Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kern County women in peril and the economy continues to struggle ...

* ... WOMEN IN PERIL: The two most depressing news stories in The Californian this week had to be the Northwest Promenade rape trail and the report that Kern County leads the state in teenage pregnancies and births. The first involved the guilty verdict in the trial of Anthony Ray Graham Jr., convicted of a bold and horrific abduction and rape of a woman in broad daylight outside the Babies 'R' Us store on Rosedale Highway, one of our community's most prominent shopping venues. The idea that predators like this roam the streets of our community is terrifying enough, but it is particularly chilling to those of us with daughters. (read Jason Kotowski's full report here) Kudos to prosecutor Lisa Green for bringing a measure of justice to the victim and her family. And then there was Steven Mayer's story on Kern County having the highest teen birth rate in California, even while the statewide rate has dropped. (read his story here) This is our collective shame and you can't help but worry about the state of our young women. This is yet another reason why the work of groups like the Women and Girl's Fund of the Kern Community Foundation is so important.

 * ... ECONOMIC INDICATOR: One place I look for indications of an economic recovery is in company hiring, which has been in a funk for the past couple years. Kern County's jobless rate is near 16 percent and the business people I know have hunkered down for a long, slow recovery. Riley Parker is one person who has a finger on the pulse of hiring, since his company (Parker and Associates) does background screening of potential new employees for companies. Parker told me that part of his business has been steady this year - not great - yet another indicator of general sluggishness. But another part of his business is "booming," he said. "We have had a real surge in real estate fraud cases ... A new twist is in the number of 'intellectual property' cases that are being referred... Some displaced workers are deciding to use the proprietary information gleaned from their former employers to become entrepreneurs."

 * ... GAUCHO WORLD: Retired Kern County School superintendent Larry Reider told me to add his longtime wife Sandy to the list of local folks who hail from UC Santa Barbara. Sandy spent 33 years teaching in Arvin and Fruitvale, and according to Larry was such a diligent student at UCSB that "she was upset she couldn't get to classes when they closed the campus after they burned the Bank of America building during the Isla Vista riots!" I'll take Larry at his word, but I also know that nearly every day is a "riot" of sorts on Isla Vista.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISMS: You know you're from Bakersfield when "Instead of people thinking you're rich for having leather seats, they think you're stupid." And you also know you're from Bakersfield when you have to "explain to someone what Beach Park is all about."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's Beach Park all about?