Friday, November 18, 2011

House moved into digital era allowing constituents to follow activities in real time

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield and House Majority Whip, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill.
 "This week, the House was launched into a new era of transparency with a ground-breaking government application called WhipCast. With this first-of-its-kind government app that you can download on your iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android mobile device, you can receive updates on legislation, what the House is considering on the Floor, press releases and more, as it happens. This is a truly revolutionary app – a one-stop-shop to get all the information on what’s going on in Washington.

"For example, this week in Washington was a busy one, the House passed bipartisan legislation to repeal a cumbersome tax withholding requirement to help create jobs and increase certainty for businesses and also ensure our veterans have the resources they need to find employment in this difficult economy. This bill is now on its way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. In addition, we took up a Balanced Budget Amendment to our Constitution to finally force the government to live within its means.

"If you are one of the over 25,000 people who have already downloaded WhipCast, you probably already knew about the action we took this week. If you haven’t downloaded WhipCast yet, I hope you do. Downloading is fast, easy and free. All you have to do is go to the app store on your iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android mobile device and type in ‘WhipCast.’ Or, just click on one of the following links to go directly to the store on your device: iPhone/iPad, Blackberry, Android. If you need a little more encouragement to download the app, I put together a lighthearted video to promote it. And while I think I’ll stick with my day job for the time being, I hope you enjoy it. To watch it, click here. 

"There are a number of exciting things happening here in Bakersfield. This weekend, Bakersfield High School will host the Kern Region Forensics League's final tournament, which I’m proud that my son Connor will be participating in. I also want to congratulate the CSU Bakersfield men’s soccer team on a great effort in my alma mater’s first time competing in a NCAA Division I Tournament. These young men are exceptional athletes and were strong competitors and I am so proud that they got so far. 

"Like many of you, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season in general. But this time of year also gives us fresh reminder that there are many less fortunate in our community, especially in our current economy. I know I have often said that the members of our community are the most thoughtful and generous I’ve ever known, and I encourage everyone who is able to find a way to give back to those in need this Holiday Season. Whether it is donating turkeys or clothing and blankets, every little bit helps and I know it is appreciated by those in our community going through tough times.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bakersfield is No. 1 in dirty air and Wendy Wayne faces a new setback in her fight with cancer

 * ... POLLUTION: Bakersfield ranked No. 1 on another list of dubious distinction, this time winning the title of the American city with the dirtiest air.  In fairness to us, the Forbes story noted that our air is actually cleaner than it has been in years, but we're still stuck with the title of the dirtiest city in the country. Following Bakersfield were Los Angeles, Visalia, Fresno, Pittsburgh, Modesto, Birmingham, Phoenix, San Diego and Sacramento.  Forbes had this to say about Bakersfield: "Hot, dusty, adjacent to California’s biggest oil fields, Bakersfield has 60 days a year of unhealthy air, 10 times a level considered acceptable. Its ozone levels are better than at any time in the past 15 years, but still unhealthy for 100 days out of the year."

 * ... SICK BAY: I was saddened to hear that Wendy Wayne has suffered a setback in her long battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Wendy underwent a stem cell transplant two years ago at City of Hope and had bounced back to her old self, but apparently the cancer has returned and she is back at City of Hope for another round of chemotherapy. Wendy is one of our community's most generous and giving citizens, a former member of the First Five Commission, an inductee into the CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame and a former Peace Corps volunteer. Keep this special woman and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

 * ... GREEN FROG: The closing of the Green Frog Market on Columbus prompted this memory from reader Mark Thompson. "I am reminded of the time in 2001 when the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) came to town to tape their weekly Smackdown television show. During the episode heated rivals Stone Cold Steve Austin and Booker T wound up at the Green Frog and promptly destroyed the store as well as each other. It was one of the funniest moments ever in wrestling" and you can see the clip on YouTube.

 * ... OVERHEARD: At the downtown Starbucks on 24th Street a woman tells her companion: "I just gave that parolee outside two bucks because he looks so scary I was afraid to say no!"

 * ... BOOK SIGNING: Make sure you head over to Russo's Books at the Marketplace Saturday where author Richard Mallard will be signing his new book "Convict Lake," the tragic story of the death of several teenagers and would-be rescuers in 1990. I've read this book and it is a real page turner, as well as shedding new light on the troubled billion-dollar industry dealing with troubled teens. Mallard will be at Russo's from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

 * ... LA CRESTA: Another memory of old La Cresta, this time from life-long Bakersfield resident Matt Koelzer. "Two of the best memories are Sullivan's Miniature Golf north of Green Frog and west of the old Shakey's Pizza building and Alta Vista Drugs between Tam O'Shanter Liquors and the old Spin 'N Span Market. My family always referred to the drug store as 'Bert and Orville's' for the couple that owned it. If we were well behaved at the doctor or while running errands with mom, we could go in and get a soda or float from the old fashioned fountain where they still mixed you a Coca-Cola by hand."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Westchester rattled by a second shooting at Jastro Park and more weigh in on union protesters

 * ... JASTRO SHOOTING: The second shooting in a year at Jastro Park has rattled residents of the downtown and Westchester neighborhoods. Blessed with wide streets, century-old homes, a canopy of trees and the charm of Rockwellian America, Westchester has always enjoyed a special allure but also bears the brunt of the occasional opportunistic crime. In the latest case, two known gang members were arrested for opening fire at two other men with whom they had an altercation. As one resident said: "My family has lived here for 60 years and we've never had two shootings in a row like this. There's one home that seems to be at the center of this activity and we're going to do something about it."

