Monday, June 20, 2022

Good news for the Monarch butterfly population, former city councilman Harold Hanson dies and local crooner Joe Peters to sing the national anthem at Dodger Stadium

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.

 * ... MONARCH BUTTERFLIES: One of the great joys of living in central California is witnessing the annual migration of the stunningly beautiful Monarch butterflies as they head to their winter journey in Mexico. Scientists long have been warning that the number of Monarchs are dwindling, but now a new study casts doubt on that. According to The New York Times, the new study focused on the size of the

summer breeding populations and said the numbers were smaller in the Midwest but larger in some other areas. "North America is home to two populations of monarchs," The Times said. "The larger, Eastern population spends its summers breeding in milkweed filled fields along the East Coast and Midwest before winging its way down to Mexico each fall. A smaller, Western population generally converges on California each autumn." The declines have been attributed to climate change and to logging near overwintering sites, as well as a herbicide known as glyphosate. So take heart, we might just enjoy another robust Monarch migration season.

 * ... RIP HAROLD HANSON: Former Bakersfield city councilman Harold Hanson died this month at Mercy Southwest Hospital. Hanson was 85 years old and served as Ward 5 councilman for 16 years, from 2000 to 2016.  He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Lana. Services will be held at St. Phillip the Apostle Church on Stockdale Highway on June 23 at 9:30 a.m.

 * ... GAS REBATE: I was thrilled to see The Bakersfield Californian editorial calling on the California legislature to approve a gas tax holiday to battle inflation. That's been my position for some time now, even though most Democrats (and many others) oppose it because Big Oil is enjoying windfall profits. My take: stop worrying about Big Oil and worry instead about the poor Californians who live on poverty's edge and are forced to use their cars and trucks to get to work. This obsession with Big Oil and its profits should not come at the expense of our working class citizens who are struggling to make ends meet.

 * ... JOE PETERS: There's some good news for rising country music singer Joe Peters, a Bakersfield lad with a growing following about town. Peters, who frequently appears at The Pour House and other local venues, said on his Facebook page he would be singing the national anthem at the Sept. 2 Los Angeles Dodgers game at Chavez Ravine.

* ... BITS AND PIECES: Useful news tidbits from around the world:
 - Microsoft has announced that Internet Explorer, once the go-to browser for millions across the globe, is being abandoned and will no longer be supported. Microsoft is urging users to transition to a newer browser called Microsoft Edge. Google's Chrome browser is not the market leader with about two thirds of all users opting for Chrome.
 - Heads up all you shoppers: major U.S. retailers say there are some killer deals lurking as stores adjust to pandemic related shipping issues and other anomalies. Target, Walmart and Macy's all accounted recently that they were receiving huge amounts of outdoor furniture and electronics that were in scarce supply during the pandemic. To get folks back into the stores, the retailers were expected to start offering deep discounts. Some of the deepest discounted items include furniture and lounger.
 - Just how popular has pickleball become across the country? Well, big enough that the New York Times devoted a full page recently to the passion for pickleball, noting it has become big business as entrepreneurs look for creative ways to build more courts along with amenities like bars and restaurants and retail sports stores.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old poster for the 1963  Kern County Fair, which appeared on the Facebook page of the Kern County History Fans.

 * ... OLD BAKER STREET: And from the Kern County of Old history group comes this wonderful old picture of Baker Street and the old Grenada Theater back in the day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Local races heat up for the November general election, the state okays a new Indian gaming casino off Highway 99, and who knew Sirius Satellite Radio had a station devoted to the Bakersfield Sound?

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.

 * ... ELECTIONS: The votes from the June primary aren't all counted yet, but it;s clear there will be some fun and important races to watch in November. The top of my list is the race to succeed Mike

Maggard as 3rd District Supervisor, where Jeff Flores and Brian Smith will face off in November. Flores, a longtime Maggard aide and school board member who has the backing of the GOP establishment, has a comfortable lead now but the question will be what happens to all those who voted for the third place finisher, Democrat Louis Gil? Expect this to be one of the more heated races for the fall. A few of the other interesting races:
 - In the 35th Assembly District, Supervisor Leticia Perez will face Dr. Jasmeet Bains in a runoff. Logic would tell us this is Perez's race to lose, but anything can happen in November.
 - In the 16th District Senate race, Republican grape farmer David Shepard of Porterville will likely face state Sen. Melissa Hurtado. Shepard ran strong landing in first place with 45.4 percent of the vote while Hurtado is in second with 30.3 percent of the vote.

