Thursday, May 26, 2016

KERO TV anchor Jackie Parks leaves Bakersfield after 27 years, Kyle Carter addresses the gay question and celebrating those kids going on to college

 * ... PARKS: The Bakersfield television market has long been used as a stepping stone for local anchors and reporters to get some experience and trade it in for a better job elsewhere. They move in and out of the market so quickly that sometimes it's hard to put a face with a local network. But
occasionally some TV talent finds a reason to stick around, to raise a family and enjoy what our town has to offer, and one of them is Jackie Parks, the longtime KERO TV anchor whose last day is today. After 27 years here, she is leaving for Maryland to join husband Todd Karli at a local station. Parks is a class act, smart, sensitive and humble, and she will be missed. Good luck, Jackie.

 * ... CARTER: You have to give Kyle Carter credit for transparency. Unlike other mayoral candidates who have dodged the question, the former homebuilder chose to address the question of participating in a gay pride parade head on. Said Carter: "As mayor, would I march in a LGBTQ parade? I believe it would be unwise for a mayor to try to represent every event that the people of Bakersfield can possibly host. For a mayor to stand for everything would automatically cause him to stand against something else. As mayor I think my time and efforts should be spent to promote job growth and education and also work on our transportation and water issues, while providing support for fighting crime and solving homelessness. And then celebrate those things."

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "All I’m saying is you don’t see many neck tattoos on Jeopardy."

 * ... OVERHEARD: From a reader: "An Aul-Dailian with bulls extremities hanging from his truck trailer hitch engages a Toyota driving bearded fellow who has 'SF' on his bumper. 'It’s bay area weenies like you that have ruined our country!' The un-assuming bearded man responds…'Actually, SF is for the ten years that I spent in Special Forces.' OOPS!"

 * ... FLAGS: If you are out and about this weekend, make sure you swing by the Park at RiverWalk which will be adorned with a thousand American flags. This popular Breakfast Rotary project is visually stunning, and worth a trip to recognize Memorial Day and all the sacrifices made for our country.

 * ... LIBERTY HIGH: Liberty High School is well known for producing outstanding athletes, but who knew it was also a feeder for Division 1 cheer and dance team members? Proud Liberty parent Basconcillo passed along where some of the young Liberty women have gone: Kennedy Poe, class of 2012, Cal Poly, SLO Mustangs Cheer; Lauren Fringer, class of 2012, Boise St. Broncos Dance Team; Paige Basconcillo, class of 2013, Cal Bears Dance Team; Annalee Fanucchi, class of 2015, Fresno State Bulldogs Dance Team; Amy Cox, class of 2015, Long Beach State 49rs Dance Team; Chandler Basconcillo, class of 2016, UC Santa Barbara Gauchos Dance Team.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Jack Kelley submits this tidbit from the way back machine: "You may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember when there wasn’t a Christmas Tree Lane, and not a Foothill High School either. LOL."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Lourdes Nilon joins the Cal State Bakersfield university advancement team, Amtrak offers some killer deals on trips and what we all learned from the drought

 * ... GRADS: Hats off to all the high school seniors who are about to graduate and set off into the world as young adults. From Liberty to Golden Valley to South to BHS, there are awards ceremonies,
hugs, plenty of tears and rooms full of hope and dreams. I salute them all and I know that wherever the road leads, they will take a piece of Bakersfield with them.

* ... NILON: Lourdes Nilon has joined Cal State Bakersfield as director of corporate and foundations relations, the latest appointment as the university tries to rebuild its fund raising arm. Nilon comes to CSUB from the Children's Miracle Network at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital Foundation, where she also raised money for important projects. CSUB's University Advancement Division (fund raising) has been in turmoil the past several years following the departures of two vice presidents (first Beverly Byl and later David Melendez) whose tenures were underwhelming. The division is now under the direction of interim vice president Victor Martin, who likely will be promoted later this year into the full-time slot. Nilon is married to John Nilon, the county chief administrative officer, who recently was named to the CSU board of trustees as an Alumni Trustee.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The fact there’s a highway to hell and only a stairway to heaven says a lot about anticipated traffic numbers."

