the forefront of local non-profits. The Kern County "Y" currently has the lowest funding of any YMCA in the state, and its current location off District Boulevard does not lend itself to easy access. But it still serves hundreds of youngsters, and is expanding its reach with new programs in Delano and Arvin. Yet the need is great for new supporters and funding. How many of us grew up with a family "Y" in our lives? This is something worth our support. And I would love to hear your personal stories of growing up with the "Y" in Bakersfield. If you want to get involved, call Clete Harper at (661) 837-9622 or Dave Wilkerson at (661) 703-5483.

 * ... GREEN JIHAD: Fascinating story in Forbes recently arguing that a "green jihad" in California is choking the state's economy just at a time when we should be trying to create jobs. Titled "California's Green Jihad" and written by Joel Kotkin, the story compares our state's environmental movement with the Islamic extremist in Iran. Both movements, he writes, are destroying their economies in the name of a higher calling. Kotkin notes California's employment is now worse than Michigan and our state was recently ranked the worst place in the nation to do business. "As with its Iranian counterpart, California’s green theology often leads to illogical economic and political decisions. California has decided, for example,  to impose a rigid regime of state-directed planning related to global warming, making a difficult approval process for new development even more onerous.  It has doubled-down on climate change as other surrounding western states — such as Nevada, Utah and Arizona — have opted out of regional greenhouse gas agreements. The notion that a state economy — particularly one that has lost over 1.15 million jobs in the past decade — can impose draconian regulations beyond those of their more affluent neighbors, or the country, would seem almost absurd."

 * ... OILDALE: Reader Ken Barnes wrote to recall the old days of Oildale. "I wonder how many remember the old Rio Grande service station at the southwest corner of Roberts Lane and North Chester, where McDonalds now sits. I had the tall glass gasoline pumps. My dad bought the place in 1946 and my mom, dad, sister and I lived in a very small attached apartment in the rear until we moved out to El Tejon Avenue west of Airport Drive in the late 1940s. Those were the days."

 * ... LOFTS: The 1612 City Lofts project in downtown Bakersfield is under way again. Workers are installing plumbing and a new roof for the project, which will bring 12 contemporary loft style apartments to the heart of the arts district. The project started three years ago but stalled with the economy. The completion date is set for later this year or early 2012.

* ... LOST PUPPIES Reader Randall Dickow dropped me a heart breaking email about dogs being abandoned on the bike path. "Worse than diapers and other trash left on the bike path are unwanted pets. Sunday morning on my ride out to Darrell's there was a father, mother and two pups patiently waiting at the ramp at Yokuts Park for their owner to pick them back up. It was 7 a.m. and no one was in the park. I tried to corral them and called for a pick-up, but they scattered and I didn't want to chase them towards Truxtun. On my return, the mom and dad were sitting in the same place, but no pups. I was able to get both to come to me and then hold them while a ride came for them. We looked for the pups, but couldn't find them. Mom and dad are at the vets now being checked out. This morning, sis-in-law went to the park and there were the pups who fortunately survived the night without becoming coyote food! Pretty lame on the owner's part to just dump them. We'll find homes for all."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You're a relative newcomer if you remember Freddie's Top of the Hill on the east side, and you're a Bakersfield old timer if you remember it by its original name, Paola's. Another reader, Craig Holland, fondly recalls bowling at Paola's and ordering a vanilla cream Coke.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A reader calls for pay cuts for top public administrators, and beware of a coming nightmare on the 405 in mid July

 * ... PUBLIC PAYROLL: My post last week about top administrators at Cal State Bakersfield dodging paycuts while others are being laid off triggered a note from a reader who asked to go unnamed. He argued that pay cuts should start at the top, not only at CSUB and Bakersfield College but also at all of the public school districts in Kern County. "Some of the fiscal mess we have locally comes from a hiring philosophy of 'we get the best people and we don't want to lose them attitude' of local school boards etc. People are losing their jobs. People in the private sector have taken big cuts. It's overdue for those who work on the public dime. Starting at the top." 

  * ... CRIME WATCH: A reader in the La Cresta area, who asked that her name be withheld, is warning about a possible scam by people impersonating Pacific Gas and Electric workers. She said a man wearing a reflective vest and a baseball cap knocked on her door and when she didn't answer stood outside and took a picture of her house. "He then proceeded to go up the block and around the corner without stopping at any other address," she said. "I got in my car and tried to find him and his truck but he was gone. After confirming with PGE that no workers were performing work in our area, I reported it to the sheriff." Her suggestion: never open the door unless you know who is there, always ask for identification and carry a cell phone so you can punch in 911 in an emergency. Or, carry your keys to trigger your panic button on your car.

 * ... DONATION: Do you ever get slightly annoyed when the supermarket clerk asks if you'd like to donate a dollar to a charity? If you have, you need to think twice. In May, the Children's Miracle Network produced record breaking results in raising money for the Children's Medical Center at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. Donations at Rite Aid raised more than $18,000, another $40,000 came from Costco customers and a whopping $100,000 came from Walmart. Said Sue Benham, the hospital's chief development officer: "This is a tribute to the enthusiasm and dedication of the Walmart, Costco and Rite Aid employees and the generosity of local customers in Kern County."

 * ... 405 FREEWAY: Here's something you need to calendar: for 53 hours over July 16-17, the 405 freeway in Los Angeles will be closed, making the already nightmarish drive one for the record books. It turns out CalTrans is partially demolishing the Mulholland Drive Bridge as part of an overall highway upgrade. The northbound lanes will be closed all the way from the 10 to the 101 Freeway and the southbound lanes will be closed for four miles between the 101 Freeway and the Getty Center Drive exit. So getting to LAX Airport is going to be a major challenge. My advice is to avoid it completely. This seems like a grand marketing opportunity for Meadows Field to lure traffic here for a few days.

 * ... CRAIGSLIST: Is the end near for the popular online classified website Craigslist? It could be unless Craigslist gets control of the spammers, who now comprise 90 percent of the content on some Craigslist categories. All this according to the website TechDirt which notes the spammers are out maneuvering the  once popular website at almost every step of the way.

 * ... NRA SHOOT: The Friends of the National Rifle Association will be holding a sporting clays shoot and gun raffle this Saturday. This is a good way to support the shooting sports while checking out the Kern County Gun Club out by the Lake Buena Vista Recreation area. The cost is $100 a shooter in teams of five and lunch is included. Call Cyndi Benson at (661) 205-8569.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield if you remember Freddie's Top of Hill bowling alley and restaurant at Mount Vernon and Highway 178.