Thursday, November 16, 2017

Celebrating the legacy of kindness of the late John Rous, get ready for another Thanksgiving Day Pie Run and a reader shares some love of Uricchio's Trattoria


 * ... RIP JOHN ROUS: Our community lost one of our best with the death of John Rous, a kind and gregarious man who died earlier this week while riding his bicycle near Ethel's Old Corral. Rous was
killed when his bike was hit by woman driving a late model Scion around 10:30 a.m. He was a lifelong athlete and the founder of the Bakersfield Pie Run, one of our community's signature events that brings hundreds together for a run through the hills on Thanksgiving morning. But I will remember him most for his smile, his kindness and his heart. He was 78 years old and had enough energy, drive and curiosity to live another 78, but he left us with a legacy of passion and decency. Keep his widow, Stella, son David and other members of the family in your thoughts.



 * ... PIE RUN: Speaking of the Pie Run, it is still on for Thanksgiving morning out at Hart Park. If you are new to town, and want to get a good start on Thanksgiving, bring your spouse (and dogs) and join a couple hundred new friends for a brisk run (or walk) in the hills above Hart Park. Just follow the lights to the park and get ready to go off at dawn. Make sure you bring some breakfast snacks, cookies or a pie for the feast after the run.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to Supervisor Leticia Perez who saved the Arvin Christmas parade with a $5,000 donation to the city. The annual parade was going to be canceled until Perez stepped in to make the donation.



 * ... OVERHEARD: A friend of mine overheard this conversation at a coffee shop in Irvine: "A couple in their early 20s. Woman: since this is our first date, we need to talk to get to know each other better. Man: Ok, what would you like to know? Woman: I don’t know... I guess what are your plans? Man: To give you cute babies. Woman, laughing: You practiced that line. Man: No, I’m very spontaneous! Woman: So am I. She got up from the table, spilled her hot coffee in his lap, turned and walked out."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m not shy. I’m just very good at figuring out who’s worth talking to."

  * ... URICCHIO'S: One of my favorite local eateries, Uricchio's Trattoria downtown, picked up a new fan when Anna Mulock went there recently to celebrate her 80th birthday. Said Mulock:  "What a great bunch of people, wonderful food and warm hospitality. The owner came over, met our family, visited with us and treated us as family.  I know how much you like them. There are many good reasons to recommend them."


 * ... BAD FORM: Reader Pat Sherrill and I have at least one thing in common: we both despise the way so many of our fellow citizens trash our community. "RiverWalk Park is the jewel in our park system but you would never know it the way it is treated. Numerous mornings the parking lot is full of cases of empty beer bottles and empty booze bottles. People just leave their yogurt cup or drink cup where they consumed it when there are plenty trash cans. Monday morning was the icing on the cake as someone had knocked over a bank of port-a-potties that had not been picked up yet after the weekend Beer and Bacon event. What is the matter with some of the people in our community?"




Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The city of Arvin gets ready to approve the indoor cultivation of cannabis for the wholesale market, a pitfall is thrown out of a red truck and more generosity about town

 * ... ARVIN MAYOR: Keep an eye on Jose Gurrola, the young mayor of Arvin who has had the political courage to help broker a deal that will allow the legal cultivation of cannabis for the wholesale  
market. Gurrola is just 24, elected mayor last November after serving one term on the city council. While the city of Bakersfield and county have decided to turn their backs on any opportunities to regulate, and benefit, from legal cannabis, Arvin has chosen its own path. The city will outlaw the store-front sale of marijuana, but will allow indoor cultivation for the wholesale market. It's a shrewd compromise that could greatly benefit the taxpayers of Arvin, while giving the city more direct control over how the industry involves.


