Should we be surprised about the revelation that an oil executive helped former state Sen. Michael Rubio with the purchase and sales of two homes while Rubio was serving in the state Legislature? Rubio, a Shafter Democrat, says it was all on the up and up, but the whole scenario hardly passes the smell test, especially given Rubio's squeaky-clean image. Rubio described the oil executive, Majid Mojibi, as a close personal friend who just happened to help him with two deals, including one a $681,000 four-bedroom, five-bath home in El Dorado Hills. Don't we all wish we had friends like this? All this, of course, happened while Rubio was a rising star in the state Senate who later held hearings on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Rubio has since resigned and moved over to Chevron as head of governmental affairs. And they wonder why the public is so cynical.


Local radio talk show host Ralph Bailey moves his afternoon program to KERN 1180 on Monday, a fact that seems to irritate to no end his former colleague Jaz McKay. McKay, who appears on KNZR, used Facebook to hurl some racist comments at Bailey, not to mention calling him "a misogynist pig" who "hates women." Truly bad form but hardly unexpected. Bailey will be my guest on Californian Radio KERN 1180 Monday at 9 a.m. to address the brouhaha over his departure and to kick off his new show.

Jack Smith

I mentioned the late Los Angeles Times columnist Jack Smith the other day, prompting reader Marie Schroepfer to share these fond memories of her mother. "Jack Smith was her favorite columnist, and his column was the first thing she read when it appeared in the paper. Jack Smith, paired with breakfast, her favorite meal of the day, would make her day," she said. "Periodically I would return home to spend a few days with her. Always, when I sat down for breakfast the first morning of my stay, there would be a stack of Jack Smith's articles that she had 'saved' for my next visit. There was no getting around reading them during my stay, as she would periodically inquire as to my progress. She particularly enjoyed his description of the antics, and perhaps misbehaving, of his Airedale dog."


I am always happy to report when one of our local foundations opens its wallet to help others. This time, it is the Plank Foundation, which wrote a check for $10,000 to the Friends of Mercy Foundation/Florence R. Wheeler Cancer Center. It was the 12th annual donation from Plank in that amount, and it was presented at a meeting of the Bakersfield East Rotary. The Plank Foundation ( was started in 1985 and supports locally the fight against cancer, hospice efforts and provides donations for immediate community needs.

Mea culpa

I erred in reporting earlier that the fine dining restaurant Valentien would have a daily prix fixe lunch menu. The restaurant's new hours mean it will only be open for lunch on Fridays, when a prix fixe meal will be available for $16. A prix fixe meal will also be offered at dinner, Monday through Saturday, for $25.


Hats off to Stephen Samples, who has been promoted to vice president of regional neurosciences at the Neurological Institute of the Cleveland Clinic. He is the son of Lora and Frank Samples, a local attorney. Stephen went to school at Trinity University in San Antonio and at the University of Texas Medical School.

Richard Beene is president and CEO of The Californian. He blogs at These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Send him tips at