Saturday, February 21, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on the "imperial" presidency of Barack Obama

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

 "The old adage is that if you say something enough times, you might just start believing it. For President Obama, the opposite appears to be true when it comes to his authority to unilaterally change
immigration laws. Twenty-two times over the past several years the president said that he does not have the authority to change immigration law on his own. In November of last year, he ignored his own legal counsel and moved forward with an executive order that circumvented Congress.
 "Congress rejects this imperial maneuver and will continue to fight against the eroding of government’s three coequal branches as envisioned by our Founders.
 "And 2,000 miles away from Washington a federal judge in Texas agreed with us in Congress (and the president himself) and ruled that the president’s action violated the law.
 "This is a significant development in our fight against this administration’s reshuffling of the powers held by the legislative and executive branch. But as Americans concerned with the sanctity of the Constitution review this decision, it only took a few days for the president to again stretch the limits of his power.
 In a textbook 'Friday news dump' the Administration admitted more flaws in Obamacare and acted to blunt any political repercussions that it might cause. First, it was discovered that 800,000 Americans received the wrong the tax information from Obamacare and are advised to hold off on filing their taxes. In California, under the state exchange, up to 100,000 Californians received erroneous tax information.  Filing taxes with our broken tax code is hard enough for hardworking families. Now an additional stress is added with this revelation.
 "Second, the administration announced a special enrollment period for individuals without Obamacare (in the millions) so they won’t face the shock of the tax penalty. This is just the latest of the over two-dozen unilateral changes to the law made by the president.
 "Time and again, this administration seems to be performing damage control from the pain of its policies and when faced with legitimate opposition they routinely resort to going at it alone rather than working with Congress.
 "When President Bill Clinton faced a Republican Congress he conceded, 'the era of big government was over.' I have urged President Obama to work with the Congress on the issues facing Americans. Instead, he continues to ignore the will of the American people just last November. And in doing so, he walking himself further down a road that stretches the limits of his authority. House Republicans will not simply sit back and watch."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

US Geological Survey debunks attacks on hydraulic fracturing, Sprouts Farmers Market gets ready to open and what's with this idea of 'free range' parenting anyway?

 * … FRACKING: The anti-fossil fuel movement has largely succeeded in depicting hyrdraulic fracturing as a dangerous new drilling technique that poisons the underground water table. But the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has once again debunked that, noting in a new report that some form of
fracking has been used in this country for the past 70 years, largely without problems. That's been the case in Kern County for decades, but don't expect facts to get in the way of a good narrative. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is a legitimate debate, but it should be one based on facts, not hyperbole.

* … PARENTING: Have you heard of the concept of "free range" parenting? It's a movement to (gasp!) actually allow your children to walk to school alone, go to parks alone and otherwise spend their childhood much as most of us did. It is the philosophical opposite of 'helicopter' parenting, and it has come under attack by some folks who feel this endangers children. Is this what we have come to?

  * … SPOTTED: This from Jerry Pearson: "Passed a young (maybe 30s) panhandler yesterday at the corner of Oak Street and California. He was standing, holding his sign asking for money, right in front of a fast food restaurant with a 'now hiring' sign in the window. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"

 * … RETAIL: If the past is any indicaiton of the future, expect huge crowds at the opening of the new Sprouts Farmers Market and BevMo! at the Shops at RiverWalk. This is a town that loves new restaurants and retail, and both BevMo! and Sprouts are tops in their class. One offers a dizzying array of wine and spirits and the other an impressive variety of fresh food. BevMo! opens on a week from Friday and Sprouts a few days earlier on Feb. 25.

* … OOPS: To err is human, but some miscues are bigger than others. One that got my attention recently was made by the folks over at The Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, which prides itself as a partner of local businesses. Turns out the Chamber misidentified the ownership of the largest employer in Kern County, Grimmway Farms. Grimmway is the world's largest carrot producer and is proudly family owned by Barbara Grimm-Marshall and Kari Grimm Anderson, both not exactly strangers in the business or philanthropic communities. In its annual busines directory, the Chamber said Grimmway was owned by Roll Global. That's Roll Global as in Paramount Farms, another big player in Kern County but certainly not Grimmway. Ouch. The Chamber issued an email retraction, saying in part: "Grimmway Farms is a family-owned company with strong ties to the community, and serves not only as the county's largest vegetable producer, but the largest agricultural employer as well as largest private employer in Kern County. Again, the Chamber would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Grimmway Farms for this error."

