Thursday, August 16, 2018

As homelessness grows the city and county struggle with ways to combat it, Greg Gallion hangs it up at Houchin Blood Bank and animal rescue groups push for new laws

Friday, August 17, 2018

 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 news tips to

 * ... HOMELESS: Was the big county meeting on the homeless a sincere effort to deal with a serious problem, or a political stunt aim at putting on a good face so close to the November election?
Jeff Heinle, the firefighter running against Supervisor Mike Maggard, called it a cynical stunt put on by a board who has wasted a decade doing nothing. Heinle said homelessness is the county's No. 1 issue, and I for one agree with him. And what would he do to tackle the problem? Dig into the county's emergency fund and pay for programs that were set up - but largely left unfunded - almost a decade ago. "We have to do something," he told me on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM. "This is why I am running. I am not a career politician and I want to get something done."

 * ... POOP PATROL: Meanwhile, one of the potentially harmful side effects of homelessness is all the urine and feces left on the streets, creating a health hazard reminiscent of some of the worst Third World cities. And it is happening in California now in San Francisco, where the city has created a full-time "poop patrol" to clean up feces left by the homeless. Seriously. And all that at a cost of $700,000 a year. Let that sink in.

 * ... HOUCHIN BLOOD BANK: After overseeing explosive growth at the Houchin Blood Bank, Greg Gallion is hanging it up as president of the local non-profit. Gallion joined Houchin in 2001 and was instrumental in the opening of the blood bank's new facilities off Buena Vista Road. A graduate of East High School known for his signature handlebar mustache, Gallion has been the public face of the organization while serving on the board of multiple boards and non-profits. Among other things, he is a past president of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield, former member of the Kern County Fair Board and a board member with JJ's Legacy. No word yet on who will replace him.

* ... ANIMAL CONTROL: Meanwhile, the folks in the local dog and cat rescue world are starting to come together to demand the county and city adopt tougher laws to protect stray dogs and cats. Some of their top priorities: make breeders take out permits before they breed dogs (exceptions allowed for AKC breeders), make the tethering of dogs more restrictive and form an animal control cruelty task force to impose harsher penalties on those who abuse their pets. This is one issue that can we solved with some forward thinking policies.

 * ... FOREVER HOME: And speaking of animal rescue, congratulations to the folks over at the Bakersfield Boxers and Bullies Rescue for finding a "forever home" for Shadow, a pit bull who lived the first five years of his life chained to a stake in the ground. Left in the sun all day, Shadow spent his days trying to chew through the huge chain, losing most of his teeth in the process. Donna Carpenter, a former Bakersfield resident now living in Alaska, adopted Shadow after money was raised to get the pit transported to his new home.

 * ... AH THE IRONY: The irony in this scene is rich. On the day the county's Homeless Collaborative met to discuss our growing problem with the homeless, I pulled into the radio station parking lot to find our parking lot had been taken over by eight to 10 homeless and all their belongings.

 * ... PROVIDENCE: Hats off to Gabriela Gonzalez, most recently a staffer for state Sen. Andy Vidak, who has now joined Providence Strategic Consulting, Inc. as its new Government Public Affairs Manager.

 * ... MEMORIES: You just have to love this old photo/postcard.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Dwight Yoakam and Lucinda Williams pay tribute to the Bakersfield Sound, car thieves get a lot smarter (and busier) and NOR scores a hit with its new eight-court "pickleplex" at Greenacres Park

Monday, August 13, 2018

 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 news tips to

 * ... SELF ESTEEM: So you probably heard the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce has launched a branding campaign aimed at making us all feel better about living in Bakersfield. We are
our own worst enemies, and the study has shown that those of us who live here are harder on ourselves than outsiders. The late Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathon Gold adored Bakersfield and our Basque food culture, and of course there is always the Bakersfield Sound to take pride in. And pride in our hometown was on full display at a recent concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles featuring Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams and and Steve Earle, where the song set was almost entirely devoted to Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and other Bakersfield Sound greats. (And someone was making a killing by selling Bakersfield Sound T-shirts.) Plus this: did you know that Yoakam now has a channel on SiriusXM satellite radio devoted to the Bakersfield Sound? Note to Chamber president Nick Ortiz: you can start and end your branding campaign with music and Basque food.

