Thursday, December 31, 2020

Let's kick 2020 to the trash bin and start anew, local hospitals seeking traveling nurses at $200 an hour and local lad Cooper Adamo heads east for a prestigious fellowship

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.

 * ... HAPPY NEW YEAR: About the kindest thing you can say about the year 2020 is "good riddance." More colorful language may be appropriate but let's leave it at that. Here's to everyone for a more

prosperous, healthy, predictable and kind new year.

 * ... TRAVELING NURSES: Did you know that traveling ICU nurses are in such short supply during this COVID-19 pandemic that they are demanding salaries in the $200 an hour range? And that is even if you can find a nurse at that rate. That's the word from Matt Constantine, director of Kern County Public Heath, who said local hospitals are competing against themselves for skilled nurses who are now demanding hourly wages in the $200 range. To save yourself the bother, a $200 hourly rate comes to $8,000 a week or $416,000 a year. And many might say they are worth every penny.

 * ... COVID SURGE: Here's a dirty little secret no one really wants to talk about. Our local hospitals are so full of Covid patients that ambulances often drive through the streets of Bakersfield looking for a medical facility to place their patients. With the beds full and elective surgery all but put on hold, patients will other illnesses are often held on the local ambulances for an hour or more as drivers try to find a hospital that will admit them.

 * ... RISING STAR: Cooper Adamo, son of author Teresa Adamo and photographer Felix, heads to Washington, D.C., to attend the swearing in of Congressman elect David Valadao who is returning to Congress after defeating Democrat T.J. Cox. Cooper was a regional field director for the Valadao For Congress campaign for the 21st Congressional district seat, focusing on the Kern County region of the district. Following the swearing in, Cooper heads to the John Jay Institute  in  Langhorne, Pennsylvania to start his four month fellowship. Once there, Cooper will delve into  readings and topics from interdisciplinary studies in theology, philosophy, ethics, history, politics, culture, and jurisprudence. The John Jay fellowship program is intended to prepare Fellows for careers in public service, whether they take shape in the public, non-profit, or for-profit spheres.

 * ... FACES OF THE HOMELESS: I was struck by these black and white pictures taken at the Christmas dinner at the Mission of Kern County. Hats off to local photographer Mark Duffel for some amazing photography.

 * ... SHANNON GROVE: Did you catch this vintage picture of Shannon Grove when she was in the Army boot camp? The state senator posted it on her Facebook page this weekend.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here are a couple of pictures for all you fans of the old Ridge Route, the circuitous and dangerous road that connected Los Angeles with Bakersfield before Interstate 5 was built. These pictures are featured on a Facebook page devoted to the old California state route 99. They were taken in 1932 during a fire on the Ridge Route. The last picture shows the new route and its official opening in 1933.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

If it's California, it's time to celebrate the season with Christmas tamales, the Fox Theater celebrates its 90th birthday, the Christmas star makes an appearance and a special New Year's celebration

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.

 * ... FOX THEATER: Did you know that Bakersfield's historic Fox Theater opened on Christmas Day

back in 1930? Showing that day was the movie "Just Imagine" that was set in the then future year of 1980. To celebrate the 90th birthday, the Fox is encouraging everyone to tour the Fox Walk of Stars outside the theater. And if you donate, you will receive a free large popcorn. (Selected Fox pictures taken by The Bakersfield Californian)

 * ... CHRISTMAS TAMALES: Tamales are a California favorite, and no where in the Golden State are tamales more popular than here in Kern County. If you are lucky, you have a grand mother (abuela) or an aunt (tia) or even a mother (madre) who is known for her Christmas tamales. If not, you need to head over to Grandma's Tamales at 100 Bernard, right off Union, perhaps the most popular tamale vendor in town. Enjoy these pictures from Grandma's Tamales.

 * ... SHANNON GROVE: State Sen. Shannon Grove is a proud veteran of the U.S. Army and this weekend she posted some pictures of the young recruit while in boot camp. Check them out here.