* ... BAD FORM: A frustrated and angry Nancy Vide shared this: "Driving up Auburn Street on the way home, about 8 p.m, I came upon what looked like an accident in the road. I parked my car at home and ran across the street. There were four young adults and three of my neighbors and in the traffic lane was a beautiful brown pit/lab mix. He was about one to two years old and severely injured and in shock. Everyone was trying to keep him calm. Long story short......an EVIL, VICIOUS, HEARTLESS person threw this beautiful dog out their red car/truck and then he was ran over by a white car. While I am not trying to blame the people in the white car, I wish they would please come forward to help find these criminals. And to anyone that has a neighbor with a red vehicle that does not now have a (barking) dog...... please say something! I want to thank my neighbors Kathleen Snow and Daniel for taking this poor creature to the emergency vet on Easton Drive. And the young adults that stayed to help comfort the dog. I only hope karma jumps in big time for the evil doer."

 * ... PHILANTHROPY: Bakersfield is known for its generosity, in both big and small deeds, but the Virginia and Alfred Harrell Foundation (previously known at The Bakersfield Californian Foundation) has few peers. The foundation recently announced the winners of its fall grant cycle and they included $100,000 grants to both the Tree Foundation of Kern and the Mercy Foundation-Bakersfield. The two $50,000 grant winners were Garden Pathways and Recyling Lives. There were three $25,000 winners: Downtown Bakersfield Development Corporation (reducing trash), Rebuilding Together Kern County (the Carnation neighborhood projects) and United Way of Kern County.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I have an awful lot of responsibilities for a guy who also has a sign on his door reminding him to zip his pants before he leaves."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "If everyone you admire keeps disappointing you with awful sex scandals, try admiring more women."

 * ... AMES WOODWORKS: The next time you are in Sequoia Sandwich Shop downtown, check out the new indoor seating area featuring some handsome wood benches. It turns out the benches were built by Sam Ames, a local wood craftsman who specializes in tables and chairs made from reclaimed vineyard stakes. Ames provided four benches for Sequoia, made of a more traditional hardwood than the reclaimed vineyard stakes he normally uses. Check out his website at www.ameswoodworks.com.



 * ... ROTARY: And finally, Bernie Barman wrote to recognize a group of 60 Rotary and Interact Club members who spent a recent Saturday cleaning up the San Miguel Grove area where the bike path meets Manor. "In addition to picking up trash they also planted 10 oak trees donated by the Rotary clubs (to supplement the 100 trees the Breakfast Rotary planted several years ago) and cleared lots of weeds. Breakfast Rotary organized the event and was joined by members of other Rotary clubs, including Twilight Rotary and West Rotary, as well as 37 high school students from the Interact clubs at Liberty, Stockdale, Centennial, Golden Valley and Foothill High Schools. City staff also participated by bringing in the trees and hauling away the weeds. The teamwork really paid off."

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Bakersfield College speeds up plan to spend Measure J money, the Bakersfield Marathon rolls through town and voters are furious with our Board of Supervisors for rejecting the music festival plan

 * ... BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE: Bakersfield College is rolling out its plans to spend more than a half billion dollars raised by Measure J, and it looks like the building and improvement program may
go faster than expected. BC President Sonya Christian told me there was initially a 20-year plan to spend the money, but some of the college trustees (including Kay Meek and Bill Thomas) want a more aggressive building schedule. I think that's a good idea. Those of us who voted for the bond measure really don't want to wait two decades to see results. One of the first capital improvement plans, to build a Veterans Resource Center, was unveiled this week.



 * ... MARATHON: So where will you be this Sunday when the Bakersfield Marathon rolls through town? If you are smart, you will review the marathon route, grab a cup of coffee (and your dog if you have one) and plant yourself in a shady spot to cheer on the runners. And hats off to the organizers of this event, which puts our community in a positive light.



* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Woke up early so I could get in a few extra minutes of being angry on-line today."

 * ... OVERHEARD: A friend of mine, frustrated with a problem, said this: "When I have more than $500 in my bank account, I think about leaving and starting another life."

 * ... MUSIC CENTER: Social media lit up with frustration after the Board of Supervisors denied a proposal to build a music event center off Interstate 5 on land owned by Phil and Daniel Rudnick. Interestingly, the criticism seemed to come from all ages, borne out of a frustration that our ruling political class too often seems to find ways to say "no" to opportunities that other communities so routinely enjoy. The responses included this satirical one from local veteran Chad Garcia: "Welcome to Kern County! We have a train museum and an old boxcar that a country music legend lived in that you can visit. Oh! And a lot of bars filled with people who will fight you. And meth. A lot of meth."

