Monday, April 30, 2018
Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. 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. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* ... RIP MASON: I was stunned to learn of the sudden death of Mason Marotta, an accomplished young man who was just getting started with his life. There is no official word on the cause of death but a family friend indicated he may have died in his sleep. Mason is the son of Mike and Lynda Marotta (Mike is a founder of the physical therapy firm Pair and Marotta) and was an accomplished and skilled go-kart racer. He was just 23 and had attended Fresno State University.
* ... POLITICS: I was honored to serve as a moderator, along with Supervisor Leticia Perez, for the first Uncensored Town Hall debate Friday night at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame. Our goal was to bring candidates together for three hours of straight talk, no gotcha questions, in a non-partisan manner. Unfortunately, this being politics, many of the well entrenched incumbents chose to boycott the debate. But here's a big shoutout to Sheriff Donny Youngblood and district attorney candidate Scott Spielman, who both chose to attend while their opponents (Justin Fleeman and Cynthia Zimmer) did not. Also choosing not to attend were Supervisors Mike Maggard (he was at the CSUB Jazz Festival) and David Couch. Maggard's opponent, Jeff Heinle, did show. The sparks of the night came when judge candidates Brandon Martin and Chad Louie squared off. There was no love lost there. The most impressive candidate of the night in my book was Tatiana Matta, an articulate young Democrat running against Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. She may not unseat McCarthy, but she is a name we will be hearing more of in the future. (file photo of Matta)
* ... AM I A RINO?: Speaking of the debate, if the goal was to search for common ground in a non-partisan manner, it largely succeeded. How do I know? Because it stirred up those who are more comfortable with labels and insults than finding common ground. I was criticized online by a complete stranger named Denice Gary-Pandol, a pop-up "commentator" with no portfolio who seems to revel in poisonous party politics. She denounced me as a "Rino Republican" (that means Republican In Name Only) which I suppose she meant as an insult. If anyone cares, my politics run the gamut from extreme conservatism on some issues to progressive and centrist positions on others. If slapping a label on me feels good to you, Denice, go for it.
* ... ABERNATHY NUPTIALS: And finally congratulations to local political consultant Cathy Abernathy whose daughter, Margaret Anne Abernathy, was married this weekend at Stockdale Country Club. In a ceremony officiated by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Abernathy wed Joshua Gerald Brost. Margaret is a law clerk for Judge Evan J. Wallach on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington and Brost is the senior director of government business development for the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. in Washington. The bride's late father was Mark Abernathy, a longtime political consultant in Bakersfield.
* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "How many dates should you wait before you tell a woman that you can’t go near schools?"
* ... JAZZ FEST: The CSUB Jazz Fest just concluded and the weather could not have been nicer. That said, the attendance was thin, there was no real headline act and it begs the question if the annual event doesn't need a complete makeover.
* ... NFL DRAFT: Congratulations to D.J. Reed, an Independence High graduate who was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. A graduate of Kansas State, Reed was the 142nd overall pick in the draft.