Saturday, September 25, 2010

A drive down 19th Street ... just for the fun of it

 Some of the (more or less) iconic buildings on Bakersfield's 19th Street ...

Friday, September 24, 2010

McCarthy: Pledge to America to a way to restore prosperity through discipline and common sense

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) was among the key  Republicans who helped launched the Pledge to America" this week. His report from Capitol Hill:

 "It was a busy week as I helped unveil a document that has been months in the making.  As you remember, back in May we launched the interactive website to bridge the disconnect
between Washington’s agenda and the priorities of the American people.
 "Anyone, regardless of party, was able to submit what he or she believed should be a part of this new plan.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans joined us and gave their input and shared their solutions.
We listened and we heard what America wanted, and on Thursday, we presented the final product of this initiative: ‘A Pledge to America,’ a new governing agenda that we can pursue immediately in order to turn the country around and put it back on the right track. ‪I encourage you to look at the Pledge at and print off the 45 page document and evaluate it.  It is my belief that this document is a
starting point for us to come together and leave our children a stronger, healthier, more prosperous country.

  "Right now, the future of our country hangs in the balance as a result of economically disastrous spending and regulatory policies that are keeping millions of Americans out of work today, and saddling our children with a deficit and debt that is out of control.‪

  "The Pledge is made up of five specific policy plans.  First, creating jobs. We pledge to end economic uncertainty and make America more competitive.  Second, cutting spending and reducing the size of
government. Americans know we cannot simply tax, spend and borrow our way back to prosperity.  We must cut spending to pre-stimulus and pre-bailout levels and impose a cap on discretionary spending.  Third,
we pledge to reform Congress. We must restore trust in government by allowing for open and fair debate on bills along with a citation of Constitutional authority.  Fourth, repealing and replacing the
government health care law which is failing to cut costs as promised. Today is actually day one of government health care and according to the California Insurance Department, starting Oct. 1, commercial
premiums will rise on average of 14-19% (depending on the policy). 
 "Finally, we pledge a strong national defense which contains a sound strategy to confront and defeat terrorist threats. We will pass clean troop funding bills, keep terrorists off American soil, and fully fund missile defense.‪

  "Better days lie ahead and America is still the land of great promise and possibility.  But first, we must reverse our current course of action and reject the present economic policies.  Americans want a government dedicated to working for the people, and through this Pledge to America, my colleagues and I are committed to promoting greater liberty, wider opportunity, and national economic recovery.  I hope you will read the Pledge and join us in making it a reality.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Meg Whitman likens Fresno to Detroit and downtown Bakersfield merchants move toward a special tax district

 * … DOWNTOWN TAX: Property owners and merchants in the downtown area are once again tossing around the idea of a special tax district to improve the area. Hundreds of other cities – most notably Visalia – have done so with great success but the idea has always been met with resistance locally. This time, even in spite of the bad economy, it appears to have some traction. The idea: if downtown is ever going to attract the higher end demographic it needs to thrive, it’s going to cost in some form or the other. Of course that doesn’t stop some of the perennial naysayers, including longtime local restaurateur Terry Maxwell, who stormed out of a recent meeting when he predictably threw up roadblocks to the idea. In the heat of the argument, Bob Bell, head of the downtown business association, called Maxwell a “cancer” on the process. One insider told me “the feeling is, forget Terry Maxwell because he’s always going to oppose it. The idea now is to start smaller, perhaps around the arts district, where we think we can get the votes once the full process is explained.” 

 * ... MEG ON FRESNO: There's no doubt that the San Joaquin Valley has its challenges, but have we sunk to comparisons with Detroit? Apparently Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman thinks so. She told the editorial board at the San Jose Mercury News that Fresno "looks like Detroit. It's awful."  Wow. If Meg thinks Fresno looks like Detroit, how would she describe Bakersfield?

