Friday, November 27, 2020

Supreme Court says New York erred in restricting church services, volunteers brave the pandemic to help feed the needy during this Thanksgiving while the Catholic Church gets its first African-American cardinal

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.

 * ... SUPREME COURT: There's some good news for religious conservatives who believe states are overstepping their authority by limiting church services during the pandemic. The Supreme Court ruled the night before Thanksgiving that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo erred when he restricted the size of

religious gatherings in the state. Cuomo had imposed a 10 to 25 percent person capacity limit on churches in areas where virus cases were spiking. But the court said the move violated First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion. This ruling could have a profound impact in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed similar restrictions, incurring the wrath of pastors and parishioners alike. In the New York case, the restrictions were challenged by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two synagogues. Stay tuned.

 * ... CHURCH SEXUAL ABUSE: The Catholic Church is getting its first African American cardinal and it turns out he has been a strong advocate of rooting out cases of sexual abuse among priests. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who is being elevated to the College of Cardinal along with12 other men, has been out front in calling for the abusers and those that protect them in the church to be held accountable, breaking from other church leaders who have been silent on the issue. "My anger and disappointment, shared by Catholics and others, are only heightened by the reality that leaders who have engaged in or neglected to protect others from such damaging and deviant behavior have for many years failed to be held accountable, and have even risen in leadership positions," the new cardinal has written. "We must do better - for the sake of all victims and survivors of sexual abuse, and for the sake of everyone whom we serve in the name of Jesus Christ." Locally the Diocese of Fresno has been struggling with a long string of cases of priest abuse for years, and holds the dubious distinction of being one of the few dioceses in California that has yet to release its list of credibly accused priests.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The National Dog Show taught me that my body type is 'Non-Sporting'” 

* ... THANKSGIVING: Hats off to all the volunteers around down that turned out to help provide a warm Thanksgiving meal for the needy during this pandemic. Over at the county's new M Street Navigation (homeless) center, state Sen. Shannon Grove, Supervisor Mike Maggard, Pastor Robin Robinson, county CAO Ryan Alsop, county administrator Amanda Ruiz and KERN Radio's J.R. Flores were on hand to help serve, while Mayor Karen Goh and Assemblyman Vince Fong were spotted at the Mission of Kern County helping Mission director Carlos Baldovinos serve a hot meal.

 * ... COSTCO: Between the pandemic and Thanksgiving, you knew there would be lines at Costco this week. But they were longer than expected but thousands braved the wait for toilet paper and pumpkin pie.

 * ... MEMORIES: Who remembers when Sniders Cyclery was located over off Baker Street? Check out these classic old photos.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

More Americans are warming to the idea of taking the Covid vaccine, Bakersfield "patriots" take to the streets to protest the new California curfew and a prominent local doctor says schools should reopen

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: It looks like more Americans are warning to the idea of taking the coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available. According to a new survey by Gallup some 58 percent of adults said

they would take the vaccine, up from 50 percent just a few months ago. Many Americans have been leery of the vaccine because they feared it was rushed and could cause more harm than good. Among Democrats, 69 percent said they would take the vaccine.

 * ... SCHOOLS AND COVID: Dr. Brij Bhambi of Centric Health is one medical professional who

thinks it's time to get our kids back in schools. When asked if schools should reopen, Bhambi replied with an enthusiastic "yes, yes, yes." Bhambi noted that young children are less likely to become sick and also less likely to infect others, and continuing to keep them our of the classroom raises a host of other problems. Schools that have taken proper precautions, Bhambi said, are well suited to handle the student population.

 * ... CURFEW: Both the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Office have signaled they have no intention of being the enforcement arm of Gov. Gavin Newsom's 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. Sheriff Donny Youngblood made it clear his deputies would not be responding to calls to break up dinner parties that 20 people are attending, and Bakersfield police had the same response. Said a BPD press release: "We will not be responding to residences to check on the number of people in a home nor will we be conducting traffic stops or stopping community members moving about our city solely due to the hour of the day."

