Sunday, December 30, 2012

Making and keeping those New Year's resolutions, more good deeds by Twilight Rotary and Mark Salvaggio joins the staff of Supervisor David Couch

* ... NEW YEAR: Local wealth advisor Bradley Barnes has his own "to do" list for 2013, and it is worth sharing.  "For me, true happiness comes from helping others. That’s what I’ll be spending my time doing," he said. "Here’s my list of New Year’s resolutions: Do something every day to help someone who needs it. Give more than I take. Create a great legacy for those who come after me." Hard to top that.

* ... MY LIST: Some of my wishes for the new year: a healthier local housing market, more jobs and lower unemployment, less news about Lindsay Lohan and the Khardasians, political courage in Washington to compromise and get the job done and a more civil dialogue among those who disagree.

 * ... ROTARY: More good news from our local service clubs, in this case Twilight Rotary, which is just three years old. Said Barry Rosenfeld: "Over the past two weekends we have provided more than 100 toys to needy children transitioning from homelessness with their parents as clients of Flood Ministries. We also assisted Covenant Community Services with their toy drive (more toys!) as well as providing former foster children with gently used clothing."

 * ... SALVAGGIO: Former city councilman Mark Salvaggio is joining the staff of new Kern County Supervisor David Couch. Salvaggio never really left political life when he retired from the council, and has the heart of a civil servant even if you don't agree with all his views. "This will be my second tour of duty with the County of Kern.  I will approach every constituent issue and circumstance with the same dogged commitment that I exercised during my five years of service with former Supervisor Michael J. Rubio in the 5th District.  No problem will be too small and people from all stations of life will be served."

* ... LITTER: A reader who will remain nameless dropped me a note that, despite my rants about litter, even The Californian is occasionally guilty. "This morning I went out to pick up my newspaper just as the Bakersfield Californian deliveryman drove up and threw it from his window. Not seeing me, he reached back into his car, threw a second item out the window, and then drove off.  I picked up the paper, and then saw that the second item was some trash (cardboard that is used to hold the plastic bags the newspapers are placed in).  It isn’t a big deal, and I of course picked it up, but considering your commendable efforts to call attention to the amount of litter in our community, I thought it ironic that a Bakersfield Californian employee was willfully spreading trash on his morning rounds. I suspect that this was not my regular delivery person, as the paper came two hours later than normal, but I thought you would be interested." I apologize for that and thank you for writing.

 * ... BELMONT PARK: Carol Black dropped me a note about the news that the same group that owns The Padre Hotel will be restoring Belmont Park in San Diego.  "As a teenager, back in the 1950s I hung out at Mission Beach every summer. When we had a quarter, we would ride the roller coaster at Belmont Park and we paid 10 or 15 cents to swim at the Plunge.  However, the ocean was free, so that's where we spent the majority of our days.  Oh, the memories!  My husband and I go to San Diego at least once a year and we always spend a few hours walking around Belmont Park.  Can't go down there without my Mission Beach fix!"

Friday, December 21, 2012

McCarthy: simplify the tax code, cut spending and reform entitlement programs

 House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives us his weekly report from Congress. In his words:

"This week in Bakersfield, we celebrate the homecoming of two local heroes, Lance Corporal Josh Brubaker and First Lieutenant Sam Van Kopp. The outpouring of support and the huge crowds that showed up to welcome these two brave men home reflect the remarkable community that we live in.  Veterans and families across Kern County, many who did not know these heroes personally, came to thank them for their service, sacrifice, and dedication to our nation. As we reflect on the sacrifices these men have made, let us also remember the men and women in uniform that continue to defend us and are not home with their loved ones during this holiday season.

"Also this week, many other parents are welcoming their children and family home from around the country as the holiday season begins. I know Judy and I are excited  that our son Connor will be coming home from college and joining us and our daughter Meghan for Christmas. As we think about Christmas, our families and our families’ future, we cannot ignore the burdens that our growing national debt poses to our children and to hardworking families in our communities.

 "Like all parents, we want to ensure that our children grow up in an America where their opportunities are limitless, not limited. We want a future that is not burdened by debt but emboldened by opportunity – when my children were still both in high school a couple of years ago, their shares of the national debt were $45,000 each. If this trend of growing debt continues, by the time they begin their own families, their individual share, and that of their children, will have grown to $100,000. That is both unacceptable and unsustainable. We need to cut spending and pay down our national debt. The numbers show that if we do nothing, every federal tax dollar will be consumed by our entitlement programs which will soon be insolvent if nothing is done.

 "It’s time for all sides to get serious in averting the fiscal cliff before the end of the year and prevent the permanent $4 trillion tax hike on January 1st that every American faces. We cannot negotiate with ourselves.  Throughout our community, we all know mothers and fathers who continue to give up scarce family time working overtime to provide for their children. Parents not only work to get their kids out of bed and off to school, but are working harder outside the home to support their families.  American families deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money. To get our fiscal house in order and to reinvigorate our economy, we need to simplify our tax code, cut spending, and reform our entitlement programs. I hope the President and the Senate become willing participants to change the direction of our country.  There’s no better time than the holidays to come together.

"We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A happy ending for Blackie, an American Staffordshire Terrier who was left in Bakersfield after his owner was injured in a truck crash. He is now back home in Texas

 * ... BLACKIE: Patricia Boles is active in the local animal rescue community and shared with me the story of Blackie, a sweet American Staffordshire Terrier who was separated from his owner after a truck accident here. For three months Blackie was cared for by the folks at the Kern County Animal Shelter while his owner was convalescing in Texas. Boles meanwhile raised enough money to fly Blackie back to Texas in a private plane, but only after a commercial carrier at LAX refused because it thought Blackie was a dangerous pitbull. Said Boles: "Cherie Charlton spent hours on and off work exercising this dog... The dog was returned home by Bonny Schumaker (an amazing woman and president of a group called 'On Wings of Care') and of course all of this was overseen by the new (animal control) director Jan Woodward. Just think everyone should see that all the workers at KCAC have big hearts and though they have a distressing job to face daily they truly love animals." (photo of Bonny Schumaker and Blackie)

 * ... WELCOME HOME: This is the time of year when the sons and daughters of Bakersfield who are living away or at college come home to rekindle friendships and enjoy a home cooked meal. One of those in town is Sarah Audelo, daughter of Joe and Mimi Audelo, who now holds a Master of Public Policy from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. Sarah graduated from Ridgeview High School and received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

 * ... MUSEUM: Bernie Herman, the retiring executive director of the Bakersfield Museum of Art, sent out a seasonal letter asking folks to donate to the museum. Herman will retire early next year (a search committee is interviewing finalists for his job now) and we should all take a moment to thank Bernie for guiding the museum these past eight years. When Herman became director, the museum had more than $1 million in debt. Today it is debt free and thriving, offering summer camps for children and sponsoring such popular events as Via Arte.

