Thursday, June 7, 2012

Voters kill the proposed tobacco tax; does this portend bad things for the twin tax hikes for the November ballot?

* ... TOBACCO TAX: I was surprised that Proposition 29, which would have added a new $1 tax on cigarettes, appears to be losing by a narrow margin. The tobacco lobby threw almost $50 million in misleading ads against the tax, but some experts think a general anti-tax sentiment across the state may have doomed the measure. If that is the case, it spells trouble for the two tax measures that will be on the November ballot to bail out higher education.

* ... NUT FESTIVAL: A group of folks who work hard to improve the image of our community are hoping a "nut festival" will bring Bakersfield some better publicity. It's all the brainchild of Sheryl Barbich and a small group of influential business people who are modeling the "nut festival" after the garlic festival in Gilroy and other successful events. The first Kern County Nut Festival will be held June 14-15, 2013, at the Kern County Museum. Organizers stay the event will feature a number of culinary creations using almonds, pistachios and walnuts, as well as games and activities for kids and adults. It's still being planned, but this could be just the thing our community needs to put Bakersfield in a better light.

 * ... JEOPARDY! Alex Trebek has hosted the popular game show "Jeopardy!" for almost 28 years, and there is a lot of speculation on when he might retire. In a recent interview, he dropped the idea that he may just drive up to Taft College to take a few courses. "Learning something new is fun," says Trebek. "When I finish as the host of `Jeopardy!' I'm going to go up to Taft in central California. They have a small college there that teaches you about oil drilling. I'd like to take a course," he says.

 * .... D-DAY: The 68th commemoration of D-Day brought this note from Bonnie Bogle Farrer. "On June 6, 1944,  my father sent me a telegram from 'somewhere in England.'  Six days after D-Day he landed at the Normandy beaches  in France as a major in the American Army. A medical doctor, he cared for both American and German wounded soldiers. Much later, he wrote his war memoirs about those incredible days."

* ... BILL RAY: If you consider yourself handy around the home, or if you aspire to be, head over to Bill Ray Tile on East Brundage on Saturday for a workshop on laying tile. Bill Ray Tile has an incredible selection of tiles around the world, and they will be giving away Dodger tickets and other prizes. Bill Ray is located at 6301 East Brundage and the workshop starts at 11 a.m.

 * ... EATERY: The renaissance of downtown Bakersfield continues with the opening of yet another restaurant, this one called Muerto's Kitchen and Lounge in the Wall Street alley just across from Guthrie's Alley Cat.  I stopped by the other day and was impressed by its menu and service (I highly recommend the white wine sangria and machaca tacos). Muerto's is in the space formerly occupied by Azul and the infamous Sud's Tavern in the 1970s and 1980s. It was originally a firehouse in the late 1800s and in fact the back patio area was the stable for the horses that pulled the fire wagons.  Muerto's is owned by Shawna Haddad-Byers, formally of Fishlips.

* ... BAD FORM: From Dr. Bill Farr, a physician whose office is near the intersection of Calloway Drive and Brimhall Road: "A teacher from Emerson Junior High dumped all of her class room crap all over the dumpster in my office, missing the dumpster and getting it all over the floor.  The trash (collectors) would not pick it up because it was such a mess. The pupils' grades and reports were scattered all over the ground."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bako Bits: a scary scene at the downtown Chef's Choice Noodle Bar and lamenting the trash that is commonly strewn about town....

 * ... SCARY SCENE: There was a scary scene last Friday at the Chef’s Choice Noodle Bar downtown when a customer became ill, collapsed and fell to the floor. Eloise Higgins said she was asking people to call 911 to help her husband, Bob, when the Noodle Bar owner, Dr. Nick Hansa, came to her aid. "I realized that Dr. Hansa was there as a doctor, not only a restaurant owner. David Coffey, a customer, quickly put his jacket under my husband’s head. I’m sure he prevented a head injury. We would like to thank these three men who cared for my husband until the firemen and Hall Ambulance arrived. The restaurant obviously is the safest and best restaurant downtown!"

 * ... OVERHEARD: A Chevron employee who was recently transferred to Bakersfield telling a friend: "I've lived in a lot of places but never in a city where people leave their trash around like here! They just leave it in the park and walk away."

 * ... CHECKED BAGS: If you fly at all, you know what a hassle it is boarding a plane when so many people bring oversized bags to store in the overhead bins. Now the major airlines are studying ways to restrict those larger bags by forcing passengers to pay for bringing any bag on board larger than 10 by 17 by 24 inches. Alaska Airlines already has a gate check policy, meaning that oversized bags are diverted to baggage claims at $25 a pop.

