Saturday, June 17, 2023

Kern County loses its top CAO to Napa County, Generation Z goes to pot (literally, cannabis) and order some popcorn to watch the Democratics fight each other when Andrae Gonzales challenges Dr. Jasmeet Bains in the Assembly race

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.

* ... FAREWELL RYAN ALSOP:  Ryan Alsop, the county's chief administrative officer since 2017, is leaving his post to take a similar job in Napa County. This is a huge lost for the county, which enjoyed a

period of steady, adult leadership during a period of great challenge, from the issues over firefighter's pay, to balancing the budget, the historic snowmelt and the threat of flooding and his efforts to successfully past a tax increase in unincorporated parts of the county. Alsop is just 52, a prime age for county administrators, and he was a unique fit for Kern County: he grew up in Bakersfield, went to Highland High and Bakersfield College, and knew the players. Next up? Stay tuned. (photo courtesy of The Californian)

 * .... GONZALES VERSUS BAINS? The worst kept secret in local politics is the emergence of Bakersfield City Councilman Andrae Gonazales as a challenger to freshman Assemblywoman Dr. Jasmeet Bains in the March 2024 primary. The richness of this scenario is that they are both Democrats and we are about to have a front row seat to watch the Democratic Party cannabalize itself in this Bains-Gonzales matchup. So what is behind all this besides Gonzales' outsized personal political ambition?  Can Gonzales run on his record on the City Council when his downtown Ward 2 is awash in lawlessness, crime and vagrants, and his efforts to combat it have been largely ineffectual? And what is the Democrats' beef with Bains, who easily defeated Supervisor Leticia Perez to win the Assembly post but has quickly irked Sacramento Democrats by showing an independent side aligned with Valley sensibilities? Who knows but it's serious enough to bring together Perez and Gonzales, two Democrats who have been at odds with each other for as long as I can remember. And wasn't Gonzales thinking of running against Perez for her supervisor seat? And of course, what happens to the Ward 2 seat if Gonzales vacates it? This is all going to be fun to watch and it doesn't cost us a nickel. So grab a popcorn and join me.

 * ... GENERATION Z GOES TO POT: When it comes to cannabis consumption, it appears that Generation Z is fully on board. Gen Z - born between 1996 and 2010 - is the first generation to grow up with widespread legal access to cannabis. A recent study found that 65 percent or Generation Zero smoke marijuana and 51 percent consume cannabis infused beverages. Gen Zers are just as likely to visit a marijuana lounge as they are a bar. Gen Zers are also drinking less than past generations.

 * ... MOVING ON: Michael Burroughs, head of CSUB's Kegley Institute of Ethics, is leaving to join the University of Southern California as Executive Director of Organizational Change in the Office of Ethics, Culture, and Compliance. Burroughs siad he was "excited for this new chapter in life and opportunity to lead the strategic vision for USC's focus on values and engagement with the entire university community to guide the USC Culture Journey."

 * ... DOWNTOWN WOES: You can add Smith's Bakery on Union Avenue to the long and growing list of businesses that have suffered at the hands of the lawlessness of downtown. Employees came to work to find the windows smashed out.

 * ... PHOTO OF THE DAY: Once again local photographer JoJo Paredes Butingan blows us away with this incredible picture, a virtual carpet of green.

* ... MEMORIES: These two cool old photos of  Bakersfield back in the day come to you courtesy of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page, a treasure trove of good stuff.

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