Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bakersfield man suffers traumatic neck injury while zip lining in Mexico; family establishes fund raising to bring him back to the United States

 * … TRAGEDY: Horrible news out of Cabo San Lucas where a Bakersfield man was severely injured in a zip lining accident. Brian Hodges and his wife Shimeaka were in Cabo celebrating a year of marriage when Brian broke his neck when he slammed into the side of a mountain while
zip lining. He is currently in a medically induced coma in a Mexican hospital. The family is trying to raise money to have Brian flown back to California where his insurance will kick in and he can be treated. Shimeaka works at OMNI Healthcare and Brian is a truck driver for KSI. A friend established the Brian and Shimeaka Hodges Fund at under their name. The family is trying to recoup the $50,000 it had to pay the Mexican hospital for Brian to be treated.

 * … BAD FORM: This example of some really bad form (and that is being generous) comes from reader Darla McCallum. "This is to the person who hit a dog on July 19th on Enos lane south of Rosedale Highway. (you know who you are). Did you even slow down or stop to see how the dog was? My guess is no! Shame on you. My husband and I did along with four other kind hearted people. He was severly injured and scared. How could you just leave him on the side of the road to die? You could have called for help. We could not afford to take him to the emergency vet. We comforted him as best we could until Animal Control got there. I say THANK YOU to the four people that stopped to help. My husband and I and a young women from Taft stayed with him for almost three hours, and by the way he had to be put down his internal injuries were too bad to save him. Again I say where is the compassion for living, breathing beings?"

 * … GOOD FORM: Hats off to two Garces High graduates who rescued a dog in the ocean off the Ventura coast. It turns out a dog had chased a sea gull into the ocean and went out too far, getting stranded while its owner was frantic on the beach. The two Bakersfield men, David Etcheverry and Cruise Adams, grabbed a kayak and a surfboard and paddled out to save the dog. Said Jeff Adams, Cruise's uncle: "David and Cruise paddled back to shore to a standing ovation by about 50 onlookers. It was a good thing David had been out kayaking every morning and Cruise had been surfing every morning to give them the ability to save another families love one."

 * … FOUNDATION: The Bakersfield Californian (family) Foundation is holding two separate grant cycles with awards of $100,000 and $50,000. The Foundation is looking to make a large impact with these two awards that will go to deserving non-profits. Letters of inquiry are due Friday, August 29. There is no "theme" for the work being done to win these awards. Go to the Foundation website ( for more information.

 * … KUDOS: Kudos to Rachol West, a 2013 Garces High graduate who has been recognized by the Mountain West Conference for academic excellence in maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA through her freshman year as a student athlete (women's basketball) at San Jose State University.

 * … MEMORIES: Meanwhile local Realtor Ken Barnes remembers visiting his longtime friend Robert Stack in Los Angeles about 12 years ago. "We decided to go to lunch at the Bel-Air country club near his house. When we entered the bar-lunch area overlooking the putting green Bob said 'Let's join these guys over here by the window.' As we sat down he introduced me to Richard Crenna, Greg Kinnear, Dick Martin, and James Garner. He told me later he thought Kinnear was being interviewed for a membership in the club. You would never had known any of these guys were famous just sitting over lunch for an hour or so and talking about nothing special.  Garner was especially funny with many of his remarks.  Sad to say, I lost Bob the following year to a heart attack. Great memories."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

You know you're from Bakersfield when you get excited when it sprinkles in town, more from those who want to ban fireworks and yes, more bad form in the Trader Joe's parking lot

 * … PLEDGE: Kati Hartnett McKeown, who works in the district office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, noted this as she was driving with her 6-year-old son. "Jake just said the Pledge of Allegiance to a flag
flying on a pole by a building as we were driving past and he included.. 'and you may be seated.' We had to explain that part was not actually in the pledge."

 * …. WATER: With all the focus on conserving water, who will hold our city and county responsible? We've been told to expect steep fines if we allow water to flow into the street, but what about those public median sprinklers that are sending water cascading down Gosford and other roads virtually every morning? And the same thing is happening up on Panorama Drive.

