David Bossie: Trump perseveres in 2019 — stands tall despite relentless attacks from Democrats and media

A lot can happen in a year and 2019 was no exception.

Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House for the second time; there was a government shutdown; special counsel Robert Mueller’s two-year investigation came to an end; the Democrat presidential primary campaigns began; the American economy enjoyed historic prolonged vibrancy; anti-Trump Republicans like John Kasich and Jeb Bush started and ended their search for a primary challenger to run against the president, and President Trump was fraudulently impeached by unhinged partisans in the House of Representatives.

But through it all, President Donald Trump — the ultimate political outsider — continues to plow forward, never relenting in his focus of putting America First.

JAMES CARAFANO: US AIRSTRIKES IN MIDEAST — SENDING THIS CLEAR MESSAGE TO FRIENDS AND FOES ALIKE

In the face of unprecedented attacks from the left — including a mainstream media that in 2019 was fully exposed as a vicious partner of Democrat political operatives — Trump perseveres. Facing an onslaught of fake news that would have brought other leaders to their knees, Trump stands tall heading into the fourth year of his presidency.

The year began with a government shutdown caused by congressional Democrats refusing to acknowledge the crisis at our Southern border. Undeterred, Trump demonstrated true presidential leadership by ordering billions in appropriated military funds to be used to construct the much-needed border wall.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR OPINION NEWSLETTER

Always letting the polls dictate their actions, Democrats conceded their disastrous policy position in June, prompting headlines such as “Democrats make U-turn on calling border a ‘manufactured crisis.’” Even in the face of unprecedented liberal obstruction, more than 500 miles of a border wall is under construction thanks to the president.

More from Opinion

At his State of the Union address, President Trump declared that “America will never be a socialist country.” That certainly hasn’t stopped the Democrats from lurching further to the left. From the economy-crippling Green New Deal to the lie of “Medicare-for-all,” to job-killing tax increases, 2019 has revealed the left’s true vision for America — and it’s an ugly one.

Throughout the past year, Democrats proved that they lied to the American people to get into power in 2018. Despite the promises, there was never any intention of working with Trump in a bipartisan manner on important policies for the American people. The real Democrat agenda started and ended with impeaching the duly elected president of the United States by any means necessary.

In February, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was on television lying about evidence of Trump campaign collusion with Russia that he said was “in plain sight.” Two months later, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report was made public and it concluded the exact opposite — not only was there no collusion whatsoever, there was no obstruction of justice either.

The sham inquiry that transpired over this year will do lasting damage to our republic because impeachment is now seen as just another political campaign weapon. 

Over the summer, with no positive agenda to offer the American people, the Democrats pushed the reckless narrative that the economy was headed toward a recession. Unfortunately for them, the Trump economy is as resilient as the man himself. The year began in earnest with a very low unemployment rate of 4 percent, only to plunge to the historic level of 3.5 percent by the end of 2019.

Since Trump’s election three years ago, 7.2 million jobs have been created — with nearly 2 million new jobs in 2019 alone. Additionally, wages have increased by 3.1 percent over the past year. On top of all that, the president has made it an ongoing priority to slash overly burdensome government regulations that stifle economic growth.

In September, with Mueller’s findings in the rearview mirror and Chairman Jerry Nadler’s hearings on the report a complete failure — thanks in large part to former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — the American people were ready for impeachment-crazed Democrats in Congress to turn the corner and work with the president on issues important to them. But Speaker Pelosi would have none of it.  Instead, she and her caucus of left-wing socialists made the ill-fated decision to turn a routine phone call between Trump and the president of Ukraine into another partisan impeachment witch hunt.

The sham inquiry that transpired over the next three months will do lasting damage to our republic because impeachment is now seen as just another political campaign weapon. Pelosi’s continued refusal to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate confirms what’s been known all along — this entire effort by the left is an orchestrated stunt designed to hurt Trump’s reelection chances.

Let it not be forgotten that in the midst of the Democrat impeachment circus and accompanying media frenzy, Trump never took his eye off the ball for the American people. In October, the president ordered the elimination of the world’s most wanted terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, putting an exclamation point on his promise to destroy ISIS.

