Thursday, September 22, 2016

Catholic Charities steps up to fill an important void in our community and leaving cable TV (cord cutting) starts to pick up steam in a big way

* ... CHARITY: We live in a crazy, scary and unpredictable world, but take the time to look around and you will always find glimmers of hope: neighbors helping those who are struggling, people
reaching out to each other to lend a hand, random acts of kindness among strangers. Consider what is happening today (Friday) from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the alley behind the local Catholic Charities office on Chester Avenue. Working with the CAPK Food Bank, Catholic Charities will be distributing fresh produce to the community - all completely free of charge - until the produce runs out. Why? Because there is a huge need. Catholic Charities and other groups like them often work anonymously to fill important needs in our community, but they all deserve our support and thanks.

 * ... CORD CUTTING: More Americans than ever are abandoning cable television and the traditional local networks in order to save costs, get more bang for the buck and choose exactly what they want to view. This trend toward "cord cutting" started with the millennials and - according to studies - has now become popular across all generations. One study found that some 35,000 Americans leave traditional cable every month. Consider this: a retired friend told me she lives solely off Netflix and original programming from Amazon Prime (she pays about $20 a month compared  between $150 and $200 monthly for fully loaded cable) while another friend told me he does the same but gets limited local programming with the HULU for an additional $8 a month fee. The implications for local TV, the major networks and their advertisers are ominously obvious.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I guess I should have realized something was off when my poodle received a Wells Fargo credit card."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Nothing says 'peaceful protest' more than stealing and vandalizing someone's property.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Marilou Burlingame shared this pleasant encounter at a local Subway recently.  "When we went to pay for our purchases, we were told by the cashier that our orders had been paid for by the young man ahead of us (we probably reminded him of his grandparents). What a surprise! We thanked him profusely but failed to ask his name (shame, shame). Will definitely do the same for someone else. It was a great day, beautiful weather, my husband passed the test and lunch was paid for by a very nice young man. Doesn’t get any better than that!"

 * ...  MEMORIES: When a reader mentioned the long-gone Coachlight Inn, it triggered these memories from Kelly Lucas. "When I dated my wife in the 1970s we’d go to the Coachlight Inn regularly on dates. I almost always ordered a couple of filets, one for me and one for my girlfriend, now my wife. The cost of the dinner was around $22, and that was a lot of money for a teenager. Coachlight boasted that patrons got to pick out their steak. So, once when ordering my $11 steak filet dinner I found out I could select a filet and have it prepared as the $8 shish kabob - a $3 savings X 2. That was a great deal, and meant money for dessert! Either Rudy never caught on, or figured my frequent patronage qualified me for a discount. My wife and I hold many wonderful memories of those dinners at the Coachlight Inn."

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And finally, my friend Dan Giordano shared this sweet memory of the old Stockdale Inn: "Richard, I remember both (Coachlight and Stockdale Inns) quite well and after reading your Wednesday post about them it brought back a some great memories. One being… the Stockdale Inn is where I proposed to my wife Patty 45 years ago. Thanks for the memory."

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

34th Assembly candidate Vince Fong weighs in on the Kern County economy

Bakersfield Observed is proud to provide a forum to local candidates to express their views. Today we hear from Vince Fong, a Republican running to succeed Rep. Shannon Grove in the State Assembly District 34

PAGA Reform is Needed to Protect Kern County’s Economy
By Vince Fong

Supplying nearly half of California’s private workforce, small businesses are the lifeblood of our community and the backbone of our economy. We depend on their success and prosperity to employ our neighbors and friends and to support our local economy.

Unfortunately, hundreds of small businesses in Kern County are being forced to turn off their lights and shut their doors in the latest scheme by opportunistic trial lawyers.

Thanks to a state law signed in 2003 by then-Governor Gray Davis , trial lawyers are exploiting employees to sue their employer for any violation of the California Labor Code. The Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) was originally designed to prevent employers from abusing their employees but has transformed into a hammer that is bludgeoning businesses into bankruptcy and putting people out of work.

Even the most minor violations of the California Labor Code, like pay stubs that lack the start or end date of a pay period or paychecks that by misplacing a period or comma in a company name, can result in millions of dollars in PAGA penalties. And, when businesses suffer as resources go toward litigation instead of investing in their workers, they are forced to make hard decisions – like laying off employees, reducing benefits or moving out of state.

