Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Local radio shot host Ralph Bailey suffers a broken jaw in a fight at KC Steakhouse, Louis Gill resigns as head of the homeless center and the Wasco City Council removes Alex Garcia as mayor

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... ALEX GARCIA: The Wasco City Council has voted to strip Mayor Alex Garcia of his title after

Garcia was cited for driving under the influence. The vote was 4-1 with Garcia objecting. Garcia claimed the move was in retaliation for his proposal to fly the LGBQT flag over Wasco City Hall, while his critics said it was a matter of personal responsibility. Garcia will remain on the City Council through the end of his term and has since pleaded no contest to reckless driving in exchange for the court dismissing a charge of driving while under the influence and acquitting him of a related charge of driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent.

 * ... LOUIS GILL RESIGNS: Louis Gill, one of the most prominent local players in the battle against homelessness, is leaving the nonprofit that operates the Bakersfield Homeless Center and the Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault. Gill has served as head of the homeless center for 21 years and he said it was time to move on. Gill's move immediately triggered speculation he may run for local office, although he has not said what may be next in line. Local Democrats have been privately hoping Gill might consider a run for office.

 * ... MORE TROUBLE FOR RALPH BAILEY: Longtime local radio talk show host Ralph Bailey has found himself embroiled in another late night controversy, once again involving his birthday celebration and KC Steakhouse, Bailey's favorite cocktail lounge. This time it happened over the weekend when Bailey, out with two friends to celebrate his 58th birthday, suffered a broken jaw when he was punched during an altercation on the dance floor involving a waitress and another customer. Grainy security footage appears to show Bailey headed to the dance floor with the waitress, but once there another man steps in to dance with the woman. Words are then exchanged, Bailey is pushed, Bailey reacts by grabbing a bar stool and then the unidentified patron punches Bailey twice before a crowd separated the two men. Bailey said he broke his jaw and it will be surgically repaired on Thursday.  Ironically, it was during the same birthday weekend in 2013 that Bailey once again found himself at KC Steakhouse before he was arrested for public intoxication while walking home. Bailey also pleaded no contest to DUI after a 2006 arrest on E Street near 20th Street and in September 2005 he was charged with DUI and ended up pleading no contest to reckless driving. Bailey currently does not drive, opting instead to use ride sharing services. The Ralph Bailey Show airs weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on KERN NewsRadio 96.1 FM/1180 AM.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m on a plant based diet, and right now my favorite plant is the one where they manufacture the Tyson chicken nuggets. "

* ... ALL THE HATE: A sign of the times: of all the competition in the Olympics this year, few teams have proved more controversial with some U.S. fans than the U.S. women's soccer team, whose two losses  eliminated the team from the Gold medal round. The face of the women's soccer team is none other than Megan Rapinoe, whose fondness for bending the knee during the national anthem has incurred so much wrath among some Americans. After the U.S. women lost to Canada, the internet exploded with anti-Rapinoe vitriol.

 * ... MISSING: Did you read the story in The Californian about the search for two men who appeared in the newspaper more than 20 years ago at the California Living Museum (CALM)? Steven Mayer writes the museum is trying to locate the two young men - identified in the photo caption as Zach Elliott and J.J. Thomas - to recreate the photo two decades later. 

 * ... MEMORIES: I spend far too much time on the Kern County History Fans Facebook page where contributors share historic photos and postcards like the ones here. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Los Angeles City Council passes tough new anti-camping bill to control homelessness, Kern County mourns the death of a deputy and will your employer require vaccinations for the coronavirus?

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... HOMELESS: Kudos to the Los Angeles City Council which approved a new anti-camping ordinance to clean up long-standing homeless encampments. The ordinance prohibits sitting, sleeping or storing

property on public property near libraries, parks, day-care centers, schools, freeway overpasses, recently opened homeless shelters and other locations. Make no mistake this is not the solution, but it is a solid start that should get the attention of Bakersfield and Kern County officials who have been struggling to control homelessness. As harsh as it sounds, our efforts here have failed despite millions of dollars, new homeless facilities and a lot of attention. If Los Angeles can do it, what is our excuse here?

