Thursday, July 4, 2013

A young woman is attacked and mugged in downtown Bakersfield and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush makes a convincing argument for immigration reform

 * ... MUGGING: A young woman was the victim of a mugging and purse snatching last week in our downtown, a reminder that petty thefts and crime remain a problem in the arts district. It was last Thursday after the opening of a new show at the Bakersfield Museum of Art and the woman (I am
honoring her request to remain anonymous) had gone with friends to The Padre Hotel. While walking to her car around 9 p.m., she was jumped by four or five young men and women. She was roughed up but apparently scared them off by hitting the alarm button on her car keys. She suffered two black eyes but otherwise is okay. Ten years ago the downtown area was the scene of numerous crimes, but it has been relatively free of issues until this case.

 * ... IMMIGRATION: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made a convincing argument for comprehensive immigration reform in the Wall Street Journal the other day. Bush said the Senate reform bill, which could be improved, does something important by welcoming in more skilled workers that could lead to faster economic growth. "To grow economically, the nation needs more young workers, as the population is aging and its growth is slowing," he wrote. "Yet only 13 percent of the immigration visas each year are issued for work or special skills. Nearly two thirds go to relatives of existing residents under an expansive definition of family preferences that includes not just spouses and minor children but parents, siblings and unmarried adult children."

 * ... OVERHEAD: A Bakersfield couple is explaining to a friend why they left Las Vegas a day early. "We had to come home to get out of the heat!"

* ... BAD FORM: Nancy Vibe was at the Valley Plaza food court the other day when she witnessed behavior that, in her words, was "just plain rude." Nancy, as it turns out, has had nine surgeries on her right knee and three on her left and almost lost one leg to a flesh eating bacteria. But it didn't stop two mothers and their daughters from gawking and pointing at her legs. "So to have legs at all, is just fantastic for me. I will show them off no matter how awful those tasteless cows think they look," she said. Amen.

 * ... SPOTTED: A reader was driving in Stockdale Estates this week when she spotted a Post Office mail carrier leave her truck and stand amid lawn sprinklers to cool off. "I drove over to her and gave her bottled water ... She  said she always does this when it's hot and she dries quickly. We need to thank our mail delivery people who tolerate all the hot weather with no air conditioning."

 * ... WENDY: Hats off to Sophia Busacca and her team of DreamCatchers at Liberty High School who will be honoring the late Wendy Wayne next week with a "Pay iftForward Day." It is set for next Tuesday at Jastro Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those who show up will find suggestions of how to make our world a better place, all in honor of Wendy.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

McCarthy: On this Fourth of July, celebrating the wisdom of our Founding Fathers and the strength and courage that make our country great

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield and House Majority Whip, gives us his weekly view on this Independence Day week.

 "When President Reagan began his Fourth of July remarks from aboard the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy in 1986, he knew his speech was the only thing standing between a patriotic crowd and a huge fireworks
display over New York Harbor. He recalled a saying from his days back in Hollywood about never doing a scene with kids or animals, because they would always steal the scene. “Rest assured,” he said, “I wouldn't even think about trying to compete with a fireworks display, especially on the Fourth of July.”

"As members of our communities in California and Americans across the country look forward to celebrating with family and friends today, I will take a page from President Reagan’s script. But if one thing ought to be remembered, it is that all of today’s celebrations – from the Central Valley to the Antelope Valley to the Indian Wells Valley and all the way to the East Coast – are connected by the history of this day, July 4.  Summoned by Liberty Bell’s ring in 1776, Philadelphians gathered in front of Independence Hall to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Afterwards, shouting, muskets firing in the air, and bells chiming could be heard throughout the city. And as copies of the Declaration spread, the celebration rippled through the nation.

  "But the days and months leading up to Independence Day were dark ones. It was a time filled with uncertainty and danger. The Founding Fathers risked their lives when they signed the Declaration because they knew, as Thomas Jefferson said, that the principle of freedom itself was not enough - it had to be inherently inscribed within a foundational document. They were brave, and their courage not only inspired the fight for freedom but led our nation through the Revolutionary War. Their courage created the first nation founded on the principle that all people are born with the right to be free.

 “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The guiding principles of our democratic republic, these words also represent hope to billions around the world. From the local veterans I have the honor of meeting on Kern County Honor Flight trips to the young students in our communities who choose to attend U.S. Service Academies, it is thanks to all of the heroic women and men who selflessly fight to defend and protect our freedom that America continues to be a beacon of democracy and symbol of hope to the world.

 "There will always be obstacles that test our strength and unity as a nation, and foreign enemies who do not ascribe to our beliefs. It is easy to focus on what makes us different from each other. But the history of this day reminds us that America was not founded on an ethnicity or a religion, but a creed. We believe that every man, woman and child has an equal and God-given right to liberty, to a fair chance at happiness and success.  It is our duty to ensure that freedom is protected and preserved for generations to come.

  "In a letter to his wife, Abigail, from July 3, 1776, John Adams told her that Independence Day ought to be “celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival […] with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” So while we remember the history and honor the sacrifice made for our nation’s independence today, Presidents Adams and Reagan were making an important point: today it is also a day to have fun and celebrate.
 "Let Freedom Ring."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Former Congressman Bill Thomas rips into the Leticia Perez campaign, saying it is built on lies and distortions. Will going negative backfire on the Perez camp?

