Friday, October 5, 2018

St. Vincent de Paul holds its annual barbecue fund raiser, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant downtown gets some kudos and local businessmen turn to security shutters to combat crime

Friday, October 5, 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 BBQ: One of the older organizations in town dedicated to helping the homeless is the St. Vincent de Paul homeless center off Baker Street, which held its annual barbecue fund raiser this week. Organizer Deborah Leary said more than a thousand New York steaks were served
Thursday evening, along with Casa Munoz beans, a salad and dessert. This facility feeds hundreds of homeless every day as well as provides them showers and a place to pick up mail. St. Vincent closes daily in the afternoon - it is not an overnight facility - and serves an important role in giving a helping hand to our growing homeless population. Among those I spotted were Monsignor Craig Harrison, Teri and Barry Goldner, Fran and Gregg Gunner,  Judge Robert Anspach and his wife Rosemary, their daughter and son-in-law Dr. Tom and Mary Berry, Eleanor Etcheverry, Gordon and Lynn Westhoff, Jim Sakowski and so many more.

 * ... CRIME: How bad is crime locally? Well, it is so bad that the King Door Company is doing a brisk business in security shutters for local businesses. Company owner Roman Ruiz said local businesses are being regularly broken into, and they are taking steps to combat this dangerous new wave of crime. King Door now offers a wide range of metal security shutters and steel reinforced doors. Some of their clients include a new California Highway Patrol facility, school cafeterias, Infiniti of Bakersfield, United Rentals and the Kern Oil Refinery. A sign of the times.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "To anyone that ever gave up on me all I have to say is ... good call."

 * ... MAMMA MIA: I finally stopped by Mamma Mia's, the new Italian restaurant downtown run by a chef who worked at Luigi's for more than 20 years. As expected, the menu features some Luigi's look alikes, as well as some new offerings. The night we were there it was jammed and service was spotty, but the food was excellent. My beef: my salad, the size of a normal dinner salad, cost a pricey $12.99. Yikes.

 * ... HEN'S ROOST: Meanwhile if you are looking for something more healthy, either vegetarian or vegan, try the Hen's Roost behind the downtown Post Office on G Street. Run by Jaclyn Allen and a small but dedicated staff, this new twist on a health food restaurant features some of the best non-meat burgers in town, including the "Impossible Burger" featured here.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out these photos of 19th Streets back in the day, and today. Something went wrong methinks.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Valley fever cases spike, there's a push to kill the high speed rail project and The Bakersfield Californian endorses the anti-fossil fuel candidate Gavin Newsom for governor. Really.

Monday, October 1, 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

 * ... VALLEY FEVER: It looks like 2018 could turn out to be a record year for valley fever cases in the Central Valley. That is according to a report by CalMatters, which said we are on track for the
worst year yet. In 2016, there were more than  6,000 cases reported - then a record - but in 2017 that jumped to 8,103. Through August this year, we have had more than 5,000 cases and were are entering the peak season for valley fever infections to emerge. And, experts say valley fever is spreading to areas well outside the Central Valley, with many cases being reported in places like Monterey, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo counties.

 * ... HIGH SPEED RAIL: Here is one emerging state initiative that I can get behind: there is a push to put an initiative on the 2020 ballot to kill the high-speed rail project. The same people who were behind the initiative to kill the gas tax - that will appear on the November ballot - are pushing the high speed rail effort. The high speed rail project is grossly over budget and honestly, do you really believe it will be completed in our lifetime? I can think of a thousand better ways to spend that money.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If you enjoy roller coasters and near death experiences, falling in love with a redhead might be right for you."

 * ... OVERHEARD: One friend to another: "I don't know which is worse: the (homeless) people outside the downtown Rite-Aid or those inside it."

 * ... HOMELESS IN LAUREL GLEN: A family in Laurel Glen awoke last week to find a homeless woman living in their back yard by the pool. The woman, middle aged and disoriented, had makeshift bedding and had made herself at home. When asked to leave, she became belligerent. The family had no idea how long she had been there.

 * ... GAVIN NEWSOM? I was stunned to see that my old employer, The Bakersfield Californian, endorsed Gavin Newsom for governor. Not only did the paper endorse Newsom, but it did so enthusiastically. Count me among those who just don't get it. Republican John Cox may lack experience, but Newsom is so clearly out of step with Kern County - think single-payer health care, sanctuary cities, opposition to oil and gas drilling and support for high speed rail - that it seems TBC did the journalistic equivalent of dousing itself with gasoline and lighting the match. Good luck with that.

 * ... MEMORIES: Who remembers the old Padre Drug store? Check out this remarkable old picture.

* ... KAVANAUGH HEARINGS: I am going to take the liberty to reprint here a post from my friend Tim Gallagher, former editor of the Ventura Star. His take on the testimony of both Dr. Christina Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh is thoughtful, and worth a read. Here it is:

  "I have seen a number of posts that deal with two ideas: 1) Dr. Blasey Ford would be called hysterical if she lost her temper and behaved as Judge Kavanaugh did, and 2) Judge Kavanaugh’s anger proves he is not fit to serve on the court.
 Let me offer two thoughts on those two thoughts. And I would welcome your thoughts.
Dr. Blasey Ford would have been labeled as “emotional and hysterical” if she had done what Judge Kavanaugh did. Undoubtedly true. But by whom? Who would have described her this way? Politicians? Conservative talk show hosts? Who cares?
 I saw a person who has been deeply hurt – both by the sexual assault and the relentless media spotlight that we empower. She reverted to the training that so many women have received – keep quiet, stay under control, be a good girl, don’t lose your temper. I felt so sorry for her and her family because they are in a lot of pain. I wish her well and a return to her normal life as soon as that is possible, if it’s possible. I understand that she is a marvelous professor and a brilliant researcher. I believe that.
 “Judge Kavanaugh is a rage-aholic and this proves we can’t trust him on the bench.” The record shows otherwise. All of his disinterested reviews from the ABA and fellow jurists show he is a measured, thoughtful judge who carefully researches the facts and rules on them, not emotion. There are no incidents of rage or anger in his professional life.
I saw a person who has been deeply hurt and was responding according to his training. From an early age, most boys are taught to fight back with all the anger and strength you can muster. Never accept defeat. Defend your family and your honor and do it loud. I felt sorry for him and for his family. They’re all in a lot of pain. If I ever had a case before him, I think it would be adjudicated fairly and according to the law.
 For now, I am going to leave out my comments on the political pandering I saw from both sides yesterday. I don’t know how this vote is going to turn out. I don’t know exactly what happened that summer of 1982. We live in a culture of relativism, unfortunately, and I saw too many posts from friends who merely parsed the portions of the testimony that fit their notions before the hearing.
 I know that there are two people who responded yesterday as we have trained them in modern America and I am going to pray to God to give both of these people and their families some peace. That was one of the worst days in America’s political history."