 * ... CHRISTMAS STAR: So did you check out the Christmas Star this week, the uber rare convergence of Jupiter and Saturn that drew comparisons to the star of Bethlehem appeared Monday at sundown and - depending on where in town you were - it was visible for about 45 minutes. He best picture I spotted was this one from someone in Athens, Ga. Enjoy.

 * ... NEW YEAR'S: There is an old Italian tradition that says we should all leave our front doors open at midnight on New Year's to allow all the negative energy out. Given what we have been through this year, I think that sounds like a grand idea.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "A $600 stimulus check? Hell, prisoners in California make more than that in unemployment benefits!"

 * ... MEMORIES: Well look at this, the Garces traffic circle back in 1932 thanks to the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The new Moderna vaccine is set for essential workers and those 65 and older, seasonal crime at Costco frustrates shoppers and make sure you catch the Christmas star Monday evening

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.

 * ... MODERNA VACCINE: The Moderna vaccine should be arriving in Kern County sometime this week, giving fresh hope to a region that is being pummeled by new infections. The new vaccine is being

used to vaccinate police, firefighters, teachers and grocery workers first, and then people 75 and older and front-line essential workers. The next phase will include people 65 to 74 and people 16 to 64 who have high-risk medical conditions, along with other essential workers. 

 * ... PFISER VACCINE: Rep. Kevin McCarthy got the Pfiser vaccine last week and issued this on Twitter: "I got my first shot of the COVID vaccine on Friday, and I’m feeling good. Democrats and the media scoffed when  @realDonaldTrump said we’d have a safe and effective vaccine this year, but he kept his promise!"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sure, kids wore helmets in the ‘70s. They handed them out to us at the ER after you cracked your skull skateboarding into your neighbor’s Chrysler Imperial LeBaron."

 * ... CHRISTMAS STAR: Make sure you check out the Christmas star Monday evening, a rare convergence of Saturn and Jupiter that hasn't happened since 1226. And now, almost 800 years later,  the planets will once again appear in the heavens just one-tenth of a degree apart — about the thickness of a dime held at arm’s length, according to NASA. Said one website: "Astrophiles of all stripes are excited, to say the least. Astronomers and other sky watchers could witness a once-in-a-lifetime event. Astrologers are heralding it as a time of rebirth. (The conjunction falls on the winter solstice.) And holiday aficionados are calling this bright conjunction, happening so close to Christmas Day, the 'Christmas star'”

 * ... CRIME: A local resident was shopping at Costco on Rosedale Highway this week when he returned to his car and found this. Be safe out there and never leave anything visible on the seats.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this photo, compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page, of the 1948 class as Jefferson Elementary School.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And then there is this, a contrasting look down 19th Street thanks to our friends at the Kern County of Old Fans on Facebook.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Businesses and homeowners continue to flee California and its taxes and regulations, Chef's Choice Noodle Bar abandons downtown and Nicole Parra is back and running for Congress

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.

 * ... GOODBYE CALIFORNIA: Is California about to reach a tipping point in its ability to impose new taxes and regulations on its citizenry? It may be if you look at population trends of the Golden State,

which show that our growth rate is near a record low as more people leave the state. It seems to be a thing, led by tech giants like Tesla, Oracle and Dropbox all announcing they were moving to Texas, and thousands of individuals fleeing high cost urban areas for cheaper, cleaner ares like Texas, Idaho, Arizona and Nevada. With all that said, there are still 39 million people living in California, leaving us the largest state in the union even with all the bad news.

 * ... SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: Did you hear that Southwest Airlines will begin service from Fresno-Yosemite International Airport in 2021? Although the airline did not specify the destinations, it did say it would also begin flying out of Santa Barbara next year as well. Having Southwest serve Bakersfield has long been a dream - a pipe dream some might say - but we can take heart that the airlines is adding Fresno and Santa Barbara to its growing list of cities it serves.

