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Supervisors Deny COVID-19 Contract with Nonprofit Over Political Views

October 23, 2020

Supervisors of the Kern County Board meeting Tuesday, October 19th in Bakersfield. They moved not to contract with two local organizations. This was based on what supervisors said were political messages for defunding the police.

Supervisors Promote COVID-19 Outreach

Chairperson Leticia Perez said the Kern County Department of Public Health was in its eleventh hour during the meeting. They teamed up with local organizations in an effort to promote COVID-19 outreach. Moreover, this was because the supervisors chose not to support the contracts.

The contracts were slated to offer $1.2 million. They were from a state grant to Building Healthy Communities. This organization is a community-based nonprofit. Another firm, Adelante Strategies, had expected to receive $250,000 from the same grant source. Moreover, this was to conduct a multicultural marketing campaign in support of Building Healthy Communities Kern.

Defunding the Kern High School Police Department, Bakersfield Police Department

However, Supervisor Zach Scrivner would not support the contract based on what he said was a “political agenda” by the firms. It was in support of defunding the Kern High School Police Department and the Bakersfield Police Department. Scrivner listed 10 Facebook posts the organization put over June and July.

“I think how our sheriff’s department, our deputies and our law enforcement would feel if the county of Kern contracts with an organization that is calling for their defunding,” Scrivner said during the meeting.

In turn, Scrivner was joined by supervisors Gleason and Maggard in not supporting the contracts.

Perez said she supported Scrivner and Gleason in their views to remain politically unbiased. Yet, she was concerned as to whether the board holds every contractor to the same standard brought up Tuesday.

Political Analysis of Any Group That Wants Money From Kern

“What behavior is politically acceptable to you and to this board and to others? Because I look at people who have an interest in this money, they are extremely controversial, extremely partisan, extremely ideological, which is their right to be,” Perez said. “I’m going to want a full political analysis on any group that comes before here and wants some money from Kern.”

Bakersfield Christmas Parade Goes to Virtual Format in 2020

October 6, 2020

Digital Holiday Parade

BAKERSFIELD, CA – Bakersfield Christmas Parade 2020 is one of many public events that have gone digital in the wake of the Corona Virus pandemic.

Community residents and parade organizers say they hoping the new format will allow many people to participate. This is in an effort to continue in its tradition of kicking off the holiday season. This event typically attracts thousands of people to downtown Bakersfield. It has been airing on television for the last two years.

Holiday Procession Virtual Activities

The parade’s virtual activities will air broadcasting on KERO-TV 23. They will air the show from 6 to 8 p.m. December 3. The streaming event will also air on Facebook, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and the station’s streaming app.

“First, we wanted to secure the safety of our parade personnel, participants and parade watchers with an option that would be safe from the COVID-19 virus,” Parade Committee President Greg Cronk said in a statement. “Secondly, the committee wants to retain, if at all possible, a holiday parade for the enjoyment of youngsters and those young at heart.”

Pre-Recorded Performances

The parade organizers plan to air pre-recorded performances from anyone in Bakersfield that want to participate. This will be in place of the dozens of floats. In turn, this gives people who have not had the chance to participate in past Christmas parades can now take part. As a result, the familiar holiday festivities are gone. Moreover, the committee says they will keep guidelines vague on purpose. The goal is to attract as many entries as possible.

The possibility of high school computer wizards creating a virtual presentation for the parade is a suggestion by Conk.

“There’s people with a lot more creative talent than myself that we’re hoping will take advantage of this,” he said in a phone interview.

Videos between 15 to 90 seconds will air during the broadcast can be submitted. In addition, the goal is to stimulate the holiday parade experience as accurately as possible. The ceremony hosts will introduce each act before the performance.

Still, the necessity of bypassing the live audience will leave the parade without one of its best attribtues. In recent years, the parade attracted up to 20,000 people downtown.

“It’s a lot more labor-intensive and organizational intensive for the committee, but we like seeing those faces,” Cronk said of the crowds that line the streets to view the event. “When the parade goes by with a marching band, a drum, and bugle corps, just looking at the faces of the little ones, you can’t put a price on that.”

Applications and videos must be submitted by Nov. 2 for consideration. More information on how to submit an application and the rules for eligibility are available at bcparade.com.

The application fee has been reduced, Cronk said, to accommodate people and businesses who have lost revenue because of COVID-19.

Photography Landmark For Sale For The Umteenth Time

September 16, 2020

BAKERSFIELD, CA – A photography shop in the fourth suite of 4300 Easton Drive is about to change ownership, once again. Henley’s Photo Inc. has been synonymous for professional photographers since it’s days as Kern’s.

