Sunday, September 28, 2014

Remembering Bakersfield first black police chief, Eric Matlock, and conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan will appear at Cal State Bakersfield this week

 * … RIP ERIC: I was saddened to hear of the death of Eric Matlock, Bakersfield's first African-American police chief who led an exemplary life inside and outside the department. I got to know Eric 15 years ago and had the pleasure to dine with him multiple times during some noon Rotary Club
meetings. He was always a gentlemen and was never without a broad, welcoming smile. He battled cancer for three years before succumbing last week at the age of 65. Too young for a man with such energy and natural kindness.

 * … KRISPY KREME: The news last week that Krispy Kreme is returning to Bakersfield went viral on social media websites. When I posted the news here on The Californian's Facebook page, more than 50,000 people read the post and almost 200 folks commented on it, a staggering number that speaks to our love affair with new restaurants in our community. Another post that received a lot of buzz: a place called The Habit Burger is also coming on California Avenue, a gourmet burger joint that has quite a following in places like Stockton, Visalia and Fresno.

 * … SULLIVAN: Kudos to the Kegley Institute of Ethics at Cal State Bakersfield for landing yet another outstanding speaker this week. On Wednesday, author and conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan will be speaking at the Dore Theatre at 7 p.m. Always provocative and a terrific thinker, Sullivan is the former editor of The New Republic and a frequent contributor to network news talk shows.

 * … DROUGHT: A reader passed along this note about neighbors who likes to keep their cars spotless: "We have two neighbors that each own three cars. They wash them at least twice a week. That is using a lot of water plus leaving it running while soaping the cars. Bakersfield needs some kind of restriction on that."

 * … JEWELRY: A unique art and jewelry boutique has opened downtown and will show off its wares at this week's First Friday downtown arts faire. Owned by Susan Ruppel, Wire and Pearl is located at 1911 17th Street. For First Friday, the shop will feature art by Yvonne Cavanaugh and Linda Brown and ceramic art by Alacrity.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM:  John Strand says you might be a Bakersfield old-timer "if you can remember when the most important decision you made on a weekend was which drive-in theater was showing your favorite movie. Choices were The Ninety-Nine, The South Chester, The Terrace, The Edison, and The Crest. Taft had The Sunset. We thought we were so clever by putting a couple of guys in the trunk!"

Friday, September 26, 2014

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy: On how an early lunch at Luigi's reflects the can-do spirit of Bakersfield and the great Central Valley of California

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield and House Majority Leader, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "Several weeks ago a few East Coast journalists visited Bakersfield to report on a city and region that is unique to a state widely known for its relaxed lifestyle over gritty word ethic. Upon hearing of their
trip, I immediately made a reservation at Luigi’s for Saturday morning to show them some true local flavor. That weekend when we pulled up and met the group outside they were sweating from a long walk in the hot sun. 'We had to park three blocks away!' I recall them saying. When we entered, the dining room was bustling with staff carrying plates of pasta and steak and patrons cramming into the long center tables to accommodate their expansive parties. For the out-of-towners, this more resembled a 1 p.m. restaurant scene than 11:15 am.

 "I tell this story because this disparity was brought up during our meal. Why, our visitors thought, were we (and seemingly everyone else in town) eating steak before noon? I said it was simple; our community has been up working since sunrise. That is how it’s been for generations.

  "It is this can-do attitude that yields more than just large appetites. Since our ancestors settled in the Central Valley long ago, we have become the nation’s food basket and major supplier of energy - powering communities across the country. We have developed into a community of explorers, pushing the limits of space travel and aerospace capabilities ever since the sound barrier was broken in the Mojave Desert in 1947. One needs to look no further than our community as an example of American exceptionalism.

  "But achieving such positive influence in our society has not been without its challenges. The current drought is historic and is creating immense hardship on our communities. Oil wells that have operated safely for years and have employed our neighbors are now in question by regulators. But it is in the face of this adversity when we are at our best.

  "New technologies have opened up diverse energy sources to power our state while they have also led to more efficient and productive conventional energy development than ever before. And our farms have adopted water conservation practices that use only what is needed while still producing the majority of nuts, fruits, and vegetables that are consumed throughout the country.