 * ... CASINO: It looks like that new Indian gaming casino south of Bakersfield is definitely going to happen. Gov. Gavin Newsom made it official this week by signing a tribal-state gaming agreement with the Tejon Indian Tribe, overcoming one of the last hurdles for the proposed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The deal designates 300-plus acres for the tribe, of which 52 will be used for the casino that organizers say will eventually create 5,000 jobs. Other facilities planned include housing, administrative offices and a health care facility. The casino will be built off Highway 99 just north of Highway 166.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD SOUND: For all you music buffs out there, did you know that the Sirius XM satellite radio channel has a station devoted to the Bakersfield Sound? That's right, it's hosted by Dwight Yoakam and appears on channel 359 on SXM radio. The channel celebrates the Bakersfield Sound and those whom it has inspired including Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Wynn Stewart, Tommy Collins, The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Eagles, The Blasters, Lucinda Williams and more. The channel encompasses all that is California country and country rock, in all of its various and varietal hybrid forms, from Ricky Nelson to Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt and includes artists from the movement in LA in the early to middle ’80s that Yoakam broke out of, and will feature bands as diverse as X, Lone Justice and Los Lobos.

 * ... THE WOOLWORTH'S SOUND: While we are on the subject of music, did you catch Steven Mayer's Sunday story in The Californian about the Woolworth's Sessions? The piece follows the purchase of the historic Woolworth's building by Moneywise co-owners Dave Anderson and Sherod Waite, who have vowed to respect the historic integrity of the landmark and to retain the classic 1950s era diner. With the third floor gutted, Waite and Anderson came up with the idea to record music in the vacant third floor and the result is the Woolworth's Sessions, a wonderful collection of local musicians playing in an iconic venue. Anderson teams with Emily Waite, Sherod's wife, as the duo Bakersfield Cactus. If you missed it, check it out on (photo by Sherod Waite)

 * ... PERSPECTIVE: Spotted on Twitter: "I have a friend who exercises twice a day,  has sex three times a week and reads two books a week, and he still complains about prison." 

   - Another business is looking to leave California because of the high cost of living and burdensome regulations. Smithfield Foods, the largest pork processor in the country, is losing its Vernon, Ca., plant in early 2023, citing high taxes, utility costs and labor costs. Smithfield makes the iconic Dodger dog.
 - Food prices are rising as inflation takes hold, and now Kraft Heinz has told retail customers that it was raising prices in August on everything from Miracle Whip and Classico pasta sauce to Maxwell House Coffee.

* ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of the old ice house around 1904. Thanks to the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And check out this old postcard courtesy of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Flores and Smith appear headed for a runoff in the Third Supervisor District, Rudy Salas aims to oust Congressman David Valadao and is it the end of the Parra name in local politics?

 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.

 * ... JUNE PRIMARY: The primary is over and now we head to the November general election, where it seems with near certainty that Rep. Kevin McCarthy will be elected the next Speaker of the House. McCarthy held a strong lead on his opponent and heads to a runoff in his 20th Congressional District, but that was predicted and is expected to be easily reelected in the fall. Some thoughts on this weeks primary, which had its surprises:
 - One of the most interesting developments was in the race to succeed Mike Maggard in the Third

