Thursday, November 6, 2014

Voters in Santa Barbara County reject a ban on hydraulic fracturing, while two other California counties (Mendocino and San Benito) approve similar measures

 * … FRACKING: Voters in Santa Barbara County strongly rejected a measure that would have restricted hydraulic fracturing. The measure, which oil companies opposed by pouring
millions of dollars into the campaign, was rejected by 62.6 percent of the voters. But similar measures in two other counties - San Benito and Mendocino - were approved. Meanwhile, in the college town of Denton, Texas, which sits on a huge natural gas field, also approved a measure to restrict fracking. Said one report: "The proposal in Denton, a university town about 40 miles north of Dallas, was a litmus test on whether any community in Texas — the nation's biggest oil and gas producer — could rebuff the industry and still thrive." A legal challenge to the Denton ban was immediately launched, and this fight will now head to the courts. (AP photo)

 * … MARIJUANA: Meanwhile, the results of mid-term elections this week revealed that efforts to legalize marijuana are gaining steam across the country, particularly in the West. Voters in both Alaska and Oregon approved legalization measures, joining Colorado and Washington which previously legalized recreational marijuana. And, voters in Washington, D.C., also approved a measure to allow the use and cultivation (but not retail sales) of cannabis.

  * … FIRST FRIDAY: It's time for another First Friday in the downtown arts district. Always a great evening to check out all that's happening downtown, Metro Galleries on 19th Street has a new exhibit featuring former Californian journalist Christine Iriarte Niswonger. She has created a series of paintings that reflect on her years as newspaper reporter in Bakersfield and other cities. The First Friday ArtWalk continues to grow and this month will feature 50 local artists. Be sure to check out Tina's Cookies N More, a new bake shop that has opened next to Metro on Eye Street.

 * … SPOTTED: This bumper sticker was spotted on a truck recently: "Misplaced Texan."

 * … PETS: My post about a dog being treated after eating methamphetamines drew this comment from Carol Knapp: "A couple of years ago my son's German short hair appeared to have been poisoned while spending the weekend at our Lake Isabella cabin.  She couldn't stand up and was really goofy.  So, as usual these emergencies always happen on the weekends and the vet bill was around $600 to find out the dog ate marijuana.  A presumed hazard of having acreage close to the high school with many boulders that make  good hiding places for a bag of weed but not so safe from hunting dogs!"

 * … ACHIEVERS: More good news on some of our local students. This from Robin Jaske: "My daughter (Paige Kobdish) graduated from Bakersfield Christian High School in 2013 and was recruited by San Diego State University for its music program since she is a double reed player, few and far between. Also Hunter Raney (father is Mike Raney of BSO fame) is an accomplished trumpet player and is attending Cal State Bakersfield where he is very active in their music program. One more shout out to Zach Thoennes who is a performance major at UCLA with some great performances in their famous marching band!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bakersfield is the No. 4 market in the nation for political advertising on the radio and some nice props for Janis Varner and her work in our community

* …POLITICS: If you feel like you are inundated with political attack ads locally, there is a good reason for it. According to the organization Media Monitors, Bakersfield ranks No. 4 nationally as a
market with the most radio political advertising. That's right, we rank right behind Fresno, Chicago and San Francisco as markets with the most political advertising on local radio. That's a pretty impressive number, considering the California gubernatorial campaign is not as heated as in many other states.

* … PRESERVE: Several readers have contacted me to clear the air about a project to preserve the area below the Panorama Bluffs near the bike path. Said Andy Honis, Kern River Corridor Endowment Board Member and Panorama Vista volunteer: "This is a project that a number of us have invested thousands of volunteer hours in. We want to enhance wildlife habitat around the Kern River as well as to provide recreational opportunities for the people of Bakersfield. We expect the result to be something that Bakersfield can point to with pride. People can learn a great amount about our preserve by going to our website ''"

* … JANIS: Janis Varner is a tireless supporter of so many good causes in our community, and it's nice to see her receive some well deserved recognition. Mike Stricker, who like Janis is a big fan of CSUB wrestling, dropped me this note: "For the last two years I've watch as the veterans and the Honor Flight Veterans were honored and recognized at a CSUB wrestling match thanks to the efforts of Janis Varner. How nice is this ... Thanks Janis (The Official Team Mom of the CSUB Wrestling Team) Varner." (file photo of Janis Varner, right)

 * … OVERHEARD: A cat owner who was visiting a veterinary hospital after Halloween is sharing the story about seeing a dog in the waiting room high on methamphetamines. "They didn't know if someone fed meth to the dog or if he had found it himself. They say they see dogs on drugs all the time."

* …. ATHLETES: It is always nice to catch up on local student athletes that have taken their talents to the collegiate level. Here's an update compliments of reader Tom Schroeter: "Another example of Kern County athletes playing Division 1 sports occurred (recently) when two local athletes who had played against each other in high school faced one another again. Big 10 Women's volleyball teams from the University of Nebraska and Rutgers University met at Rutgers. Kelsey Fien (2012 Titan/Bakersfield Volleyball Club) started as outside hitter for the Huskers, and Ali Schroeter (2012 Driller/Club Jamba) was starting libero for the Scarlet Knights. The game was streamed live on the BTN plus network. The Huskers, ranked 14th nationally, came away with the victory in three hard fought sets. Fien had 12 kills with a hitting percentage of .321 and Schroeter, who is fifth in the Big 10 Conference in digs/set, had 21 digs."

 * … SCAM: My personal physician, Dr. Raj Patel of Preferred Family Medical, shared with me this email scam that is too ridiculous not to share. The email allegedly came from an African diplomat and warned Raj, in broken English complete with misspellings, that his ATM card had access to $2.7 million if he would pay a fee to renew the card. "Really," Patel said, "this is too funny."

