Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Padre makes a comeback, more kids coming home and the Foundation launches a CEO search


* ... THE MAGNIFICENT PADRE: For those of us who work downtown, bringing the old Padre Hotel back to its glory days has always been a dream. Old timers recall a time when the Padre was the belle of the ball, a magnificent and elegant venue that was virtually unrivaled in our community. Now that it is being renovated, we're all hoping for a return to the glory days. The other day I got a peek inside as workers were finishing up the lobby. It is stunning. The walls are a deep crimson with hints of maroon, silver-tinned high ceilings, rich dark wood with a long bar at the back. The developers and new head of catering Steve Uricchio promise the Padre will have a grand opening at the end of the year. It looks like it will be worth waiting for.

 * ... COMING HOME AND GIVING THANKS: Some more names came my way of local kids who went off to school and eventually decided to call Bakersfield home.  Dr. Mark Schamblin graduated from Highland High School and went on to Pepperdine, St. Louis University and UC Irvine and is now a sports medicine orthopedist with Southern California Orthopedic Institute. Also graduating from Highland was Dr. Jill Schamblin Petrini, a Cal State Fresno bulldog who is now a speech pathologist at Laurelglen Elementary. And finally there is Dr. James Cusator, yet another Highland grad, who went on to Temple University in Pennsylvania and is now a radiologist with Quest Imaging. My thanks to local resident Jean Schamblin for passing along this information.

 * ... FOUNDATION SEARCH: It looks like the Kern Community Foundation hopes to have a new CEO identified in early January. At least that's the word from Judi McCarthy, acting CEO and a founding organizer. McCarthy has been playing that role (all unpaid as a volunteer)  since things didn't work out with former CEO Fred Drew. Nobody is talking  about the circumstances under which Drew left the job. The Foundation Board has now "reopened the search" and is working with a professional search firm with a specialty in community foundations. I am told the candidates include people who live both here and outside the community but there is no "inside" preferred candidate. This is an important job for a Foundation that is playing an increasingly important role in our community. In the last 10 years, it has handed out $5.5 million in grants. If an offer is made in January, the new CEO will be coming on board in February depending on if there is a move involved. More on this as it develops.

 * ... OLIVIA GARCIA RECOGNIZED: I couldn't be prouder of my colleague Olivia Garcia, the Californian's vice president of content, who has been honored as one of the "Luminarias of HOPE" for 2010. The Luminarias are women that represent the spirit of Latina leadership in their communities by guiding positive change toward parity for all. They will be honored at HOPE's 20th Anniversary Dinner along with Spirit of Hope Honoree U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios and Ray of HOPE Honoree Alliance for a Better Community. In addition to Olivia, the Luminarias are: Nellie Andrade, Past President of MANA de San Diego, Teresa Alvarado, Co-Founder of Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley, and Ofelia Valdez-Yeager, Co-Chair of Latina Women's Forum of Riverside County. Olivia is married to Julio Garcia, a sheriff's deputy, and they have four boys: Diego, Mateo, Joaquin and Cruz.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

McCarthy: Obama stimulus plan failed to create jobs; jobless rate soars in Kern County

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) checks in from Capitol Hill with his weekend report. In his words:

 "I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with their loved ones, and if you venture out to the stores on Friday, I hope you are able to find what you were looking for at a good price. As we all give thanks this week, I am thankful for my family, our veterans, those who defend our country in uniform, and for our amazing community. 
"On Monday, I had a very productive meeting with some of our local veterans to discuss the growing number of troops returning home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  We talked about different methods to educate as well as to provide services to help out veterans deal with PTSD and TBI.  Later, I met with local farmers to further discuss how we can turn the water pumps back on to nourish our local economy.  I also spoke with Ralph Bailey as well as visited KERO and KGET to discuss the terrible ramifications of Speaker Pelosi’s government takeover of healthcare, and the need for policies that spend less and create more jobs. 
 "Regarding Afghanistan, the media reported the President is expected to announce next Tuesday his plan to deploy an additional 35,000 troops.  The President has finally made his decision and says that he intends “to finish the job.” I hope General McChrystal will be allowed to testify before Congress to ensure our troops have the resources they need. 
 "Last Friday, California’s October unemployment numbers were released - California was at 12.5%, an alarming 2% more than the national average.  In February, the White House predicted the 22nd district would grow over 8,000 jobs because of the stimulus.  It’s November and Kern County has a 14.5% unemployment rate, and our small businesses and families are struggling.  It’s clear that the bailouts have not worked. While the President has indicated he plans to host a jobs summit next week, I hope he finally embraces the ideas my colleagues and I proposed in January focusing on small businesses to fuel the economic engine that creates over seventy percent of all American jobs
As Christmas nears and everyone’s schedule gets a little bit busier, I hope we can all get a chance to help those less fortunate and support our troops.  Our local Marine Corps Reserve Training Center is collecting “Toys for Tots” for disadvantaged children - check their website for more information:  You can also visit my website to find other opportunities to support our troops during this holiday season under the Spot Light section at
Enjoy those big games this weekend! We are going to push back the Fox News Sunday interview to another weekend. I will let you know when it is set.  And last, I hope some of you will come by and say hello at the annual Lake Isabella Christmas Parade this Saturday.

Lou and Sheryl and Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and 18 friends ...

  Longtime Bakersfield residents Lou and Sheryl Barbich are spending this Thanksgiving in New York City along with "eighteen of their closest friends," according to Sheryl. Here are a couple pictures of the lucky couple in the area where the balloons are being prepared for tomorrow's parade.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving: a time for reflection, smiles and giving thanks for what really matters


 * ... GIVING THANKS: This is the time of year when Bakersfield is at its best: our short fall and the changing of the leaves brightens our parks, the days are crisp and we've yet to enter Bako's "nuclear winter" when the days are marked by gray skies, fog and bitter cold. And  it's also the time when  families gather for Thanksgiving and all the college kids come home and bring smiles to our lives. I spent some time this week with young Sam Brandon, son of dear friends and now a junior at University of Colorado at Boulder. (He is the son of Esther and Rogers Brandon) Sam was full of confidence and college swagger and was eager to reunite with his pals who are spread out across the country. I am always amazed at how quickly these kids grow up after a just few years away. Wednesday night, on the eve of  Thanksgiving, you can expect the annual pilgrimage of these kids (particularly those who graduated from Garces Memorial and Bakersfield High School) to Woolgrower's and on Friday and Saturday, you'll see them all reconnecting at Luigi's restaurant.

* ... THANKSGIVING PIE RUN: One of the great Bakersfield traditions is the annual Thanksgiving morning "Pie Run." At the crack of dawn every Thanksgiving hundreds of local runners, cyclists and walkers (with their dogs of course) show up at Hart Park for a chilly morning jog in the hills overlooking the park. Everyone brings a dessert (usually a pie but also doughnuts, coffee cakes etc) which are all eaten after the folks descend from the hills. Retired insurance manager John Rous, himself a veteran of many bike rides and a few marathons, is credited with being one of the founders of the event. John's son is David Rous, a principal in Glinn and Giordano Physical Therapy and himself an accomplished competitive cyclist. The Pie Run is a terrific way to start the holiday, see old friends, kids home from college and yes - all those beloved pets. Starts at 6 a.m. at Hart Park. Look for the bonfire.

 * ... I GIVE THANKS: There is a lot of be thankful for this time of year, even with a deepening recession, record high unemployment and stress at many levels. My top five list goes like this:
  1) I am thankful to have a job, and to work for an employer who provides top flight health insurance that has kept my family healthy.
  2) I am thankful for the unconditional love and support of close friends in a time of great tension.
  3)  I am thankful for my two daughters who - despite being knuckleheads from time to time - make me proud every day.
  4) I am thankful to live in a community with so many good people who inspire me every day, people like Dan Hay at Jim Burke Ford who forever has a smile and dismisses this recession as "merely a test."
 5) And I am thankful to live in a country and a community that show such great resilience and generosity in the face of historic challenges.