Heading into 2020, Trump’s amazing legacy is taking shape. When it’s all said and done, his most lasting accomplishment may very well be his all-important effort to fill the federal bench with strict constitutionalists. During the Trump presidency, 187 judicial appointees have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, including an astonishing 102 in 2019 alone.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

In a year that began with a small band of anti-Trump establishment “has-beens” desperately looking for someone — anyone — to challenge the president for the 2020 nomination, 2019 comes to an end with a unified and optimistic Republican Party squarely behind the incumbent.

While most of the optimism on the center-right is driven by Trump’s historic record of accomplishment, it’s also a product of the pathetic field of highly mediocre Democrats vying for their party’s nomination for president. As the far left field bumbles their way to the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, reality is starting to set in for 2020. Democrats understand that they can’t defeat a historical figure with mediocrity.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE BY DAVID BOSSIE

Chef’s cheese soufflé case collapses in court

(CNN) — The cheese soufflé was thrown out of court.

Well, not literally — but French chef Marc Veyrat has lost his soufflé-based lawsuit against the Michelin guide.

Veyrat took Michelin to court in France to demand the fine dining guidebook explain its reasons for demoting his Alpine restaurant from its prestigious three-star status.

A Michelin Guide inspector had previously said the decision was based on the fact Veyrat’s eaterie La Maison de Bois used cheddar, an English cheese, as an ingredient in its soufflé — something Veyrat fervently disputes.

In a video played in court, Veyrat illustrated how his soufflé was prepared, saying it was made of two native French cheeses: Reblochon and Beaufort.

In court, the chef’s lawyer called the incident “cheddar gate.”

In a verdict obtained by the AFP news agency, the court ruled that Veyrat had offered no “proof showing the existence of any damage” caused by the demotion from a three-star to two-star rating in January 2019.

A culinary first

Veyrat, known for his signature black, wide-brimmed hat, is the first chef to sue Michelin. He was seeking a symbolic one euro.

He wanted the guide hand over the checks to prove the inspectors did visit the restaurant, alongside the names and resumes of those who graded him.

“I’m ready to accept losing a star, but they have to tell me why,” Veyrat told CNN earlier in the year. “In my opinion, they are incompetent! Do you realize they mixed up Reblochon and cheddar?”

The guide’s lawyer, Richard Malka, said it was important inspectors remain anonymous.

Veyrat had previously said that following the loss of his third star, he suffered from depression for six months.

He’d also requested that his restaurant be removed from the guide altogether.

Just before the ruling, Veyrat told AFP the restaurant had enjoyed a busy holiday period.

“Even between Christmas and New Year’s Day, we’re fully booked. We’ve never been this busy,” he said.

“At this rate, I wish they’d take away all my stars!”

Meanwhile, Michelin’s lawyers denounced the lawsuit, demanding €30,000 (almost $34,000) in damages and compensation.

CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne and Fanny Bobille contributed to this report.

Kern County DA: BPD officer, who was police chief’s son, was justified in fatal 2017 shooting of suspect

Bakersfield police officer Warren Martin, the son of chief Lyle Martin who retired last week, was legally justified in the 2017 fatal shooting of a suspect he was pursuing, the Kern County District Attorney’s office has found. 

Martin shot Augustus Joshua Crawford, 20, twice on the night of Nov. 4 and Crawford later died at Kern Medical Center.

At about 8:11 p.m., police were called to a shooting in the 700 block of R Street that left a man suffering several gunshot wounds. Officers identified Crawford as a suspect in that shooting.

Two hours later, police stopped a vehicle Crawford was in on Planz Road. Crawford fled and Martin chased and then shot him, believing he was armed, the DA’s office review found.

Surveillance video showed that Crawford threw a loaded gun into a backyard when he fled but it was after he rounded a corner, so Martin and the other officer chasing him would have been unable to see him throw the gun, the review said, making it reasonable for Martin to believe Crawford was armed. 

After he was shot, Martin gave several verbal commands for Crawford to show his hands or risk getting shot again, but Crawford didn’t comply, the review found. Instead Crawford rolled to one side and Martin shot him again. 

