Friday, March 15, 2013

House Majority Whip McCarthy: reform entitlement programs, simplify our broken tax code, repeal Obamacare and stop spending money we don't have

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip, gives us his first-hand view from Capitol Hill. In his own words:

  "Whether you are a parent prioritizing spending for your family needs or a college student mapping out your first budget, households and individuals here in Kern County and across the country create budgets to serve as a kind of roadmap that helps us make ends meet.  The federal budget is no different – it serves as a blueprint of fiscal responsibility for our nation. The new budget released this week by Chairman Paul Ryan with my full support achieves this by putting us on a path towards real economic growth and a balanced budget. 

 "Unfortunately, after 1,400 days without producing a budget at all, Senate Democrats announced a predictable plan that relies on hefty tax increases and never achieves a balanced budget. Similarly, we have a President who has never even met a deadline to submit a budget. His last budget failed 414-0 in the House. It’s time Washington changed course.

 "We all know we are facing over $16 trillion in debt as a nation, but let’s put that in perspective. If you just take away some zeros and put it in context with a family’s household numbers, you find that on average, the family brings in $24,000 a year, but spends approximately $35,000. So they add $11,000 to the credit card. But on this credit card they already owe $160,000. That’s the magnitude of the debt we are currently facing as a nation and it’s not sustainable.

 "We can’t get out of our debt crisis by continuing to spend irresponsibly. The budget my colleagues and I laid out this week is a commonsense plan that balances the budget in ten years. Here’s how:

1.      Stop spending money we don’t have by cutting the waste. On the current path, we’ll spend $46 trillion – a 5 percent increase each year. Our proposal reduces spending by $4.6 trillion, slowing spending growth to 3.6 percent and balancing the budget by 2023.

2.      Simplify our broken tax code by closing loopholes and consolidating tax rates to just two brackets -10 percent and 25 percent - to create jobs and increase wages.

3.      Protect and strengthen healthcare by repealing the President’s health care law and replacing it with reforms that focus on the patient. It also protects and strengthens Medicare without changes to those in or nearing retirement.

4.      Reform entitlement programs so they remain intact for future generations. Our plan gives states flexibility in tailoring programs like Medicaid and food stamps while helping them to get people off of the welfare rolls and onto payrolls.

 "If we take these steps, we can tackle the real drivers of our debt without raising taxes on hardworking Americans.  This week I held a tele-town hall with nearly 10,000 people in Bakersfield. I asked the callers if they agreed with the our plan to balance the budget in ten years and a staggering 88 percent responded “yes.”  I agree that it is past time for leaders in Washington to act, and next week the House will vote on this new budget plan. I will continue to fight for policies that will allow the economy to grow, foster more private sector job creation and restore the American Dream for future generations.

Get ready for First Look with Scott Cox, a joint venture of The Bakersfield Californian and American General Media to produce a daily, three hour local news show simulcast on radio and streamed live on video

 On Monday First Look with Scott Cox will debut live from the newsroom of The Bakersfield Californian. This is the first joint venture of its kind in the nation, pairing the leading local newspaper with the local leader in local talk radio. 
 It will feature news, sports, weather and entertainment each day from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. It will be simulcast on KERN 1180 while streamed live in high definition video on, the leading web portal in Kern County.
 It will feature the reporters and editors of the Bakersfield Californian along with newsmakers and in-depth analysis. Guests for the first week include House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, Monsignor Michael Braun, local singer and country artist Monty Byrom, Californian columnist Lois Henry and much more.
 Tune in Monday at 7 a.m. Listen to it on KERN 1180 or view it live on your computer or iPad by going to

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More details on the folks behind the rezoning in the River Run area of the Southwest, and Baynes Bank leaves Mission Bank to join Wells Fargo Bank

* ... BLACK OPS: There's some new information about the group known as "Black Ops" that is behind the proposed rezoning of vacant property in the Seven Oaks area. The rezoning, which will go before the Bakersfield Planning Commission next week, has triggered opposition from residents in the River Run and Seven Oaks neighborhoods who are opposed to apartments backing up to their homes. One of the principals behind Black Ops is Matthew Paul Wade, who clarified who is backing the deal. Two others listed as Black Ops principals, dairyman John Bidart and Donald R. Judkins, are not involved, according to Wade. Bidart told me he has done business with Wade before under the "Black Ops" name but was not involved in this deal.

