Friday, September 2, 2011

McCarthy: Overreaching federal regulations stifle the private sector; time for Washington to get out of the way

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill.
 "Throughout our nation’s history, we have seen Americans achieve great things by taking great risks, and we are home to many of these stories. In 2004, I watched Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne achieve aerospace greatness as it rocketed into suborbital space to become the first private spaceship in the world.

 "Our community is filled with some of the most innovative minds anywhere, whether in agriculture, defense, energy, aerospace or technology. And it will be these leaders that will drive our nation’s economic comeback. Just look at the nine Kern County businesses that made this year’s Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing independent, private companies in the U.S.: Hathaway LLC; Lightspeed Systems; Klassen Corp.; Electrical Systems and Instrumentation; Payzone Directional Services; Stria; ARRC Technology; Processes Unlimited International; and PLCs Plus International.

 "During the past few months, I have had dozens of discussions with small business owners in our community and have received a lot of insightful feedback. Just this week, one local entrepreneur sent me a detailed breakdown of how the business cycle that drives our economy has been slowed at nearly every step because of uncertainty.  He wrote that “if entrepreneurs and investors do not KNOW what they face at a step – that uncertainty makes them decide to wait and see what they will face – which slows down the entire process.” His comments mirror the concerns I have heard throughout our community and from business leaders across the country. Job creators aren’t nearly as likely to take the risks that have brought about the innovations that have made America great with a giant cloud of uncertainty hanging over them.  
 "So what is causing this uncertainty? Simply put: excessive government intervention in the economy. How can a small business owner in Kern County stay in business when government continues to pile on more unnecessary costs? The number of economically significant regulations (having an economic impact of $100 million or more) in the works this year is up 15 percent from last year – to 219 – and the President disclosed this week that just seven of these could cost our economy a combined $100 billion. That is just seven out of 219. No wonder business owners are standing on the sidelines!

 "When I return to Washington, my colleagues and I will immediately begin to take on the barriers that are holding up job creation and increasing uncertainty. We plan to take action on 10 major unnecessary, job-crushing regulations. To read the memo detailing them, click here. We will also be gearing up to take up a Balanced Budget Amendment and take action to pass the three pending Free Trade Agreements.

 "By addressing our burdensome regulatory climate, we can create an environment for prosperity. I know we have the next Burt Rutan or Steve Jobs in our midst, and I’m going to fight to make sure that our Federal government does not inadvertently squash the ability for innovators to take the risk to make their dream a reality. "     

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The first hints of fall in Bakersfield and time for another First Friday in downtown Bako

 * ... READY FOR FALL? Don't let the early morning chill fool you. As every local will tell you, a Bakersfield summer is never really over until the Kern County Fair ends. But it has been a terrific summer here, mild and blessed with a river full of water, and I'm sad to see it coming to an end. Still, fall brings high school and Bakersfield College football and a fall farmer's market full of fresh vegetables.

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: And speaking of the end of summer, don't forget to check out the First Friday activities in the downtown arts district. Remember First Friday is not a street fair, but rather an occasion to support our local businesses by strolling through our growing number of art galleries, antique shops and other businesses and picking up a bite to eat at one of our many downtown restaurants: Uricchio's Trattoria, Mama Roomba, Chef's Choice noodle bar, Mexicali, La Costa Mariscos and the Padre Hotel to name a few. Also make sure to swing by The Metro Galleries on 19th Street, which is featuring an impressive show dedicated to Latino artists and culture. This is a juried show and the winners will be announced. Metro will also have music by Mento Buru and Velorio and a no host bar.

 * ... REITER: A relatively new business called the Reiter Gallery Art Parlor is featuring the paintings of Betty Leonor. The opening reception is Friday and it's worth stopping by on your First Friday tour. The gallery is located at 1914 Chester Avenue.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A 20-something blonde is overheard telling a friend: "I was going crazy because I misplaced the book I was reading. I spent three days looking for it until I realized I had downloaded it on my iPad!"

 * ... SPOTTED: From local Realtor Coleen Peters: "A 1990s dark blue Toyota Camry with middle aged male left a cat lying on the head rest in 100 degree heat in Costco Rosedale parking lot with two windows only rolled down one inch. It must have been 120 degrees in that car. I called 911 and they sent animal control to try to find the car. Thank goodness his shopping list was short. Please remember our furry friends."

 * ... IRENE: Realtor Patsy Sadler wrote with this observation of Hurricane Irene: "I haven't heard one person yell' help me, help me' and no looting reported and people actually trying to clean up their mess and not waiting for help!"

 * ... SERVICE: Some more reader nominations for local retailers who provide great customer service: Snead's men's store near Trader Joe's, White Forest Nursery and Guarantee Shoe Center.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Margaret Lemucchi provided this gem about growing up in Shafter. "You know you're an old-timer from Shafter if you remember picking up your metal canister containing a movie at Stringham's Drug Store. You selected your movies from a catalogue in a shop - near the Nile Theater, I think. Your weekly movie would go to Shafter on the Orange Belt Stage which parked at  Stringham's. You showed your movie to a neighborhood crowd on a screen in your living room with popcorn breaks and when the film broke, the lights went on, and your dad 'spliced it' with Scotch tape. The next day you returned the movie to Stringham's which put it on the bus back to Bakersfield. Great fun."   

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cutting back in the face of a tough recession and saying good night to Ellie, a special horse at MARE

 * ... RECESSION: Now that we're in the fifth year of this long recession it's not surprising that most of us have been forced to get our financial houses in order. A recent story in USA Today detailed just how far we have come. Consider: The national savings rate is up to 5 percent, nearly four times what it was in 2005. Homeowners are shortening the terms of their mortgages by refinancing,  they are holding onto their cars and trucks longer, and a record number of people are paying off their credit cards at the end of each month. And with the recession showing no signs of going away, we can expect more of this in the future.