At that point, Crawford rolled onto his back, put his hands up and said, “Okay, you got me,” the review found.

The District Attorney’s critical incident review team independently reviews all evidence related to the incident and consults with a team of veteran prosecutor to decided if an incident is reasonable or whether criminal charges should be filed.

San Bernardino airport cargo expansion is approved in a sudden vote

A battle raging over plans for a new $200-million air cargo facility at San Bernardino International Airport came to a surprise head Monday, when airport officials held a meeting with only a day’s notice and voted to approve the project.

Boosters say the expansion, which would add as many as 26 flights a day, could eventually generate 3,800 jobs and $5 million in annual revenue for the publicly owned airport.

But local critics have questioned the value of yet another warehouse and logistics center in the Inland Empire, which has seen a boom in distribution centers in the last decade. Will the jobs be good jobs, or bring more low-paid work with no benefits? Are those jobs worth the increased pollution from planes and diesel trucks?

Those concerns sparked protests, culminating in a rally this month outside a fulfillment center operated by Amazon.com Inc. — the rumored occupant of the planned expansion. The e-commerce giant, which operates 14 logistics and fulfillment centers in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, declined to comment.

Advertisement

Then came Monday’s meeting of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority Commission, which voted unanimously to ratify the last details of a lease, allowing the project to move forward.

The agency announced the meeting Sunday morning — three minutes before the required 24-hour minimum notice for public meetings and just days before a state law takes effect requiring local agencies to publicly disclose details about new warehouse distribution centers before a vote.

Under the lease agreement included in the meeting agenda, developer Hillwood Enterprises — which has created facilities at the airport for many large companies, including Amazon — will lease the space and could sublease it to a tenant. Commissioners had approved the bulk of the lease in December 2018, leaving a few procedural and minor technical details for Monday.

The project is the “equivalent of building a railroad yard in San Bernardino and connecting the United States,” said Michael Burrows, the commission’s executive director. “We’ll see freight and people and commerce coming from around the world. It’s an exciting time to see that come to the region.”

Advertisement

People crowded into the airport authority’s main auditorium Monday to say their piece before commissioners officially made their decision.

Andrea De Leon, executive director of the Highland Chamber of Commerce, voiced her support for the project and commended commissioners for an “exemplary job.”

“We have made this an exceptional product,” she said. “To not provide jobs is irresponsible.”

Jobs used to be scarce in the Inland Empire, but the rise of e-commerce paired with the nation’s economic recovery from the Great Recession created a boom in warehouse work in the region. The warehouse economy has brought 84,000 jobs to the area in the past decade — a quarter of all new jobs there since the recession. But many of those jobs pay close to the minimum wage, and workers still struggle to make ends meet. A February report by the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution found that the Inland Empire consistently ranks close to the bottom on measures of prosperity and economic inclusion among large regions.

At past community meetings, residents and activists called on the airport authority to attach a rider known as a Community Benefits Agreement to any contract for a new cargo facility to set guidelines on air pollution and wages.

On Monday, opponents lambasted commissioners for holding a last-minute special meeting during the holiday season to push through the project, which they said should guarantee community benefits and be further vetted for environmental effects.

Abigail Medina, a San Bernardino City Unified School District board member, said that the community needs local union jobs but not at the expense of people’s health. “Diesel trucks are polluting our land,” she said. “Why the rush in between the holidays? It doesn’t make any sense.”

The Federal Aviation Administration issued its blessing for the project Dec. 23, finding no significant environmental impact.

Advertisement

“Sustainability and job creation are at the core of Hillwood’s values,” John Magness, a senior vice president at the Texas-based real estate developer, said in a statement.

Efforts by lawmakers to regulate the growing warehouse economy have focused on pollution and local agencies’ free hand with tax breaks for employers — under California law, cities are allowed to return part of sales tax payments to corporations as an incentive for building within their borders.

