Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Are we seeing more crime or are we just hearing about it more? And the head of a local non-profit tangles with Californian columnist Lois Henry over fireworks

* ... CRIME: I don't know why I torture myself, but occasionally I check the "Bakersfield Thieves" Facebook page to check on all the crime around our town. Here's a sampling of one day's activity: A car is broken into in front of the Body Xchange in the northeast, two women are robbed near Pin Oak Park in the southwest, and a resident comes home to find a burglar breaking into her garage in the area of Hageman and Old Farm roads. My question: is there more crime these days or are we just hearing about it more?

* ... BARC: A nasty little dispute erupted this week between Jim Baldwin, president of the Bakersfield Association of Retarded Citizens (BARC), and Lois Henry after Baldwin accused the columnist of being a "liar." It all started when Henry asked Baldwin a simple question about how much money BARC makes selling fireworks and what they use it for.  (Baldwin opposes a ban on fireworks while Lois supports it) That seems a straight forward enough question for a high profile non profit that routinely seeks donations and grants from local companies and individuals. But apparently it struck Baldwin the wrong way, and he "went ballistic" while accusing Henry of not supporting his non profit. "Frankly, I was unprepared for the extreme vitriol Baldwin spewed at me," she said. "He flat out called me a liar and untrustworthy... and he was just getting started. He refused to tell me anything about BARC's fireworks sales or how the organization spends that money." Baldwin also told Lois he would no longer take her calls, never a wise move by someone of Baldwin's stature. Note to Jim: no one questions whether BARC serves its clients well, but wouldn't you be better off embracing a little transparency rather than throwing a fit over what seems like a reasonable question? Even Jeff Pickering, the former head of the Kern Community Foundation, threw his support behind Lois with this Twitter feed: "Accountability and transparency on money should be SOP for charities like @BakersfieldARC. Keep asking." Apparently some of BARC's board of directors agree. Nick Azemika, a local attorney who serves on the board, was one of several who called to reassure me that BARC's finances and books are "one hundred percent open" to Lois or anyone who cares to look. "This is a great organization and everything is above board," he told me.

* ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "If your entire car fits within the width of a crosswalk, you need to re-evaluate some of your life's choices."

 * ... MCKENZIE: Congratulations to KERO TV anchor Tim Calahan and his wife Erika, a delightful couple, who are the proud parents of newborn McKenzie Lynn Calahan. McKenzie was born Monday at Mercy Southwest Hospital and came into the world at 7 pounds 13 ounces.

* ... FOODIE: Stopped by Meir Brown's Cafe Med this weekend and didn't leave without enjoying the longtime Mediterranean restaurant's signature house salad, which takes cabbage to a whole other level. I added some blackened salmon and it main a hard to beat entree.

* ... SOLAR: If you think there has been an uptick in calls by telemarketers, you are in good company. Greg Laskowski is being inundated with calls from folks selling solar energy systems. "I received seven calls the other day.  I finally took one to task, telling him that he was the seventh solar telemarketer, and the fifteenth so far for the week. The gentleman informed me that there are over 6,100 registered solar marketing firms. Looks as if I am at the bottom end of an enormous funnel full of unwanted phone calls. Thanks to governors Schwarzenegger and Brown there will be no end to this kind of harassment because of their support for green energy."

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