Thursday, May 6, 2021

Top administrators leave Bakersfield City Hall for greener pastures, the bulldozers reduce the old Sinaloa restaurant to rubble and why the City Council needs to forget about saving the old railroad depot

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.

 * .... EXODUS: What is going on over at Bakersfield City Hall? Maybe nothing, but it does raise red flags when two of the most important department heads in the city - Public Works Director Nick Fidler

and Assistant City Manager Jacqui Kitchen - resign to pursue other jobs. Fidler and Kitchen are seasoned city administrators at the top of their game, and they are turning their back on two 'destination" jobs. Is it just coincidence, or does it show their displeasure with City Manager Christian Clegg's operating style? Both Fidler and Kitchen were devotees of former city manager Alan Tandy, and while no one is talking, speculation is rampant and the new culture at city hall and how it might be driving good people away.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.
-Benjamin Franklin"

 * ... CSUB WRESTLING: Congratulations to Vernon and Janis Varner who have funded scholarships for the CSUB wrestling program to the tune of $25,000. The Varners are longtime supporters of CSUB wrestling and The Coyote Club, which regularly raises money to support the sport.

 * ... MEET CRAIG HARRISON, CITIZEN: For the first time in his adult life, Craig Harrison is no long affiliated with the Catholic Church. That deal was sealed this week when the pope  released Harrison from the priesthood after a long period of acrimony, accusations, bad blood and hints of scandal involving Harrison and a number of young men who claimed Harrison sexually abused them years ago. The charges may never be verified - it is a virtual he said/he said situation - and after being suspended by the church, Harrison made the decision to sue the church for defamation. That lawsuit still stands - you can bet the church was not happy about it - and it led to Harrison resigning his post when he feared retaliation from the diocese. Then the letter came, basically saying the pope had accepted his resignation and was moving on. Harrison is also moving on, reportedly eyeing a counseling and life coaching business here in town.

* ... RIP SINALOA: The Sinaloa Mexican restaurant, long a mainstay of downtown Bakersfield with a long list of followers, has been torn down to make room for new apartments. The bulldozers and cranes moved in Wednesday afternoon and make quick work of the historic old building. Sage Equities is planning to build apartments at the site.

 * ... MY TAKE: The idea of saving the old Union Pacific railroad depot on Old Town Kern is born of good intentions, but it is an idea doomed to fail. Aside from the good that comes from preserving the past, the building is too large, in terrible shape and given its location will likely never have a chance to be restored without millions of dollars. For Councilman Andres Gonzales and other supporters: if you can't control the homeless population or keep the Kern River Parkway safe and clean, what makes you think you can save and restore a dilapidated old building in an economically challenged area beset with crime and homelessness?


* ... COURTHOUSE MEMORIES: Check out this photo, courtesy of the Kern County of Old on Facebook, of the old Kern County courthouse.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

CSUB and other state schools will demand proof of vaccination to enroll, the city cleans homeless camps along the Kern River and three business people are appointed to the city Planning Commission

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.

 * ... PROOF OF VACCINE: If you are thinking of enrolling at CSUB or any campus in the CSU or University of California system this fall you will need to show proof of vaccination. That's the word from

the CSU Chancellor’s Office, who noted the mandate is dependent on an adequate supply of vaccines. As of now, the only exemptions will be allowed for medical or religious reasons. There have been discussions for allowing other exemptions in the future although no decision has been made.

 * ... KERN RIVER TRASH: I was thrilled to see a half dozen city of Bakersfield dump trucks and pickups on the Kern River bike path this week, busy cleaning up dozens of homeless camps along the dry riverbed. Most of the action was happening between Beach Park and Manor, a stretch of the bike path that is heavily infested with homeless encampments. The cleanup coincides with a volunteer river cleanup session set for Saturday at the parking lot off Manor.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Never understood the phrase 'I’ll give you something to cry about.' I’ve already found something to cry about. Problem solved, call off the search."

