Thursday, February 25, 2021

Kern County will receive a huge increase in Covid-19 vaccines, the Sheriff's Department seeks to hire dozens of deputies and Alta Sierra will have its ski lifts open this weekend

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 VACCINE: There is some good news locally about the number of Covid vaccines that will be available in Kern County. Brynn Carrigan, head of Kern County Public Health, said the state's weekly allotment has been increased to 14,850 doses, almost twice the previous weekly allotment of 8,800.

Carrigan said the county hopes to vaccinate as many as 3,000 people a week at the Kern County Fairgrounds alone. And that doesn't count any new doses Kern may receive when the Johnson & Johnson vaccine wins approval and hits the market. The new J&J vaccine promises that anyone who receives it will not be hospitalized and not die from COVID-19.

 * ... SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood attended a meeting of the leadership of the state sheriff's association and was surprised to learn that at some departments, fully half of the deputies are taking the coronavirus vaccines. The acceptance rates "range from 10 percent to 50 percent," he said. At home, meanwhile, Youngblood's department is seeking to fill dozens of jobs for deputies, a hard reality when other departments pouch our own fully trained deputies with the lure of higher salaries.

 * ... DROUGHT: While it may be true that the mountains have received some much needed snow, make no mistake that here in the valley we remain in a drought. That's the word from ABC23's Elaina Rusk who said the valley "remains in moderate drought with severe drought status in the mountains from the Kern River Valley to the Tehachapi area. the Mojave Desert, including the Ridgecrest area, are classified as extreme drought."

 * ... ALTA SIERRA: But there is still enough snow at Alta Sierra to keep the chair lifts open, and the resort says it will be open this weekend. Meanwhile over on the coast the state has announced that Oceano Dune in Pismo Beach is opening to a limited number of cars this weekend.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When you tell someone you are praying for them, are you really?"

 * ... RONDA NEWPORT: Ronda Newport, president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors, was honored with the 2020 Warren G. Carter that  “epitomizes the integrity, professionalism and traditional values of Watson Realty.”.

 * ... MEMORIES: My thanks to the Kern County History Fans Facebook page for this picture of the old Kern County Jail, built in 1894 at the northeast corner of Eye and 16th streets.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Amazon to build a second fulfillment center here, spring breaks out in Bakersfield as the rest of the nation freezes, and is Coca-Cola telling employees they may be acting "too white?"

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.

 * ... AMAZON: There was more good news on the job front locally as Amazon announced it will open its second fulfillment center in Kern County, this one in Shafter. Amazon is expected to hire some 1,000 workers for full and part-time job at a base of $15 an hour plus benefits. Planned for 4500 Express

Avenue, the new facility will cover one million square feet to pick and ship items to customers on the west coast.

 * ... BLESSINGS: Consider for a moment what the rest of the country is going through: thousands without power and running water in Texas, record snow across the east coast and sub freezing temperatures across a huge swath of the country. And then there is Bakersfield, our much aligned home that is sunny and blooming like spring is around the corner. Pear trees are blooming, the camellias are out and shorts are replacing hoodies and jeans. This is a time to count our blessings for those of us who call Kern County home.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "It was like Lord of the Flies on the vaccine websites today."

 * ... COCA-COLA: Has Atlanta-based Coca-Cola included training for its employees on how to be "less white?" That's word from the Coke employees who said in an effort to promote diversity, the company has included training materials that caution white employees to beware of being "too white." A spokesperson for Coca-Cola responded to the images on the social networking platform Twitter. “The video circulating on social media is from a publicly available LinkedIn Learning series and is not a focus of our company’s curriculum,” the spokesperson said, but added that the course is “part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace.” Isn't being "too white" like being "too right handed," and if that is the case, what are we supposed to do about it?

 * ... MEMORIES: This 1916 photograph shows what was called Legislative Route 4, which would later become Highway 99, just north of Bakersfield.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Monsignor Craig Harrison leaves the church alleging no due process to defense himself against abuse allegations, experts worry the state is not ready to power electric cars and women make it official: men with cats are not as sexy as men with dogs

 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.

