New Year: In honor of the new year, I will devote today's blog to some of the hits and misses of the past 12 months. Here's to a new year free of litter, discarded diapers, running red lights and other examples of bad behavior.
Hit: Has our community finally awakened to the trash and litter that make our streets looks like a Third World country? The city spent the year getting serious about responding to complaints about litter, and the Homeless Center is providing workers to clean many of the freeway on- and off- ramps. It's still a mess, but this is a good start.
But clearly there are people who view our streets as their private trash receptacle. Do you remember the two women in the battered older green van downtown who casually tossed all of their fast food wrappers on L Street? When confronted by a concerned driver, one of the women threaded to punch her out.
Hit: The Westside Parkway opened and was an instant hit, absorbing a lot of the traffic off Truxtun Extension and Rosedale Highway and providing a quick commute to folks who live out in Seven Oaks and other westside neighborhoods.
Miss: The attempted implosion of the old PG&E power plant on Rosedale Highway was a catastrophic failure and left one man fighting to keep his legs. By the time the lawyers are done with this case, the utility will feel it in its checkbook. And meanwhile, when are they going to clean up the pile of twisted steel that remains out there?
Hit: There were many good deeds last year, but one of my favorites was the young businessman who bought the lunches for 18 Vietnam veterans at the Roadhouse Grill. Now that's a class act.
Miss: Bakersfield College missed badly when it forced out Athletic Director Ryan Beckwith after the football team was sanctioned and had to forfeit a championship. And yet, all the misdeeds by the football team and its booster club had been going on for years before Ryan arrived at BC.
Hit: I wouldn't recommend this at home, but you had to admire the guts of the downtown homeowner who chased a burglar off his properly in the wee hours of the morning, hopped in his truck and found the offender riding a bicycle with a box of stolen goods on his handlebars. The result: a citizen's arrest and a felon behind bars.
Miss: And what was the middle-aged woman on the electric power scooter thinking when she left a local grocery store with a very young girl riding on the handlebars while the woman casually smoked a cigarette and crossed four lanes of traffic in the middle of the day?
Hit: Downtown Bakersfield had another great year with new restaurants, businesses, downtown lofts and potted trees sprucing up the arts district. Get ready for another year of fun First Friday celebrations, new restaurants and lively nightlife.
Hit and Miss: And my favorite hit and miss of the year goes to the young couple who changed their infant's diaper on the Panorama Bluffs and indecorously left the dirty diaper next to the curb. Shame on them, but kudos to the runner who spotted this and then tossed the dirty diaper into the offender's car via an open sun roof. That's karma.
Richard Beene is president and CEO of The Bakersfield Californian. He blogs at www.bakersfieldobserved.com. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian. Email him at email@example.com.