Friday, July 1, 2011

McCarthy highlights student interns in both Washington, D.C., and Bakersfield

  Rep. Kevin McCarthy, house Majority Whip from Bakersfield, gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill.

 "I want to take the opportunity to recognize just a few of the many bright young people in our community. I found my life’s calling after working as an intern for Congressman Bill Thomas, cutting newspaper clips in his local office and answering phone calls from constituents.\ Because of my experiences, I have tried to give as many of our local students a chance to intern over the summer as possible. This summer, we will have a total of 21 interns and 4 fellows serving in my Washington D.C. and Bakersfield offices.

  "Most of these students call Bakersfield home. The current Bakersfield natives interning in my D.C. office include: Vanessa Klass, a Stockdale High School graduate about to start her senior year at CSU Fullerton; Jacob Frost, a Liberty High School graduate attending the University of Colorado; Rane Cravens, also a Liberty High School graduate and political science major at Kansas State University; Mike Mettler, a BHS graduate going into his senior year at CSU Chico; Julia Berchtold, a Garces graduate and finance major at Notre Dame; Kyle Legg, a graduate of Centennial High School studying international business and marketing at San Francisco State University; Ross Powers, a Garces graduate working toward a degree in business administration from USC; Haley Devaney,  a Stockdale High School graduate pursuing her political science degree at UC San Diego; Annie Wilson, a BHS graduate who has already received her political science degree from Queens University of Charlotte North Carolina; and Andrew Green, a BHS graduate studying political science at UCLA.

  "In my Bakersfield office right now, we have Blair Buckley, a communications major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a Liberty High School graduate; Deepa Kannappan, a graduate of Stockdale High School and Stanford University student; and Kelsey Linford, a Centennial High School graduate currently studying political communication at American University.

  "These students are all smart, insightful and hard working. Their drive and commitment exemplify the strong principles and values of our community. Another member of our community who continues to impress me
is Douglas “DJ” Taylor. DJ was my principal nominee to West Point las year, and he recently shared some of his first-year experiences me. Those experiences are highlighted on my Facebook page
( if you want to check out what life at West Point is like.

  "DJ is just one of the many Americans who have answered the call to serve our great nation, and as Independence Day draws near, now is a special time to thank all the men and women in our Armed Forces and their families. We still live in the freest, most prosperous republic in the world, and those who serve play a large role in that. From the Revolutionary War to the wars of today, they have stood strong to defend the freedoms laid out in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I wish everyone in our community a happy Fourth of July

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Time to rally around Cal State Bakersfield and President Horace Mitchell in the face of budget troubles

 * ... MOVE ON: Let's all hope that the recent changes out at Cal State Bakersfield will repair any feelings of ill will between supporters and the administration. CSUB  is facing its greatest budget crunch ever, and it needs the full support of our community and its leaders to continue to provide the best education possible to our local students. President Horace Mitchell has made some tough calls in the face of severe cutbacks, and he now deserves our support. It's time to move on.

 * ... CSUB:  One of the effects of the reorganization at CSUB  is the return of fund raising to the Athletic Department. This is good news for many long-time supporters of CSUB athletic programs, who groused when the University Advancement department under Beverly Byl took over all fund raising, including athletics, several years ago. Supporters complained that funds raised for sports were sometimes used for other purposes. None of this is illegal, of course, but it rankled supporters who didn't like the idea that money raised for a sports program may have been used for another project, however worthy. With the changes, fund raising for sports now reverts to the office of Athletic Director Jeff Konya.

 * ... MOTOR CITY: General Motors has recognized Motor City GMC as one of the top dealerships in the nation. A GM representative was at the dealership Thursday to present the "Dealer of the Year" award to Richard Stricklen, owner of Motor City, and his team. The award recognizes the top 2 percent of GM dealers by region. This is a high honor and - at least from my experience buying two cars there - certainly well deserved. 

 * ... Y MEMORY: Today's memory of growing up with the YMCA comes from Jennifer Marble Howes, who recently moved back to Bakersfield after being gone for 20 years. Her father was a YMCA camp counselor in Pasadena and she grew up at the Bakersfield "Y," camping in the mountains and singing songs around the camp fire. "I remember learning how to row a boat and ride a horse and appreciate wild life," she said. "Singing around the camp fire and everyone yelling Y-M-C-A hoping that we could be heard clear down in Bakersfield. I would recommend utilizing the YMCA to anyone who has children."