 * ... CURFEW PROTESTS: Meanwhile we should have expected this: but on the first night of the curfew dozens of self described "patriots" got together to flaunt the  curfew by driving through town, gathering at local parking lots, flying American flags and generally defying anyone to stop them. I am not sure what this accomplishes, but if it lifts your boat, go for it.

 * ... 50 YEARS OF BLISS: Congratulations to Gary and Deborah Leary who celebrated 50 years of marriage last week. The couple is known for their commitment to non-profits (St. Vincent du Paul homeless center among others) and are invariably at the heart of so many fund raisers and steak dinners around town. The local couple's love story is classic Bakersfield: they actually met at Pyrenne's Cafe, which at the time was owned by Deborah's family, and the rest, they say, is history.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to the folks over at Raising Cane's Chicken who catered lunch to the staff at the Golden Empire Gleaners last week. Gleaners director Glenn Ephron said the volunteers were treated to box lunches of the famous chicken fingers and French fries.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of the downtown post office back in the 1940s and today. Thanks to the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Rep. Kevin McCarthy says Trump will remain a player in GOP politics, we have another run on toilet paper at local stores and abuse cases at the Boy Scouts near 100,000

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:  Donald Trump may have lost the election but Congressman Kevin McCarthy is earning applause after the Republicans picked up eight to 10 seats in the House of

Representatives,  almost all of them women, minorities or veterans. In an interview with The New York Times, McCarthy said he was most proud of "the growth of the party... that is going to be more diverse than it ever was." He also said he expected Trump to remain active in the Republican Party. "If at the end of the day he does not win the presidency, he will still be a player and he'll still have a base. And if you sit back, if Trump was not on the ticket, would we have won seats this year? He brought turnout."

* ... TOILET PAPER: Don't say I never warned you. A week ago I reported here there would be a run on toilet paper and paper towels, and sure enough it has happened. Store shelves across Bakersfield are empty as folks stock up on paper good anticipating more time at home and possibly a state ordered lock down.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Someone toilet papered my house last night and it is now worth $875,000."

 * ... BOY SCOUTS: Did you hear that more than 92,000 men have come forward to file sexual abuse clads against the Boy Scouts, a staggering number of claims that attorneys say is reflective of decades of assaults by scout leaders across the nation? To give you an idea of the scale of this scandal, lawyers say the number of abuse claims top the number of cases in the Catholic Church, which itself has been dealing with a long sordid history of wayward priests preying on young men and women. Attorneys say there have been abuse cases involving scouts in all 50 states as well as at military bases in Japan and Germany. Let that sink in for a minute.

 * ... WOMEN: I ran across this old picture posted by David Dyas with this caption: "Left to right, Ortencia Miranda and Francisca Ruiz Garcia, of Bakersfield.  Francisca married Benigno Garcia at the San Diego Mission in 1873.  She married Manuel Martinez in 1888 at St Francis Church. Ortencia married Joe Garcia, Francisca's son.  From the Rachel Arias Collection Kern County California Mexican Family Photos.

 * ...  BAD FORM: So how did it leave you feeling when you learned Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife flaunted his own rules by dining at the uber upscale French Laundry restaurant when he is telling the rest of us to stay home and away from crowds. That's right, Newsom was accompanied by his wife Jennifer Seibel Newsom and about 12 other people when they dined at the upscale eatery to celebrate the birthday of his longtime friend, lobbyist Jason Kinney. They were inside and dining without masks, the two things our governor is advising all of us to avoid. After the dinner was made public, Newsom apologized and said he could have exhibited better judgment. Ya think? (file photos of the Newsoms and The French Laundry)

 * ... MEMORIES: How many of you bought bicycles here as a child at Vincent's Cyclery on 18th Street across from the Padre Hotel? Check out this photo of the old Vincents. Thanks to the Facebook page Kern County History Fans for this nugget.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here are a couple of interesting shots of Lebec back in the day.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Catholic Church reels from yet more disclosures of ignoring predatory priests, are you ready for Round Two of hoarding toilet paper and sanitizer and Maya Cinemas gets a new general manager

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.

