Friday, March 9, 2012

McCarthy: Small business conference will feature CEO of CKE Restaurants, started with a hot dog stand and now a flourishing business

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

 "During the Great Depression, a Midwestern farm boy had few opportunities. Having quit school to help on his parents' Ohio farm, Carl Karcher jumped when his uncle offered him a job at his feed store in Anaheim. Karcher didn’t bring much more to California than a strong work ethic and the desire to succeed, but he soon married and started a new job delivering bread for a local bakery.

 "A popular hot dog stand on his daily route sparked an entrepreneurial hunch in Karcher and his wife, Margaret. In 1941, they took a leap of faith and a loan for $311, using their Plymouth as collateral, and bought their own hot dog cart.  In under five years, the Karchers opened a full-service restaurant. In 1956, the first two Carl’s Jr. restaurants opened, eventually growing into CKE Restaurants, Inc., a California company that owns thousands of restaurants worldwide, generates over $1 billion annually, and employs over 70,000 people in the U.S.

  "This is the kind of success story America needs more of. At home in Bakersfield and around our congressional district, one of the biggest concerns I hear is creating new jobs. That is why I’m hosting a Small Business & Innovation Conference in Bakersfield next week, and I’m pleased Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., will give the keynote speech. You can find additional details and how to RSVP below.

  "We also took a major step in Washington this week when the House passed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act to help start-ups and small businesses grow and create jobs. Supported by Republicans, Democrats and even the White House, this bipartisan legislation includes six key provisions to give entrepreneurs greater access to capital, remove red tape, and allow individuals to take a chance on the American Dream.

 "Start-ups and small businesses are the backbone of our economy. From the last recession to the beginning of the most recent one, small businesses generated seven million new jobs. Sixty percent were created by companies five years old or younger. Yet, because of regulatory restrictions and limited access to capital, start-ups are at their lowest level in years.

  "Think about CKE Restaurants. What started as a hot dog stand is now one of the most successful restaurant chains in the world. Think about other California success stories, like small businesses here at home in energy, agriculture, and other industries. I believe every entrepreneur should have the ability to work hard, pursue good ideas, and succeed.

 "The way to get America back to work is by empowering small businesses. The JOBS Act will help re-invigorate small businesses, encourage new start-ups to grow, and get America moving again. I look forward to hearing directly from local business owners so I can help address the economic and regulatory challenges they face, and encourage them and any interested members of our community to attend the conference Thursday, March 15th, from 8:00 a.m. to noon in the CSU Bakersfield Multi-Purpose Room. To RSVP, please email

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A fifth grader gets a lesson in the lack of civility by a BMW-driving mom and the Fox Theater prepares for a big anniversary

* ... BAD FORM: Robert Dobrzanski spent a recent afternoon watching his fifth grade daughter compete in a basketball game at a local Christian school. His daughter's team was beaten badly, but he was impressed with the sportsmanship displayed on the court and by most of the parents of both teams. That is, until he got into his car outside the school and a black BMW sedan pulled up next to them with the windows down. "I noticed the little girl from the opposing team in the car," he said. "I said, 'you are a very good player and congratulations on the win.' The little girl shyly thanked me. The conversation should have ended then but the mom said, 'Yes, it is especially fun when you win' and they drove off. We all know it is fun to win but does a Christian adult have to rub it in to a little 10 year old's face? Parents and adults need to lead by example and this lady needs to grow up. Just because you have a nice car and nice Gucci glasses and purse doesn't mean you can act like a jackass. Plus you have your kids at a Christian school. Baffling."

 * ... FOX TALES: The Fox Theater Foundation is planning a big celebration of downtown's majestic old dame, and it is looking for stories of folks who either worked there or visited over the years. Foundation member Phyllis Adams is looking for "Fox Tales," memories and incidents from the time the Fox opened on Christmas in 1930 and on through the years. If you have something you'd like to contribute, send it to the Fox Theater Foundation, 2001 H Street, 93301. The Foundation is also planning a Friends of the Fox Membership Drive starting this month and ending on June 14.

 * ... GOH: Another fund raiser, this one for 5th District Supervisor candidate Karen Goh, is planned for March 22 at The Metro Galleries downtown. The event is hosted by galleries owner Don Martin and Dr. Nick Hansa, owner of Chef's Choice Noodle Bar. Call (661) 322-2225 with questions.

 * ... SPOTTED: From a writer who identified himself only as Baseball Aficionado: "For consideration in your 'Spotted' section of Bakersfield Observed. Opening Day Ceremonies for Southwest Little League. 10,000 kids and parents eagerly awaiting the start of the season. Picture perfect day, not so picture perfect interruption as an impatient middle aged woman walks onto the field and interrupts the program multiple times as the emcee is speaking with some unfortuante exchange urging someone to move their parked car. Clearly she could have waited or handled this more discretely without having to put a damper on this beautiful morning.  What happened to patience as a virtue?"

 * ... THEFTS: Petty thefts are nothing new, particularly in this economy, but it doesn't take the sting out of it when it happens. A frustrated Ann Olcott wrote to tell me about her 20-year-old grand daughter, Jami, whose car was broken into at West High while teaching a Color Guard class. "Her new laptop and new GPS were stolen along with all her text books," she said. "Her friend, who was with her and also teaches Color Guard, had his new laptop stolen along with his wallet. Jami works for Kern High District and Standard School District teaching Color Guard to help pay her way through college. These are two hard working Bakersfield College kids, who teach high school and junior high Color Guard to pay for their college and living expenses. Insurance will not cover these item because Jami only has liability on her car. This is a huge loss for them. When will this stop?"

