Friday, July 22, 2011

McCarthy: Cut, Cap and Balance is the only viable plan to deal with our growing debt crisis

 House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives us his view from Capitol Hill as the clock ticks on the debt cricis.

 "As we draw closer to the August 2nd deadline to raise the debt limit, the debate in Washington is gaining in intensity. Currently, there is only one plan that has passed either legislative body: the Cut, Cap and Balance Act. This is the only legislation that has bipartisan support, the only legislation that has passed the House and the only legislation that would tackle our exploding deficits and prevent an impending debt crisis. With Democrats failing to present a detailed plan of their own and the Senate’s “Gang of Six” proposal still lacking legislative detail, the Cut, Cap and Balance Act represents a real solution.

  "In a nutshell, the Cut, Cap and Balance Act fundamentally reforms Washington’s spending structure so we can get and keep our nation’s fiscal house in order while granting the President’s request for an increase in the debt limit. Specifically, this legislation cuts spending by around $5.8 trillion over ten years; caps spending to
bring the size of government back below 20 percent of GDP to its average level over the last 30 years; and, through a Balanced Budget Amendment, mandates that the federal government pass a balanced budget
every year. Currently, 49 states have some form of balanced budget requirement, and it just makes sense that the federal government should have to live within its means as well.

  "Today marks 814 days since Senate Democrats produced a budget and our unemployment rate has risen to 9.2 percent. In the past two years, discretionary spending has increased by 84 percent and our debt has grown by over $3.5 trillion. No family or small business in Bakersfield, or anywhere for that matter, would ever budget like this, and the federal government cannot. The top three credit ratings companies – Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch - have all warned that our credit rating is in jeopardy. In the face of this impending crisis, the Senate voted to table the only credible plan out there and the President has still failed to step up to the plate with a tangible way forward.

  "My colleagues and I in the House are hard at work trying to get our country back on the right track. Our federal government requires fundamental changes that include serious spending cuts and budgetary
reforms, and this crisis provides an opportunity to implement those changes. Our nation simply cannot continue to borrow and spend like it has been doing and expect to continue to be the world’s leading
economy. The state of our economy, and the future of our children and grandchildren, depend on us getting this done and getting it done right. While the debate will continue, I am optimistic that we can use
this as an opportunity to turn the trajectory of our nation around onto a path to fiscal stability and prosperity.

Warren Carter dies of cancer. He was 74.

  Warren Carter, whose family built Watson Realty into one of the most powerful and influential real estate firms in Kern County, has lost his battle with cancer. He was 74. It was in 1982 that Carter purchased Watson Realty and led it through a period of hyper growth as Bakersfield expanded and grew. He was under the care of Dr. Ravi Patel at the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center (CBCC) at the time of his death. His wife, Leonore, died of cancer on Thanksgiving Day, 2009.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Layoffs pick up as the national economy stalls, but good news for local horse owners

 * ... ECONOMY: There's more bad news for the economy. The Wall Street Journal reports that the anticipated second half recovery is not happening, and in fact more firms are now laying off records number of workers. Companies as large as Cisco and Lockheed Martin Corp. and as small as Cracker Barrel Country Store have announced more layoffs as firms respond to sagging sales and uncertainty over the debt crisis. "Behind the cuts are jittery employers whose faith in the recovery - and by extension consumers' willingness to spend - has been shaken," it said. "Companies are maintaining profit margins by cutting jobs and costs, and, for the moment at least, are investing in efficiency-enhancing equipment rather than new workers."

 * ... EQUINE VIRUS: Good news for horse owners. It looks like the danger of contagion for the equine herpes virus has passed and it's now safe to transport horses to shows and other competition. That's the word from John Tolley, a veterinarian at Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital. He praised the local horse community for keeping their horses and home and eliminating contact with other equines during the past few months.