 * ... MEMORIAL: In this time of great economic uncertainty, it was good to hear that a golf tournament supporting the Children's Medical Center Initiative over at Memorial Hospital was a huge success. More than 280 folks attended a dinner for the eighth annual Larry Carr Memorial Golf Tournament and 33 teams fielded foursomes on the course. The dinner and tournament raised some $135,000, not bad in the midst of a recession.


 * ... NEW MANAGER: Heard the other day that Toni Snyder has been promoted to market manager for the seven stations owned by American General Media in Bakersfield. Toni is a longtime and respected fixture in the Bakersfield media market, having worked in broadcasting for more than 20 years. Although this is a new role, she replaces Roger Fessler, who left AGM as general manager to become associate athletic director at California State University Bakersfield. Among the AGM properties locally are KERN Radio Newstalk 1180, Hot 94.1 KISV, KEBT La Caliente and Hot Hits 93.1 KKXX.

 * ... SAM THE HIPPO: A lot of folks have weighed in on their memories of Sam the hippo who lived on the grounds of Larson's Dairy, but now we have the rest of the story. Maxine Barber, widow of the late Johnny Barber of Barber Honda, wrote to say her husband bought Sam from Cal Worthington car sales in Los Angeles. "In Cal's TV ads he always featured an animal of some kind. When Johnny saw Sam he had an idea. Bakersfield should have a zoo. Good idea? However he never could get the support needed. We kept Sam on a ranch but feeding and watering him was a mammoth job so eventually we gave Sam to Larson's Dairy. Hope this will help clear part of the mystery." Thanks for writing Maxine. Sam certainly had his fans in town.

 * ... GEORGE CULVER: Bakersfield's George Culver was honored at Dodger Stadium Wednesday night for his many years of service to baseball and the Dodger organization. Culver, who recently retired, was sent off with a celebration in the team offices with the Dodger staff, including GM Ned Coletti and Tommy Lasorda, prior to Wednesday night¹s game with the San Diego Padres. He was then recognized on the field before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Culver pitched in the major leagues for nine seasons and coached and managed for 26 years in the minor leagues, 18 with the Philadelphia Phillies organization and the last eight with the Dodgers.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From Riley Parker: You know you're a Bakersfield old timer if "you have walked the 'opium den' tunnels beneath downtown Bakersfield just for the fun of it."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is it 'beneath' children to pitch in and clean up some trash? A principal bows to a complaining parent

 * ... LITTER: A reader who asked to remain anonymous had this to say about the litter problem that plagues our community. "Perhaps one of the reasons we have so little regard for the litter problem would be explained by an incident shared with me by a local primary school teacher friend. The practice was that each of the classes took turns, in rotation, picking up loose trash before they returned to their classroom after recess. One of the mothers went to the principal to complain that it was 'beneath' her child to do that and so the principal canceled that responsibility teaching exercise for all the classes. Since when it is 'beneath' a child to clean up after themselves and to assist others as well?" Wouldn't you love to know the name of the elementary school involved here as well as the name of the complaining parent?

 * ... CRIME WATCH: I am always encouraged to hear about folks working together to keep our community clean and safe. At the end of the day, it is up to us to make it happen. David Collins, a sale representative for Commercial Trade, Inc., lives in the Northeast and addressed the issue by founding the South Oswell Neighborhood Watch. "Over the past year we have reported over 70 graffiti hits to the city, removed over 90 pieces of graffiti and picked up over 140 bags of trash." Well done, David.

 * ... VALLEY CLOUT: Nice to read in the Wall Street Journal how important the San Joaquin Valley is in the important Senate and Governor's races. Reporter Jim Carlton noted that Senate candidate Carly Fiorina  had made 22 trips to the Valley since announcing her candidacy. Locally, it seems hardly a week goes by that either Fiorina or Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is not somewhere in Kern County. The Valley is seen has holding some of the crucial swing votes in a tight race for both offices.