 * ... HOLIDAY THEFT: Eileen Sanchez awoke the other day to find that thieves made off with her son's basketball hoop. "I know this might seem trivial considering what has been happening in the world these days, but I wanted to share my disappointment at a time of year that should be full of giving and good tidings. My son's basketball hoop was stolen by a thief in the night. Actually, more like probably four thieves as this basketball hoop had a 54 inch glass backboard, water in the base, and weighed at least 300 pounds, no easy task. We purchased the hoop for his birthday this past June and he has shot baskets almost everyday since. My son and his dad spent ten hours putting that thing together and rolling it outside making sure it was just the right height.  He taped off the free throw line and knew just where the three point shots were.  It's sad to discover how quickly someone can take the joy out of a young boy's heart. Again, I know having a basketball hoop stolen is nothing compared to many things that are happening, but it's just one more sad example of a culture where people are so willing to take from others without hesitation, and from a child no less."

* ... GOOD WORK: The folks over at West Rotary are up to more seasonal good needs.  The group volunteered to sponsor 30 needy children at the KCMH-Children's Services this Christmas. Said county worker Vija A. Turjanis: "Last week I needed a trailer to pick up all the gifts that Rotary West  donated in response to the letter our kids wrote.  The  generosity of this organization is truly amazing as they made the magic of the holiday season came alive. Our neediest kids are going to have the most awesome Christmas and they will believe that our community and Santa does care for them and most importantly they will know that they are not forgotten during the holidays."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A happy ending: the story of an abandoned dog, the farmer who found it and the trucker who adopted it

* ... JEFF ROSS: Shares in the mobile marketing company Velti PLC rose sharply this week after it hired a respected executive as chief financial officer. That executive is Jeff Ross, the former chief financial officer of the software maker Sybase Inc. Ross is a 1983 graduate of North High School and went on to earn a degree from Cal Berkeley. He is the son of Barbie and Dick Ross, who taught math at North High. Prior to working for Sybase, Ross worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers and held other finance jobs at other companies.

* ... HAPPY ENDING: From my mailbag came this delightful story of a little chihuahua who was abandoned along the side of a local road and rescued by a farmer named Travis Fugitt. A "found dog" advertisement was posted in The Californian and - voila - a Chicago-based trucker spotted it while driving through town. Now the chihuahua, comfy in her new sweater, is at home in Chicago and named Baby II after the trucker's other chihuahua who recently died. She even accompanies him on the road and rumor is they will back through town this week. Who says there is no good news in the newspaper?

 * ... OVERHEARD: In Costco a middle aged man asks a young woman where to find Scotch Tape. "It's over there," she responds, "and it's delicious!" "Scotch Tape?" he queries. Flustered, the woman says, "Oh, I thought you said scalloped potatoes."

* ... BELMONT PARK: Last week I mentioned that the same folks who renovated the Padre Hotel three years ago had been awarded a contract to refurbish Belmont Park In Mission Beach. Bow Porter read that and mentioned that her mother, Alice Ball, was a cashier at the facility, which she referred to simply as 'the amusement center.' "My mom was a cashier at the Plunge and the Dance Hall when the center was first developed. My dad (Bob McGetchin) was a San Diego County surveyor, and a beach boy at heart... There was a dance hall that was quite plush, with a large stage and huge dance floor, and seating area... probably cocktail tables. As a child, I remember the marathon dancers, that would dance for days at a time, staying on their feet until they fell from exhaustion. The last guy standing won. As children we peeked thru the windows as we were not allowed inside without adults." (photos courtesy of Bow Porter)

 * ... MY TAKE: I personally welcome the national conversation about violence in our society in all its forms: mental illness, the culture of violence in movies and video games and of course gun ownership. But I hope we don't believe that banning military style assault rifles and the number of rounds in a clip will stop these types of senseless killings. These types of rifles are deadly, but any ballistics expert will tell you a simple semi-automatic shotgun (the type used for bird hunting or clay sports and easy to reload) can inflict equal or even greater damage at close range. This is not an argument against the ban, but rather a thought that the problem is larger than any single weapon design. Banning assault rifles may make us all feel good, but the truth is it is almost impossible to legislate our way to a safe society.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Virgil Wilson, one of the great mentors and coaches for Kern County basketball players, dies in Arkansas and is remembered for his soft touch with young players

* ....SANDY HOOK: The shooting at the Connecticut elementary school is almost beyond belief, and the fact that the gunman targeted young girls and boys makes it particularly horrific. I will only add my voice to those who believe that focusing solely on gun control misses the point. I do hope the national conversation will also address the issue of providing sufficient, professional help to those who battle mental illness in our society.

* ... RIP VIRGIL:  Many of you may remember Virgil Wilson, one of Kern County's legendary  basketball coaches who died last month in Arkansas at the age of 67. He stood 6-foot, 9 inches tall and was a former employee of the Bakersfield police department and a member of the Harlem Stars. He spent years tutoring and guiding many of Kern County's great young basketball players. Randy Ariey wrote that Virgil was known as "best big man coach in town. He tutored Robert Swift, Winston Crite, Otis Jennings and others. Virgil had a heart of gold and never ever complained about anything in life. He was matter of fact about everything, through the good times and the bad. In the 1990s Magic Johnson would personally call Virgil every year  to work his summer camps. Virg also was the D-line coach for the Fresno Semi Pro team back in the 1990s. So long Big Virg, see you later friend!"

 * ... HOUCHIN: The Houchin Community Blood Bank's new facility off Buena Vista Road is a beautiful facility that will certainly be welcomed by the thousands of folks who eagerly volunteer to donate their blood. It's a $10 million facility spread over 42,000 square feet on five acres of land. I attended a Friday reception there and left impressed with the design and open friendliness of the facility.

