Local News

Monday, Dec 24 2012 08:00 PM

What's best? This year's favorites

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Most of the year, these folks deal with serious issues, everything from leading prominent organizations to running government services. We asked people known in the community through the prominence of their work to take a break from serious matters to consider a list of six fun questions about their best and favorite times of the year, and select three to answer.

Here's what we learned. Responses have been lightly edited.

Les Clark

Title: Executive vice president, Independent Oil Producers Agency

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

My grandkids' sporting events. I enjoy being with them.

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

Chicken fried steak at KC Steakhouse. It tastes just like Mom used to fix.

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

I give to several veterans groups, for all they have done for us.

Maggie Cushine

Title: Resource development director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

"Lincoln" was the best movie I saw this year because I learned so much and it led to some great dialog with our teenage children, Mickey and Mackenzie.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

My favorite TV show is "Grimm" -- because they have some great story lines and it is cool to think of fairy tale characters being real.

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

My favorite charity to give to is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kern County because their mission hits my heart as a mom: "To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens."

Jill Egland

Title: Vice president of community impact, United Way of Kern County

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

My daughter's graduation from Bakersfield High School this past May. Aside from the fact that it was my kid, there was just such a wonderful sense of community imbued in everything about the evening. It reminded me why I've remained here after moving back 15 years ago.

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

A friend of mine randomly surprised me with a dinner at Valentien. We split a whole slew of gorgeously presented things and went with the waiter's (superb) choice of wines. I still remember every single morsel. But really, what made it so fabulous was the fact that we talked and talked ... and there was absolutely no pressure to leave. Valentien really gets the whole "eventfulness" of a meal like that.

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

When it comes to movies, I'm like the monkey who drops the peanut he's holding in order to catch the one being tossed to him. The "best movie ever!" is just about always the movie I've just seen. In this case, it's "Argo." Talk about a thriller! It had everything -- a great storyline, fabulous acting, wonderfully filmed. And it's amazingly all true!

Stan Ellis

Title: Owner Bakersfield Jam, local businessman

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

The Dignity Health Memorial Event. They've been raising money for the Small Miracle Foundation, for children. This is the right thing. It's about our children and our children's health.

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it and what made it the best?

The Crystal Palace. Halibut. It was just delicious. It was perfect.

What was your favorite charity to give to this year?

The Bakersfield Jam Education Foundation gave money to Standard School. One of the coolest things: We gave tennis shoes to every kid in the school. Our basketball players went over there and participated in this.

Christine Lizardi Frazier

Title: Kern County Superintendent of Schools

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

My favorite event this year is one that has become a tradition -- attending the annual Holiday Lights at CALM. There is nothing like seeing more than 2 million lights in a festive setting, and I love to see the joy and delight on the faces of children as they experience Holiday Lights. Plus, knowing the funds help support CALM's efforts to grow and thrive make this event extra special for me.

What was the best book you read this year? What made it the best?

This year I read John C. Maxwell's "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" and have introduced this book as a guide for the leadership team at KCSOS. We have important work to do as educators, and I believe in the power of life-long learning. How do we become better leaders for the kids and families we serve? This book helps provide excellent ideas on leadership that we can build on and apply to our work.

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

My favorite meal this year isn't one particular meal, but rather it happens every Tuesday at noon when the Bakersfield North Rotary Club meets. I look forward every week to the camaraderie and laughter that is present at these lunches. We don't take ourselves too seriously, yet we do serious work in the community.

Fred Gagliardini

Title: Defense attorney

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

The 2012 Salvation Army motorcycle ride. Where else can you enjoy a morning of camaraderie with other riders, followed by a great parade of more than 7,000 bikes, along a route of anxious kids hoping for candy? To top it off, donating the toys is always a great personal feeling.

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

At 24/7 in San Diego. I had the Belgian waffle and fried chicken. The waffle was with a malted batter which made it melt in my mouth. The warm butter and syrup was luscious and made my taste buds squiggle with delight. Fried chicken was just the right amount of spices and so moist. I ate there three times over a weekend.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

"Chicago Fire." I was a firefighter/paramedic from 1976-1985. The show is well produced technically, has a plausible story line for a big city department, and has the usual "cast of characters" for a station house. The battalion chief was cast perfectly for a stern leader who provides motivation and life experience for his underlings.

Greg Gallion

Title: President and CEO of Houchin Community Blood Bank

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

My favorite event was the B-Town Blues Fest, promoted by World Records. It's the best because it's a local event, serving the local community with local restaurants and vendors, and first class local and non-local entertainment. A great event!

