Thursday, September 19, 2019

Anti-gun activist and Stoneman High survivor David Hogg to appear at CSUB, Monsignor Craig's legal team goes on the offensive, and the attack on local businesses by the drug addicted continues unabated

Thursday-Friday, September 19-20, 2019

 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 community such a special place. Send news items to

* ... DAVID HOGG: The Kegley Institute of Ethics will devote its spring speaker series to David Hogg, one of the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in south Florida. Hogg,
now 19, has since become an anti-gun activist and crusader and a polarizing figure for pro Second Amendment advocates. Hogg's appearance was announced by Kegley director Dr. Michael Burroughs on The Richard Beene Show. No details yet on exactly when Hogg will appear at CSUB. Meanwhile, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi, will appear at Kegley's Fall lecture on Saturday, Sept. 28 at the Dore Theater.

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison's legal team has filed yet another lawsuit against his accusers, this one aimed at a monk who accused Harrison of inappropriately touching and fondling young men. This time Harrison's attorneys filed a suit against Justin Gilligan, who told investigators that Harrison had touched the genitals of young men, told homosexual jokes and engaged in pornography. The monk once worked with Harrison at St. Francis Parish in Bakersfield. If you remember, Harrison's attorneys have already sued a Catholic watch group group - Roman Catholic Faithful - for defamation. The filing of the suits opens Harrison to cross examination and depositions which will of course allow his detractors to repeat, in graphic detail, the sordid details of the charges he has been fighting. The monk's allegations were detailed to police with the full cooperation of the Diocese of Fresno, which suspended Harrison pending a full investigation. As noted plaintiff's lawyer Daniel Rodriguez said, at times this strategy can backfire, but it is clear that Harrison's legal team has taken the fight to his accusers, no matter what the cost.

 * ... LIVE AUCTION; Speaking of Father Craig, did you hear about the live auction to benefit a local program this past week? It turns out one of the items being auctioned was dinner with Father Craig, and it went or a whopping $27,000 thanks to a winning bid by a local business owner. The bid speaks volumes about the enormous support that Father Craig enjoys among well heeled Catholics and others about town, some of the same people who are contributing to his defense fund that pays for the lawsuits against his detractors. It also reflects the great divide between the Catholic Church and pro-Harrison parishioners, many of whom have withdrawn their monetary support of the church in hopes of pressuring the diocese into returning Harrison to his old job.

 * ... CRIME: The tsunami of petty crime committed by street vagrants, the mentally ill and the drug addicted continues unabated. Over the weekend the newly renovated offices of Skarpohol Frank architects downtown were vandalized. The front door was bashed in and the lobby ransacked, yet the only item stolen was a jar of candy. Meanwhile, police were called to Dagney's Coffee house downtown to deal with a pair of screaming homeless, and so it goes.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Hey, @BetoORourke, actual Texan here. I regret to inform you that your request to buy my legally purchased firearms has been denied after your background check revealed your criminal record. Don’t want to take any chances. Xoxo."

One of the founders of Sequoia Sandwich Co. has joined American General Media as chief financial officer. Jeff Simpson, who along with partner Gary Blackburn built Sequoia into a powerhouse local lunch spot and went on to sell it last year, joined the Bakersfield-based radio company this week. AGM operates six radio stations in town, including KERN News Radio.

 * ... MEMORIES: Two of my favorite Facebook pages - Kern County of Old and Kern County History Fans - deal with our living history. Here are some more nuggets from those pages.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The sheriff and the district attorney plan to step up enforcement on the streets, good news for our homeless crisis, Trump sends experts to Los Angeles to check on that street crisis and getting ready for another Bakersfield Marathon

Monday, September 16, 2019

 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 community such a special place. Send news items to

 * ... HOMELESS: This may be some of the best news yet to come out of battle against drug addiction, homelessness and and street crime. It looks like District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer and
Sheriff Donny Youngblood are working together to find ways to prosecute people for misdemeanors, now that Sacramento has decriminalized all but the most serious of violent offenses. This excerpt is from The Californian: "Due to limited jail space, deputies in Kern County typically give out citations for those arrested on suspicion of drug possession or stealing less than $950. But law enforcement officials say those cited seldom show up in court, and the next time they are arrested they simply receive another ticket and give another promise to show up. “We’d like to be able to not give someone a ticket who has possession of drugs, a ticket to someone who has vandalized, a ticket for someone with a promise to go to court,” Zimmer said. “Because they don’t go to court. They don’t go to court because they are high and they can’t make these kinds of decisions. They have to go to jail.” It won't solve everything, but it is an important step forward.