 * ... CRIME: There's not a neighborhood in town that hasn't been affected by crime. Burglaries, car break-in, porch thefts, you name it crime is rampant these days. The rash of car break-ins is worrisome, and now comes word that the thieves have gotten even smarter. Some folks will place their laptops or other valuables in their trunks, believing when it is out of sight, it is safe. But now thieves are breaking into the cars, going through the glove compartment and then popping open the trunk to make sure there is nothing valuable inside. It has happened twice to friends lately, once in La Cresta and once in Rosedale. Beware.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If your relationship status says, 'It’s complicated' maybe you should stop kidding yourself and change it to 'Single.'"

 * ... JEAN FULLER: I ran into state Sen. Jean Fuller at Uricchio's Trattoria the other night where she was gathered with staffers from both Sacramento and the local district office. Down from the Sacramento office was Dana Culhane Brennan, one of a handful of bright young people I think should consider running for office. Fuller will be termed out of office in November and will likely be succeeded by former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove.

 * ... PICKLEBALL: The opening of a new pickle ball complex at Greenacres Park has been a huge success, reviving what was once a little used tennis center into a vibrant eight-court pickle ball center drawing dozens of new players each day. And now word on the street is that the North of the River Parks and Recreation District, which runs the Greenacres complex, is considering a second "pickleplex" center in the northwest. Stay tuned.

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy this photo of the old Southern Hotel at the corner of 19th Street and Chester Avenue around 1888. It burned in the great downtown fire a year later. Photo courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The three-way race in the 4th District on the Board of Supervisors heats up, Couch fends off attacks on the "English only" charge and the Boy Scouts prepare to honor Monsignor Craig Harrison

Friday, August 10, 2018

 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 place. Email your news and notes to

 * ... 4th DISTRICT:
Is it possible to get elected to county office here when you criticize the oil and gas industry? We will test that thesis in November when voters decide whether to re-elect David
Couch as 4th District supervisor or opt for one of his two challengers, Delano Mayor Grace Vallejo or Lamont Chamber president Jose Gonzalez. Gonzalez, for one, has been harshly critical of the oil and gas industry and took to the podium during a public hearing in Arvin to trash fossil fuels. For her part, Vallejo warned against "biting the hand that feeds you" and has taken a more balanced approach to the industry that provides so many local jobs. Couch of course is a strong supporter of the local fossil fuel production.

 * ... ENGLISH ONLY: In Couch's bid for reelection he is battling the perception that he is hostile to Latinos, a position being advanced by Vallejo supporter Dolores Huerta, among others. It all stems from the time Couch served on the Bakersfield City Council and supported the idea of declaring English has the official language of the city. But if you listen to his detractors, Couch was proposing "English only" in the city of Bakersfield, which Couch said was not only wrong and misleading but highly inflammatory. "I never supported English only," he told me. "I think it's great if people speak two, three or four different languages." This being politics, you can expect this charge to be repeated by Couch's opponents. As Couch himself said: "It's going to be a food fight."

 * ... HOMELESS: The number of people suffering from "homeless fatigue," an apparent lack of sympathy for those who roam our streets, is on the rise. And it doesn't help when a homeless encampment pops up in a park in Oildale where folks are sleeping under the plastic slides and swing sets.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My friend is studying to be a librarian so I've decided to study to become a blacksmith."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "If I owned a diner I’d have a sandwich called 'The Usual' so everyone would feel special."