 * ... CATHOLIC CHURCH TROUBLES: The seeming never-ending sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church are well documented, and the Diocese of Fresno is at the epicenter locally for dealing with a long history of priests preying on both young men and women.  (The Fresno Diocese is only one of two dioceses in the state that has yet to release its list of credibly accused priests) But virtually no one expected the scandal to tarnish the reputation of the late Pope John Paul II, the once wildly popular Polish pope who ruled for 26 years. But now, thanks to a report from the Vatican itself, the late pope has been tied to the growing scandal of disgraced former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick. Among the findings of the Vatican report: Pope John Paul chose to ignore evidence that showed McCarrick engaged in decades of sexual abuse, including pedophilia. McCarrick has become the poster child of how Catholic priests prey on others: "grooming" victims with adoration, attention, money and gifts all the while using his power and public standing to intimidate the victims and his critics. The McCarrick scandal is a major embarrassment for the church, but it likely won't lead to an effort to reverse the canonization of Pope John Paul II. (file photo of the late Pope John Paul II and the degraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick)

  * ... HOARDING ROUND TWO: Remember when the pandemic first hit and you couldn't find toilet paper, paper towels and hand sanitizes anywhere in town? Well, get ready because we may be entering yet another period of hoarding and grocery shortages. that's the word from the nation's major grocery store companies who say there already is a shortage of kitchen staples like butter and spices because so many people are cooking home. And in the Southeast, Kroger Co. reinstated new limits on the amount of toilet paper and paper towels that customers can purchase. "We are on the cusp of the next uptick in major pandemic buying, said Dave Kauder, vice president of merchandising at New Seasons Market. The New York Times said grocers expect cleaning wipes to remain scarce and are keeping an eye for a rush of demand for new paper products. GOOD ADVICE: If shortages happen here, make sure you check Stinson's Stationers ( which has become a reliable place to find scarce items like bath tissue, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sure, human touch is nice, but have you ever tried on a cable knit LL Bean cardigan?"

 * ... MOVIE MIKE: Congratulations to Mike Armendariz, who has been appointed general manager of Maya Cinemas in Bakersfield. Armendariz previously managed the company Delano cinema complex and is recognized as one of the leading authorities on American cinema in California. For the past three years Armendariz has been a regular commentator on movies every Friday on The Richard Beene Show on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM/1180 AM.

 * ... MEMORIES: From the Kern County History Fans Facebook page comes this great shot of the Moronet Building 18th and Eye streets.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And don't you love this old shot that was featured on the Kern County of Old Facebook page? You are looking west on 19th Street from L Street. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Valadao-Cox race goes down to the wire, Father Craig Harrison wins a court case against an accuser and are you leaving Facebook for more conservative social media sites?

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.

 * ... VALADAO-COX: Is history about to repeat itself in the race between Democrat Congressman T.J. Cox and Republican challenger David Valadao. Two years ago Valadao was the incumbent and on election night went to sleep thinking he had won. But after absentee and late reporting precinct ballots were counted, Cox

narrowly edged Valadao and won. As things stand now, Valadao leads Cox by 4,000 votes, yet once again Cox is slowly catching up thanks to late reporting precincts from Cox strongholds and mail-in ballots. There are some 34,000 votes yet to be counted in the four counties that comprise the 21st Congressional District, and 31,000 of them are in Kern County. And that is bad news for Valadao since the Kern ballots come from deeply Democratic pockets of Kern County. Hold tight because this will be another tight one.