* ... BRYAN: Bryan Kelley is the witty, garrulous employee of Trader Joe's who was surprised last month when he received a $5,000 check from a regular customer who passed away and remembered him in her trust. And his good luck just keeps on rolling. "First came the customer's check for $5,000 and then yesterday the Bank of America sent us a refund check for overpayment from our mortgage escrow account - for three cents! I am off to buy some lottery tickets whilst lady luck is still downstage center"

* ... DOG RESCUE: Here is a story about a lost dog with a happy ending. A few days ago, local resident  Marlene Freedman was driving to work when she spotted a dog being tossed out of a car at Beach Park. She picked up the dog and fellow law firm paralegals Marcy DeGeare and Pam Brito sent out emails to other paralegals to find the dog a home. In short order an employee from Chain Cohn Stiles adopted it. Said Marlene Morales of Chain Cohn Stiles: "Best of all, this dog went from being thrown out of a car to the mascot for Chain Cohn Stiles.  Her name is Justice."

 * ... ADIOS: Congratulations are in order for Brad Underwood, a long-time city employee who has accepted a job as public works director in Foster City. Underwood has worked for the city for 26 years, most recently as assistant public works director. Said his wife Vickie: "We have been very blessed living here, raising our girls and will miss this awesome city very much!"

Friday, December 14, 2012

McCarthy: Regulatory climate stifles innovation and hinders opportunity; business startup are at the lowest level in 17 years

 House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) gives us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his own words:

"This week, we remember a historic milestone that occurred right here in Kern County. On December 14, 1986, a special plane named Voyager began its successful journey around the world nonstop without refueling; the first trip of its kind.  Nine days later, a record was broken and history was made.  What began as a dream and a drawing on a small piece of paper grew into a tremendous community effort that resulted in the construction of a plane designed by Burt Rutan and piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager. Today, Voyager greets everyone who enters the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

 "This effort, driven by a group of risk takers seeking to achieve the unthinkable, marks the very spirit of the entrepreneur.  They dared to do the impossible and they succeeded. And if we are going to foster job growth in America, we must reinvigorate our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit and American innovation. We are at the lowest level of business startups in seventeen years.  Labor participation is at a 30 year low with an additional 350,000 Americans giving up looking for work.  Prosperity does not occur by accident nor is created by government; it is created by the hard work of the people in our community, throughout California, and across America.
 "With more regulations, more litigation, and more burdens on the everyday small business owners, we must ask ourselves: are we stifling our entrepreneurial spirit?

 "Our regulatory climate hinders opportunity, increases costs, and stifles innovation. More red tape and more regulations discourage our local job creators and hurt our economy. From 2009 to 2011, over 100 major regulations have been issued, costing our economy more than $46 billion annually.  And earlier this year, a Small Business Administration study found regulations cost small businesses 36% more than their larger counterparts.  I continue to ask local small business owners to share with me what they face on a daily basis, and time after time, they say they are tired of new and ever-changing regulatory burdens, increased paperwork burdens, and the constant threat of litigation or other legal burdens that impact them every day.

 "The groundbreaking achievement made 26 years ago by the Voyager flight no doubt inspired a generation of pilots, engineers, and aerospace leaders.  While many of us may not build the next spaceship, I believe it inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs.  And that daring spirit is exactly what we need to continue championing today.  Throughout Kern County, there are countless stories of individuals who took a risk, started a business, and are working to keep it afloat.  In fact, seven out of every ten new jobs are created by these very individuals. As we continue to debate the need to simplify our tax code, reduce regulations, and end our borrowing, these actions are critical to ensure that we revitalize entrepreneurship and startups in America.  Our economy needs this to happen to spur new employment, innovation, and growth. "

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The owners of The Padre Hotel win a contract to renovate and restore Belmont Park in Mission Beach and there is turmoil in our local arts organizations

* ... PADRE: The owners of The Padre Hotel have been chosen to renovate one of San Diego's most historic areas, Belmont Park in Mission Beach. Brett Miller, CEO of Eat.Drink.Sleep, the company that brought The Padre back to life three years ago, said he looks forward to working with architects and engineers to return Belmont to a premier entertainment venue.The company also owns the Tower23 hotel and restaurant in Pacific Beach and the boutique hotel Heat in Lake Havasu.

 * ... LOST DOG: If you have a dog or cat, have you bothered to have them "chipped" so they can be returned if they get lost? Susan Ferguson wishes she had done so with her 15-year-old Bichon who escaped from her Westchester home recently. "Please urge your readers to get their animals chipped," "She had just been brushed and her collar was off.  Someone said they saw her near Jim Burke Ford but wasn't able to get her." As a side note, she posted a note on her lost dog on Craigslist, which is notorious for its scam artists. And now people are calling her from boiler rooms offering to find her dog for a hefty price.

 * ... LOCAL ARTS: There is a lot of turmoil in the local arts community with the top jobs of two important organizations- the Bakersfield Museum of Art and the Arts Council of Kern - in limbo. At the museum, a search committee is interviewing finalists for the director's job being vacated by retiring director Bernie Herman. Meanwhile the director of the Arts Council, Michael Millar, is on leave for an unspecified illness. Miller has been on the job since last summer but is largely unknown in the community (never helpful when trying to raise money), and during his absence the board has had to resort to layoffs because of dire financial conditions. Stay tuned. (file photo of Bernie Herman)

* ... SCHAEFER: Kim Schaefer, who worked for Congressman Jim Costa for more than two years, has joined the staff of incoming Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez. A native of Bar Harbor, Maine, Schaefer transferred to Stockdale High School in her junior year and later went on to study at both Bakersfield College and Cal State Bakersfield. She was a campaign coordinator for Costa and is now a communications director for Perez. She is 32.

 * ... SOUTHWEST BASEBALL: One of the better run, and more generous, organizations in town in the Southwest Baseball League. This weekend the leagaue will be hosting its Toys for Toys tournament with more than 60 teams involved. Each player will donate an unwrapped toy and the league will donate another couple thousand dollars to the Jamieson Center. In November, the league held a Turkey Trot Tournament that allowed it to donate 60 turkeys and $2,000 to local shelters. Now that's setting a good example for these kids.

