Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spring in Bakersfield, some random shots around our community this weekend

 Was there any better weather anywhere than Bakersfield this weekend? Some shots around town ...

McCarthy: Washington has a spending problem, and it has to stop

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "This week the Treasury Department announced that the U.S. posted its largest April budget deficit on record – $82.7 billion.  This number is more than twice the $40 billion many economists predicted it would
be, and it is nearly four times the $20.91 billion the U.S. posted last April.  What’s worse is that this may get worse as the U.S. has recorded deficits consistently for the last nineteen months, and many
economists today are predicting that by the end of the year the federal budget deficit could be as high as $1.5 trillion.‬
  Additionally, on Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report indicating that the new health care law’s original cost estimate was low, and the law will now cost $115 billion more in
discretionary spending.  This means that the total costs will now likely exceed the trillion dollar mark. ‬

‪"Combined these numbers are all unsettling, yet they prove good reason for America to come together and work on a budget resolution that will tackle these issues.  However, it’s unfortunate that this
Congressional majority disagrees, and as a result for the first time in the modern history, the House of Representatives may not pass a budget resolution.‬

"What is clear from all these figures is that Washington has a spending problem. In the last year and a half the debt and deficit have exceed all expectations, they have risen to record heights and have done so all while our economy suffers nearly double digit unemployment.  It is past time to get our financial house in order. That is why I ask you to share your thoughts on what Washington programs to cut by participating in YouCut at:‬

  "As you might have heard me mention before, I am heading up an effort to help craft an alternative congressional agenda. This effort, recently given the name America Speaking Out, is to give the American
people a voice in their government again by engaging Americans in a conversation to gather to common-sense solutions from across America. We know our principles, and want to take our principles and start a
conversation using all resources and opportunities available to us, including cutting-edge technology and town hall meetings, to help create a new agenda for Congress. As we’ve seen, there is a growing disconnect between American and Washington. This is wrong. It’s the people’s House after all. That is one of the reasons I want to hear from you at my town hall I am planning to hold on Wednesday, June 2nd
in Bakersfield.  More details on the town hall will come in the coming weeks. I hope you can make it out and share your ideas with me.‬

‪ "Great to see everyone who was visiting Washington this week: Cathy Fanucchi, Robert and Doreen Abrams and their family, William and Jeanette Colm (William is the grandson of Brocks Department store
founder and we reminisced about the Brocks-Debber days) and Don and Sally Valpredo. ‬

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Touting the benefits of a college education and the Griders host an event for Assembly candidate Shannon Grove


* ... READER SOUNDOFF: Reader Brian Landis responded to an earlier post with these thoughtful comments. "I can't hold my tongue anymore. A woman mentioned in your blog last week that she's sick about hearing about Bakersfield kids going off to college, or words to that effect. My wife and I were locals who went away to college and returned home. All my life I heard from my oilfield working grandfathers, 'You get your butt a college education, boy! You can do better for yourself.'  Eventually I did get that education graduating from Santa Barbara's other college, Westmont College, after graduating from, Highland High in '90.  My wife had no choice about going to college since her grandfather was superintendent of Lost Hills School which now has the middle school named after him, A.M. Thomas. She was class co-valedictorian at East Bakersfield High '86. She is now an attorney here in town. I am now a 8th grade history teacher at Curran Middle School. Getting an education is one of our nation's great opportunities and is a must for our Republic to function. My grandparents didn't have much, especially during the Depression. But what they did have instilled a desire to do my best, to learn, and make a better life for myself and my family. I'm sure you can paraphrase something to that effect." Actually, I could not have said it better. Thanks for writing.

 * ... ART WALK: If you're looking for something to do this weekend consider the Walk for the Arts, a Saturday morning stroll through downtown to support the arts. It begins at 8 a.m. at the Betty Younger Sculpture Garden on Truxtun Avenue between Chester and L Street and ends at noon at the Rabobank Arena Pavilion. Count on lots of live music and awards and free entry to all the galleries and museums. The Arts Council of Kern is putting it on and there is a $10 day of the event sign up fee. 