 * ... CSUB BASEBALL: Tom Dyer wrote to commend the CSUB Roadrunner baseball team for pitching in to help the 12-year-old All-Stars from the Bakersfield Southwest Baseball team. He said pitcher Mike McCarthy along with teammates Cael Brockmeyer and Oscar Sanay came out and worked with his team for almost three hours. It was all around the time that McCarthy was drafted and "he still made time to make a lasting impression on some of Bakersfield's youth," Dyer said. "Go Southwest baseball and go Roadrunners!"

* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Gene Bonas says you might be a Bakersfield old timer if you "can remember the logo used by Frank and Marie Amestoy to advertise their On the Hill bar and grill. It was an outhouse set on a hill!"

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

CSU Bakersfield announces campus reorganization, potential cuts to athletics

 Here are the highlights of CSUB President Horace Mitchell's press conference this morning regarding the current budget crisis:

 * The position of Senior Associate Athletics Director Gloria Friedman, who is retiring, will be changed from a management to a staff position at a lower salary.

 * Another management position in Athletics has been eliminated.

 * Fund raising in Athletics will now report to Athletics Director Jeff Konya. It had been under University Advancement VP Beverly Byl.

 * Byl lost her University Advancement job and is now in charge of governmental affairs. She had been a lightning rod for criticism from members of the Foundation. She also is no longer chair of the Foundation. Those jobs now go to Provost Soraya Coley.

 * The threatened women's golf and women's tennis teams did not achieve their fund raising goals and may be eliminated.

 * Public affairs and communications (Rob Meszaros) will now report directly to the president.

CSUB reorganization leaves Byl out of University Advancement; Mitchell warns of budget crunch

 Beverly Byl is out as the chief fund raiser for Cal State Bakersfield. The development was announced this morning by President Horace Mitchell in a major reorganization of the campus, triggered by the state budget crisis and the lost of several million dollars in state funding. Byl's tenure over University Advancement was checkered and recently several members of the Foundation called for her resignation. Apparently she will now be in charge of governmental affairs and the duties associated with University Advancement will go to Provost Soraya Coley.
 In addition, fund raising for athletics will revert back to the Athletic Department headed by Athletic Director Jeff Konya. It has been under Byl and University Advancement.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bako Bits: Cafe Med celebrates an anniversary and Raggae Fest leaves a reader unimpressed

 * ... CAFE MED: Hats off to Meir Brown and his crew over at Cafe Med, which is celebrating 20 years in business. I visited Cafe Med my first week in Bakersfield more than 17 years ago and it has remained one of my favorite dining spots ever since. Meir always makes his customers feel special and through July 10, he is offering a free dessert with lunch or dinner.

 * ... PROPERTY TAXES: Here's some good news for city and county officials: the taxable value of all property in Kern County has been put at $84 billion, an increase of about $2 billion over last year. Assessor James W. Fitch's office said that is largely due to increases in the oil and gas industry due to investments in new construction. Agricultural and wind energy properties also showed an increase. Homeowners, however, didn't fare so well. Of the 200,000 residential properties in Kern County, about 80,000 actually lost value. The office said some properties had lost value for four straight years. Of course, that does mean lower property taxes but also fewer dollars to local government.

 * ... KERN RIVER: The kayaks, paddle boards and tubes are out in force on the Kern River between Beach Park and the Park at River Walk. Of course, who knows how long we'll have water in the river, but it doesn't take much of an imagination to think about all the commerce - restaurants, water craft rentals etc - that would grow up along the river if we had year-round water.

 * ... RAGGAE: The recent Reggae Fest and Art Show in Stramler Park was apparently a big success, but not with everyone. One reader, Martha Gray, said he was appalled at the foul lyrics used by the bands at what she felt was advertised as a family event. "What I witnessed was dancing fit for Deja Vu that was also seen by many youngsters in the crowd, and triple X-rated lyrics that were sometime chanted by the crowd of maybe 500 people. Stramler is a county park and the county should be monitoring whether a concert is adults only or a family event." 

 * ... Y MEMORY: The movement to restore the local "Y" (formerly known as the YMCA) to its previous glory drew this memory from long-time Bakersfield plaintiff's lawyer Milt Younger. He was about six years old when he attended a summer camp in the Sierra's sponsored by the YMCA. The camp director was Pat Kelley, who later went on to become a state Assemblyman, and Younger said he shared a cabin with Pat's twin boys, Tom and John Kelly. Of course John Kelley went on to become a Superior Court judge while his brother became a real estate developer. Younger said a camp counselor once found the twins fighting and promptly hauled them down to a creek and dunked them. That stopped the fight, at least for a time being.