 * ... MORE HOMELESS: The Trump administration has sent experts to Los Angeles to study the homeless crisis, and what they saw was not pretty. There are an estimated 45,000 people living on the streets in Los Angeles, and along with that have come typhoid, and invasion of rats and other public health issues. Rev. Andy Bales of Union Mission church told Forbes that five of the visitors were from the Environmental Protection Agency because "human waste flows into storm sewers." But that is not all. Bales also warned of types of homeless he is seeing. "We are seeing behaviors from our guests that I’ve never seen in 33 years,” said Bales. “They are so bizarre and different that I don’t even feel right describing the behaviors. It’s extreme violence of an extreme sexual nature. I have been doing this for 33 years and never seen anything like it.”

 * ... WEDDING: Congratulations to Blake Strong and Emily Holtzman tied the knot Sunday in a lovely ceremony at the new Metro Special Events space on 18th Street. Strong works for Kaiser and Emily is a local body artist. The couple met in Santa Rosa, lost their home after the fires and relocated to Bakersfield where Strong was raised. If you haven't visited Metro Special Events, try to do so. It is Don Martin's latest creation after he vacated the old Metro Galleries on 19th and Eye streets.

 * ... MARATHON: Are you ready for the Bakersfield Marathon? The fourth annual run will be held November 17, once again starting in the southwest at CSUB and winding its way through town and up to Bakersfield College before heading back. Officials expect to set yet another record turnout. The Bakersfield event serves as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.

 * ... MEMORIES: Some more wonderful old pictures from our past thanks to the Facebook pages Kern County of Old and Kern County History Fans.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Santa Carota beef gets some love from Food and Wine magazine, the city takes heat for moving too slowly on our homeless and drug crisis, and who knew In-N-Out burger had treats for dogs?

Friday, September 13, 2019

 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 community such a special place. Send news items to

 * ... DRUG CRISIS: It was an angry scene at City Hall this week when dozens of residents lined up during the public comment session to voice their concerns about our drug and homeless crisis. The
theme was clear: we need to understand that we have a drug addiction problem, not so much of a homeless problem. The city has been criticized for being too tentative, moving too slowly, sitting on their hands while this problem has grown out of control. The county, by contrast, has already approved plans for a low-barrier shelter while the city continues to "study" where their's might be located. If nothing else, the city got an earful from a public that is at its wit's end with crime, public intoxication, public urination and defecation and general craziness that rules our streets. Is anyone listening?

 * ... SANTA CAROTA BEEF: Do you hear that Food and Wine magazine threw some love to our local producers of the grass fed and carrot finished Santa Carota beef? That's right, this is the same beef raised by the Pettit family that has proved to be wildly popular in local restaurants. Fed on grass and finished off by tons of carrots, the process produces a beef that is both more tender and tastier, and healthier as well. Check out this excerpt from the story: "The Pettit family has been raising cattle in Edison (an unincorporated community just seven miles from Bakersfield) for 30 years, and much of that time they have been supplementing their grass-fed cattle with culled carrots from nearby producers like Bolthouse Farms and Grimmway Farms, which produce more than a million pounds of carrots each in a day—the most in the world. But until two years ago, Justin and Corinne Pettit and Justin’s father, Mike, were growing their cattle to 800 pounds on grass and carrots, then sending them to a feedlot to be bulked up and finished to nearly 1300 pounds on grain. They had never considered finishing a cow on carrots, until, Justin describes, they conducted a single experiment, which they planned to try for Justin’s birthday in April of 2017 (with a pizza order as a back-up plan). Just one bite of the steaks, and they put down their forks and looked at each other. “And we said, Oh, now we have to go to work.” And they literally bet the farm. “We sold all our equipment, put everything on our credit line … had packing boxes all over our conference tables. We have everything riding on it, but we believe in it.” Within 18 months, they’d developed their logo and began selling to some of the best restaurants in the West."

