Saturday, April 4, 2009

Lakeside School alumni circa 1976 reconnect

Yet more evidence of the mainstreaming of social networking sites like Facebook. I'm out in extreme west Kern County today, shooting competition skeet and eating barbeque, among people who would never be mistaken for being technologically savvy, when a colleague casually mentions she used Facebook to create a "group" devoted to alumni of Lakeside School over off Old River Road. The site has been up less than two months and dozens have joined, posting pictures and reconnecting. There's the swim team, the 4H Club, class outings etc. More evidence of the mainstreaming of social networking that never ceases to impress me. Check out the Lakeside group here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kevin McCarthy: My weekly report from the Hill

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, shared some good news in this week's "Report from the Hill." As usual, he is heading back to the district for the weekend. In His words:

"Good news regarding the Bakersfield Federal Courthouse. Working with Congressman Jim Costa, the Bakersfield Federal Courthouse project cleared a major hurdle Tuesday night by receiving the necessary funding to proceed with construction. With the caseload and back load of court cases that exist, this project is important to our community. For over a year and a half, I have been trying to cut the red tape of our bureaucracy and instill some common-sense related to hurdles imposed on us relating to this courthouse. We are moving forward and I will continue to work with our community to ensure that this courthouse becomes reality.

"The federal budget debate was intense this week and the budget that passed will chart the course of our country for years to come. I worked with my colleagues on a budget that focused on job creation, and brought down spending because the $9 trillion in additional debt proposed by the Democratic House budget proposal will mortgage the futures of our children and grandchildren. We cannot afford to continue on this path of borrowing and spending that will have to be paid for not by us, but by future generations. Unfortunately, our budget proposal did not pass, and the budget that did pass last night would double our national debt in the next eight years (and beginning in 2012, and every year thereafter, the government will spend more than $1 billion a day just to pay interest on our debt). Even with the passage of this budget, I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House to fight for common-sense fiscal accountability.

"I also wanted to catch everyone up a bit on last Friday’s unveiling of my WIND Energy Act in Tehachapi. The goal of this bill is to create a stable business climate to allow for more and continued investment in clean renewable wind energy by extending the production tax credit (PTC) for the next decade. Additionally, it will create green jobs in an economy that definitely needs more jobs and clean renewable energy development. I believe Congress needs to act now to take action to create a climate for stable wind energy development and other renewables.

"Also, I wanted to let everyone know that I am accepting internship applications for my summer internship program. I got my start as an intern for Congressman Bill Thomas, and I encourage those who have an interest in local or national events to check this opportunity out. Applicants must be of junior standing in college and have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students would spend two weeks working in our local office in Bakersfield and then will work for four weeks in my Washington DC office. To apply, students should visit my website ( or call my district office in Bakersfield at (661) 327-3611.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

You know you're from Bakersfield when ...

I ran across a group formed on Facebook dedicated to the quirkiness that is Bakersfield. Some of this stuff is hilarious and some of it is off color, but it's all in good fun. For the full list check it out here, but here are a few excerpts:

"A tribute to the quaint town of Bakersfield, California... loved by some and despised by most.

1) You will park a mile away from the entrance just to have your car parked under a tree.

2) You laugh when people complain about 95 degree weather.

3) When you go out of town and see a sign saying "Union Ave" you expect to see a hooker.

4) Rosedale is a world all its own.

5) You remember the TWO times in the last 25 years that it snowed in Bakersfield, and you remember everything you did that snow day.

6) Everyone always says they're going to leave, but you know that if you try, you get sucked right back in.

7) You know Trouts, and were not talking about the fish.

8) One of your friends owns a house on a spot where you had field parties in high school.

9) You know if you're not a Luigi's at exactly 10:30 Saturday morning you're not getting a steak sandwich.

10) You think a red light is just a suggestion.

11) You know a swamp cooler is not a happy hour drink.

12) You realize that Valley Fever isn't a disco dance.

