Sunday, September 16, 2018

Former Congressman Bill Thomas pushes his agenda in the race for a seat on the Kern Community College District, a homeless woman hurls a rock through the window of local radio host Ralph Bailey and a walk down memory lane at Bakersfield High School

Monday, September 17, 2018

 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 such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... BILL THOMAS: Bill Thomas, the former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means
Committee, may be retired from Congress but he is as active as ever on the local level. And when Thomas senses something is amiss with one of his pet projects, he works to make sure things go his way. All this explains why Thomas is making the rounds on talk radio campaigning for Nan Gomez Heitzeberg who is running for a seat on the Kern Community College District. Thomas has been filling an unexpired term on the board and is not running for reelection, and he has a beef with fellow trustee Kyle Carter (the ex homebuilder and mayoral candidate) about how to spend the nearly half billion dollars in bond money to rebuild Bakersfield College. Thomas wants the money spent within a five year period to completely rebuild the aging campus, while Carter has advocated a more lengthy timeline to provide local jobs. Heitzeberg agrees with Thomas, while Carter and fellow candidate Karen DeWalt (who worked on Carter's mayoral campaign) believe otherwise. These "down ballot" races rarely get much attention, but Thomas is busy making the media rounds to make sure otherwise. Stay tuned.

 * ... SHOOTING: Here is an odd one: Remember that jealous ex husband who killed his ex wife and four other people last week off Weedpatch Highway? Well according to ABC23, a single funeral service will be held to honor the couple. The news station said they family is planning a single funeral service for the gunman, Javier Casarez, and his ex wife, Petra Maribel Bolanos De Cararez. The two were divorced in June and authorities believed the killings stemmed from the ex husband's suspicion that his former wife was having an affair with one or possible two of the victims.

 * ... MAIL THEFT: Did you hear the story out of Milwaukee about the postal worker stealing greeting cards with money and checks in them? That's right, the 20-year-old postal worker, Ebony Lavonne Smith, pleaded guiding to stealing more than 6,000 greeting cards filled with cash and checks in Wisconsin. She was caught in a sting operation after hundreds of people complained their letters and cards went missing in the mail.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I lost eleven pounds in two days, and you can, too, provided you follow my raw poultry diet!"

 * ... SPOTTED AROUND TOWN: At the corner of Brundage and Cypress, an apparently homeless man on a bicycle is spotted riding with a fully blown up sex doll on his back.

 * ... HOMELESS: And if you don't think the homeless situation is getting worse, consider this note from my friend Justin Salters, who was walking to his car from lunch with this wife and infant daughter when they were approached by a homeless man asking for money. When Salters declined, the man retorted: "I hope it doesn't happen to your kid." And then there was this: Friday evening an apparently deranged homeless woman was knocking on doors downtown when she ended up at the apartment complex of KERN radio host Ralph Bailey. Before leaving, she hurled a rock through his front window. If you don't think the homeless are getting more aggressive, think again.

 * ... MEMORIES: From the Kern County of Old Facebook page comes this post by local historian Gilbert Gia: "The big white house across from the stadium is the relocated McDonald house. It was the high school’s second girls’ dormitory. My updated story is called Bakersfield High’s Dormitories, 1915-1955 (v6) and it is on the “School” page at"

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Homelessness, mass shootings , rampant crimes ... what has come with our town? Is it just an result of our rapid growth? And a veterinarian pleads with people to never leave their pets alone when they are put to sleep

Friday, September 14, 2018

 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 such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... OUR TOWN: Homelessness, car break ins, deadly shootings ... what is happening in our community? The latest incident, a shooting off Highway 58 that left six people dead, including the
shooter, has left me questioning what became of the town that I have called home since 1994. Maybe it was all inevitable, with the rapid growth and accompanying issues that come when a sleepy small town becomes the ninth largest city in the state. That's what Carlos Baldovinos, head of the Mission, told me recently in a discussion on the homeless problem. These are issues that come with growth and bigger cities, he said, almost implying that we should just get used to it. Even Donny Youngblood, our sheriff, called the shootings "the new normal." You have to wonder if all these problems will help the initiatives in the county and city to raise the sales tax by 1 percent to help fund public safety. Time will tell.