 * ... RENEGADES: The victory by the Bakersfield College Renegades before 16,000 fans like week continues to resonate among fans. Said Ben Ansolabehere: "I think the best words I can use, as Jerry Collis used to say, is 'Good Old Kern County Pride.' Pride in the players, never quitting, determined to achieve their goals, and doing their jobs to the best of their abilities while knowing their teammates are doing the same... Finally to the people and fans of Kern County and BC in particular. They transported many of us old players and alumni of BC back, in my case 45 years, to the time when BC football was this very same experience every Saturday home game."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Local cycling phenom Tyler Williams is named to a major racing team, looking for sad Christmas songs and remembering Officer Val at Bakersfield High School

 * ... OFFICER VAL: My story on the late Bakersfield police officer Val Torres last week brought another memory from former Bakersfield High student Riley Parker. "Like David Gay, I also had a flood of memories when I saw Val Torres’ (obituary) photo last week. Probably the best was the day that he stopped four of us returning to school from an off campus trip to a local pool hall. Val’s solution was to escort us to the old BPD building that sat on the north side of Truxtun Avenue between ‘H’ and Eye Streets. Val marched us in and sat us all down in the ‘squad room’ where he instructed us to read various sections of the Penal Code addressing our absence from classes and the possible ramifications of our conduct. After a brief education in the law, Val sent us back to BHS to meet with Mr. Martin. That experience ended our short lived career in the fine art of cutting classes."

 * ... CYCLIST: Congratulations to Tyler Williams, an 18-year-old former Centennial High School student who will be joining the BMC professional cycling team. Only four of the 14 riders on the elite BMC development team are Americans. The team will give these incredible young athletes a chance to race at a higher level in Europe and the United States. Tyler only started riding bikes a few years ago and has risen quickly to the highest levels of the sport. Last year he spent time in Europe riding for the U.S. Junior cycling team.

 * ... CRIME: The amount of petty thefts across town this Christmas season is truly astounding. Bikes are stolen out of garages and even Christmas decorations are disappearing from yards. This past weekend, a young woman was locked out of a house and was sleeping in her car in La Cresta (waiting for others to return) when she was awakened by a man who used a rock to smash the window to steal her purse.

* ... LOST CAT: The folks over at the SPCA on Gibson Street provide an important service in scanning stray cats to determine if they are "chipped" so they can be returned to their owner. I took a stray over there the other day and sure enough she was chipped and registered to a Karen Smith of Ridgecrest. The phone number was disconnected and the address was no longer relevant, but if you are reading this, Karen, contact me to be reunited with your pet.

 * ... COVENANT: Covenant Community Services, the group devoted to helping current and former foster children get on their feet, is hosting a unique fund raiser beginning this Thursday. It's called "The Party No One Came To" and is a way to bid on auction items online. There are tickets to San Francisco 49er games, a NASCAR racing experience and much more. Simply go to to register and bid.

 * ... BUCK: Longtime music critic and writer Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times has released a list of "some of the saddest yuletide songs ever recorded." Among those making the list were "It's Christmas Time for Everyone but Me" by Buck Owens and "If We Make it Through December" by Merle Haggard.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dr. Ravi Patel to appear on Californian Radio on Monday to discuss the state of cancer care in Kern County

* ... RAVI PATEL: Dr. Ravi Patel is perhaps the most prominent oncologist in town, and he made news last week when it was announced that his Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center would team with Memorial and Mercy hospitals to provide cancer care. Patel will be my guest on Californian Radio KERN 1180 Monday at 9 a.m. to talk about the state of cancer care and some of the advances in treating this dreaded disease.

 * ... MCCARTHY: Rep. Kevin McCarthy represented the House Republican leadership when he squared off against Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) on the Sunday edition of "Meet the Press." McCarthy, speaking as House Majority Whip, told moderator David Gregory that the country has a spending problem that cannot be dealt with by simply raising taxes.

* ... OFFICER VAL: The death of Val Torres, a former Bakersfield police motorcycle officer, prompted this response from local Realtor David Gay. "I had a bittersweet moment as a photograph in yesterday’s obituary jumped out at me. Motorcycle officer Val Torres’ picture brought back wonderful memories, as he was the patrol officer assigned to the BHS campus in the 1960s. During those years, a student parking permit was required to park our cars, on the city streets around campus, and it was 'Officer Val’s' responsibility to inspect each car at the start of the school year. With 4,000 students at that time, I know he must have heard every story in the book, as he measured the clearance of the 'rake' cars, or discovered steel wool trying to substitute for a muffler. Through it all, Officer Val was always a great role model for all of us, as one of Bakersfield’s 'finest.'"

 * ... HOMELESS: Natalie Page Horvat helped put a face on the homeless with this note. "I helped an incredible homeless man today. He was fishing through our dumpster at work and at the same time he was picking up all of the trash that was scattered on the ground from the littering and inconsiderate business neighbors that we have . A homeless man cleaning the mess of privileged people. It angered me to see this man cleaning up after these people while he was desperately searching for items to survive on. We recycle at work, so I retrieved two huge bags of aluminum cans and plastic bottles. I went out there with a Smuckers Uncrustable sandwich and the recycling. I felt that he deserved something for the selfless act that he was committing because, in reality he was beautifying my work environment. He started to cry almost immediately and told me that it was a gift from God and that God was rewarding him for trying to change his path in life. He reached out to shake my hand and I shook it even though it was incredibly filthy. I've never experienced such sincere gratitude. He got on his knees in front of me and said a prayer thanking God. Wow, it was a crazy and incredibly humbling experience for the both of us. It doesn't take much to do something small, but significant for people."

* ... CHICKENS: Michele Magyar lives up in the city area of La Cresta and noted that the Animal Control officers cited her two chihuahuas for not having a purple tag identifying licensing. But, she wonders, what about all those chickens in her neighborhood? "I am wondering if the people next door to me with at least 12 chickens received any kind of citation..   Some mornings while driving to work, west of Alta Vista Drive, I have to stop the car to let the chickens cross the road and this is three blocks from where I live.  I realize that some change is good however... maybe chickens in the city is not such a good idea."

Friday, December 7, 2012

House Majority Whip McCarthy: California's high speed rail project is a recipe for failure

 House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) provides us his weekly view from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "It’s always hard running a small business and in today’s climate, it's even harder. I remember waking up early cutting up vegetables getting ready for the lunch time rush at Kevin O’s Deli and staying late to finish payroll and close up. As you drive across town from the Marketplace to Rosedale Highway to downtown Bakersfield, you find many of our hometown small businesses. These entrepreneurs and their employees are the powerhouse of job creation in our local economy. Unfortunately, they’ll now endure more state and federal taxes along with higher premiums and regulations. The resurgence of the American economy and California economy depends on revival of small business growth, something some in Washington and Sacramento are forgetting.

