Friday, November 14, 2014

House Majority Leader McCarthy: the House passes a bill to approve the Keystone pipeline and now it is time for the president to support it

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader and a Bakersfield Repbulican, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week marked the return to Congress following the November elections. On November 4th, the American people sent a message to Washington, DC.  It was a message of frustration and discontent
with the direction of our great nation. The American people want Washington to function again and get our country moving in the right direction.

 "The House has fought against this Administration’s government-first agenda that continues to put the direction of the economy more in the hands of Washington and federal agencies, and not with local communities or the private sector.  One of the policy areas that can immediately have a positive impact on creating jobs and jumpstarting our economy is to focus on enhancing our nation’s energy production.  We should encourage more domestic energy production as well as focus on updating our energy infrastructure.

 "Few things in this country have more bipartisan and nationwide support as approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The states it would run through support it. Our northern ally, Canada, supports it. Most importantly, the American people support it because the project will create jobs and lead America one step closer to North American energy independence.  If this decision were based on merits alone, Keystone would have been approved and built years ago. The President said himself that a critical decision point would rest on levels of increased emissions—something his own State Department said will not be a problem.

 "After over six years of waiting and with no reason to wait further, it’s time to act.  Today the House passed H.R. 5682, which would immediately approve the Keystone pipeline.  I am hopeful that the Senate will finally follow the House’s lead to get this project off the ground, and send the bill to the President for his signature."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The millenial generation has a negative savings rate, a reader weighs in on the best burgers around town and the hysteria over hydraulic fracturing reaches an airport bar in Denver

  * … SAVINGS: If you have children under the age of 35 (this is the millenial generation) a recent report about their lack of ability to save money may not surprise you. According to the Wall Street
Journal, this generation has a negative 2 percent savings rate, making their position in the world "increasingly precarious despite five years of economic growth and sustained job creation. A lack of savings increases the vulnerability of young workers in the post recession economy, leaving many without a financial cushion for unexpected expenses."

 * … FOODIE: Bryan Kelley wrote to send his recommendations on the best burgers in town after I visited Ethel's Corral. "I can only hope that you ordered the (Ethel's) buffalo burger. THAT is the reason you brave the rattlesnake signage! Trust me on burgers… I do not carry around 75-plus vanity pounds from eating at salad bars. Ethel's buffalo burger, Lie-n-Den backyard burger, Happy Jack's California burger. Simple." (photos of Lie-n-Den burgers)

 * … BAD FORM: I was verbally accosted over the issue of hydraulic fracking at a Denver International Airport bar this week when a stranger learned I was from Bakersfield. "You are causing earthquakes, contaminating water and poisoning the earth!" he bellowed. I found another pub and left thinking the oil and gas industry needs to do a better job in telling its side of the story.

* … KART RACING: Heard the other day that Mason Marotta, a CSUB student and 20-year-old son of Mike and Lynda Marotta, is heading to Spain for the world championships in kart racing. Mason was invited to join the Rotax Team USA for the World Game Final in Valencia, Spain, competing against drivers from more than 60 counteis. The race is Nov. 25-29.

 * …COACH: The East Bakersfield High School community lost one of its own recently with the death of former head football coach and teacher Armando (AJ) Vazquez. He was beloved as an inspirational teacher and coach who always displayed a positive spirit. Keep his family in your thoughts.

 * … GOOD NEWS: And finally, kudos to the Stockdale Christian Band wind ensemble which is raising money to play a concert at Carnegie Hall in the spring of 2016. Said band chair Donna Johns Hylton:  "Giving these young students an opportunity to perform at a prestigious concert venue as Carnegie Hall will create lasting memories and a positive ripple effect in our community." she said. "The band performed at Disneyland Friday and now fundraising is in full swing to reach the $600,000 goal by spring of 2016 for instruments and the trip! I'm thrilled to be chairing this wonderful cause for these young musicians!"

Monday, November 10, 2014

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy: we honor the sacrifice of our veterans but our government lets them down

 House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy submits this note to recognize Veteran's Day.

 "Every November 11th, our great nation thanks those who have served in our Armed Forces and reflects upon the sacrifice of that service. In times of great crisis and need, willing citizens have answered the call to shoulder the burdens of conflict and war for the preservation of peace.
Those we honor today have faced dangers most of us cannot comprehend. Separated from family and friends, they were sent to every corner of the earth to fight for America and its principles. And they have continually demonstrated a heroism that is both unique and has been a defining aspect of our Armed Forces since the birth of our Republic.

