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.

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