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: A judge has ruled that Monsignor Craig Harrison can move forward with a defamation lawsuit against a former friend who said Harrison hit on him sexually and had a pattern of acting inappropriately with other young men. Judge Kennth G. Pritchard denied an anti-SLAPP motion filed by the attorney for Ryan Dixon, who at one time considered Harrison a close personal friend, mentor and spiritual guide. Dixon, who later studied to become a Benedictine monk, turned on Harrison after he claimed Harrison was guilty of "inappropriate touching, lies, manipulation and abuse of power." Perhaps equally damning, Dixon claims Harrison had a pattern of touching and being alone with children, subjecting them to grooming behavior including lavishing then with money and other gifts. Harrison has denied the allegations by Dixon, as he has the other now middle aged men who have accused Harrison of similar incidents of sexual touching and impropriety. Harrison was suspended by the Diocese of Fresno in April of 2019 after multiple allegations of abuse arouse involving Harrison over several decades at different parishes in the Central Valley. Since his suspension he has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese as well as against Dixon and other critics. Harrison can no long perform priestly duties for the church and has been waiting for the church to rule on his fate. The statute of limitations has expired on any possible criminal offenses but Harrison could face civil action by any of the men who have come forward to accuse him of sexual abuse. (file photo of Harrison and Dixon)

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I’ve blocked several family members on social media this year. Now how can I block them for the holidays?" 

* ... FACEBOOK EXODUS: Are you part of the migration of conservative voters away from Facebook and Fox News? A large number of viewers, most of them Trump loyalists, are angry at Fox News for allegedly showing bias toward liberals and they are also fed up with Facebook and Twitter because of its censorship policies. Those leaving Facebook are opting for more conservative social media platform options like Parler, MeWe, Rumble or Newsmax.

 * ... MEMORIES: Thanks to the Kern County History Fans for sharing this great old picture from Delano, back in the day.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Joe Biden clinches Pennsylvania and becomes president elect, the return of pets to the White House (German Shepherds Major and Chamo) and the world loses Jeopardy host Alex Trebek to pancreatic cancer

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.

 * ... ELECTION: Joe Biden is now the president-elect following one of the closest elections in American history which saw a record number of votes. All of the ballots are not yet in but Biden hit the magic

number in electoral votes when he won Pennsylvania on Saturday. In his acceptance speech Biden vowed to be a president for all Americans, regardless of party. Most Republicans I know were disappointed but resigned to a Biden presidency. Others, in fact perhaps most Republicans I know, are more fearful of vice president-elect Kamala Harris and their perception of her as "too far left" should something happen to Biden and she rises to the presidency. Dr. Brij Bhambi of Centric Health called Biden's acceptance speech "powerful and well worded that met the moment." Pastor Angelo Frazier of Riverlakes Community Church had this to say: "Yes, convictions are not based on polls, politics or focus groups, regardless of the outcome of the elections, it is this country we are fighting for... we must fight the good fight with honor, integrity and truth. It is the founding principles in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that we uphold for all people and parties. The lust for power must never trump the triumph of love! We are all Americans now and we will be afterward. Let's rolll." Both Bhambi and Frazier are regular commentators on The Richard Beene Show on KERN Newstalk 96.1 FM. Frazier appears Mondays and Bhambi Fridays.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If civil war starts, I ain't running! Cause I'm fat, that's why."

 * ... FIRST DOGS: The election of Joe Biden will do one thing we can all agree on: it will be good to see pets back in the White House. Joe and wife Jill have two German shepherds, Major and Champ, and the president is quite fond of dog kisses, we are told. In the pictures below are Major and Champ along with another yellow lab that a voter named ... Joe Biden.

