Friday, August 2, 2013

McCarthy: House acts to rein in excessive government regulations and a new bill would streamline the regulatory process for commercial spacecraft

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Bakersfield Republican and House Majority Whip, gives us his weekly report from Capitol Hill:

 "We all know the burdens that costly regulations have on our everyday lives.  Excessive red tape is costing our economy billions and making it harder for small businesses to expand and grow.

"Too often, federal agencies act unilaterally on rules and regulations without considering how they harm the economy and undercut American businesses from creating jobs.  This administrative abuse against our local small business owners is troubling as our economy continues to limp along and over 11 million Americans remain out of work.  Today, we acted to hold federal agencies accountable and require transparency to their rulemaking process so that any costly rule that will have negative economic impacts or will result in the loss of jobs cannot be implemented without congressional approval.  Today’s vote ensures that the American people and businesses affected by federal regulations will have their voices heard.

 "This week, Congress reintroduced and passed H.R. 367, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2013 (REINS Act) that simply asks to have an up or down vote on costly regulations. No major regulations should be instituted by a federal agency without the vote of Congress.  This legislation would ensure there are proper checks and balances to hold federal agencies accountable.

"Also today, I introduced the Suborbital and Orbital Advancement and Regulatory Streamlining (SOARS) Act. The bill would streamline the regulatory process for commercial spacecraft, ensuring that the commercial spaceflight industry can continue to innovate quickly and safely, creating high-quality local jobs in the process.  I have seen firsthand how the talented people of East Kern County have grown this industry through technological advancement, and this legislation would help ensure they are not hindered in creating jobs here locally.

This bill would:

• Ensure that innovative launch and reentry vehicles have a “one-stop shop” for regulatory oversight, instead of dealing with two or more separate sets of regulatory requirements.

• Fixes a technical issue with current law to allow vehicle manufacturers to use individual vehicles as test platforms while other individual vehicles are being used in commercial service. Current law requires all vehicles of the same design either to be used for one purpose or the other.

• Creates a demonstration project to evaluate the benefits of using experimental aircraft to support launch and reentry activities.

• Promote safety and innovation by unifying regulatory oversight, allowing companies to test safety improvements rapidly, and providing opportunities to develop new approaches to supporting launch and reentry activities.

The recent July jobs report shows a sluggish economy with 11.5 million Americans still out of work. These pieces of legislation are real solutions to ensure that our local economy can thrive by creating an environment where innovation and job creation can occur without the excessive burdens of onerous government regulations.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Andy Vidak to appear at Bear Mountain Sports this Saturday, and introducing the new Witch Fingers grapes from the Pandol family in Bakersfield

 * ... PANDOL GRAPES: How many of you have seen the new Witch Fingers grapes developed in Bakersfield by the Pandol family? They do look amazingly like pointed fingers, and they were recently featured in the New York Times. Said the Times: "Here’s a showstopper on the table: elongated, seedless, maroon grapes, called Witch Fingers, that were developed by crossbreeding native American grapes from the East with Mediterranean varieties. They are grown by the Grapery, a specialist in Bakersfield, Calif., and are available until the end of August. Only about an inch long, the grapes have a flavor that almost suggests plums. Serve them with cheese, in a salad with ricotta salata and rosemary, or arrange them on custard tartlets."  (photo courtesy of The New York Times)

* ... VIDAK: Andy Vidak will be making an appearance this Saturday at Bear Mountain Sports to thank Kern County voters for helping him defeat Leticia Perez in the recent state Senate runoff. Gene Thome, the owner of the gun shop, told me the Hanford cherry farmer be at the Weedpatch Highway showroom at 10:30 p.m. Vidak's appearance comes while The Bear is holding its annual deer and dove sale, an annual event that includes music and a raffle for an AR-15 rifle.

 * ... MARK'S STORY: The latest installment from my friend Mark James, who I reconnected with after a 35 year absence. I share it only because I find it so compelling and relevant in how we all approach our lives and the regrets that live within all of us. Mark was extremely successful in financial terms, but privately lived in hell. He was gay and never came out. Said Mark: "I was a university student, president of my class, and worked for the Georgia Senate Majority Leader in 1975 and 1976 during the legislative sessions. Again, even deeper into the closet. I kept myself working so hard I left no time for a social life. The loneliness was palpable but I believed I had no choice so I persevered. After getting my degree I served in the US Navy, stationed at the Pentagon as an editor in the Office of Special Correspondence, Congressional Liaison and Naval Ombudsman, reporting to two admirals and the Secretary of the Navy. This was great work and that is where I came to fully appreciate the power of helping others in meaningful, life-changing ways. I had never met as many gay men as I met at the Pentagon in the Naval Service. Many more Marines than Sailors. All living closeted, paranoid lives. We all compensated by being regarded as the highest performing, most dedicated, most trusted, most educated. Still, we were, effectively, strait-jacketed; always aware that our high security clearances made us susceptible to frequent background checks. I lived in the barracks with a man m  age, in the same room, for two years. Only years later did we learn each of us was gay.  As I look back I wonder why I lacked the courage to come out. In fact, this recent correspondence with you is the most I have outed myself in my life. I guess because I have nothing to lose now, and am finding writing about it to be healing."

 * ... PARKWAY: With the opening of the Westside Parkway, Cathleenn Colbert submits this thought on its design. "Let's save some resources and hardscape the Westside Highway. Cover the slopes with concrete and then take advantage of our local artists to create murals and sculptures. Let's create a drive-thru art museum!"

