Friday, October 23, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy calls on the federal government to prepare a plan to capture El Nino-related rain and snowfall

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

 "Unfortunately, four years of historic drought and decades of mismanaged water policy have threatened our water supply so much that communities are forced to ration usage.  So it isn’t a
surprise that predictions of El Niño were initially met with the hope that our drought might finally subside.

 "But El Niño also comes with great risks. As we saw last week, an unexpected storm rolled over the Central and Antelope Valleys, and the downpour of rain on the dry land caused mudslides onto the 5 through the Grapevine and along the 58. Tragically, it appears this storm has claimed its first casualty, and another man remains missing. Future heavy rains could cause even more damage.

 "So here we are, a couple months away from a possible godsend to our parched state that could quickly become a recipe for disaster. To respond to heavy rains compounded by years of drought, we must have a coordinated plan. The question is, have our state and Federal governments developed or discussed that plan?

 "Under the Stafford Act that Congress enacted in 1988 the Federal government has the ability to help states prepare for imminent storm threats — but only if the states request it. So has the state developed streamlined processes to do so should storms threaten to make landfall?

"Separately, we must also ensure that our infrastructure is prepared for the coming storms. With the rivers dry and storms on the horizon, what needs to be done to ready our infrastructure for the potential deluge?
 While it is important to prepare for potential mudslides and flooding, we must also remember that our constituents desperately need water.

 "Outside of repeated attempt to address the water crisis through legislation in the House, I have led my colleagues in the House and State Senator Fuller has led her colleagues in the state legislature to question President Obama and Governor Brown on their water policies ahead of El Niño. We want to know: What plans do the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service have in place to capture El Niño-related rain and snowpack for human use? Or will they just let all this usable water go to waste?

 "Heavy rainfall can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we prepare for it today and use it when it comes. But with the right policies and leadership, the coming rain and snow can be part of the answer to, not the cause of, our challenges.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

New scam involving the cheating website Ashley Madison makes the rounds, more crime downtown and lamenting the trash and litter about town

 * ... SCAM: One of the latest email scams going around involves the controversial website Ashley Madison (, which is devoted to connecting men and women who want to cheat on their spouses. The website was hacked, and now thousands of unfaithful cheaters across the world are living in fear of being exposed in their local communities. Of course, if you never signed up, you have nothing to fear, but that doesn't stop scammers from trying to extort a few bucks out of you. One local man received the scam and shared the email, which began like this: "If you want to keep your cheating and lies secret from your significant other, your family, your friends and work contacts then pay very close attention to this email. As what we demand is non-negotiable and you might ruin your life if you decide to ignore this email." It goes on to demand multiple payments or even payment in Bitcoins.

 * ... CRIME: There has been another burst in criminal activity in the Oleander and Westchester areas. Two homes downtown were burglarized in the past two weeks, and both of the break ins happened between noon at 3 p.m. located on alleyways. Similar break ins are reported in Oleander while a rash of car thefts has been reported in the Northwest neighborhoods. We are headed into the holiday season so turn on that alarm and join a neighborhood watch.

 * ... SMALL WORLD: Jeff Pickering, who ran the Kern Community Foundation before leaving to take a similar job in Florida, sent me this note the other day: "Retired Col. Martin Zickert was in today discussing the work of our local veteran's council. During conversation he shared a story of his time in early 1990s as a commanding officer at Edwards AFB. He was adopting his wife's 12 year old daughter and rather than hiring a lawyer, drove the back and forth ride to Bakersfield over several months to complete the process at the Kern County courthouse himself. 'Some of the nicest people I've ever met,' he said. Small world."

 * ... STARS: Kudos to the Stars Music Theater downtown and its attractive new outdoor dining and seating area covered by a beautiful new shade awning. The project at 20th Street and Chester Avenue was made possible by a grant from The Bakersfield Californian (family) Foundation.

 * ... SPOTTED TWITTER: "I would like to give thanks to the brave men and women who died a long time ago tasting which plants were edible and which plants were not."

