Reader: I moved to Kern County in 1998 and when Kevin McCarthy first ran for the California Assembly in 2002, I supported him. At that time I was totally disinterested in politics. Fast forward to today's political atmosphere, with the ongoing devastation dividing the nation at the hands of the current Congress. Which brings me to the topic of my note.
On Oct. 6 The Californian's editorial board touted the paper's support for Kevin McCarthy. Considering the hideous mess going on in Washington, how on earth can you possibly support this guy? He has maneuvered his nose to be solidly attached to Trump's backside (Trump refers to him as "my Kevin") and is completely useless on behalf of Kern County residents. Not only has he turned his back on the citizens' and the county's needs, it is impossible to have a direct conversation. Many people have tried to speak to him over the years but he's never available, does not respond to inquiries other than the "canned" letter his field rep sends out. None of these letters address the concerns, questions, inquiries, etc. — they are all identical (at least the many I've received are) and as such, continue to confirm that Mr. McCarthy is unavailable to the public.
Many times people have gathered to talk to him and the story goes that he's afraid of confrontation. So, I ask, what good is he? As I understand it, the main function for which he's gained high praise is to raise money for the GOP. On behalf of Kern's citizens, he's an empty vessel.
Would it be a stretch to conclude that The Californian has received big bucks to support this empty shell?
I submit this note with respect. However, the time has come to point fingers and look for people who really care about the citizens of Kern. Because it's obvious McCarthy does not.
— JoAnne Klein
Price: Those are legitimate criticisms of McCarthy — and they have appeared in these pages many times, written variously by readers, our editorial staff and me personally.
Here is my take on why The Californian endorsed McCarthy: Kern County is a solid-red county that supports the Republican agenda, and the Trump agenda, pretty reliably. McCarthy, the House majority leader, is in perhaps the best position of anyone — House or Senate — to further promote those agendas. His continued presence in Washington, possibly as the next speaker of the House, would allow him to continue. That would be in the interest of Kern County, based on demonstrated voter preferences.
Might his duties on the big stage cut into his availability to his constituents back home? How could it not? Are voters in Kern County willing to give up a little of one to gain more of the other? Many are.
That doesn't mean our Opinion editors or columnists shouldn't hold McCarthy's feet to the fire when appropriate. We will.
Our editorial board tries to reflect community consensus when it makes sense to do so. Sometimes it doesn't. But my read on things is that it does in McCarthy's case.
Has The Californian received big bucks to support McCarthy? Um, no. I sure didn't see any of it.
Reader: So, Bob, how in the world did The Californian not know about the McCarthy family secret of being Native American and suffering decades of discrimination? ("Rep. McCarthy dismissive of report about in-law’s ‘Cherokee’ minority contracting work," Oct. 16.) The L.A. Times reported that the McCarthys have been involved in fraud for over 20 years, claiming that they are Cherokee. Now, I know that Kevin's name is not on any contract, and he is not a officer of Vortex Construction, but his in-laws and wife worked for the company. Why don't you go out and investigate and try to find out the truth about McCarthy's endeavors and so-called years of discrimination?
— Bill Guerrero
Price: Yes, how did we not know that McCarthy's brother-in-law had claimed Native American ancestry so he could get special consideration from the Small Business Administration? It should have occurred to us to pore through the SBA's list of the thousands of companies that are registered as disadvantaged-, minority- or special-status-owned businesses for the purposes of qualifying for no-bid and other contracting considerations. Then we should have parsed the names of those companies' principals for evidence of possible kinship with members of Congress. Then we should have asked those members of Congress, or their spouses, for DNA or other verification of their alleged minority status. Why didn't we think of that? It would only have taken a year or two. Why didn't the L.A. Times think of that? That's right, the Times didn't do a deep-data dive to get this story, either — a tipster led them to it, as often happens in these cases.
Bill, you have the advantage of seeing the outcome of the Times' investigation and now you think you can just work backward to an all-too-obvious starting point.
By the way, the Times did not report that the McCarthys have been involved in fraud for over 20 years. That's quite a leap. Right or wrong, the SBA accepted the documentation of minority status provided by McCarthy's brother-in-law, Bill Wages. The better story here, in my mind, is the possibility that the SBA has lax standards for the vetting of applicants.