  "This week I met with a group of small business owners who shared their challenges if the President raises their taxes. These tax increases would hit almost one million small businesses, cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and, according to the President’s own budget, supply enough annual revenue to keep the federal government open for only five days. I hear from local small business owners trying to figure out how to survive in today’s economy as health care premiums continue to rise, and over fifty cents out of every dollar earned could go toward paying just state and federal taxes. We cannot tax, spend, and borrow our way to prosperity. It will make it harder for small businesses to grow and create needed jobs for American families. In fact, when economists combined state, federal and, where applicable, local income taxes, plus payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, they found that the highest tax rate in California, which affects many small business owners, would hit 51.9%! This is not sustainable.

 "As we approach the fiscal cliff, Congress cannot ignore the spending side of the government ledger, and that’s why we must also carefully scrutinize all federal spending to reduce waste.  Few projects deserve more scrutiny than California’s high-speed rail project.  In my testimony this week at a congressional hearing about the viability of high-speed rail in California, I outlined our communities’ concerns with this project.  The ridership numbers don’t add up, private investment remains nonexistent, and meanwhile, the California High Speed Rail Authority continues to request more federal taxpayer dollars. This isn’t a recipe for success. The current high speed rail plan to be finished relies on another $38 billion from the federal government. As we work to reduce our debt, it is critical that we, as stewards of scarce taxpayer dollars, hold the California High Speed Rail Authority accountable for this billion-dollar project.

 "This week many recognized the birth of Winston Churchill and remembered what he said regarding taxes, “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” Churchill was right over a century ago and he’s right today. We must reform the tax code, cut spending and grow our economy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bako Bits: Kevin McCarthy will appear on Meet the Press Sunday to discuss the fiscal cliff, and are people really using ashes from their dead pets to create fake diamond rings?

  * ... PROP 30: It should probably not come as a surprise but much of the money raised by the new taxes approved by voters under Proposition 30 won't go to schools after all. At least that is the conclusion of The Orange County Register, which reported the money will instead be used to bail out the underfunded teacher's pension fund. Said the Register: "It took less than two weeks to confirm what we suspected: Much of the money from the Proposition 30 tax increases approved by voters is not going to go to schools, as advertised, but to teachers’ pensions. According to, 'More money for the underfunded California State Teachers Retirement System may be considered by the Legislature next year, thanks to new attention from lawmakers and a state budget deficit narrowed by a voter-approved tax increase this month.'"

 * ... PETS: Losing a pet is heart breaking, and some people will go to almost any lengths to keep that furry friend in their memory. But using their ashes to create a fake diamond ring? That's right, at least according to a story in The Wall Street Journal. It's a growing trend, in which the remains are used in the fabrication of fake diamonds so one can gaze into a ring and remember the departed. "The idea of turning the carbon in ashes into man-made diamonds emerged a decade ago as a way to memorialize humans," the paper said." Today, departed pets are fueling the industry's growth with a handful of companies selling diamonds, gemstones and other jewelry out of pet remains, including hair and feathers."

 * ... MEET THE PRESS: House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) will be a guest this Sunday on "Meet the Press" to discuss the ongoing negotiations between House leaders and President Obama to avoid the fiscal cliff. Make sure to tune into KGET Sunday morning to take it in.

* ... KBAK: More reader feedback on KBAK parting ways with anchor Lisa Krch. From Hanford Lee: "My wife Nancy and I agree with Virginia Frazier.  We are sorry to see Lisa,  John (Dabkovich), Layla (Santiago) and Cambi (Brown) leave. So we made the logical move --we now watch Channel 17 and other local news sources."

 * ... FIRST FRIDAY: Downtown's popular First Friday event returns this Friday night and this month's edition is billed as downtown holiday shopping night. Great Christmas gifts can be found at such local retailers as Kuka's Folk Art, House of Flowers, Curiosity Shop and even something for your pup at Biscuit Doggy Boutique. As usual galleries in the Arts District will be having new exhibit openings. Over at Metro Galleries artist Christine McKee's new show, "On the Homefront," premieres. This exhibit focuses on what military families deal with when their loved one's are away serving our country.  Twenty percent of opening night proceeds will be donated to NAMI Frontline of Kern County.

 * ... BAD FORM: From one of my regular contributors: "I was in the new Target on Stockdale Highway and saw a woman in the makeup aisle putting on eye makeup.  I thought it rather strange but figured she just didn’t have time to get ready to go so brought her makeup with her. Not. She was using the eye makeup from the display and when she finished her beauty routine she snapped the container shut and put it back on the display. Being a patient woman, I waited for the next clerk to walk by, showed it to her and she removed it. It is beyond my comprehension that anyone would do that."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Caltrans' recommendation to put a freeway through the Westpark neighborhood gets more heat from readers, and do you allow your dog or cat to share your bed?

* ... WESTPARK: My earlier blog about the plans by Caltrans to rip through Westpark to extend Highway 58 drew this response from former resident James Houck. "Your piece today and Lois Henry's were interesting to this old timer who remembers what Caltrans, abetted by the city of Bakersfield, did to stable neighborhoods in the 1950s and 1960s. They started ruining neighborhoods by turning 24th Street and Niles Street into one-way thoroughfares. Westchester and what is now called old Westchester are still dealing with that mess, as you well know. Then they ripped through some nice old neighborhoods to turn 58 (then 466) and 178 into freeways. The results can still be seen from H Street to about Cottonwood Road on 58 and from Union Avenue to about Haley Street on 178. No wonder those are among the highest-crime areas in the city. Westpark will join them soon."

 * ... PETS: A recent national survey revealed that of the American families that own pets, fully 70 percent of them allow their dogs or cats to sleep with them, a percentage almost equal to the number of married people who share the same bed. Surprised?

* ... MADISON: I wrote recently about the great Hollywood actor Guy Madison, who grew up in Bakersfield before a successful acting career in the 1950s. I apparently erred in reporting that he went to East High when in fact he graduated from the old Kern County Union High School. Said Joyce Hobbs: "After re-reading your column, I realized that Guy Madison must have transferred from East High to Bakersfield Junior College, on the same grounds those days as KCUHS. Darn, and all that time I thought he was a Driller!" You were correct Joyce. Mea culpa.

 * ... MORE MADISON: And there was this from William Upshaw: "I take exception to your piece about Guy Madison. His real name was Robert Mosley. He lived on Terrace Way, just east of Chester Avenue. He attended Kern County Union High School, not East High. He joined the Navy during WW II. He had bit parts in movies before he become Wild Bill Hickok. His family and my family were close friends."

