Friday, July 29, 2011

Special Report: McCarthy lashes out at Senate, President for lack of leadership during the debt crisis

 With the  debt crisis looming, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) is clearly frustrated with what he sees as a lack of leadership from the Senate and the president. A special report, in his words:

 "As the debt debate raged on this week, frustration mounted across America. I’m frustrated too. Here’s what I can tell you: my colleagues and I have been committed from day one to addressing our debt and spending problem head-on, with no gimmicks and with the facts. And just like we have done on spending cuts, regulatory reforms and energy independence efforts, we have led in this debate. We have offered solutions and voted for those solutions.

 "The August 2nd deadline to raise the debt ceiling was made clear months ago, and we sat down with the President and Democrats to begin discussions. We came to the table and offered ideas in good faith. However, the President continued to insist on increasing taxes on America’s families and small businesses. I don’t need to tell you that this is a bad idea. Just today, we found out that our nation grew by just 1.3 percent in the second quarter – less than economists projected – and growth in the first quarter was revised downward.
 "Our economy is clearly still struggling, and tax increases would only hurt more. Since the President refused to lead, my colleagues and I studied our budget and the spending causing our perpetual deficits and came up with a plan to ensure our nation can continue to pay our bills without raising taxes and that puts us on a path to long-term fiscal stability. In fact, we came up with two plans. 

 "First, we drafted the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, which I highlighted here last week. This serious legislation would have raised the debt limit only after fundamentally altering the way Washington spends. Cut, Cap and Balance passed the House with bipartisan support, but the Senate refused to even take it up for a vote. So, in our continued effort to ensure that our nation can avoid a default and a potential downgrade in our credit rating, we went back to work and used the principles of Cut, Cap, and Balance to produce the Budget Control Act of 2011. We know this is not a perfect plan, but it cuts billions more than it increases the debt limit, it doesn’t raise taxes and it doesn’t give the President a blank check to pay for Washington’s spending binge since 2009.

 "Whether you agree with these plans or not, there is no question that these are detailed legislative solutions to address the debt ceiling and the Washington culture of overspending. Unfortunately, the President has continued to refuse to put out a detailed plan on paper and the Senate has continued to abdicate its responsibility; refusing to even debate our proposals, refusing to produce alternative legislation of their own and even refusing to pass a budget this year. In times of crisis, Americans expect all of their representatives to step up, and we couldn’t agree more. My colleagues and I have led the way and remain ready and willing to work with the President and Senate Democrats to resolve this debt crisis.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Robin Mangarin moves to Catholic Healthcare Bakersfield and remembering when German POWs ended up in Lamont during World War II

 * ... MANGARIN TO MEMORIAL: Former KGET anchor Robin Mangarin Scott has joined Mercy and Memorial Hospitals to begin her new career in healthcare and community service. She has been named the Director of Strategic Marketing for the CHW Bakersfield Service Area. Robin has had a long relationship with Memorial through the Children’s Miracle Network. In addition, she has been a longtime supporter of Relay for Life and CBCC, which is now serving Mercy’s patients at the Florence Wheeler Cancer Center. This is a big coup for CHW Bakersfield, given Mangarin's long ties and deep equity in the community.

 * ... RENTALS: One of the upsides of this long real estate slump is the fact that single family homes are cheaper than they have been in a long, long time. And that means investors are gobbling up homes and renting them out, and turning a nice profit doing so. In a recent survey by HomeVestors/Local Market Monitors, Bakersfield ranked No. 5 on a list of best cities to invest in rental homes. Ranked first on the list was Las Vegas, followed by Detroit, Warren, Michigan, Orlando, Bakersfield, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdalae, Rochester, NY, and Stockton.

 * ... INTERNMENT CAMP: Dick Porter is a local potato farmer whose family has owned property near Lamont for many years. It turns out part of the land his father purchased in 1949 was the former site of the Lamont Detention Center, an internment camp for German POWs during World War II. "The internees were pressed into helping grow a crop called Guayule which surrounded the camp," he told me. "Guayule was a source of latex. The sources for latex in Africa and South America had all but dried up and it was a most necessary commodity for the war effort." After the war, the internees were released and the detention center was torn down. "My father built a potato packing facility right on top of the old prison site," Porter said. "For many years our employees would find buried in the soil all kinds of small items left behind by the internees. That packing facility still stands today."  During the war, several hundred thousand Germans were held at camps across the United States, including Lamont and Delano.

 * ... SPOTTED: Singer Sheryl Crow, in town for a concert at the Fox Theater Thursday night, was spotted in the Farmacy coffee bar at The Padre Hotel downtown. Her tour buses were parked outside the Padre. She is just the latest dignitary to stay at the Padre while doing business in Bakersfield. (photo of Crow's tour buses by Don Martin)

 * ... DOWNTOWN GRANTS: Good news for folks interesting in helping revive downtown Bakersfield. The Bakersfield Californian Foundation has identified improving downtown as its focus for its next round of grants. The Foundation will be accepting applications on September 6 from non-profits focused on improving downtown. This would include groups devoted to beautification, theenvironment, historical preservation, public art and public safety. For more information or to contact us directly, please refer to our website:

* ... SPORTING CLAYS: If you're looking for a fun way to support the Independence High School swim team you might want to calendar Saturday, August 27. The 2nd annual Sporting Clay fund raiser for the team will be held at the Kern County Gun Club, starting at 8 a.m. Entries before August 14th get a discount price of $75; after that it is $80 per person for a five-person team. Contact Amy Regan at

 * ... WHO KNEW? The famous Bakersfield welcome signs that promoted "Sun Fun Stay Play" were located on Highway 99. The signs stood 49 feet tall and 60 feet wide and were intended to encourage travelers to stop in Bakersfield and patronize local business. They were torn down in 1983.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Welcome to the fifth year of the housing crunch and one man's view of giving back, one flight at a time

 * ... NEW HOMES: With the economic downturn now in its fifth year, some economists had predicted that the rebound in the housing market would begin this year. But it didn't materialize, and in fact the spring buying season "ended with a thud." According to the Wall Street Journal, builders are now backtracking on land deals and regrouping for at least another year of bad times. "Part of the problem is that the same headwinds exist," the report said. "Unemployment remains elevated, builders must compete with deeply discounted foreclosed properties for sales and tight bank lending standings are keeping plenty of would be buyers out of the market."

