Friday, September 4, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: Labor board ruling expands the definition of an employer and puts local businesses at risk

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

 "Last week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) overturned decades of settled labor law at the expense of American jobs. A National Labor Relations Board ruling modified the definition of an employer that now could involve local franchises and subcontractors in additional labor disputes.

  "Small businesses are at the heart of the American economy. The spirit and vision of an aspiring entrepreneur or small businessperson is what this country was built on. Every day, people take great risk in starting something of their own. The endeavor can turn out to be a success or it can fail. At either turn, it is the individual left basking in the glory or picking up the pieces. That is what makes America different; what makes our country great. And through different business models which encourage flexibility and entrepreneurship, we have seen neighbors in our communities willing to dream to become the success stories of today and possibly the growing small and large businesses of tomorrow.  They often hold the name of a global brand but operate within the heart of the community, taking on financial risk and personnel decision-making, creating and offering much-needed jobs. In these respects, it is just as if they were starting their own sandwich shop, something I was fortunate to do in the past. So when I see a franchise, I celebrate the jobs they create. This same model goes for companies that provide a service to a larger one. The success of time-tested brands offers opportunity for others to achieve that dream.

  "This decision by the NLRB makes that dream more uncertain. However, what the decision makes crystal clear is that when the Obama Administration's NLRB sees a relationship between businesses, they see a need for more regulation and centralization. In so doing, the NLRB fundamentally ignores the ramifications its decision may have on an important business model that have helped generations of Americans share in the American Dream. The result of this irresponsible decision means less opportunity for local communities. It is unfathomable that as small businesses face rising costs via more Washington rules, and American workers face stagnant wages due to government imposed costs, the Obama Administration wants to stymie the American Dream for entrepreneurs and workers.

 "Also, next week the House will consider a resolution of disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal. This vote will have an immense impact on our national security as well as the security of our friends and partners around the world. For weeks Congress has learned of the numerous giveaways to the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism while supposed verification mechanisms have been exposed as dangerously insufficient. With a clear majority of Congress

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Will lifting the sanctions on Iran spell trouble for Kern County's pistachio farmers? Plus more crime news and a hot new restaurant takes hold in town

 * ... NUTS: When analysts talk about lifting sanctions on Iran, they usually focus on what affect that will have on the global energy markets as Iranian oil competes on the world stage. But for Kern County, a lesser-known impact may come when Iranian pistachios flood the world market. Analysts say this could depress prices and its effect will be felt throughout Kern County, one of the nation's largest producers of the coveted nuts.
Said Bloomberg Business news: "Iran has far more clout in the market for cocktail nibbles than it does in crude trading. While it ranks only as the world’s seventh-largest oil producer, the Middle Eastern country vies with the U.S. to be the biggest pistachio grower. As with oil, Iranian sales of pistachios to the U.S. and Europe have been hampered by sanctions. As the talks between Washington and Tehran to resolve the decade-long nuclear dispute... traders are predicting lower prices."

* ... USS MISSOURI: This week marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II when a ceremony was held on the deck of the USS Missouri. Candace Cummings said her father, Edward Joseph Cummings, was a young naval officer aboard the Missouri and witnessed the historic event. "Today, my father is a vibrant 95-year-old veteran who served his country admirably for 30 years. Several days ago (August 28th) we celebrated his birthday at his San Francisco club with family and friends along with many toasts and cheers. I am a resident of Bakersfield and my parents are frequent visitors who thoroughly enjoy my friends and our town!"

 * ... CRIME: More crime news about town: thieves are targeting late model pickup trucks and SUVs and stealing both the front and back seats. One homeowner walked out to his Silverado pickup one morning and found only the front seats gone.

 * ... FOODIE BEST BET: One of the hottest meal tickets in town is offered at The Kitchen, a tiny culinary school/eatery on 20th Street run by Darci Atkinson. The business was set up so folks could get hands on experience in the kitchen, but it has become a favorite haunt for foodies who appreciate the fresh organic offerings, smaller serving sizes, attention to detail and creative offerings. Make sure to refer to its website to check on the hours,

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "How can I be expected to make life choices when I still use my fingers to count?"

 * ... DROUGHT: And there was this from reader Greg Laskowski: "I have another conundrum for you. In these times of water austerity measures, I have a neighbor who is watering his lawn with gray water effluent from his washing machine. After applying this measure over the course of several months, his lawn is still brown but it does smell like Snuggle. Oh, and here’s the funny part: one day I come home and I see the garden hose on the lawn and tracked it back to his garage where I see a rush of water running from his garage down the driveway.  I run to his kitchen door to notify him of the impending calamity. He reassures me not to worry. His gray water from the washing machine is being transferred to a 36-gallon plastic drum that has a tap on the bottom feeding the garden hose. The problem is that the washing machine holds 42 gallons of water. Go figure?

