Reader: I don’t mean to seem like a dick, but you’re a joke — I tell it how it is ("Deafening street racing has southwest Bakersfield residents fed up," Nov. 20). You are in the media so you are supposed to report fairly, is that not right? Well, I didn’t see any (quoted) opinion from any of the people racing. ... I'm sure a lot of them aren’t even racing (but) ... just have loud cars that they illegally modified.
I don’t go there (to the parking-lot gatherings) and I don’t race. I live all the way by the Stockdale Greens golf course and ... the noise travels far. I can hear cars and motorcycles, especially, going down Gosford, Stockdale and Truxtun. That means there's hundreds of people that can hear it, and guess what? That’s the sounds when you live in a city.
You got some ... lady suggesting that everyone else (driving on Gosford Road) suffers ... by changing the streetlight sequence? You should be fired for even interviewing (her) and attempting to be a part of punishing anyone who uses Gosford and enjoys the fact it's one of the few roads where your car experiences less wear and tear from constant stopping and accelerating.
— Mike Burge
Price: Congratulations on living in a part of the city where racing noise "travels far" to your ears. It travels 200 or 300 feet, in some cases, to the people whose homes back up against Gosford Road and other popular straightaways. Maybe the 85-decibel, 2,000-rpm urban ambiance of a set of glasspack mufflers strikes you as soothing, like the bayside foghorns of San Francisco, but not everyone around here agrees with you.
However, racing on city streets isn't worthy of our concern simply because "the sounds when you live in the city" may or may not be annoying.
Speeding, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is consistently the country's No. 2 cause of traffic fatalities, behind only distracted driving and ahead of alcohol-impaired driving; drivers in the 16-to-24 age range are the most likely group to cause traffic fatalities and die on the road themselves; and nighttime driving is three times as dangerous as daytime driving. Hey! The trifecta, right there on Gosford Road.
Yes, the opinions of a few street racers would have been helpful. I located a half-dozen people who appeared to be connected to these parking lot gatherings and asked them, via social media, to contact me. No one responded during the 12-hour window of availability prior to my deadline. I would have loved a ride-along.
The homeowner you chose to insult had several suggestions for city officials who might be interested in slowing down these street racers. One suggestion was timing the traffic signals in a way that discourages high speeds on Gosford's long, wide straightaway.
How many suggestions did you offer? Zero. Your award for participatory citizenship is in the mail, Mike.
Sorry to seem like a dick.
Reader: I enjoy all of your articles, but Wednesday's column on street racing prompts my response. Ashe Road is another favorite racetrack for Bakersfield's young, inexperienced, want-to-be race car drivers. The noise is truly unbearable but we always know when the authorities have been notified because the thundering noise stops only to be heard again soon at a diminished level from the predetermined alternate location (which I just learned about in your article). The sound these cars make is literally deafening: I guess our only solace is that we will soon be naturally deaf!
— Fran Gunner
Price: I heard from several readers in several parts of the city who said street racing is a problem in their necks of the woods as well. It should be safe to say, therefore, that it's an issue everywhere, which should give us a clearer appreciation of the challenge faced by local law enforcement. I live a short distance from the section of Ashe Road you're referring to, Fran, and I can vouch.
Reader: I and I'm sure many other readers were fascinated by your upbeat report on Gov. Jerry Brown's "white elephant" project, the high-speed rail enterprise on the front page of last Sunday's edition ("That high-speed fiction looks a lot more like fact now," Nov. 17).
So progress is being shown and in about 10 years or so you, not me, will be able to go from Bakersfield to Fresno to see a show in one evening. Wow, what progress. As I read this for some reason I immediately thought of the scene from "Pretty Woman" when Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts from L.A. to S.F. to see an opera in a private jet.
Now considering the current projected costs of the HSR, and not counting the continued operating subsidies that will be required, you and a guest could most easily charter a private jet at less cost than that trip on HSR in 10-plus years will cost that all of us now are paying for! Forget that now Sacramento is raiding the "lockbox" on the additional gas tax recently imposed to pay for HSR.
Let's see: The original estimate for L.A. to S.F. that HSR first sold to voters in 2008 for only $33 billion, and I believe approximately $20 billion was to come from private investments. Now the current estimate is for $98 billion just over 10 years from that vote. So at this rate and only using 10 more years of cost overruns that should easily exceed $100 billion before anyone can ride on it, again forgetting continued operating subsidies. What a deal!
And just how do you get around once you are there? I am pretty sure you could buy an airline or two with that much money, have it operating very soon and go to just about any local airport in California, including Tehachapi, and give us, the taxpayers, all free rides! Now that makes sense.
Thanks for your thoughts.
— Jake Anzulis
Price: High-speed rail has been outlandishly expensive, and I'm sure the latest estimate, $98 billion, will also prove inadequate. My intent was to show that, despite all of these completely relevant complaints, construction is well underway right under our noses. And now it's just 22 miles north of its southern terminus in Bakersfield — although, obviously, there's a lot to fill in between.
