Reader: The "article" about how local new car sales will be affected by the impending 1-cent sales tax increase is hardly relevant for the front page of The Californian, even on a slow news day ("Car dealers see purchase incentive in impending city sales tax increase," March 26). This is nothing but an advertisement. Four hundred dollars on a $40,000 car, if you can afford the car, won't make a difference.

I realize you were looking for a positive lead-in for the next article on how the sales tax will be spent. Better to talk about how much the sales tax will impact consumers on stuff they HAVE to buy, like toilet paper. Next time just stamp advertisement across the picture and be done with it.

— Bob Goon

Price: The fact that, starting Monday, everyone buying a new car will be paying an extra $400, or whatever the amount may be, is indisputably newsworthy. The fact that new cars sales are an important barometer of a city's economic health is undeniable. The possibility that the sales tax increase could affect that barometer, at least initially, goes without saying — and deserves our attention. Business editor John Cox recognized that.

But I'd venture to guess that most of the city's anticipated annual revenue of $58 million from the tax increase will come from the infinite array of taxable consumables like toilet tissue, to use your example. I don't think it's particularly interesting or noteworthy, though, that the tax-included price of that 16-pack of Charmin will jump by a nickel. Refrigerators, living room sets, boats, cars — that's where we'll notice it.

By your logic, any article on a local business that does not portray the merchants as failures or crooks is an advertisement. Restaurant reviews, grand openings, entertainer profiles, company management changes — all have the potential to positively promote a product or service. Must we stamp "advertisement" on those, too?

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Reader: The location of the story on the Mueller report's release on your March 23 front page is very telling of your political stance.

— Steve Perry

Price: No, it's not. It's very telling of our news priorities: Local first — and local second and third, too. Every major news outlet in America was shouting about the Mueller story. We can't begin to compete with them on national stories like that one. And they can't begin to compete with us on stories like Steve Mayer's profile, published that same day, of Dr. Ravi Patel, who has transformed cancer treatment in the southern valley. The Mueller story was referenced toward the bottom of our page A1.

It's worth noting that we still haven't seen the actual report, so news of its completion by the special counsel shouldn't necessarily please or displease Americans of any particular "political stance."

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Reader: What an amazingly poignant photograph on your Friday cover. Such an appropriate tribute to the veterans of that horrible war, Vietnam. That cemetery is such a beautiful addition to Kern County.

— John O'Connell

Price: All hail staff photographer Alex Horvath, who captured Vietnam veteran Mark Kessinger kneeling before a black POW/MIA flag at a fog-blanketed Bakersfield National Cemetery.

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Reader: Just wondering why it was necessary to identify the ethnicity of two of the participants in the rehabilitation and training program that's using shelter dogs at Juvenile Hall ("Actress Kristen Bell comes to Bakersfield, passes along special message to detained juvenile girls," March 28)? 

— Ann Berzinsky

Price: Reporter Ema Sasic was trying to individualize them as well as she could, and all she really had to work with was age and ethnicity. As part of our access agreement with the rehab facility, we couldn't use names or show faces and the girls were all dressed alike. It also demonstrated, in a small way, that juvenile incarceration is not limited to any one race or ethnicity.

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Reader: The story on Congressman Kevin McCarthy and his sham forum for potential candidates to the U.S. service academies is pure horse manure and everyone knows it.

This just a call for his campaign contributors. The history is overwhelming and clear: the 23rd District under Bill Thomas or Kevin McCarthy has never appointed a Hispanic kid and likely never a black to these academies.

However, with the support of Bakersfield media how can these politicians go wrong? God, you would think that after 40 years someone would notice.

— Panfilo Fuentes

Price: I turned this one over to sportswriter Trevor Horn, who served on the service academy selection committee this year.

"I'll take this one for ya, Bob. Pete, you couldn't be further from the truth. First off, a panel of five, which included me this year, makes the selections. My six years of active duty in the Air Force paled in comparison to the service of the four selection committee members I worked with.

"The congressman simply takes our recommendations. Your statement about McCarthy having 'never appointed a Hispanic kid' is flat out wrong. We selected Liberty High senior Ryan Aguilar as a candidate to West Point. Lancaster High senior Enrique Arjona, also of Hispanic decent, was our selection for the Air Force Academy. Those are just two; I could go on.