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Ronal Reynier says you may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember George Diaz. "George was a local celebrity, spokesman, and newsman on TV years ago. He might be remembered mostly as the spokesman for Woodys Toy Store. Still can't place him? Maybe you remember him as George Day. In those days the last name of Diaz would not get you in front of the camera. I've been told that in the last days of his life he signed everything; George Diaz. I hope that is true.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

McFarland High School, featured in the Kevin Costner film of the same name, also boasts a legendary wrestling coach, and Guy Fieri lines up local restaurants to feature on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

 * … WRESTLING: The storied McFarland High School cross country runners are getting some well deserved attention with the release of the Kevin Costner movie chronicling their success, but Mike Stricker reminded me the school also boasts another hometown hero. Said Stricker: "With all the attention the McFarland cross country team and coach Jim White are getting and how great this is,
McFarland has another coaching hero. Wrestling coach Ed Levenson is closing out 40 years of coaching the world's oldest sport, 38 years as the head coach at McFarland High, two years as an assistant coach at West Torrance High and two years as an assistant coach at Reghetti High."

 * … FOODIE: The eclectic (and quite tasty) downtown eatery called Muertos will be featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Friday, March 13. The eatery, located in the Wall Street Alley, is among a number of local restaurants to be featured on the show. Others include Mama Roomba, Salty's BBQ and Catering, Pyrennes Cafe and KC Steakhouse.

 * … MUSIC FESTIVAL: Kevin Cornelius took me to task for questioning the price of tickets to the upcoming big music festival being put on by local attorney George Martin. He said: "Give me a break Richard!  Mr. George Martin has got a handle on this music festival thing. When George is behind an event he goes all out, because that's who he is. It does not matter that it's Steppenwolf, Chubby Checkers and tickets are $130 each or preferred seating $425 each. If George can bring world leaders from around the globe right here to little 'ol Bakersfield year after year with sell crowds every year don't you think he can pull off this music festival gig? This thing is a piece of cake for him, it's in his blood. He never disappoints and always has an ace up his sleeve. George, I'll see you there!"

 * … HELL'S ANGELS: And another reader, Robert Clements, reacted with surprise to a recent post about the Hell's Angels doing good deeds around town. "Really?" he wrote. "Riding Harley's with the Hells Angels and collecting toys  they get drunk makes them real? Fifty Shades of John Gotti passing out turkeys. I served 35 years in law enforcement in this state, including dealing with them at the annual  Hollester Fourth of July Run. I have witnessed their carnage and criminal  acts on innoncent Harley riders like you. Not a pretty picture for sure. If you want to see the real  Hells Angels park your precious Harley in front of their club on 19th Street overnight, then call BPD to report it stolen. Better yet call the Monguls to get it back."

 * … SPEEDING: High on my list of pet peeves are drivers who speed and run red lights. Gail Glende agrees and left this note: "Each weekday morning when I leave the McMurtrey pool, I pass Franklin Elementary School on Truxtun Avenue. Kudos to the police that stand as a flock on the corner of Pine and Truxtun catching speeders unwilling to follow the 25 mph sign for one short block in front of the school in the morning. We all need to be reminded that children are precious and we should remember to slow down. It just takes a few seconds longer to obey the law." That said, she did note a police service technician truck (#5542) blowing past a large yellow school bus from Bakersfield Christian High at 7:40 a.m. "I don't usually notice other drivers, but it seemed sad that they most of all, could not drive slow enough to protect our children."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Steak night at the remodeled Pyrennes Cafe, more on the Hell's Angels in Bakersfield and remembering the late CBS newsman Bob Simon

 * … HELL'S ANGELS: I recently posted some pictures on my online blog of the day in 1965 when the Hell's Angels roared into town, triggering this response from Ron Derbyshire. "As an avid Harley rider here in Kern County I have attended a couple of rides put on by the Bakersfield and Ventura
chapters of the Hell's Angels. The ride in Ventura was a benefit for the parents of a local high school boy who was paralyzed in a tragic football accident. The ride here in Bakersfield was a benefit to help under priviledged kids at Easter time. They collected around 600 Easter baskets to distribute." Good form, indeed.