 * ... MORE PARKWAY: And then there was this from Brad Rios. "My wife Katy and I live near the new Westside Parkway. When you look at the new parkway it's a far cry from the proposed lush one shown to the community three years ago. It takes the term 'hard scape' to a whole new level. As we were driving by the parkway the other day my wife said, 'Westside Parkway? More like Westside Barkway!' So, until it looks closer to the proposed development we believe the Westside Barkway is a more fitting title."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A dying friend shares a painful personal story of regrets and success, plus is the local real estate market getting too hot for its own good?

* ... MARK'S STORY: Occasionally I have shared with you the story of Mark James, a friend of mine from long ago who is dying in Atlanta. We knew each other when we were young (I was a reporter and he was a congressional aide) but he had a dark secret that he only shared after reaching out to me after many years. He is now on pain killers, dying and alone in his thoughts. It turns out Mark was gay, and growing up in the conservative South meant he lived with his secret all those years. Many of you have been kind to reach out to him, and I have passed your thoughts along to him. His latest note to me: "Coming out in my youth would have meant career suicide and banishment from my family (when they suspected those 'certain tendencies' when I was 13, I was promptly sent off to a state mental hospital for eight weeks to be cured.) So I learned to project a cured state in order to be home. Subsequently I made certain my closet was very secure and stayed there; always with two or three books a week. I figured out the reality that gay men were made safe only by their discretion, education, and the acquisition of wealth. By the time I met you I had found a public voice to compensate for my private hell." On Friday in this blog: Mark joins the Navy.

* ... FLIPPING: Have the house flippers returned to the local real estate market? They have down in Los Angeles, to the point where experts are warning that the market may be on the verge of overheating. According to the Los Angeles Times, investors flipped 1,377 homes in May. That's a level that hasn't been seen since 2005, and that worries experts. Locally, Realtors tell me the flippers are here too, just not in the numbers seen farther south. That explains why local homes are selling so quickly, often above the asking price, which is good for sellers I suppose but it also makes it near impossible for buyers to find something on the market.

  * ... BAD FORM: Nancy Candler witnessed some really bad behavior recently and passed along this note. "This last weekend while traveling north on Union Avenue, I witnessed a man walking on the south side of the street with his dog. Moments later, I saw a huge 64 ounce Styrofoam cup hurling from a white van to the pedestrian's head. Thank God it did not make full contact. I was mad, and I was not going to let these scumbags get away with such hateful behavior. So I whipped out the iPhone and took a picture of their van. Because they witnessed me taking their picture, they egged the back right side of my car. Thank goodness my  husband can put on a mean coat of wax on my car, it came off pretty easy. These hateful gorillas are driving a white Honda van..., If you live near these pigs, smash a couple dozen Farmer John  grade As on their ride... I will pick up the tab.

 * ... OVERHEARD: At a local Starbucks a young man is chatting with a friend: "Only in Bakersfield do we get excited about a new freeway opening." The Westside Parkway opens this Friday.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here's a memory of a simpler time when life was innocent. Brenda Collins was 7 years old in 1953 and living on Charlana Drive in Oildale. "My neighbor boy and I decided to walk to the Bakersfield airport. We struck out pulling a red wagon and leading my dog, Jet. When we got to the airport we went through the gate and into a hanger and climbed a whole lot of steps up to the control tower. We knocked on the door and a very nice man let us in and showed us around then told us we had to leave, so we did and walked back home. Try doing that today!:"

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The fight continues to find a vaccine for Valley Fever, a gunman tries to rob a cyclist at Beach Park and the Audelos say goodbye to Bakersfield

* ... VALLEY FEVER: If you are new to town, you need to learn about valley fever, a potential deadly illness that is indigenous to Kern County and a few other parts of the Southwest. There is no vaccine for it, and in many cases it is easily misdiagnosed. Which is why I was glad to hear that Rep. Kevin McCarthy has created a
Congressional Valley Fever Task Force to find a vaccine for the fungal spore that triggers valley fever in so many people. McCarthy said 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."

* ... BEACH PARK: There was an ugly incident at Beach Park Saturday morning that should be shared with anyone who gathers there to run, exercise or ride bikes. A cyclist was getting his bike out of his truck around 5:30 a.m. when a young Hispanic man approached him, flashed what appeared to be a .45 caliber pistol, and demanded his money. "I told him I didn't have any, which was true," the man said. "So he says, 'then I will shoot you' and he pulled up his shirt to show the gun. I told him again I didn't have any and then he asked for my cell phone, which was in the truck. I said I didn't have one. He told me to get on my bike and leave.  Last time I saw him he was walking down the bike path."

 * ... VETERINARIAN: Another shoutout to the good folks over at the Rosedale Veterinary Hospital. Lisa Beason wrote that the vets at Rosedale have care for her two rescued Greyhounds, Dasha and Chloe, since 2005.  "Dr. Sheahan was recommended by my rescue group because of her expertise in caring for ex-racing Greyhounds. Like (other readers), my family has experienced the extraordinary professionalism, empathy and care that Dr. Sheahan and her staff extends to all of their clients.  Our girls are age 10 and 11; and I know the time to say goodbye will come much too fast. But I also know the team at RVH will help and support us. There is definitely a special place in heaven for dogs and veterinarians. Thank you for sharing this story."

 * ... ADIOS: Our community is losing a local couple who have always worked to make this a better place to live. Mimi Audelo, head of special projects at San Joaquin Community Hospital, and husband Joe, a banker at Wells Fargo, have sold their Southwest home and are moving to Santa Barbara. Joe will be working at Wells Fargo on the coast and Mimi will be looking for new work. Good luck to them both.

* ... 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?"