Friday, August 19, 2011

McCarthy sponsors a bill that would rein in the EPA and retract the $29 million fine for Valley air

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip and Bakersfield Republican, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:
 "I have often written that reducing the size and scope of government is crucial to turning our economy around. Locally, I am fighting in two areas to reduce Washington’s burdensome, job-crushing regulations.

 "First, there are hundreds of thousands of acres recommended by the federal government to be opened up that could invigorate our rural communities. In July, the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a hearing on legislation I introduced, H.R. 1581, which would compel Congress to act on these recommendations. Chris Horgan, the Executive Director of Stewards of the Sequoia and Dave Freeland, a retired Forest Ranger for the Sequoia National Forest traveled to Washington to serve as witnesses. (Click here to read their testimony)

 "The hearing marks an important step for this bill that is simple, straightforward and just good government. It is simple because it acts on recommendations already made by the federal government. It is straightforward because it refers to only the acreage recommended and does not affect any other lands; nor does not preclude Congress from designating these lands as wilderness in the future. It is good government because it returns management to local communities, who know best how to utilize their lands. So whether these lands are used for continued conservation, increased recreation or other development – decisions would be made through the local land management planning process. Approximately 280,000 acres in our district would be opened up under my bill, which could create jobs and increase revenues for our local communities. In addition, greater access and healthy forest management could significantly reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfires. The 2002 McNally Fire burned over 52,000 acres and the 2008 Piute Fire burned more than 18,000 acres, predominately in areas currently under lock and key that my bill would release. H.R. 1581 needs to be heard in the Agriculture Committee and the full Natural Resources Committee before it heads to the House floor, and I am working to ensure it becomes a reality this year.

"Second, I am aggressively pushing legislation - H.R. 1582 – to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from implementing a new air quality standard that could cripple our local economy and result in a de facto ban on new businesses until a compliance feasibility study can be conducted. This bill would also repeal the $29 million fine EPA has already levied on us for violation of an air standard that isn’t even in existence! Cleaning up the air is important, and I commend the strides the Central Valley has made to that end. H.R. 1582 ensures we continue those efforts, but does so in a commonsense way, and I am working with the Energy and Commerce Committee to move it.  

 "EPA’s muddled air quality regulations are just the tip of the iceberg. In the coming weeks, you will see a concerted effort by my colleagues and me to tackle more unnecessary and burdensome federal regulations in order to make it easier to get people back to work.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bakersfield makes another Top 10 list, this one for urban poverty and remembering the Army Air Corps

 * ... POVERTY: One of the fallouts of this recession has been the spike in poverty in some of our nation's larger cities. And not surprisingly the hardest hit cities are those - like Bakersfield - that benefitted most from the housing bubble and are now struggling to recover. Bakersfield is ranked No. 3 on the list of the top ten markets with high poverty in urban suburbs, surpassed only by the Texas border towns of El Paso and McAllen. The Brookings Institute report noted that poverty "in the entire Bakersfield metropolitan area rose 23 percent from 2007 to 2009. The suburban portion of the metro has been affected far more. Bakersfield's two main industries, oil and agriculture, require a large amount of manpower. Much of this is supplied by immigrants, who often -- especially when it comes to agricultural jobs -- don't make enough money to lift them out of poverty. As of 2009, 29.1 percent of those living below the poverty line in Bakersfield were born outside the U.S. That's one of the highest rates in the country, according to Brookings." Others on the top ten list include Albuquerque, N.N., Augusta, Ga., Jackson, Miss., Little Rock, Ark., Modesto, Ca., Lakeland, Fla., and Fresno.

 * ... AIR CORPS: Edward Gaede is a World War II veteran, having served 30 months in the Pacific, and gave me a call to correct a piece in the newspaper that recalled a U.S. Air Force bombing in Europe in 1942. Edward reminded me that the U.S. Air Force was not formed until 1947, and that prior to that the branch was known as the Army Air Corps. I should know since my own father served as a captain in the Army Air Corps and was fond of singing its fight song ('Nothing can stop the Army Air Corps!). Now 88, Edward lived for years in Shafter and now resides in Bakersfield, a proud member of "the greatest generation."

