Friday, April 10, 2015

House Majority Leader McCarthy: The Obama administration fiddles as California's long drought drags on and water allocated for environmental purposes is flushed into the ocean

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

 "The historic drought has been one of the more devastating and frustrating challenges our community Like many natural disasters, the American people have a history of rallying around solutions to help pull a region out of crisis. To achieve the solutions that will prevent this man-made crisis from griping our state in the future, public opinion will play a role, which makes getting the facts straight surrounding the drought so important. 
has faced in some time. And as I said last week following the executive order by Governor Brown to reduce water consumption by 25 percent, our state’s crisis is front and center to millions of Americans from the Mississippi to the Potomac River as they gasp at the sights of fallowed fields and dried up lakes.

 "A popular meme within the mainstream media, Internet blogs, and cable television over the last week was how agriculture in California is such a water hog—using 80 percent of California’s water. However, this leaves out water usage that serves the benefit of fish over people. As the Public Policy Institute of California reports, this is “water in rivers protected as 'wild and scenic' under federal and state laws, water required for maintaining habitat within streams, water that supports wetlands within wildlife preserves, and water needed to maintain water quality for agricultural and urban use." When added to the usage referred above, agriculture’s take drops to 40 percent and environmental usage stands at 30 percent. And as we know, water for agriculture is water for America’s salad bowl.

 "But as we have hit the fourth year of the drought, our farmers, their workers, and consumers of American-made produce and beef have been hit the hardest while the fish, that 30 percent of the water is used to protect, swim carefree throughout the delta. And now, painful reverberations to families has reached urban and suburban communities. In a recent Bakersfield Observed post, Richard Beene highlighted the buried lead in a Los Angeles Times article that “low income households are carrying the heaviest load when it comes to conserving water.”

 "So the very communities that many Democrats claim to be top advocates for will soon face water shortages and or higher bills for their vociferous defense of fish.

  "This imbalance has to stop and that is what the House plans to do with legislation. Unfortunately, the legislative storyline to this point has been Democrats standing in the way of progress. But the state of this crisis transcends traditional battle lines.
 "Far from a common theme in the White House briefing room, the California drought has the White House defending its harmful position. At a press briefing last week, CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett asked press secretary Josh Earnest if, as a result of the crisis, the White House is reconsidering their veto-threat of House legislation. Unsurprisingly, the Earnest deflected.

  "But the brief exchange was instructive as the House continues to work towards legislative solutions. Continuing to stand behind fish as human suffer is an untenable position. And as the truth reins over “facts” that tell half the story, the American people will stand firmly behind the fight our community is in.
 "Congress’s role is critical and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to continue to move our state and country forward with commonsense California water policy.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

When the Central Valley feeds the nation, California's drought belongs to all of us, and more on those scams about town

 * … DROUGHT: A friend directed me to an essay that really puts the California drought in perspective. The writer, Steven Johnson, correctly notes that folks on the East coast often sneer at California and its water woes but they miss a single important fact: The Central Valley consumes 80
percent of California's water because of farming, and those farmers provide 25 percent of the food that the entire country consumes. Said Johnson: "In other words, even if this drought is a sign of climates to come, California has plenty of water to support its lifestyle. It just won’t have enough to support its crops, without significant changes to make those farms more water-efficient. It seems bizarre that a region like the Central Valley with just six million people — barely more than 10 percent of the state’s population — should use 80 percent of the water. But then you realize that the vast majority of people benefiting from that water don’t live in California at all. The Central Valley takes up only 1 percent of the landmass of the United States, but it produces 25 percent of the food we eat, and almost half of the fruits or nuts we consume. California is running through its water supply because, for complicated historical and climatological reasons, it has taken on the burden of feeding the rest of the country. The average Times reader sneering at those desert lawns from the Upper West Side might want to think about the canned tomatoes, avocados, and almonds in his or her kitchen before denouncing the irresponsible lifestyles of the California emigres. Because the truth is California doesn’t have a water problem. We all do."