 * ... OVERHEARD: Spotted this on Facebook: "Overheard behind me in the jetway mere seconds after we deplane: 'I'm more excited for the cigarette than New York.'"

* ... DROUGHT: The El Nino winter has given us some breathing room from the long drought, but officials warn the mandatory state reductions in consumption could return if we have a dry winter. That said, it is encouraging that most folks I know have braced conserving water, whether it be installing drought tolerant landscaping or taking shorter showers.

 * ... AMTRAK: The folks who run Amtrak are reaching out to the public offering some deep discounts in a bid to get more people riding the rails. Among the offerings is a "Friends and Family" promotion that will allow riders to save 50 percent off the full ticket fare on up to five companion fares after the purchase of one full fare ticket. There are other incentives too, and they are worth checking out at

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Tim Hanlin says you make by a Bakersfield old timer if "you caught the bus at Boise Street and Christmas Tree Lane to go to Foothill High School."

Sunday, May 22, 2016

When politicians veer off their well rehearsed scripts, interesting things happen. So is gender preference (gay, lesbian, transgender) becoming an issue in the Bakersfield mayor's race?

 * ... POLITICS: Funny what happens when politicians veer off their well scripted stump speeches. It happened last week when 16 of the candidates running for mayor attended a debate at Cal State Bakersfield. While fielding questions from the audience, they were asked if, as mayor, they would attend a gay/lesbian pride parade. First, this seems an odd question to me. Hasn't the question of gay rights been put to rest? Remember the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village? That was 1969 for
goodness sake, 47 years ago. And look around our community. Some of the most respected business people and scholars in town are gay or lesbian. But the truth is always in the details. So hats off to candidates T.J. Esposito and Gilberto De La Torre who answered a firm "yes," with Esposito eloquently noting that the mayor serves everyone, not select communities or religions. More surprising was the garbled, non response from presumed front runner Karen Goh, CEO of Garden Pathways and a former county supervisor. After serving up some platitudes about loving each other, she dodged the question. I followed up with Goh by text and she asked if this was on or off the record and, having been told this was for the record, she offered no real response. In fairness, I contacted the other presumed front runner, former homebuilder Kyle Carter, and posed the same question to him. (Full disclosure: Carter is a neighbor and I consider him a friend) Like Goh, Carter declined to address the question. So what's next? Perhaps we should ask all 25 mayoral candidates to check the boxes of the parades they would, and would not, attend while serving as mayor. Start with the Christmas parade and then move on to parades and events hosted by the Sikhs, Punjabis, Muslims (need we differentiate between Shia and Sunni?), Scots, native Americans, atheists, Deists, Jews, Basque, Greeks, dog lovers etc. You get the picture. If it's an election cycle, we are certain to be in the silly season. (file photos of Goh, Carter and Esposito)

 * ... JOHNSON: And speaking of politics, I cannot recommend highly enough the HBO special on Lyndon Johnson called "All The Way" starring Brian Cranston of "Breaking Bad" fame. It is an honest, unflinching examination of the complex man that Johnson was during the fight for the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.

 * ... GUN SALES: There's nothing like the California legislature to do its part of boost gun and ammunition sales. In the wake of the state Senate passing an array (11 in all) of bills putting new restrictions on gun and ammo sales, local gun dealers are reporting a boom in business. Among the proposed restrictions: one would restrict lending a weapon to only immediate family members. Really? What if you are hunting and you simply want to try a friend's shotgun? Yet another bill would go further in restricting ammo magazines that was be loaded quickly. The irony, of course, is these bills are aimed at the very people who obey the law, keep their weapons stored in safes and are no threat to the public. And so it goes.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Much like a dog, men will pretty much do anything you want if you feed them first."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Marriage allows you to annoy one special person the rest of your life."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From a reader: You may be a Bakersfield old timer if you caught the bus at 'The Orange Tower' on Niles Street to go to Bakersfield High School.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Local pet suffers a rattlesnake bite while on a morning walk and new polls indicate growing support for a recreational marijuana initiative on the November ballot

