Friday, October 21, 2022

Does the restoration of Putah Creek provide a model to bring back the Kern River? Plus the Democratic no-shows at debates, prayers for Pastor Roger Spradlin and three women wanted for setting fire to a Party City

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.

 * ... WATER IN THE KERN: If you are among the many who dream about a regular flow of water in the Kern River through town, you should know about something called the Putah Creek Accord signed on May 23, 2000. In that case Putah Creek, much smaller than the Kern but similar in that it had devolved

into a largely dry creek bed full of trash and debris, became the focus of lawsuits and political action that eventually led to a comprehensive plan to restore the creek while dividing the water between farmers and the public interest served by a free flowing creek. Backed by the Public Trust Doctrine and Fish and Game Code 5937, a coalition involving environmental groups, the city of Davis and UC Davis spent four year negotiating with water agencies before a federal judge basically forced the sides to settle. Today, Putah Creek has been fully restored (a major surprise was the return of salmon), water agencies are happy to have a predicable flow of water every year and the creek has evolved into a major recreational asset. The organization Bring Back the Kern recently held a roundtable on Putah Creek focusing on ways we can get water back into the Kern River. Check out the panel discussion at Bring Back the Kern's Facebook page or at their website.

 * ... SHAME SHAME SHAME: The next time someone on the City Council tries to downplay the sharp spike in crime, remember the three women who visited the Party City store on Rosedale Highway this week and - get ready for it - set the place on fire. That's right, Bakersfield police are looking for the women in these photos - and the white Jeep - after they allegedly set fire to the store, perhaps to cover up for their shoplifting. Getting the feeling crime is out of control?

 * ... DEBATE NO SHOWS: What started with one candidate refusing to show up for a debate has apparently now become a "thing," at least among Democrats. If you recall I was harshly critical of Assemblyman Rudy Salas when he abruptly failed to show up for a scheduled televised debate with Rep. David Valadao on KGET. Now another Democratic candidate, 16th State Senate District's Melissa Hurtado, has joined in, backing out of her own scheduled debate with challenger David Shephard. Let's be clear here: when you put your name forward to represent 'the people" in a race, the very least we can expect of you is to share your views in a public setting, and to answer the criticisms in a debate. The news department over at KGET TV graciously provided the time and manpower to host the debate; the least you can do is to show up.

 * ... ROGER SPRADLIN: The community at Valley Baptist Church has rallied around Pastor Roger Spradlin who is battling an inoperable illness. Spradlin's legions of followers are being kept up to date on his condition via a Facebook account. According to a note from Andrew Spradlin, the pastor's condition is inoperable but a prayer chain is hoping for a miracle.

 * ... RICKY'S TACOS: One of the most famous taco trucks in Los Angeles is coming to Bakersfield. That's right, the widely heralded Ricky's Fish Taco truck, long considered one of the best taco trucks in the LA basin, has announced it is headed to Bakersfield to offer its highly acclaimed Ensenada-style fish and shrimp tacos. The Los Angeles Times said the award-winning taquero "garnered national attention, first popping up in Silver Lake in 2009 with a metal three-drawer filing cabinet that PiƱa had converted into a makeshift fryer, then with a food truck parked primarily in Los Feliz, and, more recently, in Hollywood, where he plans to sell seafood tacos for the next two weekends before leaving town." The report said the move shocked fans of Ricky's Fish Tacos who called the news devastating. Once here, the company will alert fans as to the truck's whereabouts on Twitter. (photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times)

 * ... RIP DAVID WOOD: There has been yet another fatality involving a car hitting a bicyclist, and this time the cyclist died. Bakersfield Police said David Wood, an employee of The Finish Line bicycle shop on Stockdale Highway, was hit on Allen Road on Oct. 17 and died. There are no reports of anyone being charged or further details.

 * ... LAKE MEAD: Lake Mead is surrendering old treasures and secrets as its water level shrinks to historic levels because of the long drought. Here's a shot of a 1938 Chrysler Imperial that showed up in low water, and under it a picture of an original similar car.


* ... MEMORIES: Take a look at this old postcard, from Taft, along with the note on the back side. This comes compliments of the Kern County History Fans page on Facebook.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And lastly, check out this picture of Buck Owens along with other musical greats that appeared on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. The caption read: "1989 in San Francisco this iconic photo was taken at the music awards called the Bammies! Buck Owens performed and these other  famous musicians are all around Buck in the photo. Huey Lewis, Chris Isaak, Neil Young, Joe Saterini and John Foggerty.  Anywhere in the world that Buck Owens appeared he was always introduced from Bakersfield, California. You could say he put the city on the map!"


Monday, October 17, 2022

Kern County voters to decide the fate of proposals to raise the sales tax and put terms limits on county supervisors, developments in the newly drawn Ward 7 and we share some endorsements heading into election day

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.

 * ... ELECTION DAY:We have an election in three weeks, an important one, so let's catch up on the key local races, some endorsements and late developments. This is a busy election cycle, where voters will be faced with everything from the national mid-term elections that will decide if Kevin McCarthy is reelected to become House Speaker, to local elections where seats are up for county supervisor, city

council as well as local school boards. Add to that two potentially far reaching initiatives in Measure J and Measure K, the first of which would limit supervisors to two consecutive, four-year terms and the latter which would add a penny to the sales tax charged in unincorporated areas. The Bakersfield Californian endorsed Measure K but not the term limit question.

