Last week I noted that Phillips created quite a stir at the downtown Rotary Club when he declined to participate in the pledge of allegiance before speaking there back in 2008. Phillips took me to task in a rambling letter to the editor Monday, accusing me of distorting the facts and questioning his patriotism. Really Terry? Let's review what happened. First, Phillips never denies not participating in the pledge, so it seems my reporting was accurate on that count. Second, it's also true that some folks in the mostly conservative crowd of local business leaders viewed his act a provocation and complained to Rotary officers after his speech. And third, I never accused Phillips of being unpatriotic, nor did I imply that he was fired because of the incident. (He was fired three years later) I did wonder aloud how his refusal to recite the pledge would play with voters, which seems like a reasonable thought. But as for Phillips being fired last year, I neither know nor care why VPR let him go. So indulge me as I once again review what I wrote: that he did not recite the pledge (true), that some Rotary members were upset (true) and that he was later fired (also true). Looks like a trifecta of accurate reporting to me. Isn't it funny how folks, particularly politicians or would-be politicians, have such a selective memory when the past returns to haunt them?
* ... HOUSING: We all know the dismal state of housing in states like California and Florida, but where is housing making a rebound? Realty website Inman News reports that for a second year in a row, the Midwest and Northeast dominate the markets deemed most desirable. Among the top hot markets are Raleigh, NC, Wichita, KS, Rochester, NY, Des Moines, IA, Chattanooga, TN, Peoria, ILL, and Amarillo, TX.
* ... REIDER: Kudos to retired Kern County Schools Superintendent Larry Reider who has had an educational building named after him. The five-story building in downtown Bakersfield, formerly known as the UC Merced building, has now been christened the Larry E. Reider Education Center. A fitting tribute to a longtime leader in Kern County education.
* ... SPOTTED: Candace Bunes contributed this nugget from a day in the life of our city. "Sitting at a stop light on Truxtun and Coffee there is a lady in front of me drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette and talking on her cell phone. Beside me is a lady using a curling iron and putting on mascara. And behind me is a man doing nothing but waiting with his hands on the wheel!"
* ... KINDNESS: Wendy Wayne, the former director of the First Five Commission who is battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, shared a wonderful story of a random act of kindness done on her behalf. The person, who Wendy did not name, was able to help a disabled veteran get a complete dental makeover. Turns out the veteran was born with a cleft pallet that required multiple surgeries. The good Samaritan found an organization called Soldiers Smile which found a dentist in Los Gatos who helped.
* ... BAKERSFIELDISM: You may be from Bakersfield if you only use your turn signals once you are well into the turn.