 * … HUMOR: Today's one liner comes compliments of the great Henny Youngman: "Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who'll give you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you're in the wrong house, that's what it means."

* … SCAMS: Here's the latest internet scam, this one from my friend Gene Bonas: "You consistently warn your readers of scams going around. Here's a new email scam I recently received from Bank of America. It was listed as 'Irregular account activity.' The email looked legitimate since it used the BOA logo. I opened the attachment that asked for my online ID and passcode. Then, it asked for my full name, address, social security number, answers to security questions, and other information I felt BOA already had. Without responding, I called BOA and asked them about my account while informing them of the email I received. I was told the email was a scam and to send the entire email to their fraud address. Another example where due diligence is a must!"

 * … DINNER: Tickets are still available for the annual Vino Amore dinner set for Saturday, April 18, at Monsigner Leddy Hall at Garces High School. Luigi's Delicatessen will cater the event and Croads Vineyards will supply the wine. Cocktails at 6 p.m. and dinner art 7 p.m. This is an East Rotary fund raiser for some worthy local causes.

 * … HEAT: With the summer heat coming, Shafter resident Sandra Larson posted this question: "I asked a woman who cleans homes for a living if it is harder work in winter or summer. She said summer. I asked if it was because of more dust and she said no. It is because so many people who aren't home while they clean don't leave the air conditioning on and won't allow it to be turned on by the cleaning crew. I have to admit I was shocked by her answer. "

 * … SPONSOR: And finally, my thanks to Mary Christensen of Watson Realty for sponsoring this blog and supporting the work we do here. Mary was a friend long before becoming a sponsor, and I have used her to both buy and sell residential property. Our community is blessed with many good Realtors, but I don't know of any who work harder than Mary C."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Lower income households bear the brunt of California's water conservation efforts and Paramount Farming tags Rob Yraceburu to succeed Joe MacIlvaine as president

 * … DROUGHT: This probably should not come as much as a surprise, but low income households are carrying the heaviest load when it comes to conserving water. That's according to The Los Angeles
Times which reported that residents in the wealthy enclaves like Newport Beach, La Canada Flintridge and Malibu are using more than 150 gallons of water per capital per day in January, simply because they can afford to do so. Meanwhile, in lower income Santa Ana the average is just 38 gallons but they too are being asked to curtail use.

* … PARAMOUNT: Paramount Farming is about to have a changing of the guard as president Joe MacIlvaine prepares to step aside. The global farming company has picked Rob Yraceburu, a long-time exeuctive with Wells Fargo and a graduate of Fresno State, to succeed MacIlvaine when he retires in 18 months. Yraceburu, who formerly headed up the Wells Fargo operation in Bakersfield, will join the company in May and work on a transition plan with MacIlvaine. When Yraceburu takes over, MacIlvaine will head special projects for the company. Paramount Farming is one of the largest producers of almonds and pitachios in the world and is owned by Roll Global, the holding company for Stewart and Lynda Resnick.

 * …SPOTTED: On a friend's Twitter feed: "Yawning is our body's way of saying '10% of battery remaining.'"

* … KINDNESS: This from reader D. Szczepkowski: "My neighbor and I (both senior citizens) went to Coco's for  Easter dinner and much to our surprise were told that our meals were paid for   We wish to thank this person for his or her kind and generous act. It really made the day a truly special one. "

 * … ACHIEVER: I am happy to pass along some of the achievements of the youth in our community, but this latest one stands out from the rest. This from Bakersfield High principal David Reese: "BHS Senior Alexandra (Ali) Vaughn will be completing her last days as a student with a smile on her face. After previously being accepted to attend UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and UC Davis, Ali was nervously awaiting word on her other applications. Over spring break she finally got the word she was waiting for. She got more than the perfect trifecta that she was hoping for, it was the perfect quad special! She was admitted to Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, and Harvard. Right now she is leaning toward following her childhood dream of attending Stanford to major in English and minor in art. Proud parents are Jeffrey and Jennifer Vaughn. "
 * … SKEET SHOOTING: Some of the best skeet shooters in the country are in town this week for the annual Ken Barnes Open, named to honor Kenny Barnes who is in the national skeet shooting Hall of Fame. The event runs from Friday though Sunday at the Kern Country Gun Club out near the Buena Vista Lake recreational area. If you haven't been to the club recently, you should stop by if for no other reason to see the huge expansion that sporting clays have brought to the club.