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Kevin Sneed says you know you are getting old when "most of the history news in the Today In History section in the newspaper is younger than you."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: is President Obama about to cut a deal with Iran on its nuclear program at the expense of U.S. relations with Israel?

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

  "In recent weeks, the public has heard disturbing revelations about the White House’s approach to our challenges in the Middle East.  As our military continues to fight to keep the terrorist organization ISIS he Administration is dually in negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program.
from metastasizing throughout the region and from potentially carrying out terrorist activity in the West, t

  "Iran has yet to prove that it is willing to negotiate for a deal acceptable to the West. We know one thing for certain: we cannot accept an Iran with nuclear weapons. Iran has a bad human rights record, which has even worsened recently. It is a sponsor of state terrorism, an enemy of our greatest Middle East ally, Israel, and a destabilizing influence in the region.

 "These negotiations face a deadline at the end of November and reports indicate that the Administration is ready to make a deal with Iran and provide significant sanctions relief to the Iranian regime without Congressional support. While this “go at it alone” approach is distressing, it is made even more worrisome in light of additional reports that the Administration may be willing to yet again make significant concessions to the Iranians. There is overwhelming, bipartisan concern on Capitol Hill about Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, its sponsorship of terrorism, its promotion of instability throughout the region, and its appalling human rights record. I can promise that Congress will conduct extensive oversight regarding the details of any deal or extension of the current Joint Plan of Action.

 "But earlier this week, the Administration’s disrespectful attitude to our closest allies in the region was made public. Speaking anonymously, a White House official attacked the character of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. These are not isolated insults; they are part of a pattern of disrespectful and profoundly counterproductive behavior that has strained the critical alliance between the United States and Israel.

 :"No ally of the United States is perfect and neither is any American administration.  But responsibility Presidents ensure their advisors work through policy differences with our closest partners respectfully and through the appropriate channels. The U.S. Congress is firmly committed to the U.S.-Israel alliance and will continue to resolutely oppose unilateral efforts by the Palestinians at the United Nations, and demand that Palestinian leaders join Israel in seeking a negotiated, two-state solution to the conflict that allows both sides to live in peace and security.

  "It is imperative that the President publicly repudiate both of these incidents and commit to working with Congress and supporting our great ally in the region.

A huge thunderstorm rolls through Bakersfield and it's the talk of the town, and more on those IRS telephone scams that are targeting so many Kern County residents

 * … RAIN: Who knew that a passing rainstorm could pick up our spirits? The rain (and wasn't Friday night amazing?) was the No. 1 topic in town over the weekend and everyone is hoping for more. Which brings us to this: You know you are from Bakersfield when you take pictures and video of the rain and post it on social networking websites. (photos by Don Martin and Christina Sweet)

* … IRS SCAMS: Our community is being inundated by telephone sammers posing as Internal Revenue Service agents. One reader called to say she returned home to find a "very threatening" message on her answering machine from someone claiming to be front the IRS. When she called Bakersfield police, an officer told her more than 150 people a day are complaining about the scams.

 * … SCAMS: And it gets worse. Kati McKeown in Rep. Kevin McCarthy's office passed along this note from an IRS official:  "The calls can seem scary and legitimate at the beginning. They know your name, they know the last four digits of your Social Security Numbewr, and they reference a specific amount of money that you owe. They insist on immediate payment, even threatening arrest if you hang up! They sometimes keep victims on their cell phone the whole time they are going to the store and buying the pre-paid card. The latest twist is that they tell victims to show up with payment at a specific IRS office. It is not the one closest to the victim’s home. It is often an inconvenient 50 miles away. (Using the IRS office makes this seem more legitimate.) After the victim acquires the pre-paid card, the scammer 'generously' offers to let them off the hook for the lengthy drive. They 'permit' the victim to settle the debt by giving the scammer the numbers off the back of the card, without having to make the trip to the IRS office. If you could help us share just one message, it would be this: The Internal Revenue Service NEVER directs taxpayers to put money on a pre-paid card!"

 * … POLLUTION: This thoughtful note came from Carlos Luna, who was traveling west on 7th Standard Road recently when he spotted a huge mound of almond trees burning near Snow Road.
"This farmer may have had a permit or was in a hurry to get rid off the trees before regulation for no burn days takes effect. May I mention it was a hazy day our surrounding mountains were slightly
visible yet this farmer was burning. The Air Resource Board continues to cut back on citizens burn days, however allows farmers to burn huge piles of green wood. Where is the logic? We get home that afternoon listening to the TV news telling us to brown bag it, don't idle the car, walk kids to school
you get the picture. The ARB should encourage these farmers to take their trees to nearby co-gens or make mulch for our freeways  The co-gens will at least clean up the exhaust before leaving the stacks, but no they want to eliminate our burn nights and fireplaces."

 * … ACHIEVER: Hats off to Lindsay Pearson, a junior at Frontier High School who has been accepted into the 2015 Investigative Journalism Program at Boston University next summer. Her father is Jerry Pearson, a partner at the law firm of Young Wooldridge.

 * … GOP: Karen DeWalt dropped me a note to remind be that the Bakersfield Republican women are gearing up for their annual Pizzazz Luncheon and Fashion Show. The theme is "Celebrating America" and Assemblywoman Shannon Grove will be the guest speaker. The event is Tuesday, Nov. 11 at the Bakersfield Marriott. Tickets can be purchased by calling (661) 477-7004 cost is $50.

 * … MEMORIES: Bud King remembers when "you could bring a Golden Crust wrapper to the Tejon Theater on a Saturday in the summer and get in free if you were a kid. Years later my dad's company, King Trucking, tore down the old bakery. "