Sunday, October 2, 2022

Supervisor candidate Brian Smith proclaims himself a MAGA election denier, Valadao and Salas in one of the most expensive congressional races in the nation and waking up to find the homeless and their carts setting up in your neighborhood

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.

 * ... ELECTION DENIER: Here's an intriguing question in the campaign between Jeff Flores and Brian Smith in the 3rd District Supervisor race: now that Smith has admitted to being an election denier, will it affect the race? Smith, a retired assistant commander with the CHP, said he believed the election was

stolen under questioning by KGET anchor Jim Scott during a televised debate last week. Asked if he had proof, Smith could not produce it (he mentioned something about "30,000 ballots in Torrance" but failed to explain its relevance) and clumsily talked his way through without answering the question. Asked the same question, Flores said he did not believe the election was stolen, saying he didn't believe in conspiracy theories and chose instead to talk about his commitment to family and community. Smith, who always planned to run for Sheriff until Donny Youngblood chose to run again, opted enter the 3rd District after Mike Maggard announced his retirement. Flore is Maggard's chief of staff, and he also has experience on the Kern High School District. So will having a conspiracy theorist in the race help or hurt Smith? Stay tuned.

 * ... SALAS VERSUS VALADAO: Rep. David Valadao is the lone Republican congressman left who voted to impeach President Trump; all the rest have either been defeated by pro Trump candidates in the primary or chosen not to run for reelection. This year, Democrats have targeted the seat and have put up Assemblyman Rudy Salas as their candidate. I ran into Salas at a fund raiser for Leticia Perez, who is running for 35th Assembly seat, and Salas said the 21st Congressional District race is now the second most expensive congressional race in the country. I bet it becomes the most expensive congressional race in America. 

* ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Here is a random posting (I am omitting who posted it for privacy reasons) which has become all too familiar in our community. The resident wakes up and finds a homeless person with all his belongings in his neighborhood. Think for a second how this visual pollution of homelessness and the real threat of spiking crime and out of control vagrancy has had on our community. It has rendered us anxious, angry, uncertain and worried about the value of our property and belongings. That is the real toll of allowing the surge of drug addiction and homelessness to run rampant in our community while we sit idly and blame the state, doing virtually nothing to impede the homeless from using our public sidewalks as their personal toilet and sleeping area. The caption on this picture: "On my morning walk. Coming to your neighborhood soon . Reporting live from WEBFUKD."

* ... COSTCO HOT DOG:  Here's some good news for inflation weary consumers and it comes compliments of Costco. The company has told analysts that it has no plans to raise the price of its $1.50 hotdog combo special despite the squeeze on profits. Costco chief financial officer Richard Galanti was asked about both the hot dog combo meal and the $4.99 rotisserie chicken, and he assured analysts that at least at this time, the prices will not go up.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: A Maya Angelou quote worth sharing:

 * ... MEMORIES: Here are two nuggets from the Facebook page of the Kern County History Fans, always a joy to spend a morning with. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Experts say Californians can expect power blackouts for years to come, Daniel Root becomes a partner in a local law firm, the ugly state of a summer in Bakersfield and is the starter home a thing of the past?

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.

 * ... BLACKOUTS: If you think things are bad now with the California electrical grid, hang on because this could be a seriously issue for decades to come. We saw it this summer with Gov. Newsom announced a deadline to end the sale of gas powered vehicles in California, followed by the state asking the owners of electric vehicles not to charge their cars during the heat wave. And now experts warn that Californians

will be dealing with rolling blackouts for years. "The transition away from fossil fuels has complicated energy operations, as an increasing share of electricity is coming from solar and wind farms that produce power only when the sun shines or the wind blows, making the available supply more variable over a 24-hour period," said one expert in the Wall Street Journal.

 * ... RIP STARTER HOMES: Has America's love affair with "the starter home" come to an end? Is there any such thing as a relatively affordable "starter home" for those just starting out and building equity? In Denver, back in the 1990s, starter homes ran around $90,000 yet today the same house is north of $200,000, and the same thing is happening even in housing friendly Kern County, where the average price of a house is now over $300,000. Said the New York Times: "The disappearance of such affordable homes is central to the American housing crisis. The nation has a deepening shortage of housing... The affordable end of the market has been squeezed from every side. Land costs have risen steeply in booming parts of the country. Construction materials and government fees have become more expensive." And then there are the rising interest rates, all of which seem to spell the end of affordable housing as we once knew it.