  * ... DEPUTY KILLED: The Bakersfield community is still reeling from the shooting death of a Kern County deputy who was serving on the SWAT team when he was gunned down while responding to a

domestic dispute in Wasco. It's a heart breaking story that led to the death of Phillip Campas, 35, a five year sheriff's deputy who had served with the Marines in Afghanistan. Four other people died in the shootout including the gunman, who had shot and killed two of his sons and their mother before officers arrived. The shooter was identified as Jose Manuel Ramirez Jr., 41, who is suspected of killing his partner, Viviana Ramirez, and two of their sons along with Campas. Ramirez faced three misdemeanor charges related to the battery of a spouse and willful cruelty for a child. KGET said the charges stem from two 2020 incidents which law enforcement documents say involved physical confrontations between Ramirez and Viviana, who told police at the time they had been married for more than 20 years.

 * ... VACCINATIONS: So did you hear that the Cal State system will require its 500,000 students and faculty to be vaccinated for the coronavirus this fall? The move is the latest as private companies and public agencies, including the state, figure out how to handle the resurging pandemic. The Washington Post, Google and Facebook did something similar this week. Is your company next?

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "No one told me that marriage would include so much time listening to the sound of someone’s spoon clanking against the inside of a bowl."

 * ... KAELYN PETERSON: Big news over at the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce where Kaelyn Peterson has been promoted to executive vice president and also head of the Chamber's political action committee. Peterson is a graduate of California State University Bakersfield and has been on a trajectory to take her into the top tiers of Chamber leadership. Are they positioning her if Chamber CEO Nick Ortiz ever leaves or retires? Time will tell.

 * ... MEMORIES: Thanks to the Facebook groups highlighting Kern County history, I share a couple of remarkable posts. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

KBAK sports anchor Greg Kerr undergoes heart surgery, Sheriff Donny Youngblood gets a star on the Fox Theater walk of fame and Bakersfield ranks poorly in a survey of less educated cities

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... GREG KERR: Greg Kerr, the dean of local sportswriters over at KBAK TV, has revealed he under went heart surgery recently at Memorial Hospital. Kerr noted the event in a personal note on his Facebook page, which he used to thank the Memorial nurses and doctors as well as his cardiologist, Dr. Caleb

Thompson. Said Kerr: "Your mind goes in a million different directions when something like this occurs. Looking forward to my release. A special thanks to my employers and co-workers at KBAK TV and ESPN radio… and to my son, Kyle who spent many hours by my side. I am truly blessed!" Four years ago Kerr lost his wife, Shauna Leigh, to cancer.

 * ... HISTORIC FOX THEATER: Sometimes you run across a picture that is so outstanding you just want to share. So with thanks to the photographer, my friend Richard Joseph Forrester, I share his recent shot of the historic Fox Theater downtown. Enjoy.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Jeff Bezos went to outer space and returned to earth in less time than I have been in line at Dutch Brother's Coffee."

 * ... LEAST EDUCATED: Another survey of the top 150 American cities is out and once again Bakersfield does not fare well. Of the 150 cities surveyed, we ranked 146th in the percent of graduate or professional degree holders and 136th in the ranking of cities who send their kids of top universities. 

 * ... YOUNGBLOOD HONORED: Sheriff Donny Youngblood was honored with a star on the Fox Theater walk of fame, Joining Youngblood for the unveiling were District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, state Sen. Shannon Grove and friends and family.

 * ... MEMORIES: Some old shots thanks to the proliferation of Facebook groups devoted to local Kern County History. Check out the old Sill building back in the day as well as a historic picture of Lake Buena Vista.


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Kristen Watson joins the CSUB president's office as chief of staff, more help to clean up litter and trash along the bike trail and did you know gypsies are offended by the name given to the gypsy moth?

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... KRISTEN WATSON: Here's an interesting development: the new chief of staff reporting to CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny is an outsider to academia: Dr. Kristen Watson now head of the Kern

Community Foundation. Watson is replacing Michael Lukens who is returning to Fresno State where he served with Zelezny before her own appointment. Watson, a first-generation college graduate, earned her bachelor’s degree in business from California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) San Luis Obispo and obtained a CPA certification. She also earned a doctorate in education from the University of California, Los Angeles. Universities often like to promote their own, someone from inside the bubble of academia, but Watson brings real world experience and important personal connections to the president's office.

