Friday, March 20, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: The EPA uses suspect science to punish the Central Valley for on clean air standards

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

 "There is a troubling trend occurring within the agencies that make up the executive branch where legislating and creating law has overtaken the original charter to execute the laws that Congress writes
and passes. In the House, we are committed to reforming our government to make it efficient, effective, and accountable. This week, accountability took center stage as we passed two bills that establish greater accountability within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 "Perhaps the greatest example of this is its latest proposal to regulate activity in our community.
 "Throughout the Central Valley we know all too well that the EPA wields too much power over how we live and how we do business.  We know that exhaust and pollution from our big city neighbors like San Francisco and Los Angeles gets blown in and trapped because of our topography. But we also have that topography (and soil) to thank for the richest land to grow food in America.

 "But an unfortunate result is that our air is notoriously worse than other parts of the country.

 "Our community is a community of doers and problem solvers. When we are faced with an issue, we work together to do what it takes to solve it. That is why as we are faced with poor air quality, we are doing whatever we humanly can to clean the air up. We want to make sure our community is healthy and that our children are safe when they go out for recess or out to play with their friends.
 "Not surprising, our community’s resilience and commitment has yielded positive results. Our air IS getting better. In fact, last year was the cleanest on record.

  "Despite our progress --- despite the fact our air problems often originate elsewhere --- and despite pushing our technology to its current limit --- the EPA wants to issue even more stringent ozone regulations. The EPA says “science” demands they do more and more and more.

  "But to echo Bakersfield Californian columnist, Lois Henry there is a very reasonable question:  “What science?” The EPA is trying to impose more regulations based on conclusions that no one can check.

 "That bears repeating. The EPA wants to harm businesses and hurt our economy with rules based on studies that they won’t let anyone else see. Not the public --- not independent scientists --- not even the United States Congress.  If this sounds outrageous --- it’s because it is. It’s called “secret science.” and it’s wrong.
 "If the EPA or most any agency is going to propose a rule --- the people have every right to know why. By hiding the science they use from public view and independent analysis --- the EPA is asking us to trust them.

  "They are asking us to trust them even while they propose costly carbon and ozone rules on our economy and attempt to regulate puddles as if they were navigable waterways. They continue to grab for more power while the people see fewer benefits and more costs.

 "This House wants government accountability. We want transparency --- just like this Administration continues to promise. And we want to stop unnecessary secrecy in government.
 "That is why the House passed H.R. 1030, the Secret Science Reform Act which opens up the science behind regulations to the American public. Our community and country needs more accountability from its government, which can start by ending this type of unnecessary secrecy.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Along with basketball, March Madness brings a spike in vasectomies and TV upgrades and three big local events in May will compete for our wallets

 * … MARCH MADNESS: It turns out that our obsession with the NCAA Basketball Tournament has to do with a lot more than simply college basketball. According to researchers, doctors report up to
a 50 percent rise in the number of vasectomies during the NCAA tournament, presumably so the men can spend their recovery in front of the big screen TV. Further, 27 percent of respondents to a 2014 survey say they watch games at work, and 12 percent would upgrade to HDTV if their favorite team made it to the Sweet Sixteen.

 * … MORE MADNESS: And speaking of March Madness, few households are more excited about the tournament than the home of Grimmay Farms counsel Jeff Green and his wife, District Attorney Lisa Green. Consider this: their son Matthew Green graduated from UC Irvine, brother Andrew graduated from UCLA and sister Rebecca from Indiana University. Jeff, meanwhile, is an alum of San Diego State. All four schools -San Diego State, UC Irvine, Indiana and UCLA - are represented in the tournament. Only Fresno State, Lisa's alma mater, failed to make the Big Dance.

