Thursday, January 9, 2020

Could Leticia Perez be the ally the oil industry is looking for to deal with Gov. Gavin Newsom? Plus supporters of Father Craig Harrison launch a petition drive to bring him back, the Wolf Moon is upon us and remembering the mighty dust storm that hit Kern County

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.

 * ... LETICIA PEREZ: The new chair of the Kern County Board of Supervisors, Leticia Perez, may find herself in a unique position to help the oil and gas industry, which has been put on the defensive by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature. If this sounds a bit odd, it should. First, Perez is a loyal Democrat serving in a non-partisan post, but her politics are clearly to the left of
those who traditional support fossil fuels, particularly in this state. Second, Perez is still facing a misdemeanor charge for failing to disclose that her husband was involved in the cannabis industry while she was voting on marijuana related issues before the Board. Yet, in some odd way Perez could be the best ally the oil and gas industry has as it fends off assaults from Sacramento. Appearing on The Richard Beene Show, Perez told me she is urging Gov. Newsom to approach this issue cautiously, arguing that the oil industry should "be a partner, not the enemy" in helping the state reach its energy goals. The oil industry has some of the brightest minds and engineers in the world, she argued, so why not allow those people to help us find a way to ween ourselves off fossil fuels in a responsible way. "We have it all here, Richard," she told me, explaining that Kern County also leads the state in renewable energy. In this time of chaos, our oil industry should look to people like Perez as allies who may be able to talk some sense into the environmentalists and Sacramento Democrats.

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: A petition is being circulated among local Catholics to demand that Father Craig Harrison be returned to the pulpit at St. Francis Church. While this might be nothing more than a long shot to restore Harrison to St. Francis, it speaks to the loyalty that some parishioners have toward their embattled priest. It has been nine months since Harrison was suspended by the Diocese of Fresno after allegations arose from multiple men that Harrison had touched them inappropriately, and there are few signs that he will return anytime soon. At least one police department continues to investigate allegations of sexual impropriety involving Harrison and young men, and some Harrison followers have resigned themselves that he may never preside over another mass. In fact, insiders tell me that those around Harrison are talking openly about what the next chapter is for Harrison, outside the Catholic church. And there is this: I am also told that an out of town attorney may be considering legal action against Harrison on behalf of several young men, bringing with it yet more potentially salacious details that his supporters and defense team will be forced to refute. Stay tuned. Things are about to heat up.

 * ... NUDE FOOD: The country of New Zealand has taken the war on single use plastic a step further by getting rid of the plastic bags used for fresh vegetables and fruits. That's what one New Zealand grocery store company did, calling it "food in the nude." Said one story: "The initiative is part of the war against plastic. In New Zealand the days of single-use plastic shopping bags are numbered – most supermarkets are no longer providing them at the check-out – while the government late last year agreed to regulations for a mandatory phase-out across all retailers from July 1.

 * ... WOLF MOON:  Are you read for the first full moon of the year? It's right upon us, debuting Friday, January 10 and they say it will be spectacular. It's call the full "wolf moon" and it will rise from the horizon at sunset.

 * ... POOP PATROL: This City Council has voted to renew the contract for the "poop patrol," a program that sends workers out into the city to clean up feces left by the homeless. Yes, that is what it has come to, using our tax dollars to pick up the pool left by legions of homeless. The program will be extended an additional three months and the hours per week will increase from 20 to 26. The city also moved to enter into a contract with the The action also included a deal with the Bakersfield Homeless Center to perform general clean-up services in those areas as well.

* ... JEOPARDY: You know you have made it in this world when your name becomes an answer in Jeopardy!

 * ... MEMORIES: Who remembers the 1977 historic dust storm in Kern County. I was not living here, and these pictures make be grateful I was not.

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