Saturday, July 27, 2013

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy puts the spotlight on Valley Fever, announces first ever Congressional Valley Fever Task Force

 Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week, I am proud to announce the creation of the Congressional Valley Fever Task Force, which will take new strides to increase awareness in the fight against Valley Fever and promote the development of a Valley Fever vaccine.  The Task Force already has bipartisan support, including other Members from California, as well as from Arizona and Texas—other states where this disease is

  "Many, if not all of us, know a family member, friend, neighbor, or co-worker who has been affected by Valley Fever.  My good friend Lori Crown, who dedicates so much of her time to the Kern County Honor Flight Program, moved to Bakersfield from Hawaii in 2000.  Only a few months later she began to suffer flu-like symptoms, and it was some time before she was finally diagnosed with coccidioidomycosis (also known as Valley Fever).   While Lori is doing well today, there are thousands of others like her in our communities and across the American southwest who have caught Valley Fever and have had to go through the long, taxing experience of overcoming this disease.  There are millions more in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas who live in areas where the fungal spore that causes Valley Fever resides in the soil.

 "I believe public awareness is simply not where it could be for a disease that kills more Americans than the West Nile Virus each year.  However, Valley Fever affects less people than the flu or many other diseases, which presents problems to combating it.  For instance, developing a vaccine is costly and time consuming.  Because of Valley Fever’s regional nature, the return on investment might not make up the cost of developing a vaccine, or a treatment for that matter, compared to the flu because not enough people get the vaccine.  One of the goals of the Task Force is to pursue policies and activities that help encourage the development of a Valley Fever vaccine through collaboration with the public sector, academia, and the private sector.

  "I have also met with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci to discuss Valley Fever.  Within the Executive Branch, these officials are charged with protecting the public health and promoting medical research within the Federal government, and I am working with them to develop a strategy to help move towards vaccine development, as well as to increase awareness and prevention of Valley Fever.  Through the creation of the Task Force and encouraging the collaboration of the best minds throughout government, our communities, and our research centers, I am hopeful that we will have the resources, focus, and strategy to make great strides the treatment and prevention of this terrible disease.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Did high negative ratings sink the state Senate candidacy of Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez? Or was Andy Vidak simply more appealing to middle of the road Democrats?

 * ... PEREZ: One person who predicted the defeat of Leticia Perez in the state Senate race is Bill Thomas, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a longtime Republican insider and strategist. The last time I talked to Thomas, I asked him how a
Republican like Andy Vidak might defeat Perez in such a heavily Democratic district. His answer: Perez had failed to connect with voters on an emotional level and her campaign was perceived as highly negative. If Vidak could capture enough middle of the road Democrats, and apparently he did, he could win. Turns out Bill Thomas was right. Vidak will have to run again next year in a newly apportioned state Senate district. Perez, meanwhile, will fill out her Supervisor role wondering how she was unable to defeat a Republican in such a lopsidedly Democratic district.

 * ... LIFE LESSONS: I returned from lunch this week to find a heart breaking message on my voice mail. It was from a woman whose husband was dying of an undisclosed illness and whose friends and families have all but disappeared. She called to say she was moved by the story of Mark James, an old friend of mine who also is dying. Mark's lesson: live your life like every day is your last. Reach out to others and remember than in the end, it is the love of friends and family, not your bank account, that matters. "Like Mark the family and friends were there for my husband in the beginning," she said. "But they have disappeared too. People need to know that is matters to people when you are around."

 * ... PARKWAY: Earlier this week I suggested the idea that the public should be allowed a sneak peek of the Westside Parkway before it opens to cars and trucks. Susan Hamilton loved the idea and added this: "The suggested entry donation could be a plant or tree on the city's wish list!"

 * ... GOOD FORM: Spotted on a friend's Facebook wall: "I left my purse sitting in a basket in the Costco parking lot, wallet, phone and all. The person who took my space behind me was kind enough to turn it in instead of keeping it!"

 * ... BAD FORM: Shame on whoever was driving the Park Ranger white sedan that buzzed a bicyclist in front of Ethel's Corral last Sunday. "He must of been going 65 miles per hour on that curve and almost took me out," the cyclist told me. "The more I think about it the madder I get."

 * ... KARPE: Congratulations to Ray Karpe, the former president of Karpe Real Estate who is now director of operations at Stockdale Property Management. Ray told me the company manages 55 commercial properties with some 500 tenants that occupy two million square feet of space. Ray is a CSUB graduate who has been a longtime contributor to community causes.

* ... WATER SLIDES:  Here's a good thought considering the heat this summer. From Betsy Gosling: "I recently returned from British Columbia and noticed several water slides at various locations, mostly small towns. We really need a water slide in Bakersfield. Surely there is a private person and/or company who is willing to build one or two, nothing large, just a place for everyone, especially kids, to cool off in this weather. It is a win-win situation and would certainly be profitable.  Don't you know someone?"

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Westside Parkway will have a minimalist, 'hard scape' landscaping virtually devoid of greenery, and Barry Goldner drops out of supporting the Southwest neighbors trying to bring down a wall

 * ... WESTSIDE PARKWAY: Don't expect anything special in terms of landscaping on the new Westside Parkway. That's the word from city public works director Raul Rojas, who said Caltrans has changed (read that greatly pared down) its landscaping requirements due to budget constraints. Rojas said the Westside project will have "more of a hard scape," minimalist design as opposed to a more attractive, and expensive, look that was originally envisioned. He said worries about the Westside landscaping were "valid concerns" and the city has been looking at alternative funding issues. Stay tuned.