* … EVENTS: Three big events are on a collision course for competing for our attention (and dollars) in late May. It is all starting on Saturday, May 23, when George Martin's huge rock and country show will feature over 30 acts at the Kern County Museum, all for a price tag of $130 a ticket. On the same day, the Bakersfield Craft Beer Festival will be at the CSUB Amphitheater, hosted by Imbibe Wine and Moo Creamery. And then, just a few days later, the Eagles will be appearing at Rabobank Arena, and you can bet tickets won't be cheap for that. Those are three popular events that will make a serious dent in your wallet, and how effectively they cannabalize each other will determine how successful they are.

 * … SPOTTED: A young mother holding the hands of her two very young daughters jaywalking across a busy south Chester, forcing two cars to veer into oncoming traffic to avoid running over them.

* … STARBUCKS: So what do you think of the Starbucks campaign to spark a conversation about race by writing provocotive messages on our coffee cups? As a frend told me: "Can I just have a cup of coffee please? I don't need a morning conversation on race with my local barista."

* … GOOD FORM: Don't you love it when people surprise and delight you? From Sheila Blackburn: "I read your column regularly and know that you often pass on a thank you to good samaritans in our community. I would like to publicly thank the kind gentleman who came to my elderly mother's aid following a mishap on Manor Street on Saturday morning, making sure she was okay, getting her car to the side of the road, and delivering her safely to my home  We didn't get his name, but we wanted to publicly thank him for his kindness. My mother couldn't stop talking about that 'nice man.' We are very grateful to him. The world needs more people like this thoughtful, caring gentleman."

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The private story behind the life of the latest victim of a hit and run, Monty Byrom set to appear at Temple Beth El, and Nordstrom Rack gets ready to open its first Bakersfield location

 * … RIP SHORTY: Every death is accompanied by a personal story and most of them go unnoticed by the public. Joe Sacco wanted me to know that the death of 66-year-old Lauren "Shorty" Bristol was not one of them. Bristol was killed in a hit and run incident at Calloway Road and Palm Drive a few days ago, the latest pedestrian death in a long line of tragedies locally.  "The
gentleman killed was the longest tenured employee at our family business Sierra International Machinery. We used to be Sierra Bag and over any years we transformed into recycling and machinery. The loss has rocked our company and family. He was a man of the highest integrity, he mentored me an my brother and many others. He was loved by all and we at Sierra are in a state of shock. He was a great husband , father and grandfather who loved his family the way we all should love our families. I wanted you to know that this man wasn't just a random man killed but a beloved employee and family man."

* … BEST BETS: One of this weekend's best bets will happen Sunday at the Bell Tower Club when local rock and blues singer Monty Byrom and his band will be appearing to benefit Temple Beth El. It is a 2 p.m. show and the cost is $25 a ticket. On Saturday night, the Bakersfield West Rotary will holds its annual Cioppino Feed at Monsignor Leddy Hall at Garces Memorial High School, a can't miss even here in the charity fund raising season.

 * … NORDSTROM: The next big retailer to open at The Shops at River Walk will be Nordstrom Rack, which opens its doors on Thursday, March 26. Get ready for another mob scene as Bakersfield welcomes a new retailer, and it no doubt will test a parking lot that is already jammed with the opening of Sprouts Farmers Market and BevMo!

 * … BURTON: I had a chance to catch up with Kevin Burton, who runs the foundation over at San Joaquin Community Hospital and has been eyeing a run for mayor if Harvey Hall chooses not to seek reelection. Burton said he is definitely interested, has been overwhelmed with the amount of support her has garnered, and will decide only after consulting his family and friends.

 * … FITNESS: And don't forget about the 6th Annual Bakersfield Health and Fitness Expo set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rabobank Theater. This is a free event and will feature dozens of vendors focusing on healthy living.

