Thursday, May 23, 2019

Monsignor Craig Harrison launches an aggressive defense against charges of lewd conduct, Jacqui Kitchen is promoted to assistant city manager and RIP Harry Kenefsky

Friday, May 24, 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 such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... MONSIGNOR CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison, suspended after allegations of abuse were raised against him, has issued a strongly worded statement proclaiming his innocence. Here it is, in its entirety:

"I will be returning to my home in Bakersfield shortly to assist my attorney in proving my innocence. I am innocent of all accusations.

 "It's been nearly a month since I was forced to leave my beloved parish and my Bakersfield home. Each day has been agonizing. I continue to be lifted up by the support from my community through your letters, phone calls, emails and most importantly your prayers.

"Over the past four weeks I have been waiting to hear anything about the allegations against me from the Diocese and for the opportunity to share my side. The last contact I had with the Fresno Diocese was on April 24 when I was called to the Bishop's office and told there were allegations against me. That day my ability to share Mass with my parishioners was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

 "It is with deep sadness that I have come to the realization that this is a battle that I am left to fight without support from the Diocese. Over the past month, while the Diocese investigated the accusations against me, they never once reached out to me for my side. In fact, neither Bishop Ochoa, Bishop Brennan nor any member of the Diocese has checked on my state of mind or welfare. I have not been invited to respond or provide evidence to the Diocese. Out of respect for the investigation, I have remained silent.

 "I feel compelled to address the latest in a series of false accusations. The claims of Ryan Dixon have been heartbreaking because they involve false, defamatory, and slanderous charges by a man who is supposedly a member of the religious. I have never done any of the things that he has said. When I first met him, he was in his twenties and seeking to become a Catholic. Like so many he came from a difficult background and broken relationships. He sought the solace of the faith and considered a vocation to the priesthood. He had been the focus of negative publicity and was seeking a new path. Throughout his time at the church, he drank socially and frequently, and I would caution him to remember he represented the church and he must get that behavior under control.

 "Things came to a head in our relationship on a pilgrimage to Rome. Two seminarians, two Sisters of Mercy, two friends of the seminarian's and I went to visit the Vatican. Ryan continued to drink excessively and embarrassed himself with his crude language and behavior. I reprimanded him and that day he left in anger. I have had little contact with him since, other than to encourage him in his faith path. He, like all other seminarians, priests, and religious are mandated reporters and are taught the rules of safe environment by the Diocese of Fresno. He was obligated to report any misconduct at the time and would have never suffered any consequence for following the rules. He did not report because nothing happened. Since the allegations were made by Ryan Dixon, I have received contacts by numerous people who wish to come forward and offer more information regarding Ryan Dixon's behavior. My attorney and team will continue to work diligently to prove the falsity of these accusations. My attorney has been contacted by numerous people who were told by Ryan Dixon to make sure to watch the news the night his allegations were made public. He called again after that to ask what they thought about how he did on the news. Whatever his motivations might be, his allegations are completely false. Thank you for your continued prayers."

 * ... CITY COUNCIL: Is Bakersfield ready for a full-time city council? Council members are currently paid $100 a month and all hold down full time jobs elsewhere, even though we are now the state's ninth largest city closing in on a population of over 400,000. City Councilman Andrae Gonzales says the time is fast approaching when the city will be forced to think about changing the city charter to allow for full-time council members. Any change in the city charter will require a referendum.

 * ... PARKING: And speaking of Andrae Gonzales, hats off to him for working with city engineers to make G Street one-day at the downtown post office and installing diagonal parking, adding more than 20 spaces to that area that is now home to restaurants and coffee shops in addition to the post office.

 * ... JACQUI KITCHEN: And finally, another congratulations to Jacqui Kitchen who has been promoted to the role of assistant city manager. She previously was head of development for the city.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Before you pride yourself on being a big fish, make sure you’re not swimming in a puddle."