 * ... SEXUAL PREDATORS: The profile of a typical sexual predator may read like this: a popular, engaging man in a position of power who uses his influence to curry favor with power brokers while grooming unsuspecting victims with gifts, kindness and attention, all the while subjecting his victims to hideous assaults while the predator maintains his public position of a generous, engaging leader. (The Catholic Church provides us with textbook examples of this) Predators come in all shapes and sizes, but they often come from the ranks of positions that give them access to young children: Scout leaders, teachers, a family friend, an uncle, a doctor and more often than not, a family priest. And that is exactly the theme of a new book that details how a family doctor repeatedly molested a young teenager and how that victim suppressed the memory of that for years. That man and victim is Jeff Pickering, the former head of the Kern Community Foundation, who just published a book detailing all the lurid aspects of his experience at the hands of a Florida doctor who continues to practice to this day. The book, "Better at the Broken Places," is available for pre-order on Amazon. Pickering will be in Bakersfield to promote the book, and sign copies, at Imbibe Wine and Spirits on the afternoon of Oct. 20.

 * .. DANIEL ROOT: A young Bakersfield man has been named a partner in the local law firm of Belden Blaine Raytis LLP. Daniel M. Root, son of the late Dr. Mark Root and his wife Bernadette, has been handling business, water and environmental, real estate and employment at the firm and now becomes one of its partners.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: A woman who was driving downtown witnessed a vagrant squatting down to defecate on 23rd Street. Her post: "I just witnessed a drive-by shitting."

 * ... BAD LOOK: Coming off yet another hot summer, Bakersfield is not looking its best. Lawns and shrubs are beaten down and scorched by long periods of extreme temperatures, the air quality is miserable, homeless fires have burned countless empty buildings and the sight of skinny, dirty street vagrants sleeping on the sidewalks has become an embarrassing spectacle that surprises no one. And now, you can add to the draining to Lake Truxtun and the lakes at the Park at RiverWalk to the decisions that have rendered our community ugly and irritable.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture from the Kern County of Old Facebook group. "Soldiers soon to join the war in France assemble on the Bakersfield courthouse steps in April 1917. Civil War veterans (last row) stand behind them."

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Local business executive Majid Mojibi killed after being hit by a car on F Street, we welcome Fall after a brutal summer and Jeff Pickering writes a book on his own molestation at the hands of a family doctor

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.

* ... RIP MAJID: I was saddened to hear about the tragic death of Majid Mojibi, the local businessman who ran the San Joaquin Oil Refinery and invested heavily in downtown.  Mojibi was killed last weekend while crossing F Street to attend a concert. Few details are available to know exactly what happened. Interesting, it was Mojibi who recently purchased the old Greyhound bus station downtown and razed it, presumably for a multi-floor apartment building. No word on how his death may affect those plans. (Bakersfield Californian photo of Majid with former Supervisor Michael Rubio and wife)

 * ... WELCOME FALL: We had a brutal summer, hottest in a long time, so don't blame us if we spend a few minutes giving a big welcome to Fall, which started today. In celebration, enjoy this local photo from JoJo Parades Butingen who regularly provides stunning nature photography.


* ... CASE COMPLETE: An appellate court has officially put the last nail in the coffin of Craig Harrison's slander lawsuit against a former protege and monk who accused him of inappropriate contact with young men. The court ruled Harrison's failed lawsuit as a "case complete" after denying Harrison's request for a rehearing. This ends Harrison's legal offensive against former colleague Ryan Gilligan, the young Bakersfield man who worked with Harrison at St. Francis Parish and later studied to become a Benedictine monk. Harrison was suspended from his duties as a priest after the Fresno Diocese eventually found there was "credible" evidence to believe that as many as 7 young men had been subjected to Harrison's inappropriate behavior. Harrison later resigned from the church and the Diocese has gone about the process of removing all signage that associated Harrison as a monsignor at St. Francis, including one naming a youth center after Harrison. One of the few places where Harrison's name remains in public, at least recently, was at the small chapel room at Dignity Health's Memorial Hospital where his name remains on the door. Harrison has not been charged with any criminal offenses because the statute of limitations expired, but he faces multiple civil lawsuits from men who claimed they were abused by Harrison while he was serving as a priest.