* … FOODIE BEST BET: There are few things I enjoy more than dining at one of our locally owned Basque restaurants that boast communal seating, a standard menu and set up (cabbage soup, beans and a salad). Noriega Hotel has always been high on my list but you can add the recently remodeled Pyrennes Cafe to the list. Co-owners Rod and Julie Crawford have done a remarkable job restoring Pyrennes, and as one person at my table said, looking around the noisy and crowded room, "This is really the best of Bakersfield."

* … OVERHEARD: A woman is sharing her pet peeve of the day. "It's crazy when the GET bus stops in the middle of the block and folks are dashing across the street trying to catch it," she said. "I just saw an elderly man on 34th Street near Chester nearly get clipped."

 * … SPOTTED: On Twitter was this post: "(the late CBS newsman) Bob Simon led the kind of life that Brian Williams could only lie about."

 * … SCAMS: Caroline O. Reid has a system to handle all those annoying calls from fake IRS agents and other salespeople. "I believe I have shut them down a bit by answering the phone, 'Who is this and what do you want?' The callers are so shocked they hang up. Of course, you need Caller ID. Last night the unknown caller said, 'Have a little respect.' My response was not pretty. It was 8:30 p.m., I had company, we were watching a TV program. Very very annoying. I just reenlisted on the “Do Not Call' list but it apparently didn’t help. For people who have friends and family who might call from overseas, often the caller ID shows 'Out of Area.' Ask them to immediately say, 'Mom, it’s me.'”

 * … GOLF: This memory of the old miniature golf course on Mount Vernon comes from Dennis Franey. "In the early 1960s my classmates in elementary school would have their birthday parties there. The name was Golfland and it was located next to Paola's (Bowling) College Lanes."

 * … MEMORIES: Stephen A. Montgomery said he was watching a Huell Howser episode on the history and restoration of the Hollywood sign when it triggered a memory about a similar sign promoting real estate development in the then-bare hills of College Avenue near the intersection of Camino Sierra. The sign read 'HILLCREST' to promote postwar development in the area. Sometime around 1950 they turned out the lights and not long after the sign was gone," he said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy calls for end to labor dispute that has closed down West Coast ports

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

"This week, a bipartisan group of members from across America and I gathered together to call for an immediate resolution of a labor dispute that threatens to shut down our West Coast ports, harming our local, state, and national economy.

"Our seaports handle around $1 trillion in trade per year. About half of our country’s imports come in As every resident knows, our area has been devastated due to drought.  Our farmers are taking trees out, unemployment in the Central Valley is much higher – some places it’s thirty percent. But the produce that we've been able to grow with the little water that is available is now being lost because of this crisis. Our local businesses, whether they are in agriculture, manufacturing, or the retail sector, are losing millions of dollars a day because of the labor dispute that could seriously cripple our economy.
through our 29 West Coast ports.  Many of the ships that are sitting in the harbor are waiting to ship goods stuck on the docks – goods like the agricultural products grown right here in the Central Valley.

"Nobody wins in this current situation and everyone loses in this country if this dispute continues. This is something that cannot continue.

"The House also passed legislation that makes permanent two tax incentives that are set to expire later this year.  First, the House passed the Fighting Hunger Incentive Act to make permanent tax incentives so businesses can contribute excess inventory to local food banks and pantries. Second, the House also passed the America's Small Business Tax Relief Act, which would create stability for small businesses by making permanent increased small business expensing in Section 179 of the tax code. The last thing a small business that is trying to grow and hire more workers needs is uncertainty. It is unfortunate that this Administration has threatened to veto these commonsense measures.

 "Also this week, after being stuck in the Senate last Congress, I am very pleased that the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act has been sent to the President’s desk and signed into law. Our nation must do everything it can to help provide veterans access to mental health resources when they come home. Our veterans deserve the best, and I look forward to continue working with our local veterans community to improve their access to the medical care they need.