 * ... RIP HARRY: I was saddened to learn of the passing of Harry Kenefsky, a Navy veteran and longtime resident of Columbus Estates independent living center. Harry was 100 years old and was the picture of wit, human and strength. Keep his family in your thoughts.

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy these pictures from the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Some restaurants make the cleanliness grade and some fail, more on officer-involved shootings and Facebook suspends the account of conservative commentator Candace Owens

Monday, May 20, 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 such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... SHOOTINGS: Did you read the front-page Californian story Sunday saying that most of the
officer involved shootings in town involve people of color? It is an oft-repeated story that offers absolutely no solutions, because the issues are complicated and have long confounded experts. It speaks to  segregated neighborhoods, poverty,  drugs, crime and gangs. It is really surprising that more shootings occur on one side of town other than, say, Seven Oaks? (Shootings follow crime and drugs, not skin color) Stories like this make for provocative headlines, while casting doubt on our police officers, but do absolutely nothing to add to the dialogue of where we go from here.

 * ... PERFECT KITCHENS: On the other hand, Bob Price's Sunday story on how some restaurants keep their kitchens spotless (even in century old buildings more prone to infestations) offered a look at how some restaurant owners are frankly more diligent about keeping their kitchens clean than others. People like Jaclyn Allen of the Hen's Roost (one of my favorite vegan eateries in town) routinely score a perfect 100 on their restaurant inspections while others are cited repeatedly for rat infestations and other misdeeds. It's another reason to pay attention to the health department grade ratings posted in the windows.

* ... LOCALE: Meanwhile, it was good to see that the restaurant Locale Farm to Table is back open after being shut down by the health department because of rat droppings. It was the second time the popular organic restaurant had been cited for rat droppings, but the place is now cleaned up and back open for business across from the downtown post office.

 * ... FACEBOOK BAN: Did you sewed that Facebook suspended the account of conservative commentator Candace Owens? Owens, who last week spoke in Bakersfield at a fund raising event for state Sen. Shannon Grove, is the latest conservative commentator to face the wrath of Facebook. This time, she was suspended for saying white supremacy is not a threat to black Americans. And that was enough for a suspension? You be the judge.

 * ... GOOD FORM: What did you do this weekend? Whatever it was, I bet it pales in comparison to what a group of young people did to help beautify our community.  Thanks to a generous grant from the Virginia and Alfred Harrell Foundation, the Tree Foundation of Kern planted 45 potted trees in Downtown Bakersfield Saturday morning. City Councilman Andrae Gonzales joined the effort and had this to say: "This project- over a year in the making- could not have been possible without the support from General Tree Inc., Conway Lopez and John and Enriquez and the Tree Foundation board members, and volunteers from Arvin High School, the Carpenters Local 661, among others. Special thanks goes to Melissa Iger for coordinating the effort!"

 * ... MEMORIES: Some old photos from Bakersfield compliments of the Facebook page Kern County of Old.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Bakersfield makes a list of deadly cities for pedestrians, hats off to Mayor Karen Goh for preventing Corrections from dumping parolees in Bakersfield, and the city prepares to close off Truxtun Avenue

Monday, May 17, 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 such a special to live. Send your tips to

o where do you think the fittest city is in the United States? Well according to USA Today it is Arlington, Va., right across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
Arlington ranked first in both personal health for its citizens as well as community and environmental factors. Following Arlington were Seattle, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Madison, Wis., and Washington, D.C. Now (and you know where this is going) where did Bakersfield rank? It ranked all right, but not on this list. Instead, Bakersfield  ranked 10th on a list of USA Today's most deadliest cities for pedestrians.

 * ... PRISONERS: We dodged a bullet the other day when the California Department of Corrections back pedaled and decided not to release 100 to 120  parolees into our community. And it looks like we can thank Mayor Karen Goh for this. Alarmed over the idea (and terrible optics) of between 100 and 120 parolees wandering the streets of Bakersfield, Goh worked with Corrections through Gov. Gavin Newsom's office to lodge her complaint. It worked, and Corrections said only a couple dozen of parolees could end up here. Goh credited others in devising a plan to protect our community, including District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer and police chief Lyle Martin.

