Sunday, July 5, 2015

Isn't it time to ban fireworks considering our bad air and lack of water? And we know you love your dog, but better hope it doesn't make the list of most expensive to own

 * ... FIREWORKS: The Fourth is behind us but the heated passions over fireworks live on. Consider this note from R. Craig Lincoln: "I can’t tell you how disappointed I am of the city and county to allow fireworks. What’s wrong with our council and supervisors? Not only because of the
drought but Bakersfield and Kern County have the worst air quality and can’t even meet the EPA or CARB air quality requirements. Bakersfield is rated No. 1 in the nation for highest  levels of air pollution with asthma prominent throughout the region, and the bad air can also raise levels of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.  Fireworks just makes it worse. Bakersfield and Kern County with the highest level of year-round pollution and some of the highest incidences of heart and lung issues as well, according to the American Lung Association's annual report. Now the drought we don’t have the water available to fight fires caused by fireworks. This just doesn’t make sense!"

* ... DOGS: Owning a pet can be expensive, as we all know. But a recent study identified the 10 most expensive dog breeds, based on their propensity for developing bone conditions and other ailments. The top ten are the English Bulldog, the German Shepherd, the French Bulldog, the Chow Chow, the Tibetan Mastiff, the Irish Wolfhound, the Great Dane, the Rottweiler, the Bernise Mountain Dog and the Basset Hound.

* ... SPOTTED: On Facebook was this post: "If opposites truly attract, the correct life strategy is to be a complete loser."

 * ... DROUGHT: Ellyce Baldwin weighed in on our drought with this: "Today you passed along an indignity by Nancy Bryant over someone violating water restrictions, implying that pressure washing your structure is a violation. Since we will be pressure washing the eaves and fascia boards of our house soon in conjunction with painting them for house upkeep, and since a pressure washer has a nozzle that is controlled, it is not a violation to do this. I just called California Water Service Company and talked to a supervisor for the answer. A pressure washer uses less water than a hose. A garden hose uses about 8 gallons per minute, while a pressure washer uses five gallons or less per minute. So, while I’m not advocating washing ones house just to get cobwebs off, for maintenance painting prep, it’s not a violation. I do wish we had put the painting off for a year, but we signed a contract several months ago. We will be monitoring the pressure washing to ensure it is done with minimal water."

 * ... NELSON: Caroline O. Reid was in Los Angeles last week when she stopped at In-N-Out for a quick burger. Suddenly, she found herself surrounded by men and women in uniform. It was then she noticed they were from the Bakersfield Police Department, Kern County Sheriff's department and Porterville and Wasco, all in town to attend the funeral of David Nelson, the BPD officer who died in the line of duty. "They were such clean cut, strong, solid looking men and women. Their expressions were stoic. It struck me that in spite of the dreadful sadness we are experiencing, life must go on. We must eat. We must go back to our jobs and our families. I am sure that Bakersfield will never forget our highly respected Officer Nelson or the work he did and obviously, from what I’ve read, the work that he could have done had he been allowed the opportunity. Sometimes life is almost too sad but we must keep on keeping on."

Thursday, July 2, 2015

On this Fourth of July weekend, give thanks to the greatness of our country, and some really good form around our community

 * ... FOURTH: This weekend we celebrate the birth of our nation, and though there are plenty of issues that divide us (immigration, abortion, gay marriage, Obamacare, social policy etc) I hope we all take a moment to appreciate that we live in a country that allows us the freedom to disagree. Are
we perfect? Certainly not. But look around the world and the problems faced by so many countries - Greece, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Ukraine and closer to home, even Mexico with its drug cartels - and things don't look so bad. So fly that flag this weekend and toast to what we have.

* ... GOOD FORM: Bob Ritchey had an encounter the other day that is worth sharing. In his words: "I saw an older man dumpster diving for recyclables and I went up to talk to him.  One of the questions I asked him was how much does he make a day and he said '$10 on a good day.' I told him I admired him because he was out trying to earn money, instead of begging. I reached in my wallet and I knew I didn’t have much cash at the time. I had three bills and I thought they were all $1 and I apologized for not having more to give him. He said thanks and left the property. A few minutes later I saw him coming back toward the property and I ran over to my son and asked him to give me a $5 bill. The man came up to me told me that he wanted to let me know that one of the bills I had given him was actually a $10 bill. Needless to say I was shocked with his honesty and I rewarded him with another $5."

