* ... PEREZ: Leticia Perez, the county supervisor who is in a heated District 16 state Senate race, took me to task for saying she was"not amused"by a locally produced video promoting fiscally sound government. The video was produced by the Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government and is titled "If I Wanted Kern County to Fail." It talks about balanced budgets, pension and education reform,
* ... SILVA: The confiscation of two cell phones from witnesses who said they videotaped the beating death of David Sal Silva at the hands of Kern County Sheriff's deputies may have a chilling effect on future witnesses. As one caller to The Ralph Bailey Show remarked: why would anyone tell the police they have video of a crime scene if they know a deputy will show up at their door and demand that the phone be surrendered? In the future, it's more likely folks will share the video with news organizations or friends before telling police they have evidence. Sheriff Donny Youngblood said his deputies were simply securing the crime scene and gathering evidence, but showing up at witness doors and demanding their mobile phones doesn't exactly engender trust. Meanwhile, this story has been covered by CNN, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and other national news outlets, not exactly the kind of image we would like to project.
* ... BAD FORM: Mary Williams spotted this bit of really bad form in the parking lot of the Vons grocery store at the corner of Stockdale and California. "I was livid ... to find a small black and white dog inside of a White Toyota Camry. The temperature outside was 93. It must have been well over 100 inside of the car. No water for the dog, a crack of the window on each side, the dog obviously was suffering in the heat. Fifteen minutes passed and still no owner of the car (I had to call animal control because I couldn’t leave with a clear conscience). I wonder…. Could the owner have sat inside the car under the same circumstances and be comfortable? At least they would have the option to exit the pressure cooker."
* ... PIT BULLS: And speaking of dogs, retired city clerk Pamela McCarthy had a nasty run-in with a stray pit bull while she was taking her Schnauzer Buddy for a walk in Westchester the other day. "A few blocks from home a stray pit bull came out of nowhere and attacked us," she said. "I have never been more afraid. Fortunately for me I was carrying pepper spray and some homeowners and a gentleman driving down Elm stopped and came to my assistance. I wound up with a few bites and Buddy was badly bruised and shaken and we made a quick trip to the doctor and vet. We were very lucky and I truly want to thank those who came to our aide. Animal control was able to locate the stray and will quarantine it for 10 days. This is the second time a loose dog as come after us. Please remind dog owners that dogs do not stay in their yards when they see another dog. So please, keep them fenced or on a leash."
* ... PARKING: Earlier this month reader Stephen A. Montgomery parked at City Hall to participate in Mayor Harvel Hall's annual litter survey. His reward? A parking ticket for $25. "It never occurred to me permits would be needed for that parking lot considering the lack of any other interests anywhere nearby that might want parking but now I know better," he said. No good deed goes unpunished.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
State Senate candidate Leticia Perez denies commenting on a video by the Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government, but a digital footprint indicates otherwise
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Race for the open 16th District state Senate District heats up with heated barbs between frontrunners Leticia Perez and Andy Vidak, and a reunion is set for the old Kern County Union High School
* ... PEREZ: With just a week to go the campaign for the 16th District state Senate race is growing predictably nasty. Frontrunners Leticia Perez and Andy Vidak have taken the gloves off, both airing scathing TV ads attacking the other. And now comes word that Perez had to apologize for using the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe in a campaign flier distributed in Fresno. Perez called it an "image of inspiration" but apologized after a complaint was filed with the Fresno Archdiocese. Perez also was not amused by a popular video produced by the Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government promoting more fiscally sound policies. And finally, Perez abruptly canceled a scheduled appearance on KERN's First Look with Scott Cox video simulcast after The Californian endorsed Vidak. If Perez and Vidak end up in a runoff, as is widely expected, we'll all have two more months of this to entertain us. (file photos of Perez, Vidak)
* ... GRANTS: The Bakersfeld Californian (family) Foundation has awarded $225,413 in grants to Kern County nonprofits involved in community enrichment projects throughout Kern County, including beautification efforts, small scope historical preservation projects and general community improvement. Among the recipients were The Bakersfield Museum of Art, Golden Empire Gleaners, Saint Vincent de Paul Center, Fox Theater Foundation, Covenant Community Service, the Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield, The Cross Family Center and the Kern River Parkway Foundation, among others.
