Friday, February 24, 2012

McCarthy: High gas prices point to need to exploit our natural resources, so where is the Obama administration?

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield and House Majority Whip, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "As we are seeing here in Bakersfield, the price for a gallon of gas is getting dangerously close to $5. This is not good news for families who are continuing to struggle to make ends meet. In fact, an article in the Wall Street Journal last week explored the potential that a sharp spike in gas prices could derail any recovery in our economy. We cannot allow this to happen. There are a number of reasons that oil prices fluctuate, but chief among them lately is the situation in the Middle East. Iran has cut supplies to Europe, and that has a global impact.
 "Reducing our dependence on oil from highly unstable regions in the Middle East, many of which are run by dictators that oppose our country and our ideals, is critical. We have legislation that remains stalled in the Senate that would boost America’s energy production, including opening up leases for oil production off the coasts of Virginia and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as a small percentage of land in Alaska. We’re also continuing to push for approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which could provide tens of thousands of American jobs and help boost our domestic energy infrastructure. I continue to support an all-of-the-above energy approach, and that approach includes traditional energy. We only have to drive through Kern County to see how important it is.

 "We are also a powerhouse when it comes to agriculture – and water is the lifeblood of this industry. We’re looking at another dry year. The snowpack is far below normal, and on Wednesday, the California Department of Water Resources announced that it will reduce the water allocation for State Water Project contractors by 10 percent. Our community has stored water well and can survive a dry year – but we cannot ignore the fact that environmental overregulation severely exacerbates the impacts of naturally dry weather. We need a stable, reliable water supply. California’s man-made drought has a solution, and that includes the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act. This bill passed out of the Natural Resources Committee last week and would increase water allocations throughout the Valley by approximately 1.4 million acre-feet. That’s enough to irrigate over 460,000 acres of farmland or provide water to over one million families for one year.

  "This legislation gets our priorities right by putting our families, farmers, and ranchers above a tiny fish. Protecting our environment and ecosystems is important, and this legislation continues to do so while putting families first. This legislation will increase water supplies, create jobs and help ensure that our community can remain one of the top agricultural producers in the nation. This bill is expected to be debated on the House floor soon, and I will be voting for it so we can finally address the causes of California’s man-made drought that has contributed to too much fallowed land and unemployment in our communities.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cafe Med customers using iPads to order wine and the Wind Wolves Preserve gets some recognition

 * ... CAFE MED: It was bound to happen, and now comes word from Meir Brown that Cafe Med has converted to an iPad wine list. That's right, the popular Stockdale Highway eatery is now offering iPads so customers can select wines, make notes or even connect to the winemaker's website to learn more about what they are ordering. "They can even email the information and selections to themselves or their friends, all from their seat in the restaurant," Brown told me. "We are the first in Bakersfield to have these and are very excited about it! We look forward to feedback from our customers." 

* ... UNWED MOTHERS: My earlier post about the large number of children being born out of wedlock drew this response from reader Phyllis Smith.  "In regard to your piece about unwed mothers, I feel the press never lets up on announcing the celebrities who are pregnant, but unmarried.  No one seems to care and young people see this as being ‘just part of life.' I always remember how Ingrid Bergman was sent out of the country and her career was nearly destroyed because she was unmarried at the time of one of her pregnancies. Now it seems to be accepted more and more. How sad!"

* ... AWARD: Sunset magazine has singled out the Wildlands Conservancy for the "Best Education Program" in running the Wind Wolves Preserve in Kern County. The magazine said the preserve, which covers 95,000 access where the San Joaquin Valley meets the Transverse Ranges, boasts an excellent educational program for both families and students who come from families who live below the poverty line. (photo courtesy of Sunset magazine)

 * ...  BAD FORM: Steve Montgomery spotted my piece about a local businessman finding a diaper on his doorstep and added this: "To add insult to injury some jerk dumped a mattress in the alley behind my house Sunday morning while I was in church.  Of course the holiday made me wait until today to report the nasty thing."

 * ... OVERHEARD: A young professional woman complaining about her recent car accident. "So this car runs a red light and it hits me. The driver has no license and no car insurance and she leaves before the police get there. Just drives off! How many more people are out there like this?"

 * ... GAS PRICES: So are we ready for $4 a gallon gas? How about $5 a gallon, which is what many experts are predicting by the summer? How will prices this high affect your life?

 * ... FULLER BRUSH: How many of you remember the Fuller Brush salesmen who used to make calls at your home? I had no idea the company was still around until I read in the Wall Street Journal that the company has just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company still employs 180 full-time people and some 10,000 independent contractors.