Everyone of us, at some point in our lives, feels like we’re photography extraordinaires. To hold a Canon point-and-click or to focus an iPhone with 12 megapixels made us feel like royalty. Royalty worthy of artistry. But, like actual kings and queens, we’re deserving of actual tools and a resevoir of skills to help us stay on our A-game. And to whom else do we, finest folk of focal range an F-stops, go to frame our work well done, if only to discover it’s far from finished?

To the craftsman, or in this case, Henley’s Photo Inc.

Earlier in 2020, Henley’s shifted residence from downtown for the second time. Yet, it’s the current state of affairs that drives owner Jimmy Bunting to jump ship.

Certainly, the business went through financial damages during the spread of COVID-19. Only recently, have they been allowing business by way of appointment-only meetings.

However, Bunting wrote “we hope that Henley’s will continue to be a staple Bakersfield business for many more years.” The soon-to-be-former prepares to pursue a career in the medical field.

It’s another twist in the history of a shop that’s been operating since 1948, originally at Chester Avenue and 17th Street.

Throughout all the shifts of ownership, the biggest challenge has been keeping up with the rise of casual photography. Considering everyone who has an iPhone knows how to take clear pictures, what would they need Henley’s for anyway?

Henley’s exclusive sales in black-and-white film made them a memorable asset to photography. Ultimately, the people of Bakersfield generally agree that Henley’s was the go-to destination for photograph development.

Nissan Ends CHAdeMO Charging

July 17, 2020

Japan – Nissan is looking to end the war of standard charging methods. In its fight against Tesla, they have gone to the other side.

During the 2010’s, electric cars were in a race. Charging systems were the dictator for most major car brands. Industry standard charging has three major competitors – CHAdeMO -which is a feature for many electric cars built in Japan, CCS which is the United States and Europe’s main form of charging and, of course, Tesla.

Well now that the decade has come to pass, major shifts withing the industry are taking place. Nissan is currently in the process of switching over their charging systems.

From the beginning Nissan has been the pivotal point for CHAdeMO, but since US and German electric car manufacturers are “surging”, they are now making the switch.

The nail in the coffin goes back to 2017. Hyundai motors made the switch to CCS in order to branch into the US markets. The combined forces of the US and Germany to install CCS charging systems was a power-move which would later separate EVs into specific charging stations.

Nissan Starts Charging War With CHAdeMO

Over the past decade, the CHAdeMO has been one of the strongest charging methods for the Japanese markets. It is so effective, that even during its release, it remains a better charging method than what CCS is today.

In order for Nissan to make major headway within the US market, they need to adapt to how the US is charging their vehicles. This is why their charging systems are changing despite their effectiveness.

With the US and Germany continuing with their own charging systems, many are making shifts to either compete or to adhere to these new standards.

The war is ending after a decade. The final results are currently tipping in favor of the US and German CCS charging method. As for the Tesla charging system, they are still ahead of the game and will be for along time.

Auto Racing To Restart In Bakersfield

June 29, 2020

Bakersfield, CA – Auto racing is an American pastime. From NASCAR to Indy, the formidable sport is a staple in performance engineering and entertainment.

Well, Auto Club Famoso Raceway, Bakersfield has opened up their track to allow racers to feel the same joy that they dedicate their lives to feeling.

While the tracks begin their reopening process, many drivers are showing up to empty seats.

COVID-19 has put a large gash in nationwide events. From Football to Basketball and even Golf, the country has shut down anything that would gather more than 10 people at a time.

Raceways are a different story. Where sports like Football and Basketball rely on contact with other players, racing doesn’t rely on the same strategies to win. Instead, most drivers maintain the respective distancing in their car for the length of the race. Pit-teams are also adequately adhering to distancing protocols in order to serve their respective cars.

Auto Racing Remains Safe (For Drivers)

Bakersfield Raceway owner Scott Schweitzer is excited to have operations running albeit to no ticket sales.

“We got everything ready to go, talked to sponsors, and had everything set for the new year,” he said. “the track raced one race and had to shut it all down. We were really excited about the 75th year, had some good things planned and we were just sitting there crossing events off as we were canceling them.”

General Manager Larry Collins of KCRP has also been allowing operations to run despite no ticket sales.

“ I can’t cry the blues because many, many businesses have been affected in a big way,” he said.” We’ve just done what we could to, pardon the pun, to keep the wheels turning.”

The future of auto racing is still up in the air. Many track owners are making an attempt for drivers. Many are looking to get out of their house, and this season typically draws large crowds. Drivers consistently push themselves to be better every year. To have their season be closed off is a massive let down.

