Friday, January 31, 2014

McCarthy: While the federal government puts fish before families, California suffers from a long drought that is costing jobs

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

"This week the President gave his State of the Union address. Unfortunately, when it comes to policy, we heard much of the same. The President said he has “a phone and a pen” but that’s not what the Founders of our Constitution envisioned. He should take the time to use the phone to listen to the American people and call Senator Harry Reid to move the over 150 commonsense bills –
legislation that would spur domestic energy production, end government duplication, and rein in red tape - that are sitting in the Senate and use his pen to sign those bills into law.  The President may have provided more promises this week, but the vision our country needs is one that empowers hardworking Americans, not the government.

 "Before the State of the Union, the President acknowledged to me the drought our state faces. While I appreciate the recognition, the current California drought crisis demands immediate action.  Unfortunately in recent years, the federal government has chosen to put fish before families and has ignored longstanding laws that were designed to secure adequate water for the Central Valley.  Our local farmers and families were dealt another blow when the California Department of Water Resources reduced State Water Project allocations from 5% to 0% in light of yesterday’s finding that the California snowpack is only 12% of its average for this time of year.

 "That is why I have joined with other members of the California congressional delegation taking immediate action to address this crisis by supporting the introduction of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act (H.R. 3964).  This bill would ensure that water pumps tasked with delivering water to the Central Valley are operating at the levels agreed to in the 1994 Bay Delta Accords between California and the federal government, and most importantly, reverses the backward policies that put the protection of one species of fish before our state’s farmers and families.  Additionally, this bill would ensure that in wet years when it does snow and rain, the resulting water is sent to those who contract and pay for it or is used to refill our reservoirs and groundwater banks in the Central Valley, rather than sending it out to the Pacific Ocean as current government regulations require.

 "The House will vote next week on this solution to the man-made water problems in California.  As the House acts, I also call on Governor Brown to use his authority under the recent emergency declaration to immediately direct state agencies to relax current state environmental regulations to ensure that any available water flows across the state. Water is the lifeblood of our communities, and I hope the Senate will join us and act to provide water to Californians across the state who are enduring another year of drought.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

What's your take on the Christian singer who walked out of the Grammys? Have the Grammys gone too far pushing the boundaries?

 * … GRAMMYS: One of the sub plots to the recent Grammy awards involved a gospel singer who walked out, apparently upset with the "in your face" tone of some of the performances. The singer in question was Natalie Grant, a devout Christian who was nominated for two Grammy awards. While she was widely criticized for walking out, let's give her credit for doing so with class and without
directly attacking any particular performance. Said the singer: "What I DID say is this: I am honored to be a part of the Christian music community. I've had many people throughout my career ask why I never tried to go in to mainstream music and last night was a beautiful reminder that I love singing about Jesus and FOR Jesus. I've judged no one. I hate no one. And I believe that every person has been created in the image of God. I will never stand on a street corner and wave a sign, I won't use my platform to engage in political arguments that will only divide and not unite… I was honored to be nominated for 2 Grammy awards last night. I'm so grateful that NARAS and The Grammys continue to recognize the contribution that gospel and Christian music make to the world. And I'm so thrilled for those who won in my categories. And I can say that with all sincerity." Well said.

 * … DIVORCE: Now that the economy is slowly beginning to recovery, more folks are feeling more financially secure to seek a divorce. That's right, divorces plunged during the long recession as couples put off divorce until they could afford to split the sheets. But now that things are looking better, the divorce rate has crept back up to where it was just a few years ago. And so it goes.

* … SPOTTED: Comedian Bill Murray posted this on his Twitter account: "I can't decide if people who wear pajamas in public have given up or are living life to the fullest."

 * … ANCHORS: Congratulations to KGET morning anchor Maddie Janssen who gave birth to her first son, Eli, this week. Word is Maddie and Eli are back at home. She will be off for several months. Meanwhile, over at KBAK morning anchor Lynda Halligan has announced she is leaving Bakersfield to get married and move to Laguna Beach.

 * … REUNION: It took a common interest in fossils for two cousins to come together on Sharktooth Hill. It turns out that Bay area resident Roy Leggitt made a reservation to dig on Sharktooth on the exact same day that his cousin, Los Angeles resident Leroy Leggitt, did so. So they both showed up on Saturday not knowing the other would be there. They hadn't seen each other in eight years and spent the day digging side by side.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Commercial real estate broker Duane Keathley on our market: retail on Panama Lane will explode and East Hills Mall is "in play" for a razing or a renovation

 * … RETAIL: Duane Keathley is one of the smartest folks in town on the subject of commercial real estate, and Tuesday I spent an hour picking his brain on First Look with Scott Cox. Some factoids from my conversation with the senior partner at Cushman Wakefield: At one point the first Dollar General store on North Chester and China Grade Loop was one of the highest performing stores in the chain;
Panama Lane west of Highway 99 is set to explode with new retail over the next few years; East Hills Mall is "in play" as the new owners decide whether to raze it or revive part of it; there is new retail planned for Brimhall and Allen roads; and the average size of a BevMo! (beer and wine retailer) is about the size of Trader Joe's. And finally, at one point the relatively new Golden Corral on Ming Avenue was the No. 2 performing outlet in the chain.