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

I recently saw "Lincoln" and found the acting to be superb. The behind-the-scenes workings during the Lincoln administration were quite fascinating, as well as entertaining. Truly a must-see movie.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

Favorite TV show is "Persons of Interest." I find the story line intriguing. A bit far-fetched, but very entertaining.

Karen Goh

Title: Kern County supervisor, fifth district

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

Hard to choose one -- I've had the privilege of participating in scores of wonderful events. The tremendous community outpouring of patriotism, appreciation and caring in welcoming home wounded U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Brubaker at the airport stands out among the year's highlights.

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

"Trade of Innocents." It was the most powerfully disturbing. (It's good to be disturbed in a healthy way.) I hope this heartbreaking film that gives voice to child victims of human trafficking relentlessly haunts, calls for justice and mobilizes to action everyone who sees it.

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

Garden Pathways. The power of mentoring and education in activating life-building success and transforming the futures of at-risk children, young people and families yields a priceless return on investment for our community.

Doug Greener

Title: Chief, Bakersfield Fire Department

What was the best book you read this year: What made it the best?

"Killing Lincoln," by Bill O'Reilly. Not only an interesting read because of the attention given to lesser known details surrounding the assassination, but also because of the format of the storytelling. Rapid tempo, short and focused chapters, and an almost suspense-novel-like recounting of the assassination and manhunt made the book truly addictive. Read it non-stop.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

"Sons of Anarchy," on FX. Over-the-top and graphic violence aside, the Shakespearian storyline is so convoluted, complex and ironic that it's a mental exercise just to keep up sometimes. The SAMCRO characters are archetypically despicable, dysfunctional people and I often ask myself how I can appreciate, and even sympathize, with them. But I do, every Tuesday night.

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

Bakersfield Firefighters' Relief Association. This BFD nonprofit also supports other fire department nonprofit organizations including the Bakersfield Firefighter's Burn Foundation. These groups in turn support a multitude of other important causes such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Cancer Society, Red Cross, Grossman Burn Center and many, many others. Major collaborative synergies created by our firefighters and others doing great, behind-the-scenes community service work.

Harvey Hall

Title: Mayor of Bakersfield

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

Project Homeless Connect. The Project Homeless Connect was our inaugural event on Saturday, April 21. We organized this event to be a one-stop-shop service to help our homeless population link to a wide array of services that might otherwise take them weeks or months to obtain. Services such as housing referrals, dental screenings, HIV testing, Social Security card and California ID applications, employment counseling, clothing, shoes and food were made available. On any given night in Kern County, there are an estimated 1,500 homeless people living without shelter.

What was the best book you read this year? What made it the best?

"Freedom Riders" by Raymond Arsenault. The book provided a clearer understanding of racial justice that occurred in 1961 and the freedom riders' victory for equality.

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

The best movie was a baseball movie titled "Trouble With the Curve," starring Clint Eastwood. This movie was enjoyable because of the background and experience it takes to be a scout for the Atlanta Braves. My favorite major league team!

Dianne Hoover

Title: Director, Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

The single best event was the Willie Nelson concert at the Bright House Networks Amphitheatre. Willie provided song after song of great music in a beautiful outdoor setting that matched his talent. It was one of those perfect Bakersfield nights that makes you realize why you love it here.

What was the best book you read this year? What made it the best?

One that stands out the most this year is "Hidden Messages in Water," by Masaru Emoto. This book reminds us that positive statements and actions carry further than we realize; conversely, so do negative actions and statements. Whether the experiments conducted in this book are truly scientific or not, the overall message is intriguing and universal. Recommended reading for everyone who lives and works with others.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

I would be remiss in not mentioning "Parks and Recreation." Although each of the employees would have been fired by now in real life, there are some humorous moments that are similar to situations in public parks and recreation that we encounter from time to time. Great for relaxing with a good laugh.

Robin Mangarin-Scott

Title: Director of strategic marketing, Dignity Health Mercy and Memorial Hospitals

Where'd you eat your beat meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

Applebee's -- with my new friend, 6-year old Isaac Pisano. Isaac was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor. I can't remember what I had but Isaac ordered a corn dog. In fact, he had two. I've never seen a kid enjoy a lunch more, which made it the best meal I've had this year.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

"RHO"-anything! You bring on those Real Housewives of Atlanta, Miami, Beverly Hills or Orange County, and I am there! They have eaten up the majority of my TiVo minutes and leisurely weekend hours. I love them because it reminds me of who I DON'T want to be!