* ... SHANNON GROVE: Heard that retired Bakersfield College football coach Dallas and wife Mary Grider hosted a neighborhood party to “Meet and Greet” Assembly candidate Shannon Grove earlier this week.  Mary, who works at Rabobank, said this was the night the "wind kicked up and all the colorful umbrellas in the back yard blew over but the party moved in doors when Shannon talked about her positions on many hot issues." Among those attending were Bob and Lani Wattenbarger, Richard and Teddi Fanucchi, Katy Valentich, Chad and Camille Grider, Paul and Claudia Milazzo, Bruce and Cheryl Biggar, Chris Champness, Dr. Paul Ansolebehere, Amber Grider-Turner, Charles and Joan Lortz, Dr. Gary and Kathy Williams, Doug Wattenbarger, Cathy Abernathy and Jim and Fawn Antt ( former California State Real Estate Commissioner), who asked Shannon if she had thick skin and could withstand the brutality in Sacramento. 

 * ... BUCKEYE BOUND: Greg Hanel, a senior at Stockdale High School, is headed to Big Ten powerhouse The Ohio State University to study aeronautical engineering. He's senior class president, swim team captain and an accomplished bassoon and alto saxophone player. In fact, he teamed up with his sophomore brother Dan to earn a command performance at the California Music Educators Association State Solo and Ensemble Festival this past week in Sacramento. Dan plays the trombone. Parents Mary and Greg Hanel credited Stockdale band director John Biller and the school's music program for encouraging their boys to succeed.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when "you've actually offered someone a Dewar's chew from the bowl on your coffee table."


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bako bits: Feral cats, saving Cal State sports and local dancer Tiler Peck gets more rave reviews in New York City

 * ... CSUB SPORTS:  Another twist in the ongoing effort to save some of the minor sports at Cal State Bakersfield. It turns out that Jack and Sharon McGee, owners of Bakersfield Optical at the corner of 19th and Oak streets, helped create an endowment for a golf scholarship when son Jimi died of leukemia at the age of 18. (It was actually Sharon's parents, David and Lori Vordermark, who funded the scholarship) With the golf program now under the threat of being eliminated, the school asked the McGees to use the scholarship in the basketball program. Instead, the McGees will wait to see if the program can be saved and determine then what becomes of the scholarship. If you want to help save the team, call coach Dave Barber at 661-496-8082.

* ... GOODWILL: I moved recently from the Southwest to downtown and have spent a lot of time at the Goodwill, dropping off clothes and books and furniture in an attempt to reduce my carbon footprint. Okay, maybe it's just tossing stuff that I never use anymore but reducing my footprint sounds better. Either way, are there happier employees anywhere than the folks who help you unload your castoffs at the Goodwill? Always smiling, always helpful. Whether it's the White Lane or Chester Avenue office, the folks could not be nicer.

   * ... FERAL CATS: I heard from Sandy Dralle, executive director of the local SPCA, about a symposium set for May 22 to address the problem of feral cats. I'm a cat lover and it's clear this is a problem that needs to be addressed. As Sandy said: "All of the cat services groups in town have gotten together to put on this program. Sherry Kotter, the feline coordinator for Best Friends in Utah, is going to come to town and tell us how Best Friends have worked with communities throughout the country to reduce the overpopulation of cats. Last year 11,042 cats were euthanized in county shelters. This is almost 80% of the cats that came into the shelters. We can only solve this problem with the cooperation of the entire community including county animal control, non-profit groups and cat lovers." An added benefit: there will be drawings to provide vouchers for free and low-cost spay and neuter services for participants. Organizers hope to have enough vouchers for almost everyone attending. The cost to attend is $10 for pre-registration (with lunch) and $20 for same day registration. It will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kern Ag Pavilion at 3300 E. Belle Terrace. Call the Bakersfield SPCA at 323-8353 (ext. 14) for more details.