 *  …  MORE RETAIL: Reader Joe Chavez wrote asking if there are plans by any big retailers to set up shop in the Northeast. According to Keathley, likely not. Most of them are looking west, and southwest, where the average incomes are higher and there is more "day traffic," meaning more places of employment where workers may shop at lunch or after work.

* … IMMIGRATION: It looks like there may be a breakthrough on immigration reform. News reports say the House Republican leadership will be holding a three-day retreat during which Speaker John Boehner will issue his position on including a path to citizenship or legal status for illegal immigrants along with tighter border security. This is a huge issue in California, of course, where the political pressure has been intense on House Republicans to get something done. Protests at the local office of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy have become an almost weekly event, but it remains to be seen if the new Republican stance is enough for a true breakthrough with the Democratic controlled Senate.

 * …. DROUGHT: The drought being played out in California is serious stuff, and now it looks like the Republicans are using it as a political issue. Central Valley Republicans hosted House Speaker John Boehner last week to criticize environmental laws that divert water from farmers to engendered species. As Boehner said, putting fish over people is a "crazy idea" where he comes from. As the drought intensifies there is little doubt that House Republicans will continue to seize on it as a hot issue. Stay tuned.

 * … MORE DROUGHT: On the local front, you may have noticed the GET buses wrapped with messages encouraging water conservation. It's all part of a campaign by the non profit Water Association of Kern County to encourage water conservation in Kern County. The six buses will run for six months and they advertise a website - - where people can find lots of ways to conserve water.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crabfest pulls in 450 people to raise more than $250,000 for the St. Francis Parish, and Terry Maxwell tests the patience of his constituents

 * ... CRABFEST: A record 450 people turned out for the annual Rib and Crabfest to benefit the St. Francis Parish. This event has grown so popular (getting in is akin to scoring tickets to the Super Bowl) that Monsignor Craig Harrison had to move it to the old satellite wagering barn at the Kern County Fairground. Harrison told me the Parish expected to clear $250,000 from the Friday evening event. Among those I spotted there were Mikie and Dan Hay, Lisa Kimble Edmonston and husband Craig, Trevor and Annalise Townsend, Ken and Renee Carter, Day Raytis, Kristie Spitzer, Robin Mangarin Scott, Don and Patty Houchin, Jim and Beverly Camp, Jeff and Stephanie Pickering, Brian and Katie Kirschenmann and many others.

* ... BCHS: You have to love the print advertising for Bakersfield Christian High School that features beaming young people wearing sweat shirts of the colleges they will be attending: USC, UCLA, Cal Poly, Georgia Tech, Pepperdine among others. A picture like that speaks to the success of BCHS in sending our young people off to school.

 * ... MAXWELL: My colleague Lois Henry nailed it in her Sunday column about the Quixotic city councilman Terry Maxwell, who is ignoring the majority of residents in his own Ward 2 in opposing those who want cul de sacs on the "tree streets" at 24th Street. Maxwell holds to his own beliefs, if nothing else, but only time will tell if there will be a political price to pay.

 * ... RETAIL: With so many new retailers lining up to move to Bakersfield - BevMo!, Nordstrom Rack, Sprouts Farmers Market among them - what does that say about the state of our economy? On Tuesday, I will be chatting with commercial real estate broker Duane Keathley about new retail activity and what that means for 2014 and beyond. Catch us on First Look with Scott Cox on NewsTalk KERN 1180 or live on beginning at 9 a.m.

 * … GOOD FORM: Ruth Darrington passed along this example of good form from an incident last week at the Albertson's on Mount Vernon. "A friend of mine and I were supposed to meet for lunch when I received a call from her telling me she had been in an accident at the Albertson's parking lot on Mt. Vernon.  I rushed to the site and found her standing next to the Albertson's manager, Jeff Albitre.  She was quite shook up and stood there as the paramedics checked her vitals. I don't know all the details, but what I do know is that this young man took it upon himself to talk to her insurance company and made sure that each person involved gave the insurance representative the information needed and then arranged for a tow.  This whole process took almost 2 1/2 hours and is something that she would have had a difficult time doing. My friend and I would like to thank Jeff for his assistance, compassion, and willingness to give the highest caliber of customer service."