Saturday, December 6, 2014

House Majority Leader McCarthy: California's drought cannot go unanswered by Congress; the House responded but will the Senate?

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

 "Our community is facing the burdens of the worst drought in a century, which has led to barren farms and drastic water shortages, and job and economic loss. We have reached this point after years of
inaction by Senate Democrats while ill-conceived policies have continued to prioritize the well-being of fish above people. Though only Mother Nature can dictate the duration of the drought, the situation demands immediate action to address government-created barriers to ensure available water flows throughout our state and not washed out to the ocean.

  "After the House and Senate passed separate California water bills this year, months were spent working on a bipartisan compromise for a long-term solution. Unfortunately, the Senate was pressured to quit negotiations at the last minute.

  "This crisis cannot go unanswered, and the House’s unwavering commitment to find a solution has led to the California Emergency Drought Relief Act, introduced by Congressman David Valadao. Due to the urgent nature of the water crisis, the House will vote on this legislation next week.

 "The first storms of the season are currently over California, with hopefully more to come in the subsequent months. It would be reckless and irresponsible to let the water from these storms be released into the ocean rather than directed to our local communities in need. The California Emergency Drought Relief Act contains provisions from the original Senate-passed bill and from the House’s negotiations with the Senate. Absent action now, California will continue to lose the water from storms in this water year and will face another year of devastating water-crisis. While more must be done toward a long-term solution, this legislation is another critical step to provide relief to our communities suffering from the drought. I am honored that as Majority Leader, the House will have this legislation on the floor for a vote and I hope the Senate will also vote on this bill.

 "Understandably, next week is an important week in Congress that could have a positive impact on lives of our neighbors. But this past week the House acted on legislation that also has a significant impact on thousands of families in California and countless others across the country that have a family member who is disabled. But despite a disability, many disabled Americans who want to live independent lives are unable to do so because of financial constraints.  The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE Act) is legislation that will both empower and help ease the burden of disabled Americans by letting them and their families create tax-free accounts that can be used to pay for education, housing, transportation, or other disability-related expenses. It’s no wonder that this bill passed with widespread, bipartisan support, because it gives individuals with disabilities more opportunities by clearing away some of the obstacles they face so that they can achieve a better life.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A moving tribute to the late civic activist Wendy Wayne, a new cooking studio to open in downtown Bakersfield and some wild bike races out at Hart Park this weekend

 * … TRIBUTE: Yvonne Torres is one of many people who were lucky enough to call the late
Wendy Wayne a friend. But her story, unlike others, has an interesting parallel, and her tribute to the late civic organizer who died two years ago is moving. In her words: "I have worked for KSCOS and I knew Wendy for 20 years and I can’t tell you how much she meant to me. She was my mentor and my friend. To this day I keep her picture by my desk because I want to live my life like Wendy. I’ve always wanted to live my life like Wendy. She was prefect in every way. To be in her presence you knew she was an angel like no other. In May 2014, I was sent to CBCC (Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center) for iron infusion and my best friend said, 'Hey why are you with the chemotherapy people you don’t have cancer and you are no Wendy Wayne.' We both laughed. Then on June 6 I was diagnosed with double breast cancer. As I follow in Wendy’s steps I went to City of Hope Hospital, my surgery was at Torrance Memorial, and I do radiation at San Joaquin Hospital. Every day I walk past her research library and do my radiation and it breaks my heart I miss her so much. I always wanted to be like Wendy Wayne, but not like this."

 * … SPOTTED: Local appraiser Gary Crabtree spotted this bumper sticker and passed it on to me:  “My kid was Inmate of the Month at Lerdo.” Only in Bakersfield.

 * … THE KITCHEN: Another new eatery is coming to downtown Bakersfield, but this one will have an interesting twist. The brainchild of local foodie Darci Atkinson, the business will be called "The Kitchen" and will feature hands-on cooking classes and summer cooking camps for kids. Atkinson said The Kitchen (its tagline is the catchy 'Come Cook With Us') should open in January in a 1,200 foot space on 20th Street.

 * … FIRST FRIDAY: Lots going on in the downtown arts district for this First Friday. Over at Metro Galleries, artist Christine McKee has a show entitled, "Fully Present.: She's created 27 modern abstract paintings. Also at Metro, artist and Arts Council Exec David Gordon has five new paintings, three of which are based on Kern sunrise and sunset photos taken by Metro owner Don Martin. Other stops to make, the IceHouse  framing and gallery always has art and great gifts and also this month a new jewelry and gift boutique, Wire and Pearl has opened up at 1911 17th Street.

* … ACHIEVER: Here's yet another example of one of our local students who has gone on to achieve huge success. Megan Holmes (she was Megan Odell when she graduated from Garces Memorial High School in 2000) is currently a professor at the prestigious Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She is a graduate of San Diego State and has a Masters and PhD from UCLA in Social Welfare. Her area of specialty is domestic violence, particularly involving its impact on children. She is the daughter of Linda ODell and Michael ODell, an attorney at Clifford and Brown.

 * … BIKE RACES: Hart Park will be the scene of several bike races this weekend. In addition to a Saturday and Sunday cyclocross race, Geoff Welch tells me of another crazy event Saturday evening. Said Welch: "In addition to the cyclocross races this weekend, avid cyclists and spectators have another adrenaline filled option in the form of a downhill mountain bike race in the dark. Adrian Monge at All Action Racing is hosting the race down the infamous Toads Trail this Saturday with registration and practice beginning at 5 p.m."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mexico roiled by protests over the presumed massacre of 43 students at the hands of police and drug gangs, and bidding a fond farewell to a loyal employee at South High School

 * … MEXICO: Keep your eye on Mexico, where one of the biggest stories of the year is unfolding involving the presumed massacre of 43 missing college students at the hands of police and a drug gang.
Protests have erupted throughout the country, some violent, and the approval rating of President Enrique Pena Nieto has sunk to a near all-time low.  Pena was swept into office on a platform of transparancy and reform, but the case of the missing college students has embroiled the country along with his office. It is a volatile and unpredictable time in Mexico. Stay tuned.