  "While we respond to challenges the way we always have - through resilience - the Federal and state government are poised to implement more regulations that erase our gains and present near impossible barriers to overcome. In today’s growing governmental bureaucracy, the limits of these rules and regulations are getting wider and more ambiguous than ever were intended when originally passed by Congress.

  "In Washington, the House of Representatives has passed numerous bills that limit the expansion of regulations that will especially hurt communities like ours, and instead returns responsibility to states and communities. A desk in Washington doesn’t know what is best for our community. Only our community knows what is best and that is why I will continue to fight for these common sense solutions that have proven results.

  "With the spirit of our community coupled with policies that don’t put fish above people, don't force unattainable regulations on small businesses, and don't force the shutdown of oil wells over unfounded science, Bakersfield is poised for continued times of prosperity. If there is any question, just go to lunch around 11 am."

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Krispy Kreme plans a return to Bakersfield as retailers pour into town along California Avenue, among them Panera Bread, Corner Bakery, Habit Burger, and yet another pet dies at the hands of two unleashed pit bulls

 * … REBIRTH: It's nice to see so much commercial and retail activity on California Avenue in what
old timers know as the "old Mervyn's" shopping center. HobbyLobby opened last year with a bang and business was so good it almost immediately expanded, and now a new Panera Bread has popped up doing a gangbuster's business. Meanwhile, earth movers are busy on the long neglected dirt lot across from Barnes and Noble where Three-Way Chevrolet once stood, preparing the site for a new Krispy Kreme, Corner Bakery, Habit Burger, and yet-to-be-named pizza company, according to Duane Keathley, a partner at Cushman and Wakefield. All this comes as the Park at Riverwalk is getting ready to welcome a Nordstrom Rack, BevMo! and Sprout's natural market early next year.

* … PIT BULLS: Viva Wu lost her small dog Toto recently when he was attacked by two unleashed pit pulls at Tevis Park. She was walking Toto with her other dogs when the pits came out of seemingly nowhere and tore through her beloved pet. "By the time we got to the vet, he had no change to survive," she said. "It was the most horrible 20 minutes of my life."

* … KUDOS: Marcia Eyherabide sends kudos out to the roads department "for planning the resurfacing of Highway 178 in east Bakersfield during the late evening hours. It was a great idea. There was little or no disruption of traffic. It almost seemed like 'magic' that the lanes suddenly appeared to be refreshed."

 * … GOOD FORM: The men and women at the California Highway Patrol rarely get a pat on the back, so here is one compliments of reader Liz Blaine. "On Saturday evening my husband Mike received a call from my father who incurred a blown out tire on Highway 99 just south of McFarland.  As we approached the area, we saw the blinking red lights. His car came to rest on the median just a few feet away from the very formidable ditch where a new lane is under construction. A patrolman was already with him. Kudos to the California State Highway Patrol. If Officer Kyle Nunez' exemplary behavior is indicative of the men and women behind the badge, I applaud them. I am grateful to them. I admire them. His attentiveness and consideration toward my father ranked high above the level of duty.  My father needed a helping hand. Officer Nunez offered his."

 * … FIREMEN: A reader who asked not to be named sent these kudos to Bakersfield city firemen at station No. 9: "This past Sunday the firemen at this station were kind enough to assist me in the removal of a tight ring from my finger.  I tried everything from Windex, oils, lotions, and nothing freed my ring.  It only took a few minutes of their time and a job well done! Thanks again guys for your time and being so kind.  (Don't forget to purchase your 2015 Bakersfield Firefighters Calendar for only $20.  Proceeds go to Bakersfield Firefighters Burn Foundation, a nonprofit organization.)

 * … REUNION: Columbus Street Baptist Church (formerly First Southern Baptist Church of Bakersfield) is celebrating its 75th anniversary this Sunday. Senior pastor Dr. James Trammell told me that all members and former members are invited to a continental breakfast starting at 9 a.m. followed by a grand reunion that will include a catered lunch.