 * ... SNAKES: If you don't believe we are in the middle of rattlesnake season, just ask Carl Moreland. Said Moreland: "My English Pointer Tess suffered a rattlesnake bite at 7 a.m. today while walking along an auto track trail east of Morning Drive approximately half way between Panorama
Drive and Paladino Drive. Should have heeded your warning in your blog about snakes. She is now at the Animal Emergency and Urgent Care at 4300 Easton Drive. They had the anti-venom shots available and she is under their care now and she is doing well. Tess will be wearing her electronic collar on our walks for the rest of the snake season. Other dog walkers in fields may want to do the same."

 * ... OBIT: Making the rounds on social media was an obituary from Richmond, Va., which started this way: "Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "People who make really bad decisions always think, 'I have the worst luck.'"

 * ... MARIJUANA: Is this the year that California voters approve the recreational use of marijuana? That's what the polls seem to reflect, indicating that a November ballot initiative will be approved making California the latest state to end the war on cannabis. In Colorado even Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed the initiative in that state, now concedes it seems to be working. Said Hickenlooper: legal cannabis "is not as vexing as we thought it was going to be."

 * ... FLAGS: Get ready for another majestic display over Memorial Day weekend when a thousand American flags will transform the Park at Riverwalk into a patriotic canvas. This is the third year that the Breakfast Rotary Club has sponsored this event. Flag sponsorships are still available at $50 per flag and can be ordered online at

 * ... ACHIEVERS: George and Agnes Plantenga of Bakersfield shared with me that they have five grandchildren graduating this month: Alysse De Jager from Fresno State, Nathan De Jager from Bakersfield Christian High, George Plantenga from Los Osos High in Alta Loma, Hannah Fluegel of Central Valley Christian High in Visalia and Joshua Plantenga from Vineyard Junior High, also in Alta Loma. Sounds like the Plantengas have plenty of travel this month.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fracking - hydraulic fracturing - now accounts for 67 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States, and John Nilon's appointment a potential benefit to CSUB

 * ... FRACKING: Some important news on the fracking front. It turns out that more natural gas is being generated by hydraulically fractured wells today than even before, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Fully 67 percent of the natural gas in the united States came from fractured wells in 2015, compared to just 7 percent in the year 2000. "The boom led to the U.S. becoming the world's largest producer of oil and flooded the market with natural gas, driving down prices," said a story by Climate Central. "That encouraged utilities to build more electric power plants that run on natural gas instead of coal."

 * ... NILON: Lost in the shuffle of activity at Cal State Bakersfield was the recent announcement that alumnus John Nilon has been selected to serve on the California State University Board of Trustees. This is an important move for our local campus since Nilon becomes the first trustee ever from Bakersfield and the first from the Central Valley in more than two decades. His two-year appointment as Alumni Trustee begins in July. Nilon currently serves as County Administrative Officer and was admitted into the CSUB Alumni Hall of Fame in 2014.

 * ... SNAKES: If you are a gardener, hiker or someone who just enjoys being outdoors this time of year, be aware that we are entering prime snake season. Bikers are spotting them on the bike path and dirt roads, and several have been spotted in Hart Park during the past week alone.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m not saying I’m psychic, but I’m positive I will have no interest in what you’re about to say."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "The best thing about Monday is it only comes once a week."

 * ... VALLEY FEVER: Debra Lattimore shared this story on how valley fever affected her life. "Years ago my husband was working at Elk Hills and came home one day and said, 'you just wait, I will get valley fever.' Just months later we had him tested. He got it. They are tearing up the road now I wonder has many souls driving through the construction and boys working the site will develop symptoms. Just a thought."

