Monday, July 13, 2020

Teachers push back against plans to reopen schools, another blow to newspapers and McClatchy gets ready to sell to bottom feeders, and remembering the actor Dack Rambo of Earlimart

 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.

 * ... WILL SCHOOLS OPEN? The next big fight on the horizon will be over local schools: should they welcome back students to the classroom, or do the health risks to both students and teachers
demand online learning? The battle lines have been drawn, led by President Trump's insistence that classes resume, while teachers and their unions push back, arguing convincingly that teachers are not trained medical professionals and the idea could put thousands at risk. Said The New York Times: "Now, educators are using some of the same organizing tactics they employed in walkouts over issues of pay and funding in recent years to demand that schools remain closed, at least in the short term. It's a stance that could potentially be divisive, with some district surveys suggesting that more than half of parents would like their children to return."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I struggle to understand what is so broken in your life that can only be fixed by going to Disney World during a pandemic."

 * ... BAD FORM: At Sprout's on Stockdale Highway over the weekend, a woman is seen in the produce section pulling off her facemask so she can press her nose and mouth up against a Hawaiian papaya. After a long embrace, she decides to leave the papaya for the next unsuspecting shopper.

 * ... MCCLATCHY: Analysts have been sounding the death knoll for newspapers for years now. Advertising has fled to digital forums, readership is old and getting older and circulation is down across the nation. And now, in what may represent a final nail in the proverbial coffin, the once-respected McClatchy Company of Sacramento is about to be purchased by a hedge fund company, signaling its final demise from its once lofty perch. Back in the day, McClatchy papers like the Bee group (Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee, Modesto Bee) along with the Miami Herald, Kansas City Star and Charlotte Observer were some of the crown jewels in the newspaper world. Today most are near bankruptcy, their staffs trimmed to the bone and once healthy circulations whittled down to near nothing. The Californian, meanwhile, continues along under relatively new ownership but it too has suffered major cutbacks in staff and funding. Stay tuned.

 * ... DACK RAMBO: Did you know that the character who had a role on the original "Dallas" TV show was born in Earlimart? That's right, I spotted this nugget on the Kern County of Old Facebook page saying that Dack Rambo was a Kern County product. The obit: "Dack Rambo (born November 13, 1941-died March 21, 1994) played the recurring role of Jack Ewing on the original Dallas TV series on CBS-TV, appearing in a total of 51 episodes in Seasons 7-10 of the series, beginning with the episode "Terms of Enderment". Dack was most noted for appearing as Walter Brennan's grandson Jeff in the ABC-TV series The Guns of Will Sonnett, as Steve Jacobi in the ABC soap opera All My Children, and as Grant Harrison on the NBC-TV soap opera Another World. Dack is also known for playing Wesley Harper on the 1984 short lived TV series soap opera Paper Dolls.
Born in Earlimart, California, Rambo had a twin brother, Orman Ray Rambeau, who would ultimately go professionally as Dirk Rambo[1] After moving to Los Angeles in the 1960s, the brothers were discovered by actress Loretta Young and cast in her CBS series, The New Loretta Young Show.[2] On 5 February 1967, Dirk was killed in a road accident.[3]
Later that same year, Rambo landed the role of Jeff Sonnett on The Guns of Will Sonnett, and co-starred in the short-lived Gunsmoke spin-off, Dirty Sally, with Jeanette Nolan.
During the 1970s and 1980s, he made guest appearances on Marcus Welby, M.D., House Calls, Wonder Woman, Charlie's Angels, All My Children, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hotel, and Murder, She Wrote. He also acted out the lead role in Sword of Justice, which lasted for ten installments in 1978 and 1979. He is best remembered on television for his role as Jack Ewing on Dallas from 1985-87."

 * ... MEMORIES: Don't you love these pictures of Pyrenees Bakery, old and new?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Does cannabis help protect you from contracting the coronavirus? And are just weeks away from running out of hospital beds? Plus Grimmway Farms hands out its scholarships

 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.

 * ... COVID AND RENT: Did you know that 31 percent of the people who either rent or own a
home missed their payment in May? That's the word from CSUB economics professor Richard Gearhart who said the longtime economic slowdown is starting to affect our ability to meet basic housing obligations. In June, Gearhart said that number stayed the same - right at 30 percent - and that many of those renters and homeowners are living in fear of being evicted.