 * ... CRIME VICTIMS: A sobering view from national Crime Victim's Rights Week, down Truxtun in front of the courthouse.

 * ... CASSIE BITTLE: Cassie Bittle, owner of KC Steakhouse downtown, has been appointed to the Planning Commission. Bittle said her role on the commission would be to "give back" after local government supported small businesses during the long pandemic. There were three openings on the commission and joining Bittle as new members were Zack Bashirtash of Infiniti and businessman Larry Koman.

 * ... MEMORIES: Thanks to the Kern County of Old Facebook page for these two pictures of The Hopkins Building at 19th and Chester, one from July 1952 after the earthquake and the second in March 2021.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Hart Park and the park at the Panorama Bluffs are set for improvements, the city is overrun with stray cats and dogs and Tina Marie's to open downtown in the old Chef's Noodle Bar

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.

 * ... GREENBELT IMPROVEMENTS: Hart Park and the green belt along the Panorama Bluffs are in for major improvements over the next few months. That's the word from county Chief Administrative

Officer Ryan Alsop who said the Hart Park "master plan" called for new signage at both ends of the park, refurbishing an old adobe building for new use and improvements to the trail head parking area near the old Sheriff's pistol range. (historic photos courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page)

 * ... DOGS AND CATS: Do you remember a few years ago when there was a big stink about the enormous number of dogs and cats that were being euthanized at our local shelters? Well things are better, I am happy to report, not perfect, but certainly better. Julie Johnson, who wears two hats as director of both the local SPCA and city of Bakersfield Animal Care services, said it wasn't long ago that 80 percent of the dogs brought to local shelters were being euthanized. "Now we are saving 80 percent," she told me. The reason: more awareness about the benefits of spay and neutering and the emergence of the non-profit Critters Without Litters in 2013. Still, the situation here in Kern County is critical, she said, and there is a particular problem with pit bull and pit mixes, which currently comprise half of all dogs at the city shelter.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Had a dude smoking a cigarette next to his oxygen tank tell me I look stupid in my mask."

 * ... OLD HANGTOWN: The city of Placerville, known as "Old Hangtown" in remembrance of the number of hangings during the Gold Rush, has removed the image of a noose from its logo. The logo shows a miner washing gold in a stream. The noose hangs from a tree in the background. The noose was removed when some residents argued it gave the city a bad reputation.

 * ... ADIOS EMA: Ema Sasic, a features reporter at The Bakersfield Californian, is leaving the paper to join USA Today in Palm Springs. Sasic announced the move on Twitter saying this: "After almost three years at  @Bakersfieldcali,  I’m moving on to a new California adventure. I’ll be joining the 
@MyDesert @USATODAY. Network in Palm Springs as a health reporter! Apparently it’s not hot enough in Bakersfield for me so now I’m headed for the desert!"

 * ... TINA MARIE'S: The restaurant Tina Marie's, which suffered a devastating fire a few months ago, will be setting up shop in the location of Chef's Choice Noodle Bar which is moving to the Southwest. Tina Marie Brown said she was thrilled to remain downtown and reiterated that she plans to rebuild in the original location. 

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of a building along Chester that once housed the JC Penny's store. Look familiar? Thanks to the group Kern County History Fans for this gem.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Researchers suggest we may all need a "new" vaccine shot or a booster in the near future, Amazon buys the Wilson Road Walmart to get up a delivery facility and a sign from Chet's Club joins the museum

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 VACCINES: There seems to be a growing consensus that the array of coronavirus vaccines - Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson - are not long-term solutions to the ongoing threat of mutant

variant viruses. Researchers now say they vaccines will likely need booster shots, or new vaccines altogether, because they lose their effectiveness over time. That, of course, would mean that billions of people across the world may have to receive a booster shot just so society can maintain an upper hand against the Covid-19 viruses and its variants. Researchers are hoping they can find a way to give the vaccine in pill form, vastly reducing the hassle factor in receiving the dose.


 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Did they stop painting wings on brick walls or did girls just find other places to take pictures?"