* … THEFT: Speaking of local churches, someone stole two Oktoberfest signs from the entrance and exit of the Lutheran Church of Prayer off Highway 178. As Linda Hartnett said: "The Lutheran Church of Prayer is a small church with a big heart in the northeast. This will be our fourth Oktoberfest and the signs are reused every year due to cost. Yep, we'll pray for those responsible. "

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ann Arbor, Michigan, deemed the "smartest city" in the United States while the Valley cities (Modesto, Visalia and Bakersfield) are at the bottom of the list, and the question of ryegrass overseeding is the question of the day

* … SMART CITIES: Ever wonder what U.S. cities are considered the "smartest" in the country? Based on the percentage and types of educational degrees, high paying jobs and the quality and size of local schools, Ann Arbor, Michigan, (home to the University of Michigan) ranks at the top,
according to the personal finance site WalletHub. Next were two North Carolina cities (Raleigh, home of N.C. State and Durham, home of Duke University) followed by Provo, Utah (Brigham Young University) and Manchester, New Hampshire. The "least smart" city was Beaumont, Texas, followed by Salinas, Rockford, Ill., Brownsville, Texas and then Modesto, Visalia and finally Bakersfield.

 * … COMMON CORE: I have burned a lot of newsprint on the difficulty of a science question over at Fruitvile Junior High, which prompted this note from Fruitvale Superintendent Mary Westendorf.  "Just for clarification purposes, the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools (NGSS) were adopted in September, 2013, by the California State Board of Education. They are not Common Core standards, but science standards specific to California. The Fruitvale community (both families and staff) have high expectations for student achievement and students rise to those level of those expectations. Many of the students in that particular class did have a correct or partially correct answer to that particular question and the teacher then spent time reteaching the concept so that there was understanding across the board. As I'm sure you're aware, colleges and universities point to the lack of proficiency in students entering their programs, specifically in the areas of math and science.  We have students that are bright and capable and parents that expect a challenging curriculum that prepares their students for college preparatory and advanced placement classes in high school, ready to move on to college and university with lots of options. Community support for student achievement is so very important and we are fortunate in Fruitvale."

 * … DROUGHT: Clayton M. Koerner was at the ticket office over at Rabobank Arena last week when he noticed a city maintenance worker washing down the fountain area with a hose. "I asked him if he was aware of the water situation in California and the fact that there could be fines for wasting water unnecessarily. NO, he was not aware! Asked why he was watering the cement around the fountain, said his boss told him to do it. The City of Bakersfield is considering fines for wasting water yet they wash down the cement around the fountain at Rabobank arena. I left just shaking my head and wondering who sent this young uninformed employee out to wash down the cement?"

 * … OVERHEARD: A resident of Seven Oaks is talking about the drought: "My neighbor said he wouldn't seed with ryegrass if I don't. No one wants to be the only green lawn on the street this winter."

 * … FOODIE: Gene Bonas wrote to praise Sorella's Ristorante Italiano in its new location on McNair Court in the Southwest. "Twenty one of my Garces Memorial classmates and friends had lunch at Sorella's last Thursday in their brand new building. The food was excellent and the ambiance excellent.  I highly recommend Sorella's for a pleasant dining experience."

 * … CHRISTMAS: It may only be September but the planning is already under way for the 32nd annual Bakersfield Christmas Parade set for December 4. Jerry Cook, one of the coordinators, reminded me the parade is staged through private funding. If you are interested in helping, go to the event website at

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Bill Deaver chimed in to say he too remembers the old Golden Crust Bakery.  "Regarding unsliced bread, there was a lot of that during World War II because, as a baker in Madera where we lived at the time told my Dad, there was a shortage of metal for knives (and lots of other stuff!) due to the war… By the way, there are few things that taste as good anytime as a chunk torn from a fresh and well-made baguette."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Supporters of Common Core testing take me to task over a science question, and Washington State University names its engineering school after former Aera Energy president and CEO Gene Voiland