 * ... ELECTRIC CARS: Before we get too excited about electric cars, and California ridding itself of fossil fuels, you might listen to Elon Musk and Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota Motor Corp. At his year end press conference, Toyoda warned there simply isn't enough electricity to fuel thousands of electric vehicles, particularly in California where the aging grid can barely handle summer power surges. "The current

business model of the car industry is going to collapse," he said. "The more EVs (electric vehicles) we build, the worse carbon dioxide gets... when politicians are out there saying, 'Let's get rid of all cars using gasoline,' do they understand this?" Toyoda reminded everyone that the electricity that runs EVs comes from fossil fuels, and the only way the United States can power millions of EVs will require a huge expansion of the electrical grid and electrical power. And without fossil fuels, that today is impossible.

 * ... CRAIG HARRISON: Two years after he was suspended from the Catholic Church because of allegations of sexual abuse, Monsignor Craig Harrison has decided to leave the church for good. Harrison laid out his reasons for leaving the church, and his plans, during a press conference in front of the office of his attorney, Kyle Humphrey. Both Harrison and Humphrey laid the blame directly on the church, saying it had failed to give his defense a proper hearing and there was virtually no "due process" in their decision to suspend him. Harrison said he retains his calling to God and in fact was more devoted to his faith than ever. While Harrison's days in the church are over, the legal issues surrounding the allegations of abuse remain, as well the lawsuits surrounding it. Among those lawsuits: Harrison's suit against the church claiming defamation, and his lawsuits against two detractors. To this point, none of the men who accused Harrison of wrongdoing have filed civil lawsuits themselves.

 * ... MEN AND CATS: Do women really think men who are fond of cats are less desirable than men who like dogs? Well that's what the folks over at say, according to their analytics based on millions of interactions. Rachel DeAlto, chief dating expert at Match, put it this way: "Chicks don't want a guy with a cat." That is all according to a story in The Wall Street Journal which said straight men who reveal they own a cat have a 5 percent lower "like" rating than other men. In one study, a group of women were asked to look at random photos of a man, one of him sitting alone and the other with a cat. The result: regardless of which photo they saw first, the man photographed with a cat was deemed less "masculine, more neurotic and ultimately, less datable."

 * ... SPEEDER BEWARE: For the past month Bakersfield police have been feasting on speeders on the newly widened 24th Street. Virtually every morning  BPD motorcycle units and patrol cars hide in the alleys on the south side of 24th to catch speeders headed east. If that is on your commute, beware.

 * ... QUOTABLE: "I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure." - Mark Twain

 * ... MEMORIES: Some lovely old shots of Kern County back in the day, compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Dementia patients are at a much greater risk to die from the coronavirus, it's time for Girl Scout cookies, Bakersfield police target 24th Street for traffic enforcement and remembering the space shuttle Enterprise

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.

 * ... DEMENTIA: There's some more bad news when it comes to the coronavirus: an exhaustive new

study shows that people with dementia are much more likely to be hospitalized, or even die, from Covid-19. The risk is so high, say researchers, that it defies some of the characteristics known as risk factors for people with dementia, including old age, obesity, diabetes and asthma. And worse: the same study shows that black people are three times as likely as whites to become infected with the virus.

 * ... MORE COVID: Meanwhile a growing number of Kern County residents are getting their second shot of the vaccine, reflecting some of the early groups (frontline medical workers, police and firemen and paramedics. The Biden administration has promised to increase the supply of doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna campaigns, and there is hope that the new one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will soon hit the U.S. market. And in a related story, it turns out the much maligned Russian vaccine, known as Sputnik V, is surprisingly effective, up to 92 percent effective in people 60 and over. Mexico has already ordered millions of doses of the Russian vaccine as have other South American nations.

 * ... VACCINES: And finally, the Centers for Disease Control had issued a report saying you no longer have to quarantine if you have both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The CDC did say, however, to be cautious once you are 90 days out from being vaccinated.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Y’all ever be just about to start eating healthy and accidentally buy 5 boxes of Girl Scout cookies?"

 * ... SPEED TRAP: For the past two weeks Bakersfield police have been pulling over dozens of drivers for speeding along the newly widened 24th Street downtown. Police officers in both cars and on motorcycles are stationing themselves in the alleyways on the south side of 24th Street and pulling over speeders headed eastbound.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The White House confirmed that illegal aliens convicted of rape or assault will not be deported. Meanwhile, you can still go to jail for holding a church service."

