Friday, October 4, 2013

McCarthy: While people suffer, the White House refuses to negotiate and sits on the sidelines and watches as Rome burns

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

 "As the government shutdown dominates the headlines and discussion, it is mind boggling to me that the Senate and the Administration refuses to engage in any talks to resolve this situation.  And the one instance when they did call to meet, it was to reiterate they refuse to talk.

 "First, let me be very clear – neither I nor my colleagues wanted a government shutdown. Before the September 30th deadline, the House of Representatives passed three continuing resolutions to fund our government with amendments that had bipartisan support.  We passed legislation out of the House asking for a delay of Obamacare for individuals just like businesses got, a permanent repeal of the Obamacare tax on pacemakers and other medical devices, and treating Members of Congress, the Senate, and the President and his staff like every other American under Obamacare.  And sadly, the Senate refuses to act and the White House continues to sit on the sidelines.  I cannot imagine any President, at a time of a government shutdown, not providing presidential leadership, and instead allowing more burdens to be imposed on the American public.

 "The House continues to try to lessen the burdens on the American people.  We have passed this week legislation that will fund our veterans, our national parks, our medical research institutions, and other federal operations.  The Senate can act and they should act now.

 "As this Administration tried to roll out Obamacare, we saw what we have been saying for some time  it is not ready for primetime.  The more Americans learn about the law, the more they want it delayed.  The President himself is giving reason for the need to delay the law; he has already unilaterally delayed provisions in Obamacare ten times, including giving businesses an exemption from penalties and taxes that individuals are still faced with.  Just as President Obama was announcing another delay of Obamacare, he was attacking those who wanted to delay this unworkable law.

 "The President has said that in divided government, no one gets 100% of what they want.  We simply ask that his words match his actions. I hope that Senator Reid and the Senate Democrats and President Obama start working with us so we can resolve the challenges that face the American people.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The best image from the government shutdown: World War II vets pushing back barriers to visit the WW II memorial in Washington, D.C. And a woman searches for her beloved lost Yorkie

 * ... HONOR FLIGHTS: One of the more inspiring images to come out of this regrettable government shutdown are the dozens of military veterans crossing the barricades to view the World War II memorial. Two groups of Honor Flight veterans, one from Mississippi and one from Michigan, removed the barriers the National Park Service had erected to keep people out. The irony, of course, is that these men and women are visiting a memorial that honors their own service. And why the government felt the need to "close" the memorial by erecting barricades is beyond me. They are, after all, memorials erected outdoors so folks can view then on their on time and schedule. Finally, it is worth noting the federal government contributed just $16 million of the $197 million price tag to build the World War II memorial, the rest paid for by veterans, corporations and other taxpayers.

 * ... LOST DOG: A small Yorkie that belongs to a disabled widow has apparently been stolen out of her yard. This all happened about two weeks ago when the woman's neighbor was having a well attended garage sale. The woman walked outside to go to her mailbox and was followed by her two-pound Yorkie. When she noticed it was gone just minutes later, neighbors launched a search but it could not be found. Said a friend: "We live in a gated community (off Stockdale Highway) and this dog is her life," she said. "Someone picked up this dog and left with it. It is like the kidnapping of a child; it is all she has." The dog is chipped, collared and goes by the name Fancy. There is a reward offered. If you see this dog, call (661) 549-6733.

 * ... MOUNTAIN LION: My earlier blog posts about bobcats and mountain lions being spotted in the Southwest sparked this note from reader Mary Lewis. "About two months ago I thought I saw a mountain lion in a field on Brimhall and Coffee. Shortly after that my neighbors cat disappeared for three days only to return scared to go outside. Then my cat disappeared for a few days, returned injured and scared to leave the house. Obviously something was out there. Two weeks ago my daughter was in our front yard with our cat at 11:30 p.m. when she heard a loud roar coming from the field behind our house. She and the cat ran inside. So was it the bobcat or could I have seen a mountain lion?"