 * ... HOUSING: Baynes Bank has left Mission Bank to join Wells Fargo as a regional builder sales consultant. His role: to establish relationships and alliances with builders in the San Joaquin Valley north to Oregon. This is yet another signal that the housing market is rebounding and that the banks are preparing for a surge in new home construction. Prior to Mission Bank, Bank worked for Lennar's Bakersfield Homebuilding Division. He is a graduate of the University of the Pacific and he and his wife, Natalie, have four children.

 * ... CELL PHONES: Perhaps it's no surprise, but several new studies are affirming what most of us already believe: that "overheard cell phone conversations are far more distracting and annoying than a dialogue between two people nearby." That's the conclusion of a study carried by The New York Times, which reported that a "growing body of research on why cellphones rank so high on the list of modern irritants." Apparently studies show that when folks are "trapped next to a one-sided conversation - known nowadays as a 'halfalogue' - their anger rises in the same way it does in other situations where they are not free to leave, like waiting for a train." (photo courtesy of The New York Times)

 * ... HOMELESS: Few things reflect the state of the economy than the homeless encampments along the dry Kern River bed, prompting this note from Patricia Marshall. "The huge tree by the river bed is dying, it no longer provides camouflage for the many make-shift tents beneath it. The garbage is piling up, where there was little there now is a lot. I wonder how they survived the cold winter, those who have made their shelter under that tree. It's easily seen by all who travel east on Golden State into our city and look down to the river on the south side. I'm surprised they have not been offered more appropriate accommodations. Perhaps they'll move on once the tree is gone."

* ... BIKE PATH: Hats off to new City Councilman Bob Smith who worked with city staff to get the bike path restriped. The striping from Manor to Stockdale Highway had become worn but city staff is now busy putting down new paint thanks to a request from Smith.

* ... WALLY TUCKER: Joe Stormont added a little context into Wally Tucker, otherwise known as the "Sheriff of Datsun Country." The old Datsun dealership was located at 19th and Baker streets (now a paint store near WoolGrower's). "In the 1960s and 1970s Wally Tucker did a lot of corny local TV advertising with George Day, with Wally riding his horse and being announced as 'the Sheriff of Datsun Country.' Just ask anyone you know who may have lived here between 1960 and 1980, they will remember Wally Tucker, along with George Day, Uncle Woody etc."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bakersfield Country Club area is hit with a rash of break-ins and burglaries, while residents in the Seven Oaks area gear up to fight a proposed zoning change that would allow apartments in a residential area

 * ... BREAK INS: The neighborhood in the Bakersfield Country Club area has been hit with a rash of break ins and burglaries that seem to grow bolder and more alarming by the day. One resident told me most of the break-ins happen in the middle of the day when a group of young men knock on the door, and if no one answers, kick it in and make off with valuables. In one recent case, they busted down the door only to find the residents at home. They fled but the local neighborhood watch group is circulating a picture of three young suspects caught on a surveillance camera. (flyer compliments of the neighborhood watch group)

* ... ZONING: Expect an overflowing crowd when the Bakersfield planning commission meets next week to consider the rezoning of a piece of land in the Southwest area that now is surrounded by single-family homes. Bright yellow "no zone change" yard signs have popped up in the Seven Oaks and River Run neighborhoods to oppose the rezoning of a piece of land to allow apartments. The group asking for the zoning change is called "Black Ops" and it includes local dairyman John Bidart, Matthew Paul Wade and Donald R. Judkins, according to a website established by the opponents.  Residents are promising not to go quietly and are lobbying city council members and those on the planning commission. The hearing is set for Thursday, March 21.