* ... REUNION: There is a very special reunion planned this Saturday: the 75th anniversary of the 1938 class of Kern County Union High School. At this point, organizer Ada Davis says 38 classmates have been located and about half of them will be attending with friends and family. The first reunion of the class was held back in 1958 when 376 members of the graduating class of 630 attended. Many of these folks are among the "who's who" of Bakersfield, and it will surely be a memorable event. The event is planned for 11 a.m. at Marie Callender's.
* ... TENNIS: If you are out and about this (Wednesday) evening, you might want to run over to Seven Oaks Country Club for a special (and free) tennis exhibition. It's being sponsored by a local company that provides fracking monitoring services for safe and effective oil field development and is called "Hit the Target," as in in both fracking and tennis. Ellen Bartling, a former standout tennis player at Stockdale High School and now a graduate of UC Santa Barbara working in the oil industry, is helping in promoting the event. The matches start from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
* ... MEMORIAL DAY: Greenlawn Funeral Home is holding a special Memorial Day celebration at its Southwest location on Panama Lane. It will include an honor guard, Tehachapi police pipes and drums, the Blue Star Moms, speakers and even a Marine vocalist. There will be food and activities for children following the 11 a.m. event. A more traditional service will be held at the River Boulevard location in the Northeast.
* ... CORRECTION: Dominic's Dugout, one of the Relay for Life teams, raised $45,000 for cancer research over a three year period and not all in the recently completed Relay event.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Longtime Bakersfield boxing and music venue The Dome is purchased by a local church and a local girl in named 1st Team All America on the Colorado State University lacrosse team
* ... THE DOME: The Dome, the Bakersfield entertainment center know as a venue for boxing and live music, has been purchased by a local church-affiliated organization. The new name will be the Cross Family Center at The Dome. Toure Tyler, pastor of the Cross Christian Church, said they hope to continue using the Dome for concerts and boxing but he also has plans to make it more of a community center to reach out to needy youth.
* ... LACROSSE: Congratulation to Abby Wattenbarger, a former Garces Memorial High School athlete who has been named 1st Team All America in Lacrosse at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She played tennis and basketball at Garces and never played Lacrosse until going to school at CSU. She is the daughter of Doug and Elle Wattenbarger. (file photos of CSU lacrosse)
* ... BAD FORM? There are always two sides to every story, and Bonnie Navarrette wrote to present her side. She admitted being the driver who rolled through a four-way stop sign near East Hills the other day, only to be chastised by another driver. "I am the woman involved in the altercation (the reader) described except, he didn't state the whole story. (He) is implying that he was just trying to be nice when in fact he stalked me down in the Big 5 parking lot and after he didn't get the response he was looking for told me to kiss his (a...)_ flipped me off and went tearing off in the parking lot. I do not make it a habit to get in arguments with old men in parking lots especially with my children with me, so I went in the store. What else was I supposed to do? The only lesson my children learned that day was there are very rude people in this town trying to disguise themselves as polite."
* ... INTERNSHIPS: The local office of state Assemblywoman Shannon Grove is taking applications for unpaid summer internships. There is a five week commitment and you but have graduated from high school with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and be at least 18 years old. If interested, send a resume, cover letter, and transcript to: Cathy Abernathy, Office of Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, 4900 California Ave # 100 B, Bakersfield, CA 93309.
* ... TAFT COLLEGE: Taft College will be holding its commencement on Friday, May 24, at the Taft Union High football stadium. This comes while the school is showing a 15 percent jump in enrollment for summer and an 18 percent increase for the fall.
