Thursday, December 19, 2019

County CAO Ryan Alsop invites the city to explore a partnership on its homeless shelter, one of the killers of an elderly east Bakersfield woman may be paroled and the San Francisco 49ers show some real class to the family of Christopher Kreiser

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.

 * ... AN OFFER YOU CAN'T REFUSE? Here's an offer that just might be too hard to refuse. County chief administrative officer Ryan Alsop has invited the city to partner with the county in building a low barrier homeless shelter off Golden State. The county is well on the way to opening
the facility, which will eventually feature 150 beds, while the city has been dickering for months about finding a location. During an open ended discussion on The Richard Beene Show, Alsop invited the city to join with the county in operating one joint facility, instead of two competing ones. The advantages: the city could avoid getting into the shelter business, it would avoid ponying up millions for land and it would not have to worry about angering neighborhoods who don't want a shelter near homes. Ward 1 City Councilman Willie Rivera has long wanted to explore a partnership, while City Manager Alan Tandy and Ward 2 Councilman Andrae Gonzales are pushing for the city to buy land on East Brundage at the Calcot plant to erect its own shelter.

 * ... LOW BARRIER SHELTER: Meanwhile as the city dickers, the county shelter is well under construction and could open as early as February. Alsop said the construction of the facility, located off Golden State on a parcel of county land, will open either in late January or early February. The facility will be called a Low Barrier Navigation Center and will be run by staff of the Community Action Partnership of Kern.

* ... PROP 57: Here is yet another example of the unexpected consequences of the passage of Prop 57: a young lady who was involved in the brutal death of a helpless 81-year-old woman is about to be released from prison. That's right Katila Nash, convicted of taking part in the murder when she was 15 years old, is set to be released from prison any day now.  If you remember, Nash acted as a lookout when she and two other teenagers entered the house of Dorothy Sessions in east Bakersfield and brutally killed her. She wasn't eligible for patrol until 2030 but thanks to Prop 57, she is now eligible for release.

 * ... BAD FORM: Shame on the Kern County Fair board for its lack of discretion in spending lavishly on lobster meals and booze, and now a state agency says its has to make suitable reimbursements. According to KGET, which broke the original story, the California Department of Food snd Agriculture (CDFA) is tracking an auditor's recommendations on action taken against CEO Mike Alcott, a deputy manager and a maintenance supervisor. The auditor also noted that members of the fair board have agreed to repay $1,259 for alcohol purchases. How did we get here anyway? Board chairwoman Blodgie Rodriguez should explain that instead of dodging the cameras. When the auditor reveals what board members have repaid for what, we will report it here.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "You know what’s more annoying than cops? People who buy old refurbished cop cars and keep the spotlight attached. We all hate you."

 * ... CHRISTOPHER KREISER: Hats off to the ownership of the San Francisco 49ers for showing some real class, and love, for a Bakersfield man who died of cancer a year ago. In memory of Christopher Kreiser and his love of the 49ers, his wife Katie, their children and friends attended last week's 49ers game against the Atlanta Falcons and were granted field access by the team owners. Rick Kreiser, Christopher's father, said the 49ers went out of their way to recognize Christopher and his fight against lymphoma.

 * ... MEMORIES: And who remembers the old Bakersfield Inn on Union Avenue. Just take a look at what it once was.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Will Lyle Martin run for Sheriff, H.A. Sala confronts David Abassi at a local political fund raiser, street racing in Bakersfield, the Yard House opens in the Southwest and the original owners of Guthrie's on Guadalcanal during World War II

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. 

