Thursday, August 15, 2019

Neighbors rally to help Slice of Italy pizzeria after vandals strike for a second time, more on the drug addicts that roam our streets, Jay Tamsi gets a state award and Rep. Kevin McCarthy visits Israel

Friday, August 16, 2019

 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. Send news items to rsbeene@yahoo.com.

 * ... GOOD NEIGHBORS: Did you hear about the vandalism at the Slice of Italy pizzeria on F Street? It has been hit twice in three days by teenagers who have been randomly throwing rocks
through the windows. What is happening to our community? The sense of lawlessness (and hopelessness with the homeless) is overwhelming, particularly downtown where dumpsters are set on fire, businesses are vandalized and street people use the public sidewalks as their personal urinals. But there are good people in the world, and I was thrilled to see the folks at Providence Strategic Consulting across F Street rally to help a neighbor. CEO Tracy Leach's staff have been lining up to buy pizzas there while encouraging the owners to hang tough. Now that is what you call a good neighbor.


 * ... OUR TIMES: So Slice of Italy is vandalized, a dumpster is set on fire and our parks have turned into camps where the addicted and homeless buy, sell and use drugs, sleep, defecate and trash. On Thursday, during a break while playing pickle ball at the new courts at Jastro Park, I came upon two young men and a young woman, seemingly homeless, using a syringe to shoot up in the public restroom. This has become a new norm. Think about that for a minute.



 * ... MORE CRIME: Meanwhile, it was heart breaking to read a post on Facebook about some items that were stolen during a break-in of a car downtown. The post: "Yesterday afternoon my vehicle was broken into and a white 3 ring binder containing my father's original military paperwork (DD214), 8 death certificates, life insurance policy documents, marriage certificate, funeral home paperwork including his thumbprints that were on a white card the funeral home did just for me, and the Social Security Administrations award letter! It was stolen in the area at Truxtun and N. Please! Please! Please! Contact me if you find any of these documents discarded anywhere! The last name on all of the paperwork is Beckwith. Yes, my car was locked and the alarm was armed. My windows have limo tint and u cannot see into the backseat area floorboard where the binder was located. I had just returned to work from accompanying my mother to an appointment at the VA service center and that’s why it was in my car. We have notified all 3 credit bureaus, the banks etc.. I just need these documents back!


 * ... JAY TAMSI: Congratulations to Jay Tamsi who has been named executive of the year by The California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce. Tamsi has served as CEO of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber for the past eight years. He will be honored at the statewide convention in Stockton next week.



 * ... ISRAEL: A few more pictures of House Minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy's trip to Israel, where he renewed his pledge to support the Jewish state even as it comes under attack by a group of progressive Democratic congresswomen. Israel, meanwhile, has informed Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) that they will be barred from visiting Israel during a trip scheduled to start Sunday.






 * ... MEMORIES: Some more great historical shots thanks to Art Moore and the Kern County History Fans Facebook page. Enjoy.






Sunday, August 11, 2019

Marie Callender's closes, Fatburger comes to town, more frustration over our homeless crisis and Rep. Kevin McCarthy takes a trip to Israel to boost ties

Monday August 12, 2019

 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. Send news items to rsbeene@yahoo.com.

 * ... RIP MARIE CALLENDERS: The local Marie Callender's on California Avenue is closing, the latest in a string of "legacy" eateries that has gone out of business. The company is in bankruptcy and we
learned last week that Marie Callender's, known for its holiday pies, would not make it. Meanwhile next door the old Mimi's Cafe has been demolished to make room for a Raising Cane's fried chicken franchise. And so it goes.



 * ... FATBURGER: Meanwhile Los Angeles-based Fatburger will open its first Bakersfield location on Sept. 4 at the corner of Oswell and Bernard. The chain announced last year that it was coming north and its legions of fans have been eagerly awaiting its opening.



