Thursday, November 21, 2019

Judi and Rob McCarthy's generous gift to the Kern Community Foundation, Linda Jay retires from the Bakersfield Association of Realtors and we get our first snow of the season

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. 

 * ... MCCARTHY GIFT: One of life's true joys is being able to give something back to the community when you can, and few do it better than Judi and Rob McCarthy. The McCarthys formerly owned and ran Litespeed Systems, Bakersfield's premier high-tech firm before moving it to Austin several years ago and selling it. Now they have dug into their pockets to give generously to one of Judi's favorites local non-profits, the Women's and Girls' fund and the Kern Community
Foundation. In all, the McCarthys gave the Foundation some $2.5 million, including a $400,000 matching grant to the Women's and Girls Fund. Said Judi: "When I served on Kern Community Foundation’s board, my eyes were opened to the ways a community foundation can benefit its community: specific initiatives like the Women’s and Girls’ Fund or Kern Futures (student scholarships) or strengthening nonprofits; and encouraging citizens to keep their philanthropy local. I knew back then that, if we ever had the means to give back to the place where we’d raised our family and built our business, we’d do it through the Foundation. We reside in Austin, and this is now home, but our hearts still live in Bakersfield." For some of us, $100 may seem like a big donation, but size does not matter, intent does. Give when you can.

 * ... FIRST SNOW: It took a while but we finally got some much needed rain - and snow - in the higher elevations. The storm that passed through dusted Frasier Park with a blanket of snow while given the lower elevations a good soaking. Bakersfield received .37 of an inch, a good way to start the rainy season.

 * ... IN-N-OUT BURGER: You might have heard about gays and lesbians boycotting Chick-fil-A because of its corporate contributions to family value groups, but how much did you know about In-n-Out Burger and its commitment to traditional values? Instead of backing down as Chick-fil-A did, the popular California burger chain has doubled down by printing more biblical verses on its packaging. This from a Christian website: "In-N-Out Burger owner and president Lynsi Snyder, 37, says in a new interview with The Christian Post that she has expanded a tradition started decades ago when then-company president Rich Snyder printed Bible references on packaging. 'It was my Uncle Rich who put the Bible verses on the cups and wrappers in the early ‘90s, just before he passed away,” Snyder said. 'He had just accepted the Lord and wanted to put that little touch of his faith on our brand. It’s a family business and will always be, and that’s a family touch. In later years, I added verses to the fry boat, coffee, and hot cocoa cups.” The verses are discreet – on the bottom of a cup, for example – but easy to find with a quick search. The company has used well-known Bible references like John 3:16 (“For God so loved the world …”) but also less-popular ones like Nahum 1:7 (“the Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”).


 * ... WELL DONE: Congratulations to Linda Jay who retired as head of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors. Jay, wife of Bruce Jay of Valley Republic Bank, has worked for the BAR or years, seeing the organization through the digs and valleys of the local housing market.

 * ... THANKSGVING: So what is your favorite Thanksgiving pie? Pumpkin? Chocolate? Pecan? Check out this map and see where you are.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here we have an old picture dating to 1910 of the Arlington Hotel Building
at the southeast corner of 19th and Chester.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And as long as we are looking at pictures of old 19th Street, check out this one of the Hughes Druggist location in 1915 at the southwest corner of Chester Avenue and 19th Street that would become the permanent home for Vests Drugs Store in the early 1940s.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Father Craig Harrison gets some good news defending himself against abuse allegations, a McDonald's worker is arrested for spitting into a police officer's food order and gas in California spikes to $5 a gallon

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. 

