Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Celebrating all our young adults who come home during the Thanksgiving holidays, Kiyoshi Tomono is leaving KGET TV for a career in health care, and remembering the giant personality of Norm Hoffman

* ... THANKSGIVING: One of the great joys of the holidays is reconnecting with some of the young men and women who moved away after college but always return home for the holidays. You will see them this weekend at Luigi's, Woolgrowers, Pyrenees and all the haunts that beckon the
young home. I had a chance to catch up with four of them at The Padre the other day and left thinking: a few years ago these knuckleheads were driving their parents nuts in high school, and yet today they are holding down great jobs, buying homes and seemingly on top of the world.

* ... KIYOSHI: KGET TV is losing one of its most popular anchors with the announcement by Kiyoshi Tomono that he is leaving to pursue other interests. The long-time morning co-anchor said only he was leaving the station to go into the health care field, but he did say he was staying in town. Tomono is widely recognized as one of the smartest of the local TV anchors and has worked at the station since March 2004. With two young children, he no doubt will enjoy a new career that doesn't entail a 2 a.m. wakeup call.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "People who say, 'I’ve got your back' are usually looking for the best place to stick the knife."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Here is a note from Wofford Heights residents Dave and Helen Escobedo that is worth sharing in this holiday season. "My wife and I had eye doctor appointments in Bakersfield yesterday morning. After our visit to the doctor we stopped at the Panda restaurant on Rosedale for lunch before our drive back up the canyon for home. As we stood in line a young man behind me asked if I had served in the Navy (he saw my Navy hat( and I said yes I had been in the Navy a long time ago. (I am 78 yrs old, my wife is 74). When it came time to pay for our food this young man stepped forward and paid our bill for us. He would not take no when I said he didn't have to do that. He said that he wanted to. What a wonderful surprise and a beautiful thing for him to do. He brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. His name is Steven. Thank you Steven, whatever discomfort I may have from my service to my country, you and other young people like you makes it all worthwhile. God Bless you and thank you again."

 * ... CALM: I took a bike ride out to Lake Ming this weekend and noticed that the annual Holiday Lights event at CALM is about to open. This Bakersfield family tradition features over three million lights designed by Josh Barnett, and all proceeds benefit CALM. The show opens Nov. 27 and runs through Jan. 2, 2016. IT will be open every day except Christmas from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 * ... NORM HOFFMAN: And speaking of cycling, I was headed up Fairfax Drive with my friend Scott Rosenlieb the other day when we passed the spot where former Bakersfield College health professor Norm Hoffman was struck and killed by a car on March 1, 2001. Scott and I shared a few laughs recalling Norm, a physical specimen with a huge personality and over-the-top charm. When he was hit by an inattentive driver, Norm was 59 years old and training for the U.S. Masters National Cycling Championship. At the exact spot where he was hit, someone painted the ancient Chinese symbol for yin and yang, a fitting tribute. The paint is faded, but not the memory of Norm Hoffman.

 * ... CHEZ NOEL: Another seasonal event of a different slant is the 28th Annual Chez Noel holiday home tour set fro Dec. 4-5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $40 and all the proceeds go to benefit the good folks over at the Assistance League of Bakersfield. Pick up tickets at the Bargain Box Thrift Store on Q Street, Kern Travel, Christine's, Inspire Salon and Span, SugarDaddy's or Victoria's at the Marketplace.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

This winter's El Nino will be the strongest on record, and get ready for the annual Thanksgiving Pie Run out at Hart Park

* ... PIE RUN: Thanksgiving is this week, and I can't decide what I enjoy more: the traditional dinner with friends or the annual Pie Run that kicks off the holiday at 6 a.m. at Hart Park. If you are new to town, this is a signature Bakersfield 'can't miss' event. All you need is the discipline to get up before dawn, drive to Hart Park and join a couple hundred other folks to either walk or run the course through Hart Park. Bring your dogs, some warm mittens, your running shoes and don't forget some breakfast food for the pot luck.
 John Rous, one of the founders of this annual event, reminds me that all of the leftover food goes to the homeless shelter. This is also the event that drew the wrath of the air pollution police a few years ago because - heaven forbid! - Rous had the chutzpah to light a small bonfire to warm the runners. (The air pollution control district later relented after Rous agreed to convert the bonfire into a barbecue pit, the only way a fire would be permitted.) That aside, the event goes on. "This is not just for runners," he said. "There are mothers pushing infants in strollers, walkers, bicyclists, all enjoying the morning." Make sure you arrive before Rous stands on a picnic table and kicks off the event precisely at 6 a.m.