 * ... CHARITIES: Teri Goree is one of those people who are growing weary of being constantly hit up for $1 donations at grocery and department stores. "It is especially annoying when the automated machine asks for a donation, I click 'no,' and the clerk asks me again!" she said. "I've been told they are required to ask every customer, but some clerks are just over the top zealous about it and make me feel like the lowest of the low for politely declining to participate." Like others, Teri said she and her husband already have their favorite charitable causes that align to their personal values. "One of these days maybe my response will be, 'Sure, I'll donate a dollar to your charity if you'll donate a dollar to mine!"

 * ... SPOTTED: Ruben Rosales, one of the owner of Happy Jacks, and grandson Kadel Hock from the Napa Valley were seen cleaning the riverbank of trash from Oak Street to the 99 Freeway. Kadel asked his grandfather why anyone would leave so much trash at a public park. Now that's a good question.

 * .... PLASTIC SURGERY: Would it surprise you to know that men comprise one of the fastest grow areas in plastic surgery and cosmetic enhancements? On Friday on Californian radio SmartTalk 1230 I will interview Dr. Milan Shah and Dr. Brett Lehockey from Dr. Shah and Associates to talk about trends and popular procedures in Bakersfield. You might be surprised by what you learn. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

 * ... BLAZE: This Friday night is YMCA night at the Bakersfield Blaze game. Tickets purchased at the Kern County Y are half off and can be purchased at 5880 District Boulevard for $7. "Our cheer leading squad with our theater arts kids will lead the crowd in the YMCA song before the game," said Clete Harper, CEO of the local Y.
 * ... DID YOU KNOWDid you that graffiti artist “Chaka,” who gained notoriety tagging walls in Los Angeles, is now helping troubled youth in Bakersfield by teaching them to channel their pain and frustration into positive art projects and community involvement? His commissioned murals can be seen in East Bakersfield.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tennessee songwriter Jill Andrews at the Metro Galleries, Bakersfield, Ca.

 Tennessee signer Jill Andrews appeared at a "house concert" at The Metro Galleries in downtown Bakersfield recently. Some random pictures of the evening. She was accompanied by Josh Oliver. Both formerly played in the band The Everybodyfields. (photos by Jan St. Pierre)

Washington fiddles while the debt bomb ticks. Is it any wonder why we hold politicians in such low esteem?

 * ... GRIDLOCK: Watching the gridlock, posturing and grandstanding in Washington over the debt crisis leaves little doubt why politicians are held in such low esteem. David Brooks, a conservative columnist for The New York Times, wrote Tuesday that Republicans had missed what could have been a "glorious moment in Republican history" by rejecting President Obama's overtures for a $4 trillion debt deal and failing to reach a compromise. Likewise, the Wall Street Journal's Gerald F. Seib added that the failure of both sides to reach a compromise reflected the "general selfishness... and self destructiveness of politicians." Both Brooks and Seib predicted the result would be a legislative maneuver that would simply "kick the (debt) can down the road" while accomplishing very little. (file photo of David Brooks)

 * ... THE PORCH: If you are looking for something new and fun to do then stop by the Bakersfield Museum of Art Thursday evening for its Porch Story Slam. The concept is simple: folks gather at the museum, a "topic" for an oral short story is posted, and people volunteer to tell their own story in front of the crowd. Some are humorous, some sad, some poignant, but it all makes for a grand evening. The show gets under way at 7 p.m. and dovetails with the Third Thursday festivities at Central Park.

 * ... DIVERSITY: If you question how diversified our community is, consider this note from Matt Revenaugh. "The intersection of Chester Lane and  Oak Street is a microcosm of the American and Californian dream. On the west there is Village Auto Sales, proudly owned by what is sure a Palestinian-American family. On the east is Ralene's Filipino cuisine, Saigon Restaurant, The Empty Space and now the Irish Heritage Club. North of the intersection are another dozen businesses all owned by a different shade of the human skin. When people ask how Bakersfield is special, I want to show them it's where people from everywhere wave and call each other neighbor."

