Friday, April 11, 2014

McCarthy: One budget is the typical tax and spend Democratic plan, while the House plan calls for pro-growth tax reform and a plan to pay down the national debt

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Whip, brings us up to date on Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week was budget week in the House of Representatives. Just as budgets are an important tool for American families and businesses, my colleagues and I believe it is important for elected Representatives to present our constituents with a plan for the future. I would like to highlight two
budgets, in particular, and let you decide which plan you prefer.

 "The first is President Obama’s proposed budget. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid described this plan as 'a powerful statement of Democratic principles,' and I couldn’t agree more. The Administration’s plan for America consists of raising taxes by $1.8 trillion to pay for $6.1 trillion in new spending. It cuts national defense by $283 billion, and leaves our future generations with $3.8 trillion in increased debt. Moreover, the President’s budget never comes to balance—ever. In short, it is the same tax-and-spend policy that Washington Democrats have prescribed for years.

  "The other plan was drafted by my good friend House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and supported by House Republicans. It addresses Washington’s out-of-control spending and comes to balance in 10 years. It expands opportunity for all by calling for pro-growth tax reform and increased domestic energy production. It increases spending on national defense, so our men and women in harm’s way can have the training and tools they need. It repeals Obamacare and calls for patient-centered reforms. It protects Medicare so we can keep the promise to our seniors. And it strengthens the safety net for those among us who have fallen on hard times.

 "The President’s budget was given a vote on the House Floor this week.  Out of 415 votes, it received only two “aye” votes. Yes – only two.

  "Meanwhile, I worked to help pass the only budget in Washington that balances and takes the necessary steps to pay down our debt and get our economy back on track. The budgets described here present very distinct paths and I believe our budget provides the only real path to prosperity.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Neighbors square off against each other in the Bakersfield Country Club area over a proposal to gate off parts of the community, and David Gordon takes over the Arts Council

 * … GATES: There is a mini-storm brewing up in the Bakersfield County Club area where some residents are asking the county for permission to gate off parts of the neighborhood. The gates would be installed at Dalehurst Drive and Wingfoot, Wingfoot and Country Club and at Pinehurst and Country
Club, even though a number of homes in that area are already behind their own private gates  I am told a spike in home burglaries has led to this proposal, but opponents say it will only divide the neighborhood and funnel traffic down non-gated streets, not to mention close off streets to folks who like to take a morning walk. I have a feeling this topic will make the installation of cul-de-sacs in Westchester look like walk in the park.

 * … ARTS COUNCIL: I was happy to hear that David Gordon has been appointed director of the Arts Council of Kern. Gordon is an accomplished artist himself and a former employee of the Bakersfield Museum of Art. His experience will no doubt be an asset to the Arts Council, which has struggled in recent years to remain relevant.

 * … OLD SALT: My pal and Navy veteran Gene Bonas provided this shout out to all his fellow submariners: "Thought you'd like to know that on April 11, 1900, the Holland VI was acquired by the U.S. Navy. Although not actually commissioned as a warship until October 12, 1900, April 11th is celebrated as the birthday of the U.S. submarine fleet.  The U.S.S. Holland was considered to be the world's first truly successful submarine. In honor of our special day, this Friday all submariners are encouraged to wear their 'dolphins' to work or play.  Happy birthday, fellow bubbleheads!

* … SPOTTED: Talk about bad form. Cheryle DeMarco was at the Target store on Mall View Road a few months ago when she spotted this:  "I was getting in my car which was parked about three spaces down from the entrence. I looked at the car parked in front of me and a little girl (about 8 or 9) was unloading quite a bit of trash right onto the parking lot. Her mother stood at the opened car door on the other side looking all around the lot like pretending to not see what she probably told her daughter to do, throw all the trash from the car out. We were only about 40 feet from a trash can. I thought this is one reason we have a litter problem. Parents teach their kids this bad habit. I always made my kids throw their trash out, even in places like the movie theater. You clean up after yourself, simple as that!"

 * … MORE TRASH: Deanna Haulman extended props to the Just Johnson Park Work Center. "These young men and women are faithfully out at Hart Park Monday through Friday cleaning rest rooms and picking up trash that people are too lazy to do.  I think even if large trash bags were provided it still wouldn't help because these are the same people who can't walk 20 steps to a large trash can. There are those that leave their trash bags but do not realize or don't care that the park critters get into those bags at night."

 * … GRANT: Hats off to the Kern Economic Development Corp. and the East Bakersfield High Health Careers Academy for winning a $15,000 grant to prepare the local workforce to fill healthcare positions in Kern County. The grant will support the purchase of medical equipment for Academy students to practice treatment solutions as well as job shadowing at Kern Medical Center. The grant came from the Office of Statewide Planning and Development.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A veterinarian gives props to a local animal rescue group and remembering Tooey's Steak House in lower La Cresta in the Northeast

 * … PETS: The way some people treat their pets, like disposable diapers, is beyond disheartening, but every once in a while we hear something that gives us hope. Over at the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center, veterinarian Robert Duquette sent me this note: "We are always appreciative of the many rescues that help us rehome our furry friends but The Kern Project recently adopted 37 animals in one day. These pets were then transferred to shelters in Marin County that have a shortage of adoptable shelter animals (obviously our long term goal!).  This was organized locally by Tammy Folino who works with Grace Stauffer from Novato. We are also very extremely grateful to Cori Mincher, Jeff Cross and Bill Murray from the Double Tree Hotel for making a substantial donation of towels and linens that can be used for bedding. Our shelter is always in need of any bedding donation and their single contribution almost doubled our stock!"