 * … FIREWORKS: The conversation on whether we should ban fireworks here continues, and now the opposition has mounted a signature campaign on Facebook. Lois Henry, my colleague who has long advocated a ban, has created a Facebook page asking folks to weigh in. (You can find it on Facebook by searching for Ban Fireworks in Kern County) The page has almost 600 followers and it is growing every day. Meanwhile, reader Bob Hartshon put it this way: "Much has been said for, and against, banning fireworks. Many complaints seemed to be associated with illegal fireworks. Banning legal fireworks will not matter regarding these complaints. The issue is those knuckleheads who use illegal fireworks or legal fireworks the improper way. It's about people acting responsibly. In the words of the great philosopher, Ron White, 'you can't fix stupid.'"

 * … VICTOR: The recent remodel of the Smart and Final on Golden State was an unexpected gift to folks who live in the downtown area, and now after a short absence, manager Victor Rios has returned. Rios is known for his personal touch, smile and excellent customer service.

 * … DMV: Count me among the happy customers of the DMV online appointment reservation service. I was in and out in 15 minutes with an appointment the other day, bypassing a line that snaked out the door at the F Street office.

 * … GOOD FORM: Hats off to the young couple who stopped their car off Brimhall Road the other day to rescue a stray dog that was wandering in the street. The woman stopped oncoming traffic as her friend coaxed the young pup into their car.

 * … BAD FORM: Note to the middle aged man in the raised black truck at Trader Joe's this weekend who apparently wasn't wearing underwear when he hopped out of his car as a woman sat at the wheel of her car next to him. "Yuck," she said, "it was a close your eyes moment."

 * … CODY: Cody Kessler, the junior quarterback at USC who hails from Bakersfield's Centennial High, made the "watch list" of college players most likely to be in the running for the Maxwell Award, given to the college player of the year. Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron won the award last year.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield if you post pictures of raindrops on the sidewalk and post it on Facebook to celebrate a slight sprinkle.

Friday, July 18, 2014

McCarthy: With much of the world in chaos, it's time to remember so many people and organizations that do good

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

 "We continue to mourn the tragic death of the nearly 300 individuals who were innocently killed yesterday on board Flight MH17. I would like to extend my deepest condolences to all the family and friends who lost loved ones, and I encourage each of us to take a moment and reflect on our own
blessings.  Whoever is responsible for this terrible act must face the full force of consequences from the United States and our allies throughout the globe.  Such an attack on humanity cannot and will not go unanswered.

  "Although our world may seem harsh and cruel at times like these, throughout our community, we see dedicated individuals and organizations that work tirelessly to help those in need. This week, I worked with my colleagues in the House in passing legislation to make permanent several charitable tax deduction provisions so that we can help those who are helping others. Approved by a wide margin, the America Gives More Act of 2014 will enable charities across the country to better achieve their mission. In fact, over 800 charitable organizations wrote in support of our bill, several of them operating right here in our own backyard.

  "Take, for example, the different organizations working to combat hunger in our area. Established in 1983, the Community Action Partnership of Kern Food Bank distributes more than 7.9 million pounds of food annually to individuals and families in need, over half of whom are children. We also have FoodLink for Tulare County, whose services reached some 120,000 people in 2010 alone.

 "Additionally, we have the medical services and treatment available at the San Joaquin Community Hospital (SJCH), which is part of the greater Adventist Health Network. Serving Kern County since 1910, SJCH is home to Bakersfield’s first full-treatment burn center, as well as the first Nationally Certified Stroke Center between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

 "There are organizations such as our local Girls Scouts who provide countless volunteer hours to help our veterans, seniors, and homeless in our community whether it be making cards for veterans, making toys for animals at the SPCA, helping those staying at the Ronald McDonald House, or even decorating cupcakes for those at the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter.

