Sunday, July 5, 2020

Two local death row inmates die of Covid-19 and District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer celebrates closure for their victims, H.A. Sala to talk about your rights during protests, and all those sports mascots and logos that are on the chopping block during this time of the great cleansing

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 person or organization.

 * ... PROTESTS: How many times have you watched protesters attacking motorists and wondered: What would I do in that situation? If I hit the pedal and hurt somebody, will I be charged? If I fear my
life is in danger as they pound on my hood and windows, what are my rights? We will cover all of that and more on Tuesday when noted defense attorney H.A. Sala comes on The Richard Beene Show at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss our rights. Tune in.

 * ... COVID TAKE A KILLER(S): The coronavirus has claimed two lives on California's death row. This take from District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer: "Scott Thomas Erskine raped and murdered a 9 year old boy, a 13 year old boy, and and an adult woman. Manuel Machado Alvarez murdered a man and committed other violent felonies including rape. Hopefully, with the deaths of these sexual predators, the victims’ families can have some closure and peace."

  * ... PURITY POLICE: Now that the nation is in the grips of a feverish movement to destroy anything remotely offensive, let's review some of the sports teams logos that simply have to go in this climate. We can start with our own South High "Rebels," which you can guess, has been deemed out of bounds by the purity police. Then you can move on to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the University of Illinoi "Fighting Ilini" named after an Indian tribe, the Atlanta Braves, the longtime favorite Washington Redskins and - get this - the Holy Cross Crusaders. Now if a good old fashioned Christian crusade doesn't upset you, then few things will. And don't forget about the "Arabs" of the Coachella High School. If we have to explain it to you, then you just don't get it.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Just overheard a woman talking on her phone to her friend saying that she tested positive for Covid, but she feels fine and she needs to get her shopping done. She did have a mask on but her husband and kids didn't... Just to let folks know some people don't care for anyone's else's safety. We walked away and notified employees but she was on her way out...We just couldn't believe it. MASK Up folks."

 * ... MEMORIES: You must got to love some of these old pictures on the internet. Here, from a local Facebook page devoted to local history, is a picture from 1943 with this caption: "The peak flow of Kern River as measured at First Point near Hart Park the morning of March 10, 1943 was 21,701 cubic feet per second. The Beardsley River Weir is located just east of Gordon's Ferry Bridge. And they say, "In Bakersfield, it only rains at night".

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The firefighter's union and its supporters go after three county supervisors, Michael Turnipseed and the Kern Taxpayers Association attack reckless city spending, and the list of businesses closed due tot he coronavirus grows and grows

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 person or organization.

 * ... CROSS HAIRS: Was it courageous, or politically stupid, when three county supervisors voted to impose a new contract on county firefighters, reigning in overtime rates that has enriched firefighters while blowing a hole in the county's budget? From a purely financial management
standpoint, the move was overdue and necessary, particularly considering the firefighters union had two years to negotiate a settlement but instead stood firm. And now that Supervisors Leticia Perez, Mike Maggard and Mick Gleason crossed them, you can bet the union will target them for retaliation. And it has already started on Facebook and other social media where people are bemoaning that our "hero" firefighters had to take a pay cut, a convenient rallying cry that happens to ignore the financial realities facing the county. This is not going away, so keep an eye on this one.

 * ... THE KNIVES ARE OUT: Meanwhile over at the city things are also in turmoil as the City Council comes under intense criticism for its spending. It all started when Michael Turnipseed, director of the Kern Taxpayers Association, rapped the Council for failing to live up to its promises to spend revenue raised by the Measure N sales tax measure on public safety (officers on the street) and quality of life issues. Turnipseed cited a $260,000 budget proposal to remodel a kitchen and bathroom at a fire station as an example of irresponsible spending. KTA, Turnipseed said, supported Measure N because the city "was running on fumes" and flirting with bankruptcy. But now Turnipseed says he feels betrayed by the council (he did single out Council Bruce Freeman as one who "gets it") and said if the city did not get its house in order, it would face "consequences," which could include a ballot measure to rescind Measure N. Stay tuned.

 * ... CORONAVIRUS: The list of businesses forced to close temporarily because of the coronavirus continues to grow, and with infections spiking, you can bet there will be more. Among those forced to close after an employee became infected are Luigi's Delicatessen, Sandrini's, The GET bus offices, Woolgrowers, Dewar's, Temblor, Mexicali, the Boys and Girls Club and the DMV office on F Street.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know you picked out the best fireworks when the guy running the stand gives you a high four on the way out.

 * .... HOMELESS CAMPS: The intersection of Real Road and California has become the latest flashpoint in homeless encampments. Conveniently located near a high-traffic intersection (suitable for begging for money) and the freeway underpasses, the intersection has become a favorite for local homeless.

  * ... MEMORIES: Another terrific shot of old downtown Bakersfield back in the 1950s. Check out those classic cars.

 * ... GORMAN: And here is an old one of Gorman in the 1930s.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Gov. Newsom orders bars shut in Kern and six other counties because of the coronavirus, Medicali becomes the latest restaurant to close temporarily, vagrants take over the old 24 Hour Fitness and the hold bar at Noriega's is salvaged

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 person or organization.

