Thursday, July 18, 2019

Kern County could earn $218 million over 20 years in a deal with the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the mystery behind the deal of Jose Arredondo, the Californian raises subscription rates, and homeless advocates want to protect "curbside communities."

Friday July 19, 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.

 * ... HARD ROCK: The county could earn $218 million over 20 years under a proposed deal with the Tejon Indian tribe and its proposed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino near Mettler. County chief
administrative officer Ryan Alsop told me the deal will allow the county to build a joint fire and sheriff's substation near the hotel, hire nine new firemen and 13 sheriff's deputies, pay for a new 110-foot ladder truck as well as 12 new fully equipped sheriff patrol cars. The deal also includes a direct general fund contribution based on a calculation of standard property tax formulas (remember this is an Indian reservation) as well as a six percent room tax. The proposal will go before the Board of Supervisors next Tuesday.



* ... JOSE ARREDONDO: The story of the week has to be the brutal murder of Jose Arredondo, the owner of the Family Motors line of car dealerships and body shops. Arredondo was found dead in his Cabos San Lucas condominium, and there have been conflicting reports about how he died. The first report said he had been stabbed 27 times, yet a later report said only he had been beaten to death. The local Cabo-based newspapers are reporting that Arredondo died of multiple stab wounds. For sure Arredondo was a controversial character, and for years he fought rumors of drug dealing that were never born out to be true. The stabbing - if indeed that is the cause of death - indicates this was no ordinary home invasion but rather it seems the killers wanted to leave a clear message. And that they did.



 * ... HOMELESS: We should have seen this coming. Just like illegal immigrants, the homeless now have advocates who insist should all get used them them sleeping on our streets. One organization in San Francisco is asking the community to "stand together to protect our curbside communities against hate, xenophobia and anti-homeless behavior." Curbside communities? Read that again and let it all sink in.

 * ... BAD FORM: Check out this picture of a family who ran out on a $150 bill at Camino Real Kitchen and Tequila on Stine Road. The cutline on the photo read like this: "Just had a table of 4 walk out without paying a $150+ tab...t hey ordered Rib Eyes, sizzling enchiladas, micheladas....stay tuned for video! Help us identify them and receive a free burrito!"


 * ... NEWSPAPER RATES: The new owners of The Bakersfield Californian have made their first move, and you are not going to like it. The owners sent letters to all existing subscribers alerting them to a significant rate increase (almost a buck a day) that has already led to a reader backlash. According to the letter (below) the monthly rate is now $29.90, a huge move up for your local newspaper.



 * ... OH INDY: Local author Teresa Adamo will be appearing at the local Barnes and Noble to give a reading from her children's book "Indy, Oh Indy." Adamo will do a reading at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 4, and she will follow that up by signing purchased copies.



 * ... MEN'S SALE: My favorite men's store in California, H. Walker's downtown, is having its annual summer sale. If you are looking for a special gift or a bargain, check out their selection of slacks and ties, shoes, belts, denim, polos, woven shirts, t-shirts, shorts and more.


 * ... MEMORIES: Just have to love these old pictures from the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.



Sunday, July 14, 2019

Can we please put down the selfie stick and start addressing the homeless problem taking over our community? Plus Monsignor Craig Harrison gets some support at home and PETA and CALM get ready for a radio debate face-off



Monday, July 15, 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: Don't say I didn't warn you, but Bakersfield is well on its way to having the type of homeless crisis that Los Angeles and other larger cities are facing. Just take a look around you: our downtown is literally inundated with the homeless, mindlessly walking in the middle of the street in heavy traffic much like you would see in a zombie movie, setting up camp on a public sidewalk,
urinating and defecating in broad daylight, harassing individuals, stealing from local businesses and leaving trash wherever they go. Sound harsh? It is meant to be, because if our city does not take this problem more seriously, we may reach a tipping point where we will lose the battle. Our downtown is particularly at risk. A leisurely Sunday morning drive downtown reveals mini encampments (six or more homeless) on the east side of F Street across from the old Red Door Furniture, behind the Golden Empire Gleaners, behind Adventist Hospital and on both sides of the Garces circle. Nice, eh? After years of progress that saw the downtown hit its stride in new businesses and developments, it is once again at risk of reverting to a no man's land. I would prefer fewer Facebook selfies by our elected leaders and more action on this dangerous problem in our midst. Is anyone listening?