 * .... JEFF PICKERING: Meanwhile as long as we are talking about people in power being accused of lewd behavior, former Bakersfield non profit executive Jeff Pickering is publishing a book detailing his own encounter with a family doctor who allegedly repeatedly molested Pickering after he suffered a softball injury as a teenager. Formerly head of the Kern Community Foundation, Pickering now lives in Florida where he heads a similar foundation and only recently began to explore a chapter in his life that he had long suppressed. His book, available for pre order now on Amazon, details in graphic detail his molestation at the hands of an Orlando family doctor when he was just a teenager, and how society inadvertently joined the cover up as so often is these cases.

 * ... ART SHOW: A show featuring the works of artist Ryan Rickard opens at Bird Dog Arts at the Outlets of Tejon this weekend. Rickard, who studied at the Savannah Center of Art and Design (SCAD), will feature works of art derived from old discarded objects he found locally, including a propane tank and other items. Definitely a show worth checking out. (photo by The Californian)

 * ... MEMORIES: Let's take a walk down memory lane with a few entries into the Kern County History Fans Facebook page, a wonderful place to catch up on our history. Enjoy.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Good news for the Monarch butterfly population, former city councilman Harold Hanson dies and local crooner Joe Peters to sing the national anthem at Dodger Stadium

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.

 * ... MONARCH BUTTERFLIES: One of the great joys of living in central California is witnessing the annual migration of the stunningly beautiful Monarch butterflies as they head to their winter journey in Mexico. Scientists long have been warning that the number of Monarchs are dwindling, but now a new study casts doubt on that. According to The New York Times, the new study focused on the size of the

summer breeding populations and said the numbers were smaller in the Midwest but larger in some other areas. "North America is home to two populations of monarchs," The Times said. "The larger, Eastern population spends its summers breeding in milkweed filled fields along the East Coast and Midwest before winging its way down to Mexico each fall. A smaller, Western population generally converges on California each autumn." The declines have been attributed to climate change and to logging near overwintering sites, as well as a herbicide known as glyphosate. So take heart, we might just enjoy another robust Monarch migration season.

 * ... RIP HAROLD HANSON: Former Bakersfield city councilman Harold Hanson died this month at Mercy Southwest Hospital. Hanson was 85 years old and served as Ward 5 councilman for 16 years, from 2000 to 2016.  He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Lana. Services will be held at St. Phillip the Apostle Church on Stockdale Highway on June 23 at 9:30 a.m.

 * ... GAS REBATE: I was thrilled to see The Bakersfield Californian editorial calling on the California legislature to approve a gas tax holiday to battle inflation. That's been my position for some time now, even though most Democrats (and many others) oppose it because Big Oil is enjoying windfall profits. My take: stop worrying about Big Oil and worry instead about the poor Californians who live on poverty's edge and are forced to use their cars and trucks to get to work. This obsession with Big Oil and its profits should not come at the expense of our working class citizens who are struggling to make ends meet.

 * ... JOE PETERS: There's some good news for rising country music singer Joe Peters, a Bakersfield lad with a growing following about town. Peters, who frequently appears at The Pour House and other local venues, said on his Facebook page he would be singing the national anthem at the Sept. 2 Los Angeles Dodgers game at Chavez Ravine.