Supervisor District. As expected, Maggard aide Jeff Flores ran first and he was followed by former CHP officer Brian Smith. Flores and Smith appear headed for a runoff. Running a disappointing and lackluster third, and out of the race, was former homeless shelter executive Louis Gil.
 - Assemblyman Rudy Salas was the top vote getter in the 22nd Congressional District now held by Republican David Valadao. Salas and Valadao will head to a runoff but given the Democratic lead in voter registration, Salas could be headed for an upset. Valadao has had to face not only Democrats like Salas but Republicans in his own party who are upset because he voted to impeach then President Trump.
 - In the newly drawn 16th State Senate district a relative unknown, David Shepard, was the top vote getter, easily outdistancing incumbent Sen. Melissa Hurtado and spelling the end of the attempted political comeback of former Assemblywoman Nicole Parra. Shephard and Hurtado could meet in the November runoff. The Parra name has long held a coveted position in local politics, but this could spell the end of that local dynasty.
 - Supervisor Leticia Perez had little trouble in the 35th Assembly District, easily beating Taft Dr. Jasmeet Bain but the two will still have to square off in November.
 - Voters in San Francisco signaled they had enough of uber liberal District Attorney Chesa Boudin by recalling him from office. Boudin, 41, is a new breed of prosecutors who fundamentally do not believe in incarceration. Like other California cities, San Francisco has been overrun with crime, homelessness and drugs.
 - Laura Avila easily held back Todd Reeves to become the top vote getter in the assessor/recorder race.
 - In the race for county auditor/controller, the candidate who alluded to the possibility of voter fraud, Mark McKenzie, lost badly to Aimee Espinoza. She was leading with 61 percent of the vote, well enough to avoid a November runoff.

 * ... HOMELESS CAMPSITES: I read with interest, and some mild surprise, a recent story in The Californian about a plan to build campsites for homeless people who remain wary of checking into one of the city or county homeless navigation centers. At first glance it looks like yet another attempt to appease the homeless, but the effort is a sound one and deserves our support. The idea is simple: create a safe camping area for people who still refuse to access the shelters and their services. The idea came from the Community Action Partnership folks who run the existing M Street shelter. This is a simple but promising experiment because it does one simple thing: it gets homeless off the streets (at least at night) and keeps them from building makeshift camps in public parks or right of ways. It's not the perfect solution, but anything that keeps the homeless out of the parks is a step in the right direction. In New York City for example, more than 50,000 men and women take advantage of city shelters nightly, keeping them off the streets and out of the cardboard communities where others life. In New York, city run shelters house 80-90 percent of all homeless. Granted this will all cost money, but taxpayers should be happy to pay a little to keep these people off the streets and with access to mental health and drug counseling.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Do you believe in conspiracy theories or are you fine not knowing why the shampoo always runs out before the conditioner?"

 * ... GAS PRICES: If you don't think $10 a gallon gas is close, think again. A small gas station in Mendocino is charging just under that $10 benchmark, and you can bet more will follow.

 * ... MEMORIES: There is a Facebook page devoted to Kern County history - it's called Kern County History Fans - and it regularly posts terrific historic shots of our town. Check out this building - then and now - on Baker Street. What is it they say about they don't make them like they used to?

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And check out this picture of the old Kern County Courthouse that was partially destroyed in the 1952 earthquake. It was later razed completely.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Were Republicans trying to sew confusion by promoting their own candidates on a Democratic mailer? Democrats cry foul, the candidates take cover and things heat up across the board, plus Amy Travis takes over as director of First 5 KERN

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 SHENANIGANS: If you cover enough elections over the years you will learn one simple truth: always expect to be surprised. Candidates will lie, or deceive, supporters will do equally stupid things, 11th hour revelations can change everything and until every vote is counted, the race can go any way. And so it goes locally here when, with just a week until the June 7 primary, a candidates mailer is causing all kinds of problems for some of the most prominent and well known candidates this election cycle. The mailer targeted Democratic voters and if you didn't know better, the piece would seem to come from the Democratic Party itself: the images of Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy and Obama (all