 * ... MORE HOMLELESS: I saw this take on a local website devoted to the homeless problem:  "Our business is on L Street and, of course, we’ve had struggles with persons of questionable character, thefts, trespassing, etc. But... I want to warn everyone in the downtown community that on Wednesday evening, I witnessed a woman: Caucasian, thin, with short hair (sides of head shaved), between late 30s to early 40s, light a non-cooking fire at the corner of Golden State and M Street. I confronted her and she ran away with her shopping cart in tow. After calling 911 and returning to the intersection with water, I found three fires burning. What is concerning? She was 'dancing' while holding the burning clothing she lit before throwing it down. The fire department said they would turn the matter over to their arson investigation but until she is located, we should all be aware that she’s out there."

 * ... AND MORE FROM FACEBOOK: "I was getting gas at ARCO on 24 Street and a drunk homeless guy was sleeping in between the pumps. Nobody did anything. Nobody except me. I kicked him with my four toes and told him to 'GET UP BEFORE you CATCH FIRE!' The bad ass ARCO girl poured water on his face. He went away!"

 * ... MY HOUSE: And sure enough, it doesn't take long for it to hit home. It turns out a homeless person was using my back gate to camp in my alley downtown, leaving behind a Hobby Lobby shopping cart and some personal possessions which we disposed of.


 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "A man at the gas station just asked me to take a look at his shorts. He wanted to know if they were too short. I was naive and agreed to give my opinion. He stepped out of his car and they weren’t short at all however you could practically see through them and he had an erection. He then proceeded to ask me what I thought. I answered, 'Ewww.' WTF is wrong with some men?"

 * ... CALM VERSUS PETA: The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called for a criminal investigation into CALM after the deaths of a few animals, and on Monday CALM and PETA will square off on The Richard Beene Show for a healthy debate. It all goes down at 2:30 p.m. on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM. This, as they say, should be rich.



* ... FATHER CRAIG: As we all await the resolution of the accusations of sexual impropriety against Monsignor Craig Harrison, his supporters have found a clever way to express their love for the man: they are putting up signs in their yards like the once shown here. Expect more of these to pop up around town in the days and weeks again.



* ... MEMORIES: Check out this incredible picture (from the Kern County of Old Facebook page) showing Charles Lindburgh dining at the old Lebec Hotel on the old Ridge Route. Lindburg is the third person from the right and his wife, Anna Morrow, is seated next to him.




Friday, July 12, 2019

Experts say the San Andraes fault is "locked and loaded" and ready to crack at any minute, The Californian appoints a new editor and hats off to Scarlett Sabin and the new Ronald McDonald House at Memorial Hospital

Friday, July 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.

 * ... EARTHQUAKES: This is not what you want to hear after the Ridgecrest earthquake, but
seismologists say we are way overdue for an earthquake on the dangerous San Andreas fault, putting the Los Angeles basin at peril of an event that could take thousands of lives. A seismologist told an earthquake conference recently that the fault is "locked, loaded and ready to roll" and if it happens, 1,800 people could die with another 50,000 people injured. The last big earthquake on the San Andreas fault came in 1857, a 7.9 magnitude temblor, and it is way overdue for another slippage.


 * ... THE CALIFORNIAN: The new owners of The Bakersfield Californian have appointed a general manager and a new top editor. Cliff Chandler, previously head of the sales department, will serve as general manager and Christine Peterson, a longtime veteran of the news staff, will serve as executive editor. Peterson was hired from the Orange County Register more than 20 years ago and has served in various editing positions over the years.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandfather, not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car."

