Friday, August 8, 2014

House Majority Leader McCarthy: "I support the air strikes" against the Islamic State and stand ready to confront this crisis

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, weighs in with his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "With each passing day, an unchecked ISIS grows more powerful, increasing in territory it occupies and continuing to target and kill religious minorities and moderate Muslims. These actions have
destabilized the entire Middle East region and have created the largest terrorist safe haven since September 11, 2001, posing a direct threat to the United States and our allies.

 "The threat to U.S. personnel in Erbil and the potential death of thousands of Christian and Yazidi minorities trapped on a mountaintop by ISIS militants in Iraq is but the latest example of ISIS' reign of terror.

 "I support the targeted air strikes authorized by the President.  Frankly the threat posed by ISIS requires a more fulsome response and a more comprehensive plan than has thus far been put forward by the Administration. We shouldn't wait until terrorists are at the doorstep of U.S. personnel or are threatening thousands of civilians with death on a mountaintop to confront this threat. I stand ready, as I know my colleagues on both sides of the aisle do, to work with the President and confront this crisis."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bakersfield loves a party, even if it's an invitation only sneak peek of the new outlets mall, and more scams involving the Kern County court system

 * … OVERHEARD:  The VIP opening of the Outlets of Tejon Wednesday evening was a huge success, at least judging from the crowd that paid $25 each to get a sneak peek. One friend
likened it to "a big party" even though she was stranded on Interstate 5 for 20 minutes exiting the freeway because of the traffic. But not everyone thought it was so special. A middle-aged man was overheard talking to a friend about the event. "How was it?" he was asked. "Horrible," he responds. "Typical Bakersfield trying too hard to get excited. A new Target is not to be celebrated. And outlet stores are just outlet stores."

 * … SCAMS: This must be the season for telephone scams, because I seem to hear about a new one almost every day. Judi House shared this one: "Two people I know have received phone calls in the past two days stating that the caller is a warrant officer for our court system, calling regarding a fine being due for not responding to a court order to appear as a witness for the Grand Jury. The courts or the Grand Jury would not call on the phone to collect money. My understanding is it would be delivered either by letter or in person with a subpoena and most likely from the District Attorney's Office. All fines then would be paid to the County of Kern – not on a pre-paid cash card as requested by the caller. Also, you would have to have a file number assigned to your case – which wasn’t even mentioned in the phone call. Just remember: if in doubt call the court house they would be happy to help you."

 * … DONUTS: Kelly Giblin helped clear up why someone was selling Krispy Kreme donuts in the parking lot across from Barnes and Noble the other day. "This was no panhandling pastry pariah, but was actually one of several locations set up around town selling Krispy Kreme donuts as a fundraiser for McKee Road Baptist Church, which is raising funds for a mission trip to Mexico.," she said. "I understand that this is a very successful fundraising program offered by Krispy Kreme, but given the fact that there is no longer a location in Bakersfield, the church members must drive to Los Angeles in the very early morning hours to bring the donuts back warm and fresh. I can vouch that they were delicious and all of us working at the AIS Cancer Center and Lemonade Locks Wig Boutique enjoyed the boxes that were delivered to us by the church."

 * … PARTY SCHOOLS: For all you parents getting ready to send a child off to college, here is this year's list of the top party schools as ranked by The Princeton Review. Syracuse University claimed the top spot, followed by the University of Iowa (last year's winner), the University of California-Santa Barbara, West Virginia University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (file photo of USCB party)

 * … BAD FORM: Becky Whitehead contributed this really odd thing that happened to her 80-year-old sister. "While turning right in her car off Bernard into the Home Depot parking lot my sister stopped for a pedestrian who was a dark-complected bearded giant of a man carrying two long  boards. My sister stopped for him to cross the street, and he stared at her with such hate that it in itself was very scary  He then proceeded to bang on her car with his boards. The car is badly dented, and my sister is still emotionally upset about it. Thank goodness she didn’t try to spray him with her pepper spray as she first thought of doing. He would definitely have over-powered her and who knows what would have happened. She just moved her car forward, and he got out of the way. She went on to Office Depot and called the police who took her report, but of course the guy was gone by the time they got there.  I must mention that my sister is 80 years old and weighs maybe 110 pounds."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Two initiatives may go on the November ballot in Colorado to curtail fracking, and The New York Times accepts its first advertising for medical marijuana

 * … FRACKING: Keep an eye on a movement in Colorado to restrict hydraulic
fracturing, the oil and gas extraction method that has led to a boom in production across the country, including here in Kern County. There may be two initiatives on the November ballot there, one requiring all new oil and gas wells to be set back 2,000 feet from a school or home, and the other giving cities more control over drilling. Like here in Kern County, fracking has helped create thousands of jobs and doubled the number of active wells in the last decade and any local or statewide restrictions could have a serious negative impact on the local economy.

