Friday, January 10, 2014

McCarthy: Total energy independence can be achieved, but only if our policies encourage increased production of oil and natural gas

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

"2014 is now upon us and many of us are making New Year's resolutions. While we are evaluating our own personal goals, as a nation, we must commit ourselves on the issues that can transform our economic future.  I believe one of those goals should be a commitment to becoming energy
independent by the end of the decade.

 "This goal is well within our reach if we take the proper actions.  Those actions can be found in a policy agenda that not only fosters new innovative technology, but allows for the increased production of oil and natural gas on public and private lands.  Those actions should also include investing in the upgrade of our electricity infrastructure, and reducing onerous regulations that only restrict the growth of a sector that is critical to economic prosperity in America.  By pursuing commonsense policies that focus on our domestic resources, we will not only put the nation on a path toward economic independence, but will create jobs right here in our backyard.

 "This goal, however, is nothing new to House Republicans as I have joined my colleagues in passing 11 bills that seek to maximize domestic energy production.  Unfortunately, all 11 currently sit in a Senate that has refused to take any action to date.  This era of inaction must end.

 "The benefits of energy independence to our district, our state, and our nation are tremendous, but we must take aggressive steps now.  An increase in jobs matched with a reduction of energy costs translates into pure economic growth, and a more solvent and secure America. So as we commit ourselves to improve ourselves in 2014, our country is poised to achieve something remarkable. Imagine an America that produces the energy it needs and no longer relies on energy from foreign lands. This goal is well within our reach, and the time is now.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's no surprise but 2013 turned out to be a horrible year for air travel, with United and American ranking as the worst performers. Meanwhile Garrett Ming leaves Jim Burke Ford to strike out on his own

 * … AIR TRAVEL: It turns out that 2013 turned out to be one of the worst years for airline travel in the past five years. An annual scorecard of airline service, reported in the Wall Street Journal, said that
more flights were delayed and more bags lost than anytime since 2009. The best airlines? Those would be Alaska Airlines followed by Delta. The worst: United and American airlines. All this comes as airlines are continuing to reduce the number of flights while squeezing in more seats at the expense of leg room.

* … MING: Garrett Ming has left Jim Burke Ford after almost three decades and is striking out on his own in a new business venture. Ming, outgoing chairman of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, spent 27 years with the Burke auto group. His new business creates software solutions for automative and related industries.

* … EDITOR: Kudos to Katie McCarthy, a Garces Memorial High graduate who has been named managing editor of Total Beauty. A graduate of Loyola Marymount University, she is the daughter of Rob and Judi McCarthy, owners of Lightspeed Systems. She previously was editor of Where LA magazine.

* … BAD FORM: Shame on the person who dumped an emaciated female dog in front of a group of children the other day. Said Candace Bunes, who witnessed it: "THe dog was abused and terrified," she said. "How do you dispose of puppies, or any unwanted inconvenient children you might have? Many have said the best way to judge the civility of society is how it treats the weakest among us."

* … BIKE PATH: A lot has been said about proper etiquette on our bike path, but Kevin Malamma sums it up well here: "As a member of the cycling public those I ride with seem to understand the need to follow certain ‘rules-of-the-road’ such as stay to the right, pass on the left, ride single file, announce hazards (and other objects).  It would be nice of the other members of the public that frequent, among other places, the bike path, were to observe similar rules. Dogs not on leashes, dog owners tossing objects for retrieval, walkers meandering  three or four abreast, parents with their three year old daughter learning to - you filling the blank - ride, skate, etc,  frisbee players tossing across the bike path without looking, walkers and riders stopped on the path in front of oncoming traffic - the list could go on. These all present dangers, not just to the unsuspecting cyclist, but also to the above mentioned public. It would be wonderful if these folks used the path with the same consideration that they expect out of groups of more avid bicyclists. But, the best example of public misuse of the path is one that i have encountered twice now. A young lady, who must fancy herself a photographer, seated, cross-legged directly in the middle of the path facing her subjects (families with children of various ages), also seated, in a group, in the middle of the path. Certainly a recipe for disaster.  I suppose if she has some romantic image of a photographer as a risk taker and wants to insert herself into a dangerous situation we could find a photojournalist job for her somewhere in the Middle East. She just shouldn’t think that family portraits are worth putting those families and riders at risk. By the way, I am both an avid cyclist and a photographer, enjoy both activities, and hope to continue to do so for many years, barring any unforeseen accident."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

West Point graduate gravely injured in Afghan suicide bombing shares his story on First Look, and Bakersfield's beleaguered housing market starts to show signs of life

 * … HOUSING: There is some good news about our local housing market. According to appraiser Gary Crabtree, last year was a "watershed" year with the median price jumping from $162,000 to $208,00 by the end of the year. Said the Crabtree Report: "Based upon a 12 month running average, the citywide appreciation rate is 30 percent or 2.4 percent per month.  Housing supply is increasing
with the total current listings on the market at 930 or 81 percent above the same period last year." In addition, the volume of sales decreased by 8.5 percent year over year. "Overall, the market is defined as in recovery with a trend towards declining price increases due to increasing inventory, interest rates and housing affordability."