 * ... MORE MUSIC: My take on the music festival proposal: Are our supervisors so comfortable in their own personal wealth and social position that they feel they can say no to projects that will provide jobs, paychecks and opportunities to so many in our community that live hand-to-mouth? Does the greater good ever trump objections from a few well heeled neighbors?

 * ... GOOD FORM: Roy Parks made my day when he sent me this message: "On Sunday (11/05) I went to an ATM at Bank of the Sierra's new branch on California Avenue. I later discovered I did not have my wallet. I returned to the ATM but my wallet was gone. Returning home I envisioned the nightmare of contacting credit cards, DMV, insurance, etc. My house has a mail slot that empties into a hallway. There was my wallet! A very kind and honest person had driven to my house and returned my wallet. I wish we could have met. Another tale of good people in Bakersfield."

 * ... BLACK WIDOWS: Bill Casey worked for a pest control company and knows something about the infestation of black widow spiders. Said Casey: "I have never seen them this bad before. I usually do night patrol in the summer, twice a month, and then once a month in September, October.  I had to double my attacks this year. I must have killed 200 black widows this summer. Three made it into the house, but must have gotten into my spray area outside before getting in, and were sick or dead when I found them. With cooler temperatures they try to come inside where it's warm, and this can be a dangerous time for families with children. It's a good idea to check in dark areas, closets and under furniture for them."


  * .. MORE WIDOWS: And lastly, Irene Gorman added this: "The widow also comes in cream color and has bright red markings on its body, quite pretty. My son worked for Texaco many years ago... in Long Beach." The advice from her son? If it is black, squash it to keep from being bitten. Her son has since passed but she was left with one enduring memory of Signal Hill in Long Beach: the beautiful emerald green 'jumping spiders.'


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Tom Hanks for president? Or Oprah Winfrey? Or Denzel Washington? A political satirist suggests candidates moving forward, Terri Agcaoili leaves ADAKC to take a job at Adventist Health and some good form about town

 * ... POLITICAL HUMOR: If you are looking for a way to laugh in these perilous and frightful times, pick up a new book by the actor Denis Leary called "Why We Don't Suck: And How All of Us
Need to Stop Being Such Partisan Little Bitches." The book is a satirical look at American politics and suggests that going forward only actors and entertainers should run for president. Among the actors listed by Leary as the "most trusted" by the American public and who might make a good president: Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington and Sandra Bullock




* ... GOOD FORM: I was heartened to see two Bakersfield police officers up on Panorama Drive early Saturday ticketing speeders as they raced toward Manor Drive. Meanwhile down Manor in the urban forest park at the end of the bike path, members of Breakfast Rotary were busy cleaning up the litter.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When my husband asked me do something creative for dinner, I drew a cute picture of a dog on a napkin and put it next to the pizza box."

 * ... SPOTTED AT COSTCO: Actor Wallace Shawn, a well known character actor in both film and TV series (Desperate Housewives, The Incredibles, Ally McBeal) was spotted shopping at a local Costco last week.


 * ... AGCAOILI: Congratulations to Terri Serban Agcaoili, who has taken a new job with the business development liaison team for Adventist Health. For the last two years the energetic Agcaoili has headed marketing for the Alzheimer's Disease Association of Kern County.



* ... BLACK WIDOWS: My tidbit on the explosion of black widows in town triggered a few responses, including this one from George Meek: "Having lived many years in Westchester, I have seen several 'black widow' years. However, they always seem to be around. I can tell by the touch of their webs if it is a widow or not. Ugh! My neighbor, Wayne, mentioned all the 'widows' this year just the other day. For us, it has been a huge earwig year…everywhere." Meek went on with another story when he lived on A Street: "I used to take my young children out in the night with me armed with a flashlight and can of bug spray (the kind that puts out a high pressure spray for wasps). We would go around the house, they in their PJs, and were amazed at all the black widows under the windows, doors, furniture, shrubs, etc. that the flashlight would illuminate... I would aim and spray the spider watching with morbid fascination as it withered and dropped. Bam! It was great sport and my kids still remember it. These days, being able to afford a pest service really cuts the numbers plus I really do not enjoy going out a night without the kids…maybe grandkids."

