Reader: Robert Price's Jan. 26 column, "Unplugged, ejected and exiled, now-candidate Solis has fellow Dems exhausted and wary," which somehow merited front page placement, was "opinionated grease" into the swamp of thinly veiled bias and prejudicial politics. Let's acknowledge that The Californian routinely buries opinions deep in the interior of the paper. The exception is Sound Off, where Price does an excellent job of addressing inherently dissatisfied readers. So why does Price get to use the front page to torpedo Democratic Assembly candidate Julie Solis? The street-wise answer is Ms. Solis is rocking the political boat and making the more temperate uncomfortable. And she does so with zeal and a proud acknowledgment of her Hispanic heritage, frequently declaring, "They can't arrest all of us!"
I did not find one positive characterization of her accomplishments, of which there are many. She unrelentingly walks neighborhoods registering new voters. This grass-root advocacy cannot be ignored, which it was by Price. Door to door, "get out the vote" efforts form the foundation for changing America. Price's column was not intended to enlighten the community with a balanced presentation of Ms. Solis but instead was an attack vehicle in the classic William Randolph Hearst style of yellow journalism. Robert Price, you sold out!
Local party Democrats are afraid of change (like most Americans, no particular fault there) and Ms. Solis is on a mission. God bless her. Yes, she is undisciplined and makes outrageous comments. But ask yourself if they're any more outrageous, disrespectful or disparaging than the language of our president.
— Wade Eagleton
Price: Is that now our standard measure of decorum? Less disparaging than Donald Trump? Well, if so, you have me there.
Solis can be passionate, but the remarkably consistent story I heard from fellow Kern County Democrats is that her disruptive behavior has hurt morale and cohesiveness within party ranks. How much more effective, to use your example, might her voter-registration efforts be if she could recruit and inspire a greater number of people to join her, rather than drive them away with intimidation? Local valley fever research activists, of which Solis is one, tell similar stories.
I asked Solis to contact me several times prior to the column's publication. Her views on these matters would have been helpful for all concerned, Solis in particular. No luck.
As to your question about how that column "somehow merited front page placement": My Sunday column is virtually always on the front page, torpedo jobs and non-torpedo jobs. And my Saturday Sound Off column is almost never on the front page. But thanks for the kind words about it.
Reader: Despite the hate the Bakersfield media and the white Democratic old guard heap on Ms. Solis, she does not give up. The hypocrisy of the local media, headed by The Californian, is amazing. They chide Solis at every turn with negative comments — the same type of comments these hypocrites admire and revere in President Trump.
From reading the local media's negative stories you would surmise Ms. Solis has nothing positive to offer. Their interest is in only covering what they see as inappropriate behavior in a woman. There have been plenty of Republican men who engage in the same behavior and they are endorsed by this newspaper. What is different, other than Solis is a woman?
However, the hardest pill to swallow for old white Democrats is that for years they have fumbled the Democratic message. The truth is, Republicans could run Bozo the Clown and still win, given the performance by Kern's Democratic Party leaders. God forbid, if elected, Solis might actually represent someone and find the courage to disagree with conservatives.
— Panfilo Fuentes
Price: Again, we're comparing Solis and Trump? I admit I hadn't considered their rhetorical similarities but I guess one could make that case.
Your hyperbole is in overdrive, Pete, about the media chiding Solis "at every turn." The Californian looked at the Solis family's difficult challenges stemming from husband Juan's 2008 contraction of valley fever — and subsequent misdiagnosis — in a sensitive, heart-rending 2017 profile that, in my mind, portrayed Julie as a faithful, dogged fighter on her husband's behalf. She has also been quoted in a handful of political stories over the past few years, but none portrayed her in the slightest negative light. I understand, though, how much better it sounds to suggest we've got a vendetta.
Reader: As a former resident who was born in Bakersfield and now has children and grandchildren here, I read your column about the Brandeis University study on the prospects of the nation's children, ranked by city ("Another study, another statistical cellar," Jan. 24), in dismay. It is no surprise that Bakersfield is on the lowest rung of many ladders, be it education, transportation, housing or pollution. Until the political will realizes that Kern County is a dumping ground for the oil and agriculture corporations, it will continue to swim in the multigenerational filth that was started about 50 years ago. Good luck.
— Frank Klatt
Reader: I’ve lived in Bakersfield for decades. Born and raised in Canada, I’m left of center. Regardless, I have a strong affection for this town and its people. Early on, I noticed that, strangely, Bakersfieldians often remarked, as a positive, that real estate is cheap here. You mentioned the affordability of local real estate in that Jan. 24 column. Years ago, a female mayor of Fresno said (and I’m paraphrasing), "If this is one of the biggest things Fresno and Bakersfield are content to brag about, we are in a race for the bottom." There are reasons real estate is cheap.
It may be that the stars are aligning for Bakersfield. People on the coast are completely priced out of the housing market, even the well-educated and well-off. Our young people who left for college and in years past often never came back are returning, joined by other young professional newcomers. Read Mark Nessia's “Innovation Lab (brings passionate individuals together to redefine, revitalize downtown Bakersfield),” in the February edition of Bakersfield Life magazine. They’ll bring new ideas, different expectations, and they’ll change this town. The old guard will cling to criticizing the latest study's statistical methods, but we don’t need an outside study to tell us our poverty rate is one of the highest, our higher education rate is one of the lowest, and our air quality is usually the worst. Younger residents won’t be content to live in a town where our biggest bragging right is "property is cheap."
— Vicki Boehning
Price: Just as one can select and tweak certain statistics to make an area's profile read like the description of a wasteland, one can weave in a bullet point like real estate affordability and call it a benefit. Which it is, but only — as you point out — to a point.
Reader: My wordy letter to the editor, attached to this email, has too many exclamation points. I have no idea how many stupid, ungrammatical things you can find in it because in high school I was a poor student and almost didn't graduate. I found a legal-loophole way to spend most of my time in the library reading two books a day. Even though I didn't have enough credits, BHS graduated me. That was nice of them.
In college, I read three newspapers a day before I got to my coursework, and it only took 17 straight semesters. In a way it's my fault, but since I idolized and was influenced by writers, it isn't so bad. And to think I only remember taking one high school creative writing class.
I have adapted well to your more concise, easier-to-fling Frisbee format. My life is so full now sometimes I don't make enough time to read The Californian daily, but when I do I can mostly enjoy every single article you print. I never miss your $10 or less column and fine-print stuff in the back — but all that lawyer stuff? Not me. My L.A. Times E-edition has been in second place for a while.
Nice job on getting around Tehachapi during the snowstorms, and thanks to all those delivery drivers everywhere working extra for so long to get the job done. I enjoy reading Lois Henry again. Fireworks? No. Fire bad. Air and water are so underappreciated and, like Buck Owens, we'll miss them when they're gone.
— Matthew Clinton Jett
Price: One exclamation point is usually too many exclamation points. Just something to keep in mind.