A law set to go into effect Wednesday requires local agencies to publicly report numerous details of any new warehouse distribution centers being built in the state, including the amount of any tax subsidies going to a new project, before voting to approve the projects. The bill also bars agencies from signing non-disclosure agreements with companies building these facilities — a practice that could explain why a prospective tenant at the new San Bernardino airport expansion has not been identified.

Monday’s vote took place just in time to avoid those new reporting requirements. Earlier this year, Burrows, the commission’s executive director, said that the new facility includes no public subsidies.

Under the lease agreement, Hillwood would use a swath of the former Norton Air Force base the size of 11 football fields that could eventually see 26 flights a day. The company would build a 658,500-square-foot building for sorting air cargo; two 25,000-square-foot ground support buildings; about 41 acres of structural apron and taxi lanes for aircraft parking and positioning. The initial lease term is 35 years, with an initial payment of 24 months at $112,000 a month. The project also requires construction of two new bridge crossings onto 3rd Street and signal and traffic lane improvements.

Meanwhile, an effort by Riverside County officials to stop warehouses from encroaching on residential areas has fallen flat. County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries introduced a “good neighbor policy” that would put in place minimum standards for new warehouse projects, including a 1,000-foot buffer zone between large warehouses and homes. But by the time it reached a vote last month, Jeffries opposed it. He said it had been “gutted,” with the buffer zone reduced to just 300 feet between loading docks and residential property lines.

San Bernardino International Airport currently sees about 30 weekly cargo flights between UPS and FedEx, airport director of aviation Mark Gibbs said. That number increases to about 100 during the busy fourth quarter.

Mike Larson, Leslie Marshall square off over claims that McConnell ‘rigging’ Trump impeachment trial

Radio talk show host Mike Larson and Fox News contributor Leslie Marshall clashed on “Outnumbered Overtime” Monday over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to withhold the articles of impeachment against President Trump in a bid to gain leverage over the terms for a trial in the Senate.

“This is a continuing dance. They should get some theater awards for this,” Larson said. ”But it’s holding up the nation’s business — Pelosi holding up the articles of impeachment and so forth,” he added.

PELOSI STANDS BY DELAY IN SENDING IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES TO SENATE, CALLS MCCONNELL A ‘ROGUE LEADER’

Larson argued that the Senate trial will not be rigged and that it would be conducted more fairly than the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

“This idea that, maybe, with a few more witnesses going deeper in those witnesses there would be some motherload of new ‘gotcha’ moments,” he added. “They scoured this every which way now and the frustrating thing [is] they don’t want to have Trump be acquitted — as he will be — so this is the new normal.”

Marshall pushed back, saying that Pelosi will send the articles of impeachment under the condition that rules are decided by [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell.

PELOSI STANDS BY DELAY IN SENDING IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES TO SENATE, CALLS MCCONNELL A ‘ROGUE LEADER’

“The bottom line is every Senator, Democrat or Republican, needs to cast their vote after all evidence have been presented, all witnesses are put forth, and if I were the president, not only would I take the stand, but I would want anyone — John Bolton, for example, if they can exonerate me  — to be heard and the American people need to hear that as well.”

The remarks came after Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., accused McConnell of “rigging the system,”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“Is Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, going to try to rig this trial, working in lockstep with the president and his lawyers?” Van Hollen told ABC’s “This Week.” “Or is he going to allow a fair trial?”

“We keep hearing President Trump says he’s going to be exonerated,” Van Hollen added. “Look, if you have a rigged trial, there’s no exoneration in acquittal.”

One minor injury in early Monday house fire in east Bakersfield

Four children and two adults escaped a house fire early Monday on Pioneer Drive in east Bakersfield, according to the Kern County Fire Department. 

One family member suffered a minor injury while leaving the home and was taken by ambulance for further evaluation, a news release said. No further details were given.

When firefighters arrived on scene around 2 a.m., smoke was coming from the front door and the eaves of the home. The fire caused $25,000 damage to the home. 

