Thursday, August 6, 2015

Kurt Rivera appears to be out at KBAK TV and an 87-year-old man makes good on a 60-year-old debt to legendary lawyer Morris Chain

 * ... HONESTY: Here's a sweet story of honesty, forgiveness and faith that will send you into the weekend with a smile. Sixty years ago, when 87-year-old Kenneth Cannon of Wasco was in his
prime, he ended up in a fight that landed him in court facing a lawsuit. He hired the legendary Morris Chain to defend him, and Chain managed to get the fine reduced from $10,000 to $1,500, still a hefty fine back in those days. Morris' fee was $100, but Cannon was working in the potato fields and promised to pay Chain over time. Chain told him: "Once you get on your feet, you pay me." Jorge Barrientos, head of marketing for Chain Cohn Stiles, tells the rest of the story: "Fast forward 60 years, Kenneth noticed in the newspaper that our law firm moved offices (Chester and 18th), walked into our lobby Wednesday with a new $100 bill he took out from the bank stuffed inside of a small yellow envelope. He knows Morris died in the 1970s, but since we still have Chain’s name at our firm, he felt he should give the money to us." Cannon told Barrientos:  “It’s been on my mind this whole time. I had quite a guilty conscience about it all. I was obligated to pay back my debt.” Barrientos declined to take the money. "He is a sweet older fellow," Barrientos said. "And it is such a remarkable story." (file photo of Morris Chain)

 * ... RIVERA: Now that KBAK TV and longtime anchor Kurt Rivera have parted ways, speculation is turning to who will move into his chair as nightly anchor of Eyewitness News. One possibility:  Erin Briscoe who just joined the KBAK morning team after leaving KERO TV. Her tenure in the market and name recognition would seem to make her a logical candidate. Like most companies when it comes to personnel issues, KBAK declined to comment on exactly why Rivera left, but insiders saw this coming when his biography and picture were taken down from the KBAK website and his company Facebook page disappeared. Last month Rivera was arrested after a domestic disturbance involving the 50-year-old anchor and his 36-year-old girl friend, Mindy Morrow. Although the district attorney's office declined to prosecute, Rivera's career at the station is over.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m glad I don’t have to hunt for my food, I don’t even know where sandwiches live."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "Classic. Wells Fargo (allegedly) sends an email ALERTING me someone tried to hack my account. Then puts me on hold 45 minutes. Great 'ALERT.'"

* ... CRIME: Stephen A. Montgomery answered my call about crime with this missive: "The answer to your question as to is there more crime or are we just hearing about it more may be directly above in Lois’ column as she considers the downgrading of the fines for those few citations issued for illegal fireworks. Our system is simply doesn’t do enough to make bad actors feel the pain hence more crime. Far too often the pain is left for the victims to deal with."

 * ... BURGLARIES: And speaking of crime, a friend who lives downtown told me about her own home being burglarized at 10 in the morning. "A few minutes before I left the house a young man was knocking on my door for a long time. I finally answered through the door and he said he had the wrong house. As I was leaving I saw him with another man. They saw me drive off and when I returned an hour later, they had used a rock to smash through a window and get into the house."

 * ... MCMURTRY: James McMurtry is an award-winning singer and song writer who will be a headline at the Oct. 10 99 Music Festival out at Cal State Bakersfield. He has produced a dozen albums and is a regular on the Americana music scene out of Austin. His father is Larry McMurtry, a Pulitzer Prize winning author of the mega hit Lonesome Dove.

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."

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The secret to Donald Trump's popularity? Could it be our contempt for Congress and the presidency? And Alex Trebek to appear at the fall Taft energy summit and the Padre Hotel gets some love

  * ... TRUMP: Here's some more wisdom from Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan on the popularity of Donald Trump, and by extension the left leaning Democrat Bernie Sanders. "His rise is not due to his supporters' anger at government," she wrote. "It is a gesture of contempt for government, for the men and women in Congress, the White House, the agencies. It is precisely because people have lost their awe for the presidency that they imagine Mr. Trump as a viable candidate.... They're not nihilists, they're patriots, and don't experience themselves as off on a toot but pragmatic in a way the establishment is not."

 * ... BETTY: The funeral service for Betty Leonor, the 44-year-old artist who died of liver cancer last week, was held in Florida this weekend and I tuned in via the internet to watch the tribute. Leonor was not a product of Bakersfield, but she did her best work here and it was in places like The Metro Galleries downtown where the genius of her work was first shared with the general public. Her paintings, many self portraits, reflected a searing honesty not unlike the lyrics of the late jazz signer Amy Winehouse. Both were masters of their crafts, and both are gone well before their time. (Leonor's self portrait 'She waits' shown below)

 * ... TREBEK: Alex Trebek, the iconic host of the long-running hit TV game show Jeopardy!, will be the emcee of the West Kern Petroleum Summit set for this October at Taft College. This is a smart and witty move by organizers that will certainly add some flair to the petroleum summit, which was a huge hit when in its inaugural session last year. The event is set for Friday, October 16, at the college. Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will also appear at the summit.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Nothing good has ever come from answering a call from a blocked phone number."

 * ... PADRE: The Padre Hotel earned some nice recognition when it received the esteemed Four­Diamond award from AAA for the first time since its opening in 2010. This prestigious rating reflects a combination of overall quality, range of facilities and level of service. It is awarded to just 5 percent of the 28,000 hotels ranked annually. Four Diamond hotels are recognized as having luxurious accommodations, full­ service amenities and the highest level of hospitality.

 * ... BEST BET: And speaking of eating, the Union Station Deli on 18th Street downtown has changed hands and the new owners are rolling out a lot of delectable menu items. My favorite: a Mediterranean salad featuring black olives, red onion, salami, artichokes, yellow bell peppers and three different types of beans.