 * ... PARKING: Hats off to whoever decided to convert G Street into a one-way street behind the downtown post office. Along with making it one-way, the city installed diagonal parking to increase the number of spaces near the downtown facility. It is a small change but an important one for those of us who frequent the downtown postal facility.

 * ... ROAD CLOSURE: Here's something you need to remember this weekend: Truxtun Avenue will be closed all weekend at the Westside Parkway. The road will be shut down from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday for the removal of falsework from the bridge crossing Truxtun. The closures will affect both directions of travel between the westbound Westside Parkway on-ramp and Commercial Way. The westbound ramp will remain open to traffic, but the eastbound off-ramp will be closed.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: This post speaks for itself.

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy these old photos Luigi's and Lemucchi's Grocery, 725 19th Street, Bakersfield CA., back in the day.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And check out this photo from 1898 at the corner of Chester and 19th Street.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Rep. Kevin McCarthy honors Honor Flight veterans on the floor of the House of Representatives

 Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly report from Capitol Hill. In his own words:

 "Last week, I was fortunate enough to give veterans and their guardians a tour of the United States Capitol Building, including the House Floor, when Honor Flight Kern County visited Washington, D.C.

The sacrifices made by our local heroes will always be remembered, and it was a privilege for me to be able to spend time with them.

Sixteen veterans traveled with Honor Flight Kern County. They toured the U.S. Capitol and visited
their respective memorials. Veterans on the Honor Flight served in WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Our community is grateful of Honor Flight Kern County for continuously supporting our veterans and providing them the opportunity to travel to Washington. People from all walks of life can learn immensely from the selfless character and duty to service demonstrated by our veterans.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently announced the official launch of a pilot program created by the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) Act, legislation I introduced which was enacted into law in 2017.

I am thrilled to see the VET TEC program’s official launch. VET TEC will help empower our nation’s heroes by providing them with the technical skills needed to ensure a smooth transition into today’s evolving workforce.

After visiting Udacity in 2017, I was immediately struck by the potential of non-traditional education courses and how they can empower America’s veterans by equipping them with invaluable training they can use in their post-military careers. I encourage all interested veterans to apply to the VET TEC program, and I look forward to hearing about their experiences.
Veterans wanting to learn more about taking non-traditional technology courses to further their careers can now apply to participate in the VET TEC pilot program here.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A new non-profit devoted to downtown businesses and lifestyle fills an important void, the new 18Hundred restaurant does a brisk business and Cal Poly tries to kick Chick-fil-A off campus

Monday, May 13, 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 such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * .. THE HUB:
It is hard to overstate how important the creation of The Hub of Bakersfield is to our downtown business district. Created by an impressive group of 30-something professionals, The Hub
is a new non-profit devoted to growing downtown and providing resources to those people who may want to create a new business, hold an event or invest in the downtown area. The HUB fills an important void in the development of downtown, since no other organization is devoted to specifically to the downtown arts and business district. (The Downtown Business Association has proved inept at this type of thing). The HUB, by contrast, is motivated by an altruism borne of true love of where we live. Among those involved in The HUB are City Councilman Andres Gonzales, marketing company owner Shannon LaBare, Alex Balfour, Miranda Whitworth Munoz, Robert Austin Smith, Daniel Cater, Heather Laganelli and Rachel Magnus. (Photo of The Hub team and Shannon LaBare)

 * ... SECOND SATURDAY: Did you drive through downtown Saturday and notice something different? As in the number of pianos that popped up outside local businesses to allow customer to sit down and tinkle the ivories? It was all part of the folks from The HUB working with organizers of Second Saturday to bring a little life and fun into the downtown area. I spotted pianos at Heather Laganelli's Locale Farm to Table across from the downtown post office, as well as one in front of Cafe Smitten on 18th Street.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If a man said he’ll fix it, he will. There is no need to remind him every 6 months about it."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I have a fitness tracker. It's called, 'I look at my gut and it keeps getting bigger.'"