Democrats) are at the top of the ballot followed by what looks like a list of Democrats running for office. Except for - and this is what it is all about  - some of the candidates listed are prominent Republicans, including District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Assessor candidate Todd Reeves and county supervisor candidate Jeff Flores. Kern County Democrats immediately cried foul, claiming the mailer was a naked attempt to confuse voters by including Republicans on a Democrat mailer. And who is responsible for the mailer? Well that would be Cathy Abernathy and Western Pacific Research, her company that is in the business of grooming and promoting the conservative echo chamber that runs much of local politics. (Zimmer is not represented by WPR but Flores is). Zimmer, Youngblood and Flores all told me they did not approve of the mailer and had no idea it was even coming out. "I can say that I never saw nor did I approve this piece of mail," Zimmer told me. "Neither did the sheriff. We are very unhappy our image was used." Youngblood confirmed that with me, saying he "did not pay, agree or authorize" the mailer. Flores, for his part, also denied knowing the mailer was being sent out but did concede he works with Western Pacific to reach out to non Republican voters. "These are what are known as 'slates' so I don't approve the layout or content or see it for that matter," he said. "And WPR did purchase all my slates this cycle which I approve and pay for the sales package. I sign on to as many slates as I can afford for voter contact. Republicans, Democrats, seniors, Hispanics, law enforcement, taxpayers, many categories, especially in non partisan races." But in no way, Flores insisted, did he know his name and image would be included on a mailer that seemed to imply that all the candidates were Democrats. For candidates like Zimmer and Youngblood, who are both running unopposed, something like this can amount to little more than an irritating nuisance. But for Flores, who faces tough competition in the primary against retired CHP officer Brian Smith and former homeless executive Louis Gil, the stakes are far higher. For her part, Abernathy told KGET she was simply reaching out to Democratic voters and doing her job to promote Republican candidates to all voters. So was this an egregious (if slightly heavy handed and over the top) attempt to sew confusion among the voters? And even if it is not illegal, at the very least it's an attempt to sew confusion and that reflects poorly on candidates like Flores, Youngblood and Zimmer. And finally, will it change the outcome of the elections? Probably not, but you can bet some folks on that mailer will be dealing with the fallout for months.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "My girlfriend's cat died and someone suggested I get her an identical one to cheer her up. Doesn't make any sense. How will two dead cats cheer her up? "

* ... AMY TRAVIS: After serving as executive director of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Amy Travis has accepted a position to run First 5 Kern program. Travis will start her new duties on July 18, succeeding Roland Maier who is retiring. Travis began her career with CASA in May 2012, and has been instrumental in the organization’s restructuring and development, securing new funding streams, and increasing the number of children served yearly. Travis is not only a business person but in 2019 she was honored and selected by Bakersfield Magazine as a “20 Under 40 to Watch.” She graduated from Fresno Pacific University, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership, studied at Loyola University Chicago, and is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Strategic and Organizational Leadership at Fresno Pacific University.  “On behalf of my fellow Commissioners, we could not be more thrilled in the selection of Amy for this critical position in our community,” said First 5 Kern Commission Chair John Nilon. “Amy embodies all the qualities that we wanted, including executive leadership, community presence, and experience in the delivery of services to our most vulnerable children. The expectations for First 5 Kern are at their highest, and we have every belief that Amy will exceed those expectations.” First 5 provides funding to organizations that work to strengthen and support children up to 5 years old and their families.

 * ... MEMORIES: This is about as good a picture you will find of the old Beale clock tower after it was partially destroyed in the 1951 earthquake. You see it here at 17th and Chester with the Sill Building in the background. Courtesy of Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Bakersfield residents scramble to deal with rising crime as the city becomes numb to a higher level of violence, Jax the retired BPD canine dies in retirement and are you ready to take "Navy showers' to deal with new water restrictions?

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.

 * ... HIGH CRIME: How bad is crime in your neighborhood? Well the statistics tell us it is much worse than just a year ago, and common sense tells us why: California has decriminalized many felonies as 

misdemeanors, police are overworked and stretched to the limit and local officials have taken a hands off approach to vagrancy and homelessness for the most part. (Their solution is on finding permanent housing for those on the streets, not keeping them from breaking into your cars, your home or your business.) As a lark, over the Memorial Day weekend I monitored crime by looking at the Ring video camera online alerts for Ring customers who live near me. The results: I counted at least six car thefts (including one on my own street, thank you), two home burglaries, countless alerts to people checking car and home doors and a frightening number of petty crime incidents in virtually every neighborhood. Residents are at the breaking point and there is a consensus - fair or not - that our City Council has failed us and those who should care are instead busy taking and posting self congratulatory "selfies" while the city burns. As one frustrated neighbor told me: "And my city councilman (Andrae Gonzales) wants to spend millions on the old train depot on Baker Street while we are left to deal with crime on our own?" Unfair? It may be but it's the political reality when a public's cry for help is met by paralysis.

 * ... CAR PRICES: Thanks to the skyrocketing prices of used cars and the lack of availability for new cars, the average age of vehicles on U.S. roadways has reached 12 years. According to research, this is the fifth straight month that the average age of a vehicle has increased. "With the drivers hanging on to vehicles longer, the percentage of cars and trucks scrapped - or taken out of use - each year fell to 4.2 percent in 2021, one of the lower rates in two decades," the Wall Street Journal said. Two factors are in play here: cars and trucks are made better so they last longer, and the shortage of new cars and parts has led the price of new and used cars to spoke to record high levels.

