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.