 * ... CANNABIS AND COVID: In a world of turmoil and bad news, here is an interesting tidbit that should brighten your day. Cannabis - marijuana, pot, weed, ganga whatever you care to call it - may help prevent or treat the coronavirus infection. Thats according to researchers from the University of Lethbridge who said a study in April showed at least 13 cannabis plants were high in CBD that appeared to affect the ACE2 pathways that the bug uses to access the body. The results, printed in online journal Preprints, indicated hemp extracts high in CBD may help block proteins that provide a “gateway” for COVID-19 to enter host cells.While they stressed that more research was needed, the study gave hope that the cannabis, if proven to modulate the enzyme, “may prove a plausible strategy for decreasing disease susceptibility” as well as “become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy.”

 * ... COVID SURGE: it was distressing to read in The Californian and Dignity's Mercy Southwest Hospital had to turn away Covid-19 patients this past weekend because of staffing shortages. Reporter John Cox said so many hospital employees (nurses, doctors and support staff) have been sickened by the virus that they are having trouble keeping the vital positions filled. According to Cox, at the current rate we should run out of hospital beds sometime in the next three weeks.

 * .... SICK BAY: And finally on the Cover-19 front, Michael Bowers is the latest of our citizens to be stricken with the coronavirus. A former aide to state Sen. Andy Vidak and Congressman David Valadao, Bowers is now vice president of marketing with Centric Health. While he recovers at home, keep him and the other Covid victims in your thoughts.

 * ... GRIMMWAY: Grimmway Farms has awarded another 64 college scholarships to students who have a parent or guardian employed by the Bakersfield-based company. The scholarships were given as part of the annual Rod and Bob Grimm Memorial Scholarship Program, Grimmway's founders.
This year's scholarship recipients will attend a range of top-ranked schools, including Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Colgate University, Fresno State, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara. The scholarships, which are renewable for four years, are based on academic achievement and provide financial support for students attending two- and four-year colleges and universities. Applicants who exceed a grade point average of 3.5 receive a MacBook Pro laptop in addition to renewable scholarship funds.

 * ... MEMORIES: Nothing like a trip down memory lane to get a view of old Bakersfield and Highway 99 back in the day.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Two local death row inmates die of Covid-19 and District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer celebrates closure for their victims, H.A. Sala to talk about your rights during protests, and all those sports mascots and logos that are on the chopping block during this time of the great cleansing

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 person or organization.

 * ... PROTESTS: How many times have you watched protesters attacking motorists and wondered: What would I do in that situation? If I hit the pedal and hurt somebody, will I be charged? If I fear my
life is in danger as they pound on my hood and windows, what are my rights? We will cover all of that and more on Tuesday when noted defense attorney H.A. Sala comes on The Richard Beene Show at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss our rights. Tune in.

 * ... COVID TAKE A KILLER(S): The coronavirus has claimed two lives on California's death row. This take from District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer: "Scott Thomas Erskine raped and murdered a 9 year old boy, a 13 year old boy, and and an adult woman. Manuel Machado Alvarez murdered a man and committed other violent felonies including rape. Hopefully, with the deaths of these sexual predators, the victims’ families can have some closure and peace."

  * ... PURITY POLICE: Now that the nation is in the grips of a feverish movement to destroy anything remotely offensive, let's review some of the sports teams logos that simply have to go in this climate. We can start with our own South High "Rebels," which you can guess, has been deemed out of bounds by the purity police. Then you can move on to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the University of Illinoi "Fighting Ilini" named after an Indian tribe, the Atlanta Braves, the longtime favorite Washington Redskins and - get this - the Holy Cross Crusaders. Now if a good old fashioned Christian crusade doesn't upset you, then few things will. And don't forget about the "Arabs" of the Coachella High School. If we have to explain it to you, then you just don't get it.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Just overheard a woman talking on her phone to her friend saying that she tested positive for Covid, but she feels fine and she needs to get her shopping done. She did have a mask on but her husband and kids didn't... Just to let folks know some people don't care for anyone's else's safety. We walked away and notified employees but she was on her way out...We just couldn't believe it. MASK Up folks."