 "These organizations are just the tip of the iceberg of the countless groups that do so much work in our community. We have an amazing propensity for giving and volunteerism. We feel a strong sense of obligation to our friends and neighbors, and a responsibility to improve our communities. President Reagan once called this generous spirit “the backbone of our country—Americans helping themselves and each other, reaching out and finding solutions…that governments and huge institutions can’t find.” I am proud to say that the America Gives More Act will provide greater certainty and support the important charitable organizations in our community as they feed, clothe, and care for those in need.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bakersfield cyclist Mike Aldridge recovering after losing a leg in a horrific accident, and Castle and Cooke president Bruce Freeman retires after 21 years on the job

 * … RECOVERING: Mike Aldridge, the Bakersfield pool contractor who was involved in a
horrific bicycle accident near Lake Tahoe, is apparently recovering but still faces multiple surgeries. Aldridge, 49, was hit by a semi-truck while cycling through the Cave Rock tunnel near Tahoe. Family friends say one leg has been amputated, but they say he is awake and eager to return home. On Thursday, a group of about 50 bicyclists gathered at dawn at Beach Park to take a picture to wish him well. Keep this man and his family in your thoughts.

* … FREEMAN: I had a chance the other day to catch up with Bruce Freeman, who is retiring as president of Castle and Cooke after 21 years on the job. When Freeman arrived in Bakersfield in 1993, Seven Oaks Country Club had just been built and the neighborhoods of Seven Oaks were sparsely populated. It is easy to underestimate the impact that Freeman and Castle and Cooke have had on Bakersfield. Its developments, both commercial and residential, turned out to be far superior to anything our community had seen before, and the loyalty of Seven Oaks residents to their neighborhoods is a testament to Freeman's work. The Marketplace was one of the company's first commercial ventures, but the company eventually built and marketed the long stretch of medical offices on Stockdale Highway and beyond to the Park at River Walk. Freeman was president, but he left his mark in the small details. He was the one who insisted on the grand, gated entrances with brick trim and lush landscaping that has become the company's brand in its residential developments, as well as the roses that have become part of the Castle and Cooke look. He will officially leave at the end of this month, but plans to remain in Bakersfield. Vice president Laura Whitaker is expected to replace Freeman.

 * … MIST: Randy Ariery tipped me that actress Kathleen Turner is staring on stage in London in a play called "Bakersfield Mist." Turner plays a down-on-your-luck, boozing Bakersfield woman who picks up a Jackson Pollock painting for $5 at a garage store. The play was writhen by Stephen Sachs and co-stars Ian McDiarmid .

* … BLOWBACK: Rod Forney took issue with a recent post in which a reader complained that a BPD officer should not have expressed pity on a couple who was moving to town. "Maybe you should get off of your high horse or at least out of your air conditioned office and realize that just maybe, the officer was trying to lighten up and not unnecessarily scare the family during a serious situation. Also, I'm sure the officer was in full uniform in this extremely hot weather, which is not easy to work in, even if in shorts and a T-shirt. I would also say I'm sorry, to someone moving into Bakersfield in this heat. Maybe you should be less critical of our police department, that is unless you are not proud of the people that are out insuring your safety everyday, no matter the weather or air quality." Note to Rod: that wasn't my high horse talking; I was passing along a reader's comments.

 * … BAKERSFIELDISM: Craig Holland says you might be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember who these people were, and what they had in common: Ed Fant, Gene Winer and Wally Tucker. (Answer: They were all car dealers who had their names attached to the dealership. Fant had Buick, Winer (a former mayor) had Cadillac and Tucker sold Datsuns.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The head of Covenant Coffee, Randy Martin, lashes out at KGET TV for sloppy reporting, and Occidental Petroleum names a new president for its California subsidiary

 * … OXY: Occidential Petroleum has named a president for its new subsidiary, California Resources Corp. The company, which is moving its headquarters to Houston, named Todd A. Stevens
president and chief executive of CRC. Stevens, 47, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy and earned his masters from the University of Southern California. I am also told he is a Driller, having graduated from Bakersfield High School. He has worked for the company for 19 years.

