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. :-)"