 * ... BARS TO CLOSE:  Faced with an alarming spike in coronavirus cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered bars in Kern and six other counties to close. The order came Sunday for bars in the
following counties to close: Los Angeles, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, Tulare, Kings and Imperial.  In addition, eight other counties have have been asked by state officials to issue local health orders closing bars: Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Stanislaus. “COVID-19 is still circulating in California, and in some parts of the state, growing stronger,” Newsom was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying. “That’s why it is critical we take this step to limit the spread of the virus in the counties that are seeing the biggest increases.” The question here: faced with their own dire economic circumstances, will bar owners comply?

 * ... COVID VICTIM: It looks like Mexicali has become the latest victim of Covid-19. Word is at least two employees have tested positive (other employees have been tested but the results are not
back) and the popular downtown restaurant has been closed all weekend, the only notice being a sign on the door. Mexicali joins a growing list of local eateries to close because of the pandemic, including Luigi's, In-N-Out, Dewar's and Woolgrowers.

 * ... HBO MOVIE: A new HBO mini series called "I'll Be Gone In The Dark" debuted this weekend, the story of the notorious Golden State Killer who terrorized multiple communities and was only tracked down because of DNA evidence. A local expert on the case, former Kern County sheriff's deputy Martin Downs, will appear on The Richard Beene Show Tuesday to discuss the case that started in Tulare County as the killer spread fear throughout the state. Tune in Tuesday at 1:30 for my conversation with Martin Downs.

 * ... 24 HOUR FITNESS: One of our city's hot spots for the homeless is near the intersection of Gosford Road and White Lane, home of the 24 Hour Fitness that closed a couple weeks ago. As soon as the company hauled away its exercise equipment, the building became a magnet for the homeless. I drove by there Saturday to find more than a dozen homeless making the building their new outposts. Two men were using a syringe to feed drugs into their veins while others had set up camps in the shade near the front entrance. And so it goes.

 * ... RIP NORIEGA'S: Anyone who spent any time in Noriega's has been mourning its demise, closed by its owners after Covid-19 dealt a death blow to family-style eating. These pictures of the restaurant and bar tell the story. The long bar is headed to the Kern County Museum to be on display where, unfortunately, it will be lost in the mountains of displays of other artifacts.

 * ... MEMORIES: Courtesy of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page, check out this old image of roads at the base of the Panorama Bluffs around 1911. The caption reads: "Shown are China Grade Road and Jewett Lane north toward the Kern River Bridge. I think this image is from the Californian of July 1, 1911 posted in anticipation of a major auto race. Of interest is the then-forestation of the general area now called Panorama Preserve."

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Local protesters call for the complete dismantling of the Bakersfield Police Department, more illegal dumping around down and calls to destroy all images of "white Jesus"

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 person or organization.

So what exactly is it that some of the local protesters want from our City Council in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement? Well according to two members of the
People's Budget Bako movement, they want nothing short of the complete dismantling of the police department. That's the word from Faheemah Salahud-Din Floyd and Dalton Jones who appeared on The Richard Beene Show to explain their goals. According to Floyd, the Bakersfield Police Department is so riddled with bias and racism that it cannot be saved, and must be abolished. And what would take its place? Jones suggested "community policing" by block activists who could keep the peace. In the absence of police, our country already has a version of that in our gangs, who impose their own will and law in the absence of authority. (Facebook photo of Floyd)

 * ... ILLEGAL DUMPING: The sheer amount of illegal dumping about down is disgraceful, and virtually no part of our community is immune from someone treating our roadsides like their own personal toilet. Camino Grande off Alfred Harrell Highway and Fairfax is a favorite dumping spot, and the other day I spotted a dead pit bull by the side of the road, left unceremoniously to rot in the summer sun.

 * ... GREAT CLEANSING: First came the statues of the Confederate dead, then anyone whose family owned a slave, then the Spanish missionaries and then our founding fathers. So we shouldn't be surprised when the new purity police took aim at symbols of Jesus no less to erase from society, particularly images that appear to make Jesus light skinned. A white skinned Jesus, the thinking goes, must be a product of white privilege. When Jesus goes, can Santa be far behind?

 * ... BIKE FRIENDLY: There is a new list out recognizing the most bike friendly cities in the nation, and Bakersfield is no where to be found.  To be sure, Bakersfield is certainly not near the top of the list, but it should rank somewhat higher given our cross-city bike trail and the ability to get out and ride off the road. According to Places for Bikes, a non profit, the top give cities friendly to bike commuters include San Luis Obispo, Madison, WI., Santa Barbara, Washington, D.C., and Missoula, MT.

* ... RIP TORI HOFFMANN: I was saddened to learn of the death of Tori Hoffman, the 29-year-old daughter of Tom and Beth Hoffman who passed away last week. No cause of death was given and a memorial service is planned fo rValley Baptist Church (Fruitvale campus) today (Thursday) at 11 a.m. Tori was the daughter of Tom and Beth Hoffmann, founders of the successful Hoffmann Hospice operation here in Bakersfield. She graduated from Bakersfield Christian High School and later received a degree from CSUB. Keep the Hoffmann family in your thoughts.

