Friday, May 4, 2018

More disruption for local restaurants downtown, Bill Thomas and Kevin McCarthy split in the race for District Attorney and seeking bar food at the Firestone Grill

Friday May 4, 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

* ... BAD FORM DOWNTOWN: You really have to feel for the people who run a retail shop or restaurant in the downtown area. It's my favorite place to dine, but it battles a perception that crime is rampant and parking is scarce. But that's not the worst of it, because it seems the city is determined to
do what it can to hurt business. First there was the long weekend of a classic car show where blocks were roped off for the car show and some restaurants were forced to close their doors because their patrons could not make it beyond the barriers. Then on Thursday, to celebrate the National Day of Prayer, 19th and Eye streets were blocked off for a prayer ceremony, once again reeking havoc for all the downtown eateries. Chef's Choice Noodle Bar actually closed for the day and bar owners like Kenny Reed (the Alleycat) claim they were never notified. The Downtown Business Assn. dismissed this as a simple mistake, but instead of making excuses for the event, shouldn't the DBA being fighting on behalf of the businesses it claims to serve? (photo courtesy of The Bakersfield Californian)

* ... POLITICS: I am not certain just how important endorsements are in political campaigns, but they are fun to follow. The race to succeed Lisa Green as district attorney is one to watch. Former Congressman Bill Thomas, who casts a long political shadow locally, has endorsed assistant DA Scott Spielman while his friend and successor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, has thrown his support behind deputy DA Cynthia Zimmer.

* ... LITERACY: Can you imagine going through life hiding the fact that you are functionally illiterate? It happens more than you might think, particularly here in Kern County where the adult illiteracy stands around 25 percent. Norm Brown, a high school dropout, went 47 years hiding the fact that he couldn't read before he headed over to the Kern Literacy Council where he was teamed up with retired petroleum engineer Ed Western as his English tutor. He is now reading daily, is the proud owner of his first library card, and devouring a biography on Walk Disney. Next time you are looking to write a check to a non-profit, consider the Kern Literacy Council.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "What position is it in soccer where my kid tries to find a four leaf clover?"

 * ... FOODIE: There are plenty of sports bars in town featuring bar food and big screen TVs, but few offer better customer service and quality food than Firestone Grill on California Avenue. In addition to having the best French fries in town, Firestone's staff goes above and beyond and the lineup of salads, burgers and barbecue is consistently top shelf.

 * ... JOHN COX: John Cox, a seasoned business reporter who left The Californian more than a year ago, is returning to the newspaper. Cox left TBC to take a job in San Diego but will will rejoin the newsroom on Eye Street. This is good news for The Californian, which has witnessed a serious talent drain over the past year. Among those who have left are columnist Lois Henry, sports editor Zach Ewing, city editor Christine Bedell, lifestyles editor Jennifer Self, politics reporters James Burger and education reporter Harold Pierce.

 * ... MORE TBC: Meanwhile the newspaper also announced that Cliff Chandler has joined the staff as advertising director. Chandler previously worked at The San Diego Union-Tribune as automotive sales manager. He previously worked at the Santa Clarita Valley Signal and Digital First Media.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old photo of the Garces Circle compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

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