Thursday, April 21, 2016

Kern Health Systems pulls out of negotiations to build new administrative building downtown and some good and bad moments downtown

 * ... MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Well, the city passed up a chance to have a major employer (Kern Health Systems) purchase vacant land and bring a couple hundred jobs downtown. The land, across from the Maya Cinemas, has sat vacant for years and the Kern HMO was ready to purchase it
outright for new administrative offices. But when bureaucrats become involved, things never seem to go as smoothly as they should, and Kern Health walked away after the city set too many conditions. The two councilmen who represent the wards closest to the project - Terry Maxwell and Willie Rivera - called it a missed opportunity for downtown development and jobs in a time when growth is stagnant. On this issue, they got it right.

* ... ACHIEVER: Congratulations to Bakersfield native Connor Mojo who has been named an "outstanding senior" at Oklahoma State University. A graduate of Stockade High School and the son of Jeff and Dena Mojo, Connor is an industrial engineering and management major. He is a member of the Honors College and also served as vice president in the OSU Student Foundation (STUFU), an organization that promotes philanthropic giving on campus, as well as an officer in the Sigma Nu fraternity.

 * ... FOODIE: Friends have been raving about the new Victor's Mexican Grill on F Street downtown, so I sauntered in to see what the fuss was all about. Don't expect sit-down service or a cold margarita, because this place was birthed on the Chipotle model: a simple take-out menu featuring fresh burritos and bowls, all at a reasonable price with speedy service. If that is your ticket, punch it here at the new Victor's.

 * ... PADRE: And speaking of food, it was good to see that the folks over at The Padre Hotel finally succumbed and brought back some of the favorite bar food items that disappeared from the menu some time ago. The Brimstone's popular sliders and nachos are back, as well as some tweaks to the hotel's popular salads.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you don’t have anything nice to say, you’re probably just being realistic."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: A friend posted this on his Facebook page: "I spotted a guy at Starbucks today. He had no smartphone, tablet or laptop. He just sat there drinking his coffee. Like a psychopath."

 * ... BAD FORM: Note to the driver of the white Mitsubishi with the gold "in loving memory" sticker on its back windshield: was it really necessary to toss your empty McDonald's cup and a handful of used napkins out your window the other day?

 * ... GOOD FORM: But hats off to the young man named Cody who came to the aid of a 93-year-old World War II veteran who had slipped in the parking lot while headed to Denny's on Panama Lane. He later spent time with him and walked him back to his motel.

 * ... BARBECUE: And don't forget the St. Francis of Assisi annual barbecue next Thursday in the east church parking lot. For $30 you get to hobnob with your neighbors and dine on a New York steak, fettuccine, green beans, salad and rolls, and all for a good cause.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Three young men get a Darwin award nomination for busting into a huge gun store overnight (yes they were arrested) and NBA legend Bill Walton will be in town Thursday to support Bike Bakersfield

 * ... DARWIN AWARDS: Just how stupid were the three young men who broke into Second Amendment Sports and were arrested after being trapped inside? Never at a loss for words, another
local gun shop owner, the colorful Gene Thome, described the two suspected gang members and a juvenile as being "industrial strength stupid," which is a nicer way of saying they should be in the running for the Darwin Awards, which recognizes folks who have "contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions." Outside of banks and other financial institutions, is there a riskier place to rob or burglarize than a gun shop?

 * ... ROAD WORK: Tom Ware wrote about a construction project that has motorists fuming, particularly at rush hour. Said Ware: "It appeared that a right turn lane at the southeast corner of Calloway and Rosedale Highway was in the works. Houses have been taken down and the corner business vacated. Now, new curbs and sidewalks are in on that southeast corner as if no right turn lane is going to appear. The traffic there backs up about a half a mile at times. A designated right turn lane going on to Rosedale Highway east is badly needed. Do you have any information or pull?"

 * ... BILL WALTON: UCLA and NBA legend Bill Walton will be in Bakersfield this Thursday speaking at a fund raiser for Bike Bakersfield. His prowess on the basketball court is well known, but his messages of persistence, second chances and hope are what has defined his life since retiring in 1987. I chatted with Walton on NewsTalk KERN 96.1 on the Scott Cox show, and his energy and enthusiasm for life is intoxicating. And did you know his father was from Taft? Walton knows the oil patch, and he had this advice for local folks who have lost their jobs in the oil industry. "These are defining moments of your life when the ball bounces the wrong way," he said, noting his 30-plus surgeries on his 6 foot, 11 inch frame as well as his personal struggle with stuttering. Look at these setbacks as opportunities, he said, and with faith and persistence anything is possible. Walton will appear at the Gardens at Mill Creek (712 19th Street) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Go to to buy tickets.

 * ... HAPPY THOUGHT: This note from Mary Moreland brought a smile to my face: "Yesterday as I was walking my dogs Scruffy and Rusty east of Bakersfield College I noticed some chalk drawings on a driveway. I thought how great it was that despite cell phones, kids still do that. The important message in large script: LIVE LIFE HAPPY."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You trust me holding your child? Do you know how many iPhone screens I’ve cracked?"

 * ... FOODIE: I was saddened to hear that Quig's BBQ and Catering, housed in a huge trailer that has graced the Garces circle for a few years, is closing down. Owner Scott Quig and his young family are moving to Maryland and hope to sell the trailer.

 * ...  LIBRARIES: Have you considered how you will vote on Measure F, the proposed tax to save our public libraries? Linda Fiddler is among those who supports the measure, and shares this memory from when she was a child in Taft. "I remember visiting the Taft branch library and participating in the summer reading program. After swimming at Taft High, we would spend the rest of the hot afternoon at the library picking out books, listening to stories and doing art projects. I went to the community meeting at the Taft branch recently. It looks just the same, only smaller."