 * ... AGING AMERICA: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state with the youngest median age - 29.5 - is Utah. The state with the oldest median age? Maine at 42.7.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tree Foundation of Kern holds a fund raiser and remembering when Sam the Hippo graced old Bakersfield

 * ... TREES: One of the more lower profile but highly effective non profits in town is the Tree Foundation of Kern, which is devoted to bringing more shade to our community.  I have purchased trees through the Foundation to honor friends, watched them planted and then grow, and I will tell you this group does a lot of good for our community. This Friday, it's holding a fund raiser called "An Evening of Wine and Cheese" at The Metro Galleries on 19th Street. The cost is $50 per ticket or $85 for a couple, and it includes hors d'oeuvres and wine from Croad Vineyards. There will be a silent auction and artists showing "trees in art." Email Melissa Iger at tree or call (661) 325-6650.

* .... SAM: Frank Echenique is in the livestock transportation business, and he clearly remembers when Sam the Hippo lived in town. "We transported Sam from the Old Kern County Fairgrounds on North Chester to Larsen's Dairy on Wible Road. Sam was in the horse stalls. It took us all day... Sam did not want to go into ther cattle trailers... it was a fireman squirting water around the stalls that got Sam to go into the trailer. The news media left the fair grounds and then they were tired of waiting at Larsen's Dairy so Sam didn't make the news that day.  Also we had another encounter with Sam. We were asked to hide Sam as part of a scavenger hunt put on by Teen Challenge. He was hidden in our trailer at a church on Ming Avenue by where the Golden Corral resturaunt is now. We do remember Sam the Hippo."

 * ... RILEY'S JOURNEY: Riley Parker is a private investigator and friend, and occasionally I spotlight him in this space because I admire what he has done to whip himself into shape. At one time he weighted 232 pounds and was told by his doctor he was headed for a life as a diabetic. He changed his lifestyle, bought a  bicycle and committed himself to healthy eating and exercise. Where is he today? "After spending two months hovering in the 205-207 range, I met with my doctor at Kaiser-Permanente.  While that was a significant change from my all-time high of 232; my doctor suggested that I do an even more aggressive change to my lifestyle. What that really meant was going virtually Vegan in my eating habits. We did so with the help of a book entitled 'Eat to Live.' It took one week from the onset of those changes to attain, and then pass, my goal weight of 200. This morning, for the first time in two decades, I saw a '1' as the first number on my digital scale. Today, I set a new goal weight of 190.  I can’t describe how much better I feel…how many things no longer hurt, and how much energy I have. You must convince people my age, those original baby-boomers, to get off their butts, get some serious exercise, and to eat like paupers. It is the only way to overcome the affects of what our over-indulgence and wealth has done to us. The alternative is a really crappy fourth quarter of life. I’m going out on Saturday for a celebratory 50 mile bike ride." Well done, Riley. (photo of Riley and Jane Parker)

 * ... GOOD SERVICE: Sometimes it's the little things that count. For William and Pamela Goldman, it's the friendly Walmart greeter that they have come to appreciate. "I don't have his name, sadly, but he does his job in a professional manner. My wife and I require mobil carts to do our shopping, and this gentleman always finds one for each of us. Good deeds should be recognized."

 * ... MORE SERVICE: And speaking of service, Jeff Pickering wrote to praise the folks over at Action Sports who provided gold star customer service after he purchased a bicycle. Pickering is CEO of the Kern Community Foundation and is now cycling to work several days a week.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From Marlene Morales: "Geez, you know you’re from Bakersfield if you had your high school senior pictures or family photos  taken at Olin Mills back in the 1970s and 1980s."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Meet Zeb Smith, hero of the anti "Shame On" movement, on Californian Radio KERN 1180 Monday morning

 * ... STARDOM: Zeb Smith may not be a household name now but he's darn close to it. If you haven't heard, Smith is the local contractor who took on those folks who picket local businesses with the "Shame On" signs. Smith works as a non-union contractor and has long been fed up watching these Carpenter's Union workers picket local companies. When he saw them in front of the new Dewar's candy store in the Northwest, he thought "enough is enough." He made his own poster, reading "Shame on These ...(expletive)" and had his picture taken next to the banner. After posting on Facebook, the picture went viral and he's become an instant hero to legends of people who disagree with the "Shame On" protesters. I'll have Smith on Californian Radio KERN 1180 Monday at 9 a.m. Tune in to hear how Smith has become a hero to many in our community.

 * ... MATLOCK: Learned the other day that retired Bakersfield police chief Eric Matlock has been battling a serious illness that has left his weak. Matlock served as chief from 1999 to 2004 when he retired, and has remained active in our community. In 2007 he was inducted into the CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame. Keep Matlock and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

* ... SPOTTED: From reader Craig Holland: "A guy on a skateboard going around the (Garces) traffic circle against traffic! It is difficult enough on a bike going with traffic. He looks like a future nominee for an upcoming Darwin award."

 * ... LEADERSHIP: A new organization is seeking nominees to honor the "unsung heroes in our midst who represent the humble qualities of servant leadership." The award is named for the late civic leader Warren Carter, former president of Watson Realty. A breakfast to honor the winner is set for Thursday, May 3, at Stockdale Country Club. To nominate someone go to

* ... HISTORY LESSON: Another nugget from a June 1896 edition of The Californian: An advertisement for Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic promises that "it makes children as fat as pigs... just as good for adults." It was offered for sale by J.A. Hughes, "leading prescription pharmacist of Kern County."

 * ... SAM THE HIPPO: Randy Martin over at Covenant Community Services wonders who remembers a hippopotamus who used to live over near Sam Lynn Ball Park. "If it wasn't a hippo," he told me, "it was some other large beast."