* ... ADIOS KRCH: And another reader, Virginia Frazier of Lamont, wrote to express her dismay that KBAK TV had parted ways with anchor Lisa Krch. "This is just too much... John Dabkovich, Leyla Santiago and Cambi Brown.  I think management should seriously think about replacing news director Cristi Jesse. We are seriously considering switching to Channel 17 for our morning and evening news."

 * ... KBAK: And speaking of Krch, it looks like Amity Addrisi will be replacing Krch as anchor of the KBAK weekday newscasts. Amity has spent time as a morning anchor on Channel 29.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Longtime KBAK anchor Lisa Krch is leaving the station and questioning why Caltrans insists on plowing through a long established neighborhood to extend a freeway

* ... ANCHOR AWAY: Longtime KBAK/KBFX Eyewitness News anchor Lisa Krch has reportedly been let go by the CBS and Fox affiliates. Krch arrived in 1997 from Chico/Redding as morning anchor and later moved to the prime evening anchor slot. This latest talent change is one of many that news director Cristi Jesse has made since arriving at the duopoly last year.

 * ... WESTPARK: If you haven't read the column by Lois Henry on why Caltrans is insisting on plowing through the Westpark neighborhood to extend Highway 58, I recommend you do so. It is amazing to me that we would opt to destroy several hundred single-family homes and permanently divide a neighborhood just to save a couple of parks, which could easily be relocated and replaced.

* ... CALIFORNIA: There is little doubt that California economy is improving, but how you feel about that depends on where you live. Coastal areas are rebounding nicely, but the Central Valley and other inland areas are still struggling. According to a New York Times analysis, the Bakersfield metro area has a jobless rate of 13.4 percent compared to 7.7 percent in Santa Barbara and 7.9 percent in San Francisco. Fresno's unemployment rate came in at 14.9 percent, which the state average held at just over 10 percent.

 * ... WHAT RECESSION? Our jobless rate may be stubbornly high, but it hasn't stopped us from enjoying our favorite restaurants. I was out Saturday night and tried - unsuccessfully - to get a seat at both K.C. Steakhouse and Enso downtown, both of them doing booming businesses. We ended up squeezing in at Muertos in the Wall Street alley, but it's good to see the local eateries seems to be doing well.

 * ... HOT MARKET: And if you don't think the local housing market is heating up, consider this: A friend who works at Trader Joe's is being transferred and listed his house the day before Thanksgiving. By the Friday after Thanksgiving, he had five offers on his house and seven scheduled showings the next day. His listing agent: Laurie McCarty of Coldwell Banker.

 * ... CHRISTMAS NEEDS: The Centennial Medical Group has collected supplies for our troops overseas but is having trouble finding someone to help box them and ship them abroad. If you can help, contact Joanne Pearce at (661) 326-8989.

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that Guy Madison, the Hollywood star who played a starring role in "The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok" in the 1950s, was from Bakersfield? He was born in Pumpkin Center and went to both East High School and Bakersfield College before heading off to Hollywood. He was married briefly to the actress Gail Russell and died in 1966.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

McCarthy: The fiscal cliff must be avoided but a deal must deal with our mounting national debt and the tax burden carried by small businesses

 The weekly note on BakersfieldObserved from House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) returns. This week he talks about the negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff. In his words:

"The discussion this week centers on actions to avert the fiscal cliff. This week, I organized a meeting with National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Co-Chair Erskine Bowles and business leaders across the country to put solutions on the table.  It is critical that we find ways to revitalize our economy and address our rising national debt.
 "We need to take actions that encourage economic growth in America. We need to simplify the lives of our small business owners and entrepreneurs and let them innovate and create.  We need to look at policies that spur investment that expands our economy.  By taking actions that lead to more hiring and economic growth, the result would be more Americans working.
 "Many local small businesses file as S-corporations where business losses and profits are taxable directly to the individual owner. A study by Ernst and Young shows that our economy has about 900,000 business owners that would be harmed if tax rates go up, resulting in an estimated 710,000 fewer jobs.  All the while, our economy as a whole is burdened with one of the highest business tax rates in the developed world. A pro-growth tax reform strategy combined with spending cuts is vital not only to control our debt and deficits, but to spur our economy.
 "On top of tax reform, it is critical that we outline the spending cuts and reforms to our entitlement programs that will preserve these programs and reduce our debt. The President cannot ignore the major drivers of our debt and as Americans, we must tackle these challenges.  Editorials by the Washington Post and The USA Today outline that we cannot truly address our fiscal health without real presidential leadership on reforming our entitlement programs.  If we don’t address these issues, our entitlement programs have the potential to consume every dollar in the federal budget.
 "In past blogs, I have said many times that we need to address our unsustainable national debt.  A recent study by Stanford economist Michael Boskin quantifies and shows the negative effects of debt on our nation’s future economic prosperity.  Higher debt results in interest payments that could go to other investments; more borrowing hampers private sector investment, and creates more uncertainty. Washington cannot continue to burden our economy with one of the highest business tax rates, additional regulations, and policies that hinder investment and expansion. Let’s agree to a framework that reforms our tax code to spur the economy and finds additional spending cuts to address our deficit.
 "On a personal note, good luck to our local high school teams playing for the CIF Central Section Championships. I remember these days when I was at BHS and I know it’s an especially exciting time for our high school seniors at Garces, Ridgeview, Wasco, and Bakersfield Christian.

Do we really need fine dining in movie theaters? And a proposal is floated to rename Airport Drive after Bonnie Campbell, ex wife to both Merle Haggard and Buck Owens

 * ... WINE AND DINE: I read a story in The Los Angeles Times the other day about the AMC movie chain introducing "fine dining" in some of its theaters. That's right, a full dinner with beer and wine along with the move. But do we really need more noise and smells in the theater than we already have? Can you imagine sitting in front of someone dining on prime rib and a crunchy salad? (photo courtesy of The Los Angeles Times)

* ... BONNIE OWENS DRIVE?: I had lunch the other day with Jim Carlton, an old colleague from the Los Angeles Times who was in town doing a story on the local economy for The Wall Street Journal. Jim spent the day interviewing many of our community's most prominent leaders, and brought me this tidbit for this blog: "I heard someone say they were starting a campaign to rename Airport Drive 'Bonnie Owens Drive' because it connects Buck Owens Boulevard and Merle Haggard Drive," he told me. Bonnie, of course, was married to both Buck and Merle.