 * ... HOLY BOWL: The annual Holy Bowl football game between Garces Memorial High and San Joaquin Memorial is this Saturday at Garces. As part of the game, Garces will honor the 25th anniversary of the 1985 undefeated Valley Championship football team at half time. Among those on the team were Gino Valpredo, co-owner of Luigi's Delicatessen; Mike Lewis, a Garces record holder for career yards passing; Kevin Bead, Garces record holder for interceptions in a game; Dr. Josh Tobias, grandson of Sam Tobias, whom the Garces football field is named; Kelly Bellue, who played rugby at UC Berkeley; and Bobby Bellue, another rugby player at Berkeley and now the UC Santa Cruz rugby coach. And by the way, the  annual Garces barbeque is coming up October 7. Get your tickets now.

 * ... WAYNE'S DAIRY: Reader Larry Woertz wrote to talk about Wayne's Dairy, "the No. 1 dairy in Bakersfield's home delivery days of long ago. "Having been a milk man back in the 1960s and 1970s I can say it was the best job I ever had. If you were going to have to work you might as well have fun and enjoy it. I also ended up marrying one of my customers and am still married to her." Woertz went on to say that Wayne's is having its 20th reunion at Hodel's on Saturday, Oct. 2, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with lunch served at 1 p.m.

 * ... SPOTTED: Middle-aged woman in late-model, metallic gray 3 Series BMW, aggressively weaving through traffic on Calloway Drive, blows through a red light at Brimhall and flips off a white Honda that dared honk its horn at her.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if "you saw Willie Mays play at Sam Lynn Park in a 'barnstormer' exhibition game and remember the name of the Bakersfield kid who stole the show. (Johnny Callison)"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Remembering old Sam the hippo and railing on these rich public pensions


* ... PUBLIC PENSIONS: Reader Stephen A. Montgomery added this thoughtful addition to the commentary on those rich public pensions. "All the discussion about pensions in Bakersfield seems to miss one important point," he said. "Contracts allowing retirement at age 50 are depriving citizens the experience and skill of people who have reached the peak of their productivity. We've traded experience and skill for 10 years or so of added expense that gets us nothing. No wonder our roads are crumbling."

 * ... SPOTTED: A lone diaper sitting in the middle of 21st Street near Elm Street, obviously discarded by a contemptuous driver or passenger. Thanks to my friend Diego for passing along this latest bit of bad behavior.


* WEATHER BIRD: Reader Geraldine Sproul wrote that she too remembers the old weather bird sign that sat on the roof of the Sill Building at Chester Avenue and 18th Street. "It advertised Coca-Cola... As I recall it survived the earthquake of 1952 very well. Must have been put up well."

  * ... SAM THE HIPPO: Reader Jeffrey Williams wrote to say he too remembers a hippopotamus named Sam who lived at the old Larson's Dairy. "I remember Sam the Hippo at Larsons in the late 1960s or early 1970s.  I believe some people were trying to get a zoo started in Bakersfield and bought him to try to raise interest and money.  If my memory is correct he was in a corral about 15  square feet and about 2 feet deep in mud...  it was not attractive.  Today I'm sure someone would be arrested for keeping an animal in those conditions. I recall my dentist at that time, Dr. Richard Wolfson (whose ultra modern office building at 21st and E street was very cool) had a lot of 'Sam the Hippo' info and trinkets in his building; maybe he was one of the leaders of the effort."

 * ... MORE SAM: Another reader, Shauna Rockwell, remembers going with her grandparents to Larson's to buy milk in one-gallon bottles. "I always liked to go with them so I could see Sam the Hippo. Larson's was a drive-through dairy and as you would drive into the line, there was a pool and Sam just to the side of that line. In grammar school they always served little pints of Larson's milk. Later in my teen years it was also a great place to go see all the cute boys in their white 'dairy' suits selling milk and ice cream. Man... those were the days!"

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you "collected pollywogs in the East Side Canal."