This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms and compliments or ask questions about The Californian’s news coverage. Your questions — which may be edited for space — are answered here each Saturday by The Californian’s Robert Price.
Reader: I came across an article in your Jan. 3 paper that was a little disheartening: “Heading to the coast this weekend? Avoid Wasco.”
The article educated readers about the upcoming weekend-long Highway 46 closure between Wasco and Highway 99. I appreciated the traffic update but I was bamboozled by the cheap shot taken at Wasco — my hometown. As former chairman of the Wasco Planning Commission, let me offer some constructive feedback.
First, 2017 was a tumultuous year for many, so let’s try to be more positive in 2018. Sadly, the first line of this article falls short. It states: “Heading to Wasco for a weekend of frivolity this Friday? No?” That is unnecessary. It should have been edited out. In 2018, let's show more appreciation to our smaller Central Valley sister cities, because whether we like it or not, we are in this together.
Second, I went to law school in the Bay Area. While there, I defended Bakersfield day in and day out because I know just how special this town is. I’ve spent many years here, organizing folks, helping folks fight for better schools, helping folks save their homes from foreclosure, and helping reduce part 1 crimes. Mind you, I call Bakersfield home, too. So my second point is only a reiteration of my first — we are in this together.
As a big fan of The Californian, I say let's minimize the cheap shots and focus on the greater good. The world needs collaboration now more than ever.
— Chris Ballard
Price: I completely get your point, Chris, and I salute your service to your hometown and to Bakersfield.
That said, I think we all have to be willing to take a little ribbing.
Stories about road closures are useful but tend to be deadly dull. A little playfulness never hurts. Our analytics tell us a lot of people read the online version of that story — which, I should note, was accompanied by a file photo depicting an excellent reason to visit Wasco: The annual Festival of Roses. Would as many eyeballs have settled on the story if we'd played it straight? I doubt it.
Personally, I love Wasco and I'm overdue at Carol's Dari Freeze. I recommend the hot links and the coleslaw.
Reader: Now that the weekly papers serving Delano, Wasco and other communities have closed, maybe The Californian can add a section covering news of the surrounding county.
— John Alcala
Price: Funny you should suggest that. This month we unveil a new service intended to take care of some of those communities. We're launching a new edition of our weekly publication, The Voice, tailored to the residents of Delano, McFarland and Wasco. The Voice, a summary of Kern County news and entertainment, will land on driveways in those towns every Sunday — free.
The sad, simultaneous demise of the Wasco Tribune and Delano Record leaves thousands of households without that vital breakfast-table staple, the local newspaper. We're going to try to fill that void.
Reader: Regarding your Sound Off reply to Jennifer Scott about the closing of the Delano Record: You don’t mourn the demise of a competitor, you grieve it. Mourning is a gathering of mourners who come together to pay tribute to the deceased. Like a funeral or memorial service. Grief is personal feelings.
— Anthony Bernal
Price: I disagree. One can certainly "mourn the demise" of someone or something. The Oxford dictionary defines "mourn" as "feel regret or sadness about (the loss or disappearance of something)."
Reader: I can't believe you would be so careless as to let this error pass by! Clearly, Derek Carr cannot throw seven TD passes in the 2018 Super Bowl since his team cannot possibly play in that game! Maybe in 2019. ("Headlines we'd like to see in 2018," Opinion, Jan. 1.)
Anyway, I love your annual collection of satirical headlines, and hope that next year brings more sanity, and, yes, more understanding between differing opinions.
P.S. Regarding the headline "Extraterrestrials land in Washington, Pyongyang, administer public spankings to Trump, Kim Jong Un": My recommendation for Trump/Kim is not a spanking, but a boxing match! Put both those jerks inside a ring, with gloves on, and let's see who the better idiot is.
— Ted Johnson
Price: I suppose I could fudge and say that the Derek Carr prognostication/wish referred to the upcoming 2018 NFL season, not the championship game's actual date in 2019. But that would be disingenuous. So, yes, you are correct, sir.
As for Trump vs. Kim, yep, I'd pay to see that.
Reader: Marijuana is now legal. I wonder if growers are subjected to the same environmental impact reports and red tape that, say, builders are? The media kind of skips over stuff that doesn't fit the liberal view. Sure glad they can drill water wells in Northern California to grow marijuana in the midst of a drought. Seems to me that water would be good for drinking and maybe food crops. Our insurance rates are sure to increase as thousands more "under the influence" drivers will be unleashed upon us.
Meanwhile, we have a multitude of new gun legislation which will only be observed by law-abiding citizens.
— Steve Ledbetter
Price: Licensed, commercial cannabis growers will indeed be subjected to certain environmental restrictions, but whether those restrictions are fair or adequate remains to be seen. I expect to see new laws at the state and local level in the months and years ahead that address some of the shortcomings of California's legalization of marijuana, known and yet to be recognized. In any case, licensed growers will be subjected to many more restrictions than the illegal operators who have flourished — and polluted — in secret for decades.
You're right about this: U.S. news media has not given this issue a lot of attention, but then I didn't have any trouble finding some useful reporting on the subject, either. I don't know how the relative lack of coverage reflects a liberal bias, though. In my experience, news organizations with the resources to do so pounce when they discover flaws in the administration of laws or policy.
As for driving under the influence in the era of legal cannabis: Media has covered that issue fairly well thus far, and no doubt will continue to do so as public safety agencies wrestle with new enforcement challenges.
Reader: Hello, Bob Price. I enjoyed your article on Gene Torigiani, who is retiring from Weatherby's Furniture after 43 years ("Need a new sofa? Call this man, but hurry," Dec. 30) and of course I am one of those people who has bought many, many pieces of furniture from him.
But there is something else about him: When my son was a teenager, Gene gave him accordion lessons. I'm sure you must know that he is a master accordion player. I just thought it was a good little tidbit to add. People should know that Gene really is a fine person.
— Eleanor Sawyer
Price: I could tell a story or two about Gene myself, starting with the day a disheveled Johnny Cash walked into his Taft music store and tried to cash a check with only a Columbia Records contract as ID.
I could shamelessly plug a certain book that contains that particular story, but I'll hold back.
Reader: The Dec. 31 Californian included another bleak editorial page. You echo everything the lowlifes at The Washington Post write to undermine our president. When Michael Gerson and Dana Milbank start quoting Jesus, it makes me gag.
Given their misguided and intentionally globalist diatribes, I can clearly see what Jesus might see: "a brood of vipers."
Happy New Year and God bless our president.
— Gerald V. Todd
Price: And when Donald Trump starts quoting Jesus ... oh, wait. He has never been known to do that. Never mind.
The brood of vipers you reference includes a visiting fellow with the Center for Public Justice, a Christian think tank that tries to bring a Christian worldview to bear on U.S. policy issues. That would be Gerson, who was also a senior policy adviser to George W. Bush for five years.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say Gerson is well qualified to quote Jesus. Try some Pepto-Bismol.
Reader: I would never want your job. You're a funny guy, right up there with Irma Bombeck, Art Buchwald, Mike Royko and Jim Murray. So, I'm amazed that you could be so kind and patient to these sanctimonious nitwits that write into The Californian. These people remind me of that saying, "You can prove just about anything if you don't know what you're talking about."
— John Caminiti
Price: Half the time I don't know what I'm talking about either, and I can prove it.