* ... RELAY: Among the 300-plus teams out at Relay for Life last week was Dominic's Dugout, named in memory of Dominic Cornejo, a Garces High graduate who died of cancer several years ago. His parents, Gerry and Irma Cornejo, told me the team raised $45,000. "We relay so that those lost to cancer will not be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated," they said.
Friday, May 10, 2013
McCarthy recognizes a group of outstanding high school seniors as he puts his own son in a dorm at Georgetown University
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield and House Majority Whip, gives his weekly view from Capitol Hill.
"With summer right around the corner, many students in our community are eagerly awaiting the end of the school year. I know my son Connor is as I helped him move out of his freshman dorm at Georgetown this week, as well as my daughter Meghan. I am proud of their accomplishments during this past school year and, as we celebrate the numerous achievements of all of our local students this year, we are reminded that some of the nation’s best and brightest can be found right here in
"Over the past few weeks, I have been able to present our outstanding seniors with the 23rd Congressional District of California 2013 Merit Award, which recognizes outstanding high school students who have demonstrated exemplary school citizenship, volunteerism, community service, involvement in extracurricular activities, leadership skills, and on top of all of that, maintained excellent academic scores. Congratulations to this year’s merit award recipients from Kern, Los Angeles and Tulare counties:
• Andrew McCan – Bakersfield High School
• Kenton Crabtree -- Bakersfield Christian High School
• Heather Hansen – Centennial High School
• Charles Hale– East Bakersfield High School
• Sean Jensen – Foothill High School
• Jessica Pilgram - Frazier Mountain High School
• Katie Cornford – Frontier High School
• Jacob Elliott – Garces Memorial High School
• Bryan Bumgarner – Highland High School
• Ying Wu – Independence High School
• Jessica Yasin – Kern Valley High School
• Paige Basconcillo – Liberty High School
• Emily Phillips – Maricopa High School
• Peter Buto – North High School
• Amanpreet Sarai – Ridgeview High School
• Nia Abbas – Stockdale High School
• Eric Bailey – Taft Union High School
• Ryan Flick – Tehachapi High School
• Renae Lewis – West High School
• Milton Ramirez – Granite Hills High School
• Seth Steen-Fuentes – Harmony Magnet Academy
• Mary Crocker – Monache High School
• Kaitlin Smithey – Porterville High School
• Cady Whicker – Lancaster High School
• Anthony Hernandez – Rosamond High School
• Ever Gonzalez – Mojave High School
• Daely Dewar – Boron High School
• Marie Watschke – California City High School
• Aaron McCain – Sherman E. Burroughs High School
• Houston Osburn – Desert Christian High School
• Edward Vasquez - Desert High School
"Also recognized this week is the artistic talent of our local high school students. On Friday, I was pleased to announce the winners of the 2013 Congressional Art Competition. Congratulations to all of the winners, especially the overall winner, Christiana Kallemeyn, a senior at Grace Christian Academy in Lancaster. She created her winning piece, “Waiting in the Wings” using colored pencil as her medium. I look forward to Christiana’s visit to the Capitol to unveil her painting in Washington, where it will be displayed for visitors to see during their visit to the Capitol building this year. In addition, all of this year’s winners will be hung in my office in Washington for the next year.
