Friday, October 28, 2011

McCarthy: House passing legislation to help business and create jobs

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives us his weekly update. In his words:

"Bakersfield’s athletes just keep making news. Not only did our own Colby Lewis pitch in the World Series game Thursday, Jake Varner won gold in free style wrestling at the Pan American Games.

"As with athletes, competition is vital to spurring growth in our economy. The latest estimates indicate North Dakota will overtake California in oil production, in part because of California’s onerous regulatory climate, and America has dropped four spots in global competitiveness. Just like we can’t expect our athletes to successfully compete with hands tied behind their backs and weights on their feet, our economy will struggle to compete until we lift unnecessary regulatory burdens. I’m working with Governor Brown now to help lift regulatory restrictions and bureaucratic delays that are limiting oil production here at home, threatening jobs and millions of dollars of investment, as well as much-needed oil and gas royalty revenue to our state.

"My colleagues and I are pushing policies to encourage small business investment, and the good news is that some are garnering bipartisan support. The Free Trade Agreements that will create an estimated 250,000 jobs nationwide were sent to the President’s desk with strong bipartisan support. Also, the House passed legislation (H.R. 674) this week with a bipartisan vote repealing the onerous 3 percent withholding tax, which would have allowed government to capture and waste money that entrepreneurs could – and should – be using to innovate and hire. This rule just doesn’t make sense and I am glad the President has indicated support for its repeal. Furthermore, my legislation (H.R. 2940) to rescind a Depression-era securities requirement to increase access to capital for entrepreneurs and small businesses was approved by the Financial Services Committee with bipartisan support and should be voted on the House floor next week.

"These are encouraging steps, but there is much more to be done, starting with the Senate taking up the 15 jobs bills the House has passed. These ‘Forgotten 15’ are simple, straightforward pieces of legislation that could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduce energy costs and help put our economy back on track. There is no excuse for them to still be sitting dormant in the Senate, and I will continue to pressure Leader Reid to bring them to the floor. I know American businesses and workers can compete with anyone in the world, we just have to give them the opportunity, and I will continue to fight for policies that do just that.

"Regulatory and administrative burdens aren’t just a business issue. Earlier this week, I requested a Government Accountability Office audit to help determine why too many of our local veterans are experiencing delays in benefit processing and long wait times to receive care. Our veterans deserve the utmost respect for their and their family’s sacrifices for our nation, and I hope this audit, requested by a bipartisan group of Congress members, can start the process of correcting these problems and ensuring our veterans receive the quality care they deserve.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bakersfield ranks high on a list of cities with high poverty rates, but good deeds abound

 * ... POVERTY: The U.S. Census says Bakersfield ranks No. 4 on the list of metropolitan areas with the highest rates of poverty in the country. Ranking first was the McAllen, Texas, area with 33.4 percent of residents living below the poverty line, followed by Fresno at 26.8 percent, El Paso at 24.3 percent and then Bakersfield at 21.2 percent.

 * ... FAMILY AFFAIR: You may have read about the exciting end to the Garces-Highland football game last Friday, where Highland’s last minute drive for the winning touchdown was halted by an intercepted pass by Garces to end the game. The back story is that Highland was led by their quarterback, Ryan O’Leary, who had a terrific game but threw the doomed interception to Garces’ Mark Stinson. As can only happen in small town America under Friday night lights, O’Leary’s dad is John O’Leary, owner of O’Leary’s Office Products. Young Stinson is the son of Ben Stinson, owner of Stinson’s Office Products. What are the odds? The younger lads are class acts, and their dads are friendly competitors.

* ... SALLY SHOPPER: My recent post on the old "Sally the Shopper" program at Brock's department store caught the attention of reader Warren Pechin. "My mother, Marguerite Pechin, was one of the two original Sally the Shoppers along with a woman named Rose Nathan. They worked for Marie Smith who started the program and went on to run the Golden Empire Gleaners." This was around 1967, he said, and his mother is still going strong at 92.

