Friday, January 17, 2020

A deeply divided City Council nears a decision on how to deal with our homeless crisis, a Democratic activist goes on a bizarre rant before the Board of Supervisors, radio producer JR Flores breaks a big story and crime runs rampant in the Golden State

 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. 

 * ... CITY SHOWDOWN: Will the city of Bakersfield go it alone an build its own homeless shelter or will it throw it with the county and partner on the new county shelter expected to open next month?
This decision is coming down to the wire and has split our City Council. On one side is Ward 2 Councilman Andrae Gonzales who is leading an effort to buy 17 acres of land on East Brundage (the old Calcot facility) for a low barrier homeless shelter. Gonzales says he will make a motion to buy the property at the Council meeting next week, but he faces opposition from Ward 1 Councilman Willie Rivera, who wants to throw in with the county on its facility off Golden State an M Street. Make no mistake but there is
plenty of bad blood between Gonzales and Rivera, who is supported by Supervisor Leticia Perez and we all know that Perez an Gonzales are like oil and water. Watch the votes on this one, because it will tell us a lot about where the council may go under newly appointed City Manager Christian Clegg.

 * ... PEREZ: Speaking of Perez, the supervisor has agreed to a deal with the District Attorney's office to resolve the conflict of interest case involving her failure to disclosure that her husband (Fernando Jara) was involved in the cannabis business while she sat on the board. The deal calls on Perez to pay $30,000 in fines to a non-profit involved in the homeless fight, another $4,000 on top of that and community service. Perez is eager to put this embarrassing chapter behind her - it came near to derailing her career - and has positioned herself as a realistic moderate in the ongoing effort by the state to shut down the oil an natural gas industry.

 * ... JULIE SOLIS: Well, it's election season and that means odd behavior, the occasional rant and stunts like the one Julie Solis pulled before the Board of Supervisors. Solis is running against 34th Assemblyman Vince Fong and went on a bizarre anti-oil rant, prompting board chair Letica Perez to try to shut her down. It was then that Solis, who like Perez is a Democrat, accused Perez of wanting to have sex with her because of her "big titties," or something of that nature. Seriously. She actually said that, and this is a woman who wants to be taken seriously as a candidate. It turns out even her own Democratic Party has turned against her, not only refusing to endorse her but kicking her out of the local party. Every election season needs a few oddballs, and Solis proved this week she is here to entertain us all. Stay tuned.

 * ... NEW CITY MANAGER: What was our City Council thinking when it offered the city manager's job to Christian Clegg of Stockton and then decided to wait three days to announce it? What did our council think, that no one would leak it? That they could sit on it for a few days and the reporters about town would sit quietly? Well that didn't happen, and credit goes to J.R. Flores, producer of both the Ralph Bailey and Richard Beene Show on KERN NewsTalk Radio, to dig up the truth. It only took Flores a few hours before he revealed that Christian Clegg, assistant city manager of Stockton, was the pick to succeed the retiringAlan Tandy. Producers of talk radio shows like Flores normally work quietly behind the scenes and rarely get credit for the work they do. Flores deserves credit for tracking this one down with his impressive network of local newsmakers.

 * ... SPELLING: Someone over at the Downtown Business Association needs to learn how to spell, or at least how to proof read.

* ... SEX TALK: I spotted this on Facebook posted by state Sen. Shannon Grove and it certainly got my attention. It alleges, among other things, that the state of California has approved new sex education guidelines for six graders that include such topics as "kinky" sex and "sex toys." The problem? According to The Californian's Bob Price, it is all bogus. As in not true. As in Shannon Grove allegedly fell for an internet hoax. Grove later took the post down and apologized. We all fall for internet hoaxes, but one would hope our local legislators would have a better grip on pending legislation.

 * ... THEFT: I spotted this post on Facebook. "These scumbags ran out of Albertson's on Panama Lane with stolen merchandise. There was a female passenger already waiting for them when they ran out. I notified Albertson's and PD to give there location. However I ended finding them in a residential neighborhood near the intersection of Sweet Water and Alum. The 3 guys unloaded all that stuff they are carrying and the female took off in the truck." Yet another sign of the times in the Golden State.

 * ... MEMORIES: How about this old shot of the Noriega Hotel?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Longtime Bakersfield businessman Mike Stier dies after a protracted battle with cancer

 Mike Stier, a longtime Bakersfield businessman, avid golfer, patron of the arts and philanthropist, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 71.
 Stier's wife, Cathi, announced his death in a short message on Facebook.
 Stier was known as the owner of Stier's RV and later Barry's RV. He was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in 2005 after he found a lump on his neck after a workout.
 An avid golfer and member of Bakersfield Country Club, Stier was generous in his support of the arts. In addition to his wife Cathi, he is survived by daughters Kaylee and Stevie.

Hundreds expect to show up to support the oil and gas industry before the Board of Supervisors, will the city ever make up its mind on a homeless shelter, and a crackdown on street racing nets some arrests

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.

 * ... THE FUTURE OF OIL: If you are concerned about the future of our community, as well as the long history of Kern County and fossil fuels, pay attention to the Tuesday meeting of the Board of
Supervisors. It will be there when a group of state energy regulators, as well as a representative of Gov. Gavin Newsom's office, will get an earful from local residents about the importance of oil and natural gas to our community. Expect to hear about Big Oil's safety record, its adoption of best practices, its commitment to solar and other forms of alternative energy, and its role in providing well paying jobs to thousands of people in an economically distressed part of the state.

 * ... THE HOMELESS: Meanwhile, over at the city there seems to be a clear lack of consensus on how to move forward to combat homelessness. Does Ward 2 Councilman Andrae Gonzales have the votes to approve the purchase of 17 acres of land on East Brundage for a homeless shelter? Does Ward 1 Councilman Willie Rivera have the votes to block it? Or, as some people fear, will the city drop the whole idea of building its own shelter and partner with Kern County on its low barrier shelter off Golden State? That shelter, meanwhile, is well under way and will open in February.

 * ... MORE DECISIONS: The city of Bakersfield faces two more big decisions this month: it is expected to name new City Manager to replace Alan Tandy at its Jan. 22 meeting, and the new city manager will then face the task of appointing a new police chief to replace Lyle Martin.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Common sense is like deodorant; those who need it most don’t use it.":

 * ... STREET RACING: It's nice to see that Bakersfield police are cracking on street racing across town, an epidemic that has already cost the life of one woman during a crash on Ming Avenue near Old River Road. Over the weekend, police officers conducted sweeps Saturday night into early Sunday morning, stopping 18 cars and issuing 10 citations. Two people were arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto.

 * ... OUR WORLD: Check out this lovely picture from the Panorama Bluffs, taken by hiker Esther Brandon on her early Sunday hike. And who says Bakersfield's isn't beautiful?

 * ... STOLEN CAR: How many of us live with the nightmare that our vehicles will be stolen in the middle of the night? Here is what happens, compliments of a post in the "Bakersfield Thieves" Facebook page. The caption reads: "My poor Car... door panels removed 2 missing, wheel and tires missing, speakers missing. Battery gone. Dog hair and starburst candy rappers inside. Got into my car with a slim jim. Found on the east side 604 Tanner street."

 * ... MEMORIES: I am stunned by these two old pictures of Kern County back in the day, compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.