 * ... ALZHEIMER: Sandy Morris wrote to correct an earlier post on the local alzheimer's disease association holding a fund raiser. It was actually the Central Coast chapter that I wrote about, not the Alzheimer's Association of Kern County, which holds its own golf tournament to support local programs to combat the illness. Sandy said the difference was that money raised by the Kern County group stays here, while the Central Coast chapter sends part of its funds to the national organization for research. The local group is holding its golf tournament on September 9. Stay tuned for more details.

 * ... MEMORIES: Eighty-two year old reader Robert Hall submitted some of his memories of our town. Among them: "... the Powell truck assembly plant on Union Avenue, the Wimpy's Liquor Store at 34th and Chester Avenue, the Mosrite Guitar Factory south of Truxtun Avenue and west of Q Street, Mother's Bakery on Baker Street, Owens Toy Store on 19th and L streets an d the Bakersfield Hospital on 19th Street across from Central Park." 

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Sue Castro: "You might be a Bakersfield newcomer if you don't remember when sheep were herded down Calloway Drive from the pastures off 7th Standard Road.  What a great experience to be behind hundreds of baa-ing sheep, watching the herd dogs do their jobs. It was a regular occurence until around 2003.  Those were the days."


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Former Bakersfield educator Judy Schwocho dies and remembering the old Stockdale Inn

 * ... RIVER WATER: Hard to ask for better weather than what we had this weekend and even harder to believe it was 107 just a week or so ago. The bike trails and parks were full and the river was dotted with kayaks and paddle boards. The water flow in the Kern through town is down and I dread the day when the riverbed reverts to sand and scrub weed.

 * ... RIP JUDY SCHWOCHO: I was saddened to hear about the death of Judy Schwocho, a long time Bakersfield educator who was active in our community for many years. Judy died peacefully on July 8 after a multi-year battle with cancer of the small intestine. She was just 64 years old. Judy was born in Kansas but grew up in Colorado and New Mexico, where she earned a degree in education at New Mexico State. She then moved to Bakersfield where she taught in the Kern High School District and was active in many organizations, including the Junior League. She moved to Ojai after retiring and was active in the community there. Keep her family in your thoughts.

* ... NEW JOBS: Matthew N. Malerich has joined the law firm of Chain Cohn and Stiles. Malerich is a graduate of UCLA and the UC San Diego School of Law. He previously worked at Borton Petrini. He will specialize in workers compensation and social security disability. He is the son of local orthopedic surgeon Dr. Matthew Malerich. Elsewhere, Jason Gutierrez has left Kaiser Permanente to become head of marketing at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. 

 * ... JILL ANDREWS: Had the opportunity last week to host a small "house concert" featuring the beautiful and haunting music of Tennessee-based singer Jill Andrews, who was in between shows in San Diego and Santa Monica. Bakersfield is increasingly able to attract top talent like Andrews, who are more than happy to come to town to pick up a few extra bucks on evenings they're not playing larger venues nearby. Jill and partner Josh Oliver sang for a group of about 50 people at the downtown Metro Galleries on 19th Street, one of our town's more intimate and cozy venues that is a popular spot for weddings and other special events.

 * ... SPOTTED: NBC weatherman and Today Show co-host Al Roker was seen at The Padre Hotel last week. Apparently he was in town doing a piece on the 45th anniversary of The Monkees at the Fox Theater.

 * ... MEMORY: Bryce Martin wrote to say it was 1974 when the old Stockdale Inn moved to Oak and California and became the Iron Horse. "It did not take the place of the Santa Fee Roundhouse, where I worked on the swing shift. It was moved in two sections and two cranes lifted the sections into place.The Stockdale Inn building had been in a fire and parts of it were charred. When it reopened someone borrowed a menu and we all looked at it. We were amazed at the high prices. The roundhouse was in operation for a few years after the Iron Horse opened."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From fellow downtown Rotary member Bruce Bigger: You may be a Bakersfield old timer if "you remember Stockdale Highway as a two-lane road with barbed wire fencing and oak posts, a cattle crossing halfway to Stockdale Country Club and the west side of the town ended at McDonald way."