What a shot! 28 amazing sports photos

Mikaela Shiffrin of Team USA takes first place during the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup Women’s Slalom on Sunday, December 29, in Lienz, Austria. Hans Bezard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

Tomoe Kawabata of Japan performs during the All Japan Medalist On Ice in Tokyo, japan, on Monday, December 23. Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Japanese middleweight Ryota Murata and Canada’s Steven Butler fight during the fifth round of their world boxing title match at Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan, on Monday, December 23. Murata defeated Butler to retain his World Boxing Association title. Kyodo via AP Images

Boston Bruins team members take the ice for a game against the Washington Capitals on Monday, December 23. Winslow Townson/AP

Penn State head coach James Franklin gets soaked with Gatorade by Cam Brown after the Nittany Lions beat the Memphis Tigers 53-39 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, December 28. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Ice cross racers compete in the ATSX 500, the first race of the Red Bull Ice Cross World Championship, in Judenburg, Austria, on Saturday, December 28. Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Bryant University’s Nathaniel Stokes, left, and Maryland Terrapins’ Donta Scott, fight for the ball during a game in College Park, Maryland, on Sunday, December 29. Will Newton/Getty Images

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III celebrates a touchdown during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, on Sunday, December 29. The Ravens beat the Steelers 28-10. Mitchell Layton/USA Today Sports

Cricket fans watch from the stands as Steve Smith bats during day two of the Second Test match between Australia and New Zealand on Friday, December 27, in Melbourne, Australia. Graham Denholm/Cricket Australia via Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur’s Serge Aurier heads the ball during a match against Norwich City in Norwich, Berlin, on Saturday, December 28. They tied 2-2. Matthew Childs/Reuters

North Carolina wide receiver Dazz Newsome catches a touchdown pass during the Military Bowl against Temple University in Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday, December 27. The Tar Heels defeated the Owls 55-13. Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Petr Gumennik performs during the men’s single skating portion of the 2020 Russian Figure Skating Championships in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on Thursday, December 26. Sergei Bobylev/TASS via Getty Images

Minnesota Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors D’Angelo Russell during an NBA game on Monday, December 23, in San Francisco, California. The Warriors beat the Timberwolves 113-104. Jeff Chiu/AP

Chicago Blackhawks’ John Quenneville tries to knock the puck away from Johnny Boychuk of the New York Islanders on Friday, December 27, in Chicago. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams run onto the field before a game against the Arizona Cardinals in Los Angeles on Sunday, December 29. John McCoy/Getty Images

Brice Roger of France falls during his run in the Men’s Downhill race during the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup on Saturday, December 28. Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images

Swimmers emerge from the Vltava River during the traditional Christmas swimming event on Thursday, December 26, in Prague. Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images

New York Giants’ Kaden Smith celebrates with David Mayo after scoring the winning touchdown against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on Sunday, December 22, in Landover, Maryland. The Giants won 41-35 in overtime. Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Crystal Palace’s James Tompkins and West Ham United goalie Roberto Jiménez battle for the ball during a match at Selhurst Park in London on Thursday, December 26. John Walton/AP

Vegas Golden Knights’ Mark Stone scores his second goal against Arizona Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta during a game in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Saturday, December 28. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

South Africa’s Anrich Nortje ducks under a delivery from England’s Jofra Archer during a test match at Centurion Park in Pretoria, South Africa, on Friday, December 27. Themba Hadebe/AP

Netherlands’ Mathieu van der Poel celebrates after winning the 2019 Namur UCI cyclocross World Cup in Namur, Belgium, on Sunday, December 22. Luc Claessen/Velo/Getty Images

Stefan Luitz of Germany and Rasmus Windingstad of Norway compete during the Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom on Monday, December 23, in Alta Badia, Italy. Alexis Boichard/Agence Zoom/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie drives to the basket against New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, during an NBA game in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday, December 26. Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

Boats compete during the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia on Thursday, December 26. The annual event starts in Sydney, New South Wales on Boxing Day and finishes in Hobart, Tasmania. Dean Lewins/EPA

Alhambra officer injured after standoff with domestic violence suspect

An Alhambra police officer suffered a minor injury while responding to a domestic violence call over the weekend, authorities said.

Officers responded to the call about 8:35 p.m. in the 1900 block of South Primrose Avenue, police said in a news release. When officers arrived on the scene, the suspect, Juan Gabriel Miranda, fled in his car.

