Friday, August 5, 2011

McCarthy: House produced 10 bills to help job creation and Senate refuses to act

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

 "As our local and national economy continue to struggle, it is clear that to revitalize our nation’s economic growth, we must continue to work to limit the size and scope of government.
 "The debate over raising the debt ceiling has concluded for now, and while the end result wasn’t perfect, we prevented tax increases and the focus now is to continue to cut government spending. We will not stop and much more work remains, and every chance we have to reduce the size and scope of our bloated federal government, we must take advantage of. This includes supporting a Balanced Budget Amendment. The terms of the debt deal require Congress to hold an up-or-down vote on legislation that would make it a Constitutional requirement for the federal government to pass a balanced budget every year. I believe a Balanced Budget Amendment is imperative if we’re serious about our nation’s future, and I promise I will fight to get it passed in the House.
 "Improving our business climate requires further reining in Washington’s out-of-control spending, but it also means addressing the tax and regulatory burdens on our small business owners. The economic data show low consumer confidence and start-ups at their lowest point in over a decade. On top of all this, the Dow Jones Industrial plunged over 500 points Thursday on global economic fears.
To date, my colleagues and I have passed ten bills that could create millions of American jobs, lower energy  "costs and eliminate regulations. They are:
1. H.R. 872 - the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act.
2. H.R. 910 - the Energy Tax Prevention Act.
3. H.R. 2018 - the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act

4. H.J.Res. 37 - a Resolution of disapproval regarding the FCC’s regulation of the Internet and broadband industry practices
5. H.R. 1230 - Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act
6. H.R. 1229, Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act
7. H.R. 1231, Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act
8. H.R. 2021, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act
9. H.R. 1938, the North American-Made Energy Security Act

10. H.Con.Res. 34 - a Resolution establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2012 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2013 through 2021

 "The Senate has refused to act on any of these. I know that government does not create jobs – the private sector does – but these pieces of legislation can undoubtedly promote job creation.
 "I will not let up for one minute on my efforts to reduce spending and promote a business climate for job creation. I look forward to hearing from many of you on what we can do better. This week my daughter Meghan celebrated her 15th birthday and my son Connor is talking to me about colleges. My kids are growing up so fast, and I am determined to make sure that I leave them and all Americans a country full of endless opportunities.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Kern supervisors appear ready to strike down medical marijuana sales and remembering the Chinese school boycott of 1920

* ... POT LAWS: The Kern County Board of Supervisors seems poised to outlaw the sale of medicinal marijuana, despite the fact that some 20,000 local citizens have joined the cooperatives. Sheriff Donny Youngblood calls the law a sham, saying virtually anyone can qualify for a pot ID card and adding that the storefronts attract crime and other bad elements. Others, like local attorney Phil Ganong, argue that thousands of people suffering from illness and pain are benefiting from being able to legally purchase pot. What is your view? On Friday, I will be discussing the issue on Californian Radio SmartTalk 1230 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Call in at (661) 631-1230 to share your view.

* ... BAD BILLS: Got a chuckle out of a press release from the office of state Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, who pointed out some examples of government-run-amok bills introduced in the Legislature. One example: Senate Bill 432 "requires hotels to use fitted bottom sheets and not flat sheets so housekeepers won’t need to fold in corners." Said Rep. Grove: "Can’t hotels serve their patrons without state legislators telling them what they can and can’t put on their beds?" Could not agree more. (File photo of Shannon Grove)

* ... LOCAL HISTORY: The story of Bakersfield's Chinese community is a fascinating one, which is why I enjoyed reading Gilbert Gia's history of the Chinese boycott of local schools in 1910. It seems that 40 Chinese students were assigned to a special "Oriental class" at the Hawthorne School (24th and P streets). Chinese parents rebelled, arguing that their children would not learn English fast enough in a segregated classroom. One of the leaders of the boycott was Sing Lee, a respected wealthy businessman and laundry owner who died in 1922 at the age of 107. The boycott eventually failed but the local Chinese population had made its voice heard.

* ... COLLEGE COSTS:With the cost of a California college education steadily rising, a growing number of students are looking abroad for bargains at equally prestigious universities. According to Forbes, the cost of tuition at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, alma mater of Britain's Prince William and wife Kate, is $21,650. Likewise, tuition and fees at McGill Universty in Canada is $17,400. Compare that to public universities like the University of Michigan, which charges out of state students more than $40,000 a year in tuition alone, and going abroad starts to look like a real bargain.

* ... FRAUD: My mailbox is brimming with stories of credit card fraud. This one from reader Rhonda MacGillivray-Brady explaining how her husband's personal and business American Express cards were compromised. "He learned this by a phone call from the card company asking if he was in Canada as one of his cards have been used four times that day, once at a gas station for $100. Two days later, the second card was also used in Canada. I don't know what is going on or hwere these criminals obtained both of his card numbers, but at least American Express is keeping an eye out."

* ... SPOTTED: Young woman driving a green Toyota Camry down Rosedale Highway in the morning commute, shaving her chin with a razor.

