Thursday, September 24, 2020

Gov. Newsom's plan to outlaw the sale of gas powered cars and trucks: political theater or a grim new reality that could devastate parts of California? Plus the loss of Camp Kern and a new seafood restaurant comes to 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.

 * ... WAR ON FOSSIL FUELS: If you don't think Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision ban the sale of gas powered cars and trucks in California won't have a devastating effect on Kern County, well think again. We all know how much oil and gas production contribute to our economy here (just think about all the

people you know who are employed by those industries), and most of those jobs are relatively high paying and yet we have a governor who seems more than willing to watch the 9th largest city in his state dry up and die. And for what? If you think we will have cleaner air in California because of Newsom's gambit, you are wrong. That won't happen until the thousands of out of state trucks stop stop working our highways (and that will never happen), and more importantly, when China and India decide to stop constructing hundreds of coal plants over the next two decades (and that also is unlikely to occur). Like climate change, air pollution is a global issue not confined by artificial national or state boundaries. In this case Gavin's move is a largely symbolic one that may appeal to his base but does little to improve our air or curtail climate change.

 * ... ALSOP RESPONDS: This was county CAO Ryan Alsop's response to Newsom's actions, sent in a Tweet: "A 40% decline in #KernCounty's oil & gas property assessment role would result in a $24 million revenue loss to the County.  Perspective: 66 additional new e-commerce facilities (Amazons) would be needed to replace that lost revenue primarily used to fund public safety services."

 * ... GROVE AND FONG RESPOND: State Sen. Shannon Grove minced no words in attacking Newsom's order. "This is Legislative malpractice," she said. "Once again, the Governor alters the course of our states history by executive order without the approval of the California Legislature." Assemblyman Vince Fong also held on punches, putting it this way: “Reality does not care about political theater. The reality is that there are real costs and job loss, particularly in the Central Valley, due to Gavin Newsom’s decisions today. The responsible thing to do right now is to ensure we have sound energy policy that will provide an affordable, reliable, and sustainable path forward for everyone. Newsom is increasing costs by pushing more burdensome regulations at a time of great difficulty for many Californians. This is out-of-touch behavior at its finest.”

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Went to the office for the first time in seven months and it was nice to see I'm not the only one getting fat."

 * ... CAMP KERN: Camp Kern, which has hosted thousands of young Boy Scouts from Kern County over the years, burned to the ground in the Camp Fire but organizers say it will be rebuilt. This picture was posted on Facebook with the following caption: "Throughout society and culture all around the world, a bell has a multitude of symbolic meanings and purposes. Bells can symbolize beginnings and endings, a call to order, or even a command or a warning. At Our Camp Kern, the symbol of our bell encompasses all of these. At the beginning and end of each week, we ring the bell to acknowledge the passage of time, a new group of Campers, and the beginning of the transitory generation. The bell-ringing tradition is more than just a routine gathering; it is an opportunity to recognize all the hard work that campers and staff put in every session. Mother Nature was invited to ring the bell, with pride, to recognize the hard work and efforts of our firefighters and volunteers. This symbolized the end of an Era at Camp Kern and the start of Southern Sierra Council’s journey into the future. Our Bell was not discouraged by the fire. When it was all said and done, it had gone through it all, it came out standing strong."

* ... STOLEN AUTOS: What are the most common cars and trucks stolen in Kern County? Well according to police, here are the top five most stolen autos here: the 1998 Honda Civic, 1996 Honda Accord, 2004 Chevrolet pickups, 1991 Camry and Ford F-150s. Across the nation the tops tier includes GMC pickups, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Chevy pickups and Ford F-150s.

 * ... FISH GRILL: A new seafood restaurant is coming to Bakersfield. California Fish Grill, which currently has a location in Irvine, has announced it will be opening on California Avenue, date uncertain. The restaurant specializes in fish, shrimp, salads and cocktails.

 * .... MEMORIES: A couple of interesting old photos I picked up off the various Facebook pages devoted to our shared history.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Dr. Brij Bhambi raps a Los Angeles Times column and the "sanctimonious" attitude of his critics on the Rosedale Inn decision, and calls out Homeless Collaborative director Anna Lavin

 Editor's note: The Bakersfield City Council voted unanimously not to use a crime-infested hotel to lodge the homeless after owners of the Bakersfield Heart Hospital objected, citing the safety of its employees and patients and the deplorable conditions in the nearby hotel. That led to a Los Angeles Times column in which the decision was described as "dispiriting .... and laughable" while singling out for criticism people Sheriff Donny Youngblood, District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer and physician and owner Dr. Brij Bhambi. In this column, Bhambi responds to columnist Erika Smith and has some special words for Anna Lavin, head of the Kern County Homeless Cooperative. 

Frying Pan and Oven... Advice I heard is dangerous, good advice fatal.
 "The Homeless Collaborative has a noble mission of trying to help the most disempowered. Homelessness is a scourge that's unworthy of a wealthy nation like the USA. Homeless need compassion and material help to lead them to safe shelter with goal of eventual rehabilitation. Homelessness is not monochromatic. It is a complex problem that has many moving hardship, physical handicaps, psych disorders, addiction among others. Unfortunately, some of the elements involved invite violence, vandalism and worse. 
 "Homelessness demands a comprehensive, well considered and coordinated solution. Piecemeal approach can act as a temporary, soothing bandaid to a lucky recipient, without addressing the problem as a whole. Useful but not sufficient.
 "Kern Count has roughly 1,600 homeless, most of them in Bakersfield. The Room Key initiative wanted to park 20 homeless at Rosedale Inn. A sense of proportion is relevant. Twenty out of 1,600 for a few weeks. The narrowness of the initiative and brief period of “shelter” is confounding. Lotto approach to homeless misery escapes comprehension.
Now comes the advice part.
"Bakersfield Heart Hospital has prided itself in being the premier healthcare facility that provides world class care. Our employees are the reason for our success and service. Workplace safety is a basic necessity. Our employees and our patients have been repeatedly vandalized and threatened by some of the residents and visitors from Rosedale Inn. Our employees have regularly complained about the pervasive threat from this Inn at the doorsteps of Heart Hospital and multiple doctors offices. Our cameras have captured videos of violence and gunfires on numerous occasions at the Inn. We are grateful for the promptness and responsiveness of BPD to address these challenges.

