Friday, July 31, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: Veterans continue to die while waiting for treatment from the VA, and this must change

 House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) brings us up to date with this weekly report.

 "On the first day of this Congress, the House passed the Hire More Heroes Act. When our veterans return home, Washington shouldn’t put up any roadblocks when our heroes are finding a job. However, that’s exactly what the Obamacare employer mandate does. So the House unanimously
passed this bill that excludes veterans from Obamacare’s punitive employer mandate threshold if they already have health care through TRICARE or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For the sake of our veterans and all the small businesses who want to hire them, I am pleased that today this legislation was signed into law.

 "However, much work remains in changing the culture at the VA. Years after major problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) came to light; our veterans still aren’t getting the care they deserve. The VA continues to have a culture of unaccountability, and our veterans are suffering the consequences. To date, only three people have been successfully fired for manipulating wait times at the VA.  Yet dozens of veterans, if not more, have died waiting for care and more continue to wait. This is unacceptable.
 "The problems in the VA aren’t caused by one or two or even three people.  It is caused by a lack of accountability and a system of job security that protects employees even at the expense of the veterans they are supposed to serve. This bill to bring accountability to the VA is not about punishment. This is about putting our veterans, their health, their well-being, their choice, and their care above a job protection for a VA employee who would rather change the numbers and get a promotion than save lives.
 "We owe it to our veterans to send a message that their lives are more important than protecting the jobs of those who failed them.
 "In addition to our work helping our veterans, House passed this week H.R. 427, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act that reins in the regulatory actions of federal agencies that place more and more burdens on our small businesses and entrepreneurs.
 "The Constitution demands a separation of powers between coequal branches of government. That separation has been blurred under the Obama Administration. The executive branch now acts as the legislator, administrator, and judge of regulations created and enforced by unelected bureaucrats. This is not only an affront to our constitutional order, it also blocks the people from having ultimate authority through their elected representatives over the laws that govern them and affect their lives. That means more costs get added on to workers, businesses, and communities across this country without them having any say.
 "With this bill, Congress is reasserting its role as the sole legislator and making government more accountable to the people. Unelected bureaucrats shouldn’t have unchecked power, especially if a regulation is going to significantly affect our economy.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A major university issues a "bias free" language guide that says the use of the word "American" can be offensive ... really? And artist Betty Leonor dies after battling liver cancer

    * ... LANGUAGE: Here's another sign of the times we live in: a "Bias Free Language Guide" has been put together by faculty and staff at The University of New Hampshire. The guide recommends, among other things, that we drop the reference to being Americans" because that could be offensive.
Seriously. Said the guide: “North Americans often use ‘American’ which usually, depending on the context, fails to recognize South America. American assumes the U.S. is the only country inside these two continents.” Instead, the guide recommends terms such as “U.S. citizen,” “resident of the U.S.” and “North American or South American” as “preferred.” Some other recommendations in the guide:
    Problematic: Opposite sex. Preferred: Other sex.
    Problematic: Homosexual. Preferred: Gay, Lesbian, Same Gender Loving
    Problematic: Normal … healthy or whole. Preferred: Non-disabled.
    Problematic/Outdated: Mothering, fathering. Preferred: Parenting, nurturing.
    Problematic/Outdated: Obese, overweight people. Preferred: People of size.

 * ... LEONOR: Our community lost a shining light this week when local artist Betty Leonor died after a long battle with liver cancer. Betty was know for her stunning self portraits in oil which were exhibited several times locally at The Metro Galleries. While battling cancer she returned twice to her beloved Dominican Republic where she established a foundation to help impoverished youth. Her husband is former CSUB baseball coach Bill Kernen.

 * ... PASSING: I was also told that Pat Patterson, the very first freshman class president at East High School in 1938, passed away this week. She was also a long-time teacher and counselor at Bakersfield High.

* ... MUSIC: A big Americana music festival is coming to the CSUB amphitheater in October, and this weekend country radio station KUZZ 107.9 is giving listeners a chance to score tickets before they go on sale. Sets of tickets to the 99 Music Festival will be given away this weekend only on KUZZ. The music festival, featuring Ray Wylie Hubbard, James McMurtry, Sam Outlaw, Monty Byrom and others, is a tribute to the unique sound that has been called "Americana" music. Tickets are going for $40 and can be purchased beginning next Friday at

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER:" I feel like there’s something missing in my life and I don’t know if it’s a person, a puppy, or just a burrito."

 * ... BASEBALL: Congratulations to a local Bakersfield baseball team that has earned a berth in the World Series in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The Northwest baseball 18U won the Pacific Southwest Regional (California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Colorado) and will leave next Thursday for the World Series. The team is comprised of players from 10 different Kern County schools and is a true representation of Bakersfield at its best.

  * ... TREES: The Bakersfield City School District dropped me a note regarding a reader who complaining about trees being cut down at Munsey Elementary School. Said Steve McClain from the business office: "We would like to share with your readers that Munsey Elementary School’s tree removal was part of the district’s school safety improvement plan which includes the extraction of deteriorated trees. In place of the damaged trees, we are planting three new Chinese Pistache trees that will grow alongside two recently planted Oak trees. Over time, these trees will provide shade for the student bus loading area and the hard court play areas for primary grade students. Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this public concern as we strive to improve our schools for children.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The long slump in the energy sector continues with more layoffs, more on that nasty run of car break ins about town and a Zippo lighter tells a soldier's story about Vietnam

 * ... ENERGY: It looks like the long slump in the energy sector is not about to end anytime soon. The big oil service companies like Halliburton and Baker Hughes (they plan to merge) are signaling
yet more layoffs as the price slump continues. Energy prices are down 20 percent over the past six weeks, thanks to expectations that new Iranian oil make flood the market. Said The Wall Street Journal: "Oilfield service providers have announced job cuts deeper than initially declared and warned of more layoffs to come. Halliburton Co. and Baker Hughes Inc.... disclosed last week that they cut 27,000 jobs between them, double the 13,500 announced in February. ConocoPhillips has already cut nearly 1,500 jobs so far this year but is planning more layoffs this fall that could number into the thousands... The impact of low oil prices isn’t limited to U.S. energy companies. Firms world-wide have shelved $200 billion of new-project spending, the Financial Times reports."