13) You have to "explain" to someone about Beach Park.

14) Someone from out of town talks about how foggy it is and you tell them, "Just wait."

15) You no longer associate bridges or rivers with water.

New Veterinary Hospital wins national design award

Had a chance to chat with an old friend last night, Dr. Paul Ulrich, who was absolutely giddy with the news that his new veterinary clinic (check out his website here) won a prestigious national design award. Paul owns Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital over on Harris Road right off Gosford behind Sam's Club. I've had a chance to tour the place and it looks like a mini hospital with operating rooms, kennels and even a "pet library." It's absolutely gorgeous, which is one of the reasons it received a 2009 Hospital Design Competition Merit Award for Excellence in the 44th annual Veterinary Economics Hospital Design Competition. Paul has both a small and large animal clinic and has been a mainstay veterinarian in Bakersfield for years.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Meg Whitman hits town to court business leaders

Heard this afternoon that Meg Whitman, the former eBay president who is considering a run for governor, slipped quietly into Bakersfield today for a luncheon with local business leaders at the estate of Barbara Grimm-Marshall. The luncheon featured about 30 business leaders and was not a fund raiser but rather was billed as a "get to know you" session with Whitman. I'm told Whitman talked about the need for education and budgetary reform in California and floated the idea - to applause - that we need to return to a part-time legislature. She also mentioned that if she runs as a Republican (check out her website here) she will make effective use of technology, like President Obama, to extend her campaign. Among those attending were Realtor Ray and Lisa Karpe, Bob Stine (president & CEO of Tejon Ranch) and wife Betty, Brent Dezember (president of Structurecast) and wife Anna, retired banker Ray Dezember and wife Joan, Castle and Cooke CEO Bruce Freeman and wife Monica, farmer Pete Pankey, retired Kern High School District trustee Bob Hampton, Joe Colombo, Greg Bynum, Grimmway's Jeff and Amy Meger, Sean McNally and former Aera Energy CEO Gene Voiland. Grimm-Marshall, one of the primary owners of Grimmway Farms, the largest carrot producer in the world, has been busy on the political scene. Last weekend she hosted a fund raiser for Lisa Green, running to replace Ed Jagels as Kern County District Attorney.

Lisa Green gets a boost from the Grimm family

Lisa Green's campaign to replace Ed Jagels as the next Kern County District Attorney is beginning to look like a juggernaut. The longtime deputy D.A. has been relentlessly campaigning for a full year now, since she made it clear before a downtown Rotary Club audience that she was in it to stay. Not only does she have the blessings of Jagels, but she's been busy lining up well-heeled followers. Over the weekend, I am told her campaign raised some $20,000 when carrot family doyenne Barbara Grimm-Marshall (owner, Grimmway Farms, the world's largest carrot producer) and sister-in-law Kari Grimm hosted a fund-raiser for Green at the Metro Galleries in downtown Bakersfield. Of course, it never hurts that Green's husband, Jeff Green, is chief legal counsel for the carrot company. Green's lone opponent at this point is former prosecutor Bob Barton, who served as a prosecutor from 1988 to 2005.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gottschalks to liquidate: what's left besides the big box retailers?

Have to be more than a little sad at the passing of Gottschalks, the Fresno-based department store that announced today it will close. This is a 100-year-old business that has been part of Bakersfield's business fabric for years. Yes, we all saw it coming as the big box stores like Wal-Mart edge out retailers big and small, and it joins a long list of casualties in this economic climate: Circuit City, Linens 'n Things, Mervyn's to name a few. You have to wonder what will happen to the huge Gottschalks locations at Valley Plaza and East Hills Mall. It looks like the liquidation will happen soon and in another couple months, this institution will be gone forever. You have to put hope in the emergence of vital new areas of retail, like parts of downtown, to offset this disturbing trend.