 * ... DOG TREATS: Did you know that In-N-Out burger has a few menu items for your dog? That's right, the popular chain actually has two offerings for your mutt: the first a plain, salt-free burger patty. Another off-menu item, which is also available for humans but was supposedly originally devised for dogs, is the Flying Dutchman, which is two beef patties and two slices of cheese.

* ... BRANDING: The city and county rolled out their new branding and message campaigns this week, ending a two year process meant to reposition our hometown in a more positive light. The city's version, branding as "The Sound of Something Better," features a green logo in the shape of a guitar pic emblazoned with a 'b" that looks like a musical note.

 * ... THEFT:
We talk a lot about our "homeless" crisis but our real problem is a drug and crime crisis. As Sacramento has passed a series of decriminalizing laws to keep people our of prison, crime has risen dramatically. Consider this post I spotted on Facebook: "Two tall skinny black guys with baseball caps came running out of the garden dept at the Home Depot on Ming with 3 big boxes. Power tools of some sort. Hopped in this black car and hit a shopping cart that a guy was trying to block them with. Glad he wasn't hurt. Headed east on Ming. I hate thieves. So brazen. "

 * ... MEMORIES: And check this amazing photo out from the Kern County History Fans Facebook page. Just wow.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And how about the old Plunge on Union Avenue?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Radio producer J.R. Flores gives his take on Kern County's drug crisis, it goes viral and the public anger reaches a boiling point

 J.R. Flores, producer of both The Richard Beene Show and The Ralph Bailey Show on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM, had planned to give this three-minute speech before the Bakersfield City Council during the public comment session at this week's council meeting. But that never happened because Mayor Karen Goh limited all speakers to just two minutes instead of the allocated three minutes. Here is your chance to read the Flores' take in its entirety. 

"Good evening Madam Mayor, members of the council. My name is J.R. Flores, program director for Kern Radio and producer of The Richard Beene Show and The Ralph Bailey Show. I wanted to address you this evening regarding the epidemic happening in our city, and I do mean epidemic.
 "This isn’t a homeless issue, this isn’t a housing crisis. This is a drug epidemic, this is a mental
health crisis, and if we are not careful a public hazardous health warning.
"With the human waste that plagues our downtown business alley and doorways, to the drug paraphernalia left in the playgrounds where my kids used to play. I understand the laws that come out of Sacramento, AB109 and Props 47 and 57. But I refuse, my neighbors refuse, my community refuses, the citizens of this city refuse to continue to hear 'Our hands are tied.' OUR CITY IS UNDER SIEGE, IT IS NOT SAFE!
 "A BHS teacher told us that he no longer lets his daughter put gas downtown, a neighborhood he grew up in. Yesterday my fiancĂ© was told by a vagrant/street criminal at our neighborhood gas station 'Hey baby why don’t you just take me home with you?' How long till one of them, if not already, start sexually assaulting woman?  Just this morning as she dropped off my son at William Penn
Elementary, as many other parents dropped off their kids or while they walked to school, a drug induced or mentally deranged man had defecated on himself, buttocks exposed wandering about just outside the gates.
 "Our kids can’t go to school without being exposed to this? They definitely can’t play in the parks, as they’ve been overrun by drug addicts and mentally unstable individuals. AND YES DRUG ADDICTS AND MENTALLY UNSTABLE, NOT HOMELESS PEOPLE. Do they happen to live on the streets? Yes they do. But these are not the families visiting Louis Gill at the homeless shelter, that guy at the gas station isn’t visiting Carlos at the Mission, the man this morning isn’t the guy visiting Kern Behavioral Health.
 "I applaud the effort of those individuals working those places, on the front lines of the real homeless crisis. This, what we are dealing with, is not a homeless crisis. You want to give them low barrier shelters. I applaud the county for their leadership and moving forward with their site, even if I don’t believe that will solve this problem.
 "Providing drug addicts a safe haven is only enabling the problem. That is no better than the mom that lets her son get high down the hall rather than on the streets. These people will continue to plague or neighborhoods and break in to our cars, our homes and our businesses, harassing the law abiding taxpaying citizens of the city. I hope, I pray that the people that do occupy those beds are going to get the true help they need. We talk about wrap around services and setting these people up with the help they need. But the services are already there and these people aren’t taking advantage of them now, what leads you to believe they will once given a place they don’t have to conform to enter.  "Our sheriff has 600 beds… How about beds in a intervention clinic or at a mental health place? So when given the option those beds or Lerdo they have to take responsibility for their place in life. I hear the cries for compassion, but allowing these people to do drugs and wander aimlessly un-medicated is not compassion.
 "Hiring 100 cops that cannot or will not enforce laws is not going to solve the problem. All of this going on while a priority tonight is spending $390,000 of measure N money on staging lights inside of Rabobank. While we worry about Soccer parks and softball fields. While adopting a new brand and slogan. “Bakersfield, The sound of something better.”  How about we actually make it better and not just sound better. Thank you!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Kern County prepares to unveil a new branding campaign, the county moves forward with a low barrier shelter for the homeless and a beautiful new mural graces downtown