 * ... GOODNIGHT IRENE:  Local attorney Barry Goldner and his wife, county counsel Teri Goldner, spent a memorable evening in New York City the day hurricane Irene passed through. They were there getting daughter Rachel settled into Fordham University when Irene paid a visit, turning the normally busting city into a ghost town. With public transportation shut down, Barry said the city was eerily quiet. "The vehicle traffic was minimal and mostly cabs," he said. "The people on the streets wanted to walk and had not real destination since everything was closed. So cabs would glide by looking for fares." No doubt this will be a day that Rachel and her parents will long remember.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A young boy is seen in Albertson's with his mother. He picks up a carrot and asks, "What's this?" His mother responds, "Put it down, you wouldn't like it anyway."

* ... ANNIVERSARY: Among the long-standing retail instituions in our town is Bobbi's Hallmark, the popular card and gift shop located at the corner of Gosford and Stockdale in the Southwest. I've spent countless hours poring over its extensive card list, and now I hear the shop is celebrating 25 years in business in September. It's not easy operating a business in this economic climate, so hats off to these folks at Bobbi's.

 * .... GOOD SERVICE: And speaking of local retailers, I've been overwhelmed with reader suggestions of where to find good service in our town. Among those submitted: Saba's, Lassen's health foods, H. Walker's Men's Clothing, Jim Burke Ford, Walgreen's, WinCo, Pensinger's, Smart and Final and Caspers.

 * ... RIP ELLIE: I've always admired the work the folks out at MARE (Mastering Abilities Riding Equines) do for kids with special challenges. It turns out one of MARE's longtime workers, 26-year-old Elvira the horse, passed away two weeks ago. Ellie as she was known was owned by Deborah Durkan and was a staple at the equestrian center. Said MARE'S founder Diane Hopkins, "Ellie was a MARE horse for 20 years serving our riders with love and willingness. She will be missed by all our staff, volunteers and riders who loved her very much. Miss you Ellie!" (file photo is not Ellie but another horse)

\ * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Linda Welch: You might be an Oildale old timer if you "remember the Safeway market where the Wells Fargo Bank is now on North Chester. Next door was a five and dime store featuring a pair of men's work boots that must have been 25 inches long!"

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hispanic college enrollment spikes and Rubio gears up for a showdown with David Valadao

 * ... COLLEGE BOUND: Read the other day that the enrollment of young Hispanic students in college shot up 24 percent from 2009 to 2010. This is according to the Pew Hispanic Center, which noted that much of the growth among Hispanics attending school has been  in community colleges. Pew said 46 percent of all the Hispanics in school were in community colleges, compared to 73 percent of young white students in four-year colleges. Among Asians, 78 percent were in four year schools and 63 percent of young blacks were in four year institutions. Either way, it's all good news. Community colleges like Bakersfield College serve an important niche in our educational system, and it's good to see a surge in Hispanics taking advantage of the opportunities.

 * ... 21st CONGRESS: Had a chance the other day to catch up with state Sen. Michael Rubio, who is gearing up to run for the empty 21st Congressional District. Also expected to enter the race is state Assemblyman David Valadao, the former Fresno dairy farmer who has the blessings of Karl Rove and the Republican establishment. Democrats enjoy an 11 percent edge in registration in the district, and word is that this is one of the Republicans' top targets to wrest from the Democrats. Rubio is an astute politician, good at fund raising and willing to outhustle any opponent. A Rubio-Valadao match could only be derailed if former state Sen. Dean Florez enters the race, setting up a bruising Democratic clash between Florez and Rubio. Florez has yet to announce. (photos of Ruio with his family and Valadao on the campaign trail)

 * ... DESIGNER: An old pal in Texas alerted me to a story in the Austin American-Statesman about a former Bakersfield native who has made quite a name for herself in the world of fashion. The designer is Dawn Younger-Smith, who left Bakersfield in her 20s and has since moved to Austin where she markets under the name "the Boudoir Queen." Apparently selections from her work were used in the fall print and video campaign for accessories and handbag maker Nine West's Vintage America collection. Younger-Smith is also known for her 2009 lawsuit against rocker Courtney Love, who allegedly skipped out on paying for a $4,000 dress. (photo courtesy of The Austin American-Statesman)

* ... RILEY'S JOURNEY: Doctors will tell you it's never too late to start eating healthy and exercising, and no one knows this better than Riley Parker, a local private investigator who let his exercise routine slip in recent years. A routine physical found he had "blossomed" to 226 pounds and some of his key readings - cholesterold, triglycerides, blood pressure - were in the danger zone. "I had three choices," he told me. "Start taking a handful of medication every day, lose a boatload of weight or develop diabetes and have a crappy fourth quarter of life. I have opted for number two." Thanks to the folks over at Action Sports, Riley is now riding a new Specialized cross bike and is serious about shedding the pounds. He promised to keep me posted, and knowing Riley, I think this story will have a happy ending.

* ... GOOD SERVICE: I am always appreciative of good service when it comes my way, so here's my partial list of local retailers (excluding eateries) with the most helpful and friendly employees: Bed, Bath and Beyond, Hoggz Surf Shop, Wood-Dale Market, Trader Joe's, Action Sports, Williams-Sonoma, Stinson's, and Urner's, among others. What's on your list?

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield is you remember "field parties," not "house parties."