* ... SEASONAL GIVING: I came across a wonderful website that allows you to search and pick and choose your favorite charity from literally tens of thousands of non-profits. It is called "Just Give" and can be found at Go to the website, put in a local zip code and up pops hundreds of Bakersfield non-profits with an explanation of what they do and who they serve. The website allows for credit card transactions, making giving in the holidays all that much easier.

 * ... MEA CULPA: I committed an error the other day in talking about Dustin Kilpatrick, one of the local kids who went to USC and came home to Bakersfield to work. Dustin's parents, Dave and Danielle Kilpatrick, both graduated from USC as did his brother Daniel. I implied the parents graduated from Garces, which is in error.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yet more local kids who came home to Bako and Mercy Hospital prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary

 * ... A FEW MORE WHO CAME HOME: I received some nice followup emails from folks reminding me of yet more local kids who went away to college but decided to come home to Bakersfield. This is an ongoing debate in our community as we struggle to provide the kinds of rich and diverse job opportunities that attract young people. Darlyn Baker, co-owner of Interim HealthCare, put on her proud mother hat to tell me her son Bryon graduated from Dartmouth College in 1996 and returned to join the family business. Her daughter, Heather, attended Cal State Bakersfield and graduated from UC Riverside (PhD in statistics), worked in San Diego and is now a stay at home mom here in town. Heather's husband, Kevin Crosby, is another local product who got his master's degree from Chapman University in Orange County and is now teaching at the Sunset school in Lamont. All three are Highland High graduates. And finally, there is Dustin Kilpatrick, son of independent oil consultant Dave Kilpatrick and wife Danielle, who is working at a local engineering firm after graduating from USC. Dustin comes from a USC family. His parents are Trojans as is his brother Daniel.

 * ... CSUB GIVES UCLA A RUN: What a thrill is was to see the Cal State men's basketball team take on UCLA at Pauley Pavilion on regional television Friday night (Fox Sports West). As expected they lost, but not before giving the Bruins a run in the first half. CSUB's move to Division 1 athletic status has not come without opposition, but it's hard to deny that this kind of exposure helps by putting the school on a national stage.

 * ... JUNIOR LEAGUE FUND RAISER: Had a chance to stop by "Wine Fest"Saturday night, the big Junior League fund raiser held each year at the Kern County Fairgrounds. This was another sold out evening, some 750 tickets and featuring 22 wineries and 18 local restaurants along with a silent auction. Tracy Walker Kiser, owner of H. Walker's men's clothing and a Junior League officer, told me the group raises about $100,000 each that it passes along to local charities. Other Junior League officers working the room included Katie Kirschenmann, Penny Rafferty, Lydia Rowles and Melissa Grayhek among others.

* ... MERCY CELEBRATES A BIRTHDAY:  I heard from Stephanie Weber that Mercy Hospital is preparing for its 100th anniversary next February 19th. Stephanie is executive director of the Friends of Mercy Foundation and says the year-long celebration will feature stories about the hospital's role in our community. In her words:

 "It was on that date in 1910 that four Sisters of Mercy from the Los Angeles order boarded a train and traveled to Bakersfield to take over the administration of the St. Clair Hospital; a private residence that had been converted to a 25-bed hospital.  The four sisters were hesitant to come, but when they got here they were warmly welcomed by the pastor of St. Francis Church and several parishioners.  They quickly became immersed in the community and it was a wealthy parishioner that gave them $41,000 to construct what would become a new hospital, named Mercy Hospital – on the site where our current Truxtun campus currently resides.  And, the Sisters of Mercy also started the school at St. Francis that same year, so Mercy and St. Francis School both turn 100 in 2010."