* ... CRIME: A resident in the Northwest awoke to find the windows smashed in on his daughter's car parked in front of the house. When the repair people came out to replace the window, they said this is happening a dozen times a night across town.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Might wake up early and go running but I also might win the lottery. The odds are about the same."

 * ... VIETNAM: Making the rounds on Facebook the other day was a picture of an old Zippo lighter inscribed with this bit of wisdom: "NAM 71-72: We the unwilling, led by the unqualified to kill the unfortunate die for the ungrateful."

 * ... SCAMS: I have mentioned this scam before, but it is worthy of a reminder. This from Judy Hanson: "My elderly parents live in central California. Someone called their home phone saying they were from Microsoft. They said that my parent’s computer was messing up a lot of other people’s computers. Microsoft needed to fix it. They convinced her to give them numbers off of her computer. They also tried to convince her to give them her credit card to charge her $150 to fix the problem. They didn’t get her credit card, but they did remotely wipe her computer and my parents had no back-up. They lost everything, address book,  photos, everything."

 * ... GRANTS: The Bakersfield (family) Foundation is now accepting letters of inquiries for its fall grant cycle. The foundation will award three grant amounts: one at $100,000, a second at $50,000 and a third at $25,000. All applications are due on Friday, August 28. There is no particular theme for this grant cycle, though the foundation is primarily interested in capital projects as opposed to funding operating expenses. The winners will be announced in November. For information go to the

 * .. DUTCH FRONTIER: I was stunned by the number of messages I received after writing about the Dutch Frontier restaurant in Ducor. It seems almost everyone from Bakersfield has visited it, and folks universally rave about its local ownership. I am told there are still some tables open for Thursday, August 6, when The Mark restaurant pays tribute to the Dutch Frontier by recreating its menu.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Remember the Dutch Frontier restaurant in Ducor? Local restaurateur Lee Marek will have a tribute to the Dutch Frontier on August 6 at his downtown eatery The Mark

 * ... DUTCH: The Dutch Frontier restaurant in Ducor has always had a big Bakersfield following, and by some measures offers some of the best steaks and customer service around. One of its biggest fans in Lee Marek, one of the owners of The Mark restaurant on 19th Street. In honor of the Dutch
Frontier, The Mark will be recreating the Dutch Frontier's menus for one special night on Thursday, August 6. Said Marek: "I really wanted to spark everyone's great memories of their visit to Dutch Frontier and hopefully convince them to drive to Ducor again. After much conversation and initial reluctance, his family agreed. They will bring their menu, their meats, their French onion soup, their lemon drops, etc. to The Mark on August 6."

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Why do I wake up tired and go to bed wide awake?"

 * ... OVERHEARD: A woman is telling a friend: "Oak Street between San Emidio and California Avenue is the new Union Avenue. I live there and it has everything: drugs, prostitution, gangs. It's a mess."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Pat Mahan sent a shoutout to the city of Bakersfield's mobile app that allows folks to report potholes and other problems. "I sent in a request regarding horrendous potholes at the intersection of Tulare Street and California Avenue. Within seven days the potholes cease to exist. My car thanks you."

 * ... DATA: Research data tells a lot about our community and how we spend our leisure time and money. Here's a tidbit that may (or may not) surprise you: only 6.4 percent of Kern County adults report going to a symphony concert in the last year, while more than 60 percent regularly go to the movies.

 * ... ADVICE: Sal Cruz of Delano has some free advice for all you young people who travel in the passenger side of a car with your bare feet on the console. "I see it all the time and it's dangerous," he said. "If something happens your feel fly through the windshield. Now that the weather is warmer I see it all the time traveling to Bakersfield."

 * ... BIKE SAFETY: Warren Rooney is an avid bike rider, and he has ridden the trails about town literally hundreds of times. But this weekend, we crashed while headed out to Enos Lane on the bike path, and he credits his helmet with saving his life. "I went over the top of the handlebars landing on my head and face. One eye was swollen shut and the other was full of dirt so I was almost blind. Thankfully, several cyclists stopped within a few minutes, the first on the scene called 911, others called my wife, gathered my belongings and my bike and gave me both assistance and emotional support. I am very thankful for everything these very caring fellow cyclists did. Additionally, I wanted to stress the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet every single time that you get on your bike. This was the 'safest' part of my ride. It is a flat, wide bike path that I have ridden well over 100 times and I was going less than 15 miles per hour. It couldn't have been much safer yet, in a split second, I was on the ground with a shattered helmet. I think that helmet saved me from a cracked skull, a broken neck and possibly saved my life. Please wear a bicycle helmet no matter how fast or slow that you ride. I am recovering from a black eye, a very sore neck, many abrasions, and a whole lot of swelling. But, thanks to the helmet, I was treated at the hospital and released later that day with no broken bones or serious injury."