 * ... LEAVING DOWNTOWN: Chef's Choice Noodle Bar is leaving downtown for the greener (and safer) pastures of The Marketplace in the Southwest, the latest blow to the downtown restaurant scene. News of the departure comes two days after Tina Marie's Downtown Cafe on 20th Street burned to the ground in a fire believed to have been caused by vagrants. Chef's Choice owner Nick Hamsa said he was weary of the vagrants and problems endemic to downtown, and decided to abandon the building that has served him well.

 * ... NICOLE PARRA:  Did you hear Nicole Parra is running for Congress? That's right, Democrat T.J. Cox is barely out of office and she has announced she is running in the 21st Congressional District where David Valadao has just narrowly unseated Cox. The daughter of former Supervisor Pete Parra said she is running because "the people in the Central Valley deserve better; they deserve a representative with a proven track record and the experience and the leadership skills necessary to solve real problems. As a member of California State Assembly, I always put the needs of my district above partisan politics. Decades of public service have taught me that a member of Congress should be honest, empathic, courageous, humble, practical, intelligent, and always be willing to put the people’s interests before their own. It’s time for new leadership and a fresh approach in the 21st Congressional District." Though more than a tad early, Parra said she had already been endorsed by Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias, Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle, Arvin Mayor Olivia Trujillo, Avenal Mayor Alvaro Preciado, Corcoran Mayor, Pat Nolen, Kern Community District Trustee Yovani Jimenez and Bakersfield City School Board Trustee Lillian Tafoya.

 * ... MORE PARRA: Parra expanded on her vision when she appeared on The Richard Beene Show as my guest, positioning herself as a centrist Valley Democrat who understands the value of fossil fuels and how a rush to green energy could disrupt local economics. "Why do we have to pick and choose" between renewable energy and fossil fuels, she asked. "I don't want to run away from the industry I work for," she added, referring to her job in marketing with Marathon Petroleum in Sacramento. Parra has an interesting bi-partisan resume: she worked for former Democratic Congressman Cal Dooley, a moderate, she has endorsed Republicans for office (Andy Vidak and Carly Fiorina) and she worked with former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a state position. 

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Well now, it is hard to argue with this logic!

 * ... JOHN HEFNER: There aren't a lot of people in town who are universally loved, but John Hefner is one of them. The longtime educator, best known for his tenure as principal of Fruitvale Junior High School, has been diagnosed with cancer. KGET reported that Hefner has lymphoma and is receiving treatment and is currently at home. In addition to Fruitvale, where Hefner was key in the school's successful History Day program, Hefner was instrumental in Bakersfield's Sister City program. 

 * ... MEMORIES: The Facebook page Kern County History Fans always has some remarkable views or our community back in the day. Enjoy this one of 19th Street looking west.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Your Sunday-Monday Bakersfield Observed: A downtown restaurant burns and vagrants are suspected, and meanwhile restaurants across town are opening in defiance of the pandemic crackdown

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.

 * ... TINA-MARIE'S: It seemed like the whole town was grieving after a suspicious fire roared through Tina Marie's Downtown Cafe, engulfing the northeast corner of 20th and Chester in smoke and flames and leaving in ruin yet another local restaurant that was already dealing with the pandemic. These

pictures, taken by the owner of Tina Marie's and posted on her Facebook page, show the efforts that Bakersfield firemen put out trying to control the blaze. The fire broke out around 2 a.m. Saturday and then yet again around noon, leading investigators to believe that vagrants or the homeless may have had a hand in the two fires. To be sure, the homeless and vagrant problem downtown remains out of control, and restaurants and businesses like Tina Marie's are left to contend with vandalism and theft on their own, all the while trying to stay in business during the pandemic. When do you think our city leaders will wake up and deal with the downtown homeless problem in a serious manner? Its nice when they send condolences, but we are well beyond that point.

 * ... PUSHBACK: The statewide effort to "push back" against Gov. Newsom's pandemic crackdown is well under way, and it is an open secret that restaurants across Bakersfield are seating customers inside in defiance. To be sure, restaurants enjoy wide support among rank and file citizens, but that could turn on a dime if eateries let down their guard and become super spreader events. One by one, local restaurants are opening up and as one friend said about one prominent local restaurant: "I went there for pickup and the place was packed... inside... and not a mask in sight." My advice for restaurant owners: follow your heart but if you must open up, observe protocol like masks and social distancing, or risk losing the support you have.