* … MEMORIES: Judi Plaskett wrote to ask "if anyone from the old days at North High remembers the Art-T-Q drive in on North Chester where Winchel's Donuts was. I remember the cherry Cokes yum!  Also I haven’t seen anyone reminding us of Michener’s drive in and the special hamburger sauces and the lime freezes. Those were the good old days!"

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Monday Bako Bits: Easter in Bakersfield, more on those outrageous telephone scams and some really good - and bad - form about town

 * … WEEKEND: If you were in town and didn't get out an about this weekend, shame on you. Restaurants were full, and those with outdoor seating (like Cafe Med, Uricchio's Trattoria downtown and Tahoe
Joe's and Eureka Burger in the southwest) were particularly popular as diners ventured outside to enjoy the cool temperatures. Cirque du Soleil was playing to full houses at Rabobank Arena, there was a 10k run on the bike trail Saturday, and the Easter sunrise services were nothing short of spectacular. Enjoy these spring days.

 * … SCAM: Alice Merenbach is sure her telephone number must be on a master scam list. "This time," she said, "a call to my phone for my adult child advised me that Chris Wilcox (in a very foreign sounding voice - actually, same voice when I received the bogus call from the IRS) stated that he was with the Department of Legal Affairs for the U.S. Treasury and wanted to discuss illegal activities
on 'our end/' He suggested we call immediately to (661) 980-3960 and if we didn't, that we should have our lawyer call for us, as this was very serious.  I didn't bother to respond, but I am assuming that some people might be frightened by such a call.  Oh, and my child does not live here.

* … SPOTTED: I picked up this nugget on Twitter: "There are no bad photos. That’s just how you look sometimes."

 * … GOOD FORM: Frances Mitchell wrote to thank the stranger who came to her assistance after her car lost power on the Union Avenue exit off Highway 178. "He pushed my auto around the corner into Snider's parking lot and into the shade.  I did not get this gentlemen's name but I know his bravery/strength came with help from a higher power. This 74-year-old cancer survivor is ever so grateful as this could have been one serious accident/situation. Thank you again and God bless you and your family!"

 * … MORE GOOD FORM: Linda Welch shops at the Von's on North Chester and recently left an 80 cent can of soup on the counter. What happened next is the sort of customer service you don't experience every day. "The store manager happened to be the person who answered the phone. He asked my address and told me he was going to bring me a can of soup. He had no idea if I lived a block away or 10 minutes away. I thought he deserved some recognition." Well said, Linda.

* … BAD FORM: You know what was coming next: bad form. And this is almost too incredible to believe, but my colleague David Vanderpol insists it's true. Said David: "My wife got a robo-call a few weeks ago from a 'Christian' church in Shafter telling us if we weren't going their church we were going to Hell. Needless to say my wife had to call their office the next day… and sure enough the guy was DEAD set in his ways, and insisted the only church was HIS church. She did let him know there were better ways to get noticed, if he was trying to attract people to his church, and that she will be praying for him. He hung up on her. " Wow.

 * … SANDSTONE: One last memory of the old Sandstone store, compliments of Mary Curran-Means, daughter of Robert and Yvonne Curran and granddaughter of James and Mary Curran. "I remember when school was out, when my sisters, brother and I were little kids our mother would take us across the street to the hardware store, then located on Sonora Street.  Guard Ray would put us on the nail scale to weigh us, then down to the corner of 18th and Union we would get our hair cut and then off to Breckenridge for the summer. This was not to get out of the heat but out of the valley to escape Valley Fever and the dreaded Infantile Paralysis. The family referred to Sandstone as the 'Yard' and at Christmas time yard sticks were given to customers as gifts."