Several minutes later, Miranda returned to the area and officers gave orders for him to stop and exit his vehicle, police said. A gunshot was heard as the man fled in the direction of the officers, “at which time an officer involved shooting occurred.”

When Miranda, 46, drove back into the area moments later, a second officer-involved shooting occurred. The suspect stopped the car “and a short stand-off with the suspect ensued,” police said.

Advertisement

Officers used beanbag rounds and were able to detain the suspect — who was not struck by gunfire — without further incident. No officers were struck by gunfire, but one of them sustained a minor injury.

Miranda was transported to a hospital and will be booked on felony charges stemming from the domestic violence incident, in addition to assault charges on the officers.

Anna Paquin says she’s ‘incredibly happy’ with seven-word role in ‘The Irishman’

Oscar winner Anna Paquin may only speak seven words in “The Irishman,” Martin Scor­sese’s new epic, but she’s not complaining — even though her furious fans on Twitter are.

One said, “I had more lines in the Nativity play I was in when I was seven than Anna Paquin has in ‘The Irishman,’ ” while another added, “Teacher says every time Anna Paquin talks in ‘The Irishman,’ ‘Cats’ gets a good review.”

ROBERT DE NIRO DEFENDS ANNA PAQUIN’S SEVEN-WORD ROLE IN ‘THE IRISHMAN’

But the “True Blood” actress, who plays Robert De Niro’s adult daughter in the Netflix mob drama, said: “It’s very endearing when people think they are fighting a fight on your behalf, but not really necessary. I’m incredibly happy.”

MARTIN SCORSESE ALMOST DIRECTED ‘JOKER’: ‘I DIDN’T HAVE THE TIME FOR IT’

She told the Hollywood Reporter: “I have such a tiny little role in the film, and I was so excited to get to be a part of it in the first place, and all of this [awards recognition] is just the icing on the cake.”

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Paquin said even though the role is small, it was an immediate yes. “I just can’t picture any actor on the planet going, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to work with Martin Scorsese and every single living legend in our field.’ ”

This article originally appeared in Page Six

ROBERT PRICE: Was Vision 2020’s vision truly 20/20? No, but it was remarkably close

Twenty years ago Bakersfield started arranging seats at the table for what would be the longest, broadest, most detailed exercise in self-reflection in city history.

They needed a lot of seats.

Civic leaders rolled out Vision 2020, a community-imagining project that, over a period of 18 months, would eventually give voice to 13,000 residents and supply the city with an intriguing series of blueprints.

Where did we want to be in 20 years? What did we want to add? What did we want to fix? What did we want to preserve? What kind of city did we want to be by the time Jan. 1, 2020, rolled around? What types of people, living what types of lives?

We pull out the Greater Bakersfield Vision 2020 time capsule, figuratively speaking, this Wednesday.

Did the massive, widely discussed undertaking hit any of its marks?

Sheryl Barbich, the Bakersfield business consultant who, in a feat of underappreciated heroism, horse-whipped the occasionally unwieldy effort across the finish line on time and under budget, started in late 1999 by assembling a group of facilitators from government, business and education. The group of 29 included ambulance company owner Harvey Hall, who within a year would be mayor, and two members of the Bakersfield City Council, Mike Maggard and David Couch, both soon to join the Kern County Board of Supervisors.

They spread out, hitting senior centers, church fellowship halls, service club luncheons, employee break rooms and high school social studies classes. They discussed public health, law enforcement, child development, arts, sports, business vitality and more, starting with two simple exercises: list the bad and the good, the must-go and the must-get.

From those meetings they developed giant wish lists: more city parks, more trees, more recreational opportunities, a better image on the national stage. Residents wanted better cooperation among the divisions of our public education system, among our social services, among branches of local government. At times it must have seemed like people wanted ice cream every day for dessert, too. But that was the nature of the exercise: dream.

On one occasion, child health services advocate Tom Corson, one of the group’s key facilitators, sat down with a group of teens and dutifully recorded their every hope for the future of their city. He brought back a lengthy list that included a “topless” water slide and legalized marijuana. Barbich and Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commence CEO Chris Frank, one of Barbich’s key associates in the effort, were aghast.