 * ... COVID SHUTDOWN: Well here's a restaurant owner who is not happy with either Gov. Gavin Newsom or the Porterville City Council.

 * ... FINSTER FARMS: Enjoy this scene of the owner of Finster Farms tending to his garden while his daughters tag along for the ride.

 * ... MEMORIES: Lewis Jones posted this picture of a class from McKinley School back in the day. Said Lewis: "A flashback in time. This is a photo of my kindergarten class of September 23, 1944, at McKinley School. The school was located in Bakersfield, Ca. on 10th street between N St and O St. The teacher was Mrs/Ms Main. I am pictured in the 2nd Row, 4th from the left. Are any of my classmates out there."

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And then there is this, a classic shot of Chester looking toward Truxtun and the old Beale Clock tower, thanks to the Art Moore and the Facebook group Kern County History Fans.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

New survey shows 58 percent of Californians approve of Gov. Newsom but 26 percent are thinking of leaving the state, Rep. Kevin McCarthy celebrates GOP gains in the House and some really bad form about town

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.

 * ... GAVIN NEWSOM: Despite being wildly unpopular in some parts of the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom still enjoys a 58 percent approval rating from Californians when asked how he is handling the crisis. That is according to a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California that showed Newsom's

approval rating holding steady. With that said, the non-profit investigatory organization CalMatters said the governor is approaching an inflection point, "and how he handles it will determine a lot about his political future." Next month Newsom will near the mid-way point in his first time and he is already facing an expected challenger for reelection in outgoing San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer, a Republican. The PPC survey also revealed that: 
 * 26 percent of Californians are thinking of moving out of the state
* 26 percent worry about the high cost of housing here
* 45 percent don't think the American dream holds true anymore
* And 63 percent think their children will be worse off financially than their parents

 * ... OUCH! Rep. Kevin McCarthy had a little fun on social media this week when he posted a few pictures from Congress, specifically showing a group of Democrats who lost their House seats and another one showing the group of Republicans (there were none of them) who lost their House seats in the last election. Said McCarthy: "The first photo is of Leader Hoyer with all the Democrats who lost their re-election. The second is a group photo of me with all the House Republicans who lost this year."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Some morning humor from my friend Dick Taylor: "The next time your wife gets angry, drape a towel over her shoulders, (like a cape) and say, 'now you’re Super Angry!' 
Maybe she’ll laugh. Or maybe you’ll die."

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: The legal fight between the Diocese of Fresno and Monsignor Craig Harrison has entered a dangerous new phase. Harrison's legal team held a press conference this week in which they rejected calls by the Diocese for Harrison to drop his lawsuit against the church. Harrison sued the Diocese claiming it had defamed him, and the church responded by demanding that Harrison drop the suit or it would resort to disciplinary action. Kyle Humphrey, one of Harrison's attorneys, said he expected the Diocese to retaliate but added Harrison would not drop the suit. Humphrey conceded Harrison would likely never return to St. Francis of Assisi Church and accused the Diocese of mistreating the monsignor and denying him his right to due process in court. Among other things, the Diocese had demanded that Harrison stop engaging in any behavior that could confuse people into thinking he was an active priest with the Catholic Church.

 * ... BAD FORM: Here is a familiar sight: someone using our community as their private dumping ground. Jeff Flores spotted this and had this to say: "Some class act thinks that it’s acceptable to dump a queen mattress across from Williams Elementary on the median at Niles. Reporting this to City of Bakersfield roads department right now."

 * ... MORE BAD FORM: And then there was this scene at Truxtun and Oak this week, caught by retired energy executive Viet Truong.


* ... MEMORIES: This is a wonderful old picture of the Bank of Italy building that stood on H Street next to the Padre Hotel. My thanks to the Facebook page Kern County History Fans for sharing this.