 * ... THREE STRIKES: The long criminal record of the man arrested in connection with the death of Bakersfield police officer David Nelson sparked a lot of comments. Typical of the reaction was this from Ken Barnes: "When did the 'Three Strikes' law that the people of California voted in become
four, five, or six? And then you finally get jailed for life after causing someone's death? Maybe we should take the high speed rail money and build more prisons and courthouses so these offenders could be put away and not beat the court system with pleas for a lesser charge. Really disgusting."

* ... SPOTTED: "It’s not really drinking alone if the dog’s home."

 * ... OVERHEARD: A young woman is telling a friend: "I don't drink high priced wine. The cheaper stuff doesn't give you a hangover."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Here is some good form that will make your day, compliments of Patricia Basset: "I live in Lake Isabella and travel the canyon frequently. Quite often the canyon is closed due to an accident, someone over the cliff, rocks in the road, etc. Last Friday there was a large rock slide about half way up the canyon and the line of cars waiting to get through was massive. It was hot, hot, hot and we were told it could be up to 10 hours to get the road cleared. While I was driving up 178, I was behind a young man in a truck, pulling a backhoe. He was waiting along with all of us until a young woman walked back down the road, after going to the slide area. When that girl told the guy in front of me about the slide, he didn't even think twice. He pulled the chains off his backhoe, unloaded it (no simple task) and took off up the hill. Within minutes, he cleared one side of the road of several huge rocks which allowed the traffic to move slowly, but steadily along. I am pretty confident that nobody thanked him, but I want that man to know my husband and I, along with all those waiting, really appreciated his being willing to go out of his way to help us get through the canyon. We do have good people here in Bakersfield."

 * ... LOCAL BOY: The new principal of Malibu High School, Dr. Brandon Gallagher, has a Bakersfield connection. A graduate of Cal State Bakersfield, Gallagher began his teaching career in the Bakersfield City School District where he taught from 2001 to 2003. He later taught in Santa Paula and most recently served as principal of an elementary school in Hawaii.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on what July Fourth means to all Americans, a time of gratitude and grace

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a Bakersfield Republican and House Majority Leader, gives us his weekly report from Capitol Hill:

 "The Fourth of July is an American holiday, but it is recognized around the world as a turning point in history where the dominance of the few gave way to the rights of the many. It is the point at which the people rejected distant powers and centralized governments in favor of government elected by the people, for the people, and accountable to the people.

 "Centuries after the birth of our nation, we still celebrate our Declaration of Independence because the principles it was founded on—government by the people, the innate dignity of human beings, and liberty and equal justice for all—are universal. They do not change and they can never be forgotten.

 "On this day, we celebrate the fact that, in America, we are not united by bloodlines or even shared opinion. Rather, we are united by the bold belief that every person is guaranteed rights that their government must respect. We are united by the rooted knowledge that government by the few for the interest of the few will necessarily devolve into tyranny. And we are united by the hope that our ideals will be ever more perfectly realized as we continue living this great American experiment.

  "This time of year, we also remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we might enjoy these liberties and this hope. We extend our prayers and our gratitude to the courageous men and women currently serving in the armed forces and their families. There is no doubt that we live in the land of the free because of the brave.

  "As we enjoy this holiday, watch some fireworks, and spend time with family and friends, we know that celebrating Independence Day is much more than remembering the greatness of our past. It is a call to make a brighter future—to build upon the foundations that make America not just a country, but an idea.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Will the rush to rid the nation of symbols of the Confederacy extend to Texas, wrested from Mexico in what Ulysses grant called an 'unjust war?' And John Fanucchi says farewell at Garces Memorial High School

 * ... HISTORY: The political fracas over the Confederate flag has led to a new movement calling for the renaming of every street, school or county in the South named in honor of Confederate war
dead. So where does all this end? If this country is going to embrace a long apology tour, we have a ways to go. Consider Texas, which was wrested away from Mexico in what Ulysses S. Grant called "one of the most unjust" wars "ever waged by a strong nation against a weaker nation." In Grant's view, the United States provoked the war against Mexico to unjustly seize Texas much as "European monarchies" expanded years earlier. So will the rush to rewrite history involve renaming Texas counties that bear the names of its founders like Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin as gesture to people of Mexican heritage? And so it goes. (file photos of Grant and Houston)

 * ... SPOTTED: I spotted this on Twitter: "I tend to say 'hello' to animals and avoid eye contact with humans."