 * ... MEMORIES: You must got to love some of these old pictures on the internet. Here, from a local Facebook page devoted to local history, is a picture from 1943 with this caption: "The peak flow of Kern River as measured at First Point near Hart Park the morning of March 10, 1943 was 21,701 cubic feet per second. The Beardsley River Weir is located just east of Gordon's Ferry Bridge. And they say, "In Bakersfield, it only rains at night".

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The firefighter's union and its supporters go after three county supervisors, Michael Turnipseed and the Kern Taxpayers Association attack reckless city spending, and the list of businesses closed due tot he coronavirus grows and grows

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 person or organization.

 * ... CROSS HAIRS: Was it courageous, or politically stupid, when three county supervisors voted to impose a new contract on county firefighters, reigning in overtime rates that has enriched firefighters while blowing a hole in the county's budget? From a purely financial management
standpoint, the move was overdue and necessary, particularly considering the firefighters union had two years to negotiate a settlement but instead stood firm. And now that Supervisors Leticia Perez, Mike Maggard and Mick Gleason crossed them, you can bet the union will target them for retaliation. And it has already started on Facebook and other social media where people are bemoaning that our "hero" firefighters had to take a pay cut, a convenient rallying cry that happens to ignore the financial realities facing the county. This is not going away, so keep an eye on this one.

 * ... THE KNIVES ARE OUT: Meanwhile over at the city things are also in turmoil as the City Council comes under intense criticism for its spending. It all started when Michael Turnipseed, director of the Kern Taxpayers Association, rapped the Council for failing to live up to its promises to spend revenue raised by the Measure N sales tax measure on public safety (officers on the street) and quality of life issues. Turnipseed cited a $260,000 budget proposal to remodel a kitchen and bathroom at a fire station as an example of irresponsible spending. KTA, Turnipseed said, supported Measure N because the city "was running on fumes" and flirting with bankruptcy. But now Turnipseed says he feels betrayed by the council (he did single out Council Bruce Freeman as one who "gets it") and said if the city did not get its house in order, it would face "consequences," which could include a ballot measure to rescind Measure N. Stay tuned.

 * ... CORONAVIRUS: The list of businesses forced to close temporarily because of the coronavirus continues to grow, and with infections spiking, you can bet there will be more. Among those forced to close after an employee became infected are Luigi's Delicatessen, Sandrini's, The GET bus offices, Woolgrowers, Dewar's, Temblor, Mexicali, the Boys and Girls Club and the DMV office on F Street.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know you picked out the best fireworks when the guy running the stand gives you a high four on the way out.

 * .... HOMELESS CAMPS: The intersection of Real Road and California has become the latest flashpoint in homeless encampments. Conveniently located near a high-traffic intersection (suitable for begging for money) and the freeway underpasses, the intersection has become a favorite for local homeless.

  * ... MEMORIES: Another terrific shot of old downtown Bakersfield back in the 1950s. Check out those classic cars.

 * ... GORMAN: And here is an old one of Gorman in the 1930s.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Gov. Newsom orders bars shut in Kern and six other counties because of the coronavirus, Medicali becomes the latest restaurant to close temporarily, vagrants take over the old 24 Hour Fitness and the hold bar at Noriega's is salvaged

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 person or organization.

 * ... BARS TO CLOSE:  Faced with an alarming spike in coronavirus cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered bars in Kern and six other counties to close. The order came Sunday for bars in the
following counties to close: Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings and Imperial.  In addition, eight other counties have have been asked by state officials to issue local health orders closing bars: Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus. “COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.” The question here: faced with their own dire economic circumstances, will bar owners comply?

 * ... COVID VICTIM: It looks like Mexicali has become the latest victim of Covid-19. Word is at least two employees have tested positive (other employees have been tested but the results are not
back) and the popular downtown restaurant has been closed all weekend, the only notice being a sign on the door. Mexicali joins a growing list of local eateries to close because of the pandemic, including Luigi's, In-N-Out, Dewar's and Woolgrowers.

 * ... HBO MOVIE: A new HBO mini series called "I'll Be Gone In The Dark" debuted this weekend, the story of the notorious Golden State Killer who terrorized multiple communities and was only tracked down because of DNA evidence. A local expert on the case, former Kern County sheriff's deputy Martin Downs, will appear on The Richard Beene Show Tuesday to discuss the case that started in Tulare County as the killer spread fear throughout the state. Tune in Tuesday at 1:30 for my conversation with Martin Downs.

