Friday, December 7, 2012

House Majority Whip McCarthy: California's high speed rail project is a recipe for failure

 House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) provides us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "It’s always hard running a small business and in today’s climate, it's even harder. I remember waking up early cutting up vegetables getting ready for the lunch time rush at Kevin O’s Deli and staying late to finish payroll and close up. As you drive across town from the Marketplace to Rosedale Highway to downtown Bakersfield, you find many of our hometown small businesses. These entrepreneurs and their employees are the powerhouse of job creation in our local economy. Unfortunately, they’ll now endure more state and federal taxes along with higher premiums and regulations. The resurgence of the American economy and California economy depends on revival of small business growth, something some in Washington and Sacramento are forgetting.

  "This week I met with a group of small business owners who shared their challenges if the President raises their taxes. These tax increases would hit almost one million small businesses, cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and, according to the President’s own budget, supply enough annual revenue to keep the federal government open for only five days. I hear from local small business owners trying to figure out how to survive in today’s economy as health care premiums continue to rise, and over fifty cents out of every dollar earned could go toward paying just state and federal taxes. We cannot tax, spend, and borrow our way to prosperity. It will make it harder for small businesses to grow and create needed jobs for American families. In fact, when economists combined state, federal and, where applicable, local income taxes, plus payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, they found that the highest tax rate in California, which affects many small business owners, would hit 51.9%! This is not sustainable.

 "As we approach the fiscal cliff, Congress cannot ignore the spending side of the government ledger, and that’s why we must also carefully scrutinize all federal spending to reduce waste.  Few projects deserve more scrutiny than California’s high-speed rail project.  In my testimony this week at a congressional hearing about the viability of high-speed rail in California, I outlined our communities’ concerns with this project.  The ridership numbers don’t add up, private investment remains nonexistent, and meanwhile, the California High Speed Rail Authority continues to request more federal taxpayer dollars. This isn’t a recipe for success. The current high speed rail plan to be finished relies on another $38 billion from the federal government. As we work to reduce our debt, it is critical that we, as stewards of scarce taxpayer dollars, hold the California High Speed Rail Authority accountable for this billion-dollar project.

 "This week many recognized the birth of Winston Churchill and remembered what he said regarding taxes, “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” Churchill was right over a century ago and he’s right today. We must reform the tax code, cut spending and grow our economy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bako Bits: Kevin McCarthy will appear on Meet the Press Sunday to discuss the fiscal cliff, and are people really using ashes from their dead pets to create fake diamond rings?

  * ... PROP 30: It should probably not come as a surprise but much of the money raised by the new taxes approved by voters under Proposition 30 won't go to schools after all. At least that is the conclusion of The Orange County Register, which reported the money will instead be used to bail out the underfunded teacher's pension fund. Said the Register: "It took less than two weeks to confirm what we suspected: Much of the money from the Proposition 30 tax increases approved by voters is not going to go to schools, as advertised, but to teachers’ pensions. According to, 'More money for the underfunded California State Teachers Retirement System may be considered by the Legislature next year, thanks to new attention from lawmakers and a state budget deficit narrowed by a voter-approved tax increase this month.'"

 * ... PETS: Losing a pet is heart breaking, and some people will go to almost any lengths to keep that furry friend in their memory. But using their ashes to create a fake diamond ring? That's right, at least according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. It's a growing trend, in which the remains are used in the fabrication of fake diamonds so one can gaze into a ring and remember the departed. "The idea of turning the carbon in ashes into man-made diamonds emerged a decade ago as a way to memorialize humans," the paper said." Today, departed pets are fueling the industry's growth with a handful of companies selling diamonds, gemstones and other jewelry out of pet remains, including hair and feathers."

 * ... MEET THE PRESS: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) will be a guest this Sunday on "Meet the Press" to discuss the ongoing negotiations between House leaders and President Obama to avoid the fiscal cliff. Make sure to tune into KGET Sunday morning to take it in.

* ... KBAK: More reader feedback on KBAK parting ways with anchor Lisa Krch. From Hanford Lee: "My wife Nancy and I agree with Virginia Frazier.  We are sorry to see Lisa,  John (Dabkovich), Layla (Santiago) and Cambi (Brown) leave. So we made the logical move --we now watch Channel 17 and other local news sources."

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: Downtown's popular First Friday event returns this Friday night and this month's edition is billed as downtown holiday shopping night. Great Christmas gifts can be found at such local retailers as Kuka's Folk Art, House of Flowers, Curiosity Shop and even something for your pup at Biscuit Doggy Boutique. As usual galleries in the Arts District will be having new exhibit openings. Over at Metro Galleries artist Christine McKee's new show, "On the Homefront," premieres. This exhibit focuses on what military families deal with when their loved one's are away serving our country.  Twenty percent of opening night proceeds will be donated to NAMI Frontline of Kern County.

