Thanks to his week's correspondent:
Toni Harper

Spoke Editor Profile:

Toni Harper

"We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us." Catherine McAuley, the Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy and the sponsoring congregation of Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield. 


Greeter: Jason Cater
Invocation: Jeff Chandler
A duet by Bea Burmann and Garro Ellis
Flag Salute: Sam Newland


Miriam Natale was the guest of Mary Casteneda
Aaron Falk was the guest of Jeff Guitierrez
Todd Reeves was the guest of Cathy Abernathy
Sydney Ralphs was the guest of Ken Jones
John Frando, Anthony Valdez, Phil Burns and Gary Hallen (all department heads of the City of Bakersfield) were guests of Andrae Gonzales
Juan Bustamante was the guest of Josh Sherley (who was not present... again)

Good News: 

Bill Lever explained that while parked Downtown (technically in Ward 2), he had an attempted catalytic converter theft. Luckily, it was only partially removed and fixed for $60. He did poll the room and five other members have been a victim of this unfortunate trend! Yikes!  
Joe Gregory expressed excitement and gratitude that his son is home after successfully completing his first year at the University of Alabama. His son will be majoring in cyber security. Great job Joe and congrats on raising a great kiddo!


Today's speaker was our very own Andrae Gonzales, City Council Member of Ward 2, a position he has held since 2016. In addition to being a councilman AND a Downtown Rotary Club member, he has founded four non-profits. He is currently the CEO of Stewards, a Bakersfield based nonprofit.  Andrae is a graduate of East Bakersfield High School and UC Berkeley.
Councilmember Gonzales gave us a comprehensive update on city government initiatives in Bakersfield, specifically in his ward which encompasses much of Downtown. 
He began by talking about the Public Safety and Vital Services initiative and how, in many ways, it is beginning to transform city services. The 2018 decision by the voters to establish a 1-cent sales tax meant our community was no longer willing to accept the status quo of crumbling city services. These needed dollars are specific to critical infrastructure and important quality of life issues. He is optimistic that this has placed our community on a brighter path. 
Quick note: Bakersfield is now the ninth-largest city in the state of California, and is the fastest-growing. We are number one in the state for the building of single-family units.
One of the most pressing issues on Mr. Gonzales’s agenda is homelessness. He discussed the city's addition of 500 beds to support getting people off the street. He noted Code Enforcement has removed more than 4000 encampments. He was excited about a new initiative, CARE Court, which is a team-based approach for substance abuse and mental health services related to the homeless population. 
Mr. Gonzales then discussed the need for affordable housing. PSVS funds have been dedicated to this, as he reminded us that as historical redevelopment services were decimated in 2011. 136 housing units were built last year with hundreds more planned in the upcoming years. He is working with developers around the country to bring projects to our community, specifically to the downtown neighborhoods.  His vision is that those living there can live, work, go to school, shop (yes!!), and buy groceries – all within a 15-minute walk.  It sounds amazing – and as he described, it is not unattainable.  Other communities like Oklahoma City have been successful in this type of transformation.
Crime was another topic of interest. The goal of 100 new Bakersfield Police Department officers (funded through PSVS) is close to being realized. Since the passage of PSVS, the city has run six academies and has a net gain of 83 officers. This has resulted in the reinstatement of specialized units. Additionally, the SpotShotter program, which locates gunshots within a 6-mile radius of the most crime-ridden areas in town, has resulted in better response and apprehension of suspects.
Additionally, he detailed a differential response at BPD dispatch. A behavioral health clinician is stationed there to intervene in behavioral health-related calls in lieu of sending officers to respond. An impressive 77% of these calls have been successfully resolved without officer response.
Finally, he talked about Prosperity Neighborhoods. Focusing on the Monterey and Niles area as well as MLK, Mr. Gonzales discussed the need for reinvestment into these most neglected areas. Additionally, he’s passionate about saving the Sumner Depot in old town Kern. Built-in the 1860s its history and architectural design is an asset to our community. He is working with developers to potentially build a marketplace.
A huge thank you to Mr. Gonzales for his commitment as a fellow Rotarian, and moreover for his passion for our community and a vision that we all hope he successfully achieves.


Birthdays & Anniversaries
Member Birthdays
Mary Castaneda
May 5
Stan Cook
May 7
Brad Hannink
May 8
Ken Jones
May 9
Justin Leland
May 12
Sheryl L. Barbich
May 14
Andy Barkate
May 22
Dave Plivelich
May 28
Rick Montoya
May 30
Spouse Birthdays
Susan Chandler
May 10
Mike "Willieboy" Willis
Nancy Willis
May 17
Win Eaton
Norma Eaton
May 21
Garro Ellis
May 23
Michael Lightfoot
Kelly Lightfoot
May 26
Girish Patel
Pragati Patel
May 28
Join Date
Ken Keller
May 9, 2019
3 years
Louis Gill
May 9, 2013
9 years
John P. Moorhouse
May 11, 1995
27 years
Bill Lever
May 13, 2021
1 year
Mark Luque
May 13, 2021
1 year
Ryan Beckwith
May 13, 2021
1 year
Jim Damian
May 15, 2014
8 years
Susan Benham
May 19, 2011
11 years
Stan Cook
May 20, 1999
23 years
Justin Leland
May 21, 2009
13 years
Sonya Christian
May 22, 2014
8 years
Douglas A. Hayward
May 24, 2012
10 years
Jon Van Boening
May 24, 1984
38 years
Geoff King
May 26, 1988
34 years
Martin Alonzo
May 27, 2021
1 year
John D. Schuler
May 29, 2003
19 years
Pete Pankey
May 30, 2013
9 years
Garro Ellis
May 31, 2012
10 years

Area Meetings

Tuesday @ noon
Bakersfield North

at the Petroleum Club

Wednesday @ noon
Bakersfield West
at the Stockdale Country Club

Wednesday @ 6:45 am
Bakersfield Breakfast

at the Petroleum Club

Wednesday @ 6 pm
Bakersfield Twilight

at The Mark

Bakersfield  Downtown
at the Museum of Art

Friday @ noon
Bakersfield East

at Bakersfield Museum of Art

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P.O. Box 1628, Bakersfield, CA 93302 • (661) 325-0696 • FAX: (661) 322-2311

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