Friday, February 3, 2012

McCarthy: It's a perilous time for our country, and time for Congress to get out of the way and support business and job creation

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

"The health of our economy remains the number one issue for many in our community. We’re at a 17-year low with new start-ups and our unemployment remains above 8 percent. Where we are in the world today
is very similar to the challenges we faced in 1979. Instead of worrying about Japan, we worry about China and India. We had energy concerns and rising gas prices tied to the Middle East, and today Iran is threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz. Americans are asking themselves the same question, will the next generation be better off than the generation before? Just like in 1980, we need to take action to unleash our nation’s economic potential.

 "First, we must stop overregulation and can look to Mojave as a model. This week, the House passed legislation that included a provision I fought for to protect the commercial spaceflight industry from
government overregulation. Jobs in this industry have grown exponentially over the past decade, particularly at the Mojave Air & Space Port. From SpaceShipOne to Stratolaunch Systems, there has been major investment here. Already, 25 percent of all the jobs at the Space Port have to do with commercial spaceflight, and this week’s action opens the door for continued investment, innovation and job creation here and around the country.

 "Second, we need to help small businesses with access to capital.  I got tremendous feedback this week from Kern County residents through two teletown halls. One woman in East Kern expressed frustration about accessing capital for her small business. As a former small business owner, I know exactly how she feels, and I’ve been working to help address the problem. Among a group of bipartisan bills that passed the
House intended to help small businesses is a bill I introduced, the Access to Capital for Job Creators Act (H.R. 2940). This bill would modernize securities regulations to open a new door for businesses to
obtain the funding they need to expand and hire. It passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, but lingers in the Senate with 26 other job-creating bills. At a time when we’re experiencing
persistently high unemployment nationally and locally, we need to be doing everything in our power to put people back to work and help small businesses expand.

 "Third, we must expand our energy resources. The Keystone XL Pipeline project can do that and create jobs in America. This project would not only create 20,000 good-paying American jobs right away, it would also reduce our dependence on oil coming from an unstable Middle East. I remain hopeful the President will start listening to the American people on this. Polls show that most Americans want this project, and
over 90 percent of participants in my recent telephone town hall meetings said they supported it. I can assure you that I will not back down and continue pushing to move this project forward.

"If we make the tough decisions, I know our small businesses and entrepreneurs will bring our economy back.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An amazing random act of kindness and another First Friday features the arts district

 * ... KINDNESS: Consider the following nugget as further testimony to the generosity of our community. According to Donna Hylton, executive director of the Kern Adult Literacy Council, one of her volunteer tutors was on the receiving end of an amazing random act of kindness. Turns out the tutor suffered from crooked teeth that her family could not afford to straighten, but an anonymous donor emerged to pay for her dental work at absolutely no charge. "The random act of kindness has changed her life forever," Hylton said. "He paid for everything, even the surgery. I just want to let you know fantastic things are happening every day in good old Bakersfield even at the Kern Adult Literacy Council." By the way, if you are interested in tutoring at the council call (661) 324-3213.

 * ... WEEKEND: It may be Super Bowl weekend, but there's a lot more going on around our town than football. The weather will be a warmer so make sure you get out and enjoy our extensive bike trials and parks. And don't forget to include First Friday in your plans. Make a night of it and dine at one of our many locally owned downtown restaurants - Uricchio's Trattoria, Mama Roomba, Mexicali, Chef's Choice Noodle Bar, Cafe Med etc - and then run by the Metro Galleries on 19th Street to check out a show featuring the works of Art Sherwyn, his mother Doris, and Dean Johnson. The Foundry (located next to Dagny's on 20th Street) will also feature a show by young artist Jesus Fidel titled 'Plant Impossible Gardens.' On Monday, longtime Californian photographer Felix Adamo will have an exhibit of some stunning photography at Valentien Restaurant and Wine Bar from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Twenty-five percent from the sale of every print will go to the Cancer Center at San Joaquin Community Hospital.

* ... SPOTTED: Reader Chris Padham was driving south on Highway 99 between Ming Avenue and While lane when he spotted "a red Mustang being driven by a woman who was texting with a toddler on her lap. Evidently she must have a force field around her vehicle to prevent others from making her have an accident."

 * ... HALF PRICE: H. Walker's, a longtime purveyor of fine men's clothing downtown, will soon stop selling business suits to move to a more casual denim look. That's according to owner Tracy Walker-Kiser, who says the move is in line with the more casual style of men's clothing in California and the southern San Joaquin Valley. The good news: all suits are now on sale for $199, while they last.

 * ... HONOR FLIGHTS: There's an effort under way to create a local chapter of Honor Flights, the organization that flies veterans to Washington, D.C., to view the memorials honoring their service. Lili Marsh, the manager over at the Petroleum Club, told me the group is looking for folks who may be interested in serving on its board of directors or in some other way. Honor Flights was established in 2005 and since then some 22,000 veterans have been flown to Washington at no cost. If interested, email the group at

 * ... CSUB: Had a chance to walk through the Student Recreation Center at Cal State Bakersfield this week and it's an impressive addition to the campus. It was full of students using the treadmills, rock climbing wall and weight rooms, all amenities prospective students expect at a college campus. If you haven't toured it yet, drop by and check it out.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfieldian if, after every cough, sneeze, sniffle and/or wheeze, you always blame "the air quality." Thanks to Jolie Brouttier for that one.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The truth meter finds fault with Terry Phillips' rambling attack on Bakersfield Observed; is refusing to recite the pledge unpatriotic? You be the judge