 * ... LENDING HAND: Linda Sheffield was in front of the Target store on Rosedale Highway when she witnessed a good deed that she wanted to share. "I saw an elderly, bent lady with a cane stopped by those pesky yellow, bumpy things recently installed in front of the entrance, not sure how to navigate them. She looked as if she would surely fall. I was thinking I would go park and come back to help her, when a young man emerged from the passenger side of a small black car in front of me and offer his arm in assistance. What a blessing it was to observe kindness in action! I checked to see who was driving the car as I went by and it was another young man - not someone's mother who told him to help. I wanted to share this because I was so blessed by it, but also to help counteract all of those tacky things (and I see plenty of those, too) that show up in your column. Thanks for the interesting tidbits that you share with us."

* ... MEMORY: Reader Nancy Schilly says you have been around Bakersfield for a while if you "remember Wayne's Dairy on North Chester Avenue. It was across the street from the original Kern County Fairgrounds. Wayne's had a very good restaurant in front of the dairy. Growing up we drove in from Shafter and ate there a lot. They made their own donuts and you could watch them being made. They made them all by hand. They made all their own ice cream too. We also ate at Tiny's restaurant on the corning of 18th and Chester. You could get a chubby steak dinner for $5. Those were the times."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Even young people have memories of "old" Bakersfield. From 23-year old Jolie Brouttier: You may be from Bakersfield if you "remember driving down Ming (Between Gosford and Old River) smelling only dust from the dirt field rather than Tahoe Joe's steak dinner."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kegley Institute's anti-Israeli rant sparks a furor and the Bakersfield Racquet Club struggles to survive

 * ... LEBEC HOTEL: More background on the old Lebec Hotel comes from Jim Clifford, who just happens to live in a beautifully restored home on 19th Street that was once owned by the Lebec's builder and owner, Thomas O'Brien. Clifford said O'Brien came to Bakersfield via Needles and Kingman around 1900 and owned a number of properties, including a saloon called the Louvre located at 19th and K streets. He also had an interest in the Del Monte Saloon and Bakersfield's first theater, the Empire. In 1905 he brought Al Jolson to the Empire Theater and met an opera singer who would become his wife and help him in running the Lebec Hotel. "I became interested in O'Brien when I remodeled my 19th Street home and discovered he was the original owner," Clifford said. "With a little luck I was able to ferret out much of this information from local archives and books." Clifford said the Lebec Hotel was never a cash cow and his partnership with Cliff Durant and the debt he incurred plagued him until the end.

 * ... CHUTZPAH: The anti-Israeli lecture by Palestinian-American Susan Abulhawa at Cal State's Kegley Institute of Ethics last week has lots of folks up in arms, and rightly so. As Howard Silver wrote in The Californian, Abulhawa "hurled classic anti-Jewish blood lies... unrestrained by reason, facts, evidence or decency." Abulhawa showed her true colors when, while taking a question, she wouldn't answer if the state of Israel had a right to exist. And  later I learned that - talk about chutzpah - the Kegley Institute actually approached a local Jewish congregation weeks before her speech and requested money to sponsor the program.  (file photo of Susan Abulhawa) 

* ... OVERHEARD: Shopping at a local Costco a middle aged woman turns to her husband and says: "If you don't leave me alone I won't buy you that casket you want."

 * ... RACQUET CLUB: Interesting story in Sunday's Californian about turmoil over at The Bakersfield Racquet Club, one of our community's long standing institutions. The club faces an uncertain future. It has lost roughly half its membership, including some people who have been members for years, and tennis is not exactly a growing sport. The turmoil - triggered by the board's decision to replace Jeff Hedberg as manager - led to the entire Board of Directors either resigning or being voted out. One thing seems certain: if the status quo isn't working, something has to change. Here's hoping the old place survives.

 * ... CAL RADIO: Make sure you tune into Californian Radio (KERN 1180) Monday morning when I will be chatting with local attorney Phil Ganong about the fight over medical marijuana, particularly in light of the California Medical Association's recommendation that pot be legalized. I'll also be talking to CSUB Athletic Director Jeff Konya on what's happening on the Southwest campus. The show runs from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember "Sally the Shopper" at the old Brock's department store. Said Kitty Jo Nelson: "What a help she was, especially to those of us who live 50 miles from town. Dial and talk free number, tell her what you need and it's taken care of at no extra charge. Mailed and delivered."