Saturday, February 27, 2010

CASA puts on its annual fund raiser and remembering the 1970 student riots at UC Santa Barbara

* ... CASA GALA: One of the biggest social events of the weekend was held Friday when the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Kern County (CASA) held its annual fund raiser at the Moorea Banquet Centre off Harris Road. I'm always encouraged when the community turns out in mass to support  non-profits like CASA, and this event was no exception. CASA director Colleen McGauley told me they had 330 folks there, all bidding on silent and live auctions and dining on some excellent food and wine. There's not enough room here to note all the donors and supporters who were there, but among those I spotted included Bill and Whitney Rector, Steve and Nancy Sewell, Pat and Robin Paggi, David Coffey, John and Susie Falgatter, David and Catherine Gay, Pat and Roger Christy, Dan and Mikie Hay, John and Sonja Bush, Twila Klassen and Dave Urner, Joe and Jan Drew and Ernie and Shelly Phoenix, among others.

 * ... MORE GAUCHOS: Reader Joan Knowlden wrote to say that her husband, John Schumacher, was a student at UC Santa Barbara during the infamous student riots of 1970 when a branch of the Bank of America was burned. She said her husband "was walking home from school and walked into the bank after the doors were off. He looked around and thought 'this is probably not a good place to be if the cops come' and left the building." Schumacher and his sister, Mary King (valedictorian at Garces Memorial High in 1969), both graduated from UCSB and returned to Bakersfield, where they both now teach at Lakeside Junior High School. Thanks for writing Joan. By the way, Joan is an alum of Cal State Bakersfield.

 * ... GAUCHOS VERSUS ROADRUNNERS: Speaking of UC Santa Barbara, one alum reminded me that the Lady Gauchos will play the Cal State Bakersfield women at the Icardo Center next Saturday, March 6, at 5 p.m.

   * ... LA BOHEME: I heard from Ron Gallington that his son Aaron, a junior at Pepperdine University, is performing the lead role of Rodolphe in Puccini's LA Boheme at the university. Last summer Pepperdine sent Aaron and co-star Carolina Uribe to Heidelberg, Germany, for two months to study for the role and perform in Germany, Austria and Italy. Aaron is a theater and music major at Pepperdine and is a 2007 graduate of Liberty High School, where his proud father said he thrived "under the tutelage of his instructors Mr. Ware and Mr. Mac."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISMS: You know you're from Bakersfield when "you have debated the merits of skiing at Lake Ming versus Buena Vista," and "the best restaurants in town serve pickled tongue!"

McCarthy: uncontrolled spending and borrowing leads to record deficits; It must end now

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy submits his weekly report to BakersfieldObserved. In his own words:

 "Washington borrows 43 cents on every dollar, which is $43 on every $100, $43,000 on every $100,000, and more then you want to know on every billion.  This kind of unbalanced borrowing creates record problems, like record deficits and debt at a time of record high unemployment in California.  That is why my colleagues and I held several meetings this week to analyze the President’s proposed Fiscal Year 2011 budget. Guess what we found?  Not the cuts we hoped for, but instead a one way ticket to deficit city with no money left to get back home to balance the budget.

 "In the next five years, the President’s budget would double our country’s national debt, which is now over $12,000,000,000,000. This is just the preliminary estimates as we have to fight continuously to control spending. For the fiscal health of our nation, and the future of our children, all this Washington spending needs to stop now.  On Thursday, at the President’s health care summit, my colleagues tried to drive this point home by emphasizing the cost of the Democrat health care plan.  No one disagrees that we need reform, but the over-2,000 page government takeover of health care bill that was crafted behind closed doors with sweetheart deals certain states and certain groups is not the answer.