* ... PHILLIPS RETORT: Terry Phillips is a former Valley Public Radio broadcaster who is thinking about running for Congress against Rep. Kevin McCarthy. Last week I noted that Phillips created quite a stir at the downtown Rotary Club when he declined to participate in the pledge of allegiance before speaking there back in 2008. Phillips took me to task in a rambling letter to the editor Monday, accusing me of distorting the facts and questioning his patriotism. Really Terry? Let's review what happened. First, Phillips never denies not participating in the pledge, so it seems my reporting was accurate on that count. Second, it's also true that some folks in the mostly conservative crowd of local business leaders viewed his act a provocation and complained to Rotary officers after his speech. And third, I never accused Phillips of being unpatriotic, nor did I imply that he was fired because of the incident. (He was fired three years later) I did wonder aloud how his refusal to recite the pledge would play with voters, which seems like a reasonable thought. But as for Phillips being fired last year, I neither know nor care why VPR let him go. So indulge me as I once again review what I wrote: that he did not recite the pledge (true), that some Rotary members were upset (true) and that he was later fired (also true). Looks like a trifecta of accurate reporting to me. Isn't it funny how folks, particularly politicians or would-be politicians, have such a selective memory when the past returns to haunt them?

* ... HOUSING: We all know the dismal state of housing in states like California and Florida, but where is housing making a rebound? Realty website Inman News reports that for a second year in a row, the Midwest and Northeast dominate the markets deemed most desirable. Among the top hot markets are Raleigh, NC, Wichita, KS, Rochester, NY, Des Moines, IA, Chattanooga, TN, Peoria, ILL, and Amarillo, TX.

* ... REIDER: Kudos to retired Kern County Schools Superintendent Larry Reider who has had an educational building named after him. The five-story building in downtown Bakersfield, formerly known as the UC Merced building, has now been christened the Larry E. Reider Education Center. A fitting tribute to a longtime leader in Kern County education.

 * ... SPOTTED: Candace Bunes contributed this nugget from a day in the life of our city. "Sitting at a stop light on Truxtun and Coffee there is a lady in front of me drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette and talking on her cell phone. Beside me is a lady using a curling iron and putting on mascara. And behind me is a man doing nothing but waiting with his hands on the wheel!"

 * ... KINDNESS: Wendy Wayne, the former director of the First Five Commission who is battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, shared a wonderful story of a random act of kindness done on her behalf. The person, who Wendy did not name, was able to help a disabled veteran get a complete dental makeover. Turns out the veteran was born with a cleft pallet that required multiple surgeries. The good Samaritan found an organization called Soldiers Smile which found a dentist in Los Gatos who helped.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You may be from Bakersfield if you only use your turn signals once you are well into the turn.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cal Radio puts the spotlight on spiritual healing and Karen Goh makes the rounds for reelection

* ... HEALER: Have you ever entertained the idea of consulting a "spiritual healer?"  Before you dismiss it as a passing fad from the Bay Area or Santa Monica, you might want to hear from Debbie Charles, a local resident who works in spiritual counseling and dealing with energy sources. She has even - get this - performed house and office "clearings" to define negative energies. Intrigued? Debbie will be my guest on Monday's Californian Radio KERN 1180 at 9 a.m. Tune in and join a fascinating discussion.

* ... KAREN GOH: It's hard to imagine anyone working harder for reelection to public office than Fifth District county Supervisor Karen Goh. She seems to turn up about everywhere, knocking on doors to introduce herself, participating in Saturday's downtown cleanup day, and seemingly taking it all in stride. "I'm trying to meet as many people as I can," she told me when I ran into her at the Crabfest fund raiser recently. "I do it every day if I can." She was appointed to the position to replace former Supervisor Michael Rubio, who went on to the State Senate.

* ... OVERHEARD: A reader writes that she overheard a woman on her cell phone at Tony's Pizza "discussing her kindergartener Joelle's poopy panties. Apparently it has been going on for a few nights now. Wonderful thing to listen to when you are trying to eat."

* ... GOOD DEED: Tina Stout wrote to thank a couple of good Samaritans who helped push her stalled car out of traffic at the intersection of California Avenue and Stockdale Highway.  "I always wave at the gentleman who works at that corner who dances and holds a pizza sign.  I rolled down my window and said I needed help. He and three other young men pushed my vehicle through that intersection and into the Mexicali parking lot before the light turned red on us. They were truly my angels."

 * ... BENHAM: Congratulations to Thomas Benham, son of Californian columnist Herb Benham and City Council member Sue Benham, who was recently promoted to prep cook at the famous organic restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Thomas graduated from Bakersfield High in 2008, attended UC Berkeley and is now following his passion in the culinary arts. I visited Thomas this past week, working as an unpaid "intern" at the legendary Berkeley restaurant founded by Alice Waters. It's nice to see young people find their passion and work so hard to fulfill their dreams.

* ... VEGAS BABY: Ben Ansolabehere dropped me a note to weigh in on the Las Vegas sports writer who ripped Bakersfield after UNLV beat CSUB recently. "He should check out his historical facts about UNLV and its connection to Bakersfield. When UNLV put together its football program it thought that Bakersfield was a treasure trove of players. There were no less than 14 starters from Bakersfield on their first three teams ever. Many of these athletes helped UNLV to three winning seasons the first three years of that program, prompting the Californian to refer to the UNLV Rebels as the Rebelgades. This connection was established by three coaches coming from the same small mining town in Nevada, Elly. These coaches were Turk Eliades (North), Jerry Collis (BC), and Bill Ireland (UNLV). The next time that this young man talks about Bakersfield, he should at least know his history or he and Las Vegas 'may be destine to repeat it!'"