 * ... ALEX TREBEK: We lost Alex Trebek, the longtime host of the popular game show "Jeopardy!" who died Sunday after a bout with pancreatic cancer. Trebek, 80, served a year with the cancer (the odds of surviving a second year with pancreatic cancer are just 7 percent) but recently took a turn for the worse and died Sunday. Trebek's connection with Kern County was strong, thanks in part to Sheri Horn-Bunk of the Taft College Foundation. When Horn-Bunk discovered that Trebek once joked he might attend Taft College to study oil drilling in retirement she reached out to him to appear at the West Kern Petroleum Summit. He did, graciously, and later funded a scholarship there. My wife and I were guests of Horn-Bunks last January when we went to Burbank to watch the filming of Jeopardy! where Trebek greeted us with warmth and charm. He was one of a kind and he will be missed.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old picture of a motorcycle club in Kern County back in the day.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Kern County election returns show the county gradually trending more Democratic, California makes a list of the worst states to retire in and the show American Pickers is returning to Bakersfield

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.

* .. PURPLE KERN: The image of Kern County has long been this: rock hard conservative, Republican, big on law and order and not a friendly place to be a Democrat. But that is changing, and no where was that more on display than this week's election. First consider this: did you know only 1 percent separates President Trump and Joe Biden in Kern's popular vote? That's right, as of right now the president won Kern County with some 71,000 votes, but Biden was nipping at his heals with 69,000 votes. How can that be in a red county? Here in red state Kern County, the Republican president beat his Democratic rival by just 1 percentage point. Let that sink in. Even Assemblyman Vince Fong, wildly popular and a "centrist" Republican by most standards, handily run his race against Democrat Julie Solis but she still managed to win some 38,000 votes. And then consider this: Democrat T.J. Cox outpolled Republican David Valadao in the 21st Congressional District race 62 percent to 38 percent in Kern County.

There are still some 80,000 to 100,000 Kern ballots yet to be counted, but these numbers speak for themselves. These are numbers that not long ago would be unthinkable, but they reflect the hard truths about Kern County's demographics: we are getting younger, browner and more likely to vote Democratic. Supervisor Leticia Perez, a Democrat, was widely ridiculed when she said two years ago that Kern was becoming a purple county, meaning a bled of red and blue. Who is laughing now?

* ... 21ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: With up to 100,000 votes still left to cast in Kern County, the race between Rep. T.J. Cox and challenger David Valadao remains too close to call. As of now Valadao leads with 51.4 percent of the vote while Cox has 48.6 percent, but that is a scarce 3,000 vote lead. Anything can happen. Expect anything. 

* ... TIMOTHY MOORE: Now here is another head scratcher. Remember Robert Forbes, the Black Lives Matter protester who was run down by a car and killed on California Avenue last June? Well the man who hit Forbes, Timothy Keith Moore, was found dead in Baja, Mexico, in September and now police say his death was caused by either an "accident or violence." Moore was known to hang in shady circles, and there is no reason to believe the death of Forbes was anything but an accident, but who knows what happened in Mexico. (photo courtesy of The Bakersfield Californian)

* ... GOOD STATES, BAD STATES: California made another list of being among the worst states in America for retirees. That's right, the website Moneywise (no relation to the local Moneywise Guys) ranked California in the Top Ten of the worst states for retirement. As usual, high taxes combined with high home prices and an overall expensive cost of living put California on the list. Other less desirable states for retirees include New York, Maryland, Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New Mexico.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If we are going to have a really old president, why can't it be Betty White?"

 * ... AMERICAN PICKERS: The popular TV show "American Pickers," where the hosts travel the country looking through garages, barns and attics for valuable antiques and keepsakes, is returning to California in December and looking for places to visit. If you know of a place where the pickers might go, call 855-OLD-RUST to get in touch with the producers. The hosts are Nike Wolfe and Frank Fritz who specialize in antique "picking."

 * ... INGA BARKS: Former conservative local radio host Inga Barks died this week at the age of 53. Barks struggled with personal issues, had a bout with cancer and had been in general bad health for some time when she passed away. No cause of death was given. Barks worked at both KERN and KNZR radio over her long career.

 * ... MEMORIES: Thanks to the Kern County History Fans Facebook page for posting these old images of the Bakersfield Inn in the 1940s.