 * ... SURFACE GALLERY: One of the bright spots in the emerging downtown arts scene is the Surface Gallery, an eclectic little place run by partners Vikki Cruz and Yvonne Cavanagh. The gallery has a small but loyal following and its fans were disappointed when Cruz and Cavanagh announced it would close at the end of this month. But last Friday Cruz told me she planned to keep it open, possibly by implementing a sponsorship or even membership program. It's not certain if it will stay long term in its 20th Street location near the Fox Theater, but it apparently will survive in a new form. This is one venture that is worth supporting. 

 * ... TILER PECK: Nice to see Bakersfield's Tiler Peck getting more rave reviews as one of the up and coming dancers with the New York City Ballet. Tiler is featured on the cover of "Dance" magazine with the headline "the magnetic Tiler Peck." (read the entire story here) Tiler's mother is local dance instructor Georgia Peck of Dancer's Turnout Academy. Tiler joined the New York City Ballet in 2005.

* ...  BAKERSFIELDISM: This one from reader Kristina LaVerne: "You know you're from Bakersfield when you remember when the old Jolly Roger in the mall went from a brick wall to a glass wall in their bar. What a treat that was!"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday run along the Kern River, with water

 Don Martin, owner of the Metro Galleries art studio downtown, shot this photo on his daily run down by the Kern River. Amazing how big a difference a little water makes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A family sends a daughter South for college and a conversation about the obesity epidemic

 * ... SOUTH BOUND: Heard from local farmer Jack Pandol and his wife Carolyn who said daughter Cici, a senior at Bakersfield Christian High School, will be attending University of Richmond in Richmond,  Virginia. Her older brother, Jack Jr., also a BCHS graduate, is a junior at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He is a double major in politics and Spanish and is currently studying in Spain with a group from Washington and Lee. Brother and sister are excited that they'll overlap for a year in Virginia - Richmond and Lexington are just two hours apart. Said Carolyn: "Mom and Dad look forward to more wonderful trips to Virginia (particularly in the fall) as we have thoroughly enjoyed visiting the past three years for our sons' Parents Weekend. Proud grandparents are Jack and Winnie Pandol of Delano, and Don and Izetta Camp of Bakersfield." Two local kids going to outstanding  Southern universities.

 * ... OBESE NATION: Dinner conversation with friends the other day turned to the scourge of obesity, particularly among young people. One friend challenged us to find old photos from our elementary school days and find an obese student. "Every grade had one or two fat kids and that was it," she said. "Today most of the kids are overweight." She's right of course. How many times do you look around and see 12 and 14-year-old so grossly overweight you wonder what they get fed at home. Of course that means childhood diabetes and all the associated health risks. So it is diet, lack of exercise, both, or something else? It's a problem that must be addressed.

 * ...  OUTSIDER'S VIEW: Ever wonder how outsiders view Bakersfield? I do. So it was interesting to meet Donna Fisk, a Disney public relations specialist, who was in town recently to promote a new attraction at the Anaheim theme park.  She lives in Fullerton and had never before been to Bakersfield. Her thoughts? "I think it's romantic, with all the agriculture, very pretty," she told me. Now that's the kind of publicity we need.

 * ... SPARTANS: Heard from another graduate of San Jose State, local occupational therapist Emily Troxel. "I was born in Bakersfield and graduated from San Jose State University in Occupational Therapy and returned home to work. SJSU has one of the few OT programs available in the state.  I know of several other local OTs who graduated from SJSU and came back home to our community as well."

 * ... HOME SWEET HOME: Reader Bonnie Farrer weighed in on the things she likes about Bakersfield. "Your list is good. I would add: Hart Park;  Floyd's Hardware; Bakersfield Symphony;  polite, friendly, helpful people; beautiful and affordable neighborhoods."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're from Bakersfield when the "you react to the opening of a new Target like it's a Hollywood premier."