Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Leticia Perez jumps into the race for the state Assembly, supervisor Brian Smith is questioned about his non political columns in the local paper and who would stead life sized statues depicting the war on cancer?

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 represent any other company or publication. 

 * ... LOCAL POLITICS ROUNDUP: This year will be an important election year as redistricting and retirements have introduced both confusion and opportunity in local political circles. First, Supervisor Leticia Perez make it official this week she is running for the 35th Assembly District, which has also

drawn interest from Taft Dr. Jasmeet Bains. Rep. David Valadao will be running in the 22nd Congressional District instead of the 21st, where Assemblyman Rudy Salas is running. And on the Board of Supervisors, Mike Maggard's retirement has opened the door to a hot race featuring Maggard aide Jeff Flores, former Homeless Center director Louis Gill and retired CHP officer Brian Smith. In the 16th state Senate District, former Assemblywoman Nicole Parra is running after briefly flirting with a bid to unseat Rep David Valadao. Stay tuned because things are just heating up.

 * ... CAMPAIGN SHENANIGANS? Brian Smith is a retired CHP officer who has been talking about running for Kern County Sheriff for at least two or three years. So far, so good. Knowing that he intended to run for office, Smith teamed with our local newspaper, The Bakersfield Californian, to begin running a weekly series of seemingly non-political stores focused on life as a law enforcement officer. So far, so good, but just to be clear, let's assume Smith knew he was a virtual unknown who needed name recognition to run for a countywide office, and what better way than a weekly column in your local paper? But now some are questioning if Smith didn't skirt the law when the paper kept running his column (it has since killed it) while he was openly running for the District 3 seat on the Board of Supervisors. (Smith made it clear he would not run against Sheriff Donny Youngblood, and when Youngblood said he would run again, Smith turns his eye on the supervisor seat held by retiring Mike Maggard.) Former city councilman Mark Salvaggio was among those questioning his intent and he sent Smith this email: "Brian, Who is guiding, advising your campaign for District 3 Supervisor? Has Brandon Martin moved on? Your last "Cop Tales" column was published in The Bakersfield Californian on December 12, after the Oildale Christmas Parade, where you campaigned with a banner proclaiming "Brian Smith for Supervisor." You have been campaigning for several months. This is true. You filed your Campaign Form 410 with the Secretary of State to officially run for Supervisor on October 21; 6 "Cop Tales" were published subsequently (October 31-December 12). You did an endorsement interview with the Kern County Prosecutors Association on September 10. You also interviewed with the Kern County Firefighters Union on October 4 for its support. What tangled webs we weave when we first practice to deceive," to borrow an applicable line from Sir Walter Scott." Now here is the ironic part: Smith had his hands full already in the District 3 race where incumbent Mike Maggard's chief aide, Jeff Flores, is expected to run. Flores enjoys wide name recognition, has served on the Kern High School District and is deeply involved in Republican circles. Flores was trouble enough for Smith and it just got worse when Louis Gill, former head of the Bakersfield Homeless Center, just entered the race, another formidable opponent.

 * ... DECISION 2022: Local elections and how Kern's demographics are changing will be the topic of this week's Bakersfield Observed podcast, which will be released Thursday. Joining me to review the political landscape will be Russell Johnson, a former Bakersfield city councilman and now head of Common Sense Consulting. Tap into your account on Spotify or Google, or wherever you access your podcasts, to Russell and I chop it up about local politics.

 * ... SMELLY HOMES: For the past two years the pandemic has forced most of us to spend more time at home. Home gyms and offices have proliferated, more of us are working from home, some of us have acquired more pets and some of us are home schooling our children. In short, home is where the heart is and in that case, it means our homes can get stinky with so much activity. So said the Wall Street Journal: "Housebound Americans are buying more air fresheners, scented candles and pungent cleaners to overcome one of humanity's deep social fears - that visitors will think their abodes stink to high heaven." 

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Remember the old days before free social media when we had to buy newspaper ads to publicly announce our courage, thoughtfulness, virtue and nobility? It’s so much easier now!"

 * ... CANCER STATUE DISAPPEARS: Just when you think people can't stoop any lower, sure enough they do something that simply astonishes you. This time it appears a group of people took the time to plan and execute the theft of a series of life-size bronze statues that once stood in Beach Park as a testament to those who fought cancer. That's right, the statues of men, women and children gleefully emerging from a maze to celebrate beating cancer have disappeared, and no one seems to know what happened. One of the first to notice was local clinical  psychologist Cory Gonzales who posted this on Facebook: "I remember the grand opening of this inspirational tribute to cancer survivors. I also remember making a speech (here) on how important this was for us survivors & the culture of our community. I just heard that all of these statues were stolen, absolutely heartbroken! Is there anything sacred? Are there no more ethics in our society? Where is our collective conscience? A sad day indeed."

 * ... MEMORIES: Now take a look at these historic pictures from the Kern County History Fanssite. Just look at that armory at Gordon's Ferry back in the day.