This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms and compliments or ask questions about The Californian’s news coverage. Your questions — which may be edited for space — are answered here each Saturday by The Californian’s Robert Price.

Reader: It is generally recognized that your organization's bias continually is in evidence. That is celebrated by your supporters and deridden by your critics. But in the midst of that, something more troubling is beginning to appear. For instance, in the Dec. 26 edition, a Community Voices column purportedly written by the mayor of Arvin appeared. The text and construction of that letter are clearly not the product of Jose Gurrola, but widely distributed, nearly word-for-word Democrat-disseminated talking points. Shame on The Bakersfield Californian for contributing to perpetuation of fraud to compound to your giftedly flaccid and contrived political outpourings.

— John Sarad

Price: I believe you're accusing us of publishing what's known as "astroturf," or letters that are manufactured by national organizations (such as political parties) and then submitted by local supporters of those organizations to local newspapers, whose editors may assume they are publishing original work. Most newspapers require that the opinions expressed in letters and commentaries are the original work of the party that submits and signs them.

Over the years, we at The Californian have occasionally been fooled by both liberal and conservative astroturfers, but I like to think we've become fairly adept at spotting it.

Some of the ideas expressed in Gurrola's article certainly echo others' thoughts on the GOP tax cut, and that's understandable and appropriate, as long as the language is substantially original. And it is.

So John, what is this troubling "something" that is "beginning to appear"? And how is Gurrola's perfectly legitimate commentary on the local impacts of this major piece of federal legislation more evidence of it? We'd be happy to publish your counterargument.

And, yes, it's true: We are "celebrated by our supporters and deridden by our critics." Isn't everybody? By the way: Is "deridden" a word?

Reader: Thank you for Sound Off and thank you to readers who respond with their viewpoints. Many times I am given a different perspective to think about. Other times I may be alerted to a problem I missed. And finally I sometimes get a good chuckle! Keep up the good work for our community and our paper.

— Barbara Harmon Fleming

Price: Another reader who accepts that possibility that she may be educated and perhaps even persuaded by a well-reasoned argument! Thanks, Barbara.

Reader: It was interesting to read two opposing reactions to previous letters I’ve submitted to the Opinion section. Objective debate and differing opinions are both needed and necessary for a free society to thrive and function. Thank you sharing yours.

— Steve Bass

Price: I'd like more readers (and letter writers) like you, Steve.

Reader: Harold Pierce should prepare himself for 80,000 lashes with a wet noodle. From his Dec. 20 article, "'We thought it was the end of the world': Forty years later, people still remember fear, uncertainty of monumental 1977 dust storm":

"Dump trucks that drive up and down Highway 99 everyday." Lash! Scream!

"Every day" is pretty good for this; "everyday" is very bad. "Every day" is the combination of an adverb and a noun, while "everyday" is used as an adjective.

Since you're telling us when an action takes place, you need an adverb.

"Nature moved to fill the vacuum, and Kern County laid between the two pressure systems."

Each and every time you use the word "laid," you should ask yourself: Laid what?

As I always tell people, you can lay or you can get laid. It's always transitive. "Lie" is not; you can't lie something or someone, and you can't get lied.

— Larry Dunn

Price: I'd administer those lashes myself but I'm afraid of what our HR department would say.

Harold and I have discussed the shortcomings you correctly point out, as well as a couple I didn't have room to print here.

Reader: I was saddened to read that community newspapers such as the Delano Record are closing this month as Reed Print Inc. closes its doors.

Community newspapers are important. Yes, The Bakersfield Californian is wonderful; however, my father would not have received the same front-page honor as he did last May in our hometown newspaper. The Delano Record has faithfully reported on local sports and the American Legion for as long as I can remember. My family has been faithful subscribers and contributors.

— Jennifer Scott

Price: The Californian does not cheer the demise of a competitor; we mourn it. A healthy newspaper is a key indicator of an engaged community. We need more of those, not fewer.

The Californian welcomes your comments and suggestions. To offer your input by phone, please call 395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or send an email to Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers and addresses won’t be published.