 * ... 18HUNDRED: Have you been to the new 18Hundred restaurant at the corner of Chester and 18th Street? It's worth checking out and it is housed in a historic old bank building that was restored and completely renovated several years ago. When you go, check out the picture above the bar showing the old Redlick's department store that once stood on Chester and 18th on the southeast corner, directly across from the bank. And here, for your pleasure, are some old pictures of the Security Pacific Bank back in the day.

 * ... CHICK-FIL-A: Chick-fil-A is one of the fastest and most popular growing fast food franchises in the nation, yet it continues to be the source of political backlash because of the strong Christian beliefs of its founder. And now, well you guessed it, students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo want to kick the eatery off campus because they claim the franchise is anti-gay. In fact, in the school newspaper one writer compared having Chick-fil-A on campus to having pornography in the library. And so it goes.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this photo of an old page of The Californian, courtesy of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy toasts Kern County students and teachers for excellence

Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly report from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 'I recently hosted an event to recognize Kern County students and teachers from the 23rd Congressional District who display excellence in and out of the classroom.

I was glad to acknowledge them for setting the bar high. The students have demonstrated a passion for learning, both in their classes and extracurricular activities. Their nominated teachers are also paving the way for local educators in the area.

Last week I also announced the winners of the 38th Annual “An Artistic Discovery” Congressional Art Competition for high school students in our congressional district. Winners and participants were acknowledged during a reception at the Metro Galleries in Bakersfield.

The annual art competition is an exciting way to celebrate emerging artists and recognize creativity in our community. This year's entries were fantastic, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the stories behind the pieces - every participant displayed extraordinary work. A special congratulations to the winner, Octavian, whose photograph will be showcased at the U.S. Capitol where it will undoubtedly be one of the best. He has made our community very proud! Under the guidance of his art teacher, Claire Miller, Octavian created his photography piece, “Lost in Grey.”

Octavian has been invited to attend the exhibit opening of “An Artistic Discovery” in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 24, 2019. His artwork will be displayed in the corridor leading to the U.S. Capitol for one year.  As the overall winner, he will also receive two round-trip tickets to the exhibit opening, as well as a cash award which was presented at the district reception.

Students who placed first, second, third or received honorable mention in all other medium, photography, and computer art categories, also received awards.

Our office was highly impressed by the outpouring of interest from the district - we received 134 entries from 16 schools in the 23rd Congressional District this year, which includes parts of Kern, Tulare, and Los Angeles Counties. Congratulations to all!

Friday's Bakersfield Observed: The "1800" restaurant opens on Chester Avenue, CBD oil is now marketed for dogs and horses, Holly Arnold joins the Bakersfield Symphony and the end of an era for Amestoy's

Friday, May 10, 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 such a special to live. Send your tips to

* ... 1800 RESTAURANT:
One of the most hotly anticipated eateries has opened in a classic downtown renovated bank building on Chester Avenue. Called the The 18Hundred" after its address at the
corner of 18th Street and Chester, it opened this week to big crowds. It is a beautiful place but suffered from spotty service its first week. Still, the place is certain to join the growing ranks of locally owned eateries that cater to a eager downtown crowd. The owners are Maya and Foti Tsiboukas, who own at least one other restaurant in town.

 * ... WEEKEND: If you can't find something to do this weekend, you aren't looking hard enough. Consider these events this weekend: The Bakersfield Symphony has a big show Saturday, Big House plays at the Fox Theater, the Merle Haggard Boxcar festival will be on, don't forget the Pyle's Boys Camp barbecue, there is the Lightning in a Bottle music festival at Lake Buena Vista and on top of all that, the Condors may be playing at Rabobank Arena.