 * ... HOMELESS: More rantings on Facebook about our vagrant problem: "Today I experienced an incident downtown that left me sad, disappointed and dismayed. Not as scary as Kyle’s but still a citizen in need. We were working an estate sale at 18th and Myrtle and about 2:30 p.m. I noticed a nicely dressed young woman that appeared to be passed out on the grass right at the NE corner of Jastro Park bear the curb. It didn’t look right so my co-worker and I went to assist. She was unresponsive to verbal communication and shaking her arm. She did have a pulse so I called 911 as my partner kept working with her. I thought Fire Department or Hall’s would be there any minute to check her vitals and make sure she okay. Not the case. Twenty minutes later nothing and I ended up flagging down a BPD cruiser for help. My gut feeling is that 911 blew it off and didn’t send it out to our emergency responders. Luckily she woke up/came to and we were able to talk with her. It appeared to us she may have suffered some heat stress and passed out. Our society has become so numb to people sleeping all over that we have forgotten how to care for those truly in need. It ended for us giving her water and money for a bus ride home. That lack of response by those who are supposed to be helping us blew my mind and put me in a funk for the rest of the day."

 * ... MORE HOMELESS: And then there was this, accompanied by a short video: "This is slightly graphic. When I pulled up this lady was masturbating nude in a ride’um cowboy pose and urinating at the same time while screaming rape in a bloodcurdling scream behind the Rite-Aid next to the GET bus station.  Then she continued to punch herself in the face. After she was done she walked over to the bus station and proceeded to smoke crack. If I could post the graphic videos that I’ve taken downtown on the streets, I would be kicked off of Facebook. This is not homelessness out of need, this is craziness because of drugs."

 * ... ISRAEL: House minority leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy is in Israel for a fact finding tour, an important statement as some freshmen Democrats express concern about the long friendly relations between the United States and Israel. Enjoy these pictures from his trip.



 * ... MEMORIES: And how about this picture of Memorial Hospital in its early days, compliments of Art Moore and the Kern County History Fans Facebook page:



Thursday, August 8, 2019

Citizens rage over the homeless and associated crime, but is anyone listening? Plus a local artist faces some health challenges and a walk down memory lane in photos

Friday, August 9, 2019

 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. Send news items to rsbeene@yahoo.com.

 * ... CITIZEN RAGE: The level of frustration over the homeless and associated incidents of vandalism, indecent exposure and general craziness has reached a boiling point. Today I will share
the musings of some of our fellow citizens.

 * ... HOMELESS: Rusty Burchfield, an engineer at American General Media, posted this on his Facebook page which speaks volumes: "We spent five days in Las Vegas last week and I can’t recall seeing one homeless person, which is very odd to me. Today, in Bakersfield I stopped to fuel up on my way to a tower site and was asked at the pump if I had any spare change. Then asked for money on the way out of the store (because there was no receipt at the pump), then in Wasco as I was at a Subway a woman asked me to buy her a Pepsi because it was 'hot' and when I said no she followed me inside talking crazy and the employees did nothing about it. She eventually left and then as I walked outside to get into my car I was asked for money by someone else. I passed several tents setup on the sidewalks today, saw several homeless with dogs, some with cell phones, some on bikes, many with shopping carts. This is totally out of control and again, I remind you I was just in “Sin City” for five days and I can’t recall seeing one homeless person fitting anything like what I saw in just one afternoon here in Kern County. I am very disgusted with our lack of finding a solution to this in our own town."

 * ... MORE VAGRANTS: and then there was this, from the owner of the Rig City Coffee Roasters downtown: "Had a guy OD right outside our shop door (Rig City Coffee Roasters) today. He was completely unresponsive. VERY thankful that DA Cynthia Zimmer and her co-worker were there getting coffee and helped take care of the situation. First responders were there within minutes. She asked me if this was a common thing downtown and I was eager to share my opinion telling her all we owners put up with."