 * ... MEA CULPA: And finally, I want to offer this apology to anyone who subscribes to home delivery of The Bakersfield Californian. For the last year, our delivery service has been spotty at times, and in many cases, downright awful. The reasons behind this are not important; what is important is that you know I take responsibility and pledge to you that I am working to resolve this issue immediately. I have heard from all of you who have complained (about missing papers, late delivery, no vacation stops) and I appreciate your concerns, loyalty and frustration. Your feedback is important, and I hope you bear with us. We are dealing with the delivery issues and just this week hired a new senior customer service manager from out of state to come help solve this problem. You deserve better, and we will make that happen.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

High taxes, regulation and high housing prices are sending Californians fleeing to Texas, a cautionary tale about the heat and our dogs and some really bad form on social media

  * ... CALIFORNIA: Would it surprise you if I told you that more people are leaving California than coming in? A number of recent studies blame high taxes, over-regulation and high housing costs as the primary reasons that so many folks are leaving, primarily for Texas and to a lesser extent
Florida. This note from a Manhattan Institute study sums it up: "California was once a powerful draw for Americans on the move—a golden land, 'west of the west, in Theodore Roosevelt’s famous phrase, where everything could be better. But that California is no more. Around 1990, after decades of spectacular postwar growth, California began sending more people to other states than it got in return. Since that shift, its population has continued to grow (at a rate near the national average) only because of foreign immigration and a relatively high birthrate. Immigration from other nations, though, is declining, and it is likely that the state’s growth rate may soon fall behind that of the U.S. as a whole. As a magnet of opportunity, the state now pushes out where it once pulled in... Who were the big winners in the migration game when California was losing? The answer is the same for both decades since 1990—the Sun Belt giants Florida and Texas, followed by other fast-growing southern and western states."

 * ... DOGS AND HEAT: The number of stray dogs crossing our busy roads is both disheartening and frightening, and I often wonder how they survive in this heat. If you have a dog, and you live in Bakersfield, here's a tip from a Phoenix veterinarian about the dangers of dogs living in hot climates. "Overweight and older dogs will have more difficulty with the heat. As far as breeds are concerned, it is generally accepted that snub-nosed dogs, like boxers, bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, Lhasa apsos and shih tzus have poor panting mechanisms, and so are more susceptible to being affected by heat. These should be indoor dogs, and should not be kept in the yard during the day. They should spend their days lounging in air conditioned comfort. Dogs with heavy coats can be trimmed for the summer, but not shaved bare or else they'll have a hard time insulating themselves and will be prone to sunburn and other skin irritations."

 * ... DROUGHT: Here's a question from Greg Laskowski that raises an interesting point: "I have this 'environmentally correct' dilemma. As we are suffering through a drought, is it environmentally correct to wash out my recyclable containers before putting them in the blue bin?  Is worse that I use hot water, which comes from a natural gas hot water heater to do so as I am enlarging my carbon footprint?"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Nothing is more terrifying than making eye contact with the guy running that mall kiosk."

 * ... BAD FORM: Let's face it, there are no rules of etiquette in the use of social media. But when does airing your personal laundry cross the line between sharing moments of your life to extreme narcissism? If you are going through a divorce, for example, is it wise to post pictures of you and your new "friend" cavorting in bathing suits with drinks in hand, especially if you still have kids at home? Everyone wants you to be happy but for goodness sake, let the dust settle, and even then it might be too soon.

 * ... GOOD FORM: This from Albert "Bud" King: "I just want to say a big thank you to the couple that paid for my lunch Saturday at El Sombrero. I asked my server for my tab and he told me a couple had paid for it. Whoever did that thank you very much. May God bless you."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

More on our problem with stray dogs and cats, the Fox Theater Foundation gets new leadership and celebrating all those retailers who give our kids a shot at jobs

 * ... SHELTERS: There is not a community anywhere that is not dealing with the problem of stray cats and dogs, but some areas are needier than others. Consider this: a friend who lives in Pasadena
told me there is a long "waiting list" just to volunteer at the local shelter, and she shared that the San Diego shelters are so well funded dogs have individual cages in a beautiful, well funded facility. Locally, meanwhile, we struggle keeping up with the surge of strays so often dumped on our streets. Which reminds me, the annual blanket drive for the Kern County Animal Control is coming up in October. Remember to save your old sheets and blankets for these needy animals. The blanket drive will be held at Petco on Gosford Road on Saturday, Oct. 24.

 * ... THE FOX: Hats off to the Fox Theater Foundation who made the right move by announcing that Bob Bender will manage the historic landmark. Bender is well known for his work and contacts in the recording industry and you can bet he will breathe new life into grand old dame of downtown. Before Bender the daily management was handled by aVenueTek. Rick Davis, past president of the foundation, said he would like to see a concert each week at the theater.

* ... CRIME: Are you ready for this? In one Bakersfield neighborhood thieves stole the pool sweeps from three houses on the same street. Seriously.

 * ... MORE CRIME: And for the second and time in a week, a homeowner downtown has awakened to find someone turned on their outside faucets and flooded the alleys behind their homes. Bad form anytime, but particularly during a drought.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Just finished leftover fried chicken and a Hostess Cupcake, because breakfast is the most important meal of the day."

 * ... HOMETOWN: Jim Luff, owner of the Limousine Scene, shared this story about our hometown: "While traveling down Rosedale Highway, I watched in my rear-view mirror as a truck began to merge into a car in the next lane. The driver honked and the truck returned to his lane as we stopped at a light. The truck driver rolled his window down to yell out an apology. The driver of the car gave him an 'OK' sign. In Los Angeles, a different finger sign would have been displayed. Just thought I would share another great thing about living in Bako."

* ... RETAIL: And speaking of the right moves, kudos to all the local retailers across town (Action Sports, Sequoia Sandwich Co. and The Padre Hotel come to mind) that provide part-time jobs to so many of our high school kids and young adults. Tracy Walker-Kiser is another business owner who happily provides opportunities for young people, and I have watched a parade of them pass through H. Walker's Clothing over the years. And it's even more heartening to watch them return to the K Street store to reconnect once they have moved on to college or full-time jobs. Andrew Haupt and Gabby Purcel are two of the current employees who join a long time of successful young people at H. Walker's. (photos of Tracy Walker-Kiser, Gabby Purcell and Andrew Haupt.)