 * … BAD FORM: Randy Martin is the director of Covenant Community Services, a non-profit dedicated to helping former foster kids get ahead in this world. He generally is an easy going type who has dedicated his life to helping folks with checkered pasts get back on their feet. But even affable people like Randy have their limits, and he reached it when KGET TV aired a "scalp hunting" story that Martin viewed as reckless and irresponsible. The story, aired this weekend, was an odd one because it began as a "feel good" piece when in fact it was a Trojan Horse to "reveal" that one of Covenant's employees, a chef at the Bakersfield Racquet Club diner (which Covenant operates) had a run-in with the law several years ago. Martin said he was aware of this when he hired the chef, and besides, "So what else is new? My life is devoted to dealing with people who have turned their lives around, as he has, and I am proud of him. It is a poor reflection on our community that irrelevant news decisions are made that can possibility affect the good accomplished by people with a past." Martin blamed the decision to air the program on Michael Trihey, KGET's news director, who told Martin it was "news." If KGET wants to find and "out" people who have stumbled in life, I suppose Covenant is a good place to start, but I'm not sure what purpose it serves.

 * … RUDE WELCOME: John Tarjan dropped me a note questioning the actions of a Bakersfield police officer when his daughter was stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. Said Tarjan:"After several months of weighing the pros and cons, my daughter and son-in-law decided to accept a transfer to Bakersfield. They arrived this weekend in the evening in a moving van and were stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. The BPD officer greeted them by asking if they were moving and if it was to or from Bakersfield. When they indicated they were moving here, the officer replied 'Oh, I'm sorry.' As someone who has grown to love his adopted hometown of 28 years, I was wondering if Chief Williamson might want to consider fostering a more positive culture among his officers and/or seek recruits who are happy to serve in this community."

 * … GOD WE TRUST: The annual In God We Trust rally will be held on Thursday, July 31, over at the Marriott Hotel. City councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan, one of the event's big supporters, says this is a event that "promotes patriotism and the role of god in our society, and that includes everyone" of any religious affiliation. The main speaker will be author and constitutional expert David Barton. Individual tickets are $58 (it is the 58th anniversary of the nation adopting In God We trust as the nation's motto) and $125 for a VIP pass. For tickets or more information call Tina Miller at (661) 325-7601.

 * … FIREWORKS: One more reader weighed in on fireworks. "I just wanted to add a little food for thought. Those people that are pushing the ban on fireworks in the city are forgetting one important fact; the people that follow the laws will abide by this, those who are setting off illegal fireworks, i.e. bottle rockets and sky rockets and the such, will continue to do so. It's obvious that they already have a disregard for our city and county laws. Why would they stop just because another law is added to the books? I'm all in favor of the larger public displays, but passing another law won't stop the law breakers."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Scammers post as alarm company specialists to gain access to local homes, and more community criticism of fireworks that are totally out of control

* … HEADS UP: There have been more reports of folks posing as alarm company technicians trying to gain access to alarm codes. The latest report came from Rivera Westchester, where two men in their mid to late 20s showed up telling a homeowner they needed access to the alarm panel to make it
compatible with new cell towers. The homeowner, suspicious because they were not in ADT uniforms, sent them packing. And sure enough, when he called ADT the company said these were not their employees.

 * … SPOTTED: Kudos to the volunteers who spent the mornings this weekend picking up trash at the bottom of the Panorama Bluffs and along the streets nearby. Not sure who they were, but my hat is off to them.

 * … OVERHEARD: A man is talking to friends about the Westside Parkway: "I'm curious," he said. "Why is it that we drive on the parkway and park on the driveway?"

 * … FIREWORKS: Barbro Riffo wrote to add her name to the list of people who are sick of fireworks. "Are the City Council members out of their minds, specially (Ken) Weir's comment?" she wrote. "Just because it is a tradition, she argued, does not mean it goes on forever. Like others, she suggested several large venues for public fireworks.

 * … MORE FIREWORKS: And there was this perspective from Sherry Davis, a professional dog trainer. "Thanks for pointing out to readers that the City Council is putting the needs of the non-profits over public safety." she wrote. "I've been in Bakersfield (same location) for 15 years now and NEVER have I experienced the nightmare surrounding last week's holiday. Here in the 'Hurt Locker,' aka Oleander, the nightmare started the weekend before the fourth and continued until the ammunition ran out the Tuesday after. Thankfully, my dogs don't react to fireworks, but my nerves were shattered from the window-rattling bombing that started as early as 9:30 a.m. on the weekends.  I spent a week hosing my roof and trees down at night and picking up the charred pieces of cardboard and plastic that covered my yard each morning.  I went to a dog show Friday morning in Ventura, but cancelled plans to stay the weekend because I was afraid I would come back and find my house burned to the ground.
If the Council members had had to spend a night down here in the trenches with the rest of us they'd be singing a different tune.

