Friday, August 1, 2014

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: I intend to lead

 House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his own words:

 "As I humbly assumed the post of Majority Leader, the values enshrined in me by our community will serve as my daily guidance. I understand that we must have the courage to lead and the wisdom to listen.
"The American people are frustrated. We must raise the banner high for a society of prosperity and opportunity that isn’t given by government but rather is earned by a free and exceptional people.
 "As your Congressman and Majority Leader, that is how I intend to lead.
 "This week, I was honored that my pastor Roger Spradlin from Valley Baptist Church accepted my invitation and travelled to Washington D.C. to

give the invocation on the House floor yesterday. Let us all be inspired by his words:
 Father, we thank You for Your sovereignty and providence in each person’s life who sits before me, and more importantly, before You.  Grant them today Your guidance in their deliberations.
 We acknowledge that our country is facing serious challenges, and that our world is in crisis.  Give this body the courage that is necessary to lead.  Rather than allowing our ideology to further divide us may you, Father, unite us in our shared love for this great nation.
 Give the members the wisdom to help the oppressed and the weakest among us, as well as the courage to lead by conviction rather than by mere pragmatism.
 Concerning our failures, rather than justice we ask for your mercy and grace.  Give us the will to acknowledge and to repent of all wrongs.
 We thank You for the values upon which our country was founded and for Your continued blessing.  We ask that our best days would not be behind us but before us.
 We ask all in the strong name of Jesus.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The percentage of Americans who own their own homes dips to a near record level, and an oil field worker rescues a cyclist who was spent and sick from the heat

 * … HOUSING: Another sign that we are far from recovering from the recession came this week when it was revealed that the share of Americans who own homes had dipped to its lowest level in almost 20 years. The Commerce Department said just 64.8 percent of homes across the country were occupied by owners, according to the Wall Street Journal. That is the lowest it has been since the third quarter of 1995. The missing
ingredient in the housing recovery? Just 35.9 percent of people under the age of 35 are homeowners.

 * … AIRPORTS: Little surprise here but the fastest growing airports in the country are in North Dakota, where the Bakken oil boom has led to hyper growth. In Williston, N.D., traffic at the Sloulin Field International Airport has increased 254 percent in just two years.

 * … BRICKS: Walter E. Stewart weighed in on the city's plans to remove the donated bricks at Centennial Plaza. "Remove the family bricks from the Centennial Plaza? What's next? Remove the grave markers from the cemeteries?"

 * … OVERHEARD: A local businessman is talking about attending an interfaith mass: "Glad to hear it is an interfaith service. Kathy and I will attend. We have an interfaith marriage—she’s a Notre Dame fan and I am a USC fan."

 * … APOLOGY: This heartfelt (and anonymous) apology showed up in my mailbox. "I would like to sincerely apologize to the gentleman in the Vons North Chester parking lot on Thursday morning. I was totally out of line and I sincerely apologize for my actions… please forgive my ugly words and rude behavior."

 * … GOOD FORM: It's not often that I can report an incident of "good form" involving a motorist and a bicyclist, but Tom Morgan provided this sterling example from last week. Morgan, deputy county counsel, had ridden his bike to Alta Sierra this past weekend and by the time he reached Poso Creek at Round Mountain Road on his way back, it was 106 degrees and he was spent. "While I was resting and trying to think of what to do next a large truck passed and shortly thereafter I could hear the sound of his air brakes. The driver, Richard Castellon, a supervisor for H and S Trucking, backed up and asked if I was okay. I had just enough energy to walk to his truck and climb up into the passenger seat. Without a word, he hopped out, grabbed my bike and gear and strapped it to the cage behind his cab, jumped back in and asked me where I  needed to go. I told him where I lived and he offered to take me directly home. On the way, I began to feel worse and I ended up getting sick in the cab of his truck. He didn't bat an eye and simply told me not to worry about it. Richard was able to get me safely home. Over the years I've had many encounters with vehicles as I've cycled the roads around Bakersfield, but I have to say that some of the most positive have been with the folks that work in the oilfields surrounding the city. Richard was on his way home after putting in a hard day at work and I'm sure the last thing he needed was some guy on a bike making a mess out of his truck and delaying his arrival home. But he never hesitated and he was clearly only be concerned about getting me home safely."

 * … MEMORIES: Carolyn Wilson was a member of the Bakersfield College choir in 1962-63 and is looking for a copy of a vinyl record made featuring Gabriel Faure's requiem. "I am appealing to those who may have a clean copy of this recording so that I can get a professionally mastered CD copy of it. I am willing to buy or borrow a copy as this recording has special memories for me and my family. If you cant help Carolyn, call her at (559) 432-8553.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

H. Walker's Clothing store gets a facelift, some bad form from a panhandler and a car wash does its part to combat California's long drought

 * … BAD FORM: Linda Welch shared a story about a young panhandler who was standing in front of the McDonald's on North Chester along with his dog. She happened to have a can of dog food in her
car, and handed to the man. "He looked at the can and said, 'but lady this is dog food.' And I said 'yeah, and you have a dog.' By the way, not one time did he say thanks," she said. "So much for being taken in." (file photo)

 * … H. WALKER'S: H. Walker's Men Clothing has closed its downtown location for a complete remodel. Owner Tracy Walker-Kiser said the store, now in its 43rd year of business including 16 at its K street location, is getting new furniture and carpeting and will reopen in early August. Plans call for an expanded shoe section surrounded by a new sitting area, as well as an expanded line of fragrances for both men and women. The store will reopen on August 12.

