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By Tina Fisher Cunningham
Fisher Forde Media 

2016 Bakersfield Business Conference: The day they all came to Bakersfield

The Forde Files No 132


Tina Fisher Cunningham

Arizona Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio packed the "Political" tent. On being an elected official: "Isn't it nice I don't have to report to anybody but the people. Never give up the constitutional role of the elected sheriff." The book tent sold his famous pink undershorts that he provides for inmates.

The 2016 Bakersfield Business Conference, sponsored by the law firm Borton Petrini and masterminded by George Martin, of counsel to the firm, delivered an array of speakers on Sat., Oct. 8 that were primed and ready to share their vision in this year of hyper-politics.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, 84, speaking to an overflow crowd in the smaller "Political" tent on the 31-acre conference grounds at California State University, Bakersfield, said that when Donald Trump comes to his town, the GOP presidential candidate takes the time to call Arpaio's ailing wife. "He's got a heart somewhere," the sheriff said of Trump. Arpaio said that George Soros gave $1 million to his opponent in the sheriff's race and "he wasted his money. Why would he go after me? I'm just the sheriff."

As for his unique tough-love method of jailing lawbreakers, "You can't make it too nice. They may want to come back."

Back at the two-acre main tent, writer/commentator Ann Coulter and Democratic political consultant James Carville went after each other with gusto. At one point it appeared that Carville might leave the stage... or was that a victory lap, with his arms up?

Tina Fisher Cunningham

The three surprise guests speaking at the end of the day were Americans who had performed heroic acts.

Carville said "our opponent [Trump] is trying to recapture our past...we're not going back to 1958. The train is leaving the station and I'm the engineer." Coulter said that the candidate "is a gentleman in person." She said there a big difference between words and actions.

After the sturm and drang of the verbal political fisticuffs, Magic Johnson stole every heart in the room, especially the children, as he worked his way through the tables, stopping to let people take photos with him. Johnson, the main business speaker of the conference, said "I have learned how to take a business from one place and take it to another place [grow it]." His enterprises have been so successful that he speaks in double-digit billions.

George Martin introduced surprise guests who had performed heroic deeds (see caption on the right). A panel of three former governors, moderated by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, aired vital issues.

Attendance was 6- to 7,000, including 500 volunteers. The next Bakersfield Business Conference will be in 2021.


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