Reader: The opponents of high-speed rail use all the complaints I heard about freeways, which were built in sections, the California Aqueduct, the space program, and although I’m not that old, probably the Pony Express. Building the railroad from S.F. to Chicago was one of the biggest financial boondoggles of all time but it opened up America.
The biggest problem with this HSR program has been political rather than about what it will accomplish. I live in Mojave, which was founded by the Southern Pacific in 1876, and now we’re building and flying spaceships here.
— Bill Deaver
Reader: I wanted to let you know that this morning Fox News — not CNN, Fox — told about the lady who was (accused of) tampering with a police officer's food here in Bakersfield. Fox News gave us real news. That's where you hear the news. Listen to Fox.
Price: Surely you meant to say Fox News is where you hear the news you, personally, prefer to hear. The same applies, on the other side of the partisan/ideological divide, to CNN and MSNBC. Each of them caters to the built-in biases of their target audiences.
The story you're referring to is that of Tatyana Hargrove, a three-time loser in her dealings with local cops and courts. First, in 2017, she was mistaken for a much taller black male suspect and stopped for questioning by police; she was ultimately bitten by a police dog. She sued the city for excessive police force — and, just last month, lost her case. CNN, Fox and others reported both of those chapters of the story.
Last week Hargrove, 21, was arrested on suspicion of tampering with an officer’s food after the McDonald’s restaurant where she worked provided video to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. Fox reported that arrest; CNN, from all I can tell, did not.
A cynic would say Fox reported the story because it fit its narrative and that CNN ignored the story because it didn't fit CNN's. All of that may be so, but another factor could also be in play here, one that affects newspapers as well: The relative weight of the stories that compete with it for space, or in the case of TV, compete for time.
I try to watch all three major cable news networks and my unscientific observation is that CNN and MSNBC have devoted more time to the Democrat-led impeachment hearings and their three-month lead-up than Fox has. After Ukraine Ambassador Bill Taylor testified on the first day of open hearings earlier this month, I watched CNN's immediate postmortem for 10 minutes and then switched to Fox to get its take.
I was stunned to see that Fox's anchors weren't discussing Taylor's historic testimony at all but rather the marital indiscretions of two Democratic congresswomen. While those are legitimate stories — in one case, Rep. Kate Hill of California was compelled to resign — they hardly measured up to the events that occupied their rivals' coverage at that moment. Impeachment inquiry testimony, especially testimony potentially damaging to President Trump, doesn't fit Fox's narrative as well as it fits CNN's. So it works both ways.
Reader: I’m very upset that this paper did not do their homework and instead reported that President Trump did a quid pro quo with Ukraine. Congressman Jim Jordan pressed three times with Ambassador Sondland that this was not the case — there was no quid pro quo by the president. Please don’t be part of the “fake news.”
Price: I suppose, then, those were fake words coming out of Ambassador Gordon Sondland's mouth. At one point in his sworn testimony on Wednesday he said:
“I know that members of this committee frequently frame these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a ‘quid pro quo’? ... With regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes.”
At another point, Sondland testified:
“My belief was that if Ukraine did something to demonstrate a serious intention” to launch the investigations Trump wanted, “then the hold on military aid would be lifted.”
If, then. Quid pro quo. Something for something.
Others have made similar observations under oath, many of them, like Sondland, Republican appointees.
We can debate whether Trump's actions are impeachable, but the weight of this week's testimony suggests that an "if/then" arrangement was abundantly clear to a number of White House and State Department officials.
Reader: Your story published Wednesday said Gov. Gavin Newsom has halted "approval of hundreds of fracking permits until independent scientists can review them, while temporarily banning another drilling method ... (that uses) high-pressure steam to extract oil from underground."
Using steam to enhance oil recovery is not a "drilling method." That's done after a well is drilled.
If there is any paper that one would expect to cover the oil industry correctly, it would be The Californian. Not good.
— John Sweetser
Price: Business Editor John Cox, who covers the oil industry for us, has made this exact distinction before. This mischaracterization, in an Associated Press story, slipped through.
Reader: Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be glad to see the AccuWeather page again! But it is welcome.
After weeks of glancing at Tomorrow's Extremes, and marveling that a company could publish an authoritative guide to anything without knowing the difference between Yesterday and Tomorrow, even the AccuWeather alternative is an improvement.
— Larry Dunn
Reader: Was I pleasantly surprised to see Thursday's paper and a return to the old weather-page format. It is so much easier to read. I hope this return to the prior format is permanent.
— Carol Penfield
Price: Nothing is permanent, but this was no slip-up. The AccuWeather page is back. Now, weather-page zealots, please leave me alone. (Just kidding.)