Monday, September 9, 2019

 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 community such a special place. Send news items to

 * ... STREET CRISIS: You have to applaud the county and the Board of Supervisors for moving swiftly to confront our drug and vagrancy crisis on our streets. The county will vote this week on
erecting a temporary low-barrier shelter near Golden State and O Street on a 5-acre vacant lot owned by the county. This is a credit to county chief administrative officer Ryan Alsop and the entire board for moving with urgency. Meanwhile, we await as the city decides where it will put its shelter. Ironically, the earlier site for the city shelter was just a block away from where the county is going, and it would be wise for the city council to reconsider this spot and move with all due speed.

 * ... DRUG CRISIS: Despite all this, we have to be careful to rein in our expectations. These "low barrier" shelters are designed for the true homelesss. Our crisis here is a drug crisis disguised as a homeless crisis. Iy is doubtful that the addicts, vagrants, crazies and criminals who walk our streets causing mayhem will avail themselves to these shelters. That is going to take a different kind of enforcement involving the police. Speaking of addicts, a friend took this picture of a vagrant in a lingerie dress near Rosedale and Calloway. And so it goes.

 * ... BRANDING: Meanwhile the county and the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce will unveil a new branding campaign for the county Monday during a press conference at the historic Padre Hotel. Presumably this will replaced the dated "Life As It Should Be" campaign. Attending will be Mayor Karen Goh, Supervisor David Couch, Chamber president Nick Ortiz and other city and county elected officials. I will be moderating a panel at 3:30 p.m. in the Belvedere Room at the Padre.

 * ... MURAL: Hats off to local artist Jennifer Williams Cordova who added a little class and style to our downtown when she painted this mural near a local restaurant.

: Check out this poster the city is using to advise people not to give money to street beggars.

 * ... MEMORIES: Now here is a trip down memory lane. Apparently this is a picture of the building that stood where the Silver Fox now stands. The caption: "This building at 700 18th in New China Town 1932 is the current location of the Silver Fox. Things have changed a little. :-)"

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Assistant police chief arrested for spousal abuse, Luigi's is vandalized by the drug addicts on our streets, and community leaders meet to set out a new anti homeless strategy

Friday, September 6, 2019

 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 community such a special place. Send news items to

