Saturday, February 13, 2010
* ... REMEMBER CLINT OLIVIER? I received a nice call from local resident Janet Beckman who reports that her son in law, Clint Olivier, is running for the Fresno City Council. If that name sounds familiar, it's because Olivier was an on air reporter for KGET 17 here in Bakersfield before leaving for another TV station in Fresno. He married Beckman's daughter, West High and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate Alisha Gallon. Alisha works at the ABC affiliate in Fresno.
* ... PADRE OR PETROLEUM CLUB? The reopening of the old Padre Hotel downtown has been the talk of downtown this week, and it has all been well deserved. The crowds have been impressive and owner Brett Miller told me he could not be happier. Saturday night every available room was sold out and there were waiting lists for both rooms and the main ground floor restaurant. Meanwhile, I stopped by the Petroleum Club on Friday and chatted with operations manager Lili Marsh, who reported business has been steady and good. Lunch was busy and I spotted Congressman Kevin McCarthy, retired oilman Harley Pinson and others enjoying the view Meanwhile over at Uricchios Trattoria Saturday night, it also was sold out and standing room only. Good to see all these places doing well.
* ... BAKERSFIELDISMS: I've had several readers forward me an email full of hilarious 'Bakersfieldisms," so thought I would occasionally offer them up for a morning chuckle. For example, you know you are from Bakersfield when: "You realize that Valley Fever is not a disco dance" and "You think a red light is just a suggestion."
Thursday, February 11, 2010
* ... BAKO SEASON: In the debate over whether "Bako" is an appropriate nickname for our town, longtime local sports photographer John Harte reminded me that his parents live in Grover Beach, a popular destination for those of us in the Central Valley. "Over the years I've heard service industry employees say 'the Bakos are coming.' I've also heard a few refer to summertime as 'Bako season.' Never offended me. I got a kick out of it."
* ... RED CROSS: Speaking of jobs, I heard from my friend Scott Garrison that Lorraine Castro was no longer CEO of the Kern County Red Cross office. Apparently she is now working at Turning Point. Garrison is a member of the Kern Red Cross Board of Directors and said it is searching for a replacement.
The search for a new president and CEO of the Kern Community Foundation has ended with the selection of Jeffrey R. Pickering, a Florida native with long foundation experience. The KCF role was one of the most sought after in town, attracting a wide and deep range of candidates both locally and out of state. Judi McCarthy, acting CEO since Fred Drew left last October after less than a year on the job, led the search with the help of a professional head hunting firm. Pickering is a graduate of University of South Florida and holds a masters degree from the University of San Diego. From 2004-2008, he served as vice president for philanthropic services at the Community Foundation of Central Florida in Orlando. Pickering was raised in Winter Park, Fla. and has two children.Welcome him to the community.
Wonderful promotional video of the upcoming Amgen Tour of California, stage five from Visalia to Bakersfield. If you want to see what why Bakersfield is a cycling paradise, view this video.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
* ... OLAGUE'S RETURN: I had a chance to catch up over lunch the other day with Michael Olague, the longtime local banker who is now Senior Vice President and Senior Area Manager for Bank of the Sierra. Olague joined the bank in November and spent the first two months in Porterville - the bank is based there- learning the culture and mapping an aggressive strategy to position the bank as "the business bank of choice." I was surprised to learn that the bank, which has 25 offices scattered throughout the Central Valley, has $1.3 billion in total assets. Sierra has always had a quiet profile here, but my guess is that will change under Olague's more ambitious direction. Olague brings instant credibility and wide contacts to the bank, which enjoys more visibility and market share in places like Tulare County than it does locally. Previously Olague headed the local offices of Bank of America and Dutch-based Rabobank and worked at San Joaquin Bank.
* ... HOLD THE COCKTAILS: Sandi Schwartz, a member of East Rotary and secretary of the Plank Foundation, wrote to take issue with Men Health magazine's rating of Bakersfield as one of America's 'drunkest cities.' "I sent this article from Men's Health to my son Bryan Phillips who is Kern County raised, West Point grad, now living in Houston," she said. "He quickly defended Bakersfield stating that the article was unfair due to mass transit in large cities. Don't I have a brilliant son?" Indeed you do Sandi.
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.