 * … KUDOS: Congratulations to two East High School seniors who have been received full ride offers to Ivy Leaque universities. Fernando Torres looks like he is headed to Yale and Heide Gutierrez has an offer fromn the University of Pennsylvania.

* … GOOD FORM: Dolores Martin wrote to thank the stranger who treated her husband to a meal at Spencer's Coffee Shop this weekend. "We were at Spencer's and my husband is a veteran of World War II and Korea and a young man bought our meal and congratulated my husband, Bob Martin. We just wanted to thank him. That was special."

 * … FAREWELL: South High teacher Randy Ariey wrote to bid farewell to Charlie Henry, who is retiring after nine years at the school. "Charlie Henry arrived at South High nine years ago, where he began his duties as part of our school security team. Previously he spent 30 years in the oilfields. We are going to miss Charlie who is retiring Dec 19. He truly cares about students and staff. I have witnessed Charlie perform his job everyday with caring and compassion. Charlie always upbeat, would express caring to all at South. He helped staff with  motivating and  encouraging words of friendship. Charlie was at work every day. He was a pleasure to be around, for he has a strong sense of self, yet serves with great  humility. I will miss Charlie Henry and I am so thankful for his service, so I want to publicly recognize him for being a great servant to our community. I know the he will be in the hearts of many students and staff forever!"

 * … CAT PEOPLE: If you want to do your part to help stray cats, head over to Petco on Rosedale Highway where The Cat People will be holding its annual fundraiser "Photos with Santa" (includes children, adults and pets). It's happening the first two Saturdays in December from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and photos are available the same day. The cost is $9.95 for one 4 X 6 photo. Additional CD of images will be available for $10.

 * … BIKE RACE: Looking for something new, different and fun to do this weekend? Then consider driving out to Hart Park for a cyclocross race featuring some incredible athletes. Cyclocross is a hybrid form of both road and dirt bike racing over some challenging terrain. The race runs both Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Local organizers Sam Ames and Keith Barnden (SamBarn Productions) are helping organize it along with local bike shop sponsor Action Sports. There will be plenty of food and coffee and I promise you won't be bored.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when people flood auto parts stores looking for new windshield wipers every time it rains, which isn't often.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

It's a good weekend when Tara the hero Tabby cat is named grand marshal of the Bakersfield Christmas Parade and Killer the toy Pomeranian is returned to its owners

* … CATS AND DOGS: My two favorite stories of the weekend were all about cats and dogs. First, the organizers of the annual Bakersfield Christmas Parade scored the equivalent of a marketing grand slam by designating "Tara the hero cat" as its grand marshal. Tara, a former stray turned loyal
Tabby to the Triantafilo family, became a national sensation when a security camera caught her chasing off an angry dog that attacked 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo. On the canine side, it was good to see that Killer, a toy Pomeranian maltipoo mix, had been returned to its owners after a mixup at a local shelter.

* … THANKSGIVING: It's difficult to remember a Thanksgiving with better weather than we had this weekend. As a friend put it: "It's my favorite holiday. It's not about gifts or excess. It's about family, friends and great food." And speaking of the Thanksgiving meal, did you know that 51 million turkeys were consumed this weekend, and the average family spent $302 on meals? As for myself, I hosted a long table of strays, including a good friend who brought three delicious pies from Window Sill Pie Co.  They sell their wares at the Haggin Oaks Farmer's Market or you can find them online to order.

* … NO BURN DAYS: A friend of mine wrote with a concern that crossed my mind regarding the so-called "no burn" days enforced by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. He asked that I without his name because he feared retalitation from the "pollution police" at the valley pollution control district. He wrote: "I'm anonymously writing because of the No Burn Days. As a conscientious resident of Kern County, I/we want to do our part. We accept that we will only receive approximately 25 percent of burn days this year. What a dissapointment to go to the website and see that they couldn't have at least given us Thanksgiving as one of those days!" That may be asking a lot from the people who took on the popular Thanksgiving Day Pie Run a few years ago because they didn't approve of a small bonfire.

 * … GOOD FORM: A little good news, and good form, is always welcome in a world that often seems chaotic and hopeless. Carole Daigle was shopping at the Rosedale Walmart on Friday morning a woman gave her and two other women an envelope. "I first thought it was an employee passing out coupons.   put the envelope in my pocket and went to scan the item that we were looking to purchase.  When I returned to the department with the item's price, the other ladies asked if I had opened my envelope.  In each of our envelopes was a twenty dollar bill. WOW, we sure did not expect that! The lady that was passing out the envelopes had given out lots of money to complete strangers.  (She gave out a whole handful throughout the store.) How awesome is that?  I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart as she has restored my faith in human kindness. This one woman has lit a candle of hope that will burn bright and outshine the negative acts that we have been hearing about lately.  She made the holiday season brighter for many people. With a heartfelt smile I will add to her gift and pay it forward."

 * …NOISE: This from a resident of Trinity Estates in the Northwest: "We live in Trinity Estates and today, the Thanksgiving holiday, we are having to listen to a construction crew pouring concrete, compacting dirt, hammering and cutting stone beginning at 7 a.m. at the new home being built  on our street.  I don't blame the workers as I'm sure they can use the extra income. I do blame the builder for not showing more consideration for nearby neighbors and the family holiday."