 * ... INFLATION: And speaking of your personal vehicles, have you noticed your auto insurance premiums are going through the roof like everything else? Thanks to the insidious nature of inflation, homeowner insurance policies have spiked and now car insurance is doing the same. During the first quarter, All-State increased rates in 28 states an average of 9.3 percent. Insurance industry experts believe that about 61 percent of its base personal auto insurance policies have seen price increases since the middle of last year. 

 * ... RIP JAX: Here's some bad news: Jax, the accomplished and loyal German Shepherd who served in the canine unit of the Bakersfield Police Department, has passed on not long after he officially retired. From the city of Bakersfield website: "It is with heavy hearts we share that, after almost a year and a half of retirement, K9 Jax passed away. Senior Officer Ashby and Jax were partners from July of 2012 until Jax retired in January of 2021. Jax never met a water bottle or traffic cone he didn't like, and when off duty, he loved playing in the water and sleeping on the couch. Jax will be deeply missed by the Ashby family and forever appreciated for his years of dedicated service to his partner and this community."

 * ... SAVING WATER: Californians are being encouraged to save water now that we are well into the third year of a long drought. The drought is so bad, in fact, that Gov. Gavin Newsom warns that if conservation efforts don't work, we could be in for mandatory restrictions. Already starting June 1, nearly four million customers in Los Angeles will face new restrictions. So what does that look like? Researchers say the average Californian uses between 70 and 80 gallons of water per day - inside and out - and they say we need to reduce that to about 55 gallons per day. One way is to take shorter showers, and Newsom says if we all shorten out showers to just five minutes and switch away from baths, we can save up to 2.5 times as much state water.

 * ... MEMORIES: This is an interesting shot looking west on 19th Street from L Street. The photo is from 1890, according to the Kern County of Old website.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And finally, we have this old postcard promoting Paul's Diner on California and K.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Southern Baptists, following the lead of the Catholic Church, routinely ignored sexual abuse allegations and instead attacked the victims as opportunists, the Western swing band The Soda Crackers is the hottest ticket in town and CSUB loses Logan Belz to another university

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.

 * ... SEXUAL ABUSE: Just when you think the Catholic Church has a monopoly on sexual abuse claims, here comes the Southern Baptist Convention. It turns out the world's largest Protestant denomination has been experiencing an abuse scandal eerily reminiscent of the Catholic Church: sexual abuse allegations have soared in the past 20 years and like the Catholic church, the SBC ignored the signs and went into crisis mode to deny the allegations. And just like with the Catholics, true believer Baptists did their best to shame the accusers, protect the abusers and say it's all about people out for money.

(Remember all the "We Believe Father Craig" signs posted at businesses and in front of homes?) All this would be sad were it not so predictable. Do you recall what defense attorney Kyle Humphrey said when then Monsignor Craig Harrison was accused by multiple men of manipulating them for sexual favors while serving as a priest? Humphrey likened the accusers to pigs at a trough, and while the language is not exactly the same, Southern Baptist leaders did the same to denounce dozens who came forward to accuse Baptist leaders of a long pattern of abusing parishioners. It always seems to go like this: rally around the accused and attack the victims as low life money grubbers. The damning report from the SBC pointed to the groups past indiscretions. "In service of this goal," a SBC report said, "survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its policy regarding church autonomy - even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or war ing to their current church or congregation." 

 * ... ARE YOU RICH: Do you consider yourself rich? And if you do, are you also happy? Those are some questions posed by researchers who were studying the effects of being rich in America. Called Capitalists in the Twenty-First Century the research identified data of all taxpayers to determine who  dominated the top 0.1 percent of earners. The study revealed some interesting things including the fact that there are about 140,000 Americans who earn more than $1.58 million a year. That person, typically, is the owner of a "regional business," meaning anything from a car dealership to a beverage distributor. That's right, rich people get rich by owning unsexy businesses, like auto repair shops, gas stations and contractors. But does all that money make you happy? The study found that the rich are constantly setting the bar higher so "you have to keep doubling your income to get the same happiness boost." Another survey, by two British economists, found that the activities that make people happy include sex, exercise and gardening. "People get a big happiness boost from being with a romantic partner or friends but not from other people, like colleagues children or acquaintances, " it noted. So there you have it. The lesson here: be kind to your spouse and if you are single, take up gardening.