 * ... MONSIGNOR CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison is being honored by the local chapter of the Boy Scouts, the Southern Sierra Council, at its Distinguished Citizens Dinner next month.
The Boy Scouts of America-the Southern Sierra Council will honor Harrison at the Sept. 7 dinner and reception t Luigi's. Proceeds from the event will benefit scouting programs, such as the community Scoutreach Project that brings scouting to underserved areas through Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Explorer Scouts, and STEM Scout programs in partnership with local schools, churches, and law enforcement. Contact (661) 325-9036 for tickets.

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy this old photo at the corner of Dale Drive and Roberts Lane.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Wildfires turn the sun a blood orange and air is thick with crud, the Parks-Karli family come back for a visit and we finally get a (small) break in the heat wave

Monday, August 6, 2018

 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 place. Email your news and notes to

 * ... NUCLEAR WINTER? Bakersfield is never at its best in the summer, but the impact of the smoke from the wild fires, including a new one off Breckenridge Road, has made this a particularly
ugly period. On Saturday, the sun was blood red, the air thick with the acrid stench of smoke, and when you add in the legions of homeless wandering our streets like dazed zombies, it was not exactly a Chamber of Commerce weekend for our community. And speaking of the homeless, have you noticed they seem to be everywhere? Downtown has always had its issues with the homeless, but a casual drive around town you will find them deep in the Southwest and Northwest, all along Ming Avenue and yes, even out at the Shops at the Riverwalk on Stockdale Highway.

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

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: The Bakersfield Californian's Steven Mayer posted this on Facebook: "As the air slowly kills you, remember to enjoy the toxic sunsets as you sink into oblivion."

* ... MERLE'S HOUSE: Only in Bakersfield do you open the newspaper to find a house for sale that was once owned by the late country music legend Merle Haggard. The house, located in the Bakersfield Country Club area, is priced at $359,000. The headline above the picture read: "Merle and Bonnie Haggard's History."

 * ... REUNION: Former KERO TV anchors Jackie Parks and husband Todd Karli were back in Bakersfield this past week. The couple, who left town to join a TV station in Maryland, made the rounds catching up with old friends and co-workers. Parks and Karli were always a class act, and much like Jim Scott and Robin Mangarin Scott, made Bakersfield their home for many years before finally moving on.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to the off duty police officer who confronted a homeless man digging through a trash can and tossing the content across the sidewalk at 19th and Eye streets on Saturday. The homeless man became belligerent until the officer quietly showed him his badge and told him that "some of us want our city to look better. Put the trash back in the can."

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out the old Bank of America building at the corner of Chester and 20th Street, now the home of Stars Theatre.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Mexicali West is up for sale, Fatburger opens its first local franchise and anchor Erin Briscoe and reporter Danny Freemen leave their TV stations

Friday, August 3, 2018

 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 place. Email your news and notes to 

 * ... NEWS AND NOTES: There are lots of news and notes around town involving local restaurants
opening and closing, and local TV anchors leaving the business or moving to another market. Let's get it started ... 

 * ... MUERTOS: Did you know that the restaurant Muertos downtown is housed in a space that once housed the horses for the city fire department? The old space, lovingly restored over the years, has long been a favorite spot for eateries. Before Muertos, it was the home of the Horse's Tail in the 1970s and later morphed into the Happy Buzzard, Suds and Azul's.

 * ... FAT BURGER: And speaking of dining, the Southern California burger chain Fatburger is coming to Bakersfield. A sign announcing the new burger joint went up at a space at Oswell and Bernard streets, saying it will be open sometime this year.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When my husband annoys me I like to say, “The doctor said I need to lose 10 pounds. What do you think?”

 * ... MOVING UP: Danny Freeman, one of KGET TV's aggressive young reporters, is leaving town for another job in San Diego. Freeman was one of the lead reporters on the story of the potential conflict of interest involving Supervisor Leticia Perez and her husband's cannabis consulting business. Meanwhile, long-time KBAK anchor Erin Briscoe has also left the business but will apparently stay in town.