 * ... COVID CLOSURES: More restaurants are being forced to close temporarily after employees test positive for Covid-19. The latests forced to shutter are Woolgrowers and Dewar's, perhaps two of the most iconic restaurants in town. Also closed was the In-N-Out location on Panama Lane. Their closing comes as Luigi's Old World Delicatessen reopens after a short closure due to an employee testing positive.

 * ... MEMORIES: Here's a wonderful old photo, compliments of John Kelley, of the historic Fox Theater under construction.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Protesters destroy statues in San Francisco of Father Serra and Ulysses S. Grant, and how soon will they come for Father Garces at the traffic circle and the Big Indian at Ethyl's Corral? Plus a walk down memory lane with some old shots of Highway 99

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 person or organization.

 * ... THE GREAT CLEANSING: The great cleansing of our national history, from statues to names of schools to street signs, continues across this nation. This weekend protesters turned their fury on
three statues in San Francisco, one of Father Junipero Serra, one of Francis Scott Key and a third of Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who just happened to be instrumental in defeating the Confederacy and freeing the slaves.  All three were unceremoniously defaced and torn down as police looked on. And so it goes.

 * ... MORE STATUES: The tearing down of history brought this retort on Facebook: "Last night, the mob took down down three statues in Golden Gate Park: one of St. Junipero Serra, and founder of the California missions; on off Francis Scott Key, composer of the "Star Spangled Banner"; and one of Ulysses S. Grant, whom Frederick Douglass eulogized as “a man too broad for prejudice, too humane to despise the humblest, too great to be small at any point. In him the Negro found a protector, the Indian a friend, a vanquished foe a brother, an imperiled nation a savior.” Think about that. On Juneteenth. The man probably most responsible for emancipation not named Lincoln had his statue torn down and vandalized. And the apologists for the mob are justifying it on the grounds that Grant once held a single enslaved person, who he manumitted before the Civil War, and because he had married a woman from a slaveholding family. Had enough yet?"

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sometimes, when I squirt the dish-washing liquid, a few soap bubbles escape and float through the air and I'm instantly five-years-old again."

 * ... MORE SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "To the guy in line at the post office telling everyone about the governor's mandate to wear masks... Your mask doesn't do diddly squat on your chin with your mouth and nose exposed."

 * ... LOCAL ICONS: Locally, you have to wonder when the mob is going to come after some of the icon institutions here in Bakersfield. Will the statue of Father Garces at the traffic circle suffer the same fate at Junipero Serra in San Francisco? How long will it be before they come for the statue of the Big Indian out a Ethyl's Corral? And didn't Ben Franklin own slaves, even though he denounced slavery later in life? We will also have to rename Franklin Elementary, and you might as well rename Jefferson school at the same time. So much work to do and so little time.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out these old pictures of California Highway 99 over the years. 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Karma reigns when a farmer returns trash to the offender's house, weak internet signals plague thousands, Jeff Huckaby of Grimmway is the organic farmer of the year and a third In-N-Out is planned for Rosedale Highesy

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 person or organization.

 * ... TRASH KARMA: This might be the best story of the week. Or the month. Or maybe even the year. It started off by something all too familiar in Kern County: a farmer wakes up to find someone
has illegally dumped a mountain of trash on his property. This time, instead of just cleaning it up, the farmer culled through the trash and found an envelope with the offender's address in Delano. So the farmer loaded up with truck with the trash, drove to the home in Delano and unceremoniously dumped it on the lawn. Now that is what you call karma.

 * ... OUTAGE: Have you been having problems with your internet service provider? Many have throughout Kern County, whether your provider is Spectrum or DirecTV or Dish, and the problem seems to be growing worse while so many are at home during the pandemic. This week, there was a major outage on Monday, affecting millions of people in areas such as Miami, Brooklyn, Orlando and Atlanta.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I don't require much to be happy. Five meals a day. A triple espresso. Nine hours of sleep. A pair of yoga pants, complete solitude, and no obligations whatsoever."

 * ... GRIMMWAY FARMS: Congratulations to Jeff Huckaby, the chief executive officer of Grimmway Farms who has been named Organic Farmer of the Year by the Organic Trade Association. Thanks to Huckaby, Grimmway's Cal-Organic production has grown from a few hundred acres to more than 45,000 acres of vegetables in California, Florida, Georgia, Colorado and Washington. Cal-Organic now provides more than 65 different organic vegetables.

 * ... IN 'N OUT: Some news is simply bigger than the coronavirus, or even the protests and Black Lives Matter. And that, at least here in Bakersfield, is the opening of a third In 'N Out burger franchise on Rosedale Highway at Coffee Road. The third location has been approved by the city planning commission but no word yet on when it might open.

 * ... MEMORIES: Lovely picture of old Chester when the clock tower was still standing.