Reader: Reading The Californian’s “Notable deaths of 2018” article, one was notably absent: Pat DeMond. I also do not recall seeing any coverage of her Oct. 10 passing in your paper at that time.
Former Bakersfield vice mayor, three-term Bakersfield City Council member, pioneering businesswoman, mentor, board member of numerous local organizations, she was part of countless community projects — some highly visible, others less so but no less important. Pat DeMond’s influence on our community was significant and will be felt for years.
— David Lyman
Price: You're right, David. We blew it on Pat DeMond. Twice. We mentioned the passing of at least two of her city government contemporaries, Mayor Mary K. Shell and Police Chief Bob Patterson, but whiffed on the very colorful DeMond, who was serving on the City Council back when I was the City Hall reporter.
You summarized some of her achievements. I would only add that DeMond, a Democrat, was confident, knowledgeable, witty and, at least from the dais, no-nonsense and direct. She died in Bakersfield at age 84; we may have overlooked her because she had been largely out of the public eye for 20 years. Not that that's a good excuse.
The main problem with listing people, for almost any purpose, is that invariably you'll leave someone out. DeMond's inadvertent omission was a doozy, and so was that of political consultant Mark Abernathy, who died Jan. 27 at 75. We omitted him from the newspaper but featured him in the story's online version.
We'll do better.
Reader: Tuesday's paper had a full-page ad by Kevin McCarthy, and I question the veracity of its headline: "Congressman Kevin McCarthy has always put seniors first." McCarthy voted to end "Obamacare." When conservation groups attempt to talk to him and go to his office, he bars the door and locks it. Also, he never has had one face-to-face, unplanned, town hall meeting, which I thought was part of his duties.
So the implication that he is a friend of seniors is false and misleading and he should be called out on that. He is no friend of seniors, unless they are wealthy.
— Katie Mullican
Price: You've targeted the wrong advertiser, Katie. The ad was placed by the Alliance for Patient Access, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, "represents physicians and is largely funded by the pharmaceutical industry. The contributors mostly include brand-name drug makers and biotechs (including) ... Pfizer and Amgen."
The AFPA ad was instead directed toward McCarthy. It was intended to convince him to reject efforts to link the price Medicare pays for most doctor-administered drugs under Medicare Part B to an “international pricing index.” Among the "negative consequences" of this "risky experiment" cited in the AFPA advertisement is "unprecedented price fixing for medicine based on deeply flawed European health systems, stifling America's leadership in cancer research and innovation." It's that European boogeyman again.
President Donald Trump has expressed an interest in bringing down the cost of prescription drugs, one of the few areas he seems to agree with most Democrats. I don't know which direction McCarthy will ultimately go on the issue, but it bears noting that the House minority leader has collected more than $1 million in pharmaceutical company donations since 2007, including more than $200,000 in the first three quarters of 2018 alone.
Reader: Can you please tell me how 1900 Wilson Road is in east Bakersfield? This is ongoing not only by TBC but the local TV stations! It is scary because if there was a real disaster and you give out false and wrong news people can get hurt.
From the story: "The body of a deceased man was found in an alley in east Bakersfield on Friday. The Bakersfield Police Department said at around 2:30 p.m., officers were sent to the 1900 block of Wilson Road after getting a report of a deceased person found in the area."
— Don Kurtz
Price: If 1900 Wilson Road is east of Highway 99 — and it is, by about a mile — by some definitions it's in east Bakersfield. I agree that's a wholly unsatisfactory description, however. But what should we call it? South Bakersfield? Sure, about 30 years ago. Central Bakersfield? Eh. Doesn't feel right. South central? Perhaps technically correct, but somehow jarring. What would you call it, Don?
I think you overstate the public threat of mislabeling the section of the city in need of an emergency response. Police don't just head blindly into what they as individuals might consider east Bakersfield. They have addresses, specific or general, to work with. It's only later, when the public affairs officer sends the media a news release about the incident, that labels like "east Bakersfield" are applied. Sgt. Brian Holcombe needs to identify it somehow, right? And nothing fits very well.
Reader: Congratulations to Steven Mayer on his Jan. 10 article ("Kern County and Cat People team up for a solution to Hart Park's feral cats"). I found it well written, enjoyable, and very informative. I'd like to share my experience with The Cat People.
