Friday, September 16, 2011

McCarthy: California's high-speed rail is not a viable project in this economy

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his own words:

 "I want to thank the firefighters and law enforcement officials from Kern County and around the state who have been working to save lives and property from wildfires throughout our community recently. I was able to see our firefighting operation first-hand last Saturday in Tehachapi and have been in contact with Chief Dunn on the containment of the fires. I encourage everyone to continue to listen to the instructions of our local officials.
 "This week, I joined a conference call with about 2,000 California small business owners and heard story after story of how government overregulation and economic uncertainty is causing unnecessary cost burdens and holding back investment. One small business owner told me their company needed three new employees, but wouldn’t hire them right now because of uncertainty. How many other small businesses are in the same position? Another shared how environmental regulations restrict the amount of water pumped to crops and asked me whether those crops should just be allowed to go fallow. I am asking the same question of the Obama Administration, and I’m fighting in Congress to ensure federal government regulations aren’t the reason crops and business ideas sit idle.

 "Residents in Bakersfield shared similar frustrations on a telephone townhall meeting I held on Tuesday night. From questions on job-creation policies to government funding of high-speed rail and ensuring a reliable water supply for California – it is clear many are aggravated with the gridlock and spending decisions in Congress. I couldn’t agree more. As I stated on the call, I continue to believe that California’s high-speed rail project is not viable. This project has too many questions regarding its business model and ridership projections that just don’t add up. I also discussed policies that empower the entrepreneur. An entrepreneur never takes away a job; they create jobs, and that’s why we must encourage them to invest and put people back to work.

 "On Thursday, the House passed legislation that would help do that. The Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act (H.R. 2587) would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from ordering any employer to relocate, shut down or transfer employment. In light of the NLRB action against the Boeing Company’s expansion in South Carolina, this legislation is vital to boosting business confidence.

 "As frustrating as things can get sometimes in Washington, I wake up every day glad to represent you and always want to hear from you. I encourage you to write in through my website or call my Bakersfield office at 327-6311 or my D.C. office at 202-225-2915 to share any comments or concerns.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

CSUB launches a new sports marketing program and good wishes to a local architect battling prostate cancer

* ... CSUB: I spent the afternoon out at Cal State Bakersfield the other day and was impressed with the bold new branding around the athletic programs. Thanks to an aggressive marketing plan under Athletic Director Jeff Konya, the Icardo Center is now "wrapped" in sepia-like, golden toned pictures of CSUB athletes in action. Inside, the Icardo Center has received a new blue floor emblazoned with a huge Roadrunner in the middle and new lighting. Expect to see more CSUB promotion in near future; it's all part of Konya's plans to bring excitement back to Roadrunner athletics. And by the way, the first regular season home game for Runners basketball is Nov. 19 when Pepperdine University comes to town.

 * ... SICK BAY: Bruce Biggar is one of our community's longtime residents and good souls, not to mention a friend of mine, so I was concerned to learn that he just underwent surgery to deal with prostate cancer. The good news is that the surgery, performed at UCLA Medical Center, was a complete success. "Of course nothing is guaranteed but right now I am cancer free," he told me. A longtime architect at BFCG-IBI Group Architecture Planning, Bruce told me he is now "going to get on my soap box to tell men: monitor your PSA levels and get regular checkups." Other than losing a few pounds, Bruce is doing well and now walking regularly to retain his strength and stamina.

 * ... THANKS: From reader Pamela Mahan: "God bless these 'quiet millionaires' such as Dr. Cornforth and his wife, Edna, who have donated a million dollars to San Joaquin Hospital for their cancer center. We should all appreciate what the private sector does to contribute to our welfare. We don't all have to rely on the government to take care of us."

 * ... GRANTS: The Women's and Girls' Fund, part of the Kern Community Foundation, has annnounced a new four-year focus on grants supporting education and training for Kern women and girls. Through 2015 annual grants of $20,000 or more will be awarded to local non-profits. The new grant cycle has a deadline of Nov. 9 to apply. Go to to download application forms. Meanwhile, The Bakersfield Californian Foundation has an Oct. 14 deadline for grant requests focused on the beautification and general improvement of downtown Bakersfield. It's nice to live in a town where so many people are chipping in to improve our community. You can find the Californian grant applications on

* ... OVERHEARD: A U.S. Airways flight from Phoenix to Bakersfield was recently delayed by more than 30 minutes because the crew ran out of seat belt extenders to accommodate a large number of out sized passengers. Oh my.

 * ... SPOTTED: Memo to the middle aged woman driving the late model silver BMW with black convertible top on Gosford Road: thanks for using your blinkers but weaving through heavy traffic like a NASCAR driver can be hazardous to your health.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: James Taylor writes that you might be a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember "the Texas Kid fruit stand on 34th Street and Dudley's hamburger stand across the street from East High School. Had lots of spaghetti and beans there."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembering a fallen Marine, supporting the SPCA and men behaving badly

 * ... MARINE: My earlier mention of the passing of young Marine A.J. Hamilton drew this response from Gene Bonas, who was A.J.'s principal when he was a student at Hort School. He remembered A.J. as an excellent student who was always surrounded by friends. "Last Friday I was invited to participate in a 9/11 remembrance presentation by Sherri Best's third grade class," he wrote. "The kids sang patriotic songs and read descriptions of the attack on the World Trade Center. A.J.'s military picture was prominently displayed on a bulletin board for all to see, and I was privileged to meet his wife prior to the program." Bonas was Hort principal ten years ago, and recalls how the students and staff raised over $1,000 for the American Red Cross after the World Trade Center attacks. A.J. Hamilton was 22 when he died in a car crash while driving back to Twentynine Palms Marine base.