 * ... MORE SPIDERS And Tom Haslebacher added this: "It was interesting to see you note about black widow spiders in Bakersfield. I have noticed an ever increasing population also. What is even more interesting, we have a second home in the Sugarloaf area of Tulare County, our elevation is about 5,000 feet. Up until this spring, we never saw black widows. We were even told that they are not found here. I can tell you for sure, that they are every where up here now."



Thursday, November 2, 2017

GOP tax reform is unveiled and expect a backlash from Realtors, the German based Aldi grocery store heads to Bakersfield and new state gas taxes hit the pocketbook

* ... TAX REFORM: Get ready for a strong backlash to part of the Republican's tax reform plan
that would cut in half the amount that taxpayers can deduct for interest payments on home loans. Under the bill, homeowners would only be able to deduct interest payments on their first $500,000 in home loans, down from the current $1 million. This is sure to spark a furious backlash from Realtors and financial institutions who believe it could hurt home ownership, but how many of us have homes (or second homes) with mortgages in the $1 million range? Another change certain to draw fire: limiting to $10,000 the amount of property taxes that could be deducted.


* ... ALDI STORES: I see a new Aldi discount grocery store is getting ready to open in the spot where Fresh and Easy was located over by Bed, Bath and Beyond on Stockdale Highway. The German-based company is opening some 900 outlets in the United States. Aldi has smaller grocery stores, usually less than 20,000 square feet with 90 percent of its products sold as company brands.


 * ... GAS PRICES: A new round of California taxes went into effect this month, starting with an additional 12 cents per gallon tax on gas and 18 cents a gallon on diesel. In addition the California legislature imposed higher vehicle licensing fees, all of which is facing opposition across the state. There are now several proposed ballot measures to repeal the taxes, led by Republican lawmakers who hope to capitalize on the issue in the mid term elections next year.


* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: A woman writes: "Someone asked me if I was from the Midwest. I said, 'No, I am from Bakersfield.' He responded 'Well, Bakersfield is the Midwest of California.'"

 * ... BLACK WIDOWS: Has anyone noticed the explosion of black widow spiders this late in the year? The spider webs are hard to detect but take a walk with a flashlight and you might be surprised at what you find.

 * ... THEFT: I occasionally read the Facebook page called "Bakersfield Thieves," and it is always a terrifying look at the rampant crime that happens daily in our community. The other day a woman wrote that she came home in the Norris Road and Airport Drive area and found her home ransacked. The thieves took a big screen television, a sound bar, jewelry, an Apple watch and some clothes. But they also took a small urn holding the ashes of her grandfather. "I’m sure this post will be seen by those who did this. I am not asking to get everything back, I don’t expect that. But I do wish to get my grandpa's ashes back and hopefully my jewelry because that has a lot of sentimental value to it. I am not seeking to get anyone in rouble or hurt. I just want my grandpa home where he belongs. I understand you may not of known that was a urn you took but it holds a very special man. A man I need here at home with me."

 * ... ORCHESTRA: There is a fund raising effort to raise some $300,000 to send more than 100 high school orchestra members to New York to play at Carnegie Hall. Organizers say the Stockdale High orchestra was selected to perform at the International Music Festival on April 24, 2018. This is a high honor for our local musicians and if you want to help, send a check to the school made out to the Stockdale High School Orchestra with "Carnegie Hall" written on the memo line. Cal (661) 204-5830 with questions or email stockdalehsorchestra@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

We are witnessing a national catharsis centered on sexual harassment, men in powerful positions and poisonous workplace environments, and some good and bad form about town

 * ... THE PURGE: It started with disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and now it has moved to TV network news, politics, sports and state government. We are all witnessing the beginning of a national purge, a catharsis of sorts, in which victims of sexual harassment, rape and pedophilia take turns
telling their stories to a national audience. The once wildly popular Netflix series "House of Cards" has been canceled after its star, Kevin Spacey, was accused to trying to molest a 14 year old boy. Mark Halperin, once head of ABC political programming and a mainstay on MSNBC as a commentator, lost his job after multiple women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment. And now 200 women who work in Sacramento, either as lobbyists or state employees or in the legislature, are making similar claims against dozens of men. Stay tuned because we can expect more of this in the coming weeks and months.