Dining Areas and Streets To Be Open To Public

May 21, 2020

Dining areas and streets will be available to businesses during the slow reopening of Bakersfield.

With reopening underway in several parts of the country, the city has laid out plans to ensure safety. The common requirement across all cities and states is that a business must adequately provide the proper safety for citizens. This includes a 6-foot distance between tables as well as some outside space.

The plan is to have bars and restaurants utilize either the space in front of the shop or parts of the parking lot. This provides the necessary space for individuals to socially distance themselves while enjoying their time.

Dining Areas Expand

As long as restaurants are not blocking major roads and sections of the city, they have permission to expand their dining areas out into some streets and sidewalks. For parking spaces, they are free to open in their respected lots.

Cities Begin To Reopen

Throughout the country, the process of reopening has been onthe minds of many small business owners. From bars and restaurants to other small shops and retail businesses. The country is taking steps to open with the strict level or precautions to make sure all individuals are safe.

If a business is caught not adhering to these policies, then they can be subject to fines or will be temporarily closed until the proper steps are necessary to ensure safety.

For customers, this is what they have been waiting for. Going to a bar or restaurant is a social time, having drinks sharing stories, and talking with your neighbor is what brings the country together. Obviously that poses problems when a deadly virus permeates the country.

The road to fully reopening the country will be a slow and arduous one. The proper steps are being put in place to help businesses and patrons.

Budget Crisis Looming In Oakland

April 28, 2020

As the coronavirus drags on and social distancing orders prevent normal business operation, the city of Oakland faces a steep dropoff of tax revenue. The city’s already strained budget must accommodate the continued fiscal crisis presented by the outbreak.

While not yet reaching the levels of tax revenue falloff seen during the Great Recession over a decade ago, the coronavirus hit could pose a worse threat. Presently, city officials brace for a potential 12 percent shortfall in its budget. That amounts to $80 million, spread out over the ensuing 14 months.

Put another way, it matches annual funding for staff at all of the city’s 25 fire stations. Yet another way, it accounts for half the city’s police force.

These figures were drawn up by Adam Benson, the city’s budget director, and sent in a memo to the city council. Also in the memo, he mentioned the city encountered a worse deficit back in 2008. Then, the gap amounted to $91 million. To balance the budget, city officials slashed staff, including 80 police officers, from the payroll.

While that shortfall exceeds the projection for 2020, the outbreak remains an unpredictable variable on the city’s finances.

Solutions to the Present Budget Crisis

Now, city leaders are looking for ways to fill in the burgeoning hole in their budget. For starters, Oakland froze hiring across the board. Furthermore, they laid off hundreds of part time and temporary employees. Many of those come from parks and libraries.

Since the Great Recession and its impact on Oakland, officials created a rainy day fund. Currently, that rainy day fund has $14.6 million. That presents one possible ingredient to the recipe for solvency. However, many more are needed.

Unions call for exemptions, recalling how disastrous cuts became during the last fiscal crisis. The president of Oakland’s firefighters union, Zac Unger, said the staffing situation strained their resources for 4 years. Additionally, overtime as a result of understaffing strains individual firefighters. “That kills the morale,” Unger said.

Without many avenues, calls for state or federal aid rise up. “I hope the public understands that the only level of government that can do deficit spending right now is the federal government,” said Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Currently, only cities with a population of at least 500,000 may request aid. Earlier this month, Schaaf cosigned a letter with 12 other California mayors requesting expansions to federal aid for cities, including those with fewer residents.

How the federal government responds may greatly impact the future of Oakland’s budget and staff.

Bicycle Shops See Quarantine Business Spike

April 10, 2020

The search for safe outdoor activities under statewide stay at home orders finds a healthy solution. Bicycle shops remain open across the state, making sales and repairs for those looking to hit the road without their cars.

In fact, as reported by Bakersfield.com, business booms for California bicycle shop owners. Thanks to vaguely worded language in the text of Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order, bicycle shop owners make the argument for their essential status.

Guidelines stipulate workers “supporting or enabling transportation functions, including … maintenance and repair technicians” continue to work. Since many rely on their bicycle to ride to and from other essential services, like grocery stores, the shops provide an essential service.

On Thursday, one Kern County health official challenged the argument. Inside Action Sports, owner Kerry Ryan engaged with the official when they visited to shut the store down. After about 10 minutes, Ryan tells Bakersfield.com, the official changed their mind. Given the servicing of wheelchairs and the reliance of some on their bicycles to get around, the official agreed.