 * ... PREFIXES: Steve McClaren is among those who remembers when home phone numbers had prefixes to denote where you lived, and party lines were common. "You could tell by the prefix which part of town the person lived. FA (Fairview) was central Bakersfield, TE (Temple) was south, EM (Empire) was east, and EX (Exchange) was north  (Oildale). There wasn't much west of Oak Street back then but most had the FA. Later these became the beginning of the 322, 833, 366, and 399 prefixes. I think if a person checked they would find that a lot of the telephone company central exchanges are still named Temple, Empire, etc. As technology has changed over the years, it's hard to tell where a person is at unless you are looking at the area code. Then you still can't be sure. ... I am 61 and have lived here all my life with the exception of four years in the Los Angeles area. It is amazing how this town has grown but has retained a lot of the little town feeling."

 * ... PEPPERINE: Dave and Tara Rippy said their daughter, Nicole, graduated from Pepperdine School of Law.  She is a product of Castle Elementary, Actis Junior High and West and Bakersfield high schools and later Cal State Bakersfield.

 * ... SCHOLARSHIP: Judi Anderson Gahagan dropped me a note to brag about her granddaughter, Amie Lauren Birkes, who was awarded a full scholarship to attend CSUB thanks to the The Gombos Family foundation. Amie graduated from North High School and plans on becoming a special education teacher. While at CSUB she plans to try out for the track team.

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that 73 percent of the 8,000 CSUB students are first-generation college students and that women outnumber men 60 percent to 40 percent on the campus?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ron Fraze bows out of the Ward 2 city council race to succeed Sue Benham, and Californian Radio prepares to review Tuesday's primary election

* ... FRAZE: Former city fire chief Ron Fraze has pulled out of the race to succeed Sue Benham in the Ward 2 City Council race. Fraze was one of the first to express interest in running for Council but sent an email Friday telling friends he had reconsidered. "We appreciate your friendship and your support, however, we believe God is leading us in a different direction. We intend to return all monies that were contributed to my campaign," he wrote. Others running for the seat in the November election include Elliot Kirschenmann, a member of the Bakersfield Planning Commission, and Terry Maxwell , a local restaurant owner.

 * ... POLITICS: And speaking of politics, are you ready to vote in Tuesday's primary election? Are you familiar with the issues on the ballot? We will be previewing Tuesday's election on Californian Radio KERN 1180 beginning at 9 a.m. We will also talk to Dr. Raj Patel of Preferred Family Care Physicians about the epidemic of diabetes in our community.

* ... BIOLA: Al Gutierrez wrote that that he was in the audience last week when his grandson, Michael McClain, graduated from  Biola University in La Mirada. "We then rushed back to Bakersfield Christian High School to witness the cum laude graduation of his brother, Kevin McClain. Kevin's next stop is the University of Arizona. The boys are the off-spring of Steve and Becci McClain."

* ... BAD SERVICE: Is there any worse customer service on the planet than ATT? I was forced to convert to ATT for internet service when I ordered DirecTV, and friends had warmed me about the company's reputation for poor service. But even I was dumbfounded after I spent more than two hours - yes that is correct - being shuffled around to different numbers and customer service reps just to locate a lost order.

* ... PHONE PREFIXES: Craig Holland remembers the old telephone prefixes back in the day. From Craig: "The central part of Bakersfield had the FAirview exchange, while the east side had EMpire, Oildale had EXport and south side of town had TEmple... I can still remember the first phone number my mom had me memorize: FA3-5146."

* ... LITERACY: The Kern Adult Literacy Council has found a new executive director to replace Donna Hylton, who resigned recently.  Ida Tagliente will fill the role on an interim basis and her position will be reevaluated in six to nine months. Board president Clayton Mongtomery said, "Ida’s past experience on the executive board and at Bright House Networks makes her a great fit for our team, and I have every confidence that she will guide us through this transition and into a stronger position."

 * ... BAD GRADE: And speaking of literacy did you know that Bakersfield is considered the "least educated" city in America? According to The New York Times, only 15 percent of the adults in Bakersfield hold a college degree, compared to a national average of 32 percent. Lost Angeles weighed in at 21 percent, Las Vegas at 21.6 percent, Boston at 43 percent and Dallas at 31 percent.

 * ... BAKERSFIELDISM: Local physical therapist Kyle Lacy says you have been around Bakersfield a while if you remember Fred Clad motors that featured imported auto brands like Jaguar, Porsche and others.