Friday, October 3, 2014

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy: illegal smuggling of California almonds is undercutting Kern County producers, and he calls on India to reduce its tariff on U.S. grown almonds

 House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly update from Capitol Hill. In his own words:

 "This week, I was honored to be able to travel to the United States Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland where I visited with eleven midshipmen that I nominated for attendance. Having lunch with them along with the entire USNA Brigade is something that I will always remember. I also met with USNA Superintendent, Vice Admiral Ted Carter to discuss the important role service
academies play in shaping our nation’s future leaders. We discussed the future of the U.S. Navy, and the contributions the Academy is making in preparing these future officers for challenges facing our national security. And of course, Admiral Carter previewed the outlook of the storied football program for the remainder of the year.
 "These future leaders from our community will be serving and defending our nation in an increasingly dangerous world, and it is a reminder of the commitment these young men and women have made to our country.
 "I also met this week with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman about the importance of opening up markets for our local farmers.

 "The blessings of Mother Nature have helped the Central Valley become the largest fruit, nut, and vegetable producer in the country. But like so much of the food we grow here, it often helps feed the world. In particular, our almonds are very popular in India – one of the most populous countries in the world and one whose economy is growing exponentially. Needless to say, these conditions offer a boon to our producers.
 "Unfortunately, illegal smuggling of California almonds is undercutting our producers. To combat this, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has the ability to negotiate with the Indian government to reduce the tariff on U.S.-produced almonds thereby removing a major incentive for smuggling. In fact, in discussions with my staff, the Indian Embassy has expressed interest in doing this.
 "While only the Indians can decide to lower their tariff, I asked Ambassador Michael Froman, USTR’s top official, in a meeting this week to use every means at his disposal to execute a potential agreement with the Indians.  And the next day, I met with the Indian Prime Minister, who was visiting the U.S. After the meeting I handed a letter to Indian Ambassador to the United States reiterating my strong support for lowering the tariffs on U.S. almonds.
 "This week is a reminder that our community no doubt has a worldwide impact as we continue to feed the world and defend our nation.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

California State University Bakersfield welcomes its largest freshman class ever, and a local couple sings the praises of the amazing Noriega Hotel eating experience

 * … CSUB: There is some good news out at Cal State Bakersfield, where the university is welcoming its largest freshman class ever. President Horace Mitchell said more than 1,400 freshman are registered to start classes, boosting total enrollment to another record - just over 8,000 students.

* … NORIEGA: Shirley Brazel and her husband proved the old adage about taking time to appreciate the things that are close to home. They were dining at the Noriega Hotel with their son and his wife who had heard about the restaurant's well deserved reputation. "What a delightful evening we had," she said. " We sat at long table and engaged in conversations with strangers while enjoying
outstanding food as well as the atmosphere. This was a whole new experience for us (I usually prefer privacy at restaurants). My husband and I have lived in Bakersfield for seven years and the couple sitting near us could not believe we had never been to Noriega's before. As we said our good-byes to new acquaintances we expressed liking our evening. When we left, we learned this nice couple had paid for our dinner. We thank them so very much and we in turn will do the same to some one else. In the meantime that generous couple will be added to our daily prayers."

* … BAD FORM: Donna Cazacus encountered a bit of bad form that seems all too common around town. She was having lunch at California Pizza Kitchen the other day when she encountered two other women with three children, who were running wild around the restaurant. "I know you were enjoying your lunch because neither one of you paid any attention to what your children were doing; you made no attempt to discipline them," she wrote. "Apparently, you didn’t notice that most of the people in the restaurant were looking at you and your children in disbelief. And the people who were seated at the booth next to yours actually changed tables in an attempt to enjoy their lunch. The manager spoke to you twice about the situation, but you didn’t see fit to address the issue. Allow me to address it. Your mothering skills are abysmal—perhaps even nonexistent. Your children not only lack common manners, but by allowing them to behave as they did only teaches them not to have any respect for other people or for things that don’t belong to them... You are not preparing them to be in social situations. You are not preparing them to be able to sit still and focus when they go to school.  You are not preparing them for life. And, worst of all, you are allowing them to be a danger to themselves and to others!" Well said.

 * … OVERHEARD: A group of women who regularly walk on the Panorama bluffs in the morning are sharing ideas about how to keep the area clean of trash. Said one: "We should get McDonald's and Taco Bell and Burger King to sponsor the trash cans up here with signs thanking people for discarding their trash properly. Otherwise they just leave in in the gutter."

* … FUND RAISER: If it's October in Bakersfield you know we have entered the peak of fund raising season. One of my favorites it the 2nd annual barbecue benefitting the St. Vincent de Paul Homeless Center at 316 Baker Street. The event is set for next Thursday evening, October 9. I attended last year's inaugural event and it proved to be an extraordinary success. Nearly 800 steaks were served, and an estimated $70,000 was raised to help the eastside facility help the neediest in our community. For tickets, contact Deborah Leary at (661)  872-1543. It may be the most important $25 you spend this fall.