* ... CBD OIL: CBD oil, now legal across the country, is well known for its medicinal benefits in humans, providing relief from everything from nausea to insomnia to arthritis. But the popular cannabinoid is now being marketed for animals, specifically dogs and cats that may suffer from arthritis or other ailments. There is CBD oil for horses as well, marketed by B-Well Chiropractic over off Meany Avenue, and CBD-infused dog biscuits and treats are available at the CBD Shoppe on F Street.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD SYMPHONY: Congratulations to Holly Arnold, who has been appointed executive director of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra. Arnold previously worked as head of marketing for Hall Ambulance and prior to that served as head of the local Red Cross office.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Being an adult just means you don't get rewarded anymore when you eat all your food. My nephew ate two chicken fingers and got rewarded with ice cream. I ate 5 and my mom said 'I thought you were on a diet?'"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know what’s more annoying than cops? People who buy old refurbished cop cars and keep the spotlight attached. We all hate you."

 * ... AMESTOY'S: Amestoy's is going out of business and with it goes the iconic sign. Former employee Jessica Lessaos took these pictures and posted them on Facebook. The end of an era.

 * ... MEMORIES: This old advertisement from our local newspaper, circa 1942, appeared on the Facebook Kern County of Old page. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The decline in print and newspapers accelerates, Facebook helps a bike rider chase down a homeless man who stole it, and just what is it about CBD oil that makes people believe it is a miracle cure all?

Monday May 6, 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 such a special to live. Send your tips to

 * ... RIP PRINT: It's not exactly news that newspapers are in trouble, but the rate at which they are going out of business might surprise you. According to The Wall Street Journal, local papers have suffered sharper declines in circulation and (more importantly) advertising than the few more successful national models like The New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Nearly 1,800 newspapers closed between 2004 and 2018, "leaving 200 counties with no newspaper and roughly half the counties in the country with one one." One expert, Harvard's Nicco Male, said it more bluntly: "It's hard to see a future where newspapers persist," he said, adding that half of the
surviving papers will be gone within two years.

 * ... STOLEN BIKE: With homelessness and theft on the rise, it is no surprise that bicycles are disappearing across town. But once in a while, as in the case of Peter Wolleson, the good guys win. After Wolleson's beloved Specialized cross bike was stolen out of his car a short time back, he took to Facebook to post pictures hoping someone would see it on the street. And lo and behold, someone did. Said Wolleson:  "Thursday afternoon a friend and fellow cyclist contacted me and asked me to send him a photo of my bike. I assumed that he was going to post it to his Facebook or something in an effort to help me find the bike. He texted right back to tell me that he had just seen a homeless person riding my bike near California and Oak Street. He couldn’t give me a very clear location but said that he appeared to be headed toward a homeless camp behind the motels that back up against the freeway." Wolleson drove over there, and after some searching happened on a homeless encampment where he found his bike, battered but basically okay. "Sure enough, as I approached the shelter I saw my bike lying in the dirt under a cover! I started recording video in case the police needed evidence for my homicide investigation (I had no idea how many people might be in there). As I grabbed the bike, a homeless guy crawled out of the shelter and tried to resist. I indicated to the gentleman that I was there to reacquire my bike, and that if he’d like to debate the matter, I would gladly contact the local authorities to act as mediator. He indicated that this would not be necessary. As he continued to exit his residence, I suggested that he remain at his current location for his own comfort and safety." The wheels are trashed and other items were missing, but I count this as a win for the good guys.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Once you get past my charm, good looks, intelligence and my sense of humor, I think it’s my modesty that stands out."

 * ... CBD OIL: An woman in her 80s with such severe arthritis she can barely use her hands swears that CBD oil has virtually restored her health. A young man with a psoriasis-like skin condition says it  is the only ointment that has cleared his skin. And yet another adults uses CBD oil battle debilitating headaches. Extracted from hemp but without the active "stoner" ingredient in marijuana, CBD oil has taken the nation by storm. But there are few official studies of it and most testimonials have been anecdotal. So where is the truth. On Wednesday I will sit down with CBD experts on The Richard Beene Show at 1:30 p.m.  (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) to get to the truth. Tune in. This should be educational.

 * ... MEMORIES: And check out this old postcard of the oilfields.