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Sunday, Jan 02 2011 05:00 PM

Ask The Californian: Why didn't Congressman Kevin McCarthy vote on these bills?

By The Bakersfield Californian

Q: One can't help noting that last week's vote recap (How our Lawmakers Voted) shows our congressman (Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield) missing in action. It's OK with me; he may have had a good reason. However, I really want to know his view on each of the votes he missed.

How would he have voted had he been present? Four "Not Voting": 9/11 Responders Fund? Who could be opposed to that one? So I'm guessing Kevin supported it in spirit. Food safety rules? We're all in favor of food safety, even if Jim Costa isn't. America Competes Act and Stopgap 2011 Budget, both worthy bills.

-- Gerald Sutliff

A: McCarthy released this statement in response to your questions:

"I was not present for the votes because my son had surgery last week and I came home to be with him and my family. If I had been in D.C., I would have voted against all of the bills mentioned in your reader's letter. While there were a number of positive things in each of the bills, the tipping point was the spending. The Democratic majority led the 111th Congress to spend more money in two years than the first 100 congresses before them combined. Washington has lost touch and spent too much time focusing on the wrong issues. Americans need jobs, not more debt, and next year the new majority will be focused on just that."

Q: Maybe I missed it but there was a brouhaha a few months ago about property at Taft Highway and Highway 99 about a new California Highway Patrol station and local attorney George Martin was involved. What happened?

-- Don Kurtz

A: The property was recently annexed by the city -- annexation wrinkles were the root of the problem -- and plans for the new CHP station are moving ahead, said Martin Ortiz, a principal planner with the city of Bakersfield.

The site you're referencing totals 33 acres at the southwest corner of 99 and Taft Highway, with Compagnoni Street cutting through the parcels. In addition to the CHP station, plans call for a Bob's Big Boy, hotels and other businesses.

Ortiz said the CHP is excited about the new space since it's overcrowded in existing offices on Buck Owens Boulevard. The city hasn't received formal plans yet, but understands the CHP hopes to be in its new digs possibly before the end of 2011. There are also no plans in yet for the Bob's Big Boy and the hotels, but real estate brokers have told the city those projects are moving forward.

For those who might not remember the story, the Compagnoni Street project needed sewer service provided by the city in order to work. But Kern County officials had held up Compagnoni and a number of other annexations last summer on technical grounds so they could make deals with developers regarding fees for project impacts.

In August, George Martin, who had been retained by developer Edward Lee, wrote a scathing letter to county and city officials telling them they'd better work out their differences at the Compagnoni site or he would gather a group of prominent private citizens to investigate them and make the findings public. The county soon approved an agreement for Compagnoni, and in subsequent months has worked out deals on other large projects that have since had annexations move forward.

Q: What are the plans for the big dirt lot located west of South H Street and Berkshire Road?

-- Harry Vargas

A: There aren't any active plans for there at the moment, said Jim Eggert, the city of Bakersfield's planning director. There had been plans in that general area for a shopping center that included a Bass Pro Shops but that fizzled when the economy soured. Kaiser Permanente bought property in that area but it hasn't decided exactly what to do with it, said spokesman Jason Gutierrez.

Ask The Californian appears on Mondays. Submit questions to asktbc@bakersfield.com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.

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