 * ... EL NINO: This will be a wet week in Kern County, thanks to an El Nino that scientists say will definitely be the most powerful on record. The real question is what parts of California will get the rain, and how it will affect the drought? What we need is snow - not rain - in the Sierras so the reservoirs will will be gradually restored over time. And unfortunately, it looks like Central and Southern California will get more precipitation than Northern California. Still, this promises to be a wet winter, a bit colder, and that is something to welcome.

 * ... BABY NAMES: If you want a peak into how our world has changed, consider the top ten baby names popular in the decade of the 1970s. Here they are, in descending order: Kimberly, James, Michelle, David, Melissa, Jason, Amy, Christopher, Jennifer and Michael. Do you see yourself, or your children, on this list?

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Wouldn’t exercise be more fun if calories screamed while you burned them?"

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "I won’t come to your party unless you have an animal I can spend the whole time hanging out with."

 * ... MARE: Hats off to the good folks over at the MARE Riding Center which celebrated its 25th anniversary in October. Said Diane Hopkins: "Thanks to all our sponsors, donors, supporters, board members, volunteers and staff.  Everyone had such a good time and we are very thankful and proud that MARE has served the Bakersfield community for 25 years."

Friday, November 20, 2015

House Majority Leader McCarthy: the measure blocking the quick acceptance of Syrian refugees was bi-partisan and picked up 47 Democratic votes

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

 "This week we officially completed months of bipartisan negotiations to give our commercial space innovators in Mojave and East Kern County the certainty they need to continue to expand our reach into space. On Monday, the House passed the SPACE Act, a bill I sponsored. And on Friday, I sat
with Speaker Paul Ryan as he signed the SPACE Act and sent it to the President’s desk for his signature. I looked forward to the President promptly signing this bill into law. Our community’s support for commercial space is strong. Upon the firm foundation of the SPACE Act --- I know they and others will lead us far --- and that our limits are only bounded by what we can imagine as we continue our journey to the stars.

 "As our reach into the cosmos saw great opportunity this week, as a nation we continue to respond to the terror that occurred in Paris, France a week ago. Beyond the tragedy of the innocent lives lost, Americans are looking to leaders in Washington to make sure our nation is secure and our citizens are safe. And in Congress that is our number one priority.

"That is why this week I led my colleagues in the House to act swiftly to ensure our government’s refugee process is guided by a simple but important principle:  if you are a terrorist or a threat to our country, you are not getting in. Period.

" And this is not a partisan belief. That is why 47 Democrats joined with Republicans and voted for our bill that adds accountability to our refugee program. The bill we voted on increases the standards to keep those who want to do us harm out. But America is not saying ‘no’ to refugees. America always stands as a beacon of hope for everyone fleeing oppression and terror. Nothing will stop us from protecting the innocent while continuing our fight against evil. Instead, this bill puts a pause on our refugee program until we are certain that nobody being allowed in poses a threat to the American people.

 #Here in the House, we will not accept half measures. We are committed to keeping America safe.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy raps Obama on the Syrian refugee question, the Padre Hotel menu gets a makeover and remembering the South Chester Drive-In

 * ... SYRIAN REFUGEES: Is there are hotter issue domestically than the question of allowing thousands of Syrian refugees to resettle in the United States? Citing humanitarian concerns, the president wants to allow some 10,000 Syrians into the country, an idea the House of
Representatives shot down Thursday by voting to halt the program. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader, took the floor to remind the president that "our duty is to protect the American people," adding that is it "against our values to give terrorists the opening they are looking for" to sneak into the country. McCarthy noted the United States spends some $6.5 billion in humanitarian aid alone, and that pausing the resettlement was necessary until all refugees can be property vetted. The House measure also called for the heads of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and National Intelligence to personally vouch that those admitted aren't a threat.