 * ... SEXUAL ORIENTATION: This clip from a CNN discussion pretty much says sit all. What do you think?

 * ... AMAZON: Did you hear Amazon is expanding again in Bakersfield, this time taking over the old Kmart on Wilson Road as a new delivery station? The company said the building would under go an extensive renovation to evolve into a Last Mile delivery building creating some 200 jobs. The company hopes to open the new facility at the end of this year.

 * ... MUTANT VARIANT: Right when it looks like things are getting better with the pandemic we learn there is a new "double mutant variant" discovered in California. The new variant first emerged in India and a handful of cases have been detected in the Bay Area. The "double mutant" carries two mutations that helps it latch onto cells.

 * ... CHET'S CLUB: Yet another iconic neon sign has joined the Kern County Museum, this one from Chet's Club, an old card club  and diner on Edison Highway. Chet's Club was housed next to the Lucky Spot honky tonk and was known for its coffee, chili and occasional rough crowd. The sign is now at the Kern County Museum.

 * ... MEMORIES: A nice old picture of the Penny's building that is now a local museum. Thanks to the Kern County History Fans and Art Moore for sharing this.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And this one, again from the Kern County History Fans, of that famous place the Bakersfield Inn.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

American sees church membership plummet during this Holy Week, another utility pledges to destroy 11,000 palm trees in California, and pandemic eating proves a boon for DoorDash

<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.

 * ... CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: No, God is not dead in America but organized religion is starting to look that way. U.S. church membership was sitting at an impressive 73 percent back in 1937 and it stayed that way for the next six decades. But since the turn of the century in the year 2000, it has been on a steady

decline and today the number of Americans belong to a church is down to just 49 percent. Experts say the decline it due to the growing number of Americans who express no religious preference, and that number has jumped three-fold to 21 percent today. Not surprisingly, the decline in church membership is generational, with older Americans more likely to belong to a church than their children or grand children.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My spirit animal really could use a shower."
* ... PANDEMIC ORDERED: DoorDash and other delivery services did a gangbuster's business during the pandemic, and you might be surprised what we turned to for in-home dining. DoorDash said one it saw a huge increase in breakfast items ordered: iced coffee, sausage, egg and cheese, breakfast burritos, pancakes and French toast were among the items ordered. In addition, vegan and vegetarian foods were wildly popular, with black bean tacos seeing a 456 percent increase. Plant based burgers shot up 196 percent. The top cuisines ordered: Mexican, Chinese and Mex-Tex.

 * ... PALMS: Utility companies seem hell-bent to rid California of our majestic palm trees. First there was the stink out at Rosedale Ranch where Pacific Gas and Electric is taking down stately palms, and now Southern California Edison has announced he will remove some 11,000 palm trees over the next two years to mitigate the risk of wildfires. The palms in question are in Santa Clarita, La Canada Flintridge, Malibu, Simi Valley, Santa Ana and Lake Elsinor. The work will begin next month. (photo courtesy of 23ABC News)

 * ... TREASURE HUNT: Have you ever returned to Costco after a long absence and gotten lost, wondering where all the familiar items were? Well, there is a reason for that and insiders call it Costco's "treasure hunt" for customers. Every few months, the company changes the aisles to force customers to "relearn" the store layout and in the process force customers to stroll every aisle of the store. It's another reason you won't find aisles marked with signs indicating what items are located on that aisle; they want us to wander through the store like it was your first time.

 * ... MEMORIES: From the Kern County of Old website comes this pictures of a couple of men playing cards on the boardwalk next to the Chinese Joss House on L Street between 20th and 21 Street around 1900.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

CSUB opening huge vaccination hub, criminals target catalytic converters and pickup truck tailgates, and Labradors and French bulldogs top the list of favorite dog breeds

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.