 * … COMMON CORE: I clearly touched a nerve last week in writing about what I considered an extremely difficult science question on the Common Core testing at Fruitvale Jr. High School. There
were too many responses to list, and most readers were kind enough to politely point out my ignorance. Said Bruce Deeter: "Richard, Richard, Richard, ridiculously hard? That problem isn't difficult at all. Think about it, why does a rock sink in water and a piece of wood float on water? Rock is more dense and wood less dense. Or take oil and water, you've surely seen layers of liquids like these float on top of each other. Or salad dressing in a bottle as another example. This problem is no different. The numerical values just give you the info you need to place them in order by what is more dense and less dense. Density of pure water is 1.0, BTW. This is some very basic stuff. I remember doing this sort of thing in show and tell in fifth grade in the 1960s." Thanks Bruce. I am blaming this on my public education in the state of Georgia.

* …. MORE CORE: Added Andy Wonderly: "All the problem requires are understanding the concept of density, knowing the density of water (which should be an easy recall for anyone actively engaged in a science class), and being able to put numbers in order from largest to smallest. I don't know anything about Common Core, so I can't comment on the question's appropriateness for this exam.  But to call this question 'ridiculously hard' perpetuates an unfortunate attitude toward science that I believe is holding Americans back in the STEM fields. I can't blame the child for his or her reaction. Science is hard. I have been there myself. But this child's reaction should be met with aid and explanation, not applause and exaltation. I pray that someone gave this child five seconds of their time to explain this simple word problem in the hope that the child may gain a better understanding of science and increased reading comprehension."

 * … MORE CORE: And finally there was this thoughtful response from Lora Coppola: "I assumed that as a journalist, word problems would be your forte. This particular word problem requires no solving for unknowns, or any other complex reasoning skills. It only requires a basic grasp of the term 'density,' the knowledge that the density of water is 1.0, and the ability arrange numbers from largest to smallest.  Even if the student in question had not paid attention in class, he or she probably knows innately that wood floats on water and lead sinks.  Of course, if the student had not paid attention, he/she might have missed the news that the density of water is 1.0. But since it is the key element to solving this question, I'm going to assume that it was emphasized in class and on lab and homework assignments. To answer the question: From bottom layer (most dense) to top (least dense): Purple, water, red, yellow. The wood chip is floating on the red layer. Methinks you're stirring the pot." Methinks I must have skipped out on that high school science class.

 * … VOILAND: Congratulations to former Aera Energy CEO Gene Voiland and his wife Linda, who had a major department at Washington State Universitynamed in their honor. The Linda and Gene Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering was unveiled last week in part of honor Gene's contributions to his alma mater.

 * … GOOD FORM: The stretch of Alfred Harrell Highway near the soccer fields was awash in litter this Sunday, but it was heartening to see a group of cyclists (David Rous, Adam Hensley and Richard Picarelli) hope off their bikes and take the time to pick it all up. Meanwhile, up on Panorama Drive I spotted a young woman and an older man doing the same thing, spending their morning cleaning up the trash that others so unceremoniously left in the park.

 * … SPOTTED: On my friend Joe Drew's Facebook page: "Why is it when you retire, and time is no longer very important, they give you a watch?"

 * … KINDNESS: Barbara Winegar was among a table for eight recently at Kan Pai restaurant on Brimhall Road, enjoying her daughter's birthday party while sharing a long table with two stranger. "When it came time to pay for our great  meal, my son-in law was informed that the bill had already been taken  care of by the couple at the end of the table. We thanked them again and again, but  we want everyone to know what a gracious couple  they are, and what a magnanimous gesture. The gentleman's name is Hayward  from Norfolk Va., and his lady friend from Bakersfield. We are very touched by your generosity."

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A ridiculously difficult math problem appears on a "common core" test at Fruitvale Jr. High School, and a Seven Oaks homeowner's association makes the right call on overseeding rye grass

* … COMMON CORE: Think you are smarter than an 8th grader? Then consider this ridiculously hard question that appeared on a "common core" exam at Fruitvale Jr. High School, along with the witty response from the student. The question: "A glass cylinder contains four liquids in four
separate layers. One liquid is pure water. The purple liquid has a density of 1.62 g/cm3. The yellow liquid has a density of 0.46 g/cm3. The red has a density of 0.91 g/cm3. What is the order of the liquids in the cylinder? Explain your answer. What will happen if you slip a small, flat chip of wood (density 0.85 g/cm3) into that cylinder?" Seriously? The student left this answer: "That question … is by far the most challenging, most hard and impossible to answer question in the history of time and matter. Everyone in this room is now looking at this knowing that there is no one able to solve such a question. Award me no points because I know I'll never get this. Thank you!"