* ... GOOD FORM: With all the issues facing our stray animals, it's good to hear the story of a woman named Kathleen Davis and what she has done to help a stray dog off Porterville Highway. Coworker Linda Lincoln told me Davis spotted the emaciated dog "weaving along the road, nearly starved to death, scars all over his body, and a long chain around his neck. Kathleen called him ‘Big Head’ because of his emaciated body. Kathleen sees to it that he has fresh food and water daily. At first, the dog was very wary of her because of the abuse he was subjected to, now Big Head runs to her, grabs her legs to prevent her from leaving, and wants to play with her. The chain has fallen off the neck and his hair has grown back in! We worry about the dog going through another winter living in a culvert.  We are desperately trying to find a forever home for ‘Big Head.’ If anyone is interested he will come with all his shots, will be neutered, and with a dog house... I am proud to call Kathleen Davis my friend!" If interested you can email Davis at

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: I got a sneak peak of some absolutely stunning art that will be on display at First Friday. The work is the product of David Gordon, a former employee of the Bakersfield Museum of Art whose art continues to evolve as it captures not only Kern County, but Los Angeles and San Francisco as well. The show is titled "Further" and 30 pieces will be displayed at The Metro Galleries on 19th Street. It is well worth checking out.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD: J.D. Logan called to remember a young man named Napoleon Bradley, who Logan said was the first man from East Bakersfield to be killed in the Korean War. He said Bradley graduated from East Bakersfield High School either in 1949 or 1950.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

City crews tackle complaints on trash and litter, and a wildlife expert worried about mountain lions being driven close to home because of the drought

 * ... TRASH: Nice to see the folks over at the Bakersfield Solid Waste Division responding to complaints about trash and litter. After reading a post on this blog about the litter on the northbound ramp connecting Panorama Drive and Manor Street, Sal Moretti said he would dispatch a
crew from the Bakersfield Homeless Center to clean the area. Moretti, superintendent of the Solid Waste Division, said city residents can call 86-CLEAN when they spot areas that need to be cleaned. Moretti said crews from the homeless center also are helping clean the Westside Parkway and local freeways.

* ... BOBCATS: Steve Merlo is an avid hunter and outdoors writer who knows a lot about wildlife around town. After reading about the bobcat recently spotted on the bike path, he wrote to say bobcats were actually fairly common in our area. "What I would rather read about is the actual sightings of mountain lions in the same areas. The drought is forcing many species, including the big cats, to leave their traditional living areas and move down to wherever they can find adequate food and water--the Kern River being close to perfect habitat. I'm worried that someone will be attacked by a food deprived lion along the path or river and might possibly be seriously hurt or even killed. You see, I feel that whenever someone claims to see a mountain lion, then the only reason they saw it in the first place was because the animal was already stalking their pets or them."

* ... EAST HIGH: The folks coordinating the 75th anniversary of East High School are looking for at least five convertibles to use during the homecoming game. The event is set for October 12. Call Jesse Pena at (661) 496-8186 or Marti Larkin at (661) 578-2209 if you can help.

 * ... MUELLER: I was saddened to hear of the passing of Larry Mueller, one of our local citizens who always worked to make Bakersfield a better place. He died Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 64. Mueller was past president of the Rotary Breakfast Club and a charter member of the Twilight Rotary Club. He was active on the club level but also contributed many times on the Rotary District level.

 * ... BAD FORM: Shame on the woman who attended an assembly at Norris Elementary School and chose to disrupt the ceremony when her son was honored with a group of other students. Said one grandparent:  "In the group that included my granddaughter, a women who somehow pushed her way in the middle of the students in the center section towards the front, jumps up with a large poster, complete with lights congratulating a young boy by name. She continued to hold up the large poster  pretty much blocking the view for most of the families and made it nearly impossible to get a picture as she bounced around with her huge obnoxious sign.  Good lesson to that child to only think of themselves."

  * ... GRAPERY: The plaudits and national attention for local grape company The Grapery keep on coming. The Grapery received an honorary Award of Excellence in a national, triple blind judging of table grapes conducted by expert Masters of Taste. The judging was part of the ongoing USA Taste Championships founded in 1986 with the establishment of Chefs in America, whose professional board members gather weekly to conduct taste tests on a myriad of food service and retail products. Nice to know they agree with the good taste we locals and fans of the company, founded by Jim Beagle and Jack Pandol, have known all along.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bako Bits: Remembering the kindness of Jack Saba, clothier on Baker Street, and welcoming in the fall season of charity barbecues