 * ... LOCAL RETAIL CHANGES: I was told by an employee at Floyd's that the venerable hardware store has been sold to a local plumbing company. Apparently owner Jan Meyer decided to leave the business and found a local buyer. Meanwhile, I have also been told that Mexicali West is now for sale (asking price is $3.85 million), leaving the original Mexicali on 18th Street the only venue for the restaurant's legions of fans.

 * ... SINALOA: The folks that own the venerable Sinaloa Mexican restaurant downtown have also put that business up for sale at an asking price of $1.9 million. Mike and Annie Munoz opened the original Sinaloa in the spot that now houses Woolgrower's, and moved to its present location on 20th Street in 1957. Prior to housing Sinaloa, the two story building houses a children's homeless shelter, Susie's Cafe and two Italian restaurants.

 * ... FOOTWEAR: Did you check out the footwear that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was wearing before an appearance on the Laura Ingraham show?

 * ... MEMORIES: And finally enjoy this old photo of three Harley riders in front of the old clock tower on Chester.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Santa Barbara bans straws and establishes punishment harder than many criminal offenses, the heat wave continues and Buck Owens' legacy at the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles

Monday July 30, 2018

 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 place.

 * ... STRAWS
: I am sure you have heard about Starbucks banning plastic straws right? And now the city of Santa Barbara has passed an ordinance last that gives restaurant employees six months of jail
time or a $1,000 fine for giving plastic straws to customers. I am not joking here. And all this hysteria because of our fear that the straws could end up in the ocean and strangle a turtle. But let's be serious here. I am as concerned as anyone else over the mountains of plastic in our oceans, but banning the straw and threatening jail time is beyond stupid. And here is the craziest part: the punishment for issuing straws is actually harder than many other "non violent" offenses in California that allow you to apply for early release. Offenses like domestic violence, first degree burglary, rape of a drugged person or a hate crime causing physical injury. And we wonder why people outside California think we are nuts here.

 * ... MADE IN AMERICA: If you are a fan of things Made in America, does this extend to your car? If it does, you will be interested in the list of cars manufactured with the most parts made in the USA. According to, those models include the Jeep Cherokee, Honda Odyssey, Honda Ridgeline: Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Volt, Honda Pilot, Acura MDX, Ford Explorer, Ford F-150, and the Chevrolet Corvette.

 * ... HEAT WAVE: Remember how mild it was just a few short months ago? And then came July and with it temperatures in the 105 to 108 range, almost daily. But it may be too early to tell if we are on threatening to set new records for the most days at 100 degrees or higher. It turns out the National Weather Service in Hanford says the record for the most days at 100 or higher is 76, and that was sent back in 1917. And, just for giggles, the NWS says the hottest day ever recorded in Bakersfield was 118.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "It’s adorable when men think they should get half the closet."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "I was mistaken for a hooker once. It was not my best day. I only made $50."

 * ... MID-STATE FAIR: Nobody does big time musical acts better than the California Mid-State Fair over in Paso Robles. Consider the lineup for the fair that just ended: Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Pitbull, Demi Lovato, ZZ Top, Dwight Yoakam, Gabriel Iglesias, Florida-Georgia Line and the list goes on. I was there doing a remote for KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM and asked the fair CEO, Michael Bradley, how the fair got so good booking such top notch talent. "You know who brought the music element to the fair in 1969?" he asked me. "It was your own Buck Owens. He started it and we have continued it since then." It was a big year for Buck, as it turns out. 1969 was the first year he co-hosted Hee Haw, a variety show that would go on for 15 seasons. So there you have it.

 * ... MEMORIES: How about this old shot of Chester Avenue around 18th Street in the late 1890s?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

California oil production is surpassed by other states, Supervisor David Couch gets another opponent and the late restaurant critic Jonathan Gold's love affair with Bakersfield

Friday, July 27, 2018

 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 place. Email your news and notes to 

 * ... OIL PATCH: The folks in the local oil industry are finally able to relax a bit after three years of belt tightening and anxiety over soft prices and world demand. The industry is doing well, with the
price of a barrel of oil hovering around $70 and the U.S. on its way to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top oil producer. But Chad Hathaway, president of Hathaway Oil, told me that California continues to slip in terms of overall production because of a hostile state government in Sacramento and burdensome regulations. States that are now producing more oil than California, or headed that way, include Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico and Colorado.