 * … RYEGRASS: Hats off to the Grand Island Homeowners' Association at Seven Oaks for making the right call when it comes to water conservation. The association sent letters to homeowners saying they would not be fined if they reduced or eliminated watering during this period of drought. Normally, homeowners would be fined if they did not overseed with ryegrass during the winter.

 * … MORE DROUGHT: John and Norma Fowler wondered how many other homeowner associations would follow suit, and noted they told their own gardener to let their lawn go brown this winter. "We did, however, have him order mulch for the flower beds so that our choice will not affect his income and because it will help hold moisture in our soil."

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: Try the cheese ravioli appetizer at Uricchio's Trattoria downtown, a bargain at just $6.50.

* … BRIDAL SHOP: A new bridal boutique business - Enchanted Bridal Boutique - is opening on Stockdale Highway. Co-owners and sisters Angela Jourdan and Patricia Holcomb have set the grand opening for this Saturday over at 4817 Stockdale Highway. The store carries dresses for the entire wedding party.

 * … ROTARY: Breakfast Rotary Club kicks off the Halloween season with "Bats and Brooms" on Oct. 18 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Kern Agriculture Pavilion. The costume party will feature a gourmet menu, dancing to music by No Limit  live auction, and much more.  Ticket are $75 each with chance to win $1,000 gift of travel with purchase of ticket. Contact Jan Lemucchi at (661) 754 2957 for details.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Ronal Reynier says you may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember Golden Crust Bakery. "When I was in junior high school we would stop and buy a unsliced and unwrapped loaf from their outside window. It was hot and fresh right from the ovens. On the way home we would tear-off the top and eat the inside. We would tear up the crust and throw it into the canal for the fish, frogs, and crawdads to eat. Yes, our canals were full of them in the days
long gone. My wife was from Iowa and she had tears when they closed their doors. After all these years you still can not buy bread as great as Golden Crust."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New study points to leaky pipes, not hydraulic fracturing, that has contaminated water in Pennsylvania and Texas, and Soraya Coley bids farewell to CSUB to become president of Cal Poly Pomona

 * … FRACKING: There is yet more evidence that the practice of hydraulic fracturing is not contaminating ground water supplies. A new study, conducted by The Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, found that leaky pipes, not fracking, is responsible for tainted drinking water. The good news, according to the study, is "improvements in well integrity can probably eliminate most of the environmental problems with gas leaks." The study looked at contaminated water in Pennsylvania and Texas, where environmental groups have pointed the finger of blame on hydraulic fracturing.

 * … COLEY: Congratulations to Soraya Coley who has been named the sixth president of Cal Poly Pomona. Coley is one of the most prominent, and effective, members of the Cal State Bakersfield administration, serving as vice president of academic affairs and provost. In her tenure at CSUB, she has shown a passion for education and a strong commitment to her adopted community of Bakersfield.

 * … OVERHEARD: A resident of a gated community in the Southwest is talking to a friend about the drought and overseeding his yard with rye grass this winter. "Our homeowner's association requires us to have green lawns in the winter … wonder if they will back off during this drought?"

* … FOODIE BEST BET: Make sure you check out the Tuesday special at the two Juicy Burger locations: the pastrami burger combo, normally $10.49, is a steal at just $6.99. I tried it at the downtown location and it does not disappoint.