"On a much more somber note, this past week we also continue to mourn the loss of Tech Sgt. Herman “Tre” Mackey III, a Bakersfield native, who tragically died in a tanker plane crash over Kyrgyzstan on May 3rd. Sgt. Mackey, along with two other brave American airmen, were supporting combat operations at the time of the crash. A graduate of Bakersfield High School, Sgt. Mackey was by all accounts a family man who loved his country and served with honor. Judy and I send our thoughts and prayers to Sgt. Mackey’s family, especially his wife Megan and their daughter Peyton, during this difficult time. Tre embodied the very best of our country, and I know I join a grateful community and humble nation when I say that we will never forget his sacrifice.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Local family fights with California Coastal Commission to build a home on the coast near Avila Beach, and RIP to Carol Stepanovich and soap opera star Jeanne Cooper
* ... PERMIT: I have been following the saga of a private/public land battle that Bakersfield's Judi and Rob McCarthy are having in San Luis Obispo County. Seems the California Coastal Commission doesn't like the McCarthys' plan to build a home on 37 acres of prime coastal land above Cave Landing Road between Pismo Beach and Avila Beach. The San Luis Planning Commission approved the project three years ago with no public dissent, but two members of the Coastal Commission appealed the permit to the commission, and it's been all lawyers since then. And now the commission is talking about taking all of the McCarthy land through "prescriptive access" (even eminent domain would be preferable; at least then they have to pay for it). The McCarthys have offered to build a safe hiking trail for the public, but it looks like the Coastal Commission has an appetite for the entire parcel. Wonder how this would play in Kern County? Stay tuned. (file photo of Cave Landing Road)
* ... GOODNIGHT CAROL: Our community lost a wonderful citizen the other day when retired Panama Buena Vista school district teacher Carol Stepanovich died after suffering a stroke. Carol taught at Stockdale Elementary for years and was involved in many local organizations, including the Assistance League of Bakersfield. Her husband is Mike Stepanovich, executive director of the Bakersfield College Foundation and a local wine expert. Keep Mike and his family in your thoughts. (Facebook picture of Mike and Carol)
* ... RIP JEANNE: Jeanne Cooper, who played the role of matriarch Katherine Chancellor on the long running soap opera "The Young and the Restless," also died this week. She grew up in Taft and studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse and the College of the Pacific in Stockton. She had one son, actor Corbin Bernsen. She was 84.
* ... SYMPHONY: The ouster of longtime Bakersfield Symphony conductor John Farrer drew this response from reader Stephen Montgomery: "First they cut the symphony's funding including various youth oriented programs, then they blame Farrer for the shortcomings. Is that new CEO (Bryan Burrow) old enough to even remember what the symphony sounded like before Farrer? For lovers of serious music a well performed program rivaling those of much bigger cities was the reward. Any acoustic issues can be laid at the feet of those who don't see the need for a more up to date performing arts center. I don't have a journalist's access to the back story but none of the shortcomings apparent to me can be with any accuracy blamed on Farrer. What am I missing here?"
* ... MORE FARRER: And then there was this from Maxine Pihlaja Love: "In your column a couple of days ago you mentioned that the symphony concert audiences are getting smaller and older. That is not the fault of the conductor or his music selections for concerts. That has been happening all over the country for the last 25 or more years. People do not get exposed or connected with classical music in their early years, which needs to happen by about age seven. School curriculum used to include information about classical composers... which helped to round out the education of all."
* ... ACHIEVER: Hats off to Kimberly Jensen, a fourth grader at Endeavour Elementary who ended up third in the state in the California History Day competition. Kimberly participated in the Elementary 2-D division in the state competition.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Wild winds increase changes of contracting Valley Fever, and the SPCA launches its annual book sale to benefit local dog and cat rescue operations
* ... VALLEY FEVER: It's worth repeating: The next time we get those devilish winds like we had Sunday, stay inside. That's the warning from Dr. Raj Patel, co-owner of Preferred Family Physicians over on Truxtun Extension. Patel confirmed that yes, valley fever spores are airborne during these wind storms and it's prudent just to stay out of it. Further, he questioned whether bandanas and other masks will
guard against valley fever although they might help against certain allergies. And finally, he told me that it now appears that just because you have had valley fever before doesn't mean you can't contract it again. Patel said it takes two or three weeks after exposure to come up with symptons, and he is expecting to diagnose more valley fever cases in the coming weeks.
* ... SPCA: Don't forget that the big, annual SPCA book sale is under way now up on Mall View Road. It's hard to over appreciate what these volunteers do in our community, particularly with the explosion of stray dogs and cats who are being abandoned by their owners. If you have extra books to donate, or if you are looking for a summer read, make sure you stop by. It runs until May 25. And if you have time to help work the sale, I am sure they will put you to work.