 * ... WHEN PETS DIE: A post on social media by a veterinarian in South Africa has gotten a lot of attention recently. Its point: if your dog or cat is dying, never leave it alone with strangers in its last momemts. "I beg you DO NOT LEAVE THEM... Do not make them transition from life to death in a room full of strangers in a place they don't like." When that happens, the vet says the dying pet looks into the eyes of every person in the room, searching in vain for its owner. "They search every face in the room for their loved person. They don't understand why you left them when they are sick, scared, old or dying from cancer and they need your comfort." The post, signed off by a "tired and broken hearted vet," has been shared over 87,000 times.

* ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I returned a pair of Nike shoes yesterday for a refund, and the clerk asked me what was wrong with them. I told her they hurt my feet when I stood up for the national anthem."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You can tell a lot about the mood of a woman by looking at her hands. For instance, if they are holding a gun she is probably angry."

 *  ... ZIPPY THE CLOWN: Who remembers Zippy the Clown? Jim Escalle does and he sent me this note to share: "I was doing some traveling down memory lane in my mind tonight, thinking of days when I was a kid. I grew up in Delano back in the 1960s and 1970s, and was sharing with my sister about some things I remembered about those times. I was telling her about Zippy the clown, and how he came to our home in Delano in the mid to late 1960s for another sister's birthday party. I included a photo of that occasion. I'm the one on the far right with a big smile on my face. I remember Zippy making animal hats from those skinny balloons he twisted and shaped, then placed them on our heads. When I looked up Zippy on Google to see what if anything was on him, I came across one of your blog pages, dated April 12, 2012, and saw Zippy mentioned. So I thought I'd send you a photo of this wonderful character. According to my mother, he did quite a few birthday parties and other events for local kids. I also remember being on the Uncle Woody Show back in the late 1960s or early 1970s. My mother's Camp Fire Girls were going to Bakersfield to be on there, and I asked her if I could tag along. I knew Woody would give away a free toy to any boy or girl who could tell a good riddle or joke, so I went there for that reason. I got a Hippity Hop ball that day, and I was thrilled. Lots of good memories of those times.:

 * ... MEMORIES: Anybody remember the old Peacock Dairy in town? I spotted this on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. The caption said the dairy was founded in 1902 by Harrison Ross Peacock.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The hottest and most important political race in town (and least covered) is over at the Kern High School District, a special surprise birthday at Wool Growers restaurant and lamenting the loss of a local reporter

Monday, September 10, 2018

 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 such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT: What is the most important political race this year that has largely gone uncovered? It is all happening at the Kern High School District, yes the same district
that has been embroiled in controversy (and accompanying lawsuits) for years. These are the five KHSD trustees who have a large say in the education offered to our children, and yet races for two trustee seats have gone largely unnoticed (more on that later). This year incumbent Mike Williams, a staunch conservative who seems to enjoy the spotlight that controversy brings, is being challenged by retired educator Cynthia Brakeman. The open seat, being vacated by Philip Peters, will pit mortgage company officer Bryan Colebrook and Jennifer Pitcher, a young (also conservative) newcomer who has worked with the Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government and the Western States Petroleum Association. Why is all this important? The election of Jennifer Pitcher would give the Republican moderates on the board (along with Brian Batey and Jeff Flores) a clear majority while a Williams and Colebrook victory would swing the board on a more staunchly conservative course. (file photos of the candidates)

 * ... HAROLD PIERCE: If you ever doubted what the loss of your local newspaper could mean for those of us interested in good government, just look no farther than the lack of coverage in The Californian of the Kern High School District elections. Longtime education reporter Harold Pierce left four months ago and without him, the Californian has slipped in its coverage of local education. Granted, the paper is in a tough industry and is understaffed, but love it or hate it, we would be remiss in not acknowledging the role that local papers play in covering their communities.