 * ... BAD FORM: From one of my regular contributors: "I was in the new Target on Stockdale Highway and saw a woman in the makeup aisle putting on eye makeup.  I thought it rather strange but figured she just didn’t have time to get ready to go so brought her makeup with her. Not. She was using the eye makeup from the display and when she finished her beauty routine she snapped the container shut and put it back on the display. Being a patient woman, I waited for the next clerk to walk by, showed it to her and she removed it. It is beyond my comprehension that anyone would do that."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Caltrans' recommendation to put a freeway through the Westpark neighborhood gets more heat from readers, and do you allow your dog or cat to share your bed?

* ... WESTPARK: My earlier blog about the plans by Caltrans to rip through Westpark to extend Highway 58 drew this response from former resident James Houck. "Your piece today and Lois Henry's were interesting to this old timer who remembers what Caltrans, abetted by the city of Bakersfield, did to stable neighborhoods in the 1950s and 1960s. They started ruining neighborhoods by turning 24th Street and Niles Street into one-way thoroughfares. Westchester and what is now called old Westchester are still dealing with that mess, as you well know. Then they ripped through some nice old neighborhoods to turn 58 (then 466) and 178 into freeways. The results can still be seen from H Street to about Cottonwood Road on 58 and from Union Avenue to about Haley Street on 178. No wonder those are among the highest-crime areas in the city. Westpark will join them soon."

 * ... PETS: A recent national survey revealed that of the American families that own pets, fully 70 percent of them allow their dogs or cats to sleep with them, a percentage almost equal to the number of married people who share the same bed. Surprised?

* ... MADISON: I wrote recently about the great Hollywood actor Guy Madison, who grew up in Bakersfield before a successful acting career in the 1950s. I apparently erred in reporting that he went to East High when in fact he graduated from the old Kern County Union High School. Said Joyce Hobbs: "After re-reading your column, I realized that Guy Madison must have transferred from East High to Bakersfield Junior College, on the same grounds those days as KCUHS. Darn, and all that time I thought he was a Driller!" You were correct Joyce. Mea culpa.

 * ... MORE MADISON: And there was this from William Upshaw: "I take exception to your piece about Guy Madison. His real name was Robert Mosley. He lived on Terrace Way, just east of Chester Avenue. He attended Kern County Union High School, not East High. He joined the Navy during WW II. He had bit parts in movies before he become Wild Bill Hickok. His family and my family were close friends."

* ... ADIOS KRCH: And another reader, Virginia Frazier of Lamont, wrote to express her dismay that KBAK TV had parted ways with anchor Lisa Krch. "This is just too much... John Dabkovich, Leyla Santiago and Cambi Brown.  I think management should seriously think about replacing news director Cristi Jesse. We are seriously considering switching to Channel 17 for our morning and evening news."

 * ... KBAK: And speaking of Krch, it looks like Amity Addrisi will be replacing Krch as anchor of the KBAK weekday newscasts. Amity has spent time as a morning anchor on Channel 29.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Longtime KBAK anchor Lisa Krch is leaving the station and questioning why Caltrans insists on plowing through a long established neighborhood to extend a freeway

* ... ANCHOR AWAY: Longtime KBAK/KBFX Eyewitness News anchor Lisa Krch has reportedly been let go by the CBS and Fox affiliates. Krch arrived in 1997 from Chico/Redding as morning anchor and later moved to the prime evening anchor slot. This latest talent change is one of many that news director Cristi Jesse has made since arriving at the duopoly last year.

 * ... WESTPARK: If you haven't read the column by Lois Henry on why Caltrans is insisting on plowing through the Westpark neighborhood to extend Highway 58, I recommend you do so. It is amazing to me that we would opt to destroy several hundred single-family homes and permanently divide a neighborhood just to save a couple of parks, which could easily be relocated and replaced.

* ... CALIFORNIA: There is little doubt that California economy is improving, but how you feel about that depends on where you live. Coastal areas are rebounding nicely, but the Central Valley and other inland areas are still struggling. According to a New York Times analysis, the Bakersfield metro area has a jobless rate of 13.4 percent compared to 7.7 percent in Santa Barbara and 7.9 percent in San Francisco. Fresno's unemployment rate came in at 14.9 percent, which the state average held at just over 10 percent.

 * ... WHAT RECESSION? Our jobless rate may be stubbornly high, but it hasn't stopped us from enjoying our favorite restaurants. I was out Saturday night and tried - unsuccessfully - to get a seat at both K.C. Steakhouse and Enso downtown, both of them doing booming businesses. We ended up squeezing in at Muertos in the Wall Street alley, but it's good to see the local eateries seems to be doing well.

 * ... HOT MARKET: And if you don't think the local housing market is heating up, consider this: A friend who works at Trader Joe's is being transferred and listed his house the day before Thanksgiving. By the Friday after Thanksgiving, he had five offers on his house and seven scheduled showings the next day. His listing agent: Laurie McCarty of Coldwell Banker.

 * ... CHRISTMAS NEEDS: The Centennial Medical Group has collected supplies for our troops overseas but is having trouble finding someone to help box them and ship them abroad. If you can help, contact Joanne Pearce at (661) 326-8989.

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that Guy Madison, the Hollywood star who played a starring role in "The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" in the 1950s, was from Bakersfield? He was born in Pumpkin Center and went to both East High School and Bakersfield College before heading off to Hollywood. He was married briefly to the actress Gail Russell and died in 1966.