 * ... FANUCCHI: Here's a toast to John Fanucchi, the long-time head of Garces Memorial High School who is retiring as president after 40 years with the private Catholic school. For anyone whose children went to Garces (as one of mine did) Fanucchi was the one constant on campus, a tireless cheerleader and a favorite among both students and parents. In his farewell message he said this: "Your gifts, your expertise, your selfless time, especially your prayers - have made this school the special place it is today. Had it not been for you, the students and families whose lives you have touched over these many years would not have been able to experience all that they have.  I know that they will be forever appreciative. Please know that I will forever be indebted to you for all that you have done for them and for me personally."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Bailey Abbott wrote to talk about all the trash left on the Panorama Bluffs, and the good folks who do their best to keep it clean. "The flip side to those folks are people like Roxana Francis who routinely walk the Panorama Bluff trails picking up after the less civic mined. This diminutive grey haired gal can be seen frequently bent over picking up and bagging the trash left by those who (apparently) think the world is their garbage can. Three cheers for Roxana and so many others that contribute to the common good."

 * ... DROUGHT: And Nancy Bryant contributed this about our long drought: "I just read the blurb about one neighbor yelling at his neighbor to stop power washing his house, and in return getting flipped. People with smart phones can easily download the Bakersfield mobile app. Take a picture of violation, and report it on the app. It is user friendly. I reported a water violation, and it was addressed in person the same day. So easy, and it prevents a possible nasty confrontation."

  * ... MORE DROUGHT: Said Aneta L. Adams: "Concerning Betsy Gosling's last comment, ''s obvious who's not following the watering rules. Their lawns are green' I beg to differ with Ms. Gosling. Several months back, you published an interesting article by Kathy Robinson of Robby's Nursery. She indicated that you can certainly have a green lawn in this drought using much less water and watering only two or three times per week. It's knowing WHEN to water and how much.  I've done just that.  I've cut my water bill by at least the required 36 percent, I've had my sprinkler system repaired and replaced my control box, I put Gromulch in my flower beds in March, and my yard is looking better than it has in years. By watering correctly, I've also reduced the amount of weeds in my lawn, and the Bermuda is healthier. We don't need neighbors reporting each other to the 'water police' because of misinformation."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You may be a Bakersfield old timer if you "remember stopping for a train at Banducci's Corner, Fairfax, Sterling or Oswell and watching each open boxcar to see if a 'bum'; was inside.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Monday Bako Bits: More scams about town, a shoutout to Rotary's Jim Bell and Oregon runner Blake Haney shows some good form

 * ... SCAM: Gilbert Alemao shared with me yet another scam, this one an email from "The Internal Revenue Service" informing him of a $1,900 refund. The catch? It asked for all his personal
information, bank account number etc. "I wasn't born yesterday but I have to admit the attachment is pretty impressive and official-looking. It could affect someone less wise."

* ... SPOTTED: I spotted this on Twitter: "You know what I like about people? Their pets."

* ... GOOD FORM: Here's a good example of good form thanks to Jim Walker. "My daughter,  Jill Walker, and her daughter  Kristen,  found out this week that Bakersfield niceness can cross state boundaries. While touring the University of Oregon campus recently,  they decided to visit the track and field facility where they spotted Blake Haney,  the former Stockdale High track star who now runs for the Oregon Ducks. When he found out they were there and had Bakersfield ties he interrupted his practice and spent time visiting and posing for pictures with them. Both Jill and Kristen were impressed with what a nice young man he is." Jill, by the way, was a standout distance runner for the Bakersfield High Drillers in the late 1970s. Her daughter Kristen is a member of the Valencia High track and cross country teams.

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: Local attorney Will Winn was getting ready to check out at Lowe's on Columbus the other day when the cashier asked if he was a veteran. "I don't wear any clothing or insignia to signal that I am a SeaBee Viet Nam vet, so it kind of took me back. I answered yes and showed her my recently issued veteran's card that any veteran can acquire from Kern County veteran's services (headed up by Dick Taylor).  She replied, 'You will receive a ten percent discount.'  She continued to say that Lowe's gives this discount any day and all days to Veterans who just need to ask for it."

 * ... BAD FORM: There is one thing you can always count on if you live near the bluffs off Panorama Drive: you awake to find literally dozens of discard fast foot cups and wrappers in the gutter. Is it too much to ask for folks to take their trash home with them?

 * ... DROUGHT: Here is what the drought is doing to us. From reader John Pelham:" I can't water my lawn but the guy two houses down is power washing his house. I called to him to stop wasting water. He flipped me off."'

 * ... ROTARY: Barry Rosenfeld shared this bit of good news: "Did you know it has been 17 years since a Rotary District 5240 Governor came from Bakersfield?  I'm letting you know because Bakersfield Twilight Rotarian Jim Bell becomes District Governor on July 1! All Bakersfield area Rotarians are welcome to join in with the excitement on July 8 at the Bell Tower Club from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Along with Rotary fellowship, cocktails and hor d'oeuvres, the official banner will be unfurled; 'Home Club of District 5240 Governor.'"

