Friday, July 26, 2019

Craig Harrison gets a boost in his effort to clear his name, downtown struggles with homelessness and vandalism, Adventist Health's clever marketing campaign and a walk down memory lane

Friday, July 26, 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

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: Good news for Monsignor Craig Harrison this week when the Bakersfield
Police Department declined to press charges against the suspended priest for a sexual abuse allegation dating to the late 1990s. This was an important step in Harrison's long journey to clear his name, and no doubt a source of great joy for his legions of believers, but it did not come as a total surprise. Citing lack of clear evidence like a video or photograph, the BPD said it could not substantiate the allegations from a Texas man who said Harrison abused him at the St. Francis Parish when he was an altar boy. While this is clearly a big boost to Harrison's campaign to clear his name, his real hurdle is with the Diocese of Fresno, which is conducting its own investigation into allegations by five different men that Harrison touched them inappropriately. In some ways, the Diocese decision will be a political one and will break down to this simple question: is it better for the church to reinstate a priest whose reputation has been tarnished, or does the church clear the deck and move on by either moving Harrison to another position or cutting him loose? For the sake of Father Craig and our entire community, let's hope this is resolved sooner rather than later.

 * ... DOWNTOWN: With each passing day, the homeless crisis in our community worsens. And no where is it on display more graphically than downtown, where shop owners are forced to contend with vandalism and rampant thefts not to mention the parade of "crazies" who wander into stores talking incoherently and scaring away customers. The tragedy, of course, is all this falls on the shoulders of shop owners who pick up the bill when their businesses are vandalized. Take for example the Blue Oak Coffee Shop downtown, where - once again - the owners arrived to find their front window smashed. I hope some of those 100 additional police officers we are hiring are stationed downtown to bring things back under control.

 * ... MORE CRIME: Meanwhile crime continues unabated. The good folks out at Salty's Barbecue on Rosedale Highway were hit last month when a man (see on the video shot below) made off with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. The Kern County Sheriff's Office is looking for anyone who may know the suspect.

 * ... ADVENTIST HEALTH: Adventist Health (formerly San Joaquin Hospital) has a new marketing push that is clever, heartfelt and speaks to the good in our community. The hospital is highlighting local people on its billboards across town, including this one featuring Raji Jhaj-Brar, owner of Countryside catering.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here is another classic old picture of the old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot on Baker Street.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And how about this old photo from Art Moore and his Kern County History Fans Facebook page. Wow.

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