 * ... GOOD FORM: And there was this from Patty Orsburn: "Thought I'd send this note about getting blessed on Mother's Day. My daughter, Amber Webster, a single mom, went to our Starbucks in Tehachapi to get us a Mother's Day treat. When she got to the window to pay the barista told her that a few customers up gave them a hundred dollar bill and to pay for all following cars until it's gone. It completely made my Mother's Day as it was very kind but more so because it blessed my daughter so much! Thank you very much whoever you are!"

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A new take on transgender access to bathrooms, a Christian men's group holds a fund raiser and a shout out to mocha ice cream at Jin Sushi restaurant

 * ...  TRANSGENDER: There are fewer hotter topics of discussion than the issue of transgender access to public restrooms. So it didn't take long for some folks to figure out a way to game the
system. As reported in the Style section of the Sunday New York Times, a woman was waiting to use the women's restroom in Brooklyn when a man walked out of it. "Excuse me sir?" she said, a bit annoyed. His retort: "I am transitioning."

* ... INFLUENCERS: Hats off to a Christian men's group which put on a huge sporting clays fund raiser out at the Kern County Gun Club this weekend. The organization, called Influencers (Influencing Men to Christ) drew some 220 shooters to raise money for the group's ministry. The organization uses the money to fund scholarships, workshops and other projects.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I feel like there’s something missing in my life and I don’t know if it’s a person, a puppy, or just a burrito."

 * ... FOODIE: My food pick of the week goes to Jin Sushi restaurant and its fabulous mochi ice cream (pounded sticky rice cake - mochi - formed around an ice cream filling.) This is a perfect summer dessert, light and tasty, served at the restaurant's 19th Street location.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Carolyn Mack provided this shoutout to the BHS Driller nation: "A BHS Drillers football player greeted me with a cold bottle of water as I crossed the finish line (dead last) at the 6th annual 'Carter's Walk for CURED' 5K run/walk yesterday. He and the other volunteer Drillers couldn't have been any more helpful or friendly as they spent their Saturday morning at this worthy fundraiser for research on eosinophilic disease (simply stated, the inability to eat). My Driller pride came rushing back, much faster than my pace in reaching the finish line. Drillers forever!"

 * ... BAD FORM: Just when you think you have seen everything, you receive a note like this: "Yesterday, my husband and I were at the Harbor Freight on Rosedale when two young men in their 20s pulled into the parking lot drinking beer. As we were entering the store, an older, disabled man we presumed to be homeless also entered. As we were returning to our car, the young men were unloading a cart of cans/bottles into the trunk of their car. My husband returned to the store to ask the older man if he had left a grocery cart outside the entrance. He went running out of the store leaving the work gloves he was in line to purchase on the counter.  He approached the men who were now in their car with the windows up and tried to shame them about robbing a disabled, homeless person.  I was able to take a picture of their car as they drove off. They were driving a small, four-door silver Chevrolet with a dent. My husband gave the man money, but it just makes you sad to think about how low some people are willing to go. "

 * ... MORE GOOD FORM: And finally this bit of good news from Donna Richaud:"The Saturday evening before Mothers Day a group of us were dining at Famous Dave's after attending Mass.  When the check came we learned that a gentleman sitting at a table near us had paid part of our dinners. There were ten of us! Thanking him for a wonderful prologue to Mother's Day."

House Majority Leader McCarthy warns of opioid addiction, says House is ready to help

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

 "Addiction tears families apart, uproots communities, and deprives people of the basic freedom to live the lives they want. And opioid addiction is only getting worse in this country. The most recent
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows 78 Americans die every single day from opioid overdose. This problem is taking a toll on our community as well. In 2012, 45 people from Kern County died from opioid overdoses.

