Friday, March 7, 2014

McCarthy: House passes energy legislation that will reduce hardships imposed by strict EPA regulations

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

 "This week, I worked to pass energy legislation that will help hardworking families in our community and across America. I want to specifically highlight a couple of bills from the past week that offer
sensible solutions to the sluggish job growth and soaring energy costs that have become all too common under the Obama Administration.

 "February is historically the coldest month of the year and millions of Americans are facing one of the harshest winters in recent memory. That means more money being spent on home utility bills, and less money left over for the rest of a family’s needs. Even so, Washington policies have done little to alleviate these burdens, and have arguably exacerbated the problem, in some instances.

 "Currently, about half of American households heat their home with natural gas, and another 39 percent of homes rely on electric heat. Unfortunately, increasingly strict EPA regulations could force countless American power plants to close, thereby driving costs up for you and me, especially in the summer months when we see our utility bills rise. To address this bureaucratic overreach, the House passed the Electricity Security and Affordability Act. This bill requires that any greenhouse gas emission standards imposed by the EPA on fossil fuel-fired power plants reflect technologies that are in existence today, rather than hypothetical technologies that don’t exist today.

 "Another problem that negatively affects all sources of American energy is the excessive environmental reviews sanctioned by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). These reviews that were originally intended to take no more than 90 days now regularly take years, or even decades, to be completed, unnecessarily delaying key construction projects. In fact, the United States now ranks 34th in the world when it comes to the procedures, time, and costs required to obtain improvement from the federal government for new construction projects. The RAPID Act sets a hard deadline on such assessments, which will allow American entrepreneurs to focus less on paperwork and more on creating good-paying jobs.  With our rich energy resources right here in our backyard, this legislation will help us power not only our state, but our nation.

 "Above all, it is worth noting that both bills passed with support on both sides of the aisle. I look forward to continuing this fight to bolster America’s energy potential and put more money in the pockets of hardworking Americans.

 "Lastly, my office is accepting internship applications for our Summer Internship Program for college students and recent graduates.  This is an excellent opportunity to learn firsthand about our nation’s legislative process, as well as to work to assist our community. Interested students may download the internship application at:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Oddest story of the week: New Jersey teen sues parents for weekly allowance, and more on plastic surgery run amok at the Oscars

 * … JERSEY: The oddest story of the week has to be the New Jersey teenager who is suing her parents for $650 in weekly child support plus tuition at a private high school. Really? The parents say
they cut her off because she refused to do chores and honor a curfew, which sounds reasonable to me. As the skeptical judge said: "Are we going to open the gates for 12-year-olds to sue for an Xbox? For 13-year-olds to sue for an iPhone? We should be mindful of a potentially slippery slope." No kidding. (photo courtesy of CBS News)

 * … NOVAK: My comment questioning Kim Novak's appearance on the Academy Awards drew this response from reader Anne Russell. "I was so disappointed to see that you have joined the bullying bandwagon with your remarks about Goldie Hawn and Kim Novak. Gossipy comments about an individual's appearance are something I would expect to find on Twitter and other social media that are mired in poor taste, cruelty and 'judgey' mentality. I am saddened to see such unkindness from you."

 * … TRASH: This note popped up in my mailbox: "Just returned from a trip and noted that Bakersfield has achieved the dubious honor of having more trash than New York City.  Congratulations, Bako!  Many people, organizations, etc. are working hard to reverse this trend; however, the Litterazzi seem to be several steps ahead. What's it going to take?"

 * … TREES: The big fund raiser for the Tree Foundation of Kern next week has been postponed. No word on when it will be rescheduled.

 * … SCOUTS: Who can say no to the Boy Scouts? Troop 147 will hold its 25th annual car wash this Saturday at Brookside Market on the corner of Coffee and Hageman roads. It will run from 8 a.m. until noon.

 * … SWENSEN'S: From reader Greg Laskowski: "I remember working at Swenson’s Ice Cream when it was located next to a hair salon and the Brocks department store at Valley Plaza. It was my first summer job after eighth grade.  Dr. Russ Karlen, former mayor of Bakersfield, was one of the owners along with his brother in law Dewey Langdon.  He hired me to show silent old time movies during the day.  People would come in and enjoy ice cream and some Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd flicks. Sometimes I would have to go in to the back kitchen area and splice film when it came off the sprockets. I think people got a kick out of watching the film melt when the 16 mm projector jammed on several occasions. Best part though was the free ice cream I got while working there."

 * … MEMORIES: Gene Bonas offered these thoughts of growing up in Bakersfield. "As a child of four or five during World War II, I remember walking with my mother from east Bakersfield to a building on the corner of 23rd and L streets to buy meat and sugar. If I'm not mistaken, this building was a small market and had its meat cooler right in front. One could only buy meat or sugar on certain days and you had to have coupons for each item purchased. In going through old family pictures and momentoes, I found a couple of 5 pound sugar coupons. They, along with three brothers' Navy uniforms and letters, are carefully stored for my grandchildren. A previous writer indicated a building at 21st and L Streets was a pool supply store. I believe the building at 2230 L Street was once a pool supply store, too. Maybe one of your readers can shed clarifying light on these buildings.  I would like to know if the building at 23rd and L was actually a market during WWII."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

RIP Nadene Steinert, celebrating the new cul de sacs downtown and when is enough plastic surgery enough?

* … RIP: I was sad to hear of the passing of Adala "Nadene" Steinert, one of the truly gracious members of our community. Nadene was 92 when she died. She is survived by her husband of 71
years, Marvin Steinert, a local businessman who has been so generous to many worthy organizations in town.