* ... WOOL GROWERS: Congratulations to Catherine Haupt who was the subject of a surprise party at Woolgrowers this weekend to recognize her 90th birthday. Catherine's five boys - Brian, John, Greg, Bruce and Steve - along with about 60 other grand children and great grand children filled the back room at Woolgrowers for a meal fit for royalty: steak and chicken, scampi, French onion soup, salad, green beans, pickled tongue and the eatery's famous cottage cheese.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When a dude does something about his wrinkles, that’s brotox."

* ... TRAFFIC: You know you live in a small town when you take great joy in seeing the new lanes at Truxtun and Oak striped and ready to open. The widening project has been going on for months and it is close to its completion. Now, on to the Centennial Corridor and all those bridges that need to be built over Stockdale Highway, California and Truxtun.

 * ... MEMORIES: How many of you remember the rides out at Hart Park back in the day?

Friday, September 7, 2018

Will tackling the homeless issue become Karen Goh's signature issue? Garces recognizes four alumni and the new owner unveils plans to renovate and reopen TL Maxwell's restaurant under a new name

Friday, September 8, 2018

 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 such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... THE MAYOR'S MISSION: I ran into Mayor Karen Goh at the John Brock Awards dinner over at Seven Oaks Country Club this week and we had a long discussion about the homelessness issue.
Goh knows all to well the alarm and urgency that residents feel over the issue, and she acknowledged that "we need to show progress soon... we have to do something." Along with 10 other mayors from California's 11 largest cities, Goh met with Gov. Jerry Brown on the issue recently and she has also been studying how other cities are tackling the problem. I was struck by the mayor's energy and focus, and it occurred to me that this could be Karen Goh's opportunity to make this her signature success on the No. 1 issue on the public's mind. Stay tuned.

 * ... BROCK AWARD: And speaking of the John Brock award, congratulations to Rogers Brandon who was honored as the 30th recipient of the coveted award, which recognizes community service and benefits the CSUB School of Business. Brandon is president of American General Media and is the past head of the Rotary Club of Bakersfield, Bakersfield Museum of Art, Memorial Hospital Foundation and CSUB Foundation.

 * ... MAXWELL'S: TL Maxwell's, the restaurant once owned by former City Councilman Terry Maxwell, has been sold and will be reopening soon after getting a complete makeover. The new owner is Dr. Lee Marek, the podiatrist who recently sold The Mark, another downtown restaurant that he owned with several investors. Marek told me the restaurant would reopen in October as the "Horse in an Alley." The eatery, located on 17th Place in the alley behind Uricchio's, has received new seating and a fresh coat of paint but will retain its iconic bar.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Dogs are tough. I’ve been interrogating this one for hours and he still won’t tell me who is a good boy."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "Quit sighing, people behind me in line. If the cashier had handed me the bills facing the same direction, we wouldn't be in this situation."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: A neighbor posts a video of a deranged homeless man banging on his front door, screaming to the heavens and dumping trash on his front lawn. He calls Bakersfield police who deem it a non-emergency and fail to show up. What would you do?

 * ... GARCES MEMORIAL: Congratulations to the latest four entrants in the Garces Memorial High School hall of fame. They include Joe Munoz of Casa Munoz (in my book one of the best Mexican restaurants in town), former Garces principal John Fanucchi, John Roberts and Leroy Sacchini. They were inducted in a ceremony this week at Monsignor Leddy Hall.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old ranch house in Delano back in the day.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Steve Holloway steps up to help a veterans project downtown, the failure of the In-n-Out Burger boycott and a memorial service is scheduled for Steve Clifford