* ... MEMORIAL: Congratulations to Sherrie McMurtrey who was named Bakersfield Memorial Hospital's volunteer of the year. The announcement was made at the annual diner for Memorial's Foundation Board of Trustees, held at Luigi's Delicatessan. The hospital is coming off a successful golf tournament that raised several hundred thousand dollars for the Children's Medical Center.

* ... THE MARK: The folks over at The Mark, the new restaurant downtown that has proved wildly popular, are planning to open a catering and banquet facility next door. The Mark is located in the old Goose Loonies location at 19th and F streets and the owners will use the vacant facility next door as a banquet rental.

 * ... BAD FORM: Shame on the middle aged man driving down 21st Street who ignored the city fire truck and Hall's Ambulance that tried to pass him with their emergency lights on. The driver was so absorbed on his cell phone that he apparently didn't hear the sirens.

* ... FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: There's a big game up at Garces Memorial High tonight (Friday) when the Rams take on Sanger for the Division II Valley Championship. Garces is expecting a full house and is also alerting neighbors that there will be fireworks after the game. So be prepared.

* ... MEA CULPA: Beverly Stone dropped me a note to correct some bad grammar in this blog. "Lesson in fractured English: 'Peddling' is commonly construed as an effort to sell something. 'Pedaling'” meaning applying foot pressure to the pedals of a conveyance, is what I think you meant. You need a good, or at least better, proofreader." You're hired, Beverly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Richard Ryan dies at 85, Cambi Brown leaves KBAK to return to Sacramento and keeping an eye on the public pension time bomb

 * ... RIP: I was saddened to learn of the death of Richard Ryan, a longtime Bakersfield resident and patriarch of the extended Ryan clan. His family includes son Kerry Ryan, owner of Action Sports, and his brother Michael Ryan, a former Realtor who works for Team Beachbody fitness.  Like everyone in his family Richard Ryan was a fitness nut, and until recently I used to spot him pedaling his bike on his daily workout. He was a proud Marine, serving in both World War II and the Korean War, and was so committed to his personal fitness that he rode 120 miles a week on his bike until the cancer treatments because too debilitating. He is survived by his wife Rosemary and children Pat, Tim, Kerry, Mary, Jenny and Mike. Keep his family in your thoughts. He was 85.

 * ... ADIOS CAMBI: KBAK Eyewitness News morning reporter Cambi Brown is leaving the station at the end of the week. Brown is headed home to Sacramento to her dream job at KMAX-TV's Good Day Sacramento. Cambi is the third member of the morning team on Channel 29 to leave in the past two months. Former anchor John Dabkovich is now at FOX 5 in Las Vegas and anchor Leyla Santiago is now with WRAL-TV 5 in Raleigh, N.C.

* ... PENSIONS: The growing backlash over the cost of public pensions is rooted in the simple fact that they rarely exist in the private sector. According to a story in The Orange County Register, "Although public pension coverage has also declined, it has remained more than twice as prevalent as in the private workplace. Current coverage rates in California: 69.4 percent for local, 66.3 percent for state and 76.4 percent for federal government employees." All this is aggravated by the fact that many public pensions are woefully underfunded, meaning at some point they will have to bailed out by the taxpayer. Said Esmael Adibi, a Chapman University economics professor:  "This is where the disparity begins. Many defined benefit programs are under-funded, and governments are not taking appropriate action to solve the problem, and many believe ultimately taxpayers will end up paying for the unfunded liability in order for retirees to receive their guaranteed payment. But those covered under defined contribution programs in the private sectors don’t have the luxury of guaranteed retirement payments and feel that public sector should not benefit from the generosity of taxpayers.”

 * ... KINDNESS: A homeless man pushing a shopping cart is hailed by an elderly couple in front of a local Vons and given a small bag of food.

 * ... CLEANUP: Christopher Lowe works at Tri Counties Bank and he also serves as president of Oildale Foundation, which is organizing its quarterly clean up of North Chester Avenue on Saturday, Dec. 8. It all starts at 8:45 a.m. in the parking lot of Trout's. Bags, gloves and vests will be provided. If you want to join the effort or if you have questions, call Pat Frase at (661) 444-7100.

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that the number of patients seen by Clinica Sierra Vista has growing from just 2,000 in 1971 to almost 145,000 last year?

Clouds over Kern County.... by local photographer John Harte ... enjoy

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Two Bakersfield college kids spend their Thanksgiving break helping storm victims on Statin Island, and Gene Voiland will discuss his plans to revive minor league baseball in Bako

* ... BASEBALL: The plans are well under way to bring Bakersfield a new minor league baseball stadium at the corner of Brimhall and Coffee roads. The two men behind the plan are oil company executive Chad Hathaway and Gene Voiland, the retired chief executive of Aera Energy who has been at the center of civic life for many years. Gene will be my guest on California Radio KERN 1180 Monday beginning at 9 a.m. Tune in to hear his plans to revive minor league baseball here and call (661) 842-5376 with your question. (file photo of new Blaze owners Chad Hathaway and Gene Voiland)

* ... HOUSING: You have heard it before, but if you are thinking of jumping back into the housing market, you probably should do so sooner, not later. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage "hit a record low 3.46 percent for the week ended Nov. 16." The Journal also noted that when people flocked to the rental market, rental prices started to increase and it is now cheaper in many markets to own rather than rent. All this is good news for home buyers and home sellers, not to mention our overall economy.

* ... GIVING BACK: Two Bakersfield High school graduates - Ali Schroeter and Silas Nacita - spent Thanksgiving on Staten Island helping with the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Schroeter is now starting libero with the Rutgers volleyball team and Nacita is on a football scholarship to Cornell University. When neither could come home for Thanksgiving, they joined a group from the Liquid Church in New Brunswick, N.J., to help in the clean up and were later treated to Thanksgiving dinner. Said Ali's father Tom Schroeter:  "It was heartwarming for me as Ali's father to see how two Bakersfield students who were filling the void of no family Thanksgiving by helping others had their efforts recognized by a family committed to the same selfless cause sharing its family dinner with them."

 * ... TRASH: It was distressing to see how littered our local parks were this weekend following the Thanksgiving Holiday. Beach Park downtown was a particular mess, begging the question: is it really that difficult to pick up after yourself?