 * ... AND MORE: And finally, this post is from former homebuilder and mayoral candidate Kyle Carter: "I was forced to call 911 this evening. I knew it would do no good at all but I at least had to try. Maybe this time it would be different. Just Maybe. . .  The guy had a knife with about an 9 inch blade. Something that could easily penetrate all the way through a child or an unsuspecting woman. And he was walking toward Central Park throwing his tattooed arms in the air in what seamed to be extreme anger and screaming vulgar obscenities. He didn’t have a shirt on but his dirty baggy sweatpants kept falling down to his knees exposing what I consider to be private parts.  So I did it. I followed him to the park. I was afraid for the unsuspecting souls there. The 911 operator told me it would be some time until there would be an officer in the area. And she really didn’t want to learn much about this guy. She told me not to follow him. Just another day in California. That didn’t surprise me much. Yesterday there was one of them masturbating while sitting on the sidewalk on Chester Avenue at about noon. And then another dancing through the intersection at 24th and Oak. High as a kite. Then there is the guy that broke into our storage garage and the guy that likes to pee on our doors. My stories are endless. It’s come to the point where anarchy may be more than just a thought. Someone has got to provide protection. And there has got to be consequences for those that do not recognize that there are laws.This reminds me of the TV show the walking dead. Except it’s them that are the only ones with rights. Because I now have NONE !"

 *... SICK BAY: I learned the other day that Faith Taylor, a local artist who moved to Los Angeles a few years ago, is battling a tough series of heath setbacks and is in the intensive care unit at the USC Hospital. Her daughter, Sarah Hester, reported on Facebook that Taylor suffered from a ruptured bowel and that was followed with an aneurysm and a "massive" stroke. Sarah has established a GoFundMe account to help the family with expenses.



 * ... MEMORIES: Once again thanks to Art Moore and his Facebook page Kern County History Fans for these jewels.


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Homeless encampments are triggering wildfires across Californian, more homeless vandalism downtown, In-n-Out Burger is dethroned as the nation's top fast food joint and Glenn Hammett retires from The Californian

Monday, August 5, 2019

 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. Send news items to rsbeene@yahoo.com.


 * ... HOMELESS FIRES: As if we didn't have enough to worry about with the homeless spreading disease and urinating and defecating in public, officials now say homeless encampments are increasingly to blame for wildfires. From Los Angeles to Sacramento, multiple fires are being blamed on the homeless and the fire season is just getting started. Remember the Skirball fire in Bel-Air in
late 2017? You got it, caused by a homeless encampment. Or the fire last week in the Sepulveda basin? Caused by another homeless encampment. Meanwhile, my friend Karen Rowles sent me this picture from Scottsdale, which has the cleanest streets in the country. I think we need signs like this here.



 * ... VANDALISM: Meanwhile the men's store Blue Stagg is the latest local business to be vandalized by the homeless. The owners showed up last week to find its front door busted out, a random and seemingly senseless act similar to what has happened at other local retailers downtown. Blue Oak Coffee Roasting was hit just a week ago - the second time - and we now run the risk of running off retailers who have put their time and capital into a downtown revival. Is anyone listening?




* ... BEST FAST FOOD: In-N-Out Burger is officially out as the nation's favorite fast-food chain. Taking over the top spot is not Chick-fil-A, at least according to a new survey conducted by Market Force's Customer Satisfaction survey. More than 7,600 people filled out Market Force's Customer Satisfaction Survey. The survey looked at food quality, dollar value, and staff friendliness among other things. While In-N-Out scored an overall rating of 73, Chick-fil-A did even better. It scored a 79 and now reigns supreme. In-N-Out didn't even make second place overall, which went to Louisiana-based chicken restaurant Raising Cane's, with a rating of 78.


 * ... LEAVING TBC: The Bakersfield Californian lost another key employee last week when graphics director Glenn Hammett called it quits after 31 years. Hammett was the design guru behind almost all of TBC's key projects and products, including its corporate rebranding several years ago and his leadership of BakersfieldLife magazine. Almost everything at TBC, from business cards to the beautiful TBC compass logo in the historic lobby, were works of Hammett. And check this out: after 31 years of employment he left without taking a single sick day.