"Instead of trying to find wrongs in this world, Pete, join me and volunteer for the greater good of this country."

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Reader: Thank you, Sam Morgen, for a concise, well-written and accurate — as far as I know — article ("Nonprofit pulls out of Bakersfield trap-neuter-release program, claiming city failed to reach agreements of contract," March 24). It is important that readers and the community at large know exactly what went down.

By mentioning that "... Best Friends said the city failed to meet agreements in the contract, forcing the nonprofit to reallocate the funding intended for Bakersfield" — over $580,000 if I read the article correctly — Sam pre-empted the city/SPCA from issuing a rosy spin on the reasons for the program's demise, which has been their standard operating procedure for the last 5 -1/2 years regarding the serious and ongoing operational deficiencies at the city's Animal "Care" Center. I could go on.

Thanks again, Sam, for taking the time to research and write this important article.

— Liz Keogh

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Reader: A story about Keanu on a bus without a reference to “Speed”? I would have worked that in ("Keanu Reeves, diverted to Bakersfield airport, makes the best of his detour," March 27).

— Carla Meyer 

Price: No question about it! Major fail.

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Reader: Does my new Automobile Club map have a mistake, or will there be no way to go from eastbound Westside Parkway to northbound Highway 99 ("Where We Live: In Westpark, the new freeway's path determines homeowners' fate," Jan. 27)? I would think that the new Amazon Distribution Center out in Oildale's North Meadows (as well as everyone else) would benefit from having an actual connection, as opposed to forcing surface street travel. If this is the plan, does anyone or Caltrans know how many cars and trucks will be forced to use surface streets to make the transition from east Westside Parkway to north 99. Will you be directed off at Mohawk , north to Rosedale, then east? Anyway, I am sure it has been reported, but I can't believe I missed it.

— Noel Pineo

Price: You are mostly correct. I asked Janet Wheeler of the Thomas Roads Improvement Program to fill in the gaps. Her report:

A traffic study was performed for the Centennial Corridor during the environmental phase of the project. This analysis considers the overall performance of the highway network, the performance of the freeways affected by the project – specifically State Route 99 and State Route 58, local street intersections impacted by the project, and local traffic circulation impacts.

Eastbound traffic from the Westside Parkway (future Route 58) will exit at Mohawk Street and use Rosedale Highway (Route 58 west) to access northbound 99. By design year 2038, the projected number of vehicles using this link will be 5,682 vehicles per weekday.

The city of Bakersfield will relinquish the Westside Parkway to Caltrans and it will become the new alignment for 58. The section of Rosedale Highway between Mohawk Street and 99 will remain under Caltrans control and part of 58. Roadway improvements were made to this section of roadway as part of the Rosedale Highway Widening Project, which was completed in fall 2016. TRIP has also completed improvements of the southbound Route 99/Rosedale Highway off-ramp (spring 2017) to accommodate the future traffic projections.

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Reader: How about you throwing out this topic to readers?

What would you put at the corner of Stockdale Highway and Coffee Road ("CSUB's Zelezny a welcome ally for project's would-be neighbors," March 17; "Dorms developer plays defense," March 17)? I think the community input would be fun and fascinating! I think, too, that we can do better than the commercial realtors who found the "dorm" people.

Me? I'd like to see a Ruth Chris steakhouse. I'd like to see the type of condos that were build way before their time
on Oak Street, kitty corner from Jim Burke Ford.
 
Bakersfield is always last on the list because the demographics don't hold for high-end consumption. I am a true believer that we are completely underestimated. Build it and they will come!
 
— Cathy Palla
 
Price: Great question! Assuming the proposed, privately owned, 660-student, five story dormitory is ultimately rejected (hardly a given at this point), what would people like to see at that undeveloped quadrant of the city's busiest intersection?
 
We have a vote for a steakhouse and upscale condos.
 
I vote for two-story, mixed-use retail and office with upscale, medium-density residential on the second floor.
What do you think?
 

The Californian’s Robert Price answers your questions and takes your complaints about our news coverage in this weekly feedback forum. Questions may be edited for space and clarity. To offer your input by phone, call 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or email us at soundoff@bakersfield.com. Include your name and phone number; they won’t be published.

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