Wall Street Journal, union salaries and benefits rose to make up 80 percent of the city's budget, untenable by any standards. The city has now reached new contracts with the police, fire and management unions that - among other things - will shrink health care benefits for retires to $300 a month, down from $1,500 a month. The former city manager of another Bay Area city said Vallejo was "an example of how compensation and benefits had been part of the politics of the city and it ultimately got the city in trouble." Sound familiar?
* ... GLEANERS: One of the great benefits of living in California is the abundance of fruit trees that grace our yards. Many of us have an orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit tree somewhere on our property. And this is the time of year when so much of our back yard fruit goes unused. The folks over at the Golden Empire Gleaners would love to redirect some of that fruit to the needy. Pam Fiorini, Gleaners executive director, is looking for community groups that would be willing to pick fruit at homes of folks who want to donate it. It could be a Scout troop, church group or an individual. Or, if you can do it yourself, ,you can drop off the fruit at the Gleaner warehouse at 1326 30th Street, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. Or call and arrange for it to be picked up, (661) 324-2767.
* ... LEMONADE LOCKS: Touched base the other day with Kelly Giblin, administrator over at the LeBeau Thelen law firm. Turns out she has a new side business trying to help those who are losing their hair because of cancer or other ailments. The idea: in-home consultations with a full line of wigs. "Having been diagnosed with alopecia several years ago and going through the trauma of losing my hair, I realized that there is a huge need in this community for this type of service. I also realized how embarrassing, intimidating and impersonal it can be to try on wig in the middle of a store if you are suffering from hair loss." The business is called Lemonade Locks: when life hands you lemons, call Lemonade Locks. Interested? Call (661) 900-6672.
* ... NRA: Another email from a reader defending the National Rifle Association. Said Karla Jadwin: "I am the widow of Tom Jadwin, lifetime member of the NRA and two time chair of the annual Friends of the NRA dinner here in Bakersfield. The group fund raiser about which your reader complained, raises money to educate the youth in our area about firearm safety. Period. It's not much of a stretch of understand the purpose there: saving lives! It saddens me to see the uniformed public decry all firearms. Perhaps legislation should eliminate automobiles since so many senseless deaths are caused on the nation's roads by those enormous hunks of metal?"
* ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know the Kern Valley Bank opened for business on the southeast corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue on July 6, 1889. The next day, July 7, was the great fire that leveled downtown, including the bank. The Goodwill is now located in that spot.
* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader Bill Black: "You know you're a Bakersfield old-timer if you remember the good root bear at the "Q-ne-Q drive-in on Chester Avenue in the late 1940s." Bill was a student at Bakersfield Junior College at the time.