* ... INDIGNANT: A handful of readers wrote to correct the misspelling of the word "indignant" in a recent post on student protests. It should have read like this: "The activities of students at two universities remind me of Al Capp’s name for similar students of the 1960s and 1970s in his Li’l Abner comic strip – Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything." One reader, Richard Rivera, showing a bit of indignation himself, offered this: "Try wildly indignant if you and your reader wish to mock these students who are raising legitimate concerns."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted."

 * ... FOODIE: The chef at The Padre Hotel and given its bar and restaurant menus a complete makeover, and it's worth checking out. The Brimstone bar now offers a full array of "craft burgers" along with mussels and a variety of flatbreads.

* ... BOOK SIGNING: A Highland High graduate is returning to town this weekend for a book signing for his recently released children's book, 'Baxter Bu's Epic Beach Day.' Shaun Sturz, who went on to graduate from Westmonth College and later became a "manny" for Kenny G's children, will appear at Amy's Hallmark on Oswell this Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Sturz was noted to be the top “manny’ in Beverly Hills by Los Angeles Magazine and was cast on ABC Family’s reality show "Beverly Hills Nannies,” where he was one of ten high class nannies chosen for the series. Sturz was also approached by Brooke Burke of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” to blog for her popular mommy site, modernmom.com, where he gave advice and shared fun stories from his perspective as a male nanny.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD SIGN: Bryan Kelly read the story about the city of Lamont refurbishing its welcome sign and had this to say: re: "What we need to do is resurrect the old BAKERSFIELD-SUN-FUN-STAY-PLAY sign, only this time make it read BAKERSFIELD-SUN-FUN-STAY-PLAY-LITTER... perhaps people traveling through at least might think we do this on purpose and we're not just a bunch of pigs."

 * ... MEMORIES: You may be a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember going to the South Chester Drive-In. Built in 1945 to hold some 600 cars, the drive-in went out of business and was torn down in the early 1980s.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

California universities admitting record number of foreign students, two new studies say fracking has no ill effect on groundwater and more on those Mizzou protests

 * ... COLLEGES: As our public colleges and universities struggle with tight budgets, they are admitting record high numbers of foreign students simply because they pay three times as much
tuition as California residents. According to The Wall Street Journal, a record 975,000 international students were enrolled at two and four year U.S. schools this year, representing a 10 percent jump over a year earlier. And now, predictably, some California families are pushing back, saying their own children are being pushed aside simply because foreigners pay a higher tuition. Here is how bad it is for California students: the UC system accepted 62 percent of in-state student applicants in 2014, compared to 84 percent just four years earlier.

 * ... FRACKING: Two more major studies have been released that conclude that hydraulic fracturing does not pollute groundwater supplies. The latest studies, by Yale University and the other by Colorado State, dealt with fracking operations and groundwater in northeastern Pennsylvania and northeastern Colorado. According to the Denver Post, "The Yale-led study — the largest of its kind, according to a university press release — found "no evidence that trace contamination of organic compounds in drinking water wells near the Marcellus Shale" resulted from underground migration of the chemicals. The Colorado State study reached a similar conclusion. Of course, for many the debate over fracking is not based on science, but rather on emotion and the dream of a world without fossil fuels, so no doubt these latest studies will have little effect on the civic dialogue.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Always borrow money from a pessimist. He won’t expect it back."

 * ... MIZZOU: Jon Crawford weighed in on the student protect activity at the University of Missouri and Yale with this missive: "The activities of students at two universities remind me of Al Capp’s name for similar students of the 1960s and 1970s in his Li’l Abner comic strip – Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything."

* ... ALIENS: Have you seen the Facebook thread about aliens falling from the sky? That's right, someone posted a picture of what looks like an animal fetus and claimed that it was an alien that had fallen from the sky in the San Jose area. Hundreds chimed in buying into the theory that the government was covering up an alien invasion. Said one post: "We see what it looks like, we know there are other life forms being generated... (but) our government works for the devil and is able to create life forms of whatever. .. God sees all and when he wants his children to know the truth it will all be revealed." Okey doke.