 * ... GYPSY MOTH: It's always fun to deal with the latest excesses in our woke culture,  and now comes word that the lowly gypsy moth will be renamed because some people feel it may be offensive to Romanian gypsies. That's right, the gypsy moth’s name has been scrapped by the country’s leading insect identification groups the Entomological Society of America. “It’s an ethnic slur to begin with that’s been rejected by the Romani people a long time ago,’’ said society President Michelle Smith. “Second, nobody wants to be associated with a harmful invasive pest.” So there you have it. Feel better yet?

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Welp, Richard Branson landed safely, but his luggage is headed to Atlanta."

 * ... PARKWAY TRASH: Kudos to our City Council for stepping up and creating a full time trash pickup crew for the Kern River Parkway, which has been left in miserable shape by several hundred homeless encampments that have cropped up along the riverbed. Can the crew keep up with the amount of trash generated by those who live along the river? Who knows but it is a good start.

 * ... BIRD DOG ART: A new store featuring art from California painters and craftsmen has opened at Tejon Ranch, the first of its kind retailer bringing high-end and original art to the general population. It's called Bird Dog Art and it recently celebrated its grand opening at the Outlets at Tejon. David Gordon, who has worked at both the Arts Council of Kern and the Bakersfield Museum of Art, is the lead creative director of the project. Gordon told me more than 60 artists, most from California, had works on sale at the space.

 * ... MEMORIES: One of the more interesting buildings in town is the old bank (now home to The 1800 Restaurant) at the corner of 18th Street and Chester Avenue. Here is a shot when the band converted into another business as seen on the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: Add this to the collection (once again thanks to the Kern County History Fans) showing the old Redlicks department store before it moved to Chester Avenue. Can you recognize the old building in the new design?

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The California drought is real and it is really bad, some Americans are triggered by the sight of our flag, Rep. Kevin McCarthy is hit by his critics and who abandons a liter of puppies by the side of a road?

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... THE NEW DROUGHT: It has become painfully clear how serious the new California drought is, and nothing tells the story like these maps from, the premier source for water and drought related news. said the information was provided by Airborne Snow Observatories, Inc. 

“Right now, there’s still 10,000 to 20,000 acre feet of variability in the (runoff) forecasts,” in the Kings River watershed, said Steve Haugen, Kings River Watermaster. “That may not sound like a lot, but it can mean the difference between some districts being able to run water or not.” In terms of value, that much water could be worth $12.5 million to $25 million considering at least one ag district has set its price at $1,250 per acre foot this year. One thing is for sure: we are in for a long and expensive summer in terms of water use.

 * ... THE GRAND OLD FLAG: Apparently there are Americans who are "triggered" into fear or anger by the mere sight of the American flag. That's right, and if that sounds too ludicrous to be true, well think again. In today's woke society we are apparently breeding a generation of Americans who believe flying the flag does not represent freedom and sacrifice, but rather repression, white privilege and violence. Check out this quote from a front page story in the New York Times: "Today flying the flag from the back of a pickup truck or over a lawn is increasingly seen as a clue, albeit an imperfect one, to a person's political affiliation in a deeply divided nation.... What was once a unifying symbol - there is a star for each state, after all - is now alienating to some, its stripes now fault lines between people who kneel while 'The Star Spangled Banner' plays and those for whom not pledging allegiance is an affront."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sometimes the best part of my job is having a chair that swivels."

 * ... ABANDONED PUPPIES: One of the first things you learn in journalism school is the power of stories about puppies and small children. They will tug at your heart, make you smile or cry, and leave you feeling good. KGET knew that when posting a story about a litter of puppies that was found abandoned in a south Bakersfield neighborhood. One of the pups died, but the others are recovering to the Shelter On the Hill Humane Society in Lebec because Bakersfield shelters are full. The puppies were found on Saint Helens Avenue near Pacheco Road.