 "Communities throughout the country often reflect upon this time through experiences with family and friends. For us, we remember and celebrate the meaning of Veterans Day together honoring our brave veterans that call our community home. The blessings of living and working with the finest men and women our nation has to offer cannot be understated.

  "Unfortunately, this year our nation discovered just how far short our government has fallen in caring for our veterans. The scandal of secret waiting lists and an unprecedented amount of backlogged disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs was shameful and an indignity to our veterans. While this scandal broke onto the front pages of national papers and evening news-casts the past few months, the troubles, inadequacies, and failures of the VA have been a source of frustration to our veterans for many years now.

  "Since I came into Congress, I have focused my efforts on reviewing and auditing the VA and implementing real changes that help our veterans. Finally, just a few short months ago we were able to enact change that begins a fundamental reform of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Our duty is to make sure that scandals like this never happen again. The reforms that we passed in Congress and signed into law are a promising first step to making an efficient VA happen, and more must be done. I am committed to building on these reforms to guarantee our veterans see the highest quality of care that they were promised and deserve.

 "We are grateful and thankful to our veterans on this day, but we should thank them each and every day for the great blessings of liberty and human dignity we enjoy and that have been preserved by their efforts. May our veterans always enjoy the peace and freedom they fought to protect and preserve, and may our country never cease to honor them.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The percentage of first-time buyers in the housing market continues to shrink, remembering Wendy Wayne and celebrating some iconic watering holes around our community

 * … HOUSING: Some nuggets on the sputtering recovery in our home sales: the National
Association of Realtors says fewer young people see home ownership as a goal, and the statistics support that. Only 33 percent of homes were bought by first time buyers this year, the lowest level since the late 1980s. Home prices are rising while wages are stagnent, freezing out many first time buyers. The average age of the first time buyer has now risen to 31.

* … FOODIE: I was intrigued by my colleague Pete Tittl's Sunday review of Ethel's Old Corral Cafe so I stopped by for a look-see with a friend after a nice hike in the hills overlooking Hart Park. Every town in America has its iconic bars and restaurants, and certainly Ethel's is one of our's. Rustic and unassuming but full of character, this should be a destination for anyone looking to get off the beaten path for something unique to what makes Bakersfield a special town. While there, I also heard folks talking about the new owners of the Pyrenne's Cafe, who have done some renovations that are bringing the old place back. Yet another example of one of the many iconic watering holes in our community.

 * … OVERHEARD: I heard this on Friday while having lunch at Luigi's Restaurant and Delicatessan: "There's hardly a day goes by that I don't think of Wendy Wayne and her kindness and spirit. How many people can you say that about who are gone?" For those of you who didn't know her, Wendy was a community activist with a huge heart who died of cancer two years ago at the age of 64.

 * … MUSIC: Every so often,  a singer comes along with a voice so singular and captivating, that he or she can sing anything and mesmerize a room.  That is New Orleans-bred Andrew Duhon who could sing "Mary Had a Little  Lamb" and have people on their edges of their seats. There are traces of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and various blues singers, Andrew's voice is ageless even though he's not yet 30. He's performing at the Bakersfield Museum of Art  6 p.m. (doors open at 5) Sunday, Nov 16.  Buy a ticket online at Eventbrite or at the door.

* … GOOD FORM: This letter from Twilla Klassen brightened my day, and I hope it does the same for you. Said Twilla: "What a blessing my friend David Urner and I had last Friday (Halloween) at Mexicali West. A young couple was in a booth across from us as we walked in for lunch. We said hello and sat down. When we got ready to leave the waiter gave David this note: 'To the cutest couple in the bar. We lost a grandmother yesterday. It was nice to sit and hear your banter and we wanted to buy your lunch. Have a wonderful weekend. Happy Halloween.' Thank you two so much. We have show the note to lot of people … this was special for us."

* … MEMORIES: Sue Anderson wrote to ask if anyone remembers the old Community Club Awards Program that was around in the mid to late 1960s. "The idea was that you would purchase certain items (Pepsi, Arby’s, etc) or patronize certain stores. Then you would save receipts, bottle caps, and other proofs of purchase, turn them in to your organizer and your club would be rewarded with cash prizes. The idea was great, but somehow it turned into more of a scavenger hunt  I remember going to gas stations and asking them to save their bottle caps, and had restaurants saving bread wrappers for me. I even remember my dad in a dumpster in the back of a neighborhood Thriftimart looking for cash register receipts!"