 * ... ASSISTANT CHIEF ARRESTED: Did you hear about the assistant police chief being arrested for alleged spousal abuse outside the VIP Lounge? He was arrested outside the bar around 12:40 a.m. after people reported a man was abusing a woman outside in a white SUV. KERN 23ABC has video footage and  I spotted this post from a woman on Facebook. "Last night I was with some friends
grabbing a drink at VIP Lounge where this man, Evan Demestihas, beat and attempted to sexually assault his wife in the parking lot outside. After she escaped, he stole her car and drove off. It took Bakersfield Police Department over 30 minutes to respond to our call, all for them to beat around the bush to ask anyone questions. I have never seen someone so scared, so hurt, so defeated. Now, I am not one to sit here and preach about how corrupt police systems are or how cops only protect themselves and not the people or whatever else is out there to slander any type of government. However, the way this situation was handled last night was nowhere near efficient enough. Not only was I scared for the woman who was traumatized, but I was also scared for myself and my friends with me that night. This is one of the faces of our Police Department right now ladies and gentleman. This is the person who is supposed to make us feel safe."

 * ... PUBLIC OUTCRY: Add Luigi's Delicatessan and Restaurant to the list of iconic Bakersfield businesses that have been victimized by our homeless and drug crisis. The alarm went off at 10:15 p.m. Tuesday after someone broke through the familiar red front door. Meanwhile, here is an example of the public frustration that I spotted on social media, remarking on a picture of a homeless person with a stolen blue trash can: "I don’t even make comments on all this any longer.. nothing is being done to remedy/fix this problem. Our 'laws' are laughed at, not enforced, and the joke seems to be on us... the taxpaying fools that continually ripped off by these offenders. The owner of that blue container, will have to PAY the city to get a new one delivered. Those shopping carts all over town...are stolen, another expense the Smart and Final has to eat. Ho hum....pigs on the street making messes."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I was walking around my house this morning and I saw myself in a mirror. Now, although I know I’m not a young man, I decided then and there that I had to do something about what I saw. So I’ve had all the mirrors removed.

 * ... TRASH: Meanwhile the (quite literal) trashing of our city continues. The drug addicted homeless regularly upend our trash cans and bins, looking for something to eat or barter, and with a little wind this litter covers our streets. All this as police drive by with hardly a notice.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this pictures from the Kern County History Fans on Facebook.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

A local men's clothing store is the latest to suffer from our explosion of drug addiction and vagrants, David Valadao jumps in the race to reclaim his congressional seat and some fun facts on Labor Day

Monday, September 2, 2019

 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 community such a special place. Send news items to

 * ... LABOR DAY: Happy Labor Day, and here are some fun facts you may not know: The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 ,in New York City, planned by the Central
Labor Union. Labor Day is also considered the ‘unofficial NFL season kickoff.’ And, the first Waffle House opened on Labor Day. In 1955, in Avondale Estates, GA, the very first Waffle House opened its doors to the public.

 * ... DOWNTOWN CRIME: The sheer amount of petty crime - larceny, burglary, theft, vandalism, public urination and intoxication - can seem overwhelming at times. There is hardly a day that goes by when someone in town - a business person or an individual - is not victimized by the tsunami of drug addiction, homelessness and general craziness that thrive on our streets. This weekend it was the turn for H. Walker's, our premier downtown clothing store, to have its windows smashed out. Owner Tracy Walker Kiser had the glass replaced and installed in hours, but the damage - and expense - was done.

 * ... HOMELESS: Here's a distressing image of something we have grown accustomed to: a homeless man with a stolen blue waste can sorting through trash next to the DMV on F Street. The caption on the Facebook post read: "Anyone missing their blue recycle can? This guy is sitting there picking through everything! This is on F Street across from DMV."

 * ... VALADAO: After losing reelection by the slimmest of margins, former Congressman David Valadao has signaled he will run again for the 21st Congressional District seat now held  by Democrat T.J. Cox. The 21st is an overwhelmingly Democratic district, one of the poorest in California, and Valadao served as a moderate, advocating immigration reform and often taking sides against his own Republican Party. Nevertheless he lost during the "blue wave" in the 2018 mid-term elections. (file photos of Cox, Valadao)

 * ... MEMORIES: Feast your eyes on these classic old pictures of our town back in the day.