 * ... MEMORIES: This photo of the shuttle being ferried to Edwards Air Force Base is courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page. The cutline: "On This Date, Jan. 31, 1977: The first Space Shuttle orbiter, Enterprise, arrived at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. As many in the Antelope Valley witnessed, it was conveyed at 3-mph from Rockwell International’s assembly facility in Palmdale aboard a 90-wheel transporter. The unpowered version of the shuttle was housed at Dryden Flight Research Center in preparation for a series of ground, captive- and free-flight tests prior to the space launch program."

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Kern County teachers are upset that their coronavirus vaccine appointments were canceled, Rep. Kevin McCarthy picks up his first Democratic opponent and CSUB moves to fill Hardt Field with fan cutouts

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.

 * ... VACCINATIONS: Kern County teachers are already riled up  - some wanting to return to school, others worried that schools have yet to take the precautions to welcome them back - and now some are

claiming they have been double crossed when it comes to getting the vaccine. It happened earlier this week when some teachers made reservations to receive the vaccines through Clinica Sierra Vista, only to be told later that their appointments were canceled because it wasn't their time. As it turns out, teachers are being vaccinated in other parts of the state, but not yet in Kern County. But this is what really angered the teachers: some claim they were told that Clinica canceled their appointments under pressure from the Kern County Public Health Department. Not true, says both Tim Calahan of Clinica, and the incoming head of public health, Brynn Carrigan. Calahan said a Clinica employee may have misspoken and Carrigan said it wasn't time for teachers to be vaccinated but she acknowledged teachers in others parts of the state are being vaccinated. Either way, it left a lot of bad feelings among those we entrust to teach our children.

 * ... VACCINES: While it is true that vaccines are in short supply now, help is on the way. It looks like we will have two more vaccines on the market in the next several weeks, with AstraZeneca's vaccine as well as one from Johnson & Johnson lining up for approval. If both those new vaccines get FDA approval this month, they should be in the field by the first of March.

 * ... KEVIN MCCARTHY: Rep. Kevin McCarthy, embroiled in controversy on Capitol Hill over remarks made by a freshman Georgia congresswoman, has picked up his first declared opponent trying to capitalize on his troubles. Democrat and Navy veteran Bruno Amato announced his candidacy Thursday saying he is “taking on Kevin McCarthy to bring better leadership to my community in the Central Valley.” Amato took aim at McCarthy's refusal to vote to impeach ex President Trump by saying McCarthy had put his own interests above that of his country. “Even this unprecedented breach of our democracy wasn’t enough to convince Republican Kevin McCarthy to put our nation’s interests ahead of his own,” Amato told KGET. “In fact, in the days leading up to the riot, McCarthy was spreading lies about the results of the election, falsely claiming Donald Trump had won, egging on the rioters who eventually stormed the Capitol."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I've read all the tricks for keeping dogs off the couch but what about kids?"

 * ... CSUB BASEBALL: There will be a lot of familiar faces at Hardt Field for the CSUB Runners baseball games this year, but not in the way you think. The Athletic Department, led by assistant athletic director Logan Belz, is coordinating an effort to fill the stands with "cutouts" of fans who pay $100 each to support the university. Fan cutouts, whether at baseball or football games, have become standard fare during the pandemic, and the idea has taken off here. As of Thursday Belz said CSUB  had sold more than 270 of the cutouts and he hoped to sell many more. Among those faces you may see on the fan cutouts include District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, Mayor Karen Goh, CSUB president Lynnette Zelezny, Realtor Mike Saba, commercial real estate broker Oscar Baltazar, attorney Frank Woolridge, CSUB economics professor Dr. Richard Gearhart and many others. (file photo of fan cutouts)

 * ... THE BIG INDIAN: If you live in Bakersfield, chances are you know about the statue of the Big Indian that once stood in front of a tire shop on the Garces Circle. And now the owner of that tire shop, Ken Barnes, has located an old photo of the Indian in his former location. Thanks to Ken Barnes for sharing this.

 * ... MEMORIES: In this undated photo, courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page, the Grapevine is blanketed with a sheet of snow.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

A new Lincoln Project ad labels Rep. Kevin McCarthy a "traitor," freshman Georgia Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene gives the GOP more reasons to worry and the recall petition against Gov. Gavin Newsom picks up steam

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.