* ... FRAMING: The Ice House Framing and Gallery has officially opened at its new location downtown after leaving its longtime home at the Ice House. The new digs are located on 19th Street in the heart of the arts district. It's good to see downtown benefiting from another well run, locally owned business. The business is owned by Laurie and Dr. Javier Bustamante.
* ... BAD FORM: File this under the "really" bad form department compliments of reader Walter E. Stewart: "I witnessed a waitress sneeze into the palm of her hand, wipe her nose with the back of her finger, then deliver a check to a customer. Did she take time to wash her hands? No. Did she continue serving customer? Yes."
* ... OVERHEARD: My poor man's barometer on the economy starts with a conversation with Dean Farnsworth, one of the best handymen in town who works with a lot of Realtors on last minute, escrow-mandated repairs. Houses are selling, Dean says, and his business is looking up. "Mary (Watson agent Mary Christenson) closed three houses in one week so I am staying busy! It's a lot better than it was this time last year."
* ... TWILIGHT: Congratulations to the folks over at Twilight Rotary Club which is approaching its fifth anniversary. In that short time the club has helped numerous local non profits, including Relay for Life, the SPCA Book Sale, Flood Ministries and Covenant Community Services just to name a few.
* ... STUDENT: And here's to 15-year-old Emily Bloom, a 10th grader at Bakersfield High School who has been accepted to UC San Diego's summer engineering program for high achieving kids. Proud mother Karen Bloom characterized her daughter as "our shining light" amid challenging times.
* ... FOX: If you are looking for something special for mom this weekend, you might consider a special "Girls Day Out" sponsored by the Fox Theater and Dignity Health this Saturday. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. with a health fair and block party, followed by a fashion show by Fashionista at noon, and a showing of The Princess Bride at 12:20 p.m. The first 200 mothers will be presented with a rose from a Bakersfield firefighter. Admission is just $1 and popcorn and sodas also $1 each.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
McCarthy: California's increasingly unfriendly business and regulatory climate will drive out our best businesses
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:
"Kern County is home to immensely talented individuals, something we have seen play out over the past couple weeks in the news, both nationally and internationally.
"This week, we saw Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo successfully ignite its rocket motor for the first time and break the sound barrier in 16 seconds. I called and spoke to Sir Richard Branson that day,
"These achievements do not happen by accident; it’s the ingenuity of these individuals that make these visionary dreams possible. Here in Kern County, we embody this notion. Whether it be cutting-edge aerospace technology, traditional or non-traditional energy development or innovative solutions for water and agriculture production, we have a history of working hard with what we have to solve tough problems – and making groundbreaking achievements while we are at it.
"However, I am seriously concerned that because of California’s increasingly unfriendly business and regulatory climate, other states around the nation will offer better incentives and opportunities for these companies to relocate this burgeoning industry. The commercial spaceflight industry has already had a significant and tangible impact on California’s economy, and this week’s successful launch marks one giant step forward – and it’s all happening right here in our own backyard. I will continue fighting for commonsense legislation that will encourage stability and growth in this new industry and others.
"Beyond spaceflight, we saw two great athletic accomplishments from Bakersfield natives this week as well. Kevin Harvick earned his first win of the season at the Sprint Cup Series and his 20th career victory when he raced past his competitors in chaotic traffic to finish first after the final restart. In addition, congratulations to Bakersfield High School graduate Philip Thomas, who was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the 4th round of the NFL draft, the first player from Bakersfield to be drafted since Ryan Mathews. As a former Driller, it’s great to see another Driller achieve his dream. I look forward to watching a Redskin game with my son Connor and seeing Philip play.
"Finally, I want to congratulate the Arvin High School “We the People” team who competed in the national competition in Washington, D.C. All their hard work paid off as they finished in the top 15 across the country and was the first place team in the Western Region.
"As a community, we should all be proud of these accomplishments and proud to call Kern County our home.