Amestoys 1

The now-defunct Amestoy's on the Hill in east Bakersfield burns for the third time Oct. 19. The building, once a popular dive bar with a loyal following, now looks like a bombed out shell, with charred timbers, a collapsed roof and debris spread along the sidewalks and into the street.

Reader: Good evening, Robert (Price), I want to congratulate you and thank you for your Bakersfield Californian column ("Robert Price: In the debate about police reform, some voices apparently matter more than others," Oct. 25) making the case for the Board of Supervisors' ill-timed, poorly-thought-out decision to terminate the contract Kern County had with Building Healthy Communities. Our Public Health Services Department has made it abundantly clear that the Latino population in Kern is the most adversely affected locally by COVID-19.

Kicking to the curb the nonprofit most suited to mitigate those harms in our hardest to reach communities is indeed dangerous political grandstanding.

Thank you again for supporting what should be authentic debate, discussion and a healthy exchange of ideas in our community.

— Best, Kristie & Bob Coons

Reader: I want to thank you (Robert Price) for your powerful voice, and great article in Sunday's Californian. Please keep the pressure on.

"Mr. Potter" Supervisor Zack Scrivner has other motives. I've read you for a long time as I've been a reader for more than 40 years, and you've always demonstrated a good heart. Keep up the good work.

— Henry Barron

Reader: What a great article from Robert Price in the Oct. 25 paper. I read about the Board of Supervisors’ decision to stop the installation of health safety informational billboards and could not believe it. To go full-blown political on such a critical matter as promoting safety information to the most affected communities and in the middle of a pandemic is just irresponsible. I fail to see how that will support the police.

I’m sure you’ll get some angry comments because that’s the world in which we live. But I, for one, think your article was accurate, on point, and so, very timely.

My compliments!

— Sincerely, Miguel Castellanos

Reader: It would have been informative if you (Robert Price) had stated how mental (health) issues have become so pervasive as compared to pre-COVID times. What was the increase of mentally ill calls for help as compared to last year?

Also, the police aren't psychology majors; they are here to protect the public and arrest people who are out of control. You expect too much from people who are under stress each day due to the ANTIFA and BLM influence which incite people to attack them. Go on a few ride-alongs. They aren't babysitters.

— Anne Grogan

Peterson: One point of clarification from a letter above: The Kern County Board of Supervisors didn't exactly terminate a contract with Building Healthy Communities Kern to disseminate COVID-19 prevention information to underserved areas. Instead, the item was pulled from consideration from a vote and no action was taken because of concerns from some supervisors over Building Healthy Communities Kern's statements in Facebook posts about defunding police.

True, either way, the effect was the same. Building Healthy Communities Kern does not currently have a contract to do this work, which it had already started under the direction of the Kern County Public Health Services Department, and given our subsequent reporting, some people are not pleased. At least four letters to the editor have said as much. The ACLU of Southern California even believes there is a First Amendment free speech issue at play.

Anne, as far as saying Robert should have included information about all the mental health calls police respond to, he did! I think he demonstrates concern and sympathy for all that law enforcement is called to do!

A recap from his column:

"Why are those conversations important? Statistics like this: Just in the first half of this month, Oct. 1-15, BPD responded to 160 calls in which mental health was in some way a factor. Separately, over the course of those same 15 days, BPD responded to calls involving 159 suicidal people. Combined, over that period, that’s 20 calls a day. Time-intensive calls.

"The Kern Behavioral Health Department's Mobile Evaluation Team was dispatched to roughly 4,000 mental health calls in 2019, about two-thirds of them at BPD’s request. During that same 15-day period of October, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office summoned a MET unit 98 times — more than five times a day.

"'There are times we request a MET unit and they are unavailable, either because they are on another call or there just isn’t one working,' said Lt. Joel Swanson of KCSO. 'I believe if they had more staffing, they would respond to even more calls with us.'"

Price absolutely acknowledges law enforcement puts a ton of time into mental health calls.

All to say: None of these issues is going away anytime soon. The ACLU of Southern California, for one, is on the case. Kern County Counsel says it's looking into the ACLU's allegations. People in letters to the editor are calling on the Kern County Board of Supervisors to reconsider. And some are asking where Supervisor David Couch stands on the issue, as many of the impacted communities are in his district, he had been working on the issue, and he was not at the Board of Supervisors meeting where this was taken up. Stay tuned.

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Reader: Just finished reading Steven Mayer's article on the Amestoy building ("East Bakersfield's Amestoy's building suffering death by a thousand cuts," Oct. 25) and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I thought it was rich in detail and the emotion of the patrons and friends and last owner came through, strong and clear, which made it an exceptional newspaper article.

It is a beautiful eulogy to a neighborhood, a group of fans, and a structure that was much more than a deserted building. It was an old and faithful friend that had witnessed local history, weathered hard times, and had been there for anyone who needed a place to call theirs.

— Thank you, Judith Randall

Peterson: Judith, I know so many people have fond memories of Amestoy's. Steven is a great storyteller, and that shines through in his many stories that revolve around Bakersfield's history and people.

One person wrote on Facebook: "I really hope this is the last story about the Amestoy’s building. The fond farewell we had spoils with each act of vandalism and fire."