 * ... DEBT IMPASSE: There was a nice explanatory piece in the Wall Street Journal on the dysfunction in Congress on raising the debt ceiling. Writing in his column "Capitol Journal," Gerald F. Seib correctly notes that this is less a battle over debt than the ultimate size and role of government. "Compromising between these views is hardly impossible in theory, but it becomes nearly so in practice becasue of the second big trend at work. A generation's worth of forces have pushed Republicans to the right and Democrats to the left, and rendered the political middle in Congress weak and thin, to the extent it exists at all."

 * ... ANGEL FLIGHT: Scott Garrison is a 57-year-old investment adviser who normally spends his weekends with his wife and three girls or riding his road bike into the verdant hills around Woody. But some weekends you'll find him flying his four-seater Cirrus airplane, not for fun but rather volunteering his time and  money to take ill or under privileged children and adults to hospitals and camps. "If everyone just volunteered to do one thing - one thing - the world would be a better place," he told me. I had the opportunity to accompany Garrison on one of these "Angel Flights" (named after a national organization that coordinates the flights) recently when we flew two teenage sisters back to Fresno after they spent a week in an HIV/AIDs camp. Garrison has flown 103 Angel Flight West missions, and no doubt more are coming. (photo by Scott Garrison)

 * ... BREAKFAST TIP: Dewey Mills wrote to recommend a leisurely Sunday breakfast at The Padre Hotel downtown. "Not only did they seem home cooked, but the prices were excellent. I don't know if the word hasn't gotten out yet, or what, but there was hardly anyone there either Sunday. I thought you might want to give them a try for yourself, but at least give them some well deserved recognition!"

  * ... EAST KERN: While it's true that most of the country is suffering from an economic malaise, things are much rosier in East Kern. At least that's according to consultant Bill Deaver, who wrote to tell me that thanks to the aerospace and mining industries, good jobs abound. ""Companies at the Mojave Air and Space Port are hiring. Rio Tinto Borax is hiring, renewable energy is booming and Golden Queen Mining will soon be hiring. The biggest complaint I hear from local businesses is how hard it is to find qualified candidates."

 * ... WHO KNEW? In the 19th century, the area now known as Rosedale was a colony of English farmers. The name “Rosedale” came from the title of an 1863 Broadway play by the best American comedic playwright of that time, Lester Wallack.

 * ... OLD TIMER: Brooks Haberfelde wrote to say he never considered himself an "old timer" but does fondly recall being a second grader some 50 years ago at the Redeemer Lutheran School on Belle Terrace. He was on the playground at recess when "I gazed skyward and saw the year 1961 written across the then azure blue sky of Bakersfield. It was incredible behind words. I have always treasured those long lost simple times when a nifty palindrome inscribed across the pristine heavens of my home town could inspire awe and wonder in a 7-year-old boy."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Remembering Warren Carter and recalling a time when the U-2 spy plane was manufactured in Bakersfield

 * ... RIP WARREN: Our community lost another popular businessman when Warren Carter lost his battle with cancer on Friday. Warren purchased Watson Realty in 1982 and grew it into one of the most powerful and influential realty companies in Kern County. Always deeply religious and with a booming voice and avuncular nature, Warren grew up in McFarland where he and his long-time wife Lenore raised their family. Lenore died of cancer on Thanksgiving Day 2009. Longtime Watson Realtor Mary Christenson called Warren a "gentle giant with a kind heart." Watson is now run by his son, Ken Carter. Keep this family in your thoughts.

 * ... HISTORY QUIZ: Did you know that the first 55 U-2 spy planes ever built were manufactured right here in Bakersfield in a super-secret warehouse off Norris Road? That's right, the Lockheed-built plane that provided photographic evidence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, sparking the Cuban missile crisis, were built here and assembled elsewhere. And one of the pilots who flew  the U-2 over Cuba,  retired Air Force Gen. James Whitehead, also calls Bakersfield home. All this came to light during a Rotary presentation, during which Whitehead explained his experience in flying the aircraft.

 * ... BRAKE OR BREAK? Stephen A. Montgomery recalls working as a crew member on a locomotive when  he noticed "an emergency brake valve label was stamped to read 'EMERGENCY BREAK.' Actually we all need a break now and then and sometimes I guess it can be classed as an emergency."

 * ... SPOTTED: Two deliriously happy paroled state prisoners leaving the downtown bus station while whistling and yelling at random women driving down 18th Street.

  * ... HOMETOWN: Marlene Morales, head of marketing at the law firm of Chain Cohn Stiles, submitted this as another reason to celebrate where we live. "Great golf courses with some of the least expensive green fees in California. Where else can you go tee-it-up at 3:30 p.m., round finished by 7:15 p.m., all for $32 including a cart at RiverLakes! Sycamore Canyon in Arvin offers two rounds of golf for only $30 (including a cart) Monday through Thursday after 1 p.m."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Jack Kelley writes that you may be a Bakersfield old timer if "you remember when the Chamber of Commerce was located where the Kern County Museum is now."