Thursday, June 21, 2012

Former Bike Bakersfield employee is involved in a nasty crash in Portland, and a report cites Asian immigrants as a boon to the economy

 * ... SICK BAY: I was saddened to learn the other day that a young man who once called Bakersfield home was in a horrible bicycle accident in Portland, Oregon, Mat Barton, one of the founders of Bike Bakersfield, suffered multiple spinal injuries when he flipped over his handlebars during a short track race. Word out of Portland is that he may be paralyzed from the chest down. Mat moved to Portland to join an internet bicycle company. You can keep up with his recovery by going to the Bike Bakersfield website, Keep this young man in your thoughts. (photos courtesy of Bike Bakersfield)

 * ... ASIANS: This will come as no surprise but a new study shows that Asians are the fastest-growing, most educated and highest earning population in the country. That's all according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited a Pew Research Report depicting Asian immigrants as a boon to the economy. Asians now account for 6 percent of the population, with the bulk coming rom China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam. Said the study: "As a group, Asians place more value than Americans overall on marriage, parenting, hard work and careers, according to the report. Irrespective of their country of origin, Asians overall believe that American parents are too soft on their children." (photo courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)

 * ... PENSION REFORM: Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton echoed my thoughts recently while questioning why the Democratic majority in the California Legislature is not moving more quickly on pension reform. Without it, Skelton said the twin tax hike initiatives on the November ballot will be all but doomed."Virtually no one in the Capitol believes that voters will approve a state tax increase unless the Legslature and governor have enacted pension reform," he noted. But taking on the powerful labor interests is not something Democrats are comfortable with, and so we wait. And wait.

* ... DIGNAN: Congrats to Brian Dignan, who has been named the new head men's basketball coach at Bakersfield Christian High School. Dignan previously worked as a coach for both Cal State Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Jam. In addition to his coaching duties, he will teach American History and U.S. Government. He is married to Melissa Dignan, the former weather forecaster at KERO TV and they are expecting their first child.

* ... SPOTTED: Middle aged, obese woman behind the wheel of an older maroon van, windows rolled up with temperatures well over 105, filling her van with cigarette smoke while two small children sit in the back.

 * ...  OVERHEARD: Two Southwest residents leave Eureka Burger after learning the wait was more than 45 minutes. "In three months you'll be able to shoot a cannon in here without hitting anyone. This town goes crazy over new restaurants." said one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A final tribute to Wendy Wayne and to a life well lived. And, Elliott Kirschenmann prepares to succeed Sue Benham on the City Council

* ... R.I.P. WENDY: A final word on the remarkable life of Wendy Wayne, the community activist who died this weekend at the relatively young age of 64. I was among the lucky who considered Wendy a friend, and I stood in awe of her ability to rise above pettiness and to give herself to others so unselfishly. In a world that has grown uncivil and harsh, Wendy represented a soft voice of reason and understanding. She was attentive in a way that made everyone feel special. Our society has grown sloppy about being attentive - to family, to friends, to strangers - but Wendy embraced it by becoming a world class  listener.  I last shared a glass of wine with Wendy about a six weeks ago, and even then, with the cancer slowly winning the battle for her life, she turned her attention toward me and peppered me with questions about my life and children that made me feel like the center of the universe. We can all learn a lot from a life well lived. Remember Wendy today by reaching out to a friend or loved one.

 * ... WARD 2: I had lunch the other day with Elliott Kirschenmann, the young businessman who hopes to replace Sue Benham as Ward 2 City Councilman. Elliott is just 28 but has served two years on the City Planning Commission and he is already walking the precincts meeting his neighbors. He went to Bakersfield College and then on to USC where he earned his degree. Keep an eye on Elliott as the November election nears because this is a young man on the move. The only other declared candidate so far is restaurateur Terry Maxwell.

 * .... BENHAM: And speaking of Sue Benham, longtime Republican Karen DeWalt wrote to thank Sue for her years of service. "I have contacted City Council member Sue Benham on numerous occasions for a variety of problems that needed to be addressed in the Westchester area. Sue handled all of these promptly and kept me informed  as to when it would be resolved.  I want to thank her for her years of service. She will be missed."

* ... DID YOU KNOW: Did you know that if you lived in Arvin in the 1960s and wanted to call a number in Bakersfield with a prefix of 399 that it cost you a 20 cent toll charge? Thanks to Mary Louise Durham for submitting that.

* ... OVERHEARD: A local businessman is heard reminiscing about "The Judge," the 1969 Pontiac GTO that took the country by storm. Today, the most prominent product called "The Judge" is a Taurus handgun that shoots both .45 caliber rounds and a .410 bore shotgun shell.

 * ... NORTH HIGH: There is an effort under way to create an Athletics Hall of Fame for North High School. The group behind the effort is trying to raise $5,000 to cover the costs of a web design, hosting,  awards and dinner. Interested? Call Karen Langston for more information at (661) 619-6226.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Supervisor Mike Maggard gets some love from his constituents and is Bakersfield ready for loft apartments?

 * ... MAGGARD: Marjorie Boese sent out some props to Supervisor Mike Maggard, who helped her clean up a local eyesore. "I live in the Glade Street neighborhood and there is a foreclosed house with a toilet on the roof and piles of trash, and debris everywhere. It was a nasty eyesore, until Mike Maggard our 3rd District Supervisor saw the mess and said he would get it cleaned up. Ten days later it was done. All my neighbors and myself would like to give a huge thank-you to Mike Maggard, his manager Dick, and all the people who cleaned it up and boarded it up. Thank you all very much."

 * ... RADIO: Our downtown is about to get the kind of loft apartments that are so common in older, larger cities. The apartments are being built on the second floor of the building on 19th Street that houses The Metro Galleries, and is the work of Realtors Gary and Eydie Gibson and their partners. We'll talk about the latest downtown development on Californian Radio, KERN 1180, with Metro Galleries owner Don Martin. Tune in at 9 a.m.

 * ... MORE PROPS: I received a sweet hand-written letter from Therese Gaston, who wanted to pass along a remarkable thing that happened when she went to the National Cemetery on Memorial Day to place roses on the grave of her late husband. "A young couple with two boys, 8 and 10 years old, came up to me. Ryan, the 10-year-old, asked if I would like a card he made placed at the grave. It was a beautiful corrugated cardboard sign painted with a U.S. flag, the American eagle, sky and grass... Surely a day of pride and joy for me and my World War II Navy veteran husband. What exemplary parents they have!"

* ... MAMA TOSCA'S: One of our community's finest restaurants, Mama Tosca's, is celebrating its 30th anniversary of fine dining. A little history of the family: owner Luigi Rienzo, his brother Tony and their mother left Italy and came to Bakersfield in 1973. Luigi worked at the Tam o' Shanter for a few years as a waiter while he saved up enough money to live out the American dream. In 1982 he opened Mama Tosca's Restorante Italiano which is now located in the Marketplace. Said Luigi: "We are going to celebrate by providing the same great food and friendly service to our wonderful customers that we have for the last 30 years and we're looking forward to the next 30."

 * ... SPOTTED: From reader Brent Clayton: "I saw a middle aged blonde lady driving west on Brimhall with a cigarette in her left hand out the window, cell phone in her right hand held up to her ear and driving with her left knee. My kids and could not believe our eyes."

 * ... TADEJ: Local orththodontist Dr. Gerald Tadej held a patient appreciation day in which he hosted 600 patients, family and friends at Edwards Cinemas in two private theaters for a 3D showing of Men in Black.