CNN Senior Producer
Tehachapi, California. It blows here, hard enough it seems to strip feathers from chickens, or stiff enough to straighten out in two minutes some housewife's curly hairdo that took two hours to coif.
As local legend goes, they started wind power up here in the early 1980s, building crude erector sets with propellers and converting all that spinning into energy.
Tehachapi is about a two hour-drive North of Los Angeles and a cultural divide away.
People here don't ride in black Limos. They drive dusty trucks.
They don't take a dip in the Pacific. They dip chewing tobacco.
Tehachapi and neighboring hamlets are full of McGyvers, men and women who can fix anything and create art with a screwdriver.
They say Mike Goldsworthy can make a cabinet so useful and beautiful, you can admire your image in the reflection on the outside, and on the inside store the china and the plastic cups from concession stand.
But when the economy tanked, cabinetmaking became a luxury. Goldsworthy couldn't find a job so he threw caution to the relentless wind and started climbing.
Now this craftsman who owns mules and horses tends to his wind turbines up in the air, making sure the herds of them that dot these hills are healthy.
"Look out my office window," laughs Goldsworthy, standing on a hill carpeted with grass that's mid-March green and lined with wind turbines that sing when the blowing brings them to life.
"It's fantastic. Who would not want to work out here in the air. You got 360 degree views. Beautiful weather. Sunshine. Occasionally you get snowed on. No biggie."
Well if the recovery needs to officially start somewhere, why not here in the rolling, wind-whipped hills with Goldsworthy.
Some predict in 20 years, 20 percent of America's electricity demands will be provided by wind which means more Mike Goldsworthy-types are needed.
There's more wind turbines to be built.
And for anyone anywhere who ever cursed the wind in their backyard for rattling the windows or snapping the flag, there could be something in there for them - a job.
Tonight on AC360°, A-I- Jeez Louise! Outrage tonight at the insurance giant over its latest round of bonuses – this time the billions are lining the pockets of the very people who practically ran the company into the ground. President Obama is furious, so is New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo...along with millions of Americans tired of where their taxpayer bailout money is ending up. We want to keep the live blog on this one topic. So, please share your thoughts on AIG below.
And, don't miss Randi Kaye's webcast on the AIG outrage during the commercials. Watch our WEBCAST
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All this week, 360 will be traveling across the country, On the Road to Rescue. For the next five days, in five different cities, Anderson will report on how Americans hit by the economic crisis are finding ways to pull through. He’ll talk to people on the ground about their hopes, challenges and strategies.
The idea is to connect the big picture issues of the economic crisis to the snapshots on the ground - minus the partisan noise you’ll find elsewhere. We believe knowledge is power; the more information you have the more control you’ll have over your families’ futures.
Tonight, Anderson is in Los Angeles, where unemployment has surged four percent since October – to 12 percent. Anderson talked with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who wants the federal government to give nearly $7 billion in stimulus money directly to his city, bypassing the state government. Why? He fears state officials will use the money for deficit reduction rather than job creation. At the very least, he says, it will take longer for the money to reach his city if it has to wind its way through state channels.
Mayor Villaraigosa would use some of the $7 billion to buy “green trucks” built by a local company. Anderson will show us these electric trucks plus the port where some of them would be used. He’ll also examine Villaraigosa’s contention that giving stimulus money directly to cities will help speed recovery.
Anderson also goes to the frontlines of the battle against gangs. He’ll introduce us to Gregory Thomas, the co-founder of a local gang-prevention group in Watts, who hopes to use stimulus money to create jobs and job-training programs while hiring dozens of gang outreach workers. An estimated 400 gangs operate in and around L.A., and last year nearly half of all homicides in the city were gang-related.
A reverend who heads up the city’s task force on gang prevention told Anderson he’s convinced that even a small amount of stimulus money would have a big impact in Watts. As he puts it: ”I mean surely if we can still pay out bonuses to bankers on wall street, it seems to me we can use some of these dollars to invest in poor community’s that have been overlooked and over-passed for decades.”