* ... BITS AND PIECES: Useful news tidbits from around the world:
 - Microsoft has announced that Internet Explorer, once the go-to browser for millions across the globe, is being abandoned and will no longer be supported. Microsoft is urging users to transition to a newer browser called Microsoft Edge. Google's Chrome browser is not the market leader with about two thirds of all users opting for Chrome.
 - Heads up all you shoppers: major U.S. retailers say there are some killer deals lurking as stores adjust to pandemic related shipping issues and other anomalies. Target, Walmart and Macy's all accounted recently that they were receiving huge amounts of outdoor furniture and electronics that were in scarce supply during the pandemic. To get folks back into the stores, the retailers were expected to start offering deep discounts. Some of the deepest discounted items include furniture and lounger.
 - Just how popular has pickleball become across the country? Well, big enough that the New York Times devoted a full page recently to the passion for pickleball, noting it has become big business as entrepreneurs look for creative ways to build more courts along with amenities like bars and restaurants and retail sports stores.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old poster for the 1963  Kern County Fair, which appeared on the Facebook page of the Kern County History Fans.

 * ... OLD BAKER STREET: And from the Kern County of Old history group comes this wonderful old picture of Baker Street and the old Grenada Theater back in the day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Local races heat up for the November general election, the state okays a new Indian gaming casino off Highway 99, and who knew Sirius Satellite Radio had a station devoted to the Bakersfield Sound?

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.

 * ... ELECTIONS: The votes from the June primary aren't all counted yet, but it;s clear there will be some fun and important races to watch in November. The top of my list is the race to succeed Mike

Maggard as 3rd District Supervisor, where Jeff Flores and Brian Smith will face off in November. Flores, a longtime Maggard aide and school board member who has the backing of the GOP establishment, has a comfortable lead now but the question will be what happens to all those who voted for the third place finisher, Democrat Louis Gil? Expect this to be one of the more heated races for the fall. A few of the other interesting races:
 - In the 35th Assembly District, Supervisor Leticia Perez will face Dr. Jasmeet Bains in a runoff. Logic would tell us this is Perez's race to lose, but anything can happen in November.
 - In the 16th District Senate race, Republican grape farmer David Shepard of Porterville will likely face state Sen. Melissa Hurtado. Shepard ran strong landing in first place with 45.4 percent of the vote while Hurtado is in second with 30.3 percent of the vote.

 * ... CASINO: It looks like that new Indian gaming casino south of Bakersfield is definitely going to happen. Gov. Gavin Newsom made it official this week by signing a tribal-state gaming agreement with the Tejon Indian Tribe, overcoming one of the last hurdles for the proposed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The deal designates 300-plus acres for the tribe, of which 52 will be used for the casino that organizers say will eventually create 5,000 jobs. Other facilities planned include housing, administrative offices and a health care facility. The casino will be built off Highway 99 just north of Highway 166.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD SOUND: For all you music buffs out there, did you know that the Sirius XM satellite radio channel has a station devoted to the Bakersfield Sound? That's right, it's hosted by Dwight Yoakam and appears on channel 359 on SXM radio. The channel celebrates the Bakersfield Sound and those whom it has inspired including Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart, Tommy Collins, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Eagles, The Blasters, Lucinda Williams and more. The channel encompasses all that is California country and country rock, in all of its various and varietal hybrid forms, from Ricky Nelson to Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt and includes artists from the movement in LA in the early to middle ’80s that Yoakam broke out of, and will feature bands as diverse as X, Lone Justice and Los Lobos.

 * ... THE WOOLWORTH'S SOUND: While we are on the subject of music, did you catch Steven Mayer's Sunday story in The Californian about the Woolworth's Sessions? The piece follows the purchase of the historic Woolworth's building by Moneywise co-owners Dave Anderson and Sherod Waite, who have vowed to respect the historic integrity of the landmark and to retain the classic 1950s era diner. With the third floor gutted, Waite and Anderson came up with the idea to record music in the vacant third floor and the result is the Woolworth's Sessions, a wonderful collection of local musicians playing in an iconic venue. Anderson teams with Emily Waite, Sherod's wife, as the duo Bakersfield Cactus. If you missed it, check it out on (photo by Sherod Waite)

 * ... PERSPECTIVE: Spotted on Twitter: "I have a friend who exercises twice a day,  has sex three times a week and reads two books a week, and he still complains about prison." 