 * .... LOCAL HERO: Hats off to 19-year-old Abby Harwell who was shopping at Walmart near East Hills Mall when she performed CPR on a woman who had collapsed. Said her aunt Linda Daniels: "Our niece Abby Harwell works two part time jobs and takes classes at BC in the medical field... She jumped into action and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. The lady was breathing when they arrived. I think she needs a shout out for stepping in while others stood by. We are very proud of her."

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek sends $10,000 to Taft College to fund a scholarship, downtown Bakersfield gets some love from a travel writer and the Bakersfield Californian Foundation gives out $275,000 in grants

 * ... TREBEK: Alex Trebek, the popular host of the long-running game show Jeopardy!, has developed a love affair of sorts with Taft College. Trebek has long had a fascination with oil and gas production, and in October he showed up as the emcee of the West Kern Petroleum Summit
sponsored by the Taft College Foundation. Trebek politely declined to be paid for his appearance, and instead foundation director Sheri Horn Bunk promised to create an engineering scholarship in his name. What happened next? Bunk said Trebek sent a check for $10,000 to help fund the scholarship, which Bunk called totally unexpected. "His letter to me asked if I found a good text book on drilling for oil please send that to him," she said. "The gift was unsolicited and this is one I will always remember." What's next? Trebek told Bunk he planned to return to Taft, this time to take up skydiving.

 * ... VALENTINE: A travel writer from the Sacramento Bee spent some time in Bakersfield recently, and his story cast us in a pretty good light. The piece was devoted to downtown and some of our iconic buildings and businesses: the Fox Theater, the Kress Building, the Woolworth building, the antique malls and the Padre Hotel. Said the writer: "Yet there is an undeniable charm to downtown Bakersfield’s fossilized, late-1950s feel. If you want modern conveniences – an Applebee’s and an Apple store; a Chipotle and a Nordstrom – alight to the 150-square-mile sprawl of the city’s outer, strip-mall-saturated regions. Downtown Bakersfield clings to the past with buttons and buckles, not Velcro. Sure, there’s a fancy arena and a few chain hotels anchored on Truxton Avenue. But on the grid, streets numbered and lettered with straightforward humility, the past isn’t even the past, as Faulkner wrote. This is a good thing. This is downtown Bakersfield’s charm." (photo courtesy of the Sacramento Bee)

* ... GRANTS: The Bakersfield Californian (family) Foundation awarded its Fall grants last week, handing out $275,000 to deserving non-profits. The Community Action Partnership of Kern was awarded $100,000 for a food bank solar energy improvement project, the Children First Campaign was awarded $50,000 (with an additional $50,000 in matching funds available) for a family zone pocket park, the Bakersfield SPCA was given $50,000, and the Independent Living Center of Kern $25,000. Lastly, the Lamont Women's Club was awarded $25,000 to restore the city welcome sign and the Youth 2 Leaders Education Foundation won $25,000 for a technology readiness project.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The sole purpose of a child’s middle name, is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble."

 * ... DRILLERS: Elaine Conley added this note about the old days at Bakersfield High School. "My husband, Larry Conley, enjoyed your column  about the pep band playing 'Sweet Georgia Brown' when the basketball team warmed up. Larry was captain of the pep band in 1960-61 and remembers this very well. He said the basketball coaches didn't like it because the players started twirling the ball and acting like the Globetrotters, but nothing was ever done because it was THE Driller Band!"

 ... GOOD FORM: This note, signed simply Dee and Jean, showed up in my mailbox and is worth sharing. "This morning my gentleman friend and I went to have breakfast out at our favorite restaurant - Mel's Cafe on Knudsen and Olive. It was one of those chilly mornings where pumpkin pancakes for me and ham and eggs for my friend seemed fit.  Since we are just a little old senior couple, it was a big order. Soon our waitress came over and said our check had been paid for.  It was such a great surprise.  Made our day! We want to please say thank you to the man and his little boy for turning our day into a happy day. Sir, if you are reading this, we thank you and God bless you!"

Friday, November 13, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy raps President Obama ignores Congress, chooses to go it alone while disrespecting elected officials

 House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill:

 "We’ve all taken civics or at least watched Schoolhouse Rock, so we know that the legislative branch passes laws, the executive branch executes them, and the judicial branch interprets.

