Friday, November 27, 2020

Supreme Court says New York erred in restricting church services, volunteers brave the pandemic to help feed the needy during this Thanksgiving while the Catholic Church gets its first African-American cardinal

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.

 * ... SUPREME COURT: There's some good news for religious conservatives who believe states are overstepping their authority by limiting church services during the pandemic. The Supreme Court ruled the night before Thanksgiving that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo erred when he restricted the size of

religious gatherings in the state. Cuomo had imposed a 10 to 25 percent person capacity limit on churches in areas where virus cases were spiking. But the court said the move violated First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion. This ruling could have a profound impact in California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed similar restrictions, incurring the wrath of pastors and parishioners alike. In the New York case, the restrictions were challenged by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and two synagogues. Stay tuned.

 * ... CHURCH SEXUAL ABUSE: The Catholic Church is getting its first African American cardinal and it turns out he has been a strong advocate of rooting out cases of sexual abuse among priests. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who is being elevated to the College of Cardinal along with12 other men, has been out front in calling for the abusers and those that protect them in the church to be held accountable, breaking from other church leaders who have been silent on the issue. "My anger and disappointment, shared by Catholics and others, are only heightened by the reality that leaders who have engaged in or neglected to protect others from such damaging and deviant behavior have for many years failed to be held accountable, and have even risen in leadership positions," the new cardinal has written. "We must do better - for the sake of all victims and survivors of sexual abuse, and for the sake of everyone whom we serve in the name of Jesus Christ." Locally the Diocese of Fresno has been struggling with a long string of cases of priest abuse for years, and holds the dubious distinction of being one of the few dioceses in California that has yet to release its list of credibly accused priests.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The National Dog Show taught me that my body type is 'Non-Sporting'” 

* ... THANKSGIVING: Hats off to all the volunteers around down that turned out to help provide a warm Thanksgiving meal for the needy during this pandemic. Over at the county's new M Street Navigation (homeless) center, state Sen. Shannon Grove, Supervisor Mike Maggard, Pastor Robin Robinson, county CAO Ryan Alsop, county administrator Amanda Ruiz and KERN Radio's J.R. Flores were on hand to help serve, while Mayor Karen Goh and Assemblyman Vince Fong were spotted at the Mission of Kern County helping Mission director Carlos Baldovinos serve a hot meal.

 * ... COSTCO: Between the pandemic and Thanksgiving, you knew there would be lines at Costco this week. But they were longer than expected but thousands braved the wait for toilet paper and pumpkin pie.

 * ... MEMORIES: Who remembers when Sniders Cyclery was located over off Baker Street? Check out these classic old photos.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

More Americans are warming to the idea of taking the Covid vaccine, Bakersfield "patriots" take to the streets to protest the new California curfew and a prominent local doctor says schools should reopen

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.

 * ... COVID VACCINE: It looks like more Americans are warning to the idea of taking the coronavirus vaccine once it becomes available. According to a new survey by Gallup some 58 percent of adults said

they would take the vaccine, up from 50 percent just a few months ago. Many Americans have been leery of the vaccine because they feared it was rushed and could cause more harm than good. Among Democrats, 69 percent said they would take the vaccine.

 * ... SCHOOLS AND COVID: Dr. Brij Bhambi of Centric Health is one medical professional who

thinks it's time to get our kids back in schools. When asked if schools should reopen, Bhambi replied with an enthusiastic "yes, yes, yes." Bhambi noted that young children are less likely to become sick and also less likely to infect others, and continuing to keep them our of the classroom raises a host of other problems. Schools that have taken proper precautions, Bhambi said, are well suited to handle the student population.

 * ... CURFEW: Both the Bakersfield Police Department and the Kern County Sheriff's Office have signaled they have no intention of being the enforcement arm of Gov. Gavin Newsom's 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. Sheriff Donny Youngblood made it clear his deputies would not be responding to calls to break up dinner parties that 20 people are attending, and Bakersfield police had the same response. Said a BPD press release: "We will not be responding to residences to check on the number of people in a home nor will we be conducting traffic stops or stopping community members moving about our city solely due to the hour of the day."

 * ... CURFEW PROTESTS: Meanwhile we should have expected this: but on the first night of the curfew dozens of self described "patriots" got together to flaunt the  curfew by driving through town, gathering at local parking lots, flying American flags and generally defying anyone to stop them. I am not sure what this accomplishes, but if it lifts your boat, go for it.

 * ... 50 YEARS OF BLISS: Congratulations to Gary and Deborah Leary who celebrated 50 years of marriage last week. The couple is known for their commitment to non-profits (St. Vincent du Paul homeless center among others) and are invariably at the heart of so many fund raisers and steak dinners around town. The local couple's love story is classic Bakersfield: they actually met at Pyrenne's Cafe, which at the time was owned by Deborah's family, and the rest, they say, is history.

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to the folks over at Raising Cane's Chicken who catered lunch to the staff at the Golden Empire Gleaners last week. Gleaners director Glenn Ephron said the volunteers were treated to box lunches of the famous chicken fingers and French fries.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of the downtown post office back in the 1940s and today. Thanks to the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.