Thursday, October 17, 2019

Expect a flood of new abuse cases against the Catholic Church as California ushers in a new law to give abuses more time to file lawsuits, a storm is brewing with the downtown elementary school and how about that Hunter's Moon this week?

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. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of any other individual, organization or company. 

 * ... ABUSE CASES: Thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, victims of childhood sexual abuse now have a new three year period (beginning Jan. 1, 2020) to file lawsuits against their
abusers. In addition to that, the law will extend the age limit of the victim filing from 26 to 40 and the time limit of when the abuse is discovered to when the case is filed from three to five years. Attorneys say almost every Catholic Diocese in the state will be hit by lawsuits, including the Los Angeles and Fresno dioceses that have long histories of covering up abuse cases by transferring clergy from one parish to the other. Will this have an immediate impact on Kern County? Who knows, but it will certainly allow alleged victims of any Kern County clergy (including the embattled and suspended Monsignor Craig Harrison) to come forward with legal action. All this comes as Harrison's legal team continues its scorched earth policy of slapping lawsuits on anyone who dares criticize Harrison. Attorney Craig Edmonston has already sued a Benedictine monk (Father Justin Gilligan) who testified against Harrison, as well as an organization that follows and tracks clergy abuse cases. It should be noted that neither the monk nor the organization claim to be victims of Harrison but rather have either cooperated with police or opined publicly on the matter. Pay attention to the Harrison case because I hear that new information is about to come out, and I am also told the Diocese of Fresno will rule on Harrison's future once the Firebaugh and Merced police departments wrap up their investigations into allegations that Harrison inappropriately touched young men while serving there. (file photo of Father Gilligan and Monsignor Craig Harrison)

 * ... IT HAS GOTTEN UGLY: If you are among those who wonder why victims of sexual abuse take so long to come forward, consider the intimidation of facing a lawsuit simply for speaking up, and the public humiliation when a community rallies around its accused priest and publicly shames the victim. Case in point: witnesses in the Father Craig case say they have been verbally harassed and followed, threatened and scolded by Harrison's true believers. (Note this is an accusation that cannot be independently verified and there is no evidence that Father Craig personally directed any of this, if indeed it ever happened) The support for Harrison is so strong that a local businessman paid $27,000 at a fund raiser to dine with Father Craig to benefit Dignity Health. When major institutions don't flinch to be associated with an accused abuser, it is no wonder that witnesses or alleged victims are wary of coming forward.

 * ... DOWNTOWN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: There is one truth above all others: do not mess with parents when it comes to where their children go to school. And Bakersfield City School District Superintendent Harry "Doc" Ervin is learning that quickly as parents at the Downtown Elementary School react to news that the original mission of the school - to serve children whose parents live downtown - may be abandoned. We are talking about the dismantlement of one of BCSD's top performing schools, and for what? So the district can earn a little more money by serving lower income students?  Could there be another motive? Consider this: the school is so popular you have to enter a lottery to get your kid in, the parental involvement factor is huge, kids and teacher and parents are happy, the scores are excellent ... and we want to leave all this behind? The school is 44 percent Hispanic, so it is hard to argue it serves only the well heeled, and a lottery systems determines who gets in. That's right, a judge picks out names from a lottery to see who gets in. Hard to get more democratic than that. So here is where we are:  Irvin should be warned that these parents are committed and will give you a run for your money. Stay tuned.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Only in California do they generate power from the wind, but when the wind blows shut the power off."

 * ... HUNTER'S MOON: So did you check out the full moon this week? Known as the Hunter's Moon, it follows the Harvest Moon and is reportedly the best time for hunting deer and other animals, according to the Farmer's Almanac. According to NASA: "In northern locations, leaves have fallen, deer have fattened and harvesters have cleared the fields, making it easier to see the animals under the light of the big bulb in the sky, according to NASA. But people of different cultures and regions gave their own names to full moons. The Algonquin tribes, for example, called October's full moon the Travel Moon, the Dying Grass Moon and the Sanguine or Blood Moon; the latter three are thought to be named after the changing colors of the leaves and dying plants, according to NASA. "

 * ... PASSINGS: A trio of of local iconic businesses are shutting their doors, bringing an end to their downtown footprints that served customers for years. I got the word that Red Door Interiors on 23rd Street, an upscale furniture store that flourished since 1977, is calling it quits. And last week we learned at Joseph's Italian restaurant on F Street was also leaving the scene. Add to that: Beverly Crafts and Fabrics on F Street, a mainstay of businesses along that corridor, is also calling it quits.

 * ... DAVE AND BUSTERS: Coming soon to Valley Plaza: Dave and Busters, the popular arcade and food center that caters to young kids and their parents. The new franchise is expected to open at Valley Plaza next August.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Check out this list of local high schools and other facilities built over the years, and their construction dates.

 * ...MEMORIES: Some fascinating old photos, courtesy of the Facebook page Kern County of Old. The famous clock tower was damaged beyond repair in the 1952 earthquake and was later demolished, as seen in the first photo.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Gov. Gavin Newsom performs a "bait and switch" with the state dollars meant for road improvements, Countryside Market opens to serve the east side of town and North High and Stockdale hold some high school reunions

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. The views expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of any other individual, organization or company. 

 * ... BAIT AND SWITCH: If you voted for the state gas tax under the assumption the money would
be used solely for road and bridge improvements, how do you feel now? In yet another Sacramento bait and switch, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed an executive order allowing him to siphon off at least $5 billion for "environmentally friendly" alternatives to projects associated with fossil fuels. That's right, those taxes we were promised would go to infrastructure are now going for softer, more green friendly pet projects. Among the project that were killed were several in the Central Valley, including the widening of the "blood alley" portion of Highway 46. And they wonder why the public is so cynical.

 * ... COUNTRYSIDE MARKET: There is finally some good news for those folks living on the east side of town, particularly those in the Tuscany and City in the Hills communities. Countryside Market has opened a new branch at the corner of Comanche Drive and Highway 178, featuring gas, fresh coffee, groceries and even a Smith's bakery. Countryside Markets are always top shelf, and you can expect this one to benefit from some very grateful neighbors.

 * ... REUINIONS: Congratulatons to the North High School class of 1989 that celebrated its 30th reunion at Woolgrower;s, and the Stockdale Class of 1999 which held its 20th this weekend as well.

* ... THEFT: I spotted this post on Facebook. Beware of your surroundings during this surge in crime.

 * ... PORTER RANCH FIRE: Check out this picture of a partially burned edition of The Los Angeles Times, scorched in the fire that engulfed part of Porter Ranch in the San Fernando Valley. The banner headline reads, in part: "...blackouts raise anger... high fire danger affect millions" (Screen grab from KTLA live footage)

 * ... MEMORIES: And how about these pictures of some old theaters, starting with one  on North Chester back in the mid 1950s. The second shot shows movie goers outside of the California Theater at 1816 Chester Ave. Next to the theater was the Opera Meat Market and the Union Stage Depot. The photo is dated 1923 and is compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page. Enjoy.