Monday, September 3, 2018

 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 such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... GOOD FORM: For the past month or so a group of volunteers has been working on the "Portrait of a Warrior" gallery on Eye Street between 18th and 19th streets. Conceived as tribute to
our local veterans, the gallery has come together at the hands of volunteers, many of them veterans, who have put in the sweat equity to get it done. This weekend, because of a snafu, the painting contractor did not show up so Steve Holloway stepped up and sent in his own crew from his painting company - at his own expense - and finished the job. Hats off also to the 9/11 Veteran Committee that has been involved (Zachary Reese, Julio Torres, Ike Johnson and Chad Garcia Mioni), the CSUB Veterans Club , the Wounded Heroes Fund and others like Anthony Noble and Jennifer Lopez. Some of the local businesses that pitched in included Jost Flooring, Rebuilding Kern Together, Lowe's and Home Depot.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A man is relating a story about the opening day of dove season: "Two friends drove up from Long Beach on Friday. It took them seven hours to get from Long Beach to Bakersfield. Seven hours."

* ... BURGER BOYCOTT: Whoever dreamed up the idea of boycotting In-n-Out Burger because of its contributions to the California Republican Party must be regretting it now. The boycott was a colossal failure and in fact triggered a run on the popular burger chain by people wanting to express their support. A new menu item even emerged, ordering your burger "Republican style."

 * ... CLIFFORD: A memorial service for the late Steve Clifford is set for this Friday at St. John's Lutheran Church on Buena Vista Road. Clifford, one of Bakersfield's preeminent lawyers, died last week at the age of 77 after battling cancer. In lieu of flowers, the family recommends you can make a donation to Trinity Anglican Church, the MARE Riding Center or the Memorial Hospital Foundation. The service will start at 11 a.m.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old photo of Mercy Hospital back in the day, courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Bakersfield loses Steve Clifford after a battle with cancer, some really bad form with the homeless about town, Kevin and Judi McCarthy mark a wedding anniversary and locking your trash bins to keep the homeless out

Friday, August 31, 2018

 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 such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... RIP STEVE CLIFFORD: I was saddened to learn of the death of Stephen T. Clifford, one of our community's best lawyers and a man who devoted his life to his hometown. Clifford, 77, died
after a long battle with cancer. A third generation Bakersfield native, Clifford was born in 1940 and graduated from Bakersfield High School, later going on to UC Davis and the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. He was a specialist in labor and employment law, business litigation and hospital negligence cases. He was a member of the Bakersfield Rotary Club and served on the board of directors of Mercy Hospital and Memorial Hospital.

 * ... HOMELESS ASSISTANCE: For the first time in a while, there is a glimmer of hope in the fight against homelessness. It came in the form of a new state program called HEAP that stands for Homeless Emergency Aid Program, and it provides $700 million in block grants to help California counties combat homelessness. According to Supervisor Leticia Perez, the grants will be awarded to counties that show a cooperative approach to combat the problem. Perez said the money would be used to provide housing for the mentally ill and then services to deal with their illness. It is not a comprehensive solution by any means, but it is a start.

 * ...  HOMELESS FATIGUE: Here are just a few homeless sightings (along with graphic pictures) from around town this week: a young homeless woman is captured on camera at 2 p.m. downtown masturbating in public after defecating behind the 18th Street parking garage, and a second homeless woman is spotted with her pants down washing her rear end and private parts in a public drinking fountain at Jastro Park. Finally, yet another homeless woman is caught on camera defecating in the front yard of a single-family residence. And you wonder why the public is suffering from homeless fatigue.

 * ... KEVIN AND JUDY: Congratulations to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and wife Judy for celebrating their 26th wedding anniversary. McCarthy was in town to celebrate but left to attend the funeral service for the late Sen. John McCain. As a ranking member of the House aligned with the Trump administration, McCarthy comes under regular criticism, but the spirituality and kindness of Judy is beyond reproach.

* ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: Jeff Pickering, former head of the Kern Community Foundation who left for Florida a few years ago, posted this on his Facebook page: "Good to find a little Bako in Vero Beach. Thanks John Zaninovich! VBZ Grapes.'

 * ... MORE FACEBOOK: "Don’t you wish karma was like pizza and could be delivered in under 30 minutes?"

 * ... MONEYWISE GUYS: Moneywise, a financial advisor partnership located off Stockdale Highway across from CSU Bakersfield, is thinking about moving to a new location, possibly downtown. Two of the partners - David Anderson and Sherod Waite- told me they would like to relocate to larger quarters downtown to show their commitment to the community. The company has committed itself to a deep level of community involvement. Its daily radio program called "The Moneywise Guys" runs daily from noon to 1 p.m. to KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM.

* ... DUMPSTER DIVING: A neighbor showed me how to lock the trash and blue recycle bins to keep the homeless out of it. A bit of a hassle but seems to work.

 * ... MEMORIES: Spotted this example of the wonderful architecture of old Bakersfield on the Kern County of old Facebook page. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Does Bakersfield need an anti-camping ordinance to deal with the homeless? Plus Tony Martinez and wife Elva help the needy, check out a food truck called Vatos Tacos and Dan Raytis accepted a partnership in a local law firm

Monday, August 27, 2018

 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 such a special to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... GOOD FORM: So how did you spent your weekend? Going to a movie? Dining out? Seeing friends? If you were retired police community liaison officer Tony Martinez and his wife Elva,
you spent it taking care of the needy who live amongst us. Martinez works with an organization that identifies families in need and then pulls together volunteers to help repair their homes. Joined by folks from Lowe's, the local carpenter's union and others, Martinez spent the day painting the home of the Rufino Talamantes family, repairing the stairs, installing carpeting, repairing appliances and sprucing the place up. The world needs more people like Tony and Elva Martinez.

* ... HOMELESSNESS: If there is one topic that comes up virtually anywhere across town, it is homelessness. The sheer number of vagrants walking our streets, pushing stolen carts with all their belongings, is beyond stunning. I spent part of Saturday shopping for bathroom tile along District Boulevard and was shocked at how many homeless I spotted near White Lane and Gosford Road. Sleeping in the grass medians next to the street, in the parking lots, behind fast food restaurants, their numbers just seem to grow by leaps every week. One of the worst spots in town is clearly Oak Street between California and Brundage Lane, and don't even think of driving on Haley near Food Co. and Lowe's at dusk. Jaywalking is an accepted form of movement in that area.

 * ... ANTI-CAMPING: And speaking of the homeless, why hasn't our City Council adopted an anti-campaign ordinance to prohibit the homeless from sleeping in public and using our public roadways as their personal toilets? The city of Sacramento has done it, as has the cities of Fresno, Mission Viejo and a host of others. The ACLU has filed lawsuits against some cities that have enacted such legislation, arguing that it is selectively enforced against the homeless, but who cares? Let them sue. If we provide homeless shelters, food and lodging for those who want it, why should we turn our streets over to the drug addicted, mentally ill vagrants who choose to live on our streets?

 * ... VATOS TACOS: I am a big fan of the "At The Table" food segment on KERO TV hosted by Jada Montemarano and her recent piece on the Vatos Tacos food truck had me hankering to pay them a visit. The food truck is parked on Rosedale Highway behind a Valvoline station and its offerings of tacos and burritos look simply delicious. Vatos Tacos is located at 10115 Rosedale Highway.

 * ... DAN RAYTIS:  Congratulations to local attorney Dan Raytis who has accepted a partnership at Belden Blaine Raytis, LLP.  Other partners include Scott Belden, David Blaine and someone Dan is familiar with, his wife and fellow attorney Katy McMurtrey Raytis.

* ... MEMORIES: Check out this old potato sack with some interesting artwork, date of photo uncertain.