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You may be a Bakersfield old timer if you had a charge account at Brock's department store "because each generation did ... you qualified because your parents paid their bills and Mr. Brock believed that you would too." Thanks to Riley Parker for that gem.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

College grads facing a tough job market and why now might be the best time to get in the housing market

 * ... COLLEGE GRADS: With the national unemployment rate stalled north of 9 percent (and much higher locally) it's a bad time to be graduating from college and looking for work. But it appears some majors are doing better than others. According to Reuters, kids graduating with degrees in accounting, finance, economics, marketing, human resources or information technology have the best chances of finding work in a tough economy. The worst chances: students with degrees in the liberal arts (English, literature, communications etc). And for those who do find work, Reuters said the entry level salaries are now $10,000 less than they were just two years ago.

 * .. MORTGAGE RATES: Even though the prices of some homes may sink further over the next six months, there's a convincing argument to buy now. Why? Mortgage rates only have one way to go, and that is up. Mona Marimow, senior vice president for LendingTree, a loan comparison website, told USA Today that consumers "might look back on this period six months from now and regret it if they didn't take action." Nobody is more aware of this than local Realtors, who say these rock bottom mortgage rates along with slumping prices make it an ideal time to jump into the market.

* ... CREDIT CARD FRAUD: Seems I am not alone in having my credit cards hit with fraudulent charges. One reader, who asked to be identified by her first name Victoria, wrote to say she used her American Express card to pay for a recent cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines last year (she rarely uses the card) and then used her Visa to pay for charges on the ship. "About a week after I got back I started getting fraud charges on both cards out of Florida. I knew it had to have come from Carnival because no one else had both credit card numbers and no one (except Costco) should have my America Express Card number. I called Carnival right away to let them know someone in their company was stealing numbers as it could have only happened through them. I really don’t think they really cared, as they took my number and no one ever called back." Another friend, who works for a local water district, told me he just discovered $450 worth of fraudulent charges from Miami on one of his cards.

 * ... SHERYL CROW: In an earlier post on the Sheryl Crow concert last week I neglected to mention that the singer also singled out visiting "In Your Wildest Dreams," the costume and curiosity shop located across from the Padre Hotel. Reader Charlie Wilmot reminded me that the owner, Dixie Haley Brewer, is a North High graduate who regularly participates in charitable events. "I religiously read your Californian blog and especially enjoy your mention of local people and their  businesses," he said. "The Californian readers should also know that 'In Your Wildest Dreams' is much more than an antique store and they are daily donating to various local charities."

 * ... WHO KNEW?  Did you know that every Friday night during the summer, a free movie is shown in a city park? Sometimes, you can even float in the parks’ pools while enjoying the film.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if you remember "drag racing on Buena Vista Road south of the railroad tracks toward Panama Lane."


Sunday, July 31, 2011

24th Street widening still a few years off and Sheryl Crow wows them at the Fox Theater

 * ... 24th STREET: The long-awaited plan to widen 24th Street through downtown is moving along through the environmental process but it still a few years off from breaking ground. That's the word from City Manager Alan Tandy, who said he expected everything to be ready for construction by the end of 2013 or early 2014. The project will run from about the 24th Street Cafe all the way to Sillect Avenue. The street will be widened to handle three lanes in each direction. Meanwhile, Tandy said the project to build an overpass on Truxtun Extension to provide access to the Westside Parkway is slightly behind schedule because of the swollen river this summer. And speaking of the river, Tandy also reiterated the city's pledge to fight to gain control of water rights to keep river flowing in the Kern almost year round, although that is a fight that will be tied up in the courts for years.

 * ... SIDEWALKS: Gilbert Gia is one of our local historians who has amassed an impressive amount of data on the history of Bakersfield and Kern County. He shared with me his history of local sidewalks and street paving, and how you can date the ages of the sidewalks and streets from the contractor stamps. Tge first sidewalks were built in the late 1800s and by the early 1900s streets and sidewalks were being erected downtown and in the old Baker Street business district. Next time you take a stroll, check out the stamps from long-gone contractors like A. Klingenberg (1915), Valley Construction (around 1920), Thompson Brothers (1912), Worswick Street Paving Co. (1916) and Dean and Strobe, among the many others.

 * ... SHERYL CROW: The Sheryl Crow concert at the Fox Theater was a sell out last week, and at 49 years of age the singer certainly knows how to wow a crowd. Crow mentioned the Padre Hotel five times during the show - that elicited a huge smile from Padre owner Brett Miller who was taking in the show along with wife Kelli - and Crow also shared that she took in the antique store across from the hotel.

 * ... FRAUD: Credit card fraud seems to run rampant these days. Just in the past week, three friends have told me about fraudulent purchases showing up on their credit cards. Then, in the span of 72 hours, I had two credit cards and my bank ATM card compromised. Almost all the fraudulent charges were made in central and south Florida, everything from a Winn-Dixie supermarket in Orlando to a $1,230 charge at Men's Warehouse. Banks are adept at spotting these charges but for your own protection, keep an eye on your bank statements.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Eleanor Grant remembers when she attended the Lowell School on H Street, where St. Francis church is now, and the circus train would come to town. The performers and animals would get off the train at the Santa Fe Depot and parade down Truxtun Avenue to their performance location while the teachers and students watched.

 * ... WHO KNEW? Did you know that China Grade, the paved road to the bluffs and Panorama Drive, was originally a trail used by Chinese residents during the 1870s? It is said they used it to get to the Kern River bank in search of watercress.