Saturday, March 13, 2010

Good news in the local used car sales and another scam hits the Bakersfield housing market

* ... GOOD NEWS: I dropped by the impressive new showroom at Motor City Lexus Saturday afternoon for Coldwell Banker's 2nd Annual Wine Tasting and Auction to benefit the American Cancer Society. More than 400 folks showed up to enjoy tastings from 25 California wineries and support the fight against this dreaded disease, which took my own mother. While there, Motor City general manager John Pitre told me the entire Motor City group (Buick, GMC, Lexus) set a record for used car sales in February, up more than 30 percent over the previous high. That's an all-time record, reflecting what may be a pent up demand for quality used cars in the 2007-2009 range. We take the good news when it comes.

* ... RENTAL SCAM: As if selling a house weren't hard enough these days, a new scam is making the rounds. This one starts with someone pulling a picture of your house off a Realtor web site and then posting it "for rent" on the free classified site Craigslist. If someone is naive enough, they will pay a deposit to this "renter" and happily get ready to move in - all without the knowledge of the homeowner who is simply trying to sell her house. I'm aware of this scam because it happened to my wife and me. Three times prospective "renters" showed up at our front door, one pair peering through the window like a pair of peeping Toms, checking out the "rental." Realtors say this is happening all over town, from Seven Oaks to the Northeast. These scammers could be from anywhere, from Lagos, Nigeria to across town. So if your house if for sale, stay on your guard and expect the occasional surprise guest.

 * ... PROUD MOTHER: Shirley Strickler is a registered nurse at Kern Medical Center and an understandably proud mother of four girls, three of whom went off to school and didn't return. All Highland High graduates, they include Christina Strickler Clayton, a UC Santa Barbara graduate now living in Carpenteria; Natalie Strickler, a San Diego State graduate now in San Francisco, and Leslie Strickler, another UCSB Gaucho who is living in San Diego. "They have had wonderful worldwide adventures and are great women, open minded and aware - they have taught me much about lifelong growth and learning," their mother said.  "My husband Fred is a Bakersfield native who has four daughters, four sisters and three granddaughters. Is he one lucky guy or what?" Amen.

 * .... CASA GRADS: The largest class ever of volunteers for the Court Appointed Special Advocates graduated last week. These are the folks who work with the courts in cases involving minor children, and they do an awful lot of good in the areas of our community that have the greatest need. Kate Kenny is the volunteer recruiter coordinator and said there were 39 people in the class, all sworn in before Judge Jon Stuebbe. She said all were "excited about taking a case and making a difference in the life of an abused, abandoned or neglected child in Kern County." Hats off to this group.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISMS: This one came from my friend Rachel Legan, morning host at KGFM 101.5 FM radio: "You know you're from Bakersfield when you spot wedding parties having their pictures taken in front of the rocks and water fountains at a mini-storage."

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