Eye on First Friday: a tribute to our emerging downtown arts district

 The renaissance of the downtown Bakersfield arts scene continues and finds a new voice with "Eye on First Friday," a video blog by former TV talents Lisa Kimble Edmonston and Don Martin. Martin is the brainchild and creative genius behind First Friday, the monthly celebration of the arts. Enjoy

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Time to support the Cal State Bakersfield Runner baseball team, and remembering when "Ray Ray" the ice cream man roamed the city streets

 * ... BASEBALL: If it's almost spring it must be time for baseball, and there's no better place to take in some big time college baseball than Hardt Field out at CSUB. Now that we're competing in Division 1, the Runners will be taking on teams like UNLV, Southern Cal, North Carolina State, New Mexico State, Fresno State, Nebraska and the University of Washington. And this after taking on Kansas State and winning two out of three. CSUB Athletic Director Jeff Konya has also announced a plan to raise funds to improve Hardt Field. If you haven't taken in a game, give it a try. This is a team worth supporting.

 * ... MEMORIES: From my mailbag comes this note from  a reader named Dena, who wonders if anyone who grew up in South Bakersfield remembers the "Ray-Ray" ice cream truck that used to roam the neighborhood. "In his pristine little white truck with freezer attached, very clean,..., Ray-ray was always a very dapper gentleman always wearing a clean white shirt, little bow tie and black shiny shoes. He was so kind to all of us neighborhood children and my mother relied on his summer rounds every day, keeping my 'ice cream money' in a special Ray-Ray jar."

 * ... OVERHEARD: Only in Bakersfield "will I drive out of my way just to get a look at a new gas station (Sully's Chevron market at Buena Vista Road and Ming Avenue)."

 * ... SPOTTED: Former Bakersfield City Fire Chief Ron Fraze, along with wife Shelly, at the outdoor Prairie Fire grill at The Padre Hotel this weekend meeting with friends and supporters and talking politics. Fraze has submitted papers to run for the Ward One seat on the City Council to replace the retiring Sue Benham.

 * ... ART: Looking for some good, affordable art for your home? If so, make sure you swing by the Bakersfield Museum of Art when it offers quality, previously owned art for sale. These are works that have been donated to the museum. The event will be held Thursday, March 8, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets for Art A Go-Go are $50 before the event and $60 at the door. Call (661) 323-7219 for more details.

 * ... OPEN HOUSE: The Independent Living Center, which helps folks with disabilities live independently and with dignity, is holding an open house this Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will be food, a silent auction, a boutique and even Plinko to honor everyone who has helped support this organization. The event will be held at 5251 Office Park Drive.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Roy Ashburn readies for a run at county supervisor, but is Kern County ready for an openly gay elected official?

 * ... ASHBURN: Roy Ashburn, the longtime local political figure whose career seemed dead two years ago when he received a DUI and later revealed he was gay, is back in the limelight running for the First District supervisor's seat. Supporters, including local political consultant Stan Harper, point to Ashburn's long public service, local connections and commitment to our community as reasons why he should be elected. Is Kern County ready for an openly gay elected official? Can we put our prejudices aside and elect the person most capable of doing the best job?

* ... BAD FORM: Just when you think things are getting better comes a note like this from local financial planner Barry Rosenfeld. He was walking to his downtown office recently when "someone disposed of a dirty diaper right in front of the building. On Friday another individual dumped several small bags of trash as well as cigarette butts in front of our community mailbox. While my wife was waiting for me in the car on Saturday she witnessed a man dump trash on the grounds of the business I was in. When I went back to the car she ... told me what he had done. I walked back in the business and told him dumping trash was inappropriate behavior. So what happened next really amazed me; the manager of the business chastised me for causing tension and asked me to leave! I have a memo to those working for world peace: if we as a culture continue to condone irresponsible behavior you have little chance of achieving anything close to world peace!"

 * ... UNWED MOTHERS: Amazing to read in The New York Times this weekend that the number of children born out of wedlock is now the norm in our society. For the first time, The Times said children born to unmarried women "has crossed a threshold: more than half of the births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage." Once largely confined to the poor and minorities, the paper said the fastest growth over the past 20 years for having children out of wedlock has been among white women in their 20s. Overall, fully 73 percent of all black children are born out of wedlock. That compares with 53 percent of Hispanic women and 29 percent of whites.

 * ... CSUB: Kudos to three outstanding citizens who were named to the Cal State Bakersfield Alumni Hall of Fame. One is Nancy Chaffin, my colleague who serves as vice president of Human Resources and Operations here at The Californian. Joining her were retired county counsel Bernard C. Barmann Sr., and Jerry E. Scott. A dinner honoring the trio was held at The Petroleum Club, an event that attracted some 200 guests.

 * ... CARS: The annual vehicle reliability report from J.D. Powers is out and the good news is that cars are more reliable today than they have been for years. Heading the top of the list was Lexus, followed by Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota, Scion, Mercedez-Benz, Lincoln and Ford. At the bottom of the list were Jaguar, Ram, Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler, although the Chrysler products did do better than last year.

 * ... SPOTTED: District Attorney Lisa Green, a fitness buff, is spotted on a treadmill at a local club watching "Law and  Order" on one of the big screen TVs.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From Ben Ansolabehere: "You may be a Bakersfield original if you remember Blanc’s Garage and mercantile across from the Pyrenees CafĂ© or City Mercantile on 19th street. What an adventure for a young boy coming off the ranch on Saturday afternoon. Anything from fence posts to pins and everything in between."