Thursday, June 13, 2019

Will the state of California force businesses to open their parking lots to house the homeless? (and yes, that is no joke)... Ryan Alsop notes rising pension costs are hurting the sheriff's and fire departments, and welcome to a Bakersfield summer of heat

 * ... HOMELESS: Are you ready for homeless camps in the Marketplace parking lot? How about in the Grand Island Village parking lot near Wiki's and Wood-Dale Market? Think it can't happen? Well
think again because a pending law in Sacramento would do just that, forcing cities with populations greater than 300,000 to "provide a safe parking lot, including access to bathrooms, to those with no place to stay." It is Sacramento's way of shifting the homeless problem to private companies and businesses at the expense of taxpayers. Assembly Bill 891 has already passed one house of the legislature and is pending in the second. If you think it's bad now, just wait.

* ... COUNTY PENSION: In all the talk about why we are losing so many of our Kern County sheriff deputies to other agencies, we seem to have missed a key central point. At least that is what county chief administrative officer (CAO) Ryan Alsop told me recently during an appearance on The Richard Beene Show. Alsop said the chief culprit behind the budget crisis is rising pension costs, which have added $20.5 million to the sheriff's department's budget over the past four years, eating into the county's ability to provide substantial raises to needy deputies. "It is crowding out our ability to do anything with the money," the CAO said, adding that the same was true in the Kern County Fire Department, where pension costs have spiked $19 million over the same period. Until that is addressed, Alsop said, the county will continue to struggle with its budget and budgetary priorities.

* ... YOUNG ACHIEVERS: BakersfieldLife magazine is recognizing some of the brightest young professionals in town with its annual "20 Under 40" tribute. This years bunch is a quality group, and they all deserve our recognition. Here's the group:
• Amy Travis, CASA executive director
• Tiffany Chatman, Aera Energy facilities engineer
• Jennifer Williams Cordova, Willis and Williams Design Studios graphic designer
• Shannon LaBare, Purveyor House founder and creative director
• Jasmin LoBasso, Kern County Library marketing division
• Derrick Miller, POM Wonderful general manager
• Jack Bertrand, North High School director of vocal music
• Lizbeth Barajas-Gonzalez, coordinator for social emotional learning
• Ariel Dyer, Beale Memorial Library associate
• Christie Ludwick, Vibe Stitch owner
• Analicia Torres, Bakersfield Train Robbers front office manager
• Blake Goehring, Merrill Lynch financial adviser
• Jaime Doniaz, Multicultural business development officer
• Eduardo Vargas, Bidart Bros. health and safety technician
• Jessica Mathews, League of Dreams executive director
• Valerie Caudillo, Centric Health peripheral vascular disease program coordinator
• Lesley Bonds, Bakersfield College student success and equity director
• Brandon Grimm, Grimmway Farms director and general manager
• Zach Skow, Marley's Mutts founder
• Manpreet Kaur, Jakara Movement leader/Greater Bakersfield community organizeral place.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Woman who ignore me just haven't learned to make the best of a bad situation."

 * ... HEAT: A central coast television station posted this graphic showing Bakersfield a tad, well, hot. Remember, it's a dry heat.

 * ... SICK BAY: Local cyclist Richard Picarelli is recovering after being hit by a car on Calloway at the Westside Parkway last week. Picarelli, who works at State Farm, suffered a broken pelvis but is at home recuperating.

 * ... RAISING CANES: It looks like we will be getting a second location for Raising Cane's, the fast food franchise devoted to all things chicken. The city has confirmed that Raising Cane's will build on the lot where Mimi's Cafe stood next to Barnes and Noble on California Avenue. Mimi's is being demolished to make way for the new chicken restaurant.

 * ... MEMORIES? How about these pictures from the Vintage Bakersfield Facebook page?

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The homeless take over the bike path through Bakersfield, the county flirts with regulating medical marijuana, Miranda Whitworth is hired by Townsend Design and get read for excessive heat this week

Monday, June 10, 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.

 * ... HOMELESSNESS: Think about this the next time you drive by a homeless person's stolen grocery cart filled to the brim with junk: Despite billions of dollars of tax money, the homeless
population in California is spiking with no end in sight. According to the Wall Street Journal, the homeless population in Los Angeles jumped 16 percent last year. There are a staggering 56,000 homless people in LA county alone, and while there are far fewer in Kern County, there is no doubt it is growing here as well. The sheer amount of trash and litter from homeless encampments on our bike path (once heralded as one of the jewels of our city) is our collective shame.  It's no surprise that California has more homeless than any other state, and the reasons go far beyond our mild weather. Well intentioned state laws to reclassify crimes and reduce prison crowding have backfired, and our streets have turned ugly and dangerous.

 * ... OH, THE IRONY: Does it strike you as highly ironic that the Kern County firefighter's union has refused all efforts to cut back on overtime while the Sheriff's Department has been forced to shutter its gang unit because of budget cuts? While firefighters earn tens of thousands of dollars in overtime, the sheriff's department is losing deputies who find better paying jobs elsewhere. The county has now declared an "impasse in its negotiations with the firemen's union. A tad greedy ya think?

 * ... SAY WHAT? And just what is going on at the county where the supervisors are now weighing their options for overturning the ban on the sale of cannabis in Kern County? That's right, you heard that right. Even after multiple pro-legalization ballot measures failed, it appears we may be moving in that direction. At Tuesday's board meeting, the Planning Department is expected to recommend that staff draft a medical marijuana ordinance for the March 2020 ballot.

 * ... HEAT: This graphic pretty much explains what we can expect this week. Stay cool.

 * ... CRIME: Running a business is hard enough these days, particularly in regulatory heavy California, but dealing with a surge in crime just makes it even more daunting. In the last week, two prominent local restaurants - Pyrennes Cafe and Moo Creamery - have been broken into overnight as petty crime continues to plague local businesses.

 * ... ALAN TANDY: Alan Tandy has accomplished a lot during his 27 years as Bakersfield's city manager, but if forced to choose, he is most proud of the road improvements associated with the Thomas Road Improvement Program (TRIP) and the construction of the Rabobank Arena downtown. Tandy made those comments on The Richard Beene Show and confirmed he will be retiring on December 1 of this year.

 * ... MIRANDA MOVING UP: Congratulations to Miranda Whitworth who has joined Townsend Design to work in marketing. The company, now owned by a French firm, makes state of the art custom knee braces. Whitworth previously worked in marketing and communications for Kern Medical.

 * ... MUSHROOM CLOUD: Check out this rather unusual cloud formation captured by Jack McGee this past week.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out these old pictures from the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.