 "Chairman Bernanke was also on the Hill this week for his semi-annual report to Congress on monetary policy.  I asked him questions regarding job creation in relation to international trade and the Administration’s budget.  Bernanke stated that 40% of unemployed Americans have now been out of work for over 6 months. In our conversation on job creation, I highlighted trade agreements as a way to boost exports of our local goods and create jobs.  He agreed. I followed up with a second question on the President’s budget and he indicated that there is a need to take action now to reduce our deficit to help our economy.  I couldn’t agree more.
 "On Wednesday evening, I conducted a tele-town hall for residents in Bakersfield from my D.C. office using technology that allows me to listen to our neighbors and hear their concerns while I am away working in Washington. During the town hall, we discussed issues ranging from health care to the water problems affecting our Valley.
 "I also conducted a short poll asking listeners if they thought the President should have called a jobs creation summit rather than a health care summit and  86% said they thought that our focus ought to be on job creation ideas. Just a quick reminder about the Jobs Fair Expo I am hosting on March 8th at the downtown Marriott in Bakersfield from 11am -2pm.  There is no need to RSVP, but if you need more info, please check my website:
 "On Sunday, I will be attending the Wounded Heroes Salute event in Bakersfield to honor our troops and thank them for their service.
 Hope to see you all there!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Former FDIC chairman leads investors group to buy banks his own agency closed

 This post is only relevant in regard to the hundreds of locally run banks that have been closed by regulators in recent years, including Bakersfield's San Joaquin Bank, shuttered last October. Without excusing any bank for making risky loans, there's a healthy debate about the cost (to taxpayers and local communities) of rushing to close so many of these community banks. Many, like San Joaquin, were deeply involved in supporting non profits on a very generous level. Now here comes Bloomberg News with an incredible story about how the former chairman of the FDIC, William Isaac, is leading a group of investors to purchase some of the very banks that his former agency is closing. All this is legal of course, but to me it screams of potential conflicts and calls into question a lot of practices. Here's the link to the full story. Be your own judge.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

UC Santa Barbara sweethearts and the Women and Girl's Fund goes prospecting


* ... UCSB SWEETHEARTS: Loved the email I received from Helen Troudy, who wondered if she and husband Chester (named after Chester Avenue, but that's another story) were the oldest living local graduates of  UC Santa Barbara in Bakersfield. In her words: "I graduated in l947 and my husband graduated in l950 as a returning veteran of WWII. It is where we met and were married at the beginning of his sophomore year. At that time the campus was located on the Riviera above the Mission in SB, and the Industrial Arts Dept. (my husband's major) was located across town on the Mesa. This caused many trips back and forth to attend classes on both campuses. I was a student in Spring l945 when SB was chartered by UC, and we had a huge celebration, including a torch light parade in the pouring rain. I worked on the campus during the time my husband was a student, and it was at that time that negotiations were underway to acquire the Marine Base at Goleta for a new campus. We came to Bakersfield in l973 when my husband accepted the position of Superintendent of Panama School District replacing Wayne Van Horn. I wonder if we are the oldest alumni in Bakersfield? We are 84 and 87 and have been married for 62 years." Wow. Who can beat that?
 * ... GIRL'S FUND: I dropped by the "Prospect Lounge" at the Padre Hotel the other night to attend a meeting of the Women and Girl's Fund, a group that does an awful lot of  good for young women in our community. The fund was created  in 2005 by Judi McCarthy, the current chair of the Kern Community Foundation, and now boasts an endowment north of $400,000. Judi and Girls' Fund chair Mary Bynum were "prospecting" for more supporters and announced the fund will give away $20,000 this year, focusing on physical, sexual and domestic safety. Among those attending were Jane Haupt, former Bakersfield mayor Mary K. Shell, Laura Wolfe, Ray and Joan Dezember, Ken and Teri Jones, Jack and Mary Lou Thompson, Judith Chase and Ted Tilbury, Jeanette Richardson, Danielle Kilpatrick, Bettina Belter, Lori Mariani and daughter-in-law Tanya Mariani, Laurie Bustamante, John and Sheila Lake, local Realtor Mary Christenson, Lyndia Krausgrill and Sylvia Cattani, among others.

 * ... SKEET SCHOLARSHIP: Congratulations to Dominic Buoni, a17-year-old senior at Bakersfield Christian  High School, who just landed a scholarship to shoot skeet at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. Dominic is the third Bakersfield youngster to head to Lindenwood to shoot skeet, joining All-American Brian Foley and Elizabeth Key, both Ridgeview High School graduates who are now Lindenwood freshman. The sheer number of high achieving youngsters in the shotgun sports from Bakersfield is impressive, and for some it's paying the cost of college. Dominic is the son of Frank and Lori Buoni and he has three shooting siblings, Darin, Joshua and little sister Jenna.