* ... PICKET LINE: Stephen J. Haupt, a senior vice president at Colliers International, responded to my post about union picket lines with a view shared by many in the business community. "Personally I do not have a problem with people exercising their First Amendment rights. However, it would be more meaningful if the union members were actually on the picket line rather than the temp workers who probably do not know all of the issues. I wonder if the union is paying these protesters union wages?"

* ... SPOTTED: From a reader: Seen at California Avenue and Oak Street an older, mid-sized truck
with two bumper stickers on the back window. "One shows a cell phone with a red slash through it and the words 'Hang up and drive.' The other says 'Keep honking — I'm reloading.' Is it just me, or would shoving ammunition into a firearm while driving represent a bigger potential traffic hazard than talking on a cell phone?"

 * ... MEMORY: Roger Abonnel asks if anyone else remembers the Kern River flood of 1950. "You are an old timer if you stood on the bluffs, as I did, on Sunday, November 19, 1950, and watched the flood take out Gordon's Ferry,  Rancheria and the Kernville bridges.

* ... FISK HARLOW: Regular contributor John Pryor wrote with some background on Fisk Harlow, who owned the old Bakersfield Hardware store. He said Fisk lived "in a charming home on the southeast corner of Alta Vista and Bernard, directly across the street  from a current news story - the Green Frog Market - whose owner Charles Everett lived across the street from the Harlow's (and my family) in the opposite direction. We witnessed Everett walking back and forth from his home to the Green Frog with a huge bag of money in his grip. It was so heavy he 'listed' to one side as he walked the almost two block distance." Pryor said Harlow also owned the first golf cart used at Stockdale Country Club.

* ... CPA: Longtime Bakersfield resident and CPA Lynn Starr Del Mundo has joined the accounting firm of Daniells Phillips Vaughan and Bock as a partner. Prior to this Lynn had been part of a successful accounting practice with her late father, Martin A. Starr.

* .... BROCK'S MEMORY: Marvin Schmidt weighed in from New Mexico with a memory of his mother, Irene Schmidt, who worked at Brock's until she was into her 80s in the drapery department. "Standing 4 feet 11 inches and weighing a little over 100 pounds, she always wore high heeled shoes and the best dresses. When management changed, they were told not to look at her age but at her abilities," he said. "For years before moving to Bakersfield she rode the bus from Shafter to come to work."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Union protesters personify bad form and yet another county department head is being investigated

 * ... BAD FORM: Shame on the Carpenter's Union protesters who have targeted the old Castle and Cooke headquarters building on Stockdale Highway. The building, which houses Ticor Title, Colliers Tingey and other tenants, has been the scene of a loud, disruptive picket line the past week. One employee, who asked not to be identified, said dozens of protesters have parked themselves on private property and are intimidating those who work inside. "We can't even figure out who they are picketing and they don't seem to know themselves," the employee told me. "They are so loud we can't work." Legal or not, it's shameful that this union would seek to disrupt the work of folks who may have nothing to do with the dispute.

 * ... DUQUETTE: Speaking of bad form, I was stunned to read  James Burger's front page story  in The Sunday Californian on the investigation of county Library Director Diane Duquette for allegedly using her county-issued car and gas for personal uses. Didn't we just go through this with former county Fire Chief Nick Dunn? And apparently Duquette may have used her car - and charged gas - to go for job interviews. Talk about chutzpah. Sounds like the county has developed a culture of entitlement over the years.


* ... VALADAO: Join me Monday morning on KERN 1180 Californian Radio when I will be chatting with congressional candidate David Valadao, a Hanford Assemblyman, and former KERO TV weather forecaster Melissa Dignan. Valadao will talk about his campaign and Melissa about her plans for the future. The program runs from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

 * ... DIGNAN: And speaking of Dignan, reader Nancy Edwards wrote to say Melissa will be missed. "She is very professional, yet seems to have a kind personality and has shown great compassion for the many animals who need homes in Kern County. Her absence will certainly be noted.... Melissa inspired many people, I am sure, to rescue and adopt animals. In a community in which we have read of terrible incidents enacted on helpless animals, Melissa showed our community the opposite in her daily on air actions." 

* ... FEDWAY: Longtime Bakersfield resident Dan Giordano remembers playing around the escalator at the old Fedway Department store but  also recalls something equally interesting. "When you were tired of riding the escalator, there was the 'Shoe Fitting Flouroscope.' You would step up on the Flouroscope, located in the shoe department, and with your shoes on put your feet inside, press a button, look through a viewer and you saw an X-ray of your feet. They have since been outlawed."

 * ... SPOTTED: Reader Paula Blakey was driving down California Avenue in front of Bakersfield High School when a yellow Mustang with personalized plates came barreling through, weaving, while the young female driver was texting and smoking.

* ... FEDWAY: Another fond memory of the old Fedway. Karen Nelson Winn was at the store and entered a contest in the shoe department - it was a promotion for Hush Puppy shoes - and won a Basset Hound puppy. "I named him Sir Fedy Fedwick!" she said.