 * ... CSUB VACCINES: Cal State University Bakersfield is about to open a mass vaccination on campus that will be able to inoculate 5,400 people a day. Hoping to stay open until all Kern County residents are vaccinated, the health hub is part of a consortium with Adventist Health, Dignity Health Hospitals, the

California Medical Association, the California Primary Care Association and Futuro Health. The American Red Cross is providing its expertise on mass site planning. Though the site can administer 5,400 doses a day, how many it will actually offer is dependent on vaccine availability. 


 * ... CRIME: We all know that crime is spiking and  car break-ins are at a near epidemic level. Two of the favorite targets of local thieves: tailgates for pickup trucks and catalytic converters on virtually all cars and trucks. The catalytic converters can be stolen in a matter of minutes, and if you loose one, your local mechanic or dealership could charge you anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 to replace them. Pickup truck drivers are advised to use the lock on their tailgates to prevent theft.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE FOUNDATION: The Bakersfield College Foundation has added three new members: Ariana Joven, Paul Pavletich and Lauren Skidmore. Joven works for The Wonderful Co. in public affairs, Skidmore is a legislative aide to Assemblyman Vince Fong and Pavletich runs Premier Lighting, a family business. All three have deep ties into our community and all three have served on any number of boards and held positions at companies about town.

* ... TOP DOGS: The annual list of the most popular dogs in America has some old standbys, but some of the new popular breeds may surprise you. Topping the list is one of our all-time favorites, the Labrador retriever, and climbing the ladder into a solid second place is the French bull dog. This breed has become so popular that a man walking Lady Gaga's two French bulldogs was mugged and the dogs stolen recently. Rounding the list of top breeds were the German shepherds, Golden retrievers, Bulldogs, Poodles, Rottweilers, Pointers and Dachshunds.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to local attorneys (and married couple) Connie Perez-Andreesen and Joel Andreesen recently for donating a combined gift of $150,000 to support the Center for Social Justice and the Roadrunner Scholarship Fund at California State University, Bakersfield, to be distributed over five years. This gift, together with their previous giving to the university, brings the Andreesens' total lifetime giving to more than $250,000.

* ... MEMORIES: I spotted this picture of how the building that now houses our Woolworth looked before it burned in 1889. Thanks to the folks at Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Medical experts discuss the cause of "brain fog" from the coronavirus, the Panorama Vista Preserve is a jewel in our crown and Dr. Steve Ratty recovers from his own bout with the virus

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.

 * ... GREEN SPACE: One of our community's hidden treasures is the Panorama Vista Preserve, a

wildlife area of more than 900 acres below the Panorama Bluffs that is undergoing a restoration. The Preserve is operated by the Kern River Corridor Endowment and Holding and provides a vast network of dirt trails for hikers, cyclist and horses. Thanks to a pair of grants volunteers have been busy planting native shrubs, grasses and cacti to return the area to its original state. Next time you are looking for a place to hike or run to enjoy nature, take in this is little piece of heaven.

 * ... COVID ILLNESS: One of the going mysteries of having contracted the coronavirus is the question of developing long-term residual effects that could compromise your heath. We hear a lot about "brain fog," how long it may last and the prognosis for recovery. Last week Dr. Brij Bhambi and Dr. Bill Baker discussed these issues on The Richard Beene Show, and some of what they said may surprise you. Dr. Baker for example said some cases of "brain fog" actually show the victim may have suffered a series of small strokes, which to me was a surprise. Young patients, some under the age of 10, have developed "brain fog" after suffering from Covid-19 and researchers are just beginning to understand how it works. Check out my discussion with Drs. Baker and Bhambi on KERNRADIO.COM.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know what has zero calories and zero carbs? A nap."

 * ... STEVE RATTY: Speaking of Covid-19 it was good to see that Dr. Steve Ratty, the local optometrist, has recovered from a long bout with the coronavirus. Ratty and his wife Mary came down with Covid-19 in March 2020 and while she recovered, he remained hospitalized with a severe case. Ratty told KGET he is still battling the effects of the virus. “I am in still in stage four kidney failure…the bottom of my feet are always numb," he said.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here are a couple of terrific shows from back in the day of the old Post Office in Bodfish, compliments of Kern County History Fans.