 * ... TRAFFIC OFFICER: And Betsy Gosling laments the lack of Bakersfield police officers on the road dealing with violations. "I'm out and about almost every day and the illegal lane changes,  drivers driving as if there is no one else on the road, besides running red lights and going through stop signs, is unbelieveable and very dangerous. Too bad I can't call in a citation to the BPD.  Police officers have more serious crimes to investigate. I understand; but, we need the traffic officers . Also, it's obvious who's not following the watering rules. Their lawns are green.


Friday, June 26, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy attends the funeral for Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston while expressing remorse for the death of a Bakersfield police officer

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

 "At the conclusion of another busy week in Washington, I was honored to attend the touching funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney who was one of the victims of the South Carolina shooting last week. Against the backdrop of a national tragedy, the power of prayer and faith has uplifted the Charleston community and our nation as a whole as we continue to stand with the family and friends who are grieving. Hate has no place in the United States and today’s celebration of life and love was an inspiring reminder that even in the darkest days, the light of God will shine through.

  "Locally, Judy and I are saddened to hear of the death of Bakersfield Police Officer David Joseph Nelson. A young officer who gave his life protecting our community, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends and to our entire local law enforcement community.

 "This week, the entire California Republican delegation joined together and introduced legislation that will fix the water mismanagement in California that has contributed to worst water crisis in generations. The crisis has transcended regional boundaries in the state and now the pain that our community has suffered over the past few years has no gripped suburban and urban communities throughout California. For years, I have offered and supported solution after solution that has passed the House, which unfortunately the President has opposed and were not enacted into law. But we will not rest until we solve this water crisis. We must act now so that when we are blessed with rain and snow we can capture and store it.

 "This latest proposal achieves four major goals that I have consistently stated must be included in any water bill. They include: 1.) moving water through the Delta; 2.) creating a path for new storage; 3.) protecting the State Water Project; and 4.) preserving state water rights.

This bill is an important step to getting our community the water it needs and the water that we have contracted and paid for. In the coming weeks, this bill will make its way to the floor and will pass out of the House. I believe that the Senate will also follow suit and pass a California water bill. In fact, I have spoken to Senator Feinstein about this bill and our community’s need to have a bill signed into law that actually delivers water. Time is of the essence, and I look forward both sides of the aisle coming together and supporting important solutions that provide the robust economic opportunity our families, farmers, workers and businesses all need.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

While the furor over the Confederate flag burns hot, a local black news talk show host questions the rush to tear down monuments in the South to Civil War heroes

 * ... FLAG: The controversy over the Confederate flag is resonating across the country, and it is nowhere as hot as on social media. When Amazon decided to stop selling the flag, I spotted this note on Facebook speaking to the hypocrisy of it all: "Amazon sells a huge variety of shirts, posters, you-name-it featuring the hammer and
sickle, Joseph Stalin’s mustache, all things Che Guevara, Vladimir Lenin and other colorful revolutionaries ... Guevara’s book Guerilla Warfare is on sale in four different formats. In one of the worst genocides in modern times, Stalin forcibly starved Ukrainian peasants in what’s known as the Holodomor, a 'terror-famine' that left anywhere from 2.4 million to 7.5 million Ukrainian peasants dead in 1933."

 * ... MORE FLAG: The feeding frenzy that started with the Confederate battle flag has now moved on to the hundreds of statues of Confederate war heroes that appear throughout the south, as well as schools and streets named after rebel leaders. Is it reasonable to expect that every vestige of the Civil War, from the Southern perspective, be removed from society? I was struck when local talk radio host Ralph Bailey, a conservative African American and host on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM, yesterday defended Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate calvary general from Memphis known as the "wizard of the saddle." After the war Forrest became a member of the Ku Klux Klan, but later fully embraced the Union and apologized for his actions, much to the dismay of his fellow Southerners. Said Bailey: "The facts are irrefutable. Forrest experienced a Malcolm X-like racial epiphany. Not only did he walk away from an incredibly lucrative slave trade profession but he addressed a crowd of black pole bearers in 1875 calling for racial equality well documented by The New York Times. He had no political motivation and had to have been vilified by friends and family who viewed blacks as innately inferior. Not only should his bust remain in the Tennessee statehouse but he should be a symbol of change and forgiveness ."