Previously, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) handled these cases, but due to a lack of resources, they were not able to process every case. This act attempted to be the solution, but trial lawyers discovered how to walk away with the biggest chunk of change at the expense of vulnerable employees and businesses.

Here in Kern County, PAGA is a four letter word that many business owners would like to avoid and is harming our business climate. After facing millions in penalties and legal fees, many local businesses are contemplating closing their doors. It has gotten so bad in Kern County that California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse recently hosted a small business summit to inform business owners about the trial lawyers’ latest ploy. And PAGA abuse continues to grow across California.

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove has been a champion for Kern County business owners who are facing PAGA lawsuits from unscrupulous trial lawyers. She has led the reform effort in Sacramento, carrying legislation that fights to protect both employees and businesses. But much work still remains.

If elected to the California Assembly, I will continue the charge against these frivolous actions, making PAGA reform one of my top priorities. If your business has been affected, please share your story with me as we work together to find a solution.

Our local small businesses are simply trying to survive, dealing with over-regulation, over-taxation, and over-litigation in a state that ranks last in business climate. This is one burden we should remove. It is time we protect Kern County workers and stop shakedown lawsuits targeting our local small businesses.

Vince Fong is a candidate for the 34th Assembly District.

Two Bakersfield lads to start in the National Football League this weekend, Terry Maxwell clarifies his position on the Westchester street barriers and more on the old Coachlight Inn

* ... LOCAL PRODUCTS: Not sure if this ever happened before but this Sunday two products from Bakersfield high schools will be starting quarterbacks in the National Football League. Derek
Carr (Bakersfield Christian/Fresno State) is the starting QB for the Oakland Raiders while Cody Kessler (Centennial/USC) has been tabbed to start for the Cleveland Browns when they take on the Miami Dolphins.

* ... MAXWELL: I ran into City Councilman Terry Maxwell the other day at The Mark Restaurant where he serves as general manager. A longtime opponent of the 24th Street widening, Maxwell is in a fight for his political life against challenger Andrae Gonzales, who has promised a less confrontational approach to public service. And he also happens to support the 24th Street project, a fact that is not lost on many downtown residents. As many of you know I also live downtown, and I told Maxwell there were rumors that - because of his opposition to the widening  - Maxwell will remove the newly installed cul-de-sacs on the south side of 24th. "That is absolutely not true," he told me. "The (decision on the widening) is with the courts now and I have no intention of taking out the barriers." Maxwell wanted this on the record, and now it is.

* ... GREEN FROG: For residents of La Cresta and surrounding east side neighborhoods, it was bad enough when the Green Frog Market shut down three years ago. But now, some say, it has gotten worse since Dollar General moved into the building off Alta Vista. "The parking lot is a just a mess," one resident told me. "We had to call corporate to get them to clean up old tires discarded next to the building that sat there for weeks."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My grandfather just passed away and as a moment of silence, I'd like you all to drive four miles with your turn left signal on."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Isn't it amazing how a simple gesture can make you feel? Consider this note from Lloyd Klingenberg: "Just wanted to let you know about King Door. Recently someone decided they needed by garage door opener more than me. I went to King Door and purchased a new one and to my surprise I received a thank you card for using their business. Maybe some other businesses might want to think of this as I will remember King Door."

 * ... MEMORIES: Al (not Alvin) Sandrini sent me this note to reply to an earlier question:
 "I spoke to Rudy Kochevar, who is in Denver for his 60th high school reunion. He told me that he purchased the Coachlight Inn from Bill Wright in 1975, while he was teaching for the Bakersfield City School District. The location of the Inn was where Los Hermanos is now located. This is much closer to 34th than I remember, but that was a few years ago.  In the early days, there was only a small bar in the rear of the restaurant. The bar got busier when Rudy started working as the evening bartender. The bar was expanded and a patio was built to allow more room for the customers. The Coachlight West was the old Stockdale Inn, which was located on the corner of Stockdale Highway and New Stine Road (where the Shell Station is now located). The Coachlight West was moved to the new location at Oak and California."