Father Craig Harrison got some good news last week when the Merced County District Attorney's office said it would not pursue charges of sexual impropriety dating back to a 1987 incident. Harrison's supporters cheered the news, even though authorities said it was
impossible to determine what happened - given the years that have passed - and the fact that the statute of limitations had expired. The decision was well short of a full exoneration for Harrison but it was still welcome news for a priest who has spent seven months trying to salvage not only his livelihood, but also his reputation. Harrison, 60,  was removed from his position at St. Francis Parish last April pending an investigation into multiple charges of sexual impropriety over the years. What we are witnessing now is a public relations battle, being played out not in the courts or in a legal sense but in the court of public opinion. It pits defense attorney Kyle Humphrey, Harrison and Harrison's legions of followers against those who argue that the accusers should not be summarily dismissed simply because of Harrison's immense popularity. Given that the statute of limitations has expired in virtually all of the cases, there was never any doubt that Harrison would be cleared by authorities and that the final decision - in reality the only one that matters - is in the hands of the Diocese of Fresno, which suspended Harrison. What we have now is a spirited local campaign to clear Harrison's name, even if - as many speculate - he never holds mass ever again in a Catholic Church. Will we ever know the truth about what happened between Harrison and these young men decades ago? Likely not, given that all these cases seems to devolve into a he said/he said. Take your pick: you either support Harrison or you believe there may be a grain of truth in the stories of multiple men over several decades dating back to the 1980s in Firebaugh, Merced and Bakersfield.
 WHERE WE ARE NOW: In a local television interview Kyle Humphrey called out unnamed members of the press who he criticized for alleged slanted reporting. And he dodged a question if more lawsuits against Harrison's critics were forthcoming. Will he slap a lawsuit on the Catholic Church itself since - let's be clear here - it was the Diocese of Fresno that started this whole thing by removing Harrison from the church? That is not as far fetched as it seems since Harrison enjoys the support of some of our community's wealthiest and most influential business owners, as well as CEOs and vice presidents of some of Bakersfield's most prominent companies who have not been shy about publicly supporting their priest amid multiple allegations.
 WHAT IS NEXT: A big date is coming up Nov. 25 when the Diocese of Fresno will have to release Harrison's personnel file, which could do two things: add potentially damaging details to the charges by accusers, and tell us what the church knew, and when it knew it. Attorneys for both sides will meet with a Superior Court judge to determine how much - and when - of the personnel files will be released. One thing is clear: Humphrey and his team will deal with each accuser individually, cast doubt on their motives and impugn their credibility and do everything to win the public PR battle going forward.
 THE DECISION: At the end of the day, it will be Bishop Joseph Brennan who will decide Harrison's fate. Unlike prosecutors who look for evidence that could sway a jury, Brennan could decide he believes Harrison's reputation has been damaged bad enough that he could no long serve effectively, and cut him loose. His options: return Harrison to the pulpit, move him to another church, kick him out of the church or simply do nothing and let the case drag on for years. At the end of the day, and this is the pity in all this, we may never know what really happened to the men who came forward.


 * ... BAD FORM: Remember Tatyana Hargrove, the young woman who sued the Bakersfield police alleging excessive force a couple of years ago? You may remember her sitting alongside her attorney looking pained as she sought a jackpot for her alleged mistreatment. Well now -and you know where this is going don't you? - she has been arrested on suspicion of tampering with food at a local McDonald's where she worked. The charge: a coworker saw her spitting on food and rubbing a hamburger bun on the floor before serving a police officer. Hargrove was bitten by a police dog during the incident, sued the police and lost in court. And there you have it.

 * ... GAS PRICES: Well, it has happened. The price of a gallon of gasoline in California has spiked to $5 in some place, more than double the price in some other parts of the country. A Mobil station in West L.A. advertised gasoline for $5.29 per gallon of regular unleaded on Tuesday morning, video from the location showed. A gallon of supreme cost $5.69.

 * ... MOVNG UP: Congratulations to Chelsea Lewis who has passed the California bar exam and is headed to become a working lawyer. Belden is the daughter of Leanne and Scott Belden. Her father is a partner in the Belden Blaine Raytis law firm. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara and later the UC Hastings Law School.

 * ... DENNIS MULLINS: The funeral service for Dennis Mullins filled the chamber at Trinity Anglican Church in the southwest this weekend, a final goodbye to a quiet lawyer whose word was his bond. Mullins, 67, died of a ruptured aorta a week ago, leaving a wife (Melanie) and daughter Anna. Mullins worked for Tejon Ranch and Klein DeNatale Goldner before retiring recently and devoting his time as a water lawyer. He was considering going into the seminary at the time of his death.

 * ... MEMORIES: This is one of the most remarkable photos I have seen posted on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. There is no date attached. The second photo also is undated and appears to show Chester Avenue (or possibly 19th Street) downtown.