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Sunday, Sep 02 2012 11:00 PM

HITS & MISSES: What a 'racquet': Club closes amid real estate woes

By The Bakersfield Californian

MISS: A local racquet club that's been around for 35 years, closed its doors last week due to financial problems related to the building's ownership. The club has built up a loyal membership, including many who have been there for more than a decade. And it's unclear when or if the facility will ever reopen. The building was foreclosed on in February but the club has remained open since then despite no mortgage payment being made. A protest will be held Tuesday to encourage the bank that owns the building to allow the club to operate until a new building owner is found. There is also hope a new owner will be willing to let the club remain there.

HIT: Grant to help at-risk youth

A $1 million federal grant will be used to help struggling youth in Kern County turn their lives around. The money was awarded to the Kern County Superintendent of Schools to fund basic education and job and leadership training for 16- to 24-year-olds who have aged out of foster care, had some involvement with the juvenile justice system, dropped out of high school or are otherwise at risk. The goal is to help students take control of their lives and find jobs in the community. Research shows that nearly three-quarters of individuals who don't graduate high school, don't work full time and don't have stable lives before starting families wind up poor. This program will work to prevent that reality for local youth.

HIT: Warhol soup cans on sale

Are you an Andy Warhol fan? To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Warhol's soup can paintings, Campbell's is selling a limited-edition line of soup cans inspired by the artist's work. The cans went on sale Sunday at most Target stores and are selling for 75 cents each. They come in four colors and feature Warhol sayings. Funny to think that Campbell's considered suing Warhol when he first introduced his series of soup cans and today the artwork has become a clever marketing technique.

HIT: Financial woes relenting

Consumer distress is easing. The Consumer Distress Index, which measures the financial condition of Americans, ticked up to 71.3 out 100, breaking the 70-point range for the first time since the third quarter of 2008. Scores below 70 indicate financial trouble. The uptick was credited to housing improvements: late payments reached a three-year low and more owners refinanced. Let's hope the pain keeps easing for American consumers.

MISS: The high costs of agendas

Who knew public meeting agendas could be so expensive? For decades the state has required local governments to notify the public about public meetings, including publishing an agenda of what will be discussed. In imposing the requirement, the state also agreed to reimburse municipalities for the cost. Today, cities are submitting bills for hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, according to a Los Angeles Times report. The Santa Clara Valley Water District for example was charging $9,152.26 per meeting agenda while some cities charged as little as $50. There is surely some labor and skill involved in putting together a meeting agenda but some cities have clearly become abusive in efforts to recoup these costs. It's time for cities to accept the costs of publishing their own agendas as a part of doing the people's business. It's time to change state law on this matter.

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