This past September, my fixed, microchipped rescue cat, Buddy, came up missing. I don't know how he got there, but one day I received a call from Carol Lair, who said she thought she had seen Buddy at Hart Park. If it had not been for her noticing Bud, how good he looked and how friendly he was, and thinking to scan him for a chip, I probably would never have gotten him back. To show our appreciation, Buddy donated a new cat tower for the Cat People sanctuary.
Again, congratulations to Steven on a job well done.
— Terry Pritchard
Reader: Regarding the Jan. 7 story "Local grower's 'brand ambassador' lights up social media with Golden Globes showing," I appreciate John Cox's continued public relations work for the Resnicks — "It has also invested heavily in local philanthropy and the lives of its farmworkers in Lost Hills and Delano" — but I would have hoped the editor would be more balanced in terms of the coverage.
The Resnicks are also responsible for the environmental devastation and corporate takeover of water as a public resource. I would hope our local newspaper would not be blinded by the latest meme or bit of branding.
— Matthew Woodman
Price: I'm trying to envision how the story you describe would go: "Hollywood is abuzz over the Fiji Water girl, a living meme who turned heads at the Golden Globes on behalf of a ruthless corporate giant." Two different stories. The brief mention of the company's philanthropic activity seemed appropriate to me in this case; delving into environmental science, state regulation, legal grappling and the negative accusations you mention would not have been ... at least, not here. This story was intended only to be a light, quick hit, not an investigation. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Reader: While I was accused in a recent (Dec. 22) Sound Off column of using "silly hyperbole," TBC sees nothing wrong with publishing racist, anti-European and anti-Christian rhetoric (Letter to the editor: "A new majority," Jan. 8). I suppose being of color, and I have a sense as to which color the writer prefers, even though it would not technically qualify as race, and deriding where one lives in this country is now de rigueur. As one spews the lines from the far-left manifesto, it will get shrift in our local paper.
— Greg Laskowski
Price: We print the letters we receive, Greg, as long as they are local, coherent and substantially fact-based. You should know that, having been published many times and rarely, if ever rejected.
But as long as you raise the issue, let's review: A couple of weeks ago, referring to a previous letter writer, you wrote: "The writer, and people of his ilk such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pot, Castro, Maduro and Huerta ... can’t be trusted." You lumped a mild-mannered, retired Bakersfield College math professor with a gallery of rogues and despots (and, I assume, Dolores Huerta) that collectively murdered 80 million people. So, yes, I'm going to go out on a limb and call that silly hyperbole.
The Jan. 8 letter you refer to made some subjective claims about President Trump's "loud and boisterous" but ultimately outnumbered base. The letter writer also wrote: "People of color and non-Christian religions are becoming the majority in America, and the new Congress is a representation of this new majority in American politics."
Census data, polling and election results bear out all of those claims to varying degrees. The only one I questioned was whether non-Christian religions are truly moving toward majority status. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, however, America’s youngest religious groups are all non-Christian, and Christians (with the exception of Mormons) have the largest births-to-deaths percentage deficit of any major religion. The vast majority of Americans who declare a religion is still Christian, however, so that minority-status forecast is still many decades from potential reality. But that's the trend.
Reader: Regarding Robert Price's Dec. 23 "The fight to save Oildale" column: Ethel's Old Corral is not "along China Grade Loop," as Price wrote, but rather along Alfred Harrell Highway.
Regarding his conclusion that Merle Haggard Drive is "the northernmost boundary of Oildale," considering all of the houses and apartments that are north of Merle Haggard Drive, James Road is a more logical northern boundary for Oildale.
— John Sweetser
Price: You're right about Ethel's Old Corral. From Oildale, you would drive to the old barnwood saloon most likely by way of China Grade Loop, but, yes, it's actually located on Alfred Harrell Highway. As for the northernmost boundary of Oildale, that's a subjective call. The housing thins out considerably north of Merle Haggard, so I'm staying with that artificial boundary. But that'll probably change in a few years.
Reader: Monday's "Through Your Lens" reader photos included one with the caption "Sunrise at Avila Beach." Now, I know I have been away, living in the wilds of Missouri, where the nearest coast is the banks of the Mississippi, but I don't think one can see a sunrise on the west coast. I even looked on Google Maps to see if there was a way to have a sunrise there, but, alas, no.
— Kerry McGill
Price: Right you are. That's either a sunset or not Avila Beach.