 * ... ENDORSEMENTS: In the Ward 3 race where City Councilman Ken Weir attempts to return to a job he first gained in 2006, the newspaper threw its endorsement behind challenger Boyd Binninger, a senior vice president at ASU Commercial, a commercial real estate company. The paper criticized Weir for opposing the "Unity Map" that redrew the boundary lines of Ward 7, and the paper also noted he opposed the Measure N city sales tax measure. In the Ward 7 race, which opened up when Chris Parlier decided to retire, The Californian endorsed Manpreet Kaur, a dynamic newcomer to local politics who is enjoying a tidal wave of local support among both the Punjabi community as well as the established seats of power and influence in town. Finally, The Californian endorsed Jeff Flores to succeed Mike Maggard as District 3 county supervisor.

 * ... MANPREET KAUR: There is an odd twist in that Ward 7 race, and it involves a man who was arrested for allegedly forcing his Hispanic girlfriend to take pills to force a miscarriage. And that man is the brother of Ward 7 candidate Manpreet Kaur, a promising newcomer whose candidacy has energized local support in this newly drawn district. The incident raises the question about whether a candidate - or any of us for that matter - should be forced to defend or even respond to the actions of a family member? (Cue up the list of high profile people whose behavior has embarrassed their families-Hunter Biden, Prince Andrew and for those of you a tad older, Billy Carter, to name a few)  In this case Kaur's brother, Jagmeet Singh Sandhu, was accused of forcing his girlfriend to take pills to induce a miscarriage. An early report indicated there were cultural issues involving bringing shame on a family, but others say that was never a factor. Kaur's candidacy and qualifications - born at Kern Medical, daughter of hard working Sikh immigrants, highly educated, accomplished  - stand unquestioned but don't be surprised if the incident isn't used by those who hope to derail her candidacy. I asked Kaur about the case and this is what she said: "My brother’s situation is separate from my own and has nothing to do with my commitment to serving our community. I have worked hard all my life - in school, in my professional career, and in my commitment to serving our community. I am hopeful the voters of Ward 7 will assess my qualifications and character when selecting their next city councilmember." Kaur heads into the election a heavy favorite over candidates Raj Gil and Tim Collins, and she already has picked up the endorsement of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, The Californian, sitting council members and various local unions.

 * ... MY ENDORSEMENT PICKS: For those who may care, here are a few of the endorsements from Bakersfield Observed as we head toward the Nov. 8 vote:

 - VOTE NO ON MEASURE J: Measure J would install term limits on the Board of Supervisors, restricting the terms to two consecutive four year terms. Vote no.
- VOTE YES ON MEASURE K: A yes vote on Measure K will raise the sales tax in the unincorporated areas of the county by 1 percent, bringing it in line with the city's tax rate. The measure would generate some $50 million a year for the cash squeezed county. Vote yes.
  - BINNINGER FOR WARD 3: Vote for Boyd Binniger. Incumbent Ken Weir was first elected in 2006 and has served his time. Time for new blood. Vote Binninger.
 - KAUR FOR WARD 7: Vote for Manpreet Kaur for Ward 7. Kaur is a local product who represents the future of a much more rich and diverse Bakersfield. She graduated from UC San Diego and holds a master's degree from the University of Wisconsin in urban planning. Vote Kaur.
 - FLORES FOR SUPERVISOR: Vote for Jeff Flores for District 3 country supervisor. Retiring incumbent Mike Maggard has served his district with distinction and class, and Flores promises to do the same. Vote Flores.
 - PEREZ FOR ASSEMBLY: Vote for Leticia Perez for the 35th Assembly District. Perez positions herself as the kind of person who will work across the aisle while pushing to represent the special interests of Kern County. She has the energy and intelligence to serve the district well. Vote Perez.
 - SCRIVNER FOR KCHSD: Vote for Kathy Scrivner for a seat on the Kern High School District. The Beene girls were fortunate to have Kathy Scrivner as a teacher. Her commitment, her tenure, her experience and her passion qualify her for a seat on the high school district. Vote Scrivner.
 - 21st DISTRICT CONGRESS: One of the most expensive races in country pits Republican incumbent David Valadao against Democrat Rudy Salas. Salas bailed out on a television debate at the last minute (bad form) while Valadao had the courage to vote to impeach former President Trump. Vote Valadao.

 * ... CSUB ALUMNI HALL OF FAME: The CSUB Alumni Association has announced a new class for the Alumni Hall of Fame, three women and a man who have advocated behalf of crime victims, dedication to the law, soaring musical gifts and commitment to the healthcare of vulnerable families. This year’s inductees are Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer, U.S. Federal District Judge Jennifer Thurston, Bakersfield College associate professor of music Kris Tiner and Kern Family Health Chief Executive Officer Emily Duran. (picture of Zimmer with KHSD candidate Kathy Scrivner.)

 * ... OVERHEARD: A conversation overheard at lunch downtown. A man in his 50s turns to his pal and says: "Forget sanctuary cities. We have our own 'homeless bill of rights' here. You can sleep wherever you want, you can (defecate) wherever you want, you can walk into any store in town and grab whatever you want and you can weave through traffic screaming like a nut and no one will bat an eyebrow."

 * ... MEMORIES: Here's a blast from the past thanks to the Kern County of Old Facebook page. The caption: "Buck Owens bought KUZZ radio in 1966, here he is sitting in the drvers seat of a Volkswagen KUZZ van probably in 66, the station is still owned by his family and has been #1 in the United States many times! "

 * ... THANKS, PAM: And before we go, enjoy these two quite fabulous pictures taken on the coast by my kayaking, gospel-singing, God loving friend Pam Taylor.