 * ... RIO GRANDE: Geraldine Sproul wrote to say she too remembers the old Rio Grande service station that stood at the corner of North Chester and Robert's Lane where the McDonalds now stands. "I happen to have a picture of Emmit Blaisdell and Richard Blaisdell sitting on a three-wheel Indian motorcycle" in front of the station in 1944. That would two years before the parents of Kenny Barnes ran the station. Sproul said the Blaisdells owned the whole corner there and the brick building that faces North Chester that is now Oildale Glass. "The brick building was originally a bakery. Then in the late 1940s or 1950s it become a cabinet shop."

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Denney Evans writes that you may be a Bakersfield old timer "if you remember the Jimi Hendrix concert at the Civic in the late 1960s. Pretty sure I was there."

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New fractures in the town-gown relationship between CSUB and its supporters and Ben Stinson resigns from the Foundation Board

 * .... CSUB: The deteriorating relationship between the administration at Cal State Bakersfield and some of its biggest supporters has gotten so bad it is affecting the university's ability to raise money. And for the first time, some long-time CSUB supporters are openly questioning the leadership of President Horace Mitchell. At the center of the storm is Beverly Byl, the vice president of University Advancement who Mitchell recruited from the University of the Pacific three years ago. Insiders describe her as dictatorial and paranoid, and she has managed to both insult and alienate some of the school's biggest supporters, including members of the alumni board and the CSUB Foundation. Last week outgoing Foundation chair Geoff King publicly called on Byl to resign, and I have now learned that Ben Stinson (Stinson's Stationers) resigned from the Foundation Board because of Byl's divisive nature. In addition, Stinson apparently sent word to Mitchell that he would not write another check to support the athletic programs until Byl was gone. Both King and Stinson are CSUB graduates and Foundation chairs and they represent the kind of supporters no university can afford to alienate. I have also learned that King, Stinson and former Foundation chairs Mel Atkinson, Rogers Brandon and Greg Bynum met with Mitchell 18 months ago to share their concerns about Byl, but it fell on deaf ears. The climate inside the University Advancement office is described as "a constant state of paranoia" where employees fear Byl will cut their pay or eliminate their position if she feels one is not on her team. Up to this point Mitchell has enjoyed widespread support, but as one insider told me: "All this could really hurt Horace's legacy." Stay tuned. (file photos of Byl, Mitchell)

 * ... OLD GLORY: Steve McCalley wrote in response to an early reader's complaint about American flags being made in China. "I have purchased my flags at Congressman Kevin McCarthy's office for several years. Made in the USA for under 20 bucks." Mary Helen Barro added that American-made flags are also on sale at Floyd's and Supply Sergeant, and reader Pat Mahan said Orchard Hardware Supply also has flags made in the USA.

 * ... FREDDIE'S: An earlier blog about Freddie's Top of the Hill drew this response from reader Gene Bonus. He noted his Garces class of 1957 had its 10-year reunion there because a classmate, Bradley Paola, was a nephew of the original owner. "One of the most famous watering holes in Bakersfield at that time was Amestoy's On the Hill. That place was always jumping. Amestoy's served excellent lunches and it was the place to be, especially on weekends. After being separated from the Navy and having returned to college (Bakersfield JC and Fresno State College extension) I spent many days at Amestoy's studying. According to legend, Mr. Paola named his place Top of the Hill since Frank and Marie Amestoy already had On the Hill."

 * ... MORE FREDDIE'S: Phillip Beltran grew up in Oildale where he went to North High, moved to Santa Clarita and was back visiting his parents when he read my blog about Freddie's. He noted that his father, Ray Beltran Jr., used to work for Freddie Giovanitte at the Skyway House restaurant out at Meadows field. "You also had a reader mention the Rio Grande service station at the corner of Roberts Lane and Chester. I don't know how many of your readers recall Sandy's Drive In at the east end of Roberts Lane before the extension of Manor Drive was completed. Sandy's sat facing west where that intersection came to a T.... Life as a child in Oildale was carefree and fun. We didn't have cell phones but our parents never worried where we were. Our time to come home was before the streetlights came on. Thank you for publishing memories in your column."

 * .... LAST WORD: And there is this from John N. Mixon: "Don't believe in beating a dead horse, but couldn't resist mentioned that you are really an old time if you remember when Freddie had a small restaurant at the Garces Circle and later at the airport before Top of the Hill. Also was the victim of an unsolved murder."

 * ... TAX ATTORNEY: Mark Allison, a Foothill High graduate who went on to graduate from Claremont McKenna, has joined the law firm of Caplin and Drysdale in New York. Mark is the son of Bob and Heidi Allison. He earned his law degrees from American University and New York University. He will be a New York based member in the tax controversies and tax litigation unit.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: From reader LaVone Walker: You know you're from Bakersfield if you remember when there was a train, zoo and bumper cars at Hart Park.