* ... ZOCALO: If you live in Bakersfield, you’re more likely than most Californians to be obese, have diabetes or suffer from cardiac disease. And you’re less likely than most Californians to be able to see a doctor any time soon. These issues and others will be the subjects of a Zocalo Public Square panel discussion in Bakersfield Tuesday night. The discussion is 7 p.m. at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, 1930 R Street. Kern Medical Center CEO Paul Hensler, University of California San Francisco Center for the Health Professions Associate Director Catherine Dower, and San Joaquin Community Hospital Vice President Jarrod McNaughton will discuss what’s keeping doctors out of Bakersfield, and how to bring in better health care.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bakersfield welcomes home the children we all sent out into the world. Get ready Woolgrowers and Narducci's because here they come

* ... FAMILY: One of the wonderful aspects of a Bakersfield Thanksgiving is reconnecting with all the kids who grew up here but have moved on because of college or work. And it is no secret where you will find them; to track down a young adult just follow your stomach. Narducci's, Woolgrowers, Luigi's, Chalet Basque, Dewar's, Uricchio's, all the favorite haunts will be crowded with kids who were once small but are now adults out in the world, some with children of their own. They could not have picked a nicer weekend to once again drive the streets of Bakersfield.

* ... PIE RUN: Speaking of family, the annual Bakersfield Pie Run out at Hart Park is as close to family as one can get. It's the annual gathering of more than 300 people (and their dogs) for a brisk run or walk in the hills to return to a roaring fire and pies, cakes, donuts, cookies and even try-tip and hot dogs. Organized John Rous, the event brings together generations of families and friends. Among those I spotted this year were Karen Gleiter, Julie Moss, Lisette Stinson, Rob and Sally Baker and their girls Sarah, Maggie and Katie, Eydie Gibson, Tracy Walker-Kiser and husband Brian, Matt and Molly Clark and son Harry, Andy Noise, Lydia Rowles, Joe Peterson, Tori Allendorf-Mills, Karen Poteete and daughter Jamie, Olivia Garcia, Steven Wilkinson, Pete Elieff, Don Martin, Esther Brandon, Dave and Debbie Cohn and her daughters Kari and Lauren, and so many more.

 * ... GIVING THANKS: It's easy to overlook the many blessings in our busy lives, but this is the time of year to truly give thanks. My own list of blessings may be short, but it's enough to make for a good life. I am thankful to live in a community that  is full of people who care about others. I am grateful for my health, for having a job that puts food on my table, for two remarkable daughters and for having friends who are so willing to share in my joy and grief. And of course, I am thankful for my roommate, the ever-loyal lap cat Latte.

 * ... MCKEE: I am constantly humbled by how so many people in our community open their hearts and wallets to help the needy this time of year, and even more so when it involves young people. For the past eight years, students over at McKee Middle School have been collecting food for the needy. The first year, teacher Matt Ornelaz told me almost 500 cans were collected. This year, with a student body of just 900 students, 3,742 cans were collected. Now that is something to feel good about. (photos submitted by Matt Ornelaz)

 * ... MORE THANKS: And then there is this bit of gratitude from reader Gaylia Miller-Harris: "I just want to thank the Kern Humane Society for giving out the vouchers to have your pets spayed or neutered, and also to the Critters Without Litters. I had my Daisey spayed there Monday and the cost was $60, including pain medication. You can't beat the staff at Critters Without litters. They were quick, organized and friendly.  My local veterinarian wanted over $200. Kudos to both organizations."

  * ... TURKEYS: And hats off to the kids over at Independence High School who partnered with Living Grace Church to assemble 120 complete turkey dinners to the needy in our community.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Remembering 15-year-old Caleb Hannink and The Bakersfield Californian Foundation awards $145,000 in grants

 * ... CALEB: When you count your blessings this week, keep the family of Brad and Maren Hannink in your thoughts. It was their 15-year-old son, Caleb, who died of a heart ailment at Centennial High School last week. Brad Hannink is a financial adviser, an accomplished singer and a former president of the (downtown) Rotary Club of Bakersfield.

 * ... GO BEARS: Three 2012 graduates of Stockdale High School - Chelsea Sanford, Rio Gosling and Julia Johnson - are now freshmen at Baylor University and were in the stadium for Baylor's upset victory over then No. 1 Kansas State. As proud father Guy Sanford said: "The girls had an amazing experience in the stands and will cherish it forever. Having the opportunity to charge the field after the game with the entire student section was a memory of a lifetime. Go Bears!"

* ... AIR TRAVEL: In an earlier post I posed the question: what do you think of people bringing pizzas, hamburgers and French fries on airplanes? Jeff Travis wrote that it could be worse. "My beautiful, dear, and sensitive-nosed wife was on a long flight where we are all joyfully passing the time away, along with all our six kids, watching the televisions attached to the back of the seats when she smelled what she thought was smoke. After clearing the area around the seat it turned out to be a guy's stinking feet. But, to be safe, the pilot turned off all electronics for the rest of the flight. I still feel the glares. Awfully funny in hindsight."

 * ... CALIFORNIAN: The Bakersfield Californian (family) Foundation has awarded $145,000 in grants, the latest in the family's long legacy of giving back to the community; The recipients include the American Lung Association, $15,000;  BARC $10,000; Boys and Girls club of Kern County $7,500; California Living Museum , $16,800;  Community Action Partnership of Kern, $8,276;  Desert Area Resources and Training, $3,000; Flood Bakersfield Ministries, $5,000; Greater Bakersfield Green Expo, $2,500; Henrietta Weill Memorial Child Guidance Clinic $10,676.45; Independent Living Center of Kern County, $3,702; Keep Bakersfield Beautiful, $4,000; Kern Economic Development Foundation, $25,000;  Laze Foundation, $3,500; Legacy Behavioral Services, Inc., $10,000.

 * ... CHARITY: Dress for Success is a national charity that helps women get on their feet by outfitting them with gently used shoes and clothes. The organization has now returned to Bakersfield, and it has a big event coming up on Tuesday, November 27 with a women's shoe drive. Its goal: helping women attain and retain employment. You can help by dropping off shoes at the Haberfelde Building, 1530 17th Street, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. next Tuesday.

 * ...  CLINICA: Did you know that Clinica Sierra Vista, the agency that provides primary and preventative health care to the underserved residents of Kern, Fresno and Inyo counties, now has almost 1,000 employees? Forty years ago it had two staff members today is operating out of 70 offices.