* … GOOD FORM: Maureen Buckey reached out to thank Coach Paul Golla and so many of his Driller football players from BHS for supporting her family during a recent death. "I  just wanted to let you know what a class act the Bakersfield High School Football team is. This past weekend we had a funeral for my husband's brother, Barry Buckey. He was very close to our son, Craig, who helps out with the Bakersfield High football team. You can't imagine our amazement when we walked out of the church and saw many of the varsity players in shirts and ties with their jerseys over them... They were there to support our son, who was devastated by this death. A number of them came over to the house afterwards for the reception and were so polite and very helpful. Numerous people commented how impressed they were with these young men. Coach Golla and his staff do such a  fabulous job of instilling values and leadership to these players. "

 * … MILT'S: Milt's Coffee Shop is wishing a happy 96th birthday to its most faithful customer, a patron named Serrill who has not missed a day at Milt's since it opened in 1964. Now that is loyalty.

* … CAMP KEEP: This coming Friday, Sparkling Image Car Wash of Bakersfield will host its 5th annual fundraiser to benefit the Kern Environmental Education Program (Camp KEEP). For every full service car wash sold that day at any of its five local locations, Sparkling Image will donate 50 percent of proceeds to Camp KEEP. Last year the day netted $9,000 for KEEP, and the car wash has donated more than $30,000 to KEEP in recent years through its annual car wash fundraisers. Funds are used to help send kids in need to camp.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Looking for a technological solution to texting while driving, celebrating the renovation of an iconic Bakersfield men's store and enjoying some fresh fish at one of our outstanding local eateries

 * … TEXTING: I read with interest a piece in The New York Times about a Colorado man's efforts to build a device that blocks incoming and outgoing texts for motorists. We are not there yet, but experts say the technological obstacles will eventually be overcome. Said The Times: "People know they shouldn’t text and drive. Overwhelmingly, they tell pollsters that doing so is unacceptable and
dangerous, and yet they do it anyway. They can’t resist. So safety advocates and public officials have called for a technological solution that does an end run around free will and prevents people from texting in the first place." The next time you are at a red light, take a look around you and you will likely see folks casually texting away.

 * … MILLER: I am not sure what to make of the story of the Bakersfield man who was sentenced to six years of hard labor in North Korea after being found guilty of conducting "hostile acts" against the government. According to North Korea, Matthew Todd Miller arrived on a tourist visa, tore up his U.S. passport and asked for asylum. In at least one interview with Western media, he did not deny asking for asylum but he is now apparently rethinking his actions.

* … H. WALKER'S: Kudos to Tracy Walker Kiser and her crew over at H. Walker's Men's Clothing on K Street downtown who have totally renovated the popular men's store, bringing in new cabinetry and furniture, carpeting and a bright, inviting coat of paint.

 * … FOODIE BEST BET: Nice to see La Costa Mariscos enjoying record crowds in its new digs over at the Ice House near the Garces Circle. I stopped by for my favorite La Costa meal: the whole huachinango (red snapper) grilled fish, a can't miss dish at this iconic Bakersfield eatery.

 * … BUSINESS: Charlie Powell wrote to comment on a story of a California company, Firefly Space Systems, moving from Hawthorne to Cedar Park, Texas. "The article … is just one of many examples of the poor business climate in California pushing companies to a friendlier environment. I can tell you with confidence that Cedar Park is great place to have a business, and to live. Oh yes, my son Matt (a former Bakersfield resident), just happens to be the mayor of Cedar Park."

 * … RYE: I have to agree with this note from reader William Elliot: "The city of Bakersfield show have a campaign against planting winter rye this season. We need to save out water not our lawns."

* … PORSCHE: Do you own a Porsche or - like some of us - dream of it one day? If so put the weekend of Oct. 4-5 on your calendar. On that Saturday the Porsche Club of Bakersfield will be showing off their cars at Stramler Park from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Entry includes lunch. Then on Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., the club will hold a autocross at Minter Field in Shafter with all proceeds benefiting MARE.

 * … HARVEST: The annual Harvest for Hope event, sponsored by Catholic Charities, is set for Saturday, Oct. 4, over at the Kern County Fairgrounds. This event benefits the need in the Kern/Inyo area. There will be chef's tastings from local caterers and restaurants along with a silent and live auction. Tickets are $100 and sponsorships are available. Call Beverly Camp at (661) 319-6049.