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By The Bakersfield Californian
Q: I'm a Bright House customer and I haven't been able to get Showtime or other CBS-owned channels for weeks now, even though I pay for them. Why not?
-- Fred Garrison
A: Time Warner Cable and the CBS Corporation have been locked in a contract dispute for weeks. Talks broke down earlier this month, and customers of Time Warner Cable and its programming partner, Bright House Networks, lost access to all CBS-owned stations on Aug. 2.
Donald Forbes, senior director of corporate communications for Bright House, said the channels affected in the Kern County area are Showtime, The Movie Channel, Flix, Smithsonian and the independent KCAL out of Los Angeles. KBAK-TV, the local CBS affiliate, is not affected because the station is not owned by CBS.
Customers who subscribe to Showtime and The Movie Channel "will have their bills pro-rated based on the amount of time they do not have these services," Forbes said in an email to The Californian on Thursday. He noted that Bright House is providing alternate programming for premium cable customers by giving them access to STARZ and Encore.
Meanwhile, some Bright House customers have noticed that Al Jazeera America, the news network that launched to much fanfare on Tuesday, isn't available in their cable package. We asked Forbes whether Kern County Bright House customers will have access to the channel, and this was his emailed response:
"We are in discussions with Al Jazeera, but at this time we have not reached an agreement that will allow Bright House Networks to carry Al Jazeera America. Even if we do reach an agreement to allow carriage, that does not necessarily mean we will add them to the line up immediately. We consider many factors and feedback from customers -- so if we were to reach an agreement, we would review our options and make a decision at that time."
Q: I would like to know how to get a stoplight/crossing light by the main Golden Empire Transit bus station on Chester Avenue and 22nd Street.
I drive this way several times every day, and this area is frequently an accident about to happen. People who are trying to cross have to wait for people to (hopefully) stop for them. They are frequently hidden behind cars on the east side of the street, or waiting in the middle of the street -- often obscured by bushes that need to be trimmed. Then if one car stops for them to cross, they have to peek around that car to see if the cars in the other lane will stop, also.
Many people who ride the bus are also disabled, making it more of a challenge for them to cross this main street with no protection. It is also very exciting to be the car that stops, hoping the cars behind you will see that you are stopped and not rear end you!
What would it take to get a crossing light here? Waiting until some one is killed should not be an option.
-- Suzan Cauthon
A: The city has looked into the issue and determined Chester and 22nd doesn't meet the criteria for a light when you look at the number of cars passing through and the number of accidents, said city engineer John Ussery.
The other thing, he said, is that people can cross safely elsewhere -- at 21st or 23rd Streets. Also, the landscaping has been cut back to improve visibility, Ussery said.
Q: I've been seeing lots of California government license plates around and they are not on Fords or Chevys. So far I've seen Cadillac SUV, Mercedes (both SUV and regular), Lexus, BMWs and so on. Pretty fancy cars.
Am I as a taxpayer paying for these cars? On California Avenue around Chester Lane I was to the left of a big Mercedes SUV (white) with a guy smoking and flicking his ash out the window. Again, am I paying for this?
-- Julie Lagan
A: The answer is a probably unsatisfying "maybe."
The state Department of Motor Vehicles pointed us to vehicle code that says California Exempt license plates are issued to vehicles registered or leased for 30 or more consecutive days for several types of agencies. Some appear taxpayer-funded while others don't:
* Agencies formed under the Joint Powers Agreement. (A JPA is formed when two or more government agencies work together on an effort.);
* American National Red Cross;
* Civil Air Patrol;
* Governments (federal, state and local);
* Nonprofit Volunteer Fire-Fighting Organizations registered with the county clerk and located in an unincorporated area;
* Quasi-political subdivisions/agencies of the state, such as a bridge district; and
* Federally recognized Indian tribes (under a mutual aid agreement with a state, county or other government municipality and used exclusively for fire protection and emergency response).
The DMV said that to answer the original question, we'd have to contact every entity listed to see how its vehicles are funded. It did say exempt license plates are issued primarily to government entities and to check with the California Department of General Services.
Ask TBC appears on Mondays. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.