Sunday, February 7, 2010
Has downtown Bakersfield reached a "tipping point?" And should we be happy to be named a "drunk city?"
* ... OVER AT CASA MUNOZ: I stopped by Casa Munoz Mexican Restaurant located at Union Avenue and 18th Street on Saturday, not exactly downtown but a wonderful family eatery nonetheless. Julie Hernandez, the peppy and engaging daughter of owner Joe Munoz, says she too was jammed all weekend, particularly on Saturday when the restaurant was full of kids in their tuxedos and evening dresses headed to the winter formal at Garces Memorial High School. Both Julie and father Joe are Garces graduates and big-time supporters of the Catholic school located on the hill near Panorama Drive. Julie's youngest son Julian is a St. Francis School student and spends his weekends helping out at the restaurant, stopping by tables and charming the diners with his wit and charm..
* ... NEW HEAD COP: I had a chance to meet with newly installed Bakersfield City Police Chief Greg Williamson the other day in his Truxtun Avenue conference room. There's no doubt he has taken over at a critical time for the department, which like all city departments is facing an uncertainty over its budget. Williamson did say that he is hiring 17 new police officers funded with stimulus money and that combating gangs remains a high priority. The gang issue is one that is not going away.
* ... THE BUZZ: So now comes word that Bakersfield has been named one of the "drunkest" cities in America by Men's Health magazine. We have enough image problems already, and this comes on the heels of hearing that "The Biggest Loser" was in town last week rounding up our more obese local citizens to appear on the program. So now we're not only overweight, but drunks as well. At least we can take some comfort that Fresno was ranked the nation's drunkest city, and we were down at No. 10. (The top five were Fresno, Reno, Billings, MT., Riverside and Austin, TX.) The survey was based on DUI rates, alcohol related car accidents and other incidents. Click here to read the entire story.