 * … MARIJUANA: A sure sign of the times appeared in the Sunday edition of The New York Times, when the paper ran its first advertising ever for medicinal marijuana. This comes after the state legalized marijuana to be prescribed for medical conditions. The ad was for a mobile app called Leafly, which bills itself as the “Yelp for marijuana” and allows users to browse a catalog of cannabis products and find and review medical marijuana dispensaries in their area. The newspaper made headlines earlier when it ran a series of editorials calling on the federal government to repeal its ban on cannabis.

 * … BRICKS: Smart move by the city of Bakersfield to reverse itself and say the donated bricks at Centennial Plaza will not be dug up and trashed. The reasoning for removing the bricks - that they might pose a hazard to walkers because they had worn unevenly - was always curious to me. If that were the case, where is the rush to replace or repair all the sidewalks around town that are in such disrepair?

* … SPOTTED: I loved this Facebook post from Californian writer Steven Mayer: "If Bakersfield were my wife, I would divorce her annually between June and September and run off with my mistresses, Avila, Pismo and Shelly."

 * … LA COSTA: One of my favorite restaurants in town, La Costa Mariscos on 21st Street, is moving to the iconic Ice House. Owner Maria Coward told me customers can expect the same intimate experience and quality food that the restaurant has been serving since 1992. The grand opening will happen at the end of this month.

* …. KUDOS: Jannie Helton wrote to commend Orchard Supply and Hardware (OSH) on their outstanding customer service. "It is very frustrating shopping at our local stores and not finding anyone on the floor to help in locating items. I recently shopped at OSH and was hit with a WELCOME to OSH just as I walked in the store, not to mention several employees on the floor asking if I needed help without my asking. The smiles and knowledge of their employees was outstanding. Good customer service is really rare. This store was outstanding. Thank you OSH for making my shopping experience a very pleasant one. You have a customer for life and I will certainly recommend you."

  * … SABRINA: Odd story out of Sacramento where a former KBAK (29) TV anchor has been arrested on shoplifting charges. Sabrina Rodriguez, who spent two years at KBAK and is now an anchor with Fox 40, was charged with helping shoplift more than $2,500 worth of purses from a Coach outlet. Her fiancĂ©, Nicholas Gray was also arrested on more serious arson and drug charges.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Is the national housing market slowing down, and what does that mean for buyers and sellers? And good samaritans show some really good form to strangers

 * … HOUSING: The housing rebound continues with its fits and starts, and now comes word that a slowdown may be underway. On the national level, The Wall Street Journal notes that home prices rose 9.3 percent in May compared to the same period last year. That is certainly good news, but the
Journal warned that "there are growing signs of a slowdown. While the current weakness could provide investors with an opportunity to place new wagers and lower prices, analysts warn that the environment has become more challenging." For home buyers, the Journal noted, "the slowdown is good: Slowing price rains and low interest rates make homes more affordable."

 * … GOOD FORM: Lucy Gallardo wrote to share this random act of kindness. "My parents are in their 80s and my dad is having heart surgery next week. On Tuesday of this week, we dropped off their vehicle for repairs with Juan, the owner of Performance Off Road and Auto Accessories. The repairs were going to take about two hours so we went to breakfast at one of my parents favorite places….. Lil Spencers.  While there, an anonymous angel paid for our breakfast. Then it was time to pick up my parents' vehicle and the owner did not charge them for his services. As we were driving off, the owner says, 'I will be praying for your husband's surgery next week.' Wow, a double act of kindness in one day! Thank you for making my parents day, they were so moved by your acts of kindness.

 * … SPOTTED: A woman is telling a coworker about a tan and a plastic folding table parked in the dirt lot across from Marie Callender's, selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts of all things. "A man was standing on sidewalk waving a small Krispy Kreme banner. I wonder how far they brought these presumably bootleg doughnuts from." she said.

 * … WATER: The rain and wind we experienced Sunday triggered the predictable round of photos posted on Facebook showing wet road and rain drops on sidewalks, yet further evidence how desperate we are in this long drought. And reader Gil Nolasco added this idea about water conservation: "Hi Richard, I started to flush out my pool filters in the driveway like I usually do but I immediately felt guilty of letting the water go down the gutter. Then I realized, hey move over to the lawn, dummy! What little hair and dirt won't hurt the grass. The gardeners will clean it up when they come by. Problem solved. I also thought, I usually don't use any soap when I wash the car (cars don't get body odor) just water and sponge, why not do a 'hillbilly bath?' Park the car on the lawn and wash it down. Too low class? Or the future of car washing? Just be careful not to run over your sprinklers!"

 * … ROTARY: Another shout out to the Rotary West club for once again helping needy children prepare for school. The event is Child Spree, where each child participates in a $100 back to school shopping indulgence at Kohl's. Said Vija A. Turjanis for the county Mental Health Department: "If not for this event, many of these children would not start the school year with brand new outfits. Most of these children have experienced severe trauma and are on their way of becoming healthy children, and really benefit from positive childhood experiences. Shopping for school clothes, getting a new backpack, (and of course a hot breakfast sandwich) is a great way to start the school year."

* … GROVE: Assemblywoman Shannon Grove has appointed Greg Burt as her new communications director. Previously Burt worked as a reporter in Colorado, worked for a member of Congress and a State Senator in Orange County.