Elder statesmen celebrate finale

Steven C. Vogel
October 19, 2005
Filed under News

Platters of food, a farmers market, political debates and well-known personalities. All of these elements accurately resemble The Bakersfield Business Conference, an event that concluded its 21-year run Oct. 8.

“Everything has its cycle, and I think it’s best to go out on top. We’ve had a great run, and now is the time to move on,” said George Martin, senior partner of the law firm of Borton, Petrini, & Conron, LLP, the firm responsible for the operation of the conference.

This annual conference has helped to bring a variety of well-known personalities to Bakersfield, while helping to improve the overall image of the community on a national spectrum.

“This conference has put Bakersfield on the map – he (Martin) has done so much for this community. I think that the loss of this conference is a huge loss for our community,” said Lynette Johnson, a longtime neighbor of Martin and business conference attendee.

During years past, the lineup of speakers included Ronald Reagan, Dan Rather, George H.W. Bush, Phyllis Diller, Dick Cheney and George Foreman. This year is was no different. Included in the lineup of speakers was former attorney general John Ashcroft, conservative journalist Sean Hannity, Forbes Magazine founder Steve Forbes and motivational speaker and former NFL quarterback Terry Bradshaw. The speakers offered their thoughts on political and social issues.

A number of topics were discussed, including the war in Iraq, the 2008 presidential election, and a vast array of conservative-targeted topics. The diversity of the conference is reflected in the guest speakers, from Oliver North to Sean Hannity to former Secretary of Education William Bennett. Bennett, who has recently been in the media limelight regarding comments made on his radio program, was the most anticipated of the speakers.

Others had their say, though.

While discussing the 2008 presidential election, Hannity, co-host of the political commentary show “Hannity & Colmes,” said “I will not sleep, rest, or give up. I will fight. We will make sure that ‘she’ (referring to Hillary Clinton) never ever becomes president of this country.”

In addition to the lineup of speakers, attendees had the opportunity to hear a number of debates on various propositions to be voted on during the Nov. 8 special election called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy was one of the many local politicians on hand to answer questions from those in attendance.

“My advice to you (the voters) is to vote yes on propositions 74 through 78, and vote no on both 79 and 80. Props 79 and 80 will only cost taxpayers more in the long run, while they place further constraints on the healthcare system in our state. We have to have real reform in this state, and the passage of these propositions will ensure this reform,” McCarthy said.

At the conclusion of the speaking section of the conference, large amounts of confetti fell from above, helping to signify the end of an era. Attendees were treated to a picnic style dinner and were invited to come back for an evening of dancing and entertainment. In addition, Martin announced that a fundraising dinner would be held by his law firm sometime in November, in an attempt to raise the funds needed to build a veteran memorial in Bakersfield.

Oliver North, host of the Fox Network’s “War Stories” and an invitee of the conference four separate times during its 21-year history, summed up the Bakersfield Business Conference. “This conference truly signifies the end of an era for Bakersfield and its residents,” he said.

“I will miss being invited to speak at this event, and I am sure others will as well.”

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