 * … SMOOT: Lauren Smoot, a fixture over at the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, has landed a new job as director of policy and community affairs at the Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government. Smoot earned her bachelor's degree from Fresno State and is working on her master's degree in community development from Kansas State University. At the Chamber Smoot served as communications manager.

  * … DROUGHT: Kudos to the folks over at Sparkling Image Carwash on 24th Street where they are taking the drought seriously. Said reader Sue Lueth: "You know your column may have rubbed off on some of the other Kern County folks too, because I went to the Sparkling Image Carwash on 24th St. this Saturday. Of all of the restaurants, businesses, and even stylists shops I see over the course of a year, this is the first place in Kern County I have run across that has the water taps adjusted in the restrooms to 5 to 10 second bursts of water to wash. And what a great place to implement water conversation,  just quick pulse of water and the job is done. Kudos to them and maybe others will follow."

* … BUFFET: Steve Ramsey had the pleasure of meeting Jimmy Buffet recently during a concert in Boston. "When speaking with him, I told him I was from Bakersfield and that he was the most requested act to come and perform at the Rabobank Arena. I asked him if he thought that this would ever be possible.  He said he would mention our conversation to his business manager and see what happens. At least I put the bug in his ear. To all the Parrotheads in Bakersfield, let's keep our fingers crossed

 * … WATER MEMORIES: This nugget from the past comes compliments of Ronal Reynier. "If you remember this you are as old as me: the artesian water wells along a narrow county road named Stockdale Highway that ran to a golf course way out in the country. The wells fed ice cold water into six foot wide cement ditches that you could float in on a hot summers day for at least a mile; more if you liked to walk. If it was a lucky day someones dad would be waiting at the end to take you back to your bicycles. Do you remember the creek that ran where Stockdale and Monitor are now? You youngsters out there have memories of the South Union Avenue Plunge, its ice-cold artesian well; as well as its 20 foot (I dare you) platform. Water, water everywhere and in some years a foot or so in the Westchester area."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What kind of person dumps a young cat and her kitten and drives away like nothing happened? And more on those telephone scams going on around town

 * … SCAM: More on those telephone scams going on around town. From Alice Merenback: "Today, I received 11 phone calls (obviously their machine jammed, because it was the same message each time). The caller had a very strong foreign accent and told me that my house and bank accounts were going to have a lien on them within 24 hours due to my tax default. He said a bill collection
officer would contact me soon to complete my paperwork... Since my bills are all paid up, I was more amused than anything, but they might be calling people randomly who do have tax problems, so I think you might spread the word.  I did look on my call log, but the number there was marked 'private' so I could not locate the origin of the call."

 * … BAD FORM: Beverly Hayden submitted this bit of bad form that is almost beyond belief. "As my husband and I were standing on our driveway the worst of human kind, three women inside a pick up, pulled up at the end of our cal de sac and dumped a young cat and kitten. They drove away as we shook our fists at them." The couple tried to take the cats to the SPCA, but there was no room, but in the end their friends took the cats to their ranch. "Thank goodness for folks like them who come along and clean up other people's mess. As for the ladies in the pick up, we wonder what your trip home was like, probably just relief as you couldn't have dumped those cats if you had a conscience."

 * … OVERHEARD: A young woman at a Starbucks in the Northwest orders a 600-calorie drink with whipped cream but declines a muffin because "I am on a diet."

 * … HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Happy birthday to the Westside Parkway, which has brought untold relief to so many folks across town.

 * … SPOTTED: Ardith Gash wrote to comment on a recent story titled '5 Common Mistakes That Will Derail Your Career.' "I was shopping at Home Depot and one of the sales ladies was wearing a top that was positively indecent. Not a little cleavage showing but practically letting it all hang out. I found it inappropriate and disgusting."

 * … EMMY: File this under the heading "local girl does well." Alexis Nelson, a graduate of the East Bakersfield High School MultiMedia Academy Class of 2006, has been nominated for an EMMY Award for her work on graphics on the History Channel program "The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents."

 * … GOOD FORM: There is some good news over at the Dress for Success Bakersfield office. Executive director Elaine McNearney told me that the group has provided services to more than 150 women so far this year, more than the past two years combined. And, 41 percent of those women are now back in the workforce. Now that is good news.
 * … NAVY: Navy submarine veteran Gene Bonus shared these interesting facts about the changing face of our military. Said Gene: "Thought your readers would like to know of changes taking place in our U.S. Navy submarine force. There are now 60 female officers who are either in sub school training or have already been assigned to nuclear subs  Thirty female officers have been assigned to ten fast attack subs and twelve female officers have been assigned to four missile firing subs. Female officers have been assigned in groups of three. So far there have been no major problems or complaints. The only challenge has been with the men getting used to hearing female voices over the 1MC which is the main communication line.  The other challenge is the use of the officers’ 'head,' better known as the bathroom. There are only two showers and toilets aboard officers’ quarters, so there might be wait time involved."