Reader: You managed to humanize the face of homelessness in your portrait of Danny ("Toilets and showers would be great, but dignity is in shortest supply," Aug. 25). From our comfortable perches, we are quick to judge and slow to help. We, too, are disgusted by the trash and vandalism left behind by some from our homeless community. We, too, often believe that “these people” should lift themselves up by their bootstraps as we fail to offer a helping hand.

Too many of us have no understanding or empathy for the overwhelming, negative odds that they face. A drug/alcohol addict released from our local jails may be drug-free at that moment, but is released with absolutely no means to find housing or much chance of securing a job. We are practically ensuring a return to drug use, homelessness and crime. We commend the efforts of the city and county to coordinate approaches to our burgeoning homeless problem. We applaud the very basic suggestions that Bob Price makes and the dignity he gives Danny. We implore our community to find constructive ways to help with the issue.

— Bruce and Claudia Keith

Reader: I’ve read your most recent article about the interview with the man who still holds on to his dignity. It was a touching and motivating read. I’m sorry you have to sometimes see those disgusting, ugly online comments left from the vile of Kern. I really appreciate you writing about this issue.

I one time found a similar man by Oswell Street and Brundage Lane. When I gave him around $5, I told him I hope his day goes better today. As the light turned green I drove away — but for a second, I looked through my sideview mirror and I saw him wipe tears away and his shoulders shaking. I didn’t know just a few dollars would make a man break down and cry. Ever since that day not even a month ago, I haven’t been the same since and I am deeply concerned about the homeless situation here. I hope that more stories like this will make the paper so that people will be more aware of what we can do or ought to do. I’ll do everything possible on my end. Just keep going on yours.

— Paloma Rosales

Reader: Thank you for your article regarding Danny and the issues of homelessness. Good points all around. It breaks my heart when I see the homeless, especially during the heat of the day in Bakersfield.

I know each homeless person has their reason for being homeless and that most causes may be attributed to poor choices. They each have their story. I often ask God what can we do as a community to help our homeless. There has to be more than just giving them handouts on a street corner. Your bullet points in the article made good common sense!

Danny’s straightforward honesty regarding his use of heroin hit home. My older brother and younger sister were both heroin users. One spent a great deal of time in and out of prison and the other lived from place to place with friends.

They made poor choices and thus lived a hard life. Both are now deceased. So, yes, it’s hard and sad to see the homelessness in our community. Hopefully, we as a community can reach out to those that need and want help. As you stated, we need to consider ”existing funding sources to make it happen.”

Just so you know, I am a supporter for closing our borders to not only stop all illegal entry but most certainly to stop drugs from entering into our nation. Again, thank you. Blessings to you, Robert.

— Kat Gonzales

Reader: That’s a great feel-good, one-sided story, but the truth is, most of these street people had a chance to work, not do drugs, not steal, not be drunks, etc., but they didn’t choose that.

Now it’s our kids' turn to make good decisions in life and we need to focus on their safety so they get a chance. The street people are taking this away from our kids. It’s faulty-logic stories like this that will make sure this paper continues to fail and will be its demise.

— M. Hunt

Price: There's definitely some faulty logic here, Mr. Hunt, but it wasn't in my column about Danny.

Give our kids some credit. They see how we treat the damaged people among us. They see how we're willing, or unwilling, to study problems and develop solutions. They see our compassion, or lack of compassion. And they take those lessons into adulthood.

Of course we need to focus on our kids' safety. But if you're implying that the homeless population is a threat to their well-being, wouldn't it make sense to address their circumstances? Clean them up, cure their drug habits, give them purpose? That's how you create a safer community, not — well, whatever it is you're proposing we do. Nothing, it appears.

•••

Reader: I have lived in the Taft area most of my life. I attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church as a teenager and then as a mom with kids, so I am familiar with the church and the area it’s located in. It should be designated as a historical monument.

I am also familiar with Ms. Shari Rightmer ("Ten years later, she's still 'doin' good for nothin'," Aug. 18) as I belong to one of the service clubs in Taft that she visited as a guest in 2014. She told us a story of her wealth, her husband’s death, and her becoming homeless. She said she came to Taft to serve the underserved. Well, we waited. That didn’t happen.

She came back to our club. This time she was going to help foster kids leaving foster care because they were 18. Once again, we waited. That didn’t happen.

In fact, I can’t think of anything Ms. Rightmer does for our community. Taft has several places that hand out food and clothes every week, like the Needs Center, which isn’t located in a neighborhood. Then she opened a business growing plants in water and fish poop on Kern Street. The business is closed. The building is sitting in disrepair.

So when I read your article about what a wonderful job she’s doing for my community, I am pretty sure you did not come visit the church and see what it looks like. Also, how many of her "students" on the "Shar-on campus" have gone on to live clean and sober lives and get jobs? Are there any AA or drug class being taught there by certified instructors? Did you contact any of the people who live in the neighborhood that surrounds the church to ask them how having the "campus" has influenced their neighborhood?

If people in our community who are on drugs or have mental issues (usually because of drugs) want help, there are plenty of programs in Bakersfield, like Teen Challenge or the Salvation Army. In the future, please do some research before putting an article on the front page of Sunday’s paper, especially if it concerns the community I live in.

— Susan Baker

Price: I first interviewed Shari Rightmer 10 years ago, when she set out to do something with her life after having lived at the Bakersfield Homeless Center for several months. This month she celebrated a decade of freedom from the stigma of "Bunk No. 11."

My Aug. 18 column was intended to be an update on her situation. I have no doubt I could have found people who live and work around St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church who are not happy about their proximity to a program for the homeless. We've seen some of that discomfort here — just this month in Bakersfield with opposition to a proposed low-barrier shelter for the homeless at Weill Park.

That said, I'll admit that you are correct. I should have looked more closely at the program and its impact on the community. 

•••

Reader: I’ve been a reader for years, and on Saturdays I look forward to seeing the high school football write ups. Imagine my surprise when there were no Friday night articles or even scores in the paper! There were a couple of pregame pictures so I know the paper knew about the games! I hope this was just a one-time oops and that next week they will be back. Not impressed with the new direction.

— Cheryl Youngblood

Price: Subscribe to our free BVarsity newsletter. It comes straight to your smartphone or tablet every Saturday at 7:30 a.m. Click on the game you want to read about, and presto. 

To sign up, you will need to create a Bakersfield.com account or log in to your existing Bakersfield.com account. Once you're logged in, select the drop-down arrow next to your login name, select "dashboard" on the dashboard screen, click on "email lists" to manage your email subscriptions, check the BVarsity Updates box to subscribe, and then click save.

See? That wasn't so hard.

The Californian is now printed in Palmdale, which means we have to build in an extra two hours of return drive time in order to get the paper distributed to our carriers at the appointed hour. That means our deadline is 9:30 p.m. Compounding the issue in week one, most football games were pushed back to 8 or 8:30 p.m. starting times because of the heat and therefore didn't finish until after our deadline. If you think you were frustrated by this, you should have seen our sports staff. 

It might take some getting used to, but the new reality is this: High school scores will be posted online at Bakersfield.com as they come in, and most will also appear in our e-Edition. We'll give you the scores as best we can in the Saturday paper, and a complete wrap-up will appear in Sunday's paper.

But neither snow nor rain nor heat nor distance from the presses stays these BVarsity newsletters from popping up on your phone every Saturday.

The Californian’s Robert Price answers your questions and takes your complaints about our 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. Include your name and phone number; they won’t be published.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.