•••

Reader: In the Wednesday, Oct. 28, paper, Page B1, bottom right hand corner is an article about President Trump losing his request to be replaced as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit, which alleges he raped a woman in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s.

I know he is innocent until he is proven guilty, but why, with the election so close, is it buried at the bottom of the page. Both Biden and Trump have their flaws, but should morality be overlooked? It is not the first time that President Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct and is that a character trait that we want in the person leading our country?

Having a good economy is fine, but what are we "selling our souls for" to achieve it. Unfortunately, by the time a candidate (any candidate) reaches this level in politics, they are usually beholden to whomever has given them the most money; to get elected, they say what we want to hear and with what we are being offered in this presidential election, it seems like we have to pick between the lesser of the two evils.

It almost makes you not want to vote, but, for a lot of us, getting the right to vote meant that there were ultimate sacrifices made by some, so we have to vote not only to honor them, but because of the privilege and responsibility that comes with that right. So, PRAY about it, and VOTE.

— Annette Evans, Bakersfield

Peterson: Morality still counts. Or it should, in my opinion.

This wasn't a bigger or longer story in our paper for two reasons: One, it was, relatively speaking, a minor development in an ongoing story. It wasn't the first time we were hearing about the allegations and lawsuit. And two, we had a small space for nation and world news on that particular day, and there were even bigger stories to share.

And yes, please vote, no matter which candidates, measures or propositions you support. There's a LOT on the ballot locally in addition to voting for president.

•••

Reader: Honest journalism has become impossible to find in our newspapers and television.

The political coverage is usually anti-Republican and always anti-Trump. Associated Press coverage of the presidential debates was written by four writers who are so in the tank for Biden that I wonder if they watched the debate with an open mind. Their most egregious statement was that President Trump feels cornered so he lashed out going as negative as possible.

President Trump was talking about the elephant in the room regarding Hunter Biden’s partner Tony Bobulinski distributing monies to the Bidens. The Democratic moderator certainly was not going to ask that question. Then these so-called journalists wrote about something that occurred four years ago in the debate with Hillary (Clinton) that was negative toward Trump. What has that to do with last night's (Oct. 22) debate? Trump never appeared cornered or flustered. I thought President Trump did a great job in presenting his message. A poll on Fox News found that Trump won 74 to 26 for Biden.

Associated Press continues to have a negative narrative toward Trump with headlines like Sunday’s (Oct. 18) "Trump leans into fear tactics in bid to win Midwest." Tuesday's (Oct. 20) headliner was "Trump, 'running angry,' goes after Fauci." I could go on and on. Meanwhile very little coverage of Biden in his basement and it is never negative.

My wife has said we should stop taking The Californian because you have become so liberal. I tell her let’s try another six months and see if they change. I have asked many of my acquaintances if they take The Californian, and they all say no, too liberal.

Kern County is known for its conservative leanings. I would suggest that The Californian obtain its national news from another source. The Nation & World is a treasure trove of liberal views and a waste of time to read. You could increase your subscribers by finding a more neutral or conservative source.

— Gary L. Williams

Peterson: Gary, you offer so many observations in your letter that I hardly know where to start. But I'll try!

What source would you suggest The Californian use for its Nation & World news? I am genuinely curious what you come up with. Let me know who else provides state, national and world coverage and also lifestyles and sports news in a timely manner to meet daily deadlines.

I didn't know that Kristen Welker was the "Democratic moderator" of the final presidential debate. Turns out I didn't know it because it's not true. The NBC News White House correspondent is "currently registered to vote in Washington, D.C., with no party affiliation, according to the District of Columbia Board of Elections," writes the nonpartisan PolitiFact.

Who won the final debate? It seems to depend on who you ask or who is doing the asking. A CNN Instant Poll of debate watchers found that of those who watched the debate, 53 percent said former Vice President Joe Biden won, and 39 percent said President Trump won. Another 6 percent said they did equally well and a small percentage said they had no opinion. YouGov put it similarly at 54 percent for Biden, 35 percent for Trump and 9 percent of polled viewers calling it a tie.

You say, Gary, that Fox News found that Trump won 74 to 26 for Biden. (I spent more than half an hour trying to find those results online. I didn't, but I also realize that may have been on television.) I talked to one Democrat who said — as much as she disliked saying it — that Trump clearly won and Biden missed so many opportunities to speak directly to the American people, even when Welker asked both candidates to do so. And then of course some commentators say Welker was the big winner of the final debate for keeping things under control!

As to your comments on Associated Press stories: The Oct. 18 story "Trump leans into fear tactics in bid to win Midwest" was backed by several examples. You don't like the headline that said "Trump, 'running angry' goes after Fauci," saying that is a "negative narrative." Gary, I added quote marks around "running angry" in your letter, as you left them out. Let me simply point out that President Trump described himself as "running angry" and he was far from pleased with Dr. Fauci. Those were the president's own words — The Associated Press simply quoted him.

Executive Editor Christine Peterson answers your questions and takes your complaints about The Californian’s news coverage in this weekly feedback forum. Questions may be edited for space and clarity. To offer your input by phone, call 661-395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or email us at soundoff@bakersfield.com. Please include your name and phone number; they won’t be published.