 * ... SPCA: The SPCA is holding its annual "Unleash Your Love" fund raiser Wednesday (September 14) outside the KGET officers at the corner of 22nd and M streets. Please try to support these folks over at the SPCA who do so much to help save discarded dogs and cats. SPCA spokesman Chuck Nordstrom said there will be onsite adoptions all day as well as a low cost microchip clinic and rabies vaccinations.

 * ... SPOTTED: A boisterous, boozy crowd of middle aged men wearing oversized Tommy Bahama sport shirts and matching goatees drown out two Nashville-based singers at a local wine bar. Another example of how decorum goes out the window when men start behaving badly.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A woman on Facebook gives these tips to her single friends who may be looking for a date: "All of the out of town firemen and volunteers are staying at the hotels near Costco and shopping and eating there."

 * ... JOE ALEXANDER: One of the "must see" fund raisers of the year is coming up later this month at the 21st Street home of Dr. Mark and Sue Ashley. It's East Bakersfield Rotary's "Elegant Evening of Wine" to raise money for the Joe Alexander Scholarship Foundation. This is a classy event featuring wine and food selected by Meir Brown of Cafe Med and will be held on the sprawling lawn of the Ashley estate on 21st Street. It's a bit pricey (individual tickets are $150 each) but well worth the cost. It will be held Saturday, September 24, so get your tickets now by calling Vern Varner at (661) 979-5788.

 * ... BROCK'S: Bill Deaver remembers when Brock's moved to Westchester. It was after the downtown Brock's was damaged in the 1952 earthquake and the company erected a large tent and called it Brock's Big Top.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Gene Tolomei wrote that you might be a Bakersfield old timer if "you remembered my dad's sporting goods and liquor store, Gene and Joe's. It was located at the corner of Baker and Bernard. It was very popular place to get you hunting and fishing licenses. It was also very busy doing dove season when everyone came in to buy their shotgun shells. My dad Gene Tolomei and his partner Joe Lencioni were partners as well as good friends.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Finding a bit of Bakersfield in Africa and honoring the death of a local Marine

* ... SMALL WORLD: Local residents Sheryl and Lou Barbich just returned from Africa where they learned that, yes, it is indeed a small world. Said Sheryl: "We were in Zanzibar on the beach and ran into Aaron Rothkopf, who is a teacher at Miramonte High School here in Bakersfield. He was there as a prelude to climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. He called today to say that he had made it to the top, but was totally exhausted when he finished the climb…13 hours, and at the top the temperature was minus 20 with a 40 mph wind! What a guy!" Then, to top that, Lou and Sheryl were visiting a small school in Tanzania when lightning struck again. "While the principal is talking about his school, we see a poster on his wall from the Cayucos Elementary School. It was to recognize the pen pal relationship they had. We showed the pictures to the principal in Cayucos, and they hope to restart the program. Great people."

 * ... RIP MARINE: I want to note the passing of a young Marine who died recently in a car accident while heading back to base at Twenty-nine Palms. A.J. Hamilton was just 22 when he died, leaving behind a wife and 9-month-old daughter. He was a graduate of Highland High School.

 * ... KUDOS: Reader Mindy White wrote to mention another Highland High graduate, Joseph Zasoski, who completed a semester abroad in Italy and will graduate from the University of Southern California next May. His brother Andrew graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is now working in broadcast journalism. Mindy added: "You are almost an old timer if you can remember the old honky tonks - the Dungeon, the Blackboard. I was too young to get in legally but that didn't stop me from getting in an whooping it up to good old country music!"

 * ... THE BUZZ: The talk of the weekend was the incredible thunder and lightning that shook homes across Bakersfield Friday night and early Saturday morning. I thought the single-pane windows on my 102-year-old bungalow were going to explode, but it didn't seem to bother my 7-year-old gray tabby, who slept soundly through the entire light show.

 * ... BAD FORM: Janet Torres wrote with this observation of behavior that is simply inexcusable. "This morning a man, possibly late 40s or 50s, in a small black truck was seen abandoning his Brittney Spaniel on Merle Haggard Drive across from the airport entrance. The dog was rescued by Sheriff's Deputies and the truck description and license plate number were turned in to the CHP; hopefully he doesn't get just a slap on the wrist."

* ... TOON'S: Marjori Payne wrote to say she vividly remembers the old Toon's piano store on Chester Avenue, where her sister took lessons. "We drove into the studio once a week from the Lamont area for her lessons. My parents had a dairy farm out in the area and my dad shipped his milk to the Carnation Company." She also remembers the famous Union Avenue Plunge, a huge swimming pool where "everyone went," as well as the popular Terrace Drive-In movie theater. "I also remember when Brocks had a store in Westchester and also the specialty store Harold Brown's. It's always fun to read about our history of what we lived and fondly remember."