Thursday, November 2, 2017

GOP tax reform is unveiled and expect a backlash from Realtors, the German based Aldi grocery store heads to Bakersfield and new state gas taxes hit the pocketbook

* ... TAX REFORM: Get ready for a strong backlash to part of the Republican's tax reform plan
that would cut in half the amount that taxpayers can deduct for interest payments on home loans. Under the bill, homeowners would only be able to deduct interest payments on their first $500,000 in home loans, down from the current $1 million. This is sure to spark a furious backlash from Realtors and financial institutions who believe it could hurt home ownership, but how many of us have homes (or second homes) with mortgages in the $1 million range? Another change certain to draw fire: limiting to $10,000 the amount of property taxes that could be deducted.

* ... ALDI STORES: I see a new Aldi discount grocery store is getting ready to open in the spot where Fresh and Easy was located over by Bed, Bath and Beyond on Stockdale Highway. The German-based company is opening some 900 outlets in the United States. Aldi has smaller grocery stores, usually less than 20,000 square feet with 90 percent of its products sold as company brands.

 * ... GAS PRICES: A new round of California taxes went into effect this month, starting with an additional 12 cents per gallon tax on gas and 18 cents a gallon on diesel. In addition the California legislature imposed higher vehicle licensing fees, all of which is facing opposition across the state. There are now several proposed ballot measures to repeal the taxes, led by Republican lawmakers who hope to capitalize on the issue in the mid term elections next year.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: A woman writes: "Someone asked me if I was from the Midwest. I said, 'No, I am from Bakersfield.' He responded 'Well, Bakersfield is the Midwest of California.'"

 * ... BLACK WIDOWS: Has anyone noticed the explosion of black widow spiders this late in the year? The spider webs are hard to detect but take a walk with a flashlight and you might be surprised at what you find.

 * ... THEFT: I occasionally read the Facebook page called "Bakersfield Thieves," and it is always a terrifying look at the rampant crime that happens daily in our community. The other day a woman wrote that she came home in the Norris Road and Airport Drive area and found her home ransacked. The thieves took a big screen television, a sound bar, jewelry, an Apple watch and some clothes. But they also took a small urn holding the ashes of her grandfather. "I’m sure this post will be seen by those who did this. I am not asking to get everything back, I don’t expect that. But I do wish to get my grandpa's ashes back and hopefully my jewelry because that has a lot of sentimental value to it. I am not seeking to get anyone in rouble or hurt. I just want my grandpa home where he belongs. I understand you may not of known that was a urn you took but it holds a very special man. A man I need here at home with me."

 * ... ORCHESTRA: There is a fund raising effort to raise some $300,000 to send more than 100 high school orchestra members to New York to play at Carnegie Hall. Organizers say the Stockdale High orchestra was selected to perform at the International Music Festival on April 24, 2018. This is a high honor for our local musicians and if you want to help, send a check to the school made out to the Stockdale High School Orchestra with "Carnegie Hall" written on the memo line. Cal (661) 204-5830 with questions or email

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

We are witnessing a national catharsis centered on sexual harassment, men in powerful positions and poisonous workplace environments, and some good and bad form about town

 * ... THE PURGE: It started with disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and now it has moved to TV network news, politics, sports and state government. We are all witnessing the beginning of a national purge, a catharsis of sorts, in which victims of sexual harassment, rape and pedophilia take turns
telling their stories to a national audience. The once wildly popular Netflix series "House of Cards" has been canceled after its star, Kevin Spacey, was accused to trying to molest a 14 year old boy. Mark Halperin, once head of ABC political programming and a mainstay on MSNBC as a commentator, lost his job after multiple women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. And now 200 women who work in Sacramento, either as lobbyists or state employees or in the legislature, are making similar claims against dozens of men. Stay tuned because we can expect more of this in the coming weeks and months.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Life’s too short to wake up in a bad mood. I save mine until I get to work."

 * ... CHUCKLE: I saw this post on social media from comedian and TV host Pat Sajak: "Staying away from politics and social issues on my birthday. I'll just relax and watch an NFL game and maybe a couple of late-night talk shows."

 * ... BAD FORM: Denny Evans called out a woman who rear ended his car near Trader Joe's. "We were in the middle lane with traffic whizzing by on both sides so I asked her to pull into the parking lot where it was safe to exchange insurance. I'm still waiting! More than likely she had no insurance info to exchange."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to former CSUB ace pitcher Mike McCarthy, who is volunteering his time with a non profit called Baseball Miracles to bring the sport to needy children across the world. His latest effort: collecting new and used baseball equipment (along with cash donations or gift cards) to support a Little League group in the Santa Rosa fire area. McCarthy, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox after graduating from CSUB in 2011, is now working as a sales and marketing executive for Lengthwise Brewing.

 * ... FAREWELL: James and Kathy Robbins, owners of Jane's Jewelers, have announced they are closing down after 55 years in business. The couple is retiring but wrote to "thank the thousands of loyal customers who have made the business a complete success."

 * ... MAILBAG: A big thanks to reader Ginny Gaines who dropped me this note: "I applaud your stance on the cannabis discussion. Keep up the good work! Many people react to this subject from a very emotional and outdated point of view. I remember seeing the film 'Reefer Madness' as a teenager. It was laughable even back then. Too bad some won't take the time to objectively review the scientific evidence of the many, many benefits of this amazing plant."

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: Here is another example of good form between strangers. David Rhea said he and a group of seniors, all of whom do volunteer work as Friends of the Beale Library, meet regularly for breakfast. "We make the rounds of best breakfast restaurants and this morning we were at Milt's in '08. The restaurant provides us a separate room so that hard-of-hearing types among us can better listen to each other. There were eight of us, and we all have good appetites, so I'm guessing that the average cost of each meal was $14. When it came time for us to claim our separate checks, our waitress told us someone in the restaurant had PAID for our meals, all of us, which meant eight people times $14. There was an audible gasp among us... none of us had ever experienced anything like this. We have no idea who the generous person was, or why. It's another example of 'Bakersfield nice'!"