* ... SPOTTED: The parking lot in front of the dollar theaters on California Avenue is littered with at least three dozen soda cups, roughly equivalent to the number of parking spaces, after a recent showing.

 * ... SLEEP: If you have chronic insomnia, you may have more to worry about that the lack of sleep. According to The New York Times, insomnia may increase the risk of heart failure. "After controlling for numerous health, behavioral and demographic factors, the researchers found that having one symptom of insomnia was associated with a 17 percent increase in the risk of developing heart failure," the Times said. It added: "Insomnia was a risk independent of other cardiovascular risks, and the authors suggest that chronic insomnia leads to higher blood pressure and higher heart rate, known risk factors for heart failure."

* ... RUGBY: How many of you knew that Bakersfield has its own rugby team? Donald Taylor calls it one of the "best kept sports secrets" in town, and it happens every winter at Standard Park. "I'm talking about the Kern County Tuskers Rugby club. These guys are not football wannabes. This is their own thing. They play in the smash mouth Southern California Rugby Football Union. Next game is at Standard Park at 1 p.m. this Saturday against San Fernando and is their last home game before the playoffs. The effort these guys put forward every game is phenomenal and and really deserve your support. You will not be disappointed. Bring a chair. Hope to see you Saturday and Semper Fi."

 * .... BAKERSFIELDISM: Courtesy of reader Joe Stormont: "You're a Bakersfield old timer if you remember who the Sheriff of Datsun Country was. (Wally Tucker)."

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Get ready for some more political musical chairs as all the usual suspects line up to run for the 16th state Senate seat left vacant by Michael Rubio

 * ... SENATE RACE: The jockeying for position for the vacant 16th State Senate seat makes for good political theater, but the inevitable musical chairs has become tedious to watch. Both 5th Supervisor Leticia Perez, and Assemblyman Rudy Salas, have said they are flattered by all those supporters urging them to run. Yet Perez has been in office just three-plus months and Salas has only been in the Assembly for two months. But ambition seems to have no bounds, and my guess is Perez is ready to cash in the county role and go back on the campaign trail with Dolores Huerta in tow for a chance of serving in Sacramento. And Salas? Who knows, but wouldn't it be nice if politicians just stayed put to serve at least a half, or a third of their elected term?

 * ... NORIEGA: Is there a better dinner in town than what the folks serve at the Noriega Hotel? It's no wonder that Noriega's won a James Beard Foundation award and has received a recent wave of positive national publicity. It's not a low caloric event, and you have to make reservations, but if you haven't been in a while, it is certainly worth a visit.

* ... DOWNTOWN: Local Republican activist Karen DeWalt is a downtown resident happy to hear that the Smart and Final on F Street will soon be remodeled, but wonder why other local businesses couldn't clean up their acts. "This is the only grocery store for the Westchester area and it would be greatly appreciated if the surrounding businesses would clean up their mess: Golden State Mall, the Dollar Store, Laundermat, Airport Bus. Smart and Final keeps its parking lot clean and presentable and we are fortunate to have them."

 * ... STARS THEATER: It's nice to see local non profits trying something other than a golf tournament to raise money. One of the more innovative fund raisers is being put on by the Bakersfield Music Theatre and Stars Music Theatre Restaurant out at the Kern County Gun Club, where they will hold a shoot, lunch and raffle on Saturday, April 20. The cost is $90 per person and it all starts at 7:30 a.m. Casll (6671) 325-6100 to register.

 * ... BROADWAY: Ready for a little Broadway in Bakersfield? The non-profit Lightwave Education is holding a fund raiser on Friday, March 13, at Stockdale Country Club featuring a couple of accomplished singers (Darnell Abraham and Nadine Risha) who will belt out some classic Broadway tunes. It starts with a reception at 6:30 p.m. with the music kicking off at 7:30 p.m. VIP tickets are $75, regular tickets are $50 and students get in for $25. Tickets are on sale at or you can call (661) 381-7644.