 * ... SABA: Bakersfield lost one of its finest citizens last week with the death of Jack Saba. This tribute to the Saba family comes from Riley Parker, who remembers them from when he was a rookie foot patrol officer with Bakersfield police. "I first met the Saba family in March of 1969. As a newly hired Bakersfield police officer I needed uniforms… yet I had no money. The Saba’s understood the
struggles of a 21 year old just starting a career and by financing their own credit, they made it possible for all of us to get our proper start in law enforcement. Several times I accompanied Al Saba to the CHP academy in Sacramento, where he made certain that every newly hired officer had each uniform essential, never questioning the creditworthiness of those young officers. Jim and Jack provided the same unselfish level of service to officers in Kern, Kings, Tulare, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino and San Luis Obispo counties. The Saba family demonstrated the epitome of trust and service in the Bakersfield community.During the late spring and summer of 1969 I was assigned to walk the Baker Street foot beat. During that time, the back door of Saba’s was always open. Whether for a drink of water, or a shady respite, we all knew that we were welcome there."

   * .... FALL: Fall is arguably one of the nicest times of year in Kern County, not only because of the changing temperatures and colors of the leaves, but because it signals the arrival of the annual season of fundraising through charity barbecues. There are a number of them - Garces, Cal State, and this year a new BBQ fundraiser joins the pack, and may perhaps be the most important. Mark your calendar for Thursday, October 10, and the first Fall BBQ at St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Center, 316 Baker Street. Famed Harris Ranch New York steaks will be served by grill masters Gary Icardo and crew. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at St. Vincent's Thrift store on Baker, or by calling chairwoman Deborah Leary -(661) 872-1543. Valet parking and take out will be available, and this may be the best $25 you spend this fall. Proceeds from this inaugural event will benefit the center which has been helping the most vulnerable in our community since 1954.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A young woman in line at Starbucks is talking to a friend: "There should be two lines. One for those of us who still drink coffee and a second for people who order milkshakes for breakfast."

* ... GOOD FORM: Another example of how far human kindness can go in touching people. Shirley and Ernie Brazel were at the Black Angus Restaurant last week and were watching a young family at a nearby table. As the family was leaving, the father told the Brazels they were headed to the fair and the kids were eager to ride sheep. "As we finished our delicious meal the waitress informed us that the man had paid our dinner check and wished to remain anonymous. As senior citizens we wish to thank him as he reads his morning Californian. What a wonderful kindness. It really made our evening very special and his 'anonymous' name is added to our daily prayers."

 * ... TRASH: It's hard to find a street in town that is littered more than the ramp that connects Panorama Drive with northbound Manor Street. Years of litter have accumulated along both sides of the road, making it one of the more unsightly stretches of road in town.

 * ... RED CROSS: Amy Smith is the new Community Chapter Executive for the American Red Cross in Kern County. Smith previously worked in marketing at San Joaquin Community Hospital. She replaces Holly Arnold, who is now working at Occidental Petroleum in communications. (file photo of Zane and Amy Smith)

McCarthy: Valley Fever Symposium just the beginning the the long fight to find a vaccine for Valley Fever

Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "I want to take this opportunity to thank all the people that participated this week in our Valley Fever Symposium.  From our Kern County Public Health Department, the Valley Fever of Americas Foundation, the Einstein family, our renowned presenters, and all the families who took part in our
events, I cannot thank you enough.

 "On Monday, hundreds of Valley Fever survivors attended our Valley Fever Survivors Reception and Community Forum at the Kern County Public Health Department – Hans Einstein Center, and I will never forget the little girl that walked up to the front of the audience and shared how this disease has affected her life.  All the stories were so heartfelt, personal, and powerful.

 "On Tuesday, even more people came to California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB), as scientists, medical professionals, academics, community leaders, and Valley Fever advocates gathered together to find ways to collaborate with the ultimate goal of finding better ways to diagnose, treat, prevent, and ultimately cure Valley Fever.

 "I know that the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Tom Frieden, and the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Francis Collins, left Bakersfield with a better understanding of not only Valley Fever, but of our community. I am truly appreciative that they took the time to visit Kern County.

 "With the announcement of a developing randomized clinical trial right here in our community, we will begin the work to gather the necessary data that will allow us to better understand this disease that have caused so much hardship and pain to our families, friends, and neighbors. I believe we are entering a new era in our fight against Valley Fever and a lot of work still remains, but with our community’s continued leadership, I am optimistic that we will be able to raise awareness and conquer this disease.

 "I will continue to fight to ensure that our community continues to get the attention it deserves.