 * … RACER: Congratulations to Sean Dodenhoff, a Garces Memorial High graduate and now a junior at University of Nevada at Reno who won the Bay Cities Racing Association Midget racing championship three weeks ago. Said his proud grand father Arnold Johansen: "Sean drives a midget race car built by his dad, local chiropractor, Dr. Brad Dodenhoff.  Sean is a pre-med student and drives the race car on a part time basis as his classes allow.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Several readers wrote to correct an earlier post about local theaters, reminding me that the Rialto was located in East Bakersfield, not downtown. I stand corrected.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Is Krispy Kreme headed to Bakersfield? If not on California Avenue, then where? And if you are ready for some outstanding barbecue, head over to Quig's BBQ and Catering on the Garces Circle

 * … KRISPY KREME: It looks like I spoke too soon in announcing that Krispy Kreme will open a new store on California Avenue. Duane Keathley, senior partner at Cushman and Wakefield, conceded he erred in telling me the popular doughnut shop was returning to Bakersfield on California Avenue across from Barnes and Noble. "My
apologies," he said.  "Krispy Kreme was negotiating and told us that they had a deal here." But Keathley said there is good news: "Krispy Kreme is actively working on another site (not California Avenue), but it is not done." Stay tuned.

 * … FIRST FRIDAY: I am looking forward to the opening this Friday of an art show featuring the seascapes and landscapes of Santa Barbara and the California coast. It's happening at the Metro Galleries on 19th Street, all part of the First Friday celebration downtown. There will be new works by Mary-Austin Klein, David Allen Gordon, Bonnie Hineline-Kempner, Betty Leonor and Bob Rowley. (artwork by Mary-Austin Klein)

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: I finally dropped by Quig's BBQ and Catering on the Garces Circle after months of driving by and enjoying the irresistible scent of slow cooked ribs and pork. Owner Scott Quigley, West High/Bakersfield College/CSUB, was enjoying a brisk lunchtime business (he also specializes in catering events and weddings) and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint. Try the pulled pork sandwich platter that comes with some of the best French fries and cold iced tea in town.

 * … OVERHEARD: A young teacher is walking with her mother when she remarks: "You know you're from Bakersfield when the phrase 'a breath of fresh air' is not longer acceptable to say."

* … TAFT COLLEGE: A special couple is being honored by the Taft College Foundation Community Spirit Award.  That is the word from my friend Sheri Horn Bunk, head of the foundation, who told me that John and Betty Miller will be honored at the fifth annual Cougar Rib Eye Cookout on October 16 on the Taft College quad. Miller, 93, trained fighter pilots during World War II and later returned to Taft to work with his wife's sister who owned a grocery store. He later purchased Pacific Perforation that serviced the oil industry. Tickets are just $20.

* … FUND RAISER: If you can't wait for the Taft College barbecue, head up to Garces Memorial High School this Thursday for its annual Fall barbecue. The always popular event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. featuring Harris Ranch New York steak or chicken and tickets are just $25.

* … BAKERSFIELDISM: Retired Realtor Ken Barnes said you may be a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember all the local theaters that once graced downtown. "You had your choice of seven in a five square block area of downtown Bakersfield: the Nile, Fox, Kern, California, Rex, Rialto, and Virginia. Those really were the days before television became so popular."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Remembering Bakersfield first black police chief, Eric Matlock, and conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan will appear at Cal State Bakersfield this week

 * … RIP ERIC: I was saddened to hear of the death of Eric Matlock, Bakersfield's first African-American police chief who led an exemplary life inside and outside the department. I got to know Eric 15 years ago and had the pleasure to dine with him multiple times during some noon Rotary Club
meetings. He was always a gentlemen and was never without a broad, welcoming smile. He battled cancer for three years before succumbing last week at the age of 65. Too young for a man with such energy and natural kindness.

 * … KRISPY KREME: The news last week that Krispy Kreme is returning to Bakersfield went viral on social media websites. When I posted the news here on The Californian's Facebook page, more than 50,000 people read the post and almost 200 folks commented on it, a staggering number that speaks to our love affair with new restaurants in our community. Another post that received a lot of buzz: a place called The Habit Burger is also coming on California Avenue, a gourmet burger joint that has quite a following in places like Stockton, Visalia and Fresno.

 * … SULLIVAN: Kudos to the Kegley Institute of Ethics at Cal State Bakersfield for landing yet another outstanding speaker this week. On Wednesday, author and conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan will be speaking at the Dore Theatre at 7 p.m. Always provocative and a terrific thinker, Sullivan is the former editor of The New Republic and a frequent contributor to network news talk shows.

 * … DROUGHT: A reader passed along this note about neighbors who likes to keep their cars spotless: "We have two neighbors that each own three cars. They wash them at least twice a week. That is using a lot of water plus leaving it running while soaping the cars. Bakersfield needs some kind of restriction on that."

 * … JEWELRY: A unique art and jewelry boutique has opened downtown and will show off its wares at this week's First Friday downtown arts faire. Owned by Susan Ruppel, Wire and Pearl is located at 1911 17th Street. For First Friday, the shop will feature art by Yvonne Cavanaugh and Linda Brown and ceramic art by Alacrity.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM:  John Strand says you might be a Bakersfield old-timer "if you can remember when the most important decision you made on a weekend was which drive-in theater was showing your favorite movie. Choices were The Ninety-Nine, The South Chester, The Terrace, The Edison, and The Crest. Taft had The Sunset. We thought we were so clever by putting a couple of guys in the trunk!"