 * ... ACCIDENT: A horrible accident between a bicylist and a runner led to the death of the rider, a 41-year-old Visalia school teacher. These things can happen quickly - in this case the runner turned around and ran right into the cyclists - it serves as a reminder that we all share the same road. This is the season for running and cycling, and locally both sports are enjoying a surge in popularity. In the Visalia incident, 41-year-old math teacher Scott Nelson was thrown off his bike and later died. Whether running, cycling or driving, be safe out there.

 * ... AMGEN TOUR: City leaders are busy rounding up support to lure the 2012 Amgen Tour of California back to Bakersfield. When the tour made a stop in Bakersfield in 2010 it was a huge success, with thousands of spectators lining the Panorama Bluffs to watch some of the world's best cyclists race to the finish. The Tour skipped Bakersfield this year and coordinators are crossing their fingers we will get back on the map.

 * ... HIGH ACHIEVER: Jason McPhetridge wrote to highlight his step daughter, Cynthia Begay, now a senior at UC San Diego. A Highland High School graduate, Cynthia's goal is to attend medical school (she did an internship at the Harvard Medical School in Boston) and eventually help treat Native Americans. She is half Native American and half Hispanic and recently left to work on a Navajo Reservation.

 * ... AND ANOTHER: Another local youngster heading off is Prnay Copra, an honors graduate from Bakersfield Christian High School who is bound for Northeastern University in Boston to study behavioral neuroscience. Prnay, who graduated with honors at BCHS, is the son of Caltrans engineer Ray Copra and wife Ameeta.

 * ... CALIFORNIAN RADIO: I will be interviewing Jeff Konya, athletic director at Cal State Bakersfield, Friday at 10 a.m. on Californian Radio SmartTalk 1230. Make sure you tune in as Jeff shares his expectations for the new year and we talk college sports.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield if "you've become an expert at dodging tumbleweeds during the windy season."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Recession takes toll on nation's consumer confidence and spotting a Bakersfield landmark in Prague

 * ... CONFIDENCE: Nice to see gas prices down to around $3.50 a gallon around town, a welcome reprieve for local drivers. But it's clear this is about the only good news out there. Consumer confidence in the economy has plunged, thanks to a volatile stock market, high unemployment and political paralysis in Washington, D.C. The latest survey by the University of Michigan now shows overall consumer confidence at the lowest level since 1980. That has forced folks to sharply curtail spending, not only on major purchases like new cars and appliances but on everything from eating out to new clothes.

 *  ... SMALL WORLD: In the category of "it's a small world," Larry Adams wrote that he visited  Prague recently with his grandson, Matt, when they stopped in a small sandwich shop that was adorned with old Coca-Cola signs. "To my absolute amazement in front of my table was a picture of the Sill  Building with a gigantic Coca-Cola sign on the roof. I thought 'not possible' but when I looked closer there was Kimball and Stone Pharmacy on the ground floor! I was almost speechless." The $70 lunch was not memorable, he added, "but seeing that picture was worth the price of lunch."

 * ... KUDOS: Hats off to Lisa  Kimble Edmonston, the former  TV anchor and now local writer who won some well deserved recognition from her alma mater. Turns out Lisa has been named 2011 alumna of the year from Mount St. Mary's College, recognizing her years of community service.

 * ...  SPOTTED: In the parking lot of Fresh and  Easy at California and Stockdale Highway, a young mother is scolding her two children as she casually tosses paper cups and fast food wrappings from the back seat of her black SUV onto the pavement. Candidate for mother of the year?

 * ... STILL THE JOCK: Local golf shop owner Ken Hurlbert took a break from building custom clubs to compete in the California State Games Track Meet recently in San Diego. After a 50-year absence from the sports, he took first place in the Masters Division (ages 70-74) in shot put, discus and javelin. Hurlbert was joined by his University of Redlands teammate, Charles Wilkinson, who still holds the all time Redlands javelin record with a throw of 248 feet and 9 inches back in 1961.

 * ... RIP: Karla Jadwin wrote to remember James Michael Ellison, who died recently at the age of 67. Though he left Bakersfield a dozen or so years ago, he made a big impression while here "This was a wonderful, giving, funny guy," she wrote. "We met in Kiwanis when he served as president two years before I did. Since retiring from the Lompoc Fire Department and coming here to head the Red Cross he earned the nickname Pugsley ... because the goofus almost always wore striped T-shirts and Bermuda shorts to work!" Keep this family in your thoughts.
 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From Riley Parker: You might be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember Lloyd Plank as the then 25-year-old manager of The University Shop and we all thought he was "old."