 * ... PEREZ: Former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas pulled no punches recently in giving his view of Leticia Perez, who is locked in a pitched battle for the 16th Senate District race against  Hanford cherry farmer Andy Vidak. Thomas characterized the Perez campaign as a shameful attempt to smear Vidak through half truths and distortions, and he called the July 23 16th Senate runoff one of the most important of the year. It may have been wishful thinking, but Thomas speculated that Perez's focus on character assassination could backfire because the relentless negative campaigning is turning off some Democrats and more middle of the road voters. Thomas made his remarks on First Look with Scott Cox. Perez campaign manager Trent Hager responded by saying "the thirsty Los Angeles-based real estate special interests are the ones who started the runoff with nasty, negative and personal campaign attacks against Leticia. The only reason these special interest players would be spending upwards of $1 million in a negative campaign trying to tear Leticia down is because they are after one thing, the Valley's water. And they know, based on Andy's prior track record of never voting to deliver water to the Valley, he is just their guy." The gloves are clearly off in this campaign.

 * ... IMMIGRATION: And speaking of former congressman Thomas, he was complimentary of the comprehensive immigration reform passed in the Senate, noting that four of the five Central Valley congressmen (Reps. Jeff Denham, Jim Costa, David Valadao and Devin Nunes) have spoken in favor of reform. The one who is coldest to the Senate plan seems to be Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House Majority Whip. Instead, McCarthy has been adhering to the Republican line that the House will come up with its own package. As Thomas said: the best way to kill legislation is to say the Senate reform bill simply isn't good enough.

 * ... HEAT: If you think it is hot here when the temperature hits 109, remember that it was 127 in Death Valley and 113 in Las Vegas this week.

 * ... FREEDOM: Thanks to my regular contributor Gene Bonas for this thought in honor of July Fourth: "Depending on which source is used, World War II veterans are dying at a rate of a thousand to fifteen hundred each day.... (including)  submarine veterans, who gave everything for the freedoms we enjoy today. The month of June during Word War II was a bad month for sub losses. Seven submarines and 402 men were lost. The month of July was not as bad: Three submarines and 204 men were lost. It's interesting to note that from 1900 to the present day, a total of 65 United States Navy submarines have been lost.  Of those 65, 52 subs and a total of 3,889 men were lost during World War II. "

 * ... ACHIEVER: Kudos to Julianne Toler-Schmidt, a local girl who is headed to the University of Georgia as an assistant professor. Julianne went to Bakersfield Christian High and later to Point Loma University. After that she earned her master's and doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Said her proud father, retired Bakersfield city battalion chief Larry Toler,  "She's going from being a 'Tar Heel' to being a "Bulldog" or in my mind a Georgia Peach." Her mother, Marilyn, is a retired reading specialist with the Norris School District.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Former House and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas to appear on First Look with Scott Cox on Monday at 9 a.m., and more dirty diapers left in the scorching sun

 * ... ENERGY: Did you know that more than 70 percent of the oil and gas produced in California comes from the fields of Kern County? Taken alone, Kern County produces 10 percent of all the oil and gas produced in the country. Yet, the state still imports half of its gas and oil annually, a fact that Rep. Kevin McCarthy is blaming on overbearing and restrictive regulations. McCarthy called this "unfathomable" particularly in view of the untapped reserves located in the Monterey Shale.

 * ... THOMAS: Make sure you tune into First Look with Scott Scott Monday at 9 a.m. when our guest will be Bill Thomas, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Opinion page editor Bob Price will get his thoughts on a variety of issues, from national topics like immigration reform to local news like the stink in the southwest over a homeowner boarding up an entrance to his cul-de-sac. Tune in at 9 a.m. at KERN Newstalk 1180 or watch it live on

 * ... GOOD DEED: Here's a nice note from Gail Romley over at Curves. It turns out that one of the members at Curves in Dawn Baumgarten, who owns Log Cabin Florist. She lost a valuable and sentimental ring at the club and was thrilled that it was turned in. "She was so thankful that it was turned in that she brought in 125 long stemmed roses for all the members to show her appreciation for getting it back. Some may remember that Log Cabin Florist has given out free roses for Good Neighbor Day in the past. You could go in, get a free dozen but you had to give them to others. What a neat way to put a smile on someone's face! I was the recipient of one of the roses in the past, and it was a member here at Curves."

 * ... BAD FORM: Shame on the mother who changed her baby's diaper in the back seat of her black GMC SUV and then casually left it in the parking lot of the Target on Rosedale Highway Saturday afternoon when the temperature hovered around 104.

 * ... MEMORIES: Local attorney William R. Go read an earlier blog post about the 1960s band Strawberry Alarm Clock playing at the Golden State Lanes and added this: "It was the summer of 1967 and I was in a band that played before they performed. If I recall we were paid $60 (the entire band) for our performance. Also performing around this time at the same venue was a group called 'Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band' whose hit was 'DIDDY WAH DIDDY.' The Golden State Lanes also had a restaurant called the 'Hoffbrau' which was briefly popular."

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You may be a Bakersfield old timer if you ever went out to Meadows Field and skated the landing strip with your roller skates until workers drove you off. After being chased off, Rocky Robins said his crew would run over to Stan's Drive-in on Union for a burger.