 * … DINING: Last week I mentioned some of the new restaurants that have sprung up downtown over the last few years. A reader chastised me for not mentioning The Mark, a stunning eatery on 19th Street. Said the writer: "They have a great atmosphere food and a full bar music on weekends. The food is fresh and great quality." I could not agree more.

 * … BURGER: And on the subject of food, I am shameless in my devotion to the Hudson burger at Muertos downtown (who doesn't like a fresh burger with egg and bacon on top?) A friend told me that Bill Lee's and Mexicali downtown also make a good burger. What is your favorite burger in town?

 * … HONOR FLIGHT: Hats off to KERN radio host Ralph Bailey, who raised more than $10,000 on his Monday show to help fund the Honor Flight program. Bailey accompanied some of the veterans back to Washington, D.C., and promptly returned the favor by asking his listeners to support the program. Among those who chipped in were Rep. Kevin McCarthy, state Sen. Jean Fuller and state Rep. Shannon Grove.

 * … TOOEY'S: Margaret Lemucchi solved the puzzle about a long-gone restaurant in La Cresta: "Tooey's steak house was the restaurant where the Tam O'Shanter restaurant sits now. It had a stainless steel half-circle counter where the broiler is now located plus several tables. Jack and Hazel Ewing operated a Scottish/golf-themed bar next door called The Shillelagh. The Ewings acquired Tooey's and then operated the bar and restaurant for many years as Ewing's Tam O'Shanter. Timothy and I bought the business from the Ewings in 1971, called it Lemucchi's Tam O'Shanter, then bought the building, and then expanded the bar to the south where the second bar, stage, and dance floor are now.  Manny Mendez became the proprietor in 1988 and calls the establishment Manny's Tam O'Shanter. "

 * … MEMORIES: Added reader Connie Allen Frasch: "You brought back memories for me. I  grew up in La Cresta just blocks from Tooey's steak house in the 1940s, a small cafe with a counter and stools. I always wanted to go there and have one of Mr. Tooey's famous hamburgers but my dad said it was too expensive!"

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Here's one for the books: Who remembers the Great Kern County Mouse War of 1926? And another oil town in Texas has the lowest unemployment rate in the country

* … MOUSE WAR: John Pryor sent me a note tipping me off to the great Kern County "mouse war" of 1926. It's such an odd story I simply must share it. Turns out Kern County had experienced several years of drought and by 1926 the Buena Vista Lake was dry. Two men then planted 11,000 acres of barley and maize in the dry lake bed, which proved to be an ideal breeding ground for mice. Then, it began to rain and the water level started rising, sending mice scurrying for higher ground. Pryor said more than 50,000 mice were killed in one day by the use of poisoned barley. On Taft
Highway, thousands of mice were ground to deal under car wheels. A man was then hired to poison the mice and - according to legend - some 44 million mice were killed. Sea gulls, ravens and hawks then moved in and the "war" was over. And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.

* … OIL TOWNS: I read with interest a story the other day saying that the U.S. metro area with the lowest unemployment rate is a shale oil boomtown: Midland, Texas. Midland's jobless rate is just 2.9 percent and the city is one of the fastest growing metro areas in the nation thanks to Permian Basin Shale. Kern County, of course, is also experiencing a boom in oil production yet our unemployment rate is well north of 10 percent.

 * … SERVICE: Memo to Damon Culbertson, general manager of Subaru of Bakersfield: not only is your product first class, but your service representative Amanda David is a gem.

 * … PAINTER: And speaking of white glove service, I ran into my favorite house painter Rich Johnson the other day. There are a lot of good painters in town, but few are as meticulous - not to mention just plain nice and cheerful - as Rich. Johnson Painting can be reached at (661) 706-1077.

 * … KENNY BARNES: The 32nd annual Ken Barnes Open Skeet Championship is coming up this weekend out at the Kern County Gun Club. This is an excellent chance to catch some of the top All-American shooters from across the country. The tournament is named in honor of Bakersfield's own Ken Barnes, known as the "father of the 400 X 400." For the uninitiated, that means he hit all 400 targets without so much as one miss. The tournament runs Friday through Sunday.

 * … MEMORIES: I was at Chalet Basque this weekend when a reader asked me a question I couldn't answer. He wanted to know the name of a small cafe that occupied the space where Tam O'Shanter now sits. He thought it was "Touey's" but he wasn't sure of the spelling. Ideas?