Thursday, December 28, 2017

Looking forward to 2018 and thinking about those New Year's resolutions ... a hope for new leadership and saying goodbye to some inspiring local leaders

 * ... HAPPY NEW YEAR: Have you sat down to list your New Year's resolutions? If you could have three wishes for 2018 what would they be? My top three don't change through the years,
because they represent wealth that money cannot buy: personal happiness for those I love, health and hope for those less fortunate.

 * ... LOCAL POLITICS: On the local political level, I hope 2018 brings a new wave of younger, savvy, more forward thinking and thoughtful candidates to put an end to the clubby, risk averse and often backward reputation that Kern County has earned over the years.

 * ... OPIATES: Along those lines, wouldn't it be nice to hear our city council or Board of Supervisors express as much - or more - concern about the opioid crisis than they do about marijuana? While we fritter the night away wringing our hands about pot, people die every day from crushing addictions that start with legal prescription drugs and often end with crude and dangerous forms of street drugs. And some of the hardest hit? Our combat veterans - who we claim to admire and love - who often return home with crippling injuries that can lead to addiction to opiates.

 * ... RICO'S LIST: I compiled my own list of younger, engaged citizens that I hope one day will consider running for office. I do not know their personal politics, but all are educated and smart and have shown a love for this community. My "watch list" includes Michael Bowers, Melissa Poole, Lauren Mae, Don Bynum, Thomas Maxwell, Patrick Wade, Jay Tamsi, Justin Salters, Dana Culhane Brennan, Anna Smith and David Milazzo. Who did I miss?

 * ... ANIMALS: And how about this for a resolution: Here's hoping we stop treating our pets as disposable items here in Kern County and see fewer of them roaming our streets hungry, afraid and alone.

 * ... HORACE MITCHELL: We will lose Horace Mitchell to retirement as president of CSUB this year, and here's hoping his replacement is as dynamic, forward thinking and inclusive as Mitchell has been during his 13 years at the helm of our local university. These are all tricky decisions, and there is no guarantee that the next CSUB president will show the vision that Mitchell brought when he arrived on campus in 2004.

 * ... STEVE SCHILLING: Another notable retirement is that of Steve Schilling, the longtime head of Clinica Sierra Vista which provides basic health care services to thousands of Californians across multiple counties. Schilling almost single handedly built Clinica into a massive, important health care organization, and let's hope his replacement- Brian Harris - shares the energy and vision that Schilling brought to his job.

 * ... SMALL GIFTS: Happiness is never tied to a zip code, and isn't it true that it is always the small things that make life such a gift? A few of mine: an 11-year-old tabby whose love is boundless, friends who make me laugh so hard my side hurts, grown children whose success and happiness brings me such joy, a hike in the hills above Hart Park on a crisp Bakersfield morning, indescribably delicious Christmas cookies from my neighbor Robin, sitting under my grand sycamore tree in downtown Bakersfield while listening to the train couplings, a cozy evening at the "Italian embassy" (Uricchio's Trattoria as Rick Kreiser calls it) seeing old friends, and a new wife who gets my jokes, makes me laugh and fills a room with her smile.

* ... THANKFUL: And finally, here's to some of the local cast of characters who continually surprise, challenge and inspire me in so many different ways: Monsignor Craig Harrison, Louis Gill of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, CSUB basketball coach Rod Barnes, Dr. Raj Patel of Preferred Family Care and Randy Martin of Convenant Community Services.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The state of California ushers in an expected $7 billion industry next week with legal marijuana, criminals hit local churches to steal and break into cars and animal control officers capture some wild dogs on the bike path

 * ... LEGAL CANNABIS: While the city and county have opted out of regulating the legal sale of cannabis beginning next week, the emerging $7 billion state industry is moving forward. One of the
latest developments: Bill Lockyer, formerly California's top cop as Attorney General, has co-founded a company to distribute marijuana concentrates and edibles to retail outlets. That's right, the same person who was in charge of California's "war on drugs" is now hoping to cash in on the medicinal and recreational use of pot. As Lockyer told The Los Angeles Times:  “For me as somebody who was on the law enforcement side for so many years, I saw the inadequacies of the effort to regulate something just by calling it illegal. I think legalizing will help stabilize and help legitimize this industry and result in better consumer protection and other public benefits. This whole industry has to come from the dark side to the light."

 * ... CRIME: Not sure if this is a trend but car thieves seem to be singling out local churches to steal and break into cars. At least two friends had their cars stolen this Christmas, right from the parking lot of their local churches. Yet another left the service to find his car had been broken into and his wallet stolen.

 * ... DOG POUND: It was nice to see two Bakersfield animal control officers on the bike path near Manor Drive on Christmas Day looking for a pack of wild dogs that has been chasing cyclists and runners. So far they have captured six dogs, mostly pit bull mixes, while two or three remain loose.

* ... SHOPPING MAYHEM: On Christmas Eve every single shopping cart at the Target on Stockdale Highway was in use, not to mention every checkout line was open with a line. I wasn't the only shopper to wait to the last minute.

 * ... CHRISTMAS LAMENT: I spotted this on a friend's Facebook page: "I really hope to wake up to a brand new car with a huge red bow, but I’m pretty sure my husband just got me socks."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m pretty sure that it’s easier to leave most street gangs than it is to cancel a membership to a gym."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Everyone is talking about Star Wars and I'm here thinking about tamales."

 * ... ALARM CLOCK: Local appraiser Gary Crabtree wonders if he is alone in noticing a new alarm clock about town. "Is it just me or has anyone else noticed the new town alarm clock in the form of the 'pile driving” taking place for the Centennial Corridor project over the Kern River. For the last two weeks I’ve been awakened by the 'gong' that starts around 6:30 to 7 a.m.  I can hardly wait for them to begin on the California Avenue and Stockdale Highway’s bridges."

  * ... GOOD FORM: Sandra Morris was dining with friends at Joseph's Italian restaurant recently when a kind looking man eating by himself picked up her bill. "A friend from Nigeria is here for the holidays and we were giving her a going away party and an Italian food experience... My friend from Nigeria always says how good and generous Americans are and she got to see a fine example today."