Friday, June 12, 2020

A medical expert warns we are "inviting disaster" by failing to practice social distancing, 24Fitness closes abruptly, LAX allow marijuana at the airport and a discussion on race at a local church

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.

 * ... COVID WARNING: Coronavirus cases are on the rise and if we don't continue to practice social distancing we are "inviting disaster." That's the word from Dr. Brij Bhambi of Centric Health, who said wearing a mask in public should be seen as a "charitable act" that puts the health of others
before your own. For Kern County, Bhambi said a big problem is that a large percentage of our younger people have underlying health issues brought on by obesity, Diabetes and unhealthy lifestyles. That means the virus will spread more quickly in a population that should otherwise be healthy.

 * ... 24 HOUR FITNESS: If you are a member of 24 Hour Fitness, you need to look for another gym. The popular fitness club, long a fixture in Bakersfield, abruptly closed two Bakersfield locations after firing employees and contractors on an automated telephone call. That's right, employees were told to call into a meeting where an automated message informed them they were all laid off. (photo by Jolie Brouttier)

 * ... UNITY MEETING: Hats off to the coordinators of the Unity in the Community meeting at St. Peter's Church Thursday evening, an excellent start on the conversation about race in Kern County. Michael Bowers, vice president of Centric Health, helped coordinate the community meeting along with NaTesha Johnson, Kelly Gafford Gibbons and Traco Matthews. These are difficult conversations, but open meetings like this, where everyone has a seat at the table, are important to get the conversation going.

 * ... LET'S TALK RACE: Next week, on Tuesday, I will host another conversation about race and "white privilege" when Michael Burroughs and Keith Wolaridge join me on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM for an open ended discussion. Burroughs is the director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics at CSUB and Wolaridge is a trustee with the Panama Buena Vista School District. The conversation starts at 1:30 p.m. next Tuesday, June 16.

* ... POT AT LAX: Are you ready to travel with your medicinal marijuana? Up until now, it has been strictly forbidden to carry marijuana into a U.S. airport, or to store in in your luggage. But now Los Angeles International Airport, better known as LAX, has announced that it will permit travelers to bring small amounts of legal marijuana through security in their carry-on bags. LAX is honoring the 2016 law that allows people to possess small amounts of pot, and is allowing travelers over the age of 21 to enter the airport and pass through security with the permitted amounts of marijuana. "The Los Angeles Airport Police Department will allow passengers to travel through LAX with up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana," reads a statement on LAX's official website, which was posted in September 2018.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: Masks hanging from the rearview mirror are the new fuzzy dice."

 * ... GOOD ADVICE: I spotted this bit of good advice on Facebook from my friend Louis Gill, head of the Bakersfield Homeless Center: "What was... is done.  Change is here. Lean into it and help make something better."

 * ... MEMORIES: Enjoy these classic pictures of Bakersfield courtesy of the Bakersfield of Old Facebook page.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Ward 1 attracts another potential candidate, a local protester dies and police speculate there is a police coverup, and Michael Burroughs examines the concept of 'white privilege'

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.

 * ... WARD ONE: There's a lot of posturing and positioning for the soon-to-open Ward 1 council seat being vacated by the retiring Willie Rivera. Arlena Fink Waller, a developer with deep roots in the ward, is the latest to express an interest in the seat. She joined Michael Bowers, a vice president of marketing with Centric Health, to flirt with the idea of running. Both Waller and Bowers are African-American, but Ward 1 is increasingly becoming an Hispanic dominated ward and it remains to be seen who might else enter the race. Waller threw out the possibility of a run on her Facebook page and
even included a call for a show of hands of who might write checks to support her candidacy. Bowers has already picked up a lot of support, thanks to his background in politics, first as an aide to Congressman David Valadao and then to former state Sen. Andy Vidak. The City Council must first decide whether to appoint an interim council person or wait until November or hold a special election.

 * ... PROTESTER DIES: The protester who was hit and killed by a car last week has been identified as 55-year-old Robert Forbes. It was late at night, around 10:30 p.m., when police said a car came upon protesters marching in the street near the intersection of Oak and California, hitting Forbes who later died. The incident has blown up on social media, with some saying the driver deliberately hit Forbes with his lights off, and others describing him as a white supremacist. Police dispute that, saying his lights were on and that the driver did hot appear to be speeding Nonetheless, some want to make this a racial issue, saying the driver (who is white) may get off hitting and killing a black man because of his privilege and race. The driver has yet to be identified.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I’m not shy, I’m just really good at figuring out who’s worth talking to."

* ... WHITE PRIVILEGE: Michael Burroughs, head of the Kegley Institute of Ethics at CSUB, penned an opinion piece for The Californian Sunday addressing the concept of white privilege. It's a worthwhile read on a subject that needs to be mastered. Said Burroughs: "I am a white man, and, thus, in this society, I am a privileged man. On a daily basis I take for granted privileges of personal safety, of respect, of not needing to justify the value of my life to others. There are very few, if any, harmful stereotypes that lead to my being pre-judged in social interactions or encounters with authority figures. I have never been in fear for my life due to the color of my skin and others’ reactions based on my race. I have the privilege to ignore my skin color, to forget my race. If I choose, I can remain unaware of racism as a pressing problem because it does not come for me each day; it does not seek me out, daily, in my life, work and relationships."

 * ... 7 TEACUPS: I had not heard of the "7 teacups" on the Kern River until I spotted this remarkable picture on Facebook. Apparently this is actually Dry Meadow creek where it empties into the Kern River a few miles from the Johnsondale bridge.

 * ... MEMORIES: My thanks to fellow history buff John Kelley for posting these old pictures of the 76 station on the Grapevine as well as a coffee shop. Enjoy.