 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Life’s too short to wake up in a bad mood. I save mine until I get to work."

 * ... CHUCKLE: I saw this post on social media from comedian and TV host Pat Sajak: "Staying away from politics and social issues on my birthday. I'll just relax and watch an NFL game and maybe a couple of late-night talk shows."

 * ... BAD FORM: Denny Evans called out a woman who rear ended his car near Trader Joe's. "We were in the middle lane with traffic whizzing by on both sides so I asked her to pull into the parking lot where it was safe to exchange insurance. I'm still waiting! More than likely she had no insurance info to exchange."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to former CSUB ace pitcher Mike McCarthy, who is volunteering his time with a non profit called Baseball Miracles to bring the sport to needy children across the world. His latest effort: collecting new and used baseball equipment (along with cash donations or gift cards) to support a Little League group in the Santa Rosa fire area. McCarthy, who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox after graduating from CSUB in 2011, is now working as a sales and marketing executive for Lengthwise Brewing.


 * ... FAREWELL: James and Kathy Robbins, owners of Jane's Jewelers, have announced they are closing down after 55 years in business. The couple is retiring but wrote to "thank the thousands of loyal customers who have made the business a complete success."

 * ... MAILBAG: A big thanks to reader Ginny Gaines who dropped me this note: "I applaud your stance on the cannabis discussion. Keep up the good work! Many people react to this subject from a very emotional and outdated point of view. I remember seeing the film 'Reefer Madness' as a teenager. It was laughable even back then. Too bad some won't take the time to objectively review the scientific evidence of the many, many benefits of this amazing plant."


 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: Here is another example of good form between strangers. David Rhea said he and a group of seniors, all of whom do volunteer work as Friends of the Beale Library, meet regularly for breakfast. "We make the rounds of best breakfast restaurants and this morning we were at Milt's in '08. The restaurant provides us a separate room so that hard-of-hearing types among us can better listen to each other. There were eight of us, and we all have good appetites, so I'm guessing that the average cost of each meal was $14. When it came time for us to claim our separate checks, our waitress told us someone in the restaurant had PAID for our meals, all of us, which meant eight people times $14. There was an audible gasp among us... none of us had ever experienced anything like this. We have no idea who the generous person was, or why. It's another example of 'Bakersfield nice'!"



Thursday, October 26, 2017

The debate over marijuana moves to the medical arena, where a prominent farmer and businessman claims it helped him survive cancer

* ... CANNABIS: As recent as last February Arvin businessman John Trino believed marijuana was a dangerous 'gateway drug' that should be banned. But that was before the 76-year-old former farmer
was diagnosed with an insidious form of cancer, and before his doctors at Cedars Sinai recommended medical marijuana to help him survive the radiation and chemotherapy treatments. His view now? "It saved my life," he told me on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM. He is now denouncing the Kern County Board of Supervisors for voting to ban the sale of cannabis, calling it a cynical, short sighted political move that puts lives at risk. "They haven't heard the last of me," he said. "I believe I survived to fight this fight." And the best news for Trino: a few minutes before appearing on the radio he learned from his doctor that he was cancer free.


 * ... DANGEROUS CITIES: Here is a list I am happy that Bakersfield did not make. According to the website FinancialHub, the most dangerous cities in California (starting with the most dangerous) are Emeryville, Oakland, Red Bluff, San Bernardino, Grass Valley, Big Bear Lake, Modesto, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Commerce.

 * ... GOOD ADVICE: From comedian Peter King: "I think the golden rule for a man should be: don't say anything to a woman that you wouldn't want a man saying to you in prison."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Constance Corbell wrote to thank a stranger: "The six mature expatriate British ladies who lunched at the Wool Growers Restaurant Tuesday, October 24,  would like to thank the gentleman who anonymously covered their bill. His kindness is truly appreciated."