 * ... HOME EXPO: If you are thinking about buying or selling your home, you should attending the Home Buyer and Seller Expo Saturday at the downtown Bakersfield Marriott. There will be 40-plus vendors there, including folks from Castle and Cooke, Towery Homes, Michael Flooring, Coldwell Bank Preferred Realtors, Prudential Tobias Realtors and so many more. And one of the best things: it is absolutely free. The expo will run from 1 p.m. t 4 p.m.. Make sure to check it out.

 * ...  BAKERSFIELDISMS: You know you're from Bakersfield when "You know what an '08er' is and where the 'Dale is."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BakersfieldLife magazine features 11 inspiring women from Kern County

 Make sure to check out this weekend's BakersfieldLife magazine, which will feature some of the amazing women role models in our community. Among those being featured are former mayor Mary K. Shell (that's her on the cover), Sheryl Barbich, Judi McCarthy, Barbara Smith, Sheryl Chalupa, Diane Hopkins, Cathy Abernathy, Mikie Hay, Rosa Corona, Mary Christenson and Ginger Moorhouse. The magazine comes out Saturday inside the home-delivered Californian.


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."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Local housing market struggles to get back on its feet, while one local school serves up some healthy eating

* ... LOCAL HOUSING: I heard from a few local Realtors after I posted an update on the local housing market. My own personal Realtor of choice is the hard-working Mary Christenson of Watson-Touchstone (pictured). She reported good buyer activity and reduced inventory, especially in homes under $400,000. She also noted the first time tax buyer credit ends April 30th and "buyers need to get offers accepted now in order to close by that date. I've had very good closing activity for sales generated in December during the last five weeks-by the end of February I will have closed a full 50 percent of my entire sales volume for last year!" Meanwhile, fellow Watson Realtor Katy Glentzer took me to task for citing the online real estate sales website Zillow in reporting slow sales in other markets. "We are not singing the housing Blues in Bakersfield," she said. "For the past several months our prices have increased. Yes, inventory is down, thanks to the banks wising up. Is there anything wrong with supply and demand? They are releasing foreclosures at a slower pace and actually helping owners through the short sale process."  We'll keep an eye on the local market and my thanks to Mary and Katy for their input.

 * ... HEALTHY EATING: I received an interesting email from local writer Teresa Adamo about a new after school day-care snack at the Downtown School. Each child receives a bowl holding different fruit, all cut into chunks. The kids are each given a plastic glove to gather their chunks of choice, and a skewer for the creation of their fruit kabob. Said Teresa: "As you can imagine, it was a huge hit! I saw happy kids making second kabobs because they enjoyed the process so much, not to mention the ingredients! The fruit choices included: oranges, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon and kiwi. Of course, from a Mom's perspective, I saw the healthy value in this interactive snacking. With the alarming rates of childhood obesity -- not to mention the unknown, long-term affects & impact on health care -- this scene was at least a little reassuring." Someone from that school is thinking.

 * ... GAUCHO WORLD: I heard from two University of California at Santa Barbara graduates who wanted to give their alma mater a shout-out. Marciano Flores, activity director of the AVID program at East Bakersfield High School, wrote to say he was both a proud Gaucho and an East High Blade. Also weighing in was old friend and Gaucho grad Laura Wolfe, who is now working with the Arts Council of Kern after many years in development at Cal State Bakersfield.

* ... CAR CLUB DONATION: Hats off to the Bakersfield Car Club and its annual Super Cruise show that was held at the Kern County Fairgrounds. Club member Roy Romagno told me the club raised more than $10,000 to benefit the the Society for Disabled Children of Kern County. Always nice to see local folks pitching it to help others during a difficult year.

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Reader Bobbie Hulson offered this one. "You know you are from Bakersfield when even old people pick their parking spaces by how much shade there is, rather than how close they are to the door." And add this one: "Someone from out of town talks about how foggy it is and you tell them, 'just wait!'"