* … CUL DE SACS: Not everyone may agree on the widening of 24th Street downtown, but Westchester residents could not be happier with the new cul de sacs being installed on the "tree streets" (Pine, Spruce etc). This weekend, I spotted no fewer than 10 small children playing in the middle of Pine Street near 24th Street now that the street has become a dead-end.

 * … TREES: A reader, who asked not to be named, had a terrific suggestion for the Tree Foundation of Kern to encourage "tree literacy." Said the reader: "I have long thought an interesting series of articles could be written about the trees in Bakersfield. Perhaps a contest of sorts. Each month, you or the Foundation could pick a kind of tree (Redwood, Sycamore, Beech, etc.) and ask people to nominate outstanding examples of that tree. Size, conformity, beauty in location, etc. could be judged and you could do a photo essay, pick outstanding examples, give a plaque to mount by 'the best example,' etc. It would encourage people to plant and admire trees and be a positive story about something nice in Bakersfield."

* … OSCARS: Apropos of nothing, but how surreal did Kim Novak and Goldie Hawn look at the Academy Awards? When is enough plastic surgery enough? (photo by the Associated Press)

* … CEMETERY: Lillie Rose wrote to recall the old Chinese cemetery off Terrace way. "My parent's friends, Bob and Molly Hawthorne, lived in a house that sat rather far back on a lot near where Baldwin Road meets Terrace Way. The Chinese cemetery was almost in their backyard. I was born in Bakersfield in 1943, and as soon as I could walk I was in their yard and fascinated by the cemetery.  It was a lovely place back then. Both the Hawthornes and my parents impressed upon me that it was a place to be treated with the utmost respect. I was sad when the graves were relocated and houses on what had once been holy ground."

 * … TUNNELS: And yet another reader, Kevin Schmidt, suggested making our underground tunnels a tourist attraction. "As an amateur historian, it is with fascination that I read your stories about the underground tunnels in downtown Bakersfield.  It reminded me of my visit to Seattle.  My favorite part of the city was the 'underground city tour' that took you literally underground in old Seattle to visit some of the business and speakeasy's that existed in those times. The city went 'up' while the existing businesses stayed put, with the streets above them. It is one of Seattle's most popular tourist attractions.
Perhaps some enterprising individual can reopen and explore the tunnels under Bakersfield, bring it back to its old mysteries, culture and history to become a unique Bakersfield attraction."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How about turning the tunnels under the streets of old Bakersfield into a tourist attraction? Some readers like the idea

 * … TUNNELS: All the chatter about the labyrinth of tunnels and passageways underneath our downtown streets has led many to wonder how we might exploit it in some way. Can you imagine the Bakersfield tunnels as a tourist attraction? As Greg Gordon wrote: "I recently returned to Bako after completing a PhD out of state. I've really enjoyed reading your blog in the Californian, and I love the bits on Bakersfield history, especially the tunnel system downtown. Please keeping 'digging' into the tunnels; I'd love to learn more about them!  (Has someone mapped them out? What are the access points? Why were they originally built?). Here's an idea: how about a guided history tour through them?  (Or even a ghost-themed Halloween version, similar to what other cities have?)" Now that is a grand idea.

* … MORE TUNNELS: A reader named James Taylor shared his story of the tunnels. "In the early 1950s, my father had a friend that owned a building near the California theater on Chester Avenue. One time they took my father, brother and myself down a stairwell inside the building down to a tunnel. The tunnel had a large metal door. We went in and proceeded towards the street. There were many metal doors along the tunnel. We went into their vault and they had art works stored there. They gave my father a huge oil painting. It was all cemented walls and floors."

 * … VILLAGE GRILL: Shame on me, but I had never been to the Village Grill on F Street before Sunday when I stopped by for breakfast. The food was fabulous, the service speedy and I spotted a lot of old friends there, including former Bakersfield College football coach Dallas Grider and his retired banker wife Mary, local banker Bart Hill and his interior decorator wife Napier, and former supervisor Pete Parra dining with his family.

 * … CEMETERY: Remember the old Chinese Cemetery that once existed on Terrace Way? Lois Sabaloni does. In her words: "My husband, Joe Sabolini, remembered his dad telling the story of delivering whole roasted pigs with apples in their snouts in his Model T delivery truck. Instead of feeding the spirits as planned the food didn't go to waste as the hobos were waiting for the services to be over before enjoying the feast!"

 * … TREES: There are few more worthy local non-profits than the Tree Foundation of Kern. Over the years the Foundation has funded the planting of hundreds of trees around town and I have had the pleasure of watching some of them grow and flourish. On Friday, March 13, the Foundation will hold a "Trees in Art" fund raiser at Renegade Park at Bakersfield College. It is being billed as an evening of California's finest wines complete with dinner and a silent auction.The donation to get in is $50 or $90 for a couple. Call (661) 323-TREE (8733) for details.

 * … MEMORIES: This memory from back in the 1920s comes courtesy of reader Jack M. Rademacher. "North of China Grade loop was a forrest of wooden oil derricks. The area around North High School was occupied with a 10 foot deep, 30 feet in diameter oil sumps that Standard Oil Co. stored crude oil that fed their 'batch still' refinery located further east and south of China Grade Loop. Note: this batch refinery was replaced with a modern distillation-thermal cracking treating refinery around 1950 following World War II. I was the refinery engineer until 1955."