 * ... SHOUTOUT: Lynn Finch wrote to send a shoutout to the Ovation Theater. "On Sunday my friends and I attended a wonderful local performance of 'Gypsy' at the Ovation Theater, across from The Mark Restaurant downtown. This historic theater (formerly the Spotlight Theater) has been beautifully restored and the performance was stellar. Such talented local performers with beautiful singing, great costumes and acting. I hope many people will take time to discover this little jewel in our community. Gypsy continues for three more performances, Oct. 27th, 28th, and 29th."

 * ... VENTING: Reader Ronal Reynier sent this rant: "I have a pet peeve. Well a combination of pet peeves. I starts with parents who say if high school teachers were doing their jobs they would not
have to give out homework. This is combined with; high school teachers are paid too much for all the days they have off. Having two and soon three high school teachers in the family; their opinion is laughable. High school teachers spend at least 20 hours or more a week at home grading their kids
homework. If you add this the to the hours they spend in the classroom they are well under paid. These complaining parents would and could not do their jobs."

 * ... MAILBAG: And this note from Arthur Helming showed up in my mailbag: "I live on Panorama and we use the bluff area for exercise almost daily and pick up trash left by individuals that use the drive throughs at the various restaurants on Columbus Avenue. The individuals that leave the trash are not the ones who exercise, they are the people that eat their burgers and fries after dark and are too lazy to use the receptacles for trash. When we exercise at 5 a.m. the trash is already scattered around the base of the benches and blown around by the wind. If you walk or run on the north side of the street where the visitors park you will also find condoms in the gutter on occasion along with trash. The park is supposed to be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m."


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cal State Bakersfield noted as a university that provides added value, Cafe Smitten turns around a neighborhood and some good form about town

 * ... CSUB: It was nice to see CSUB get some much-deserved love as a university that provides excellent value to first generation college students. A recent story in the Wall Street Journal was devoted to schools that give you the
most for your money, and two researchers mentioned Cal State Bakersfield among the standout universities that are "delivering maximum value for students with modest beginnings."




 * ... CAFE SMITTEN: Good leaders know this: hiring just one person with the right attitude and skills can have a powerful influence on any organization. I also believe that applies to neighborhoods, where the arrival of one business can uplift an entire block. I think that is happening on what I call the 18th street corridor where the comfy and quite trendy coffee house Cafe Smitten has brought new life, energy and hope to a stretch of downtown that was previously stuck in the doldrums. If you haven't been there, stop by for a latte and breakfast eggs and enjoy the crowd and good vibes.





 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I tried to follow my dreams but now I have multiple restraining orders."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: From a friend in Georgia: "Here’s my uh-duh moment of the day. Got a new car this week and when I went out this morning to go to work it was pitch black. My hands were full so I couldn’t get to my phone for the flashlight so I felt around and found a door handle and got in. The overhead light didn’t come on so I felt around on the ceiling and couldn’t find it. I got my phone out so I could see and guess what? I was in the backseat. Duh."

 * ... GOOD FORM: When organizations are in distress, good leaders find a way to rally the troops. And that is exactly what Kern County chief administrative officer Ryan Alsop did last week after learning Chevron was reducing its local workforce by 26 percent. In a memo to employees, he wrote: "As all of us here at the County are aware, the depressed oil prices have led to a decrease in property value for the oil field land here in Kern County which then leads to a lower property tax revenue. This is one of the greatest influences leading to our structural budget deficit. We’re making changes every day to have efficient operations so that we don’t find ourselves in the place that so many Chevron families found themselves in yesterday. I want to take this moment to ask that we all continue to work together in building a pathway through our budget deficit over the next few years. We will get to a sustainable place where our employees are rewarded more consistently and our operations allow us to be nimble and responsive to market fluctuations. Thank you for your continued commitment to the residents of Kern County and my thoughts are with the local families impacted by this news."

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: Hats off to the older couple who on Panorama Drive near University Sunday morning picking up trash on both sides of the road. Meanwhile, a mile west near the Panorama Bluffs park was the usual display of plastic cups and fast food wrappers, discarded by folks who use the park for exercise. How can people who profess to take care of their bodies turn around and litter the very ground they use to exercise?