 * … BAD FORM: Yet another example of bad form. From Michelle Beck: "A couple of days ago, a couple of beloved ducks at Riverwalk were killed by a loose dog. One duck was brown, the other was white, and the pair often hung out together. Some idiot was letting his unleashed dog chase the ducks. A park regular confronted him, the two had words, the man with the dog left, but then brought his dog back later and let it kill the ducks. There is another couple who let their unleashed hunting dogs chase the ducks. Both of these people are in violation of the leash law at Riverwalk. For those who would dismiss this because they are 'just ducks,' keep in mind, that next time it could be a child who is mauled by an unleashed dog. Perhaps we need some animal control officers out there educating people about the leash law, since the signs don't seem to be working."

 * … IRON MAN: Danny Kaukola is a local personal trainer who just returned from riding his bicycle across the country. That's right, he rode more than 4,000 miles on a bike, unassisted, in all kinds of weather. I will be chatting with Danny on Tuesday at 9 a.m. on First Look with Scott Cox on NewsTalk KERN, broadcast and video streamed live on

Friday, July 11, 2014

House Majority Leader McCarthy: the IRS scandal may be the tip of the iceberg and the Obama administration deals with scandal after scandal

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

 "As a Conservative, I believe in limited government. Freedom is the engine that drives America’s greatness, but the unprecedented growth of the federal government in recent years threatens to undermine this freedom. While President Obama and Washington Democrats used their
supermajority to greatly expand the Federal government from 2008 to 2010, the increasing power wielded by unelected bureaucrats in Washington is equally troubling. And nowhere has this become more apparent recently than with the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

 "The revelation that the IRS unlawfully targeted groups because of their political views was shocking, to say the least. But the recent claims that two years’ worth of emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner are now “lost” is unacceptable and simply hard to believe. This week, the House Oversight Committee released an email chain between Ms. Lerner and an IRS technology specialist from April 2013, less than two weeks after the IRS scandal came to light. In the thread, Ms. Lerner inquired about the ability to search for instant messages sent on the IRS email server, telling her colleagues about the “need to be cautious about what we say” since Congress could later request to see these messages. When told that the IRS software was not set to automatically save these messages, Ms. Lerner replied: “Perfect.” The disappearance of Ms. Lerner’s emails, in combination with her refusal to testify on multiple occasions and the latest revealed memo to her staff to cover their tracks, leads me only to believe that she has something to hide, and the House will not stop until we get to the bottom of this scandal.

  "In addition, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on Tuesday in which several whistle-blowers offered shocking testimony detailing extreme dysfunction in the VA. They confirmed troubling reports of a VA that has neglected veterans, falsified records, and harassed those employees who attempted to expose such failings. Personnel change is a necessary first step in reforming the VA, but these problems will persist until there is a complete change in the culture of the VA. The men and women who have fought so bravely for us deserve nothing but the best, and I will continue my fight to ensure increased accountability within the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and provide greater care for our veterans and their families.

 "Our government should represent the representative democracy that our Founders envisioned and established. Yielding more and more power to unelected bureaucrats to intervene in our everyday lives runs counter to that vision and I will continue to work to rein them in.

Bakersfield cyclist severely injured while cycling near Lake Tahoe, fights for his life

 A Bakersfield man was severely injured Thursday when his bicycle was hit by a semi-truck near Lake Tahoe. Police it it happened in the Cave Rock tunnel where 49-year-old Mike Aldridge was cycling.
 Apparently there isn't a bike lane in the tunnel and the east bound truck ran over Aldridge. The accident happened around 9:40 a.m. on Thursday.
 Unconfirmed reports say Aldridge is in danger of losing one leg. Prayer requests were appearing on social media websites as Aldridge underwent surgery. (photo courtesy of the Reno Gazette-Journal)