 * ... INDY OH INDY: Local author Teresa Adamo spent a few hours at the local Barnes and Noble Sunday signing books and reading to a group of youngsters from her latest novel in the "Indy, Oh Indy" series of children's books. Adamo is a longtime journalist and writer, an alum of The Bakersfield Californian and a longtime freelancer and now novelist.




* ... SIGN OF THE TIMES: And then I spotted this on Facebook, another sign of the times.

 * ... MEMORIES: Thanks to Art Moore and the Facebook page Kern County History Fans for this classic old shot, circa 1917.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

St. Francis Church is vandalized as the investigation continues into Monsignor Craig Harrison, Trevor Horn lands at Garces Memorial High School and missing McFarland city manager John Wooner is found dead in the Kern rRiver

Friday, August 2, 2019

 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. Send news items to rsbeene@yahoo.com.

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: St. Francis Church was vandalized recently, adding fuel to the division in our community over the fate of suspended priest Craig Harrison, who has been accused of sexual
impropriety by multiple men. The word "rape" was scrawled on the church in two places. Meanwhile, The Bakersfield Californian's John Cox wrote a long piece detailing the more than 100-page investigation by Bakersfield Police into the case, revealing some lurid allegations that could never be substantiated. No word yet on when the Diocese of Fresno will wrap up its investigation into the molestation allegations.




 * ... TBC ALUMNI: Trevor Horn, the popular prep sports writer at The Bakersfield Californian who left the paper recently, has landed a job as Sports Information Director and assistant athletic director at Garces Memorial High School. An award winning journalist, Horn was just the latest TBC employee to leave while landing another gig in town. The talent drain includes former lifestyles editor Jennifer Self, now communications director at CSUB, former city editor Christine Bedell, now with the CSUB alumni affairs office, former columnist Lois Henry, now with BizFed and graphics editor Glenn Hammett, now teaching at Bakersfield College.


 * ... BODY RECOVERED: Sad to hear that the body of John Wooner, the missing McFarland city manager, was found inside a car found submerged in the Kern River. The CHP confirmed that Wooner's body was found in the back compartment of the Dodge Durango, perhaps indicating he had tried to escape rising waters before succumbing to the water. Wooner had been missing for more than six weeks. Authorities are investigating to determine if foul play was involved, or it was simply an accident along Highway 178 in a treacherous stretch of road. He was 57 years old.



 * ... PET ADOPTION: Here's a big shoutout to Assemblyman Vince Fong who funded the adoption of 100 dogs and cats from the Kern County Animal Shelter. Fong has two rescue dogs himself and has been a strong advocate for adoption and "no kill" shelters.



* ... MEMORIES: Check out this old picture of the Ridge Route compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.


 * ...MORE MEMORIES: And thanks to Art Moore with the Kern County History Fans for these classic pictures of old Wasco.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Dinuba police drop charges against suspended priest Raul Diaz, vandalism and crime runs amok downtown, Trevor Horn leaves The Californian and a water alert for La Cresta

Monday, July 29, 2019

 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. Send news items to rsbeene@yahoo.com.

 * ... PRIEST ALLEGATIONS: Just a day after Bakersfield police closed an investigation into 20-year-old abuse charges Monsignor Craig Harrison, authorities dropped charges of inappropriate
conduct with minors against long-time Dinuba priest Raul Diaz. These two developments - separate cases only linked by the popularity of the two priests - are certain to buoy the hopes of the scores of loyal Catholics who hope both men will return to the pulpit. Diaz, a former cross country runner with the storied McFarland High School track team, was facing charges of inappropriate conduct with minors. The question for Diaz: is this enough for the Diocese to return him to his old position? Harrison, meanwhile, awaits investigations by the Merced and Firebaugh police departments into four allegations dating back more than three decades. If the authorities cannot substantiate the allegations - well short of an exoneration that leaves us with a "he said/he said" case - the Diocese will have to decide if Harrison has been irreparably harmed by charges and act accordingly. (file photo of Raul Diaz)



 * ... CRIME: If you don't think are streets are turning meaner with this homeless and vagrant crisis, think again. In the past week three houses - all in a row - were broken into and burglarized on 21st Street, while literally dozens of cars were broken into downtown. Meanwhile there has been a rash of vandalism linked to homeless vagrants, from Salty's to Blue Oak Coffee to Lululemon. When laws are changed and the consequences of "non violent" crimes are diminished, crime spikes accordingly.