 * ... COVER ART: Ever since he retired from The Bakersfield Californian, award winning photographer Feliz Adamo hasn't missed a beat. Instead of devoting his time to shooting subjects like crime or politics, Adamo is showing off his talent in magazines, this time taking over the cover of Food & Beverage magazine featuring a bowl of warm French fries from potatoes grown locally by Chipperbec potatoes out of Arvin.

 * ... SODA CRACKERS: When Felix is not shooting cover art for national magazines, he can be spotted chronicling the emergence of one of the hottest local bands, the Western swing group called The Soda Crackers. It turns out two of Adamo's boys, Cooper and Zane, play in the band which pays tribute to the rich musical legacy of Bakersfield and iconic singers like the late Bob Wills. Check out The Soda Crackers next time somewhere about town. (all photos by Felix Adamo)

 * ... ADIOS LOGAN: Cal State Bakersfield lost another talented employee this week when Logan Belz announced he was leaving to accept the position as associate athletic director for the University of Evansville. If that school in Indiana sounds familiar, it is where CSUB Athletic Director Kenneth Ziggy Siegfield went just recently. Belz, a dynamo of a young man who oozes with enthusiasm, energy and professionalism, penned his farewell in a personal note sent to supporters. "It has been an honor to serve as the Athletics Assistant Director for Special at CSUB. It has been truly an amazing ride ranging from our Education Days, NCAA births, NIT Semifinals, WAC Championships, sell-out crowds, rowdy bus trips and watching our 300 student-athletes compete at the highest level of college athletics," he said. In the past month CSUB has lost Seigfield, Belz and Victor Martin, head of development. Martin went to the University of the Puget Sound.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here are a couple of just amazing old photos, taken around 1890, showing Chester Avenue when it was a dirt road. These photos are courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page. The second photo was taken from the old Kern County Courthouse that stood where the police station does today. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

California is running a huge budget surplus but don't expect to see any of that money back, Bakersfield Observed lists some candidate endorsements and a big shoutout to KGET for airing political debates

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.

 * ... CALIFORNIA SURPLUS:  California's state government is enjoying a record year with revenues so strong they are expecting the surplus to balloon to $97.5 billion. Sounds good, right? But if California is bringing is so much more than it budgeted, don't you think Gov. Gavin Newsom would be thinking about giving some of it back? There are plenty of options: the state could reduce vehicle license fees, permanently lower the tax on gasoline or

temporarily cut taxes, and yet none of this is being considered. Why? Well if you live in Democratic controlled California, you know lawmakers never run out of things to spend money on. The new budget estimates $300.6 billion in total spending during the fiscal year that begins in July — a $14 billion increase from what Newsom proposed to lawmakers only four months ago. The governor’s plan asks lawmakers to devote billions of dollars to a raft of new items: an inflation relief package for Californians, more money to address dangerous drought and wildfire conditions, subsidies for low and middle-income healthcare plans and the highest per-pupil school funding levels in the state’s history. So here we are, amid a record money making year for California, and taxpayers won't see any of it back. Welcome to the Golden state.

 * ... KUDOS KGET: Thank goodness for KGET TV, the lone mainstream media outlet that has the time, money and resources to air debates this election year. The Californian has sponsored debates before, but print publishers are facing falling circulation numbers and tough times. So it has been left to KGET who recently focused attention on the Third District race to succeed retiring Supervisor Mike Maggard. With no incumbent in the race it was an interesting evening featuring former homeless shelter director Louis Gill (who looked stiff initially but was well prepared), retired CHP officer Brian Smith (a seemingly good natured man who appeared befuddled at times trying to answer questions) and Jeff Flores, the longtime Maggard aide who was the smoothest, most articulate and well informed of the bunch. Look to KGET to re-air some of the candidate debates.