 * … SCAM: Are you ready for another telephone scam targeting the elderly? Consider this from Norma Jackson. "The newest scam comes from an e-mail I received this morning from the 'Attorney General Office of South Carolina. They told me I was now going to be arrested regarding a lawsuit which is filed on my name and gave me a case file number. The first big tip off was the horrible grammar. They were also going to 'update this thing to your employer place and we are sure you will get terminated from your job with the immediate effect' [sic].  It provided a number for me to call; they also [very nicely] provided me with an Attorney Retainer Agreement for me to retain The Bennett Law Firm to represent me. I called the South Carolina Attorney General's Office and spoke with a Winifred there, who told me it was a fraud and I wasn't the first one.  She gave me the number for consumer affairs to report it.  On calling them I spoke with Matt in the fraud division, who knew about scam.  He gave me the website for internet crimes and also phone number for Federal Trade Commission, which I did call.

* …ACHIEVER: More on the good news front: Congratulations to Alicia Sandoval Gilliam, an alumni of East Bakersfield High school class of 1994, for  being honored by the National Association of Social Worker (San Jose Unit) last week. Alicia is the city of Sunnyvale's Youth, Family and Resources Coordinator. Thanks to her proud mother, Vickie Gilley, for sharing this.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

House Speaker John Boehner spends some time in Bakersfield at The Padre Hotel, local musicians passing through town will play for cancer patients and the lack of landscaping along the Westside Parkway

 * … KINDNESS: Two talented musicians will make an appearance in town this week, but it is what they will do before their concert that should be noted. Tom Scott and wife Hannah Alkire will be playing as part of Rick Kreiser's "Guitar Masters" series (Thursday evening at the American Sound Recording Studios) but at the request of Kreiser, agreed to play for cancer patients over at Mercy Hospital.
Hannah, herself a cancer survivor, told Kreiser she would be honored to play: "One of my personal goals 'if I got picked to survive' the cancer journey was to bring our music back into those oncology rooms and try to help others with their journey. Over the years we have played in numerous oncology centers, and even did a series of benefits to help one of our local oncology units be built. So, it's huge to me and to us."As Kreiser said: "These are the kinds of things that make all the work involved in doing these shows with such high-quality folks so worthwhile."

 * … BOEHNER: It looks like House Speaker John Boehner slipped in and out of Bakersfield this weekend, apparently here to support Valley Republicans. Nobody has confirmed it, but Padre guests say the House Speaker was spotted in the lobby. It's hard to go unnoticed when you are accompanied by a squad of Secret Service agents who surrounded The Padre Hotel at midday Saturday along with five Bakersfield police cruisers and a California Highway Patrol vehicle.

* … WESTSIDE: Have you driven on the Westside Parkway recently? You won't find a bigger fan of the freeway than me, but the lack of landscaping has given it all the allure of Highway 58. If we are going to allow it go to weeds, can't we at least mow the weeds now and then?

* … SPOTTED: Painted on a car on Olive Drive was this message: "Just divorced … end of an error."

* … GOOD FORM: Jenny Waguespack wrote to extend contratulations to Jose Santos, a social studies teacher at St. Francis School for his work and dedication for the 2015 National History Day. "It  really paid off with multiple 'outstanding performanc'" awards for the junior high students. While many schools have long participated, this was only the second year for St. Francis, and Mr. Santos serves as mentor and coach for all of the participants from our school."

 * … CLEANUP: This anonymous note appeared in my in-box: "A super BIG THANK YOU to all those involved in improving the Mt. Vernon median between Columbus and University Avenue.  New cement, trees and bushes were added to make the drive to Bakersfield College more appealing."

 * … ACHIEVER: Peter and Karren Bloom wrote to rightfully brag a bit about their daughter, Emily Bloom, who will graduate from Bakersfield High School in May. "She has had to endure enormous tragedy these past few years," they wrote. "This has never deterred her from putting her best foot forward academically and socially. She has been accepted to Texas AM University (she was also accepted into Colorado School of Mines which offered her a Merit Scholarship), which is her No. 1 choice for college. She will be studying petroleum engineering. She has been a role model for all those around her - young and old!   I would also like to give a 'shout out' to the incredible staff at Bakersfield High School. They are dedicated to turning out intelligent and productive kids every year. Sometimes, I feel, BHS gets no respect. But, you should know this: my daughter has received the best public school education Kern County has to offer. GO AGGIES!"