 "But I don’t think we realize the degree to which this system has been lost under the Obama Administration.  There are good reasons why the founders did it this way. It means no one branch has the power to do whatever it wants. That is a bulwark against tyranny.

 "But the Obama Administration has turned this system on its head. When faced with Congressional opposition, the President doesn’t try to reach an agreement. He goes it alone and is proud of it.

 "By design, Congress works slowly. But the President’s actions have been so blatantly wrong that the courts have stopped them before they could be implemented. From immigration to the Waters of the U.S. rule that threatened private property to regulations on hydraulic fracturing, the House worked to block the actions AND the courts said “no.” Two branches were unified saying that the other went too far.

 "And all the while precious time has been spent fighting to stop executive actions that are illegitimate and should have never been attempted in the first place.

 "The President’s disrespect for the people’s directly elected representatives, for the law as written, and for our constitutional system has become more and more obvious throughout his years in office.

 "But that does not mean Congress will stop working. As Speaker Ryan said, we will be a proposition party, putting forward big ideas done the right way. Then, the people will choose not just between two different ideas of policy, but also choose whether they want our constitutional system to work as intended or whether it will break down into rule by whatever the executive branch decides to do that day.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Supervisor Leticia Perez, a Democrat in the oil patch, takes a balanced view to the energy sector and some really good form around town on Veterans day

 * ... LETICIA: I had a nice chat the other day with Supervisor Leticia Perez, a Democrat in a conservative county who has successfully balanced the interests of the energy sector with concerns over the environment. Perez voted in favor of streamlining oil and gas regulations, despite the fact
that so many in her party have condemned fossil fuels and in particular hydraulic fracturing. How does a loyal Democrat in the oil patch explain herself to the left wing of her party? "I am raising my son here," she explained, "and I want a respectful conveyance of the facts." Among those facts: the energy sector contributes a third of the county's property tax revenue, which benefits rich and poor alike, and Kern County leads the state in the total output of renewable energy like solar and wind. That's an admirable track record that cannot be dismissed, she said. Getting off fossil fuels is an admirable goal, she added, but it is a long process and those concerns must be balanced with the interests of a long-entrenched energy sector.

 * ... EL NINO: We are starting to see the early effects of El Nino this year, and we are off to a good start. Mammoth received about 36 inches of slow during this latest storm, while Lake Tahoe recorded about a 20-inch snowfall. All this is good news for these resort areas, but we will have a long way to go and meteorologists warn we will need a steady series of storms before we make a dent in the drought. That said, the Los Angeles Times reports the wet weather will lead to fewer high smog days this year, and that itself is something to celebrate. (photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times)

 * ... GOOD FORM: Navy veteran Eugene Jackson and his wife Mavine were treated to a free breakfast at Denny's on Mount Vernon in honor of Veterans Day. "Our waitress came by our booth, picked up our ticket and said 'A young woman paid for your wife's breakfast.' We did not have the opportunity to meet her and we would like to thank her and Denny's for the breakfast treat."

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: And Mike Swen, a veteran of the Korean War, wrote that he too was treated to a meal at a restaurant near Stine and Planz "by a young Hispanic couple that didn't look like they had anything more than we do. It was so generous." Later, at Marie Calendar's, customers insisted he go to the front of the line and someone paid for his pies. "People need to know how generous people are in Kern County," he said. "I want to thank all of them."

 * ... SEVEN  OAKS: It is easy to underestimate the impact that Castle and Cooke and its Seven Oaks development has had on the growth of the city. And now it is breaking ground on the latest extension of the master planned community with Highgate at Seven Oaks, built on 443 acres on the west side of the corner of Ming Avenue and Allen Road. No one doubts that Highgate will be a quality community, but the relentless push west, aided by the Westside Parkway, has changed the face of the city forever.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: George Culver says you might be a Bakersfield old timer "if you remember the Bakersfield High Drillers basketball team warming up to the tune of 'Sweet Georgia Brown' when they played their home games. Not sure when they stopped doing it but it was in the 1950s and 1960s.