Reader: It is not really your recommendation that readers vote Gavin Newsom, Eleni Kounalakis, Xavier Becerra, Betty Yee and Fiona Ma into office, is it? Do you want the state of California to continue its death spiral, with its open-border and sanctuary-city policies, and its psychotic laws that pamper criminals and hassle non-lawbreakers? Wow, that's serious.
No bail for crooks — just let them back out to continue doing bad stuff. Why issue warrants for non-appearance when they will not appear? Why would they? Ignorance is not bliss. You need to wake up from your slumber!
— Tom Edmonds
Price: The fact that The Californian's editorial board would, regrettably in some cases, endorse Democrats for state constitutional offices almost across the board speaks as much to the recent dearth of qualified, willing, electable California Republicans as the merits of the Democrats who would oppose them.
You're within your rights to oppose California's no-cash bail system, of course, but note the words of the Constitution's 8th Amendment: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed ...” Note, too, that the United States and the Philippines are the only countries on earth that have cash-bail systems, and I'm not aware of any significant trial-skipping problems in Germany or Brazil. The biggest flight risks simply don't get out, period.
The idea of the law is to make the criminal-justice system more equal for poor people charged with petty crimes. The thinking is that whether a defendant is released on bail should be determined by whether he’s a danger to the community or a flight risk, not whether he has a house to offer as bail collateral.
That said, some critics — including some liberals — say no-cash bail could make things worse, not better, for the poor. So, in my mind, the jury is still out, so to speak.
Reader: In Robert Price's Oct. 17 column about two visiting French journalists, "French TV seeks the lowdown on pistachios and Trump," he writes, "I described where they might find ordinary Bakersfield people to interview for their stories; they couldn't seem to find the city's main population centers, an observation I'd heard before."
I'm curious where you would send out-of-towners to meet the real people of Bakersfield and where you would say the main population centers are.
Price: There is no single, ideal place to meet "the real people of Bakersfield." I sat down with Loic Pialat of Le Télégramme, a regional newspaper based in northwestern France, and Pierrick Leurent, of the France 24 news network, at the downtown Padre Hotel one recent midmorning, and sidewalk foot traffic was light. The men were looking for a place with an abundance of interview opportunities and a high likelihood that the subjects would be politically engaged enough to have coherent, reasoned opinions about President Trump's tariffs, their primary topic.
Again, no single spot checks all of the boxes. The choices would have to be accessible public places, so commercial areas made the most sense. I suggested the entrance to a Costco warehouse store, which is a journalist's man-on-the-street go-to location because of the heavy foot traffic, as well as the Marketplace, and, because a number of growers are members there, Stockdale Country Club. I don't know if they actually went to any of those places.
My mention of "population centers" represents a different consideration. We were essentially discussing metro Bakersfield's areas of greatest population density. Those places aren't necessarily the best spots to find interview subjects.
Reader: Either I'm missing it or The Californian has stopped showing the stock market and oil prices in the daily paper. Those seem like very important pieces of news to omit. Please bring them back or explain why you stopped showing them.
— Roger Walker
Price: I'll do both. On days when we've had tight papers we've made the tough call of eliminating that day's stock box. But we've been hearing from readers about it, so we're changing course. From here on out we will publish the stocks box every Tuesday through Saturday. They've clearly been missed.
Reader: I enjoyed reading your Oct. 13 Sound Off ("Behind the dark art of editorial endorsements"). As a nurse who enjoys your work, I must say that, if you needed a flu shot, I would want a very sharp needle. Kudos!
-- Barb Fleming
Price: Because of my thick skin, I assume. Yes, the nurse broke off several needles when I got my vaccination way back in August. Get yours, too, folks.
Reader: Outstanding issue Oct. 13., the front section in particular. From the cover stories through Sound Off and the Community Voices, rapidly becoming one of my favorite features ("Treat women the way you want to be treated," by Justin H. Bell), to the letters. Adults indeed. Even columnist Froma Harrop was great ("Even birth control is under attack"). Good weather too.
But somebody needs to start up some kind of hashtag thing: #banbalfanz
— John O'Connell
Price: Thanks for the kind words, but we can't ban Jack Balfanz. He speaks for too many. He is occasionally offensive and usually wrong, but on slow days Sound Off has to start somewhere.