 * ...KEVIN MCCARTHY: It's hard to imagine things getting much worse for Rep. Kevin McCarthy. A new Lincoln Project advertisement brands McCarthy a "traitor," he has been criticized and denounced by The Washington Post and The New York Times and now he finds himself defending the indefensible:  a member of his own caucus, Georgia Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, who is so extreme in her conspiracy theories that  members of her own party have turned on her. McCarthy is under immense pressure to

denounce Greene, but so far he has yet to do so and in fact appointed the freshman lawmaker to an important committee. (Among other wacky theories, Greene has claimed the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida was a plot by liberals to rally support for gun control).To many, Greene is to the right what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is to the left: an extreme voice that does great harm the message of their own party. The latest Lincoln Project ad puts McCarthy squarely in the crosshairs, labeling him an unrepentant traitor who has put him own ambition and loyalty to Donald Trump over what is best for his country. All this must be odd for McCarthy, who since his first election to Congress in 2006 has enjoyed tremendous support both at home and in the halls of Congress. But his relationship with Trump and his refusal to deal harshly with Greene has led to nightly criticism on CNN, MSNBS and even CBS and put McCarthy in the unsettling position of being viewed as a right-wing seditionist who will stop at nothing to gain power.

 * ... KMAC BACK HOME: Meanwhile back home McCarthy remains popular in his 23rd Congressional District, but even in conservative Kern County there are signs his lock on the district may be eroding. Message boards routinely take him to task and denounce his relationship with Trump and speculation is rife with reports that a well heeled Democratic challenger could emerge to give McCarthy a serious run for his money. The latest name being promoted by local Democrats: well connected criminal defense lawyer David Torres who checks all the boxes: Army veteran, active in Democratic circles, Hispanic and a respected well known name that would be capable of raising money for a challenge. Torres told me he has been approached before to run against McCarthy and has not yet decided what to do.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m depressed, but not 'finding out that five attorneys on my impeachment defense team have quit on me' depressed."

 * ... RECALL NEWSOM: Another California politicians in the crosshairs is Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall petition that has picked up steam with voters unhappy with the way he is handling the coronavirus. The recall effort has already collected a million signatures and has two months more to get 500,000 more to qualify of the ballot. "Things are going to hell here," said one Bakersfield attorney. "The 
EDD audit, taxes and the way he has handled the coronavirus is a mess."  Newsom's approval rating remains at a healthy 58 percent, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, so it's an open question whether there's enough mainstream support to kick out the governor. 

 * ... MEMORIES: You just have to love this picture of the east side of Chester Avenue north of 23rd Street around 1920. Courtesy of Richard Young and the source is the BAKERSFIELD and KERN PICTURE ALBUM by Don Pipkin and Chris Brewer. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The emergence of a virus mutant that evades antibodies is terrifying epidemiologists, Amestoy's is demolished and the old owner of Trout's honky tonk is arrested, and Kern County gets a new director of public health

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.

 * ... NEW VIRUS WORRIES: Medical scientists are alarmed - some terrified - about the emergence of a little known variance to the coronavirus that is devastating a city in Brazil. Known simply as the variant P.1, it emerged in December in Manaus, Brazil and within a month had caused a massive resurgence in

cases in a city of two million people. And here's the worrisome thing: the city had been devastated before by Covid-19, and so many residents had been infected and recovered that the city reached herd immunity. But the new strain, P.1, did not react to the antibodies and in effect may be evading the antibodies made by the previous virus."While we don't know exactly why this variant has been so apparently successful in Brazil, none of the explanations on the table are good," said epidemiologist Bill Hanage at Harvard. Experts further noted that this virus seems much deadlier than the mutated strains from South Africa and the United Kingdom, and the fact that is reinfected a city where herd immunity had been achieved is more than worrisome. Locally, Centric Health's Dr. Brij Bhambi called the Brazilian variant "frightening" and he will discuss the development Friday on The Richard Beene Show at 2 p.m. The show airs on KERN  NewsTalk 96.1 FM/1180 AM.

 * ... NEW PUBLIC HEALTH DIRECTOR: Brynn Carrigan has been appointed the new director of the Kern County Public Health Department, succeeding the retiring Matt Constantine. Carrigan has served as assistant director of the office since 2012 and will work with Constantine until he leaves in March. She is a graduate of South High School and Cal State Bakersfield, earning a degree in business administration.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Finally earned some street cred this evening getting led away by police from an 'All You Can Eat' buffet."

