Saturday, March 27, 2010

Joey Porter arrested on suspicion of DUI off Calloway Drive

 Local Bakersfield product and NFL player Joey Porter has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence off Calloway Drive and Hageman Road. Apparently California Highway Patrol officers said Porter resisted arrest and confronted an officer during the early morning incident. Read the full story in the Californian here. I'm always struck by folks who think it's okay to resist a police officer's commands. That's not recommended behavior.

Downtown cleanup: volunteers spruce up the arts district

 Don Martin, owner of Metro Galleries, coordinated a downtown clean up day in the art's district Saturday. Employees of Lightspeed Systems joined the effort, which was focused primarily on the downtown area. Pictures are courtesy of Don Martin.

McCarthy: we are mortgaging the future of our children

 The weekly update from Bakersfield Rep. Kevin McCarthy after a momentous week in Washington.

 "Being stuck in Washington for two straight weeks only fuels the realization that this place needs some adult supervision. Last Sunday, Speaker Pelosi finally rammed through Congress her health care bill, and on Tuesday the President signed this bill into law. This new legislation could increase health care premiums by 10 to 13 percent – or as much as $2,100 – for millions of Americans. This comes at a time when our federal FY10 deficit is 10.3 percent of the gross domestic product – a post World War II record when measured as a percentage of the economy.

 "This kind of spending is unsustainable, and a recent statement that this health care bill “represents the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history” reveals just how out-of-touch Washington has become. The last time I checked, a trillion dollar government takeover of heath care is not a tax cut, instead it is more like generational theft mortgaged on the backs of our children and grandchildren.

 "These new health care hypothetical “tax-cuts” will begin by imposing an estimated $569 billion in job-killing tax hikes on Americans and business. Additionally, this new system will be financed by cutting almost $500 billion from Medicare and diverting those funds to expand other government programs – like Medicaid – by hundreds of billions of dollars.   These estimated gains will come from enrolling more people
on CHIP and Medicaid at a time when both programs are already underfunded in many states.

 "As of today our national debt is $8.2 trillion, and as of Tuesday, with the addition of this new entitlement spending heath care takeover, our debt will increase by a minimum of $2 trillion over the next 10 years. On Wednesday, I traveled to see America’s debt first hand at the U.S. Treasury. I witnessed more than $31 billion in U.S. debt auctioned off to banks and foreign governments. This experience coupled with the news that in February, private companies sold two-year bonds with an interest rate lower that that on two year treasuries – which means that right now the market is telling us that private investment is a better credit risk than the United States government - was sobering and served as a vivid reminder of the extreme cost Washington’s out-of-touch policies create.  The saddest part about this is the consequences because by continuing to borrow and spend at this record pace, Washington is placing the future of our nation in the hands of the foreign governments.

" It doesn’t have to be this way. Just like you, I imagine a stronger America that gives our children more opportunity than we had. But to get there, we can’t continue to mortgage their future in an increasingly competitive world. Even in the short-term, this health care bill creates an enormous hurdle for our struggling economy to jump over to grow.  This bill will hurt job growth and increase our debt.  It is time to listen to the people, and I will work to replace the harmful provisions of this bill with the commonsense solutions that Americans agree on.

 "I will continue to take this message to our communities during the Easter District work period to continue a conversation with our local residents.  On a personal note, my son Connor and nephew Zac are living the five D's of dodgeball as they are competing in the Boys and Girls Club Dodgeball Tournament this weekend, which is always a good time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More troubling news on our housing market and the generosity of Norman Levan

 * ... HOUSING WOES: We got some more bad new on housing when the February numbers showed that sales of previously owned homes had dropped for the third straight month. Add to that more homes on the market and it's more evidence of an anemic market. On the other hand, it's a terrific time to buy a house. Prices have dropped dramatically (some local homes are going for half what they sold for a few years ago) and interest rates are near historic lows. So on some level, there may not be a better time to invest. There are terrific deals even in large cities that have been slammed with foreclosures. CNBC's list of the top ten cities to get a great deal on foreclosures (starting with No. 10 and counting down to the worst) San Francisco, Kansas City, Mo., Riverside, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Columbus, Ohio, Cincinnati and finally at No. 1, Pittsburgh.

* ... NORMAN LEVAN: One of our community's most generous benefactors is Dr. Norman Levan, a dermatologist and philanthropist who has given $6 million  each to Bakersfield College, University of Southern California, St. John's College in Santa Fe, N.M., and the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Last week, a wide circle of friends gathered at Bakersfield College to celebrate Levan's 94th birthday. His donations have been used to advance the humanities at all institutions and just last month the Levan Center for the Humanities opened at BC.