"In early August 2020, we belatedly found out that Homeless Collaborative had tried to take homelessness head on. They decided to park 20 out of 1,600 patients at the Inn. We felt duty bound to do the due diligence for the Collaborative and bring to their attention three things. Things we learned by living and working at Heart Hospital for last over 20 years.
First, if the Collaborative poured more money in to Inn, it would likely worsen the problem of vandalism and violence on the premises of Heart Hospital.
Second, it would most definitely aggravate the sense of insecurity among employees and patients.
Third, and most importantly, the action to park helpless and elderly in a place afflicted with violence and addiction would likely expose the homeless to more danger. Most people get that simple logic.

"The City Council most assuredly did and decisively defeated the ill considered proposal in a 7-0 vote. A prudent move to protect the homeless from clear and present danger at the Inn.
But the Collaborative official must have felt slighted and in a fit of self righteousness went across the Grapevine to LA Times to discredit all institutions, democratic process, City Council and Bakersfield as a whole with crimes of hypocrisy and heartlessness.
Some direct quotes from LA Times article ascribed to Ms Anna Laven: “Expected to hear excuses” in City Council meeting. It was even worse and found it “Ridiculous and laughable”.

"Some respect for democratic, civic institutions before, during and after the hearings. Self confidence is inspiring!

The article goes on its considered judgment to comment “Unsurprisingly Sheriff Donny Youngblood and DA Cynthia Zimmer were the architects of the cockamamie and legally dubious plan."

And wait, if you think you have been spared the benefit of unsolicited wisdom, the article throws ALL of us under the bus: “Bakersfield set the bar lower. Which is saying something, because the bar there was already pretty low.” 

Ohhh we the pathetic souls in Bakersfield stand reminded of our miserable existence.

And to remind us of her investigative rigor, the good reporter in LA Times writes “Over the weekend, I went to check it out.”

Truth be told, a day trip cheated her of real experience. Next time she may wanna stick around and book a room for a weekend or two. Proximate experiences can be more instructive. Being in the neighborhood for good twenty years gives us clear eyed perspective devoid of pseudo moralistic fantasy. The Inn is a hotbed of lawlessness and disorder. Our video surveillance has live evidence, accessible to BPD.

(The latest episode in the Inn unfolded in early hours of 9/21/20 with the usual mix of gun fire, physical violence, gang fight and drugs. Perfect “shelter” for the helpless. How many of us will rent a room for our parents and grandparents there?)

 "The impulse to judge through preconceived notions may be tempting and sanctimonious, (but) it sure is flawed. To trash facts and build a ladder of career advancement by subjecting the helpless to deliberate harm is an unattractive path. Certainly for those of us who have lived and served in Bakersfield.

To paraphrase the good reporter from LA Times: There is a new low. 

It's a low she dug for herself and homeless. I intend to believe she will keep digging. It is a shame that purported moralism preached by these “prophets” is a one-way street. My way or my way. Disgrace...both ways! Counterfeit motives and exhibitionist piety.

 "In Medicine we have a simple rule. First do no harm. To save someone from frying pan to drop them in oven lacks both charity and wisdom. People in Bakersfield get that simple logic.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

A dozen private schools are allowed to open in Kern County, a couple hundred trucks hold a pro-Trump patriotic rally and Dutch Brothers Coffee opens to a gang buster's business

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.

 * ... SCHOOLS REOPEN: There is some good news for some local private schools: 17 school have been given waivers to reopen amid the coronavirus. So far a total of 20 schools have been allowed to

reopen and 17 of them are private facilities. Among those reopening will be St. Francis Parish School, Stockdale Christian, Heritage Oak School and Northwest Christian Schools.

* ... PATRIOTISM: The Stars and Stripes were on full display this weekend with a patriotic and pro-Trump rally turned out more than 300 cars and trucks over the weekend. It was called the Corona Trump Cruise and for a few hours, the stretch along Brimhall Road near Silver Oak Park was a sea of American flags and Trump supporters decked out to enjoy the day and pledge their support for their country and their president. The caravan eventually made its way to Chuy's Mesquite Grill on Stockdale Highway.

* ... PARK AT RIVER WALK:  There was some kind of incident at the Park at River Walk Sunday afternoon when a person was rushed to the hospital after being pulled out of one of the lakes. There are few details available but police said the unidentified person was in serious condition after something happened in one of the ponds.

 * ... COVID TESTING: Hall Ambulance has been offering free Cover-19 testing all weekend and will continue the offer through Monday. If you missed it, head over to Hall Ambulance for free Covid-19 testing from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday.

 * ... DUTCH BROTHERS: When a new restaurant opens in Bakersfield, you can bet it will be jammed for a few weeks (or months) before the novelty wears off. But what is going on with the opening of Dutch Brothers Coffee on the east side is nothing short of miraculous. The Fresno-based coffee chain opened last week and every day there are literally dozens of cars waiting, wrapped around the nearby Lowe's and spilling into the parking lot. I don't know what they serve there, but it better be good.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out these pictures posted by my friend John Kelley who specializes in photos of old Bakersfield. Enjoy.