 * ... PETA VS. CALM: I think it's safe to say that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) picked on the wrong organization when it demanded a criminal investigation into the California Living Museum (CALM) because a skunk and two fisher cats died there. CALM is regularly voted the best family entertainment in Bakersfield, it hosts thousands of young students every year, its Christmas light show is wildly popular and it does an excellent job locally promoting itself as a rehabilitation center for animals native to California. In its news release on the deaths of the animals, PETA could not resist the temptation to insult all of us, referring to CALM as a "roadside zoo," demeaning all of us in the process.

 * ... MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: Congratulations to Scarlett Sabin and all the folks who came together to build a new Ronald McDonald house for families of pediatric patients at Memorial Hospital. The ribbon cutting was held Thursday, a huge event attended by a couple hundred people, and the good news: the six bedroom house was paid for by the generosity of our community.






 * ... THE PLUNGE: You may be a Bakersfield old timer if you remember The Plunge on Union Avenue. Check out these keepsakes from the place.



 * ... MEMORIES: Check out the old Southern Hotel, built before the fires and earthquakes took down so many historic buildings in downtown Bakersfield.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rep. Kevin McCarthy sponsors legislation to provide $100 million for China Lake infrastructure improvements


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


"Last week’s California earthquakes really tested Kern County. I’ve been through quite a few quakes in my lifetime, and it is incredible to think that these were the largest ones to hit California in 20 years. I had the opportunity to see some of the wreckage firsthand, and though our community is still in the process of assessing the total damage, there are thankfully no reported deaths or serious
injuries, and for that we can all be grateful.

Our first responders have been amazing during this time as search-and-rescue teams have also worked to ensure the continued safety of our residents. Times like these really demonstrate our strong sense of community, and I could not be prouder of how the people of Kern County and across the state have stepped up to help their fellow neighbors.

Just this week I personally spoke with President Trump about the need to declare a state of emergency in California, so that we could coordinate disaster relief efforts in the region. This assistance will bring much-needed help to Ridgecrest, Trona, and the nearby communities most impacted by the seismic activity.

I also introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which authorizes $100 million to help address China Lake’s pressing needs. It requires the Department of Defense to modernize infrastructure and facilities as part of the ongoing efforts to return the base to mission-capable status. We will rebuild China Lake, stronger and better.

While we have time to reflect on the events of the last week, let us remember the importance of being prepared for future earthquakes. I am impressed, but not surprised, by the resiliency displayed by the people of Kern County and California – it should serve as a reminder to us all of the strength of the American spirit in the face of adversity.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Caltech seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones helps calms our nerves, quake activity stirs fear of the dam at Lake Isabella failing, and a contract dispute leaves KGET off the air on DirectTV

Monday, July 8, 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.


* .. DR. LUCY JONES: Is Dr. Lucy Jones the most interesting person in the world? How many of you spent the last few days captivated by her briefings from Cal Tech as we anticipate another
aftershock or soft roller? For those of us in earthquake country, Dr. Jones' steady hand and patient lectures on exactly what is happening  provides reassurance in tense times. When thinking about Dr. Jones I recalled my years living in Miami, hurricane country, where Dr. Neil Frank of the National Hurricane Center held center court much as does Dr. Jones, only on the science behind hurricanes not earthquakes. For both Dr. Jones and Dr. Frank, it is just the facts. No hyperbole or fanfare, just helping us understand science and weather.




 * ... EARTHQUAKE COVERAGE: Hats off to the news crew over at KERO TV (23ABC) where anchor Tim Calahan and his crew provided simply outstanding coverage of the earthquakes. Calahan went wall to wall, cutting in to cover live press conferences by Dr. Lucy Jones at Caltech, and I found the broadcast indispensable. Meanwhile, the quakes could not have come at a worse time for KGET where a contract dispute between its corporate owners, Nexstar, and DirectTV has left them blacked out in the area. Imagine the crew at KGET working one of the biggest stories of their lives and half the town couldn't access it.