 "Simply put, we cannot afford to ignore this problem any longer. We need to do something about it. This is why I am working to help solve this problem at the federal, state, and local levels.

 "At the federal level, Congress is taking action -- we’re finding solutions in a bipartisan manner that will make a difference immediately.

 "This week, the House passed 18 bills this week to promote ways to fight, treat, and prevent opioid addiction. One the bills passed included my latest legislation, the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, better known as the OPEN Act. This bill will improve data sharing across agencies to better improve opioid treatment programs. My legislation will require the Attorney General and HHS Secretary to collect and publicly share various treatment outcome metrics. By increasing access to this data, healthcare officials, researchers, and engaged citizens will have an opportunity to strengthen treatment and prevention programs.
 At the local level we’re also promoting viable solutions.
 "Last month, I joined Assemblywoman Shannon Grove at Walgreens on Hageman to help promote their new drug disposal kiosks. These kiosks will serve our communities a safe and convenient way for people to dispose of their unused and/or expired prescriptions at no cost. This simple, and easy method will help rid our homes of these drugs and curb the misuse of medications. I’m pleased to report Bakersfield is home to one of the nations first kiosks as Walgreens intends to install these units at more than 500 locations this year.
 "There is no quick cure to this problem, but we can and must do more to stop the tide of this epidemic so the American people can live freer and happier lives.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bakersfield mayoral candidates take to social media to spread their message, we are entering Valley Fever season and more good and bad form about town

 * ... POLITICS: How do you call attention to yourself when you are among two dozen people running for mayor? Beyond the yard signs and direct mail campaigns, the smartest candidates are embracing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other forms of social media to spread their messages. Bypassing local television is not only cost efficient, but also more effective in targeting likely voters in specific demographics and behavioral communities. Former home builder Kyle Carter is making good use of video testimonials that are making the rounds on social media, while his opponent Karen Goh is showing signs that she too will use the medium to spread her message. (A smartly produced pro Goh video just popped up on Facebook thanks to Metro Galleries owner Don Martin, a Goh supporter). Vince Fong is also active on Facebook, posting videos promoting his quest to replace Assemblywoman Shannon Grove in the Assembly.

 * ... VALLEY FEVER: If you are new to town and are not aware of Valley Fever, you need to school yourself on this potentially deadly disease. One way to do that: attend the Valley Fever Awareness Walk set for Saturday, August 13, at Pioneer Village. And humans aren't the only one susceptible to this disease. Consider this from Sandra Larson: "I just learned about a parrot in Taft some years ago that sickened and died; tests revealed VF was the culprit. Gorillas and other primates in zoos have died. Every breathing animal from aardvark to zebra can get it, including snakes!" Larson added that one of her friends suspected her dog had valley fever because of a lack of appetite, persistent cough and general lethargy. "She convinced a doubting veterinarian to do a VF test. The test came back positive, the dog was treated and recovered." If you have questions about this year's walk, contact Larson at

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Dating: the process of hiding your crazy just long enough to get the other person to commit."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I just plugged the food I ate today into my new smart phone fitness app and they immediately sent an ambulance to my house.

 * ... BAD FORM: I am never sure what to think about the gaggle of nurses who take their lunch time smoke breaks on the sidewalk in front of Bakersfield Memorial Hospital.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Janet Hopkins passed along this example of some truly food form: "I observed some good neighbor behavior on Monday morning on the way to my office as I waited for the light to change at the intersection of Truxtun and Oak streets. Several large plastic paint buckets had rolled off a truck and into the street where they were waiting to cause an accident. An employee of Conroy’s Flowers saw the buckets and watched the traffic for an opportunity to retrieve them.  He entered the intersection and as he was picking them up, a vehicle who had the green light pulled up carefully and put on their emergency blinkers to protect the Conroy’s employee until he was safely back on the sidewalk. Two strangers working together prevented what could have resulted in a major problem at a busy intersection. Good work!"