Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tour of California hits Bakersfield for a Stage 5 time trial, and Gov. Brown gets some advice on our ballooning state debt

* .... TOUR: The Tour of California cycling race rolled through town Thursday, exposing our community to a worldwide audience in the millions. I received a message from a friend who was viewing the Tour in a sports bar in Washington, D.C., and got another call from a friend who was viewing it in Pittsburgh. This is the second time the Tour has come through Bakersfield, and it is much more than a bike race. It has evolved into a social event, much like George Martin's Bakersfield Business Conferences in years past. And hats off to Sam Ames, the manager at Action Sports, who put on a spectacular hospitality tent featuring food, wine, beer and of course water for a hot day. Sam personally thanked volunteers Jim Cretoll and Keith Barnden for their help.

 * ... PENSIONS: William J. Bennett, the former Education Secretary, has some advice for Gov. Jerry Brown on how to deal with the state's $16 billion deficit: watch how they did it in Wisconsin. "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker closed a large budget hole without raising taxes or cutting education but by going straight to one of the roots of the problem - public employee unions," Bennett wrote. "Until California addresses comprehensive pension reform, the state will continue to sink deeper into debt." Brown's answer? A ballot initiative to raise taxes while pension reform remains off the table.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A middled aged woman who lives near Panorama Drive talking to a friend: "I wish this (Tour of California) bike race came to town every year. The city always does such a nice job sprucing up the area!"

* ... WORLD VIEW: Here are some news items from across the world recently: an Iranian rapper fears for his life after two clerics issue a fatwah  justifying his murder; Lady Gaga may be forced to cancel a concert in Jakarta because of complaints from Islamic groups; and a former Colombian justice minister narrowly escapes death in a car bombing in Bogota. Makes one feel good about being an American, doesn't it?

* ... HIGH ACHIEVER: Hats off to David Partida, a graduate of Bakersfield Christian High School and then Notre Dame, who will receive his law degree from Columbia Law School this month. His father, Armando, works for American National Insurance Company here in Bakersfield.

 * ... PEPPERDINE BOUND: Another remarkable local student is Demitria Doubenmier, a Bakersfield High School graduate who has worked for Sequoia Sandwich Co. for the past three years. She graduated from Bakersfield College this spring with a 4.0 GPA and is headed to Pepperdine University on a full ride scholarship in the fall. Sequoia manager Valerie Damron told me she was raised by an amazing grandmother "and is such a testimony of hard work and resilience paying off. She has worked for me for three years and has never missed a day of work or been late once while taking a full load at Bakersfield College."

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bakersfield rolls out the red carpet for the Amgen Tour of California and remembering Suzanne Rivera, local cyclist who died on Mother's Day

 * ... AMGEN: Get ready for a day to remember Thursday when the Amgen Tour of California cycling race comes to town. Organizers are expecting as many as 30,000 people to view the race, which features some of the top pro cyclists in the world. The 18-mile time trial course starts on the bluffs across from Bakersfield College, follows Alfred Harrell Highway out to Hart Park and returns up the steep grade back to Panorama. It promises to be a spectacular event and if you have never witnessed a pro bike race, this is your chance to see some of the world's finest athletes in action. It's absolutely free, it starts at 1 p.m. and should by over shortly after 4 p.m. And, let's not forget to thank our city for agreeing to put water in the Kern River for the day to help put our community in its best light.

 * ... RIP SUZANNE: Friends and family are mourning the death of Suzanne Rivera, the 47-year-old mother of two who died in a nasty crash during a women's road cycling race near Mariposa. Like any sport cycling has its share of inflated egos and posturing, but Suzanne always had a smile on her face and never had a bad word for anyone. She crashed into a support van on a steep descent on Mother's Day, but she died doing something she loved. (Californian photo of Suzanne with coach Danny Kaukola)

* ... HIGH ACHIEVER: Among the many notable kids graduating from high school is Cristobal Trujillo, a Ridgeview graduate who is headed to Yale on a full-ride scholarship. Michelle Beck, one of his former teachers, told me Cristobal came to this country speaking no English but eventually mastered the language and qualified for the GATE program. That's an accomplishment that should make us all proud.

 * ... HOPPER: As if legacy media didn't have enough challenges, now comes the "Hopper" that threatens to to disrupt the television business model. The "Hopper" is a device offered by Dish Network that allows people to completely avoid commercials. Viewers can already fast forward through commercials, but the "Hopper" does it automatically and the viewer sees nothing but a momentary blank screen and no commercial. As the Wall Street Journal noted: "The notion that viewers won't see even a whirr of fast forwarded ads threatens billions of dollars in broadcast television advertising-and risks the ire of the networks."

 * ... BABY NAMES: The Social Security Administration has released the most popular baby names for 2011. According to USA Today, the top name for girls were Sophia, Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Ava, Emily, Abigail, Madison, Mia and Chloe. For boys: Jacob, Mason, William, Jayden, Noah, Michael, Ethan, Alexander, Aiden and Daniel.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Donna Pacheco wonders if anyone else remembers Hart Park in the 1950s when it featured boat racing, the miniature train, a roller coaster and a merry-go-round. Donna worked at a food stand selling hot dogs and drinks.

Monday, May 14, 2012

New details on the death of Bakersfield cyclist Suzanne Rivera in Turlock ...

 Suzanne Rivera, the Bakersfield cyclist killed in a nasty crash during a women's stage race in Mariposa County, apparently hit a support van when she came around a corner in a group. Kerry Ryan, owner of Action Sports, noted she simply may have been on the wrong side of the group of riders and unable to avoid the van, which had stopped to help another cyclist. Read more of the Bakersfield Californian's coverage.