   - Another business is looking to leave California because of the high cost of living and burdensome regulations. Smithfield Foods, the largest pork processor in the country, is losing its Vernon, Ca., plant in early 2023, citing high taxes, utility costs and labor costs. Smithfield makes the iconic Dodger dog.
 - Food prices are rising as inflation takes hold, and now Kraft Heinz has told retail customers that it was raising prices in August on everything from Miracle Whip and Classico pasta sauce to Maxwell House Coffee.

* ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of the old ice house around 1904. Thanks to the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And check out this old postcard courtesy of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Flores and Smith appear headed for a runoff in the Third Supervisor District, Rudy Salas aims to oust Congressman David Valadao and is it the end of the Parra name in local politics?

 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.

 * ... JUNE PRIMARY: The primary is over and now we head to the November general election, where it seems with near certainty that Rep. Kevin McCarthy will be elected the next Speaker of the House. McCarthy held a strong lead on his opponent and heads to a runoff in his 20th Congressional District, but that was predicted and is expected to be easily reelected in the fall. Some thoughts on this weeks primary, which had its surprises:
 - One of the most interesting developments was in the race to succeed Mike Maggard in the Third

Supervisor District. As expected, Maggard aide Jeff Flores ran first and he was followed by former CHP officer Brian Smith. Flores and Smith appear headed for a runoff. Running a disappointing and lackluster third, and out of the race, was former homeless shelter executive Louis Gil.
 - Assemblyman Rudy Salas was the top vote getter in the 22nd Congressional District now held by Republican David Valadao. Salas and Valadao will head to a runoff but given the Democratic lead in voter registration, Salas could be headed for an upset. Valadao has had to face not only Democrats like Salas but Republicans in his own party who are upset because he voted to impeach then President Trump.
 - In the newly drawn 16th State Senate district a relative unknown, David Shepard, was the top vote getter, easily outdistancing incumbent Sen. Melissa Hurtado and spelling the end of the attempted political comeback of former Assemblywoman Nicole Parra. Shephard and Hurtado could meet in the November runoff. The Parra name has long held a coveted position in local politics, but this could spell the end of that local dynasty.
 - Supervisor Leticia Perez had little trouble in the 35th Assembly District, easily beating Taft Dr. Jasmeet Bain but the two will still have to square off in November.
 - Voters in San Francisco signaled they had enough of uber liberal District Attorney Chesa Boudin by recalling him from office. Boudin, 41, is a new breed of prosecutors who fundamentally do not believe in incarceration. Like other California cities, San Francisco has been overrun with crime, homelessness and drugs.
 - Laura Avila easily held back Todd Reeves to become the top vote getter in the assessor/recorder race.
 - In the race for county auditor/controller, the candidate who alluded to the possibility of voter fraud, Mark McKenzie, lost badly to Aimee Espinoza. She was leading with 61 percent of the vote, well enough to avoid a November runoff.

 * ... HOMELESS CAMPSITES: I read with interest, and some mild surprise, a recent story in The Californian about a plan to build campsites for homeless people who remain wary of checking into one of the city or county homeless navigation centers. At first glance it looks like yet another attempt to appease the homeless, but the effort is a sound one and deserves our support. The idea is simple: create a safe camping area for people who still refuse to access the shelters and their services. The idea came from the Community Action Partnership folks who run the existing M Street shelter. This is a simple but promising experiment because it does one simple thing: it gets homeless off the streets (at least at night) and keeps them from building makeshift camps in public parks or right of ways. It's not the perfect solution, but anything that keeps the homeless out of the parks is a step in the right direction. In New York City for example, more than 50,000 men and women take advantage of city shelters nightly, keeping them off the streets and out of the cardboard communities where others life. In New York, city run shelters house 80-90 percent of all homeless. Granted this will all cost money, but taxpayers should be happy to pay a little to keep these people off the streets and with access to mental health and drug counseling.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Do you believe in conspiracy theories or are you fine not knowing why the shampoo always runs out before the conditioner?"

 * ... GAS PRICES: If you don't think $10 a gallon gas is close, think again. A small gas station in Mendocino is charging just under that $10 benchmark, and you can bet more will follow.

 * ... MEMORIES: There is a Facebook page devoted to Kern County history - it's called Kern County History Fans - and it regularly posts terrific historic shots of our town. Check out this building - then and now - on Baker Street. What is it they say about they don't make them like they used to?