* ... FLOOD: When was the last time you looked at a map of what would happen if the dam at Lake Isabella failed? Well check out this map courtesy of The Californian. It seems we will all be under water if seismic activity leads to dam failure, even though they say that is highly unlikely. In any event, have your paddle boards and kayaks ready.



 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you think your life is in shambles, remember that there are actual adults out there arguing about the racial ethnicity of fish."

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison, fighting charges of sexual abuse, is telling friends that he expects to be cleared by police as early as this week. That's the word from two insiders who say the embattled monsignor is confident he will be cleared by local authorities. This would not be the first time Harrison has been investigated and not charged. If you remember, in 1998 the Fresno County Sheriff's office investigated a claim of abuse dating to around 1992 and declared the allegation "unsubstantiated." To be sure that is well short of total exoneration, but Harrison and his supporters will certainly say that it amounts to the same thing. Meanwhile, the only real investigation that counts is being done by the Catholic Church itself, and there is no word from the Fresno Diocese when action will come from that. Stay tuned.


 * ... HOMELESS:  If you want to get a clear idea of the number of homeless about town, take a drive downtown in the early morning hours. During a trip to the Meadows Field Airport on Sunday morning, I spotted more than 20 (yes, I counted) between downtown and the airport. I took Chester to Merle Haggard Drive and back, very little traffic but plenty of homeless roaming North Chester and sleeping on the curbs downtown. And so it goes.


* ... FIREWORKS:  Here's a free tip for all you looking for a good spot to view fireworks: try the grass berm in front of the Area Energy building at the corner of Old River Road and Ming Avenue, excellent for the Seven Oaks fireworks show and it won't cost you a penny. One couple has been going to that same spot for 15 years.



 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy these old pictures of the old bank at the corner of Chester and 18th Street that has been renovated and reopened as The 18Hundred restaurant. Amazing.




Thursday, July 4, 2019

A swarm of earthquakes hit Ridgecrest and the high desert, Casa Munoz heads to Las Vegas, Rep. Kevin McCarthy makes some predictions and what is with all the nude homeless people around town?

Friday, July 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.

 * ... JULY FOURTH: The downtown July Fourth parade, now 31 years old, keeps growing in size
and popularity. Mayor Karen Goh kicked off the festivities at the corner of Elm and 22nd Street as several hundred people walked the streets of old downtown to celebrate the birth of our nation. Enjoy these random shots.







* ... EARTHQUAKE: So where were you when the 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck on July Fourth? I was at the Bakersfield Racquet Club, taking a rest between pickle ball games, and sat in awe as i watched the huge light poles sway back and forth like a palm tree. Seismologists say we should expect more aftershocks of equal or even greater strength. take a look at this map of the known faults in our area.



 * ... TERM LIMITS: Remember David Abassi, the marijuana proponent who has tangled with both the city and the Board of Supervisors?  He says he is out of the cannabis business now, but he is not done with politics. His next goal is to gather enough signatures to put a initiative on the local ballot to establish term limits for the Board of Supervisors. "This could wipe out the entire board," he told me. "Wipe the slate clean."

* ... KEVIN MCCARTHY: Who does House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy think may win the Democratic presidential nomination? When we spoke earlier this week on The Richard Beene Show, McCarthy said Bernie Sanders was the best positioned to use his vast organization and fund raising ability to win the nomination. Joe Biden will fade, he said, and at this point in time, he said Sanders seems most likely to win the nomination.

 * ... CASA MUNOZ: One of our city's most iconic Mexican restaurants is moving to Nevada, and you can blame the high cost of doing business in California. Pep Munoz, part of the family that ran not only Casa Munoz but also Mexicali and Sinaloa, told me it was the rising cost of doing business here that led to the decision to leave California. Munoz blamed new fees and taxes and a rising minimum wage for his reason to live. If the minimum wage rises to $15 an hour, Munoz predicted there would be a mass exodus of full service restaurants. Munoz' father, Joe, will likely stay in town and possibly operate a much smaller restaurant, possibly in Shafter. The new eatery will be located in Henderson outside of Las Vegas and may be named either Sinaloa or Casa Munoz.