 * ... 24 HOUR FITNESS: One of our city's hot spots for the homeless is near the intersection of Gosford Road and White Lane, home of the 24 Hour Fitness that closed a couple weeks ago. As soon as the company hauled away its exercise equipment, the building became a magnet for the homeless. I drove by there Saturday to find more than a dozen homeless making the building their new outposts. Two men were using a syringe to feed drugs into their veins while others had set up camps in the shade near the front entrance. And so it goes.

 * ... RIP NORIEGA'S: Anyone who spent any time in Noriega's has been mourning its demise, closed by its owners after Covid-19 dealt a death blow to family-style eating. These pictures of the restaurant and bar tell the story. The long bar is headed to the Kern County Museum to be on display where, unfortunately, it will be lost in the mountains of displays of other artifacts.

 * ... MEMORIES: Courtesy of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page, check out this old image of roads at the base of the Panorama Bluffs around 1911. The caption reads: "Shown are China Grade Road and Jewett Lane north toward the Kern River Bridge. I think this image is from the Californian of July 1, 1911 posted in anticipation of a major auto race. Of interest is the then-forestation of the general area now called Panorama Preserve."

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Local protesters call for the complete dismantling of the Bakersfield Police Department, more illegal dumping around down and calls to destroy all images of "white Jesus"

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 person or organization.

So what exactly is it that some of the local protesters want from our City Council in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement? Well according to two members of the
People's Budget Bako movement, they want nothing short of the complete dismantling of the police department. That's the word from Faheemah Salahud-Din Floyd and Dalton Jones who appeared on The Richard Beene Show to explain their goals. According to Floyd, the Bakersfield Police Department is so riddled with bias and racism that it cannot be saved, and must be abolished. And what would take its place? Jones suggested "community policing" by block activists who could keep the peace. In the absence of police, our country already has a version of that in our gangs, who impose their own will and law in the absence of authority. (Facebook photo of Floyd)

 * ... ILLEGAL DUMPING: The sheer amount of illegal dumping about down is disgraceful, and virtually no part of our community is immune from someone treating our roadsides like their own personal toilet. Camino Grande off Alfred Harrell Highway and Fairfax is a favorite dumping spot, and the other day I spotted a dead pit bull by the side of the road, left unceremoniously to rot in the summer sun.

 * ... GREAT CLEANSING: First came the statues of the Confederate dead, then anyone whose family owned a slave, then the Spanish missionaries and then our founding fathers. So we shouldn't be surprised when the new purity police took aim at symbols of Jesus no less to erase from society, particularly images that appear to make Jesus light skinned. A white skinned Jesus, the thinking goes, must be a product of white privilege. When Jesus goes, can Santa be far behind?

 * ... BIKE FRIENDLY: There is a new list out recognizing the most bike friendly cities in the nation, and Bakersfield is no where to be found.  To be sure, Bakersfield is certainly not near the top of the list, but it should rank somewhat higher given our cross-city bike trail and the ability to get out and ride off the road. According to Places for Bikes, a non profit, the top give cities friendly to bike commuters include San Luis Obispo, Madison, WI., Santa Barbara, Washington, D.C., and Missoula, MT.

* ... RIP TORI HOFFMANN: I was saddened to learn of the death of Tori Hoffman, the 29-year-old daughter of Tom and Beth Hoffman who passed away last week. No cause of death was given and a memorial service is planned fo rValley Baptist Church (Fruitvale campus) today (Thursday) at 11 a.m. Tori was the daughter of Tom and Beth Hoffmann, founders of the successful Hoffmann Hospice operation here in Bakersfield. She graduated from Bakersfield Christian High School and later received a degree from CSUB. Keep the Hoffmann family in your thoughts.

 * ... COVID CLOSURES: More restaurants are being forced to close temporarily after employees test positive for Covid-19. The latests forced to shutter are Woolgrowers and Dewar's, perhaps two of the most iconic restaurants in town. Also closed was the In-N-Out location on Panama Lane. Their closing comes as Luigi's Old World Delicatessen reopens after a short closure due to an employee testing positive.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here's a wonderful old photo, compliments of John Kelley, of the historic Fox Theater under construction.