 * ... PARKWAY: And speaking of the Westside Parkway, wouldn't it be grand if the city would sponsor a day (or a few hours) when the public could walk or ride their bikes on it before the August 2 opening? Envision a sea of families and people, running, walking or biking to christen an open parkway devoid of cars and trucks.  (Bakersfield Californian photo)

 * ... WALL DISPUTE: The folks trying to restore a walking path between Amberton and Stockdale Estates got some bad news recently when attorney Barry Goldner decided he could not longer represent them. If you remember, Goldner had offered to represent the group pro bono, but he apparently had a change of heart. Why? Goldner declined to tell me, but speculation is someone put some pressure on Goldner to back off. Goldner is a partner in the law firm of Klein DeNatale and Goldner. (file photo of Barry Goldner)

 * ... BAD FORM: Ray Riley witnessed a bit of bad form recently while having breakfast at the 24th Street Cafe. Said Riley: "Across the aisle from our booth, were a couple in their mid 30s, certainly old enough to be able to tell the difference between a restaurant and a bar. The woman was talking extremely loud, laughing, and lacing her conversation heavily with 'F bombs,' completely unaware or uncaring of the presence of children in nearby booths. It has become apparent that some people have no consideration or manners towards anyone else... it's what I want and it's all about me!"

 * ... MEMORIES: More memories of our town when it was a smaller, quieter burg. From reader Bob Tackett: "I remember in 1960 about two weeks after meeting my wife (engaged after 12 days, married 53 years this November) my parents were going to Sequoia. Janet and I drove through Bakersfield and stopped at Stan's to eat. (We lived in Pomona at the time). Then in 1967 we moved to Bakersfield to start a business (United Auto Wrecking). My first memories of that restaurant (Senor Jose's) is that after moving to Bakersfield, my brother and I and our wives went to have dinner at that location. At the time it was a steak house called King Arthurs. We were so incensed at the price ($34) for the four of us, that we never returned. After King Arthurs it became Senor Jose's. I don't recall if we ever ate there. My brother, Dwight became the owner of A-1 Battery in 1979."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From retired Kern County Superior Court Judge Frank Hoover: on the old Bakersfield Open golf tournament.  "I caddied for my dad, Francis W. (Frank) Hoover, at both of them. He was the low amateur both years. I don't remember his scores but those few left who do remember his skills as a golfer won't be surprised at my memory that on the last day in the 1961 Bakersfield Open, he shot a 67 and hit all 18 greens. He played in the US Amateur at Pebble Beach that same year (a young kid named Nicklaus won). Thanks for the memories."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Westside Parkway gets ready to open, but what is with the moonscape landscaping? Or is there landscaping at all? And finally we will see an end to the state Senate 16th District race

 * ... PARKWAY: The good news is that the long awaited Westside Parkway will open August 2,  a welcome relief for all those folks who have battle traffic along Rosedale Highway and Truxtun to get
home. The bad news: what is up with the Iraqi-style landscaping, or seeming lack thereof? Let's hope the parkway landscaping doesn't end up looking like the dismal state of affairs along Highways 99 and 58.

 * ... MARK: My earlier posts from a friend who shared his inner most thoughts while battling cancer seem to have touched a lot of people. Barry Rosenfeld, a friend and fellow Rotarian, shared what he said while speaking to a Boys and Girls Club dinner. It is worth hearing. "When I visit clients and friends who are in the final stages of their life, whether in a hospital or at home with Hospice, not once has anyone asked me to bring them a picture of their boat or motor home or ski condo. You know what they say? They tell me they want their family close and they also say they wish that they had given back more. They wish they had given more money to their church or synagogue or to the homeless or to youth groups. But I know those of you in this room will not say those things when your time comes because you have given back. But tonight the one thing I do ask of you is to pay it forward by getting other people involved. Ask another person to volunteer their time or donate money.  I ask you to do this because we want them to know how good it feels to give back."

 * ... SPOTTED: A local car is spotted with a bumper sticker reading: "Honk if you love Jesus... Text while driving if you want to meet in person."

 * ... SENATE: Keep your eye on the special election Tuesday in the 16th state Senate District, a particularly nasty runoff between Supervisor Leticia Perez and Hanford cherry farmer Andy Vidak.  Republicans see it as a chance to reestablish themselves in a state where Democrats hold a strong majority, and money and flowed into both campaigns.

 * ... DIRICO'S: More on the old DiRico's eatery, compliments of Glen Stoller: "Thanks to Vickie Burke Shallock, Darlene Stewart and Jerry Beckwith for writing in about DiRico’s Italian Restaurant. It was my favorite spot in Bakersfield. My first experience with pizza was in 1956 when I was at Cal Poly. After a Mustang-Bulldog football game in Fresno, we went to a restaurant called DiChicos. I had my first pizza and fell in love with it. Shortly after that I discovered DiRico's in Bakersfield; oh the joy! Pizza is still my love and making it is a hobby of mine with a wood burning oven in my front yard."

 * ... MEMORIES: Joan Stain is one person in town who remembers the old days of the Bakersfield Bowling Academy. She moved here in 1963 and filled in for a friend who worked the desk, and never left. "I was hired permanently and not only worked the desk but also acted as league coordinator. That occurred in 1979 and I retired from Southwest Lanes in 1996 as the manager. Seeing the names of David Rangel, Mike Hicks, Jack Moore etc. brought back loads of memories for me," she said. "How I loved those days at the old BBA with Sarge at the help. He was truly special in my eyes."