It was nice to see CSUB get some much-deserved love as a university that provides excellent value to first generation college students. A recent story in the Wall Street Journal was devoted to schools that give you the most for your money, and two researchers mentioned Cal State Bakersfield among the standout universities that are "delivering maximum value for students with modest beginnings."


Good leaders know this: hiring just one person with the right attitude and skills can have a powerful influence on any organization. I also believe that applies to neighborhoods, where the arrival of one business can uplift an entire block. I think that is happening on what I call the 18th Street corridor, where the comfy and quite trendy coffee house Cafe Smitten has brought new life, energy and hope to a stretch of downtown that was previously stuck in the doldrums. If you haven't been there, stop by for a latte and breakfast eggs and enjoy the crowd and good vibes.


"I tried to follow my dreams but now I have multiple restraining orders."


From a friend in Georgia: "Here’s my uh-duh moment of the day. Got a new car this week and when I went out this morning to go to work it was pitch black. My hands were full so I couldn’t get to my phone for the flashlight so I felt around and found a door handle and got in. The overhead light didn’t come on so I felt around on the ceiling and couldn’t find it. I got my phone out so I could see and guess what? I was in the backseat. Duh."


When organizations are in distress, good leaders find a way to rally the troops. And that is exactly what Kern County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop did last week after learning Chevron was reducing its local workforce by 26 percent. In a memo to employees, he wrote: "As all of us here at the County are aware, the depressed oil prices have led to a decrease in property value for the oil field land here in Kern County which then leads to a lower property tax revenue. This is one of the greatest influences leading to our structural budget deficit.

"We’re making changes every day to have efficient operations so that we don’t find ourselves in the place that so many Chevron families found themselves in yesterday. I want to take this moment to ask that we all continue to work together in building a pathway through our budget deficit over the next few years. We will get to a sustainable place where our employees are rewarded more consistently and our operations allow us to be nimble and responsive to market fluctuations. Thank you for your continued commitment to the residents of Kern County and my thoughts are with the local families impacted by this news."


Hats off to the older couple on Panorama Drive near University Sunday morning picking up trash on both sides of the road. Meanwhile, a mile west near the Panorama Bluffs park was the usual display of plastic cups and fast food wrappers, discarded by folks who use the park for exercise. How can people who profess to take care of their bodies turn around and litter the very ground they use to exercise?

Email contributing columnist Richard Beene at rsbeene@yahoo.com. His work appears here on Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at BakersfieldObserved.com.

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