 * ... BAKERSFILD OBSERVED ELECTION PICKS: Here are a few of my picks for the election this year - not a complete list of endorsements to be sure - but choices based on my own research and how effective these candidates might be:

 - District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer has proven she is the right person for the job at a time when we need a District Attorney who is not afraid to throw the book at the bad guys. Zimmer is no nonsense, she is unapologetically tough on crime and she will not sell her soul or position for political expediency. This one is easy because he is running unopposed. Vote Zimmer for DA.

 * ... SHERIFF DONNY YOUNGBLOOD: The sheriff is also running unopposed but it doesn't mean we don't enthusiastically endorse him. Like Zimmer, Youngblood is the right person in the right job for an era when we need crime fighters, not wishy washy politicians. This may be Youngblood's last term in office, so let's send him to another term. Vote Youngblood.

 - Assemblyman Vince Fong deserves to be returned to the 32nd Assembly District for another term. Fong its intelligent without being an ideologue, a proven rising star in the California GOP and an assemblyman who has proven he can do more than simply vote "no." Vote Fong for state Assembly.

 - Leticia Perez deserves your vote to go to Sacramento to represent the newly drawn 35th Assembly District, the old Rudy Salas seat. As a Kern County Supervisor, Perez has not served without controversy but her deep knowledge and connections in Sacramento, coupled with a realistic, Valley-based agenda that balances the conservatism of her district with more liberal Sacramento, makes her our choice. Perez sees the future of a much more diverse state and has worked tirelessly to bring disparate groups together. Vote Perez for the 35th Assembly District.

 - Jeff Flores stands above a field of three candidates and deserves your vote to succeed Mike Maggard on the Board of Supervisors. Flores has proven himself to be a reasonable conservative who has pledged to make fighting crime and cleaning up homeless encampments his top priority. In the KGET-sponsored TV debate, Flores pledged a "zero tolerance" policy on homeless encampments, a refreshing and bold statement from someone who clearly has his ear to the ground. Flores has worked for years as Maggard's chief of staff and he also serves on the Kern High School District board of trustees. Of his opponents, former homeless shelter manager Louis Gill wanted to run against Rep. Kevin McCarthy but changed his mind at the last minute, and retired CHP officer Brian Smith also had his heart set on running for sheriff. Elect Jeff Flores and free up Gill to run for Congress another year while Smith can wait for Sheriff Donny Youngblood to retire.

 - Congressman David Valadao is a Republican who represents the 22nd Congressional District which leans Democratic. He has served the district making courageous stands, including being one of a handful of Republicans in Congress to vote to impeach former President Trump. Valadao has worked hard for the district and he deserves your vote. Those running against him include Republican Chris Mathys, Republican Adam Medeiros and Democrat Rudy Salas.

 * ... MELISSA HURTADO: The 16th state Senate district is a newly drawn one, so this race is wide open in a sense. Our endorsement goes to Melissa Hurtado, who represented the 14th District before redistricting. Hurtado is a Democrat but carries a lot of the more conservative positions that Valley Democrats often hold, and she has proved herself worthy for another term. Also running are Democrats Nichole Parra and Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio and Republicans David Shepard of Porterville and Gregory Tatum of Bakersfield. Vote Hurtado.

 * ... GENERATIONAL PASSINGS: A whole generation of Bakersfield leaders is passing before our eyes, men and women who helped build this community and who no doubt will be remembered for their contributions. Among them was Dallas Grider, who enjoyed a wild and successful run as a football coach at West High and Bakersfield College. Grider was 77 and was inducted into the Bob Elias Hall of Fame in 2008. Also dying was longtime CSUB professor Dr. Louis Wildman who was inducted into the CSUB Hall of Fame in 2021 and was known as truly one of the nice people to work on the campus. (He was known as a regular at pickup basketball games at the old gym on campus) And, can you believe it has been two years since we lost Bob Hampton, the larger-than-life Taft businessman who epitomized the swagger and hard work that defines Kern County? Hampton was a graduate of Taft College where he played basketball, and he went on to his beloved USC where he played basketball from 1957-1960. He was 82 when he died. (file photos of Grider, Wildman and Hampton)

 * ... OLD MEMORIES: This old photo of Granite Station near Woody was taken back in 1903. Courtesy of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

And finally feast on this old shot from the 1940s of a gas station around town. Thanks to the Kern County History Fans for this photo.