 * ... MOVING ON: The Bakersfield Californian, which changed hands not even a month ago, is experiencing a talent drain in its newsroom not short of alarming. We have now learned that Trevor Horn, head preps sports writer, is leaving the company after a stellar career. Horn is staying in town (he and wife Kristen recently purchased a home here) but has not yet revealed where he is going.


 * ... WATER ALERT: Residents of parts of La Cresta and northeast Bakersfield near Garces Memorial High School are being advised to boil their water after a malfunction at California Water. The advisory reads in part: "Cal Water and the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) advise all customers in our “660 zone” (affected area inside black border in map below) to only use boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking, preparing food, and brushing teeth until further notice. We are advising you to take this precautionary measure after a malfunction in our monitoring software caused a temporary water outage in this area. Any time water pressure drops below the threshold set by DDW, we test water quality samples to ensure that water quality was not negatively affected. All tap water used for drinking, preparing food, and brushing teeth should be boiled rapidly for at least one minute. Let the water cool before drinking. Customers should also discard ice cubes made from tap water or their refrigerator’s water line. If you have pets and are unsure about providing water to them, please consult your veterinarian. Tap water is safe for showering, bathing, and other household uses."



 * ... MEMORIES: Now here is a blast from the past.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Craig Harrison gets a boost in his effort to clear his name, downtown struggles with homelessness and vandalism, Adventist Health's clever marketing campaign and a walk down memory lane

Friday, July 26, 2019

 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. Send news items to rsbeene@yahoo.com.

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: Good news for Monsignor Craig Harrison this week when the Bakersfield
Police Department declined to press charges against the suspended priest for a sexual abuse allegation dating to the late 1990s. This was an important step in Harrison's long journey to clear his name, and no doubt a source of great joy for his legions of believers, but it did not come as a total surprise. Citing lack of clear evidence like a video or photograph, the BPD said it could not substantiate the allegations from a Texas man who said Harrison abused him at the St. Francis Parish when he was an altar boy. While this is clearly a big boost to Harrison's campaign to clear his name, his real hurdle is with the Diocese of Fresno, which is conducting its own investigation into allegations by five different men that Harrison touched them inappropriately. In some ways, the Diocese decision will be a political one and will break down to this simple question: is it better for the church to reinstate a priest whose reputation has been tarnished, or does the church clear the deck and move on by either moving Harrison to another position or cutting him loose? For the sake of Father Craig and our entire community, let's hope this is resolved sooner rather than later.


 * ... DOWNTOWN: With each passing day, the homeless crisis in our community worsens. And no where is it on display more graphically than downtown, where shop owners are forced to contend with vandalism and rampant thefts not to mention the parade of "crazies" who wander into stores talking incoherently and scaring away customers. The tragedy, of course, is all this falls on the shoulders of shop owners who pick up the bill when their businesses are vandalized. Take for example the Blue Oak Coffee Shop downtown, where - once again - the owners arrived to find their front window smashed. I hope some of those 100 additional police officers we are hiring are stationed downtown to bring things back under control.



 * ... MORE CRIME: Meanwhile crime continues unabated. The good folks out at Salty's Barbecue on Rosedale Highway were hit last month when a man (see on the video shot below) made off with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. The Kern County Sheriff's Office is looking for anyone who may know the suspect.



 * ... ADVENTIST HEALTH: Adventist Health (formerly San Joaquin Hospital) has a new marketing push that is clever, heartfelt and speaks to the good in our community. The hospital is highlighting local people on its billboards across town, including this one featuring Raji Jhaj-Brar, owner of Countryside catering.





 * ... MEMORIES: Here is another classic old picture of the old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot on Baker Street.



 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And how about this old photo from Art Moore and his Kern County History Fans Facebook page. Wow.