 * ... TROUTS: The last owner of Trout's before it closed down for good, Thomas Rockwell, has been arrested in Sonoma for allegedly stealing money from a senior. If you remember, Rockwell disappeared from town along with the iconic Trout's neon sign that welcomed patrons to the bar on North Chester. No one knows where the Trout's sign is, and there are legions of people who want to see it preserved here in Bakersfield, possibly displayed with the other classic neon signs on display at Pioneer Village. The Californian's Steven Mayer broke the story on Rockwell and will be joining me on the radio today (Thursday) to discuss the case. Join us at 2:30 p.m. on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM. 

 * ... RIP AMESTOY'S: The bulldozers took care of what was left of the old Amestoy's bar on River Boulevard this week, moving in to demolish what was left of the iconic watering hole that served generations and hosted many a romance. Ever since the bar closed it has been the target of graffiti and vandals and it was set on fire at least three different times. RIP Amestoy's. Finally, Anthony Leary posted this remembering things he heard at Amestoy's over the years: "You'll never hear this again from Amastoy's: 'Pull your pants up turn your hat around... don't slam the dice.. last call you don't have to go home but you just can't stay here... OK you can stay but the rest of you have to go... get out from the back of my bar... thank ya thank ya thank ya... (and) we don't play that rap shit music in here." (photo courtesy of Anthony Leary)

 * ... MEMORIES: This photo of damage to a building at Chester and 19th Street was taken right after the 1952 earthquake. Credit: Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Lincoln Project takes aim at Rep. Kevin McCarthy for his loyalty to ex President Trump, Southwest Airlines begins service to Fresno and the Mission of Kern County opens a new dormitory wing for the homeless

 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.

 * ... KEVIN MCCARTHY: Rep. Kevin McCarthy is wildly popular at home, but his national reputation has been seriously tarnished by his loyalty to ex president Trump and the "big lie" that massive fraud pushed the election to Joe Biden. And there are few harsher critics than the Lincoln Project, a group

founded by disaffected Republicans who say they are calling out people who put personal ambition over country. The Lincoln Project has singled out McCarthy as one of the ranking GOP leaders who has shown cowardice and lacked the courage to push back again Trump and do what is right for the country. You have probably seen the Lincoln Project hit pieces on McCarthy on local television (as well as the criticism leveled against McCarthy by his former boss, former Congressman Bill Thomas). Steve Schmidt, one of the Lincoln Project founders who has worked for various Republican candidates as John McCain, George Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger, took to Twitter the other day to continue his criticism of McCarthy. Below are screen shots of some of Schmidt's missives.

 * ... MISSION: The Mission of Kern County christened a new 40-bed dormitory wing this week, adding to Kern County's expanding ability to deal with its crushing homeless problem. Mission director Carlos Baldovinos, joined by Mayor Karen Goh and other dignitaries, held a ribbon cutting for the new wing, which Baldovinos predicted will be full of clients within weeks.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I want to lose weight but I don't want to get caught up in one of those 'eat right and exercise' scams."

 * .... SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: Southwest Airlines has announced service to Fresno's Yosemite International Airport beginning in April. The airlines will operate three daily flights between Fresno and Las Vegas and one daily flight to Denver. "Bringing Southwest to Fresno has been our priority for a number of years," said Fresno airport director Kevin Meikle. Wouldn't it be nice if Southwest served Bakersfield?

 * ... OLD CALIFORNIA: I spotted this old map on the Kern County of Old Facebook page, an artifact and evidence of time gone by. The caption reads: "In the 1856, the area was an odd place on the map, in between southern California and Central California.  One of the last places to be pioneered and colonized. Roughly a triangle shape (a gore?) at the south end of the Great Valley, Buena Vista was renamed County of Kern and awarded vast mineral rich desert tracts from San Bernardino in 1866.
It was a vast, natural, grazing grounds. A kind of forgotten land, dominated by too much or too little water. Col. Baker made his way here from Visalia in the 1860s and found Christian Bohna's corn field soaking wet from that decade's El Nino. Baker bought him out and spent the next 15 years drying out (with help from La Nina) and schemed canals for agriculture and cities for people."

 * ... MEMORIES: Rows of trucks carrying cotton line up in the 1920s in this old picture from the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.