“I said, ‘Hey, you told me to write down everything they said, and here it is,'” said Corson, executive director of the Kern County Network for Children. “They got one out of those two wishes, didn’t they?”

But other sessions produced realistic, actionable goals and real, brick-and-mortar improvements (and Corson was a part of those, too). Some were specific products of Vision 2020; others, built around newly forged working relationships, were outgrowths:

● Mill Creek Park development. Check.

● Chester Avenue streetscape. Check.

● Mixed-use development that includes housing, retail and commercial. Check.

● The Park at River Walk. Check.

● Wall Street Alley revitalization. Check.

● McMurtrey Aquatic Center. Check.

● Valley Children’s Ice Center of Bakersfield. Check.

● Visit Bakersfield, the city’s new tourism headquarters. Check.

● The Kern Pledge for Education. Check.

● The Dream Center foster youth program. Check.

Perhaps more important were the new alliances that hadn’t been there before.

“We were all on the same team,” Frank said. “… Organizations and neighborhoods that had not traditionally or historically worked in unison … created powerful partnerships, some that still exist today. We were able to make new friends.”

Larry Reider, another of Barbich’s key facilitators, focused, as Kern County superintendent of schools, on education, but his lasting impression is one of broader success.

One key goal was achieving widespread reading competency by third grade, Reider noted. It remains a central benchmark.

“However, to me,” Reider said, “the real value, and what should be a proud part of the legacy of Vision 2020, is the fact that our community came together to discuss strengths and weaknesses, then find solutions that were measurable. … The Vision 2020 model of collaboration, solutions and metrics …. made our community much better.”

Corson said Vision 2020 put him in “a room with a lot of mucky-mucks” he never would have otherwise met whose expertise opened new doors for them all.

Corson’s team had been discussing assorted, seemingly unrelated areas of concern in the community. The volunteers looked at crime data, child abuse referrals, domestic violence cases, single household numbers from U.S. census data, education and other statistics — and used GIS mapping to pinpoint trouble spots. Colored dots marked areas that deserved special attention.

At some point, Bill Rector, who would later serve five years as Bakersfield’s chief of police, offered a suggestion.

“He said, ‘Why don’t I just lay some of my dots over your dots and everybody else’s dots,'” Corson said. “‘These dots tell us something.’ Bill sold me on this stuff, and I was clueless. I realized we were really missing some of the areas we needed to focus our efforts. And it was Vision 2020 that was giving us permission to do this.”

Corson talked to councilmen Maggard and Couch about some of the findings. “Couch — I didn’t know the guy, but I found out he was someone who cared, who I needed to know. Those guys weren’t going to just give me the party line. (Sheryl’s husband, CPA) Louis Barbich, was another guy. He didn’t know me from Adam but he was one of the guys in the room. He said, ‘What do you need?’ and he meant it.”

The overlap map indicated that Oildale had deeper issues than many had imagined. Corson showed the evidence to Kern County Supervisor Barbara Patrick, whose district included ZIP code 93308.

“I wasn’t even planning on asking her for money, but she sad, ‘What do you need and how much do you need to get it done?’,” Corson recalls. “We think that attention is one of the reasons we’re seeing a reduction in substantiated (cases of) child abuse” in Oildale and elsewhere.

Corson’s committees talked about dysfunctional households. His teams talked homelessness almost before anyone was talking about homelessness. They talked about veterans’ services. They didn’t solve all of those issues, clearly, but they made progress on many.

Several of Sheryl Barbich’s 29 facilitators have now died, among them Harvey Hall, who would become mayor in 2000; Eric Matlock, then newly named as police chief; David Price III, longtime director of the Kern County Resource Management Agency; and Wendy Wayne, nurse, nonprofit administrator and public health educator. Many of the others in the intervening two decades have moved, retired or both. Some, like Corson, Couch, Maggard and Kay Pitts, are still active in the city. Thanks to Vision 2020, they know each other, trust each other and understand the power of a united front.

And that’s as valuable a legacy as any city park.