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

This year the Kern County Cancer Fund was created to benefit Kern County cancer patients and their families. It was my favorite charity to give to this year because the money started going directly to patients within days of establishing the fund. A collaborative partnership was created with representation from Kern Medical Center, CBCC, San Joaquin Community Hospital, Dignity Health-Mercy and Memorial Hospitals, Clinica Sierra Vista and Links for Life. Combined with other community partners raising $1.2 million in just a matter of months, this local fund is currently providing for access to life-saving treatments and resources that Kern County cancer patients need to thrive and survive.

Kevin McCarthy

Title: U.S. representative for California's 23rd Congressional District and majority whip in the House of Representatives

Where did you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

At Luigi's! It doesn't get better than getting to share a meal with my family at Luigi's on a Saturday afternoon.

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

"Lincoln" certainly stands out in my mind this year. It brings to life one of the greatest presidents in our nation's history and the deliberative process that our country should expect from our leaders debating major issues of the day.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

I enjoy watching "Parks and Recreation." It's a funny show that we can watch together as a family.

Ben McFarland

Title: Executive director, Kern County Farm Bureau

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

Uricchio's cannelloni.

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

"Life of Pi" -- great ending that keeps you thinking.

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

Pacific Legal Foundation. Rescuing liberty from coast to coast.

Horace Mitchell

Title: President, Cal State Bakersfield

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

The best local event I attended was the Bakersfield Jazz Festival at CSUB. It's an opportunity to hear great nationally acclaimed jazz artists and to spend time informally with friends and supporters of the university.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

I don't watch much TV, but I do like to watch the "Today Show" on NBC in the mornings as I prepare to go to work. I like that it's a combination of national news and topics that are trending.

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

For me it's United Way. Generally they are the most comprehensive as they support so many different community nonprofits. I've always served on the board of the United Way in each community I've lived in, including here in Kern County.

John Nilon

Title: Kern County administrative officer

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

Not to diminish the wonderful meals served locally, (but) on a personal trip to St. Louis, I recently dinned at Bogart's Smokehouse. This is the type of restaurant that starts cooking early in the morning, opens at 11 a.m., and closes when they run out of meat, which is generally around 7 p.m. I had the smoked prime rib with St. Louis sauce that just melted in my mouth. It's no wonder Bogart's has been voted one of St. Louis' best restaurants.

What was the best book you read this year? What made it the best?

"No Easy Day," by former Navy SEAL Mark Owen. This book is about the mission that killed Osama bin Laden. I enjoyed the book because it provided the actual, behind-the-scenes story from a "boots on the ground" author who was a participant in the mission. The book provides details, facts and context that no news story could capture and report.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

"Counting Cars," a History Channel show that focuses on acquiring, restoring and selling cars in a hurry. It's like flipping houses only with classic cars. I'm a bit of a car enthusiast, so I thoroughly enjoy the show.

Tyson Paul

Title: Stand-up comedian; Kaboom! magazine blogger

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

A Dose of Smoke! I don't know what they did to prepare their brisket, but I would sell my mother and little sister for some more brisket and beans. It was that good!

What was the best book you read this year? What made it the best?

I never started reading for fun until 2012 -- maybe because I'm getting older. I read four books this year and my favorite had to be "The Help." The movie did not do the book much justice at all as it left out a lot of great moments. My favorite moment in the book is learning what "Crisco" meant between Aibileen and Treelore.

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

"Ted!" Because Mark Whalberg and a stuffed bear is exactly how I and most of my friends act in real life. Which is probably why most of us are still single with a bunch of DVDs and action figures.

Jeff Pickering

Title: President and CEO, Kern Community Foundation

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

Valentien Restaurant and Wine Bar. Duck breast with green peppercorn sauce, with my 7-year-old daughter, Olivia, before St. Francis Parish School's Daddy-Daughter Dance.

What was the best book you read this year? What made it the best?

"Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson. At Kern Community Foundation, we offer people a better way to give to charity with products that most people don't know they need until they use them. I am inspired by how hard Steve Jobs worked to build Apple on the principle of creating great products like the iPhone and iPad that no one knew they would need until they used them, and now can't live without them.

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

This year, we are making a grant from the Pickering Family Fund to support The Women's and Girls' Fund's "Building to a Million" campaign in honor of my 86-year-old grandmother, Barbara McGillicuddy Merrill. She visited Bakersfield for the first time last year for my son Colin's First Holy Communion, and loved it so much that she's coming back in May to attend Olivia's.

Scarlett Sabin

Title: House manager, Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

Of course I'm going to pick the Walk for Kids in June. The reason I love it is obviously it brings so many people from the community together. It's known as Walk on the Wild Side, benefitting the Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House. You get to see the kids and their families, and they're happy and they're well.