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And check out this picture of the old Kern County Courthouse that was partially destroyed in the 1952 earthquake. It was later razed completely.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Were Republicans trying to sew confusion by promoting their own candidates on a Democratic mailer? Democrats cry foul, the candidates take cover and things heat up across the board, plus Amy Travis takes over as director of First 5 KERN

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.

 * ... ELECTION SHENANIGANS: If you cover enough elections over the years you will learn one simple truth: always expect to be surprised. Candidates will lie, or deceive, supporters will do equally stupid things, 11th hour revelations can change everything and until every vote is counted, the race can go any way. And so it goes locally here when, with just a week until the June 7 primary, a candidates mailer is causing all kinds of problems for some of the most prominent and well known candidates this election cycle. The mailer targeted Democratic voters and if you didn't know better, the piece would seem to come from the Democratic Party itself: the images of Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy and Obama (all

Democrats) are at the top of the ballot followed by what looks like a list of Democrats running for office. Except for - and this is what it is all about  - some of the candidates listed are prominent Republicans, including District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Assessor candidate Todd Reeves and county supervisor candidate Jeff Flores. Kern County Democrats immediately cried foul, claiming the mailer was a naked attempt to confuse voters by including Republicans on a Democrat mailer. And who is responsible for the mailer? Well that would be Cathy Abernathy and Western Pacific Research, her company that is in the business of grooming and promoting the conservative echo chamber that runs much of local politics. (Zimmer is not represented by WPR but Flores is). Zimmer, Youngblood and Flores all told me they did not approve of the mailer and had no idea it was even coming out. "I can say that I never saw nor did I approve this piece of mail," Zimmer told me. "Neither did the sheriff. We are very unhappy our image was used." Youngblood confirmed that with me, saying he "did not pay, agree or authorize" the mailer. Flores, for his part, also denied knowing the mailer was being sent out but did concede he works with Western Pacific to reach out to non Republican voters. "These are what are known as 'slates' so I don't approve the layout or content or see it for that matter," he said. "And WPR did purchase all my slates this cycle which I approve and pay for the sales package. I sign on to as many slates as I can afford for voter contact. Republicans, Democrats, seniors, Hispanics, law enforcement, taxpayers, many categories, especially in non partisan races." But in no way, Flores insisted, did he know his name and image would be included on a mailer that seemed to imply that all the candidates were Democrats. For candidates like Zimmer and Youngblood, who are both running unopposed, something like this can amount to little more than an irritating nuisance. But for Flores, who faces tough competition in the primary against retired CHP officer Brian Smith and former homeless executive Louis Gil, the stakes are far higher. For her part, Abernathy told KGET she was simply reaching out to Democratic voters and doing her job to promote Republican candidates to all voters. So was this an egregious (if slightly heavy handed and over the top) attempt to sew confusion among the voters? And even if it is not illegal, at the very least it's an attempt to sew confusion and that reflects poorly on candidates like Flores, Youngblood and Zimmer. And finally, will it change the outcome of the elections? Probably not, but you can bet some folks on that mailer will be dealing with the fallout for months.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My girlfriend's cat died and someone suggested I get her an identical one to cheer her up. Doesn't make any sense. How will two dead cats cheer her up? "

* ... AMY TRAVIS: After serving as executive director of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Amy Travis has accepted a position to run First 5 Kern program. Travis will start her new duties on July 18, succeeding Roland Maier who is retiring. Travis began her career with CASA in May 2012, and has been instrumental in the organization’s restructuring and development, securing new funding streams, and increasing the number of children served yearly. Travis is not only a business person but in 2019 she was honored and selected by Bakersfield Magazine as a “20 Under 40 to Watch.” She graduated from Fresno Pacific University, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership, studied at Loyola University Chicago, and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Strategic and Organizational Leadership at Fresno Pacific University.  “On behalf of my fellow Commissioners, we could not be more thrilled in the selection of Amy for this critical position in our community,” said First 5 Kern Commission Chair John Nilon. “Amy embodies all the qualities that we wanted, including executive leadership, community presence, and experience in the delivery of services to our most vulnerable children. The expectations for First 5 Kern are at their highest, and we have every belief that Amy will exceed those expectations.” First 5 provides funding to organizations that work to strengthen and support children up to 5 years old and their families.