 * ... FOURTH DISTRICT: Supervisor David Couch has another opponent in his bid for reelection, Lamont Chamber of Commerce president Jose Gonzalez. Gonzelez joined Delano mayor Grace Vallejo in challenging Couch, who us running in a newly drawn Latino majority district thanks to the MALDEF lawsuit that forced the redistricting. Vallejo was the choice of a group of Latino leaders to run, but she has all but disappeared from public view, spurning offers for interviews and raising questions about her desire to run. Lamont was previously part of Supervisor Leticia Perez's district but landed in the Fourth District due to the new boundaries. (file photos of Gonzalez and Vallejo)

 * ... RIP JONATHAN GOLD: Bakersfield lost a true friend this week with the death of Jonathan Gold, the award winning Los Angeles Times food critic who was one of Bakersfield's biggest fans. Gold visited here frequently, bringing the likes of Dewar's, Luigi's, Pyrenees Bakery and Woolgrower's to his wide audience. He loved our food, our quirkiness and our people. Consider the opening of a piece Gold wrote in the LA Weekly: "I have been accused of overpraising Bakersfield, and perhaps it is true. Dewar's, across the street from Bakersfield High School, is still the best old soda fountain in the state, and even if it didn't make the world's best nut chews — little Tootsie Rolls of taffy stuffed with crunchy, salty almonds — I would still go there for the thrill of seeing the counterwomen tamping the ice cream into sundae goblets in a way that makes the marshmallow crème spurt out the sides. Luigi's may not be the oldest surviving Italian restaurant in the western United States, but it feels as if it is, and the platters of pasta and beans, the Saturday-only burgers on toast and the homemade spumoni are straight out of 1906. The Arizona Café features a style of California-Mexican cooking that feels a century old... Bakersfield, a scant two hours away, offers the not-inconsiderable pleasure of being in a place that is neither Los Angeles nor part of greater Los Angeles, a town that is thoroughly Californian but can also feel a lot like the good parts of Oklahoma. It's the home of the Bakersfield Sound, the Merle Haggard/Buck Owen/Rose Maddox thing that brought a bit of grit back to country music, and without it the radio now would probably sound even more like Taylor Swift. But mostly, at least for me, there is the old-fashioned cooking at one of the city's Basque dining halls, huge, multicourse feasts originally intended for the Basque shepherds staying at the local boardinghouses. They have become so popular that the few sheep men who show up are treated like local celebrities."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "In the event of a tornado, put some weiners in your pocket. That way the search dogs will find you first."

 * ... LOCAL CRIME: A group of thieves are hitting businesses across town in a most brazen way: they are using stolen pickup trucks to pull the glass entrances of businesses and cleaning the places out. It has happened at least four times in the last month, the latest occurring at a Cigarette shop on Stockdale and Allen Road and at the Finish Line bicycle shop across from CSUB on Stockdale Highway. The thieves, who all appear to be young white men, wear masks to hide their faces and use stolen trucks to pull off the glass entrances. They are hitting these businesses between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

 * OILDALE: The "welcome to Oildale" sign on North Chester just can't seem to get a break. Shortly after it was installed it was destroyed by a car, and now the replacement sign has been tagged by graffiti.

 * ... MEMORIES: Take a look at this picture of North Chester, compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Monday's Bakersfield Observed: So you think it has been hot? Well get ready for yet more near record heat, and what does the prosecution of Supervisor Leticia Perez say about local politics and our changing demographics?