 * ... CRIME LAB: Lisa Green, the chief deputy district attorney who is running unopposed to succeed Ed Jagels as our new District Attorney, spoke at the downtown Rotary Thursday about the benefits of DNA testing and keeping the Kern Regional Crime Lab fully funded. It was DNA testing that led to the quick arrest of Anthony Ray Graham Jr. in the horrific "Babies R Us" rape case, which featured a kidnapping and rape in broad daylight. Green put everyone on notice that as DA she will fight to keep the lab funded.

 * ... SAYING THANKS: Reader Donna Rice wrote to tell me about the sudden death of her husband of 31 years. Her thoughts are powerful in their simplicity. In her words: "While a personally difficult burden to bear, the loss brought with it unforeseen comfort to me and my family. The support, help, thoughts and prayers of family, friends, colleagues, the professionals who assisted us and even complete strangers gave me and my family great comfort in the days that followed .... At a time when so much of the news we see and hear is negative, a personal tragedy such as this brought out the innate kindness of so many people in this city." Well said and thank you for sharing.

 * ... LONG COMMUTE: How would you like to commute from Bakersfield to Santa Monica? Well Carl Nicita has been doing just that for six long years, and he loves it. Carl and his wife Beverly have lived in the Southwest for 25 years and both their boys graduated from Ridgeview High School. Six years ago Carl left his job at the Kern County Fire Department and became a traffic officer with the Santa Monica police. He works 10-hour shifts and leases a rent-controlled apartment in Venice Beach just  minutes from work. How's the commute? "Actually I have been totally blessed and I have the absolute best of both worlds. I get to work and stay at the beach. And then I get to come back to Bakersfield and enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.  Believe me, being able to park in my own driveway and not having to worry about traffic is one of life's most simple pleasures!" Next step is looking toward retirement and Nicita says Bakersfield is looking good.
 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know  you're from Bakersfield when: "You've seen the Stairway to Heaven lights when returning to Bako at night on the Grapevine. And you know to call it Bako and why we call it that."


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Diseased sycamore tree taken down in Westchester

 I shot these photos of this huge and once beautiful sycamore tree that a crew had just taken down on 22nd Street near Cedar Street. Note the size in comparison to the house. The work was done Tuesday March 23.

Another Bakersfield allergy season, the death of June Aaron and remembering UC Santa Barbara in the early days

* ... ALLERGY SEASON:  The downside of the annual explosion of wildflowers and greenery in Kern County is the onset of allergy season. This year it seems like everyone I know is suffering from a scratchy throat, watery eyes and headaches. I checked in with Dr. Raj Patel over at Preferred Family Physicians on Truxtun Extension who said this is starting as a fairly typical year, but he has some advice about how to protect yourself. "If everyone would keep their windows closed at night you would reduce the symptoms by 50 percent. The weather is so nice there is a temptation to open up and enjoy the cool air." Patel said the worst months for allergies here are March and August. He recommended three over-the-counter drugs if you're suffering: Claritin, Zyrtec and Cetirizine, a generic for Zyrtec.

* ... JUNE AARON: I was saddened to hear of the death of June Aaron after a 20-year battle with lupus. June was the wife of Hal Aaron, one our community's true gentlemen and the owner of the real estate development firm Aaron Development. Hal told me he was fortunate to be there at the end, and that his wife died in his arms. He had nothing but wonderful things to say about Hoffmann Hospice, and he mentioned that a memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. June served on the Kern County Grand Jury, was a volunteer at the Guild House and was a member of the Kern County Republican Central Committee. The Aarons have also been huge supporters of both the Bakersfield SPCA and Children's Home Society. They were married 52 years.

 * ... SICK BAY: I also heard that Mark Ehly, a longtime California Highway Patrol officer stationed at Fort Tejon, had a setback in his recovery from a December brain aneurysm. Mark was in rehabilitation locally when he experienced more problems and was rushed to San Joaquin Hospital where he underwent surgery to control the bleeding in his brain. He is now in an induced coma. You may remember Mark because he's the public affairs "face" of the CHP at Fort Tejon and has appeared numerous times on local TV and in the newspaper. He is just 50 years old. Keep his wife Shannon and their family in your thoughts.