Can the fight against gangs create jobs and helped fuel the recovery? We’ll dig deeper.
We’ll also spend some time tonight on the huge new wave of outrage that AIG has unleashed with its latest bonus payouts – to employees in the very division that nearly sunk the giant company. President Obama has told Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to use all legal means to stop the payments or get the money back. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is also taking action. But what can they actually do? Is there a way to get the billions of taxpayer dollars back?
We’ll also take a closer look at the Obama administrations plans to help small businesses. Plus, we’ve pulled together a panel of experts who say that recessions can actually be good for entrepreneurs. Remember the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? More on that tonight.
After L.A. we head to New Orleans, Detroit, New York and Miami. Should be a fascinating week.
See you tonight at 10 p.m. eastern.
If you are in debt — and still feel the need to buy all the time — pay attention to Dr. Phil's advice:
You don't solve money problems with money. You also don't solve emotional problems with money. Look at what your real problem is. Going shopping is not going to solve it.
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stands by as President Barack Obama delivers remarks to an audience of small business owners, community lenders, and members of Congress in the East Room of the White House March 16, 2009 in Washington.
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Editor’s Note: You can read more Jami Floyd blogs on “In Session.”
In Session Anchor
Last week ended with news of charges against three people linked to Anna Nicole Smith. Smith died two years ago, in a Florida hotel room. A medical examiner ruled her death the result of an accidental drug overdose.
These are not murder charges. Instead, the state Attorney General is charging various violations of the health code and other California laws related to prescription drug abuse. It’s a long and involved criminal complaint; but, at bottom, ex-boyfriend Howard K. Stern and two doctors are charged with illegally providing prescription drugs to an addict — Anna Nicole Smith. In my view, the case against her doctors is easy and long overdue. The harder case is the one against Mr. Stern.
Stern is universally reviled, with e-mails and letters and posts on my Facebook page, all blaming him for the former playmate’s death. But is he really culpable, as a matter of criminal law?
Editor's Note: A lot of you were outraged about our story last week detailing how states are issuing unemployment benefits via debit cards, and banks are charging fees on those cards. In our attempt to find out why, we literally chased down Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of labor. But Sandi Vito decided she did not want to be interviewed and took off like a politician caught in a scandal. We thought it was rather odd behavior. Now we’re learning the rest of the story. Hours after that encounter, Vito was under arrest. Here’s the news version of what happened.
Drew Griffin and David Fitzpatrick
CNN Special Investigations Unit
Pennsylvania's Acting Secretary of Labor and Industry has entered a rehabilitation program for at least two weeks after her arrest on a public drunkenness charge, only a few hours after she ran away from a CNN Correspondent who was attempting to ask her questions about the state's use of debit cards to pay unemployment benefits.
According to Gov. Ed Rendell's chief spokesman, Chuck Ardo, Sandi Vito, who was appointed Acting Secretary of Labor and Industry in February of 2008, "has entered a treatment program for two weeks."
"The governor awaits her return before making any final decisions on her future," Ardo told CNN on Monday.
While walking through one of my favorite discount stores the other day, I happened upon a scene that gave me hope for America's future. It was change I could believe in, for sure.
As her four children hopped around her, begging her in their most pitiful voices to buy them something, a mother stood, impassive, obviously immune to their retail angst, chanting, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no...."
As I walked by, smiling at her, it struck me that the economy, bad as it is, could have beneficial effects on parenting. After all, I haven't witnessed a scene of that sort in quite some time, and I've seen two in the last two weeks, in two different cities, widely separated. Something is happening.
Editor's Note: Tonight Anderson spoke to Gregory Thomas, co-founder of a local gang prevention group called Kush Reaching Out. With stimulus money, Thomas hopes to create after-school and job training programs, and hire dozens of gang outreach workers.
For more information on Kush Reaching Out, you can call Greg Thomas directly at (323) 312-7948. His email address is email@example.com.
Kush Reaching Out Inc.
1609 E 113th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90059.