Monday July 23, 2018

 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 place. Email your news and notes to

* ... ARE YOU HOT ENOUGH?: So you think it's been a tad hot lately? Well get ready for yet another heat wave. Consider this advisory from the National Weather Service: "Hotter weather will return to the entire San Joaquin Valley, the Kern County desert and elevations below 4,000 feet
Tuesday through Thursday. High temperatures will range from 103 to 108 degrees in the San Joaquin Valley and lower foothills and between 105 and 115 degrees in the Kern County desert each of these days. Wednesday looks as though it will carry the greatest potential heat risk. Prolonged exposure to hot weather can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. To avoid heat related illness, limit your time outdoors during the hottest time of the day, stay hydrated, apply sunscreen and wear light colored, loose fitting clothing." You have been warned.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: This from my friend David Jensen: "How hot is it? It's so hot I saw a tweaker putting the copper back into an air conditioner."

 * ... SUMMER HEAT: One benefit of these hot Bakersfield mornings: there is significantly less trash in the parks because it's simply too hot for the slobs to leave their own homes.

 * ... LETICIA PEREZ: Supporters of Supervisor Leticia Perez are planning a protest march and vigil this Tuesday, yet another sign that this very public local stink is going to get far uglier in a very quick manner.  The "Stand with Supervisor Perez" rally is planned for 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Liberty Bell, and then supporters will attend the supervisor's meeting to show their support. Perez has been charged with two counts of campaign violations, both misdemeanors. These types of campaign violations are usually dealt with by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, and Perez is believed to be the first person in California to be formally charged by a local prosecutor's office. As the only Democrat, only woman and only Latina on the board, supporters are viewing this as singling out a minority who just happened to support the MALDEF lawsuit against the county that forced a complete redistricting. It is never that simple of course, and the friction among local Democrats, among the supervisors themselves and even in a very fractured District Attorney's office is unprecedented. The Perez case should be simple - did a sitting supervisor break the law and if so what is an appropriate punishment? - but these are anything but ordinary times. Instead the Perez case has come to symbolize a changing electorate, one that has different expectations, and how all this plays out will determine who sticks around and who falls by the wayside as a tsunami of change disrupts the old political landscape and ushers in a new era. Follow along because this is going to be a wild ride.

* ... SOME PERSPECTIVE: Step back for a moment and look at where we are locally with Kern County politics. The supervisors are at odds as never before because of the MALDEF lawsuit, California's legalization of marijuana has driven wedges among traditional allies and brought new forces to bear (as in the local veterans and others who rely on medicinal cannabis to relieve pain), the browning of Kern County has emboldened Latino leaders to demand more respect at the ballot box, prosecutors in the District Attorney's office are barely talking to one another after the bitter race to succeed Lisa Green between eventual winner Cynthia Zimmer and Scott Spielman, and even the Democratic Party is fracturing between those who support Perez and others who would privately cheer if she left office to make way for them to run. This is all unprecedented in what was once a clubby group of white men and women who stayed in power via their conservative credentials and loyalty to each other. Those who cling to yesterday's norms do so at their own peril, because as Bob Dylan once said, 'times are a changing.'

 As Dylan wrote:
"Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon…

* ... EYESORE: When will the city wake up and do something about the eyesore at the Chester street bridge underpass near there Garces Circle, which has evolved into a near permanent homeless encampment complete with litter, feces and trash that the wind scatters for blocks? This eyesore has been a problem for months, and it is our collective shame that our city accepts this as an acceptable sign of the times.

 * ... DIABETES: Did you know that between 30 and 35 percent of the adults over the age of 18 in Kern County are either diabetic or suffer from pre-diabetic conditions. That is a full 10 percentage points over the national average, and it speaks to our poor diet, our lack of exercise and our lack of commitment to reversing the trend. According to Dr. Raj Patel over at Preferred Family Care, new guidelines for diabetes now urge physicians to customize their treatment of the disease, providing more aggressive therapy to those who are younger and "full committed" to reversing the process.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old photo of the Tejon theater at its opening, compliments of the Kern County Museum.