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

Besides my own charity that I work for, my favorite charity to give to is the Bakersfield SPCA. I have one of their special rescue dogs, Roxy Marie. I know what she went through. It breaks my heart to know what she went through.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

"Law & Order," only because it is so out of my normal life. I think, people do this? I think I live in a bubble. I think it's my escape from reality. I'm like, this really goes on? We have challenges in Bakersfield, but not this. And it leads to conversations -- you can almost use the horror to have a conversation with your child. It keeps me updated. I think I live in a bubble in my world.

Stephen W. Schilling

Title: CEO, Clinica Sierra Vista

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

Since I consider the state as "local," the NFC Championship game at Candlestick with the 49ers, and the second game of the World Series with my beloved Giants.

Where'd you eat your best meal this year? What was it, and what made it the best?

At the "adults only" hideaway restaurant (Palo) on the Disney Wonder in Alaska. A quiet, romantic meal with my wonderful wife, amid the "joy" of a kids and characters-filled cruise!

What was your favorite charity to give to this year?

Sponsoring my oldest daughter in her 60-mile walk for the Susan B. Komen fund in San Diego.

Jay Tamsi

Title: President and CEO, Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

Without a doubt, the 14th annual Latino Food Festival and Menudo Cook-Off! More than 14,000 were in attendance. It was a great family event full of culture, entertainment, food and more! It's becoming a reunion for many families in Kern County.

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

I enjoy watching animated movies with my nephews; it's the kid in me! The best movie we saw this year was "Wreck-It Ralph." LOL. I was reminiscing through the journey across the arcade era and generation of video games. Thumbs-up, good movie and spending quality time with my nephews, doesn't get better than that!

What was your favorite charity/organization to give to this year? Why?

There are many important to me; one favorite is the newly formed Kern County Cancer Fund. Through the chamber's holiday reception, members had the opportunity to contribute. All of the money raised stays in Kern County. This organization is dedicated to assist local residents in need of financial assistance who may lack insurance or funds to pay for their medical treatment. It's an all-around great organization, giving hope and dignity to cancer patients and their families.

Dick Taylor

Title: Director, Kern County Veterans Service Department

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

Honor Flight Kern County -- part of a national organization that sends WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials at no cost to the veteran. Highly attended send-off followed by an equally impressive welcome home at Meadows Field. Not only the best in the last year, but one of the best events of my entire life. It was an honor to serve as a guardian for these heroes who saved the world. On this trip they were so humble, so appreciative and thankful. I was told more than once that this was the greatest thing they had ever been able to do. Wet eyes were the norm, and as we returned home these men were greeted by cheering, flag-waving throngs of locals at the terminal. It seemed the pilot of our aircraft had had a little bit of a hard landing in Bakersfield. I learned that as one of our vets exited the jet, he said something to the pilot: "Young man, mind if I ask you a question?" The pilot replied, "Why no, sir. What is it?" Our veteran responded, "Did we land or were we shot down?"

What was the best book you read this year? What made it the best?

"No Easy Day" by Mark Owen, a pseudonym for Matt Bissonnette, a Navy SEAL who took part in the 2011 raid on a compound in Pakistan that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden. A very compelling read that some say has become an important historical documentation of one of the most important events of American history. I enjoy the technical side of military operations, and this one provides a detailed account of the secret-ninja world of special operations -- the seemingly non-stop training and deployment regimen, the esprit-de-corps, and the lighter side of their world; all within the boundaries of not releasing specific operational secrets that would aid our enemies.

At the same time, it conveys the frustration within our special operations warriors about ding-dong political leaders and bureaucrats who only take credit when things go right, and then leak information.

What was the best movie you saw this year? Why?

"Skyfall," the epitome of classic James Bond-007 films starring Daniel Craig as Bond.

Greg Williamson

Title: Chief, Bakersfield Police Department

What was the best local event you attended in the last year, and why?

I enjoy going to the Battle of the Badges every year. I get to see police officers work each other over to benefit the children at the Bakersfield Police Activities League.

What's your current favorite TV show? Why?

I am a football junkie. I don't care if it is youth, high school, college or professional. If I can't see it in person you will find me in front of a television. (Just ask my wife.)

What was your favorite charity to give to this year? Why?

The Bakersfield North Rotary Club is not a charity but a service club. Through dues, fines and the BNR Foundation, the club distributes money and goods to dozens of worthwhile local organizations on an annual basis. I think I get the best bang for my buck here.

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