Kern Wheelmen statement on death of Bakersfield cyclist Suzanne Rivera

 The following statement is from the Kern Wheelman website regarding the death Sunday of local cyclist Suzanne Rivera. (photo by Chris Rigby)

 "It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write to you this sad news. Today, we lost a teammate, training partner, and friend. Suzanne Rivera passed away as a result of a crash at the Mariposa Women’s Stage Race. Suzanne was an amazing athlete, who could run marathons in under three hours, after a running injury she decided to take up cycling, naturally she picked the sport up quickly and excelled at it. She loved riding and trained hard here in Bakersfield with many of us. She belonged to my team B4T9, which is based out of Santa Barbara but has a 3 person Bakersfield contingent as well. Apart from being an amazing athlete, she was a loving mother and wife, and was a fun, kind-hearted and spirited woman. She was so nice, always so happy and so encouraging to everyone she was around.

The Mariposa stage race, is a four stage race, where the first race was a 10 mile time trial, the second was a 6 mile hill climb with 2100’ of climbing followed in the afternoon by a 40 mile circuit race with a lot of hills, and Sunday was a 48 mile road race with long descents and more hill climbing. However, Suzanne is an amazing hill climber and she went into the final race in second position. She was so happy this weekend working with the team and enjoyed the competitive aspect of racing.

...I’m sending this note out as a courtesy to those that know her and have had the great opportunity to ride with her. We as a community, team, and as individuals are heartbroken, devastated and sad beyond words that could be written at the loss of Suzanne. Our thoughts and prayers are with Suzanne, her family and friends on this most anguishing day and for the difficult days they face ahead.

I, personally, and all of the team, want to express our gratitude to the nurses, racers and friends who gave their all on site to administer every life saving measure possible. Everyone was courageous in their effort.
Thank you for your support, prayers and thoughts for the family and friends of Suzanne at this difficult time. Details of services will be posted at a later date.

With great sadness,
Lori O’Lin, B4T9 Team, sponsors and supporters.

Bakersfield cyclist Suzanne Rivera dies in a road race in Mariposa County

 Suzanne Rivera, a local runner and cyclist from Bakersfield, died Sunday during a woman's cycling race in Mariposa County. Suzanne was a long-time runner who took up cycling after an injury and quickly became a contender.
 Details are sketchy but she apparently crash during a long decent. Efforts to revive her on the scene were not successful. She leaves behind a husband and two children.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

California taxes drive two families to leave the state and beware of an elder abuse scam

 * ... ROBBERY: Heads up on a scam and crime that is becoming all too common in our community. The latest victims are Glen and Millie Crabtree, who have been married for 68 years and have lived quietly on the east side of town. Last week they were the victims of a robbery and scam that cost them $2,000 in cash and almost $700 in jewelry. It was last Monday around 11 a.m. when they returned home from the bank and two Hispanic women appeared and their door, inquiring about a weight loss product Millie sells to earn a little extra cash. While one of the women distracted Millie, the other went into their bedroom, found the family safe open and pocketed the cash and jewelry, including their wedding rings. "I just feel so stupid now," said Millie, who is 85. "It's not even the money but jewelry and our wedding rings that we have had for 68 years." She described the women as in their early 50s and one "weighs 300 pounds. I have never seen hips and thighs that big. I would know her anywhere." A friend is offering a $1,000 reward. Call Bakersfield Police if you have any information.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A middle aged woman sharing her family's frustration over Calfornia's $19 billion budget deficit and the prospect of even higher taxes. "Two people on my street, one is an oil engineer and the other is a lawyer, are leaving California because of taxes. One just listed his house and his moving to Nevada and the other is leaving when his daughter goes to college next year. They have both just had enough." My take: I think most people would agree to higher taxes if they believed Sacramento was  serious about curtailing spending and agreeing on pension reform for state employees.

  * ... GAY MARRIAGE: The debate over same-sex marriage rages on, fueled by President Obama's revelation that he now supports it. This clearly is an issue that divides our community, and today (Monday) on Californian Radio KERN 1180 we will tackle the topic. Among my guests will be Judith Pratt, a communications professor at Cal State Bakersfield, and a young gay man who thinks it's a bad idea. Call in to (661) 842-5376 to weigh in, beginning at 9 a.m.

* ... TRASH: John W. Sliger dropped me a note to have his say about those who litter our community. "It is a symptom of the laziness that has invaded our lives. Another such symptom is shopping carts at places like Walmart. Everytime we go to one of the stores that provide shopping carts for their customers I find the carts just dumped in the parking lot, often within just a few steps of a 'cart corral.' I can somewhat understand this when it is in the handicapped-parking area. Those people have a reason. Other people are just plain lazy. It does NOT matter how much of a hurry the individual is in, just dumping the cart is rude, inconsiderate, and costly."

 * ... GOOD DEED: Speaking of trash, hats off to retired Superior Court Judge James Stuart who donated a park bench and a concrete trash can that were installed at RiverWalk Park. A sign reads the trash can is dedicated to "Lucky and Friends" in honor of the judge's dog, a stray who was found by his son a few years back. Reader Aneta Adams wrote to thank the judge, saying previously there had been no trash can at the southeast corner of the lake.  "It was difficult for some people to clean up after their dogs around that lake or to carry their trash the far distance to another trash can or to their cars. My husband and I have had no problem doing so, even though that location has been precisely where our two Scottish Terriers decide to relieve themselves. Since the addition of the 'Lucky and Friends' trash container, we have noticed an improvement to the trash situation around that lake."