 * ... TRASH: Randy Dickow recently hiked a 140-mile segment of the Camino de Santiago trail from southern France to Pamplona, Spain (how fun does that sound?) and he had this observation. "Litter, it is beneath us. Along with retired Superior Court Judge Jon Stuebbe and another friend from the coast we just hiked" the 140 miles and "it quickly became very obvious that litter is not a problem over there. I saw a total of three pieces of litter during the entire adventure. This path is not some little used trail in the wilderness, but goes though hamlets, villages and cities. Over 250,000 people use it every year. Just sayin', 140 miles and no litter. I can't walk 14 feet here without seeing lots of trash.

 * ... ACHIEVER: It was nice to see the photo of a smiling Rachel Goldner on the front of Fordham University's website the other day. The daughter of local attorney Barry Goldner and county counsel Teresa Goldner, Rachel graduated from Fordham University last year and is now working in Manhattan.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bakersfield Observed is back from a vacation on the east coast and returned home to find my mailbox full. Some musings from around town

 * ... HOME: I am back from a few days on the east coast and returned to find my mailbox full and a 10-year-old tabby needing a lot of attention. Enjoy these random musings around our community as I settle back into our California lifestyle.

* ... GOOD FORM: Victoria Derringer wrote to thank the stranger who picked up the tab for her father's haircut at Super Cuts at The Marketplace. Her 90-year-old father was wearing his World War II cap when the younger man engaged them in a conversation, thanking her father for his service.
"It brought my dad to tears and he wouldn't even let my dad leave a tip for the hair dresser. Thank you very much Bob Rodgers."

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: And then there was this note from Rick Tomlinson, who spotted a car with a Semper Fi bumper sticker out at Rio Bravo Country Club. "That in itself is not unique, but there was another bumper sticker referencing the 'Chosin Few.'  Knowing the significance of that bumper sticker I engaged the gentlemen in a conversation. He indeed fought with the 1st Marine Division at the Chosin Reservoir. He also mentioned that he just attended an annual meeting with the remaining 20 members of his company from that battle.  Needless to say, that is a sober reminder that our aging vets from World War II and Korea are slowly leaving us. He mentioned that he was at this golf tournament as a guest of Honor Flight. He was very 'Gung Ho about the program. So the next time you see a vet wearing a military cap or displaying a military bumper sticker, thank them for their sacrifice and service to our country."

 * ... SKEET: Congratulations to 16-year-old Remington DeWitt, who shot a perfect 100 straight in the 12 gauge at a skeet tournament in Stockton recently. DeWitt joins an impressive line of junior shooters from Kern County who have mastered this hard-to-accomplish feat. The Frontier High School junior is the daughter of Stuart and Kourtney DeWitt.

 * ... GOLLA: Bakersfield High principal David Reese sent me this bit about a recent Bakersfield College football game: "Coach Golla had some criticism thrown his way for not having the team wear pink socks for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Coach told the team in September that they would donate the $250 that it would of cost to purchase the socks to cancer research. I thought that was pretty cool of him. He told the team that if every high school in California did the same thing  (4,495 high schools in California) they could raise over $1 million dollars."

 * ... LITERACY: Did you know that Kern County has an adult illiteracy rate in the range of 25 percent? Appalling yes, but one group that is doing something about it is the Kern Adult Literacy Council, which is holding a big fund raiser at Hodel's on Wednesday, Oct. 21. It is a breakfast event called "Read for Success" and will feature Monsignor Craig Harrison and Tel-Tec owner Morgan Clayton, moderated by Javier Lozano of Aera Energy. Reserve tables or seats at or call Laura Wolfe at (661) 324-3213.

 * ... GIRLS NIGHT: Feel like being pampered for an evening? If so check out the Girls Night Out event this Thursday at Motor City Lexus where women will be treated to gourmet food, wine from Imbibe and shopping from a host of retailers. It runs from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $60. For more information call (661) 392-5716.

 * ... MEMORY: This nugget comes compliments of my Navy veteran friend Gene Bonas about growing up in a Bakersfield when it was truly a small town. "I grew up in east Bakersfield during a time when it had much in common with Andy Griffith's Mayberry.  Both towns were peaceful and quiet.  Everyone knew their neighbors. I recall the friendliness when mom and I walked to ADS Market or Safeway on Baker Street to purchase our groceries. There was only one major difference: in Mayberry, no one was married. Andy, Aunt Bea, Barney, Floyd, Howard, Goober, Gomer, Sam,  Ernest T. Bass, Thelma Lou, and Clara were single. The only one married was Otis, and he stayed drunk! Sure glad that's not the key to happiness."