 * … VAN KOPP: I had a chance to catch up with Lt. Samuel Van Kopp, the 26-year-old Bakersfield High and West Point graduate who was gravely injured in Afghanistan during a 2012 suicide bombing. Van Kopp still has a ball bearing lodged in his head and is living in the residential facility at Walter Reed Hospital. He will learn in a few months if he is fit to remain in the Army or serve on the staff of Rep. Kevin McCarthy under a program for wounded soldiers. Van Kopp appeared with me on First Look with Scott Cox on KERN NewsTalk 1180, talking frankly and eloquently about the bombing that injured him and killed two members of his platoon. When asked how he reacts when people call him a "hero," he quietly (and humbly) reminded me that there are many others who have served longer and suffered more. This is an impressive young man who is a testament to the good that lives in this community. He has two younger brothers, one who graduated from Dartmouth College and the other who is enrolled at West Point. (picture of Van Kopp in the First Look studios with me)

 * … RIP BARBARA: Most of you probably never knew Barbara Perry, who lost a five year battle with cancer this week. She was not famous or flashy or important in the way society bestows celebrity on some people, and that was perfectly fine with her. Barbara didn't need recognition to be happy; instead, like most of us who call Bakersfield home, she led a quiet life, devoted to her family and friends. But it was an exemplary life and her presence brightened everyone she came into contact with. I met Barbara a decade ago out at the Kern County Gun Club, where Barbara and husband Johnny would often hold court during skeet tournaments, doing all the work that made folks from out of town feel so welcome. She would cook and clean and help manage the club while Johnny put his impressive mechanical skills to work on the clay target machines. Born in Texas and one of 11 children, Barbara could be tough as nails but her true character was a cocktail of generosity, kindness and extreme wit. Life is better when people like Barbara Perry come into your life. Thank you, Barbara, for sharing your grace with me.

 * … SPORTSMANSHIP: Another reader post on sportsmanship at youth baseball games. From Stephanie Apsit: "Yes, you can be an example of poor sportsmanship by yelling cruel comments to young children trying to do their best for their team or you can be an example of supportive sportsmanship and offer kind and accepting comments to these young vulnerable children. Let's be the ones who educate our children by offering encouragement and care to them, thereby teaching them to also be kind and caring towards one another."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Local West Point graduate, gravely wounded in Afghanistan, shows us all what good form looks like, and Lili Marsh heads to The Mark to run the dining and banquet operations

 * … ROLE MODEL: I could not think of a better way to start the year than with this incredible story compliments of readers Kristi and Mitch Townsend. It turns out the Townsends had donated $100 to help in the recovery of Samuel Van Kopp, the young Bakersfield army officer and West Point graduate
who suffered a grave head wound in Afghanistan. Van Kopp survived the September, 2012, injury and is doing well, so much that he sent the $100 check back to the Townsends with this uplifting note: "I have recuperated to the extent that I do not need the years of private therapy I had anticipated," he wrote. "I return to you, therefore, your donation plus years of interest so that you may grace a charity of greater need. Thank you, and God bless." (Facebook photo of Van Kopp on left)

 * … THE MARK: Lili Marsh, the longtime director of The Petroleum Club, is leaving for a new job at The Mark downtown. Marsh will be the front house operations manager in charge of the banquet meeting spaces and the dining room at the 19th Street eatery, which has quickly come to be known as one of the "it" places to eat downtown. In addition to her long association with the Petroleum Club, Marsh is deeply involved in Honor Flight, the effort to fly World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the war memorials.

 * … DOORS SHUT: The new year has been ushered in with the closing of some familiar local businesses. Anna's Cards and Gifts, one of the original tenants of The Marketplace, is shutting its doors after serving residents in the Southwest for many years. That is the third tenant of The Marketplace to close, following Baskin Robbins and Russo's Books. Meanwhile downtown, a short-lived experiment with a local cooking studio has come to an end with the shuttering of Sustenance 101 next to Mama Roomba's Caribbean restaurant on Eye Street. The space occupied by Sustenance has been completely renovated and will likely have little trouble attracting a new tenant.

 * … CROSS RACING: Hats off to local cycling enthusiast Sam Ames for putting on a grand show out at Hart Park this weekend when Bakersfield hosted the NorCal versus SoCal cycle cross racing championships. The crowds were large and Hart Park provided a beautiful backdrop for this annual championship.

* … CYCLISTS: This note comes from a reader named A. Thompson: "I have been cycling for probably over 40 years. I would expect that the mob of Tuesday riders this week would have learned that it is necessary to announce one’s imminent passing of a slower cyclist from behind at a high rate of speed. They pretty much startled me when they passed. The riders took up most of their side of Alfred Harrell Highway, down by the fire station. It is no wonder that the public has such a dim view of cyclists. This same thing happened to me several times right before the Spooktacular, by several duos of out of town riders, as evidenced by their jerseys. I hope that these riders survive to be able to ride a bike when they pass 65 years of age."