 * ... MEMORIES: This is about as good a picture you will find of the old Beale clock tower after it was partially destroyed in the 1951 earthquake. You see it here at 17th and Chester with the Sill Building in the background. Courtesy of Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Bakersfield residents scramble to deal with rising crime as the city becomes numb to a higher level of violence, Jax the retired BPD canine dies in retirement and are you ready to take "Navy showers' to deal with new water restrictions?

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.

 * ... HIGH CRIME: How bad is crime in your neighborhood? Well the statistics tell us it is much worse than just a year ago, and common sense tells us why: California has decriminalized many felonies as 

misdemeanors, police are overworked and stretched to the limit and local officials have taken a hands off approach to vagrancy and homelessness for the most part. (Their solution is on finding permanent housing for those on the streets, not keeping them from breaking into your cars, your home or your business.) As a lark, over the Memorial Day weekend I monitored crime by looking at the Ring video camera online alerts for Ring customers who live near me. The results: I counted at least six car thefts (including one on my own street, thank you), two home burglaries, countless alerts to people checking car and home doors and a frightening number of petty crime incidents in virtually every neighborhood. Residents are at the breaking point and there is a consensus - fair or not - that our City Council has failed us and those who should care are instead busy taking and posting self congratulatory "selfies" while the city burns. As one frustrated neighbor told me: "And my city councilman (Andrae Gonzales) wants to spend millions on the old train depot on Baker Street while we are left to deal with crime on our own?" Unfair? It may be but it's the political reality when a public's cry for help is met by paralysis.

 * ... CAR PRICES: Thanks to the skyrocketing prices of used cars and the lack of availability for new cars, the average age of vehicles on U.S. roadways has reached 12 years. According to research, this is the fifth straight month that the average age of a vehicle has increased. "With the drivers hanging on to vehicles longer, the percentage of cars and trucks scrapped - or taken out of use - each year fell to 4.2 percent in 2021, one of the lower rates in two decades," the Wall Street Journal said. Two factors are in play here: cars and trucks are made better so they last longer, and the shortage of new cars and parts has led the price of new and used cars to spoke to record high levels.

 * ... INFLATION: And speaking of your personal vehicles, have you noticed your auto insurance premiums are going through the roof like everything else? Thanks to the insidious nature of inflation, homeowner insurance policies have spiked and now car insurance is doing the same. During the first quarter, All-State increased rates in 28 states an average of 9.3 percent. Insurance industry experts believe that about 61 percent of its base personal auto insurance policies have seen price increases since the middle of last year. 

 * ... RIP JAX: Here's some bad news: Jax, the accomplished and loyal German Shepherd who served in the canine unit of the Bakersfield Police Department, has passed on not long after he officially retired. From the city of Bakersfield website: "It is with heavy hearts we share that, after almost a year and a half of retirement, K9 Jax passed away. Senior Officer Ashby and Jax were partners from July of 2012 until Jax retired in January of 2021. Jax never met a water bottle or traffic cone he didn't like, and when off duty, he loved playing in the water and sleeping on the couch. Jax will be deeply missed by the Ashby family and forever appreciated for his years of dedicated service to his partner and this community."

 * ... SAVING WATER: Californians are being encouraged to save water now that we are well into the third year of a long drought. The drought is so bad, in fact, that Gov. Gavin Newsom warns that if conservation efforts don't work, we could be in for mandatory restrictions. Already starting June 1, nearly four million customers in Los Angeles will face new restrictions. So what does that look like? Researchers say the average Californian uses between 70 and 80 gallons of water per day - inside and out - and they say we need to reduce that to about 55 gallons per day. One way is to take shorter showers, and Newsom says if we all shorten out showers to just five minutes and switch away from baths, we can save up to 2.5 times as much state water.

 * ... MEMORIES: This is an interesting shot looking west on 19th Street from L Street. The photo is from 1890, according to the Kern County of Old website.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And finally, we have this old postcard promoting Paul's Diner on California and K.