Metro Galleries promises a "Red Hot" Friday night

I've written before about the success of the First Friday event downtown (previous post here)and Don Martin over at Metro Galleries says this week's event should be a good one. First of all, it's spring and the weather is spectacular so the emerging downtown "arts district" should show off well. Second, Martin says his new show opening is stunning, as evidenced by the art shown here. Says Don on his Facebook page promoting the show:

"Please join us on First Friday April 3 for the opening reception of "Red, Hot & Random". Monotypes and etchings by Tina Niswonger. We will also be displaying some of Tina's recent jewelry designs. Live music, wine, hors d' ouerves. Come meet Tina and enjoy a night Downtown!"

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ford gets some love from consumers while the first Fusion hybrid sells at Jim Burke Ford

Ford got some good news today when CNBC reported that consumers are increasingly seeing Ford as the car maker of choice as GM and Chrysler continue to struggle. (When asked what brand they might purchase, Ford was up 12 percent while GM was down 12 percent and Chrysler down 38 percent) Why? Consumers love the fact that Ford rejected any government bailout money and they like the path Ford is on in bringing out hybrid cars. Dan Hay, owner over at Jim Burke Ford, told me sales have inched up in the past week. Said Dan:

"We had one of our PUBLIC NOTICE used car sales. It did as well as ever (and) the new vehicle business was good over the weekend, which is unusual on a used car promotion weekend. I don't think the (upcoming increase in the) sales tax has had that much effect. Ford is really going in the right direction and the company and the people are very focused on the execution of their One Ford plan."

Dan went on to say that the dealership received its first 2010 Fusion hybrid (pictured) on Friday and sold it on Sunday. And, Dan added, the buyer had been comparing it with a Camry, Toyota's juggernaut best seller. None of this means we are out of the woods yet, but there seems to be some stirrings that the economy wants to recover. If home sales bottom and cars start to move, we will be on our way.

"Hey Kevin don't forget to support the ..."

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) tries to come home every weekend and spends all day Saturday and Sunday "in the district." That means attending every charity walk, fund raiser and dedication and like all good pols, he does it with a smile on his face. Everybody professes to love Kevin, but the truth is everyone wants a piece of Kevin for his or her own special interest. And everyone has advice for him, and they aren't afraid to share it. Here's a sampling of what the congressman hears when he's "in district." Following are excerpts of messages left to Kevin on Facebook when he noted on his FB page he was "traveling to D.C. today."

* "Please mention educational reform."

* "Also keep our deserts open for solar development."

* "Godspeed ... and don't forget the $$ for autism research!"

* "Don't forget to support the National Women's History Museum.

* "Tort reform ... talked about and never furthered."

* "Thank you for taking the time this weekend to attend the M.S. walk."

* "Didn't know about the autism research funding ... thank you for that ...You may have to set the done on that one. The president was so sloppy with his Special Olypmics remark."

* "Come on guys, let him have a day off, for crying out loud!"

That's the congressman in the picture attending the Saturday MS Walk at Yokuts Park. Photo courtesy of his Facebook page.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A son's visit home and dreams of Boulder, Berkeley, Austin and Ann Arbor

Had a nice chance this weekend to catch up with Sam Brandon. He's the son of a friend, Garces grad now a sophomore at University of Colorado at Boulder and home for spring break. For most kids away at school that means lunch at Luigis, seeing old friends and lunch somewhere else. Sam is a charmer, at ease with everyone (this photo with unnamed coed - holding the standard issue red plastic cup - captures his personality)and he's found his home at Colorado. He is no longer "at Boulder" but he is now "of Boulder." And thanks to his parents and the gift of tuition, he will forever be "of Boulder" for the rest of his life. Which reminds me: this is the week when high school seniors all over Bakersfield learn if they got into the school of their choice. All those letters (envelope size if they are rejected, nice and large and fat if they get it) start arriving. The really selective schools (UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC) are always last to come in. It's a tense time for child and parent, and I hope to share some of the good news here as it develops.