Bicycle Shops See Uptick in Parts Sales, Repairs

The majority of new business centers largely around the sale of bike parts and bike repairs. Anecdotal evidence from bike technicians suggests people are pulling out old bikes to fix up and ride during quarantine. It allows people to maintain social distancing while getting some exercise, fresh air, and motion.

Furthermore, it appears to be a national trend, not just localized to California. Olivia Snider, owner of Snider’s Cyclery, told Bakersfield.com how fellow bicycle enthusiasts across the country tell of an uptick in business, as well. “Being on a bicycle is freedom, in a sense,” she said.

The economic downturn during the pandemic continues to rattle most industries, but some manage to benefit. Bike shops seem more than happy to provide respite from the indoor doldrums by helping folks peddle out their frustrations.

Curbside And Delivery Services Available

March 20, 2020

Thursday night, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, declared a stay at home order for state residents. While most businesses close, many deemed essential remain open. In order to operate and still combat the spread of the coronavirus, most offer curbside and delivery services.

Following weeks of ratcheting fears and rising infection numbers, state and local officials took executive action to stem the spread of the outbreak. The stay at home orders began with Mayor Eric Garcetti announcing one for Los Angeles county. He strongly urged all of its 10 million residents to stay at home and only travel for absolutely essential reasons.

Then, shortly after, Governor Newsom declared much the same for the whole of the state. Now, 40 million Californians face at-home quarantine for an indefinite amount of time. While initial orders last through the end of the month or into April, they could be extended. It all depends on the figures coming from testing sites and hospitals across the state.

Meanwhile, businesses deemed essential, such as grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, and food pantries continue service through the difficult time ahead. However, they do so with some changes.

Grocery Stores, Restaurants Switch to Curbside, Delivery Service

Since social distancing is the chief method for curbing the outbreak, businesses remaining open change how they operate to accommodate.

Passing restaurants, you may see chairs hoisted onto tables, but workers busy in the kitchen. They continue to cook and provide their food services, but you aren’t allowed to dine in. Instead, delivery services like UberEats, Grubhub, and Postmates pick up your meal and bring it to your residence.

In addition to delivery, many restaurants still offer takeout. Though, instead of entering the store, many offer to bring food out to you. The curbside service cuts down on gatherings in small spaces.

Likewise, many grocery stores, aware that many still need to stock up prior to quarantine, adapt to cut down on crowds. Several, like Target and Walmart, reserve early hours for at-risk shoppers. The old and those with underlying health conditions may shop without the threat of crowds and possible transmission.

You can read a full list of stores and restaurants offering curbside and special services here.

Coronavirus Case Of Unkown Origin In NorCal

February 28, 2020

The coronavirus crossed an important milestone Wednesday, when officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a case in Northern California of unknown origin.

While all prior cases connected to the epicenter of the outbreak in China, the infected patient receiving treatment in Sacramento County doesn’t. For each case of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, officials investigate the recent history of the patient. They found no interaction with persons recently returned from areas impacted with high concentration.

Therefore, they determined the case to be the first instance of community spread.

In other words, the coronavirus outbreak has begun infecting individuals within the general population.

To date, confirmed COVID-19 cases total 83,867. Deaths number 2,867, while recoveries amount to 36,686. The vast majority of those are in China. US cases account for only 60 infections, and so far no deaths.

Countries employ various efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Airport testing and quarantine sites establish a first defense, but the CDC warned more US transmissions are likely. They advised hospitals and businesses to prepare.

Coronavirus Prompts White House Response

The national response from the Trump administration included appointing Vice President Mike Pence to oversee prevention efforts. While Pence spoke to various bipartisan officials, he also continues to fundraise for Trump’s reelection campaign. Presently, he visits Florida for a number of Republican fundraising events.

Though, a “Florida coronavirus response meeting” was added among the fundraising engagement to his schedule.

Critics point to an HIV outbreak during his tenure as governor of Indiana. Studies into government response found the lag time resulted in substantially more infections. Pence initially opposed a measure to introduce needle exchange programs despite the CDC’s urging.

A whistleblower also sounded the alarm regarding the evacuation procedure to return US citizens from China. They stated the Department of Health and Human Services sent untrained, unequipped individuals to facilitate the evacuation.

Compounding criticism, another news story this week revealed the White House is requiring health officials to coordinate all dissemination of information with Pence prior to release.

Meanwhile, global markets take a hit as the coronavirus impacts trade. Yesterday, outbreak speculation led to the biggest stock market drop since the financial crisis in 2008.

COVID-19 continues to be an evolving story, as government and health officials scramble to prepare.