* ... LOOKING BACK: Retired Cal State Bakersfield math professor Lee Webb wrote to tell me about growing up in Santa Barbara in the days when UC Santa Barbara didn't enjoy the stature it does today. His father had been a geology professor at UCLA and joined the new UC Santa Barbara campus. In Lee's words:"
  "Apparently UCSB was to be UCSBC and not to have the stature of a Berkeley or UCLA (little did they know that a few year's ago UCSB would produce more Nobel Laureates than Berkeley and UCLA).  All of my father's science colleagues at UCLA told him he was crazy to go to that backwater place to be called UCSBC.  As I remember in 1947 there weren't even any stop lights in the Santa Barbara. My father was a very wise man, because he accepted the position. What a place to be raised as a child, compared to LA!  I remember in the late 1940's going to UCSBC football games at La Playa Stadium, which is now the stadium for Santa Barbara City College. UCSBC was up on the Riviera above the mission and Industrial Arts was located where the current SBCC campus is now located.  Dad often had one of his antique Franklin cars in the building where students worked on it in the Automotive class."
 Lee graduated from UCSB as did his son Rob. His daughter Tamara was accepted there but chose Cal Poly and eventually ended up with a degree from Cal State Bakersfield.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: This from work colleague Evan Jones: You know you're from Bakersfield when "your funeral is followed by a car wash." Ouch!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The beauty of Kern County's wildflowers

 Thanks to colleague Kaarin Simpson for turning me on to this wonderful video featuring Kern County wild flowers. Enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Men behaving badly, regulators behaving badly and Steve Annis lands on his feet

 * ...STREET BUZZ: I heard that Steve Annis, the chief financial officer of the now defunct San Joaquin Bank, has been hired in the same post at Valley Republic Bank. Annis is the latest of a long string of San Joaquin employees to land on their feet following San Joaquin's seizure by the FDIC  last October 16. He is a talented banker with many years of experience, including a long stint at American National Bank.

 * ... FED BONUSES: Speaking of banks, I saw the Associated Press reported that our government handed out millions of dollars in bonuses to federal regulators whose agencies ignored the warning signs that our financial system was on the verge of a meltdown. Said the AP: "The bonuses ... are the latest evidence of the government's false sense of security during the go-go days of the financial boom. Just as bank executives got bonuses despite taking on dangerous amounts of risk, regulators got taxpayer-funded bonuses for doing 'superior' working monitoring the banks." And so it goes.

 * ... MEN BEHAVING BADLY: There's a sociological experiment of sorts going on over at the newly renovated Padre Hotel involving hygiene and men behaving badly. It started when I overheard a group of women at the bar pointing to a young man who had failed to wash his hands after using the men's restroom. How did they know? Turns out, the hotel has a common wash space outside the restrooms that men and women share and this guy had bypassed the wash station and headed straight to the bar. You've been warned, gents.

* ... LOVE STORY: I received a wonderful email from Michael Edgerle, who was eager to tell me about his own love story and return to Bakersfield. Turns out Michael did all his early schooling in one city block: Eissler Elementary, Chipman Junior High and Highland High School, class of 1990. He went on to Evangel University, a Christian college in Missouri where he spent four winters learning to scrape ice off his car windows. He returned to Bakersfield and met Tiffany Shick at his church. She grew up in McFarland, graduated from Garces Memorial High School and was attending Azusa Pacific University. She eventually worked for Catholic Healthcare West and he worked at Dole Fresh Fruit before the company left town. He now works at Adventist Health (San Joaquin Hospital) and she stays at home with their three children.
 "I had no idea what would be in store for me career wise coming back to Bakersfield... (but) now we're back in the Northeast part of town (City in the Hills), still attending Canyon Hills church where Tiffany and I met, and busy raising our kids in this great community of ours. And doing it all in our hometown where we have four generations on either side of our family. It is a true blessing."

 * ... ANOTHER RETURNS: Bill and Avon Wonderly wrote to tell me about her daughter, Sally Wonderly, who also graduated from Garces Memorial High School, went to UCLA to pursue her dream of becoming and doctor and has now returned after many years. "Sally and her husband of 15 years, Jeff Nalesnik, and their three boys (our grandchildren) have moved back home to Bako!!!  Sally Wonderly Nalesnik is an OB/GYN at Advanced Women's Health Center, while Jeff is a Urologist for Kaiser Permanente. Their three active boys are students at St. Francis School (third generation) is a dream come true for us...Bakersfield has been a wonderful place to live and now Sally's family is finding this to be true as well.  Thank you for letting us share our happiness and welcome them home to Bakersfield."
* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when "Anywhere that takes longer than a ten-minute drive is way too far."