Did you read the story in The Los Angeles Times about the threat to hundreds of thousands of trees in Southern California? It’s a serious issue that could make our region “look, feel, sound and smell much less pleasant than it does now.” According to The Times, botanists have documented insect infestations that threaten to wipe out the California live oak, avocado, ash, almond, peach and even our stately sycamores that are so common in Kern County. The threat: something called the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle that “could kill as many as 27 million trees in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including parts of the desert.” Can you imagine if this infestation reaches Kern County? One expert from UC Riverside had this warning: “If we cannot control the shot hole borer, it will kill all the sycamores in California.”


“How long are you supposed to wait before you unpause the TV after your wife tells you she wants a divorce?”


We’ve sparked a lively debate here over the issue of leaving California because of its burdensome taxes, which are soon going higher. Whether you stay or leave one thing is certain: there is a net outflow of Californians to other states, with Texas being the top destination. Said one report in the Sacramento Bee based on U.S. Census data: “The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.”


Among those weighing in is Chad Jackman: “In response to Mr. Jon Johnston taking issue with folks taking their retirements that they were ‘given’ and moving out of the state of California. First off, no member of the community ‘gave’ me anything, I earned it. As a proud member of the Bakersfield PD I served my community and like all that wear a badge, put my butt on the line for them. We have the right to live in whichever state we chose. (It’s kinda in the name United States.) Those of us that chose to leave California no longer use any services or infrastructure. So that would be taxation without representation, and we fought a war about that kinda stuff. By the way, in the great state of Tennessee there is no state income tax and the roads are great and trash free.”


And there was this from Chris Padham: “Pretty hilarious about Kathy Harlan. Her comment about the entire state of Arizona has crummy air quality compared to California, then reading the article with the tag line of ‘California again leads cities with sullied air.’ And I looked and looked at the list of the top 10 polluted cities and gosh, not one from Arizona, but five in California. I can only assume she has never traveled out of state. Oh, by the way, I can assure Kathy that when I retire I will gladly leave California. And I’m certain I’ll be very happy in Arizona. “


Jon Sarad had this to say about the location of an old bar in town. Said Sarad: “I remember the Bluffs Bar as being a beer bar on southeast corner near North Baker and Irene Street. The building is still there‎, but no cool ones for years. I think Hannings liquors was owned by family who had a famous old bar catty corner on 17th from Haberfelde Building. Was it Mike Huston, or Hutson, who remembered Panorama Liquors? If Huston, his family owned Arrow Liquors on Columbus. Before the days of 7-11 and Thriftymart all the College Heights kids got ice cream, candy and sodas there.”


Johnna Beard Hall ended the note this way: “My parents owned The Bluffs for 45 years. It was on the corner of North Baker and Irene Street, a small neighborhood bar.”


Jim Smith poses this question about the old Maison Jaussauds on south Union: “Did not the Shah of Iran and his entourage stop at Maison Jaussauds for lunch on their way north to Yosemite Valley back in the 1970s? Am I right or abysmally wrong? Your archives or a reader can confirm.”

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

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