As we head into a colossal election year, both on the national and local level, there is lot of movement as potential candidates start positioning themselves to make the run - or not.  One of the hottest rumors around town is that retiring Bakersfield police chief Lyle Martin may be
eyeing a run for Kern County Sheriff once Donny Youngblood retires at the end of his term. Martin will join the District Attorney's Office as chief investigator and word is he is considering a run for Sheriff if Youngblood retires as expected in two years. Martin's entry into the Sheriff's race would turn it on its head, and he would immediately be crowned the front runner. On the Board of Supervisors, Emilio Huerta held a fund raiser last week in his bid to unseat Supervisor David Couch, and Mayor Karen Goh has two challengers in her bid for reelection. Looking farther down the road, Supervisor Mike Maggard has not indicated if he will retire when his term expires in two years, but if he does Jeff Flores is expected to enter that race. Flores serves on the Kern High School District board and is chief of staff to Maggard. Another name being talked about for Maggard's seat is Louis Gill, the director of the Bakersfield Homeless Center. Gill notes he has his hands full preparing to move the homeless center (the site was purchased by the High Speed Rail Authority) so this may be wishful thinking by Gill's supporters. But his entry into the race should not be taken lightly: he has the name recognition and gravitas to make a serious run.
 MY PREDICTIONS: It's far too early to make predictions, but for the fun of it here is what I see: Mayor Goh easily wins reelection, Couch handily turns back Huerta and Martin enters the Sheriff's race and waltzes to an easy victory.
 SHERIFF'S RACE: Two other names said to be eyeing the Sherif's race are Shafter police chief Kevin Zimmerman and Brian Smith, a retired California Highway Patrol officer.
 DUST UP: Did you hear about the confrontation between cannabis promoter David Abassi and defense attorney H.A. Sala last week at the fund raiser for Emilio Huerta? Abassi showed up at the fund raiser - held at Sala's Bakersfield Country Club home - unannounced and was quickly confronted by Sala. (Remember, Sala is defending Supervisor Leticia Perez who has had a long beef with Abassi) I am told Sala told him to leave his house, several times, which Abassi finally did. Later, Abassi claimed on Facebook that Sala pushed him down the stairs and basically assaulted him. Too bad for Abassi but I am told Sala's security cameras captured the whole thing and Sala is now considering having Abassi charged with filing a false police report.

 * ... STREET RACING: Take a good look at Israel Maldonado. Is he the new poster child for street racing in Bakersfield? This is a grown adult, a 34-year-old man who should be well on the path to a successful life, yet prosecutors claim he was racing another car at more than 100 mph on a busy Ming Avenue when one vehicle slammed into another car, killing a woman. The judge ordered Maldonado to surrender his license and stay away from establishments that serve alcohol. Maldonado pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter and three misdemeanors at his arraignment before Judge Rick Brown The Californian said Maldonado was driving a Dodge Ram pickup truck when he allegedly began racing a Ford Mustang driven by Ronald Pierce Jr. on Old River Road in southwest Bakersfield on Nov. 24, according to police reports. Pierce struck a minivan, police said, sending it into the path of an oncoming crane truck, killing the driver, Maria Blaney Navarro, 58, of Bakersfield, and seriously injuring her two grandchildren.

 * ... SEASON GREETINGS: Only in Kern County would you find a holiday light display with a little attitude.

* ... YARD HOUSE: The new Yard House restaurant opens today (Monday) on Stockdale Highway, and you can expect a typical Bakersfield welcome: standing room only. The new eatery will open daily at 11 a.m. and will feature a regular Saturday and Sunday brunch. General manager Brian Cable says the Yard House is known for its selection of more than 100 craft beers, and the restaurant features a little bit of everything: steaks, fish, burgers, vegetarian and vegan options and burgers.

* ... HOMELESSNESS: Just how fed up are we with the vagrant issue? Just look at this post I spotted on Facebook and the accompanying pictures. "This is fun having to deal with on a daily basis.  Congregating on my property again. I just spent a-whole lot of money cleaning it up. I’m getting tired of this crap. When I asked them to leave one man threatened to throw his soda on me. This Has to stop!"

 * ... MISSION EXPANSION: But there is good news, and it came last week when ground breaking was held to add a 40-bed facility to the Mission of Kern County. Mayor Karen Goh joined Mission director Carlos Baldovinos in the ground breaking ceremony. It's only 40 beds but it is a good start.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this photo from World War II involving the original owners of Guthrie's. The caption reads: "Jack and Shorty Guthrie the original owners of Guthrie's Alley Cat in the late 40's. It was called Oscar's Alley Cat in 1940. Later Papa Jack sold the Cat to his son-in-law and opened the Skylark Lounge in Oildale across from Meadows Field until he retired and his son Jack took over. I worked there for both, 6 different times, and adored them, so very much."