 * ... MORE WOKE CULTURE: Ready for more woke culture? It appears that rich Americans are surrounded by more trees than poor Americans. Say what? A New York Times essay went to great pains to point out that the wealthy can afford to live in the suburbs with more trees while the poor live in the inner cities. Is anyone surprised by this? Doesn't the mere fact that you live in a dense urban environment mean you will have fewer trees, whether you live on Central Park South or Harlem?

 * ... KEVIN MCCARTHY: It wasn't always like this, but Rep. Kevin McCarthy has become the poster child for the liberal left's idea of a sycophantic errand boy former President Donald Trump. McCarthy remains immensely popular in his home district, but his standing in Trump's Republican Party is less certain given the wariness that some GOP hardliners have to accept him as the party leader. A few examples of how McCarthy is being criticized around the country:

 * ... MEMORIES: So who remembers Redlick's department store at the corner of Chester and 18th, right across from the 1800 Restaurant? What a grand place it was. Thanks to the Kern County of Old Facebook page for sharing this post.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The state warns against recharging electric cars during this heat wave, Supervisor Mike Maggard supports a tougher stand on the homeless and who knows how to drive a manual transmission here?

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed. Our mission is to celebrate life in Kern County by focusing on newsmakers and events and the local characters who make this community such a special place. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not represent any other company or publication.

 * ... HEAT AND THE GRID: It's no secret that these sizzling days have strained the California electrical power grid, but did you know the state is also discouraging the use of electric vehicles? That's right, in addition to lowering the thermostat the state is asking residents to refrain from charging their electric vehicles to avoid power outages during a persistent heatwave. The California Independent System Operator has issued the call to “pre-cool your home by lowering the thermostat,” “use major appliances, like your dishwasher, and clothes washer and dryer,” “close window coverings to keep your home or apartment cool,” “charge electronic devices,” and “charge electric vehicles” before “Flex Alerts” enter into effect. This is coming from a state that seems bound and determined to outlaw fossil fuels and natural gas, and yet we can't produce enough electricity to keep the AC running or charge our cars. Go figure.

 * ... HOMELESS: Three cheers to Supervisor Mike Maggard who has suggested looking into tup on news that the Los Angeles City Council may do something similar, Maggard said "if they can do it there, I think we could do it here." Maggard's statement is long overdue and an acknowledgement that what we are doing now is falling short of its goals. Thanks in part to the homeless and the trash and filth they generate, our city has never looked worse, and we weren't gifted with a lot of natural beauty anyway. 

 * ... EAST HILLS MALL: So after all this time someone is going to finally deal with East Hills Mall, which for the past decade resembles the Kern County Dump more than a retail establishment. Built in 1988 to great fanfare, the mall fell on hard times, lost its anchor tenants, was shut down and slowly became a haven for the homeless, the drug addicted and the curious. Now, it looks like the new owners are serious about tearing it down and starting new. But with what? It is anyone's guess but it is safe to say that anything will be an improvement over the current eyesore.

 * ... DEPRESSION: Did you know that what time you wake in the morning says a lot about your overall health? That's the word from The New York Times that cited studies linking earlier risers to less risk for depression. Conducted by JAMA Psychiatry, the study found that those who go to be at 10 and wake at 6 a.m. have a sleep midpoint around 2 a.m. For every hour earlier the sleep in the midpoint, there was a 23 percent decrease in depression. The study noted that those who rise early often have healthier lifestyles: exercise and less chronic pain.

 * ... STICK SHIFTS: If you grew up learning to drive with a manual transmission, you are among a shrinking population of Americans who know how to use the stick shift. Consider this: The New York Times says more electric vehicles were sold in the United States than cars with a manual transmission this past year.  In 1980, fully 35 percent of cars built for the US market had manual transmissions, and today it is less than 1 percent. The upside: cars with stick shifts are now collectibles and the prices are going up.

 * ... EYTAN WALLACE: Congratulations to Eytan Wallace of KGET who won a local Emmy for his political coverage this past year. This is the curse of local TV: really smart young reporters like Wallace come to town, excel, and invariably move on to a larger market, leaving behind less talented others who are well past their prime. Wallace joins a long list of young TV talent who has served time in the Bakersfield market before moving on. We have been lucky to have Eytan Wallace as long as we have.

  * ... MEMORIES: Thanks to the Kern County History Fans for this post.