 * ... MORE PEP: And where does Pep Munoz go when he is not eating at his own restaurant? I posed that question to him and here is his list: Pyrenees Cafe, Uricchio's Trattoria, Sorella's, K.C. Steakhouse and Happy Jack's.

* ... HOMELESS: Here's a post on Facebook that speaks to our homeless crisis. No comments are necessary.




 * ... MEMORIES: Some old pictures of a Bakersfield in another time. First we see a scene from the old Golden Crust  Bread facility and then a shot of the stately old Southern Hotel, 19th Street and  Chester, circa 1898-1905. Enjoy.



Sunday, June 30, 2019

As Monsignor Craig Harrison awaits his fate, a tight circle of friends form a protective barrier for him, The Bakersfield Californian changes hands and its press has its final run and remembering the old Beale clock tower on Chester

Monday, July 1, 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: It has been several months since the first allegations of sexual abuse were raised against Monsignor Craig Harrison, news that left his legions of followers literally in shock and disbelief. Since then other accusers have emerged, and we are now in a long waiting period to
determine if there will be any criminal charges, and perhaps more important, how the Diocese of Fresno will react. Harrison is back in town, dining and praying with a tight circle of friends and well heeled supporters, awaiting his fate. He is described as optimistic he will be cleared by police but less certain on what the church will do. Meanwhile, he is surrounded by a core group of Catholic friends who aggressively defend his honor and lash out at those who may question it. "If they sense you have doubts, they will try to destroy you," said one friend of Father Craig. "They have a list of people they think have turned on him. You don't want to be on that list." This group of insiders is careful about who Father Craig talks to, where he goes and they wisely cultivate "friendly" media who accept his innocence without question. Meanwhile, our community is divided into three camps: those will will always believe Father Craig, those who believe the accusers, and a largely silent group of people who know and respect and even love Father Craig but acknowledge that some (or all) of the accusers may be telling the truth. It is all polite on the surface, but underneath it is a level of toxicity and ugliness not seen often around here. "For all the talk about how nice people are in this town, something like this happens and you see how hateful people can be," a friend told me. "It's bad for all of us because it brings out the worst in us."


 * ... NEW ERA AT TBC: For the first time in more than 122 years, the local newspaper here - The Bakersfield Californian - is not owned by a local family. As of Monday, July 1, the paper is now owned by a Canadian based group that also owns the newspapers in Porterville, Lodi and Palmdale. The paper is now being printed in Palmdale and with the change a few dozen people lost their jobs. Staying on will be columnists Herb Benham and Bob Price, business reporter John Cox, feature writer Steve Mayer and longtime editors Stefani Dias and Christine Peterson. On the night of the last run of the TBC presses at Pegasus, a group of current and former employees were on hand as the giant, Japanese -made TKS press rumbled through its last run, shaking the building and bringing to an end a long era of family ownership.



 * ... BAKERSFIELD LIFE: Whatever the new owners do, I hope they don't mess with BakersfieldLife, the highly successful and well read monthly magazine. It is always an interesting and uplifting read and in Saturday's edition, it highlighted its annual "20 Under 40" issue to recognize upcoming leaders. I spotted some regular guests on The Richard Beene Show on that list, including Jessica Mathews of the League of Dreams, marketing tsar Shannon LaBare, illustrator Jennifer Williams Cordova, Dr. Valerie Civelli and Zack Skow of Marley's Mutts and CASA executive director Amy Travis.



 * ... MEMORIES: Don't you just love the old photos of the Beale Clock Tower? Thanks to the Kern County of Old and Kern County History Fans Facebook pages.