 * .... SOUTH HIGH: If you are a Bakersfield native, you know that the rebel flag was used by South High School to support the "Rebel" athletic teams. Said Ronal Reynier: "Here in Bakersfield we had a similar situation in 1976 when South High School was asked to change the 'Stars & Bars' flag they had been using for 19 years. The proposed flag would be a field of red with SH in gold. It was proposed at the meeting to change it to a field of red with SHS in blue trimmed in white. This was not agreeable to one faction. A student asked to speak. He said that the solution would be to have a new red flag with a gold hammer and sickle. He was suspended from school for five days.

 * ... PERRY: Former Texas governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry was in town the other night for a fund raiser at the Westchester home of Kyle Carter and his wife, Kim McAbee. You can bet Perry will be followed by a parade of other GOP contenders who will be courting some of our area's influential business people.

* ... SPOTTED: A panhandler on a freeway ramp holds a sign proclaiming: "Mostly harmless."

  * ... INDEPENDENCE HIGH: Phyllis Adams dropped me a personal letter to thank a group of Independence High School seniors who have entertained residents at Carriage House Estates. "Glenn Miller era music was played by Richard Gonzales and dancing was enjoyed with students and residents for several hours," she wrote. What a satisfying feeling for teens to plan and enjoy time with their elders. Sharing of those evenings will be long remembered."

 * ... MEMORIES: Joe Chavez wrote with this memory from East Bakersfield: "Does anyone remember Louie the mailman from the 1960s? He delivered in east Bakersfield and he always had a smile. I myself would chase after him when I was waiting for a toy or model kit I ordered. Then it was off to swim at Jefferson park. What wonderful days!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A couple who burglarized a downtown home are arrested thanks to their pictures being circulated on Facebook, celebrating Hammons Meat market and it's time for another Guitar Masters concert

 * ... SOCIAL MEDIA: You can mark this one as a victory for the good guys. A neighbor's house downtown was burglarized this past weekend and later in the day the intruders came back to finish the job, eyeballing the home from a rear alley. This time the owner was home, snapped a couple of
pictures of the suspects in the alley (a couple in their early 30s, heavily tattooed) that were later circulated first on a neighborhood watch email list and later on Facebook. Within hours the couple was arrested (turns out they were driving a stolen car) and most of the stolen items were recovered. Now that is social media at its best.

 * ... VISITOR: When visitors come to town, how do you entertain them? I had friend from college this weekend and at his request, gave him a tour of the almond groves off Famoso Road and the Kern River oil field. We take this stuff for granted, but for folks from another area of the country, they are awesome sights and a chance to educate them on agriculture and oil. Then, a weekend of our landmark downtown restaurants: dinner at Muertos on Friday and Uricchio's Trattoria the next day, along with the signature Bakersfield event: Saturday lunch at Luigi's. Doesn't get much better than that.

 * ... HAMMONS: And speaking of local family-owned businesses, I had a nice chat the other day with Jenny Hammons, the dynamic 27-year-old who has taken over JJ Hammons Meats, the remarkable meat market founded by her grandfather in 1975. Jenny told me the market has a July Fourth special on rib eyes for $7.59 a pound, a bargain by any standard and almost 50 percent less than other high end meat shops. The special runs from June 24 through July 4. Check Hammons out at 1700 South Union Avenue.

 * ... SPOTTED: A local bumper sticker reads: "Duct tape can't fix stupid, but it sure can muffle the sound."

 * ... MUSIC: Guitar virtuoso Albert Lee is performing tonight (Wednesday) at the Simonsen Performing Arts Center at Bakersfield College. This is part of Rick Kreiser's "Guitar Masters" acts that have become so popular. Tickets at $35 at the door and $18 for students. The fun begins at 7:30 p.m. and Kreiser promises a "surprise" appearance at the concert.

 * ... SCAMS: My post on KERO TV anchor Jackie Parks shutting down a telephone scam brought this response from reader Mike: "I got a laugh out of your article re Jackie Parks and thought you might get the same with an incident that happened to my mother. Years ago she had some furniture in storage. After she had it removed and paid her last bill she thought it was over. It wasn't! The following month she got a bill. She wrote back that the furniture was no longer in storage and to please stop billing her. Next month, same thing. And the next, etc. Finally she wrote them and said
'Please forward all furniture immediately to the following address!' She never heard from them again.                                          

 * ... ACHIEVERS: Louise Scurlock, a proud mother and grandmother, offered the following about some high achieving local products of our local schools: "You might go to Memorial Hospital one day and find Bruce Scurlock M.D.,  his daughter, Kristin Chrisum P.A., and his other daughter Brooke Holmes, R.N., all working there. Maybe son, Joshua Scurlock M.D., from Massachusetts, should be intrigued to come back to Bakersfield and practice. All are graduates of Bakersfield High Schools."