Friday, October 11, 2019

Are rolling blackouts the "new norm" in California and will Gov. Gavin Newsom pay a political price? Plus Kelly Ardis leaves The Californian to join CSUB and another trip down memory lane with some old photos

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 reflect the views of any other individual, organization or company. 

 * ... WINDS: Hey California, does it feel like we are becoming the next Venezuela, a nation-state of endless shortages, uncertainty and bloated bureaucracy? It sure looks like it when we wake up and
find the power has been shut off and the state bureaucracy is telling us to shut up because this is the "new norm" in California. It is all because of Pacific Gas and Electric, the utility that cannot seem to shoot straight, has instituted rolling blackouts during the windy season to prevent wildfires. That's right, after the lack of maintenance led to horrifying fires in northern California, the utility has decided to pass the buck to us instead of doing what we expect it to do. But here is the ugly truth: historically the utility has put the pockets of its investors over routine maintenance of its power lines, creating a system that puts shareholder profits over safety. (Thankfully that practice ended recently thanks to a federal judge), Now you know what I mean when I say California is starting to look a lot like Venezuela.

 * ... RECALL NEWSOM: So where does all this leave our Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has long been eyeing a run for the presidency at some point? Will the rolling power outages lead to more pressure on Newsom, and act as a catalyst for the "recall Newsom" movement? Recall supporters point to Newsom's moratorium on the death penalty (after being upheld by voters), his decision to take gas tax money meant to improve highways and divert it to pet rail projects, and now this. Time will tell but the pressure is growing on Newsom as the state struggles to keep the lights on.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You're an adult now. That means nobody can stop you from putting shrimp in a bowl of melted butter and eating it like cereal. Not anymore."

 * ... MOVING UP: Congratulations to Kelly Ardis, a longtime Bakersfield Californian features reporter who is joining the ranks at CSUB in a marketing position. Ardis is the latest TBC alumni to join CSUB, closing ranks with Christine Bedell who works in alumni affairs, and head communications director Jennifer Self. Ardis will work for the school of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering, reporting to Dean Kathleen Madden and working closely with Jennifer Self, director of public affairs and communications. The school of NSME is on the rise at CSUB, having earned a prestigious engineering accreditation in 2018.

 * ... THE POLITICS OF WATER: If you live in California, you should pay closer attention to water policy and how politics plays a role in who gets this precious resources, and who doesn't. And now there is a comprehensive new non-profit that offers in-depth reporting and writing on California's love/hate relationship with water. It's called SJVWATER.ORG and it is run by award winning journalist Lois Henry, who has devoted her life to reporting and writing about water in the Central Valley. Go to the website and support it, financially, by becoming a subscriber. I did.

 * ... MEMORIES: And what do you think of this, a shot of "West side girls" back in the day. Thanks to Art Moore and the Kern County History Fans Facebook page. And check out this second photo of the old Ridge Route back in the day.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Lois Henry creates a non-profit to focus on Central Valley water issues, Bob Price takes a swipe at House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy and some really bad form by our local Downtown Business Association

 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 reflect the views of any other individual, organization or company. 

 * ... SHE'S BACK: How great was it to open the Sunday Bakersfield Californian and see Lois
Henry's mug on the front page? That's right, more than a year after she unceremoniously left the newspaper (more on that later) Lois is back writing as a contractor representing her new non-profit, SJV Water, devoted to California's long and complex history with water. The Sunday story is yet another Lois must-read, exposing how local water agencies and officials are struggling to comply with tough new regulations on groundwater. Lois understands, as few do, that the issue of water and water rights is more than just a simple question of who gets the water: farmers or city folk? Even in years of severe drought, our farmers and water agencies have been selling water to other agencies and cities (losing it forever) all the while increasing the acreage under cultivation via drip irrigation that allows cultivation on land that heretofore was unsuitable for farming, like the west side of Kern. While this is going on, farmers draw on groundwater that is gradually sinking the valley floor- literally. Lois is a local crown jewel resource who should never have left the newspaper (former editor Jim Lawitz wins my 'bonehead of the year" award for allowing her and Eye Street editor Jennifer Self to walk out the door at a time newspapers are struggling to stay relevant) but having her back in print writing about water is a good compromise. Check out Lois' non-profit website at And by the way, Lois appears on The Richard Beene Show every Monday at 1:30 p.m. on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM.

 * ... BAD FORM: And speaking of boneheaded moves, shame on the Downtown Business Association for seeking to profit on our homeless crisis. The DBA, never missing a chance to feather its own nest, is having a luncheon to address homelessness, featuring people like DA Cynthia Zimmer and City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, two public officials who are always accessible to the media and others. The DBA is charging the princely sum of $65 for lunch, held at a venue owned by one of the DBA supporters and officers Bob Bell. Do we really have to pay the DBA to hear our public officials talk? And there you have it.

 * ... BOB PRICE: One of the handful of award winning journalists left at The Californian is Bob Price, who used his column Sunday to criticize House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy for his unwavering support of President Trump. "It is well past time for McCarthy to cautiously extricate himself from the circle of support around this president, toward whom I believe history will not be kind. I understand attempting such a maneuver is fraught wth challenge, but lingering near this looming implosion will be further detrimental to McCarthy's career and yes, his legacy." McCarthy replied, citing the robust Trump economy, the loosening of regulations to the benefit of business and his renegotiation of trade deals with other countries.

 * ... SEMPER FIDELIS: Congratulatons to Phililp R. Brandon, a local boy who graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps boot camp this weekend in Parris Island, S.C. He now heads to Camp Lejeune, N.C. for eight weeks of rifle and munitions training. Phil went to grade school at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and was a 2010 graduate of Garces Memorial High School. He now lives on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where he volunteers for the Edgartown Fire Department and works Eversource, the local utility. His parents are Esther and Rogers Brandon of La Cresta and his brother, Sam, also graduated from Garces Memorial.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Here is something to think about, lifted from Facebook: "Do you think Bakersfield could get away with this today? I lived on a street named Monitor and walked to my grade school named Plantation, which was on a street named White Lane. My Jr High was named Greenfield and my high school was South High. South was surrounded by streets named after the Confederacy. At that time (early 70s) our mascots where Johnny and Jody Rebel... for half of the four years I attended we actually had the authentic Confederate flag, which the Rebels twirled behind the marching band at every football game and parade. Our student body was at least (guessing) 30 percent black. I often wonder how they felt about their school.?Times were different then to say the least. Trying not to make a judgment just an observation."

* ... HOMELESS: Meanwhile the vagrant curse in our community continues unabated. Missing a trash or green waster dumpster? Chances are it is being used by one of our street vagrants.

 * ... MEMORES: Here are some more random shots of the old Hotel Lebec on the old Grapevine Road. Enjoy.