Thursday, April 12, 2018

Patriarch of a prominent Delano table grape company is gunned down and killed, former House Speaker John Boehner joins a multi-state marijuana company board and the race for sheriff heats up

Friday, April 13, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. 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 place. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes to

 * ... RIP JAKOV DULCICH: What has our world come to when an 85-year-old farmer is gunned
down in cold blood on crisp morning? The victim was Jakov Dulcich, patriarch of Dulcich and Sons, a Delano-based table grape company known for its "pretty lady" grapes. No one knows for sure what happened - road rage? disgruntled employee? gang violence? -  but Dulcich was left dead by the side of the road. Police say they are looking for an Hispanic man in his 20s, who apparently had an altercation with another motorist shortly after Dulcich was shot. Stay tuned.

 ... MARIJUANA: So does it really surprise anyone that former House Speaker John Boehner has changed his tune on marijuana and has joined a company that is now producing it? Boehner was once a strong opponent of pot and - like Attorney General Jeff Sessions - worked hard to keep it classified as a dangerous drug. Yet now, he announces he is joining the board of advisers at Acreage Holdings, a multi-state cannabis business that aims to "make cannabis available to any patient who can  benefit from safe and reliable access." Times have changed.

 * ... JUSTIN FLEEMAN: The race to unseat Sheriff Donny Youngblood started off dirty, and we can expect more mud to sling. Justin Fleeman, who has been a Kern County deputy since 1998, appeared on my radio show (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) to explain why he believes Youngblood has failed. "He's not around," Fleeman said, "he doesn't get around to speak to the deputies. He has become too political." On the issues, Fleeman said he is sympathetic to medicinal marijuana because his late father benefitted from it, but he will abide by the wishes of the Board of Supervisors to ban its sale locally. Fleeman  thinks he will need up to $200,000 (the limit) to unseat Youngblood, who he describes as "a nice guy" who "lost his way. It's time for him to go."

 * ... BAD FORM: So did you hear about the 29-year-old guy who was arrested for slashing literally dozens of tires around Garces Memorial High School this week? Remember this name: Joey Head, arrested for a bizarre series of tire slashing in broad daylight while people filmed him doing so. One friend said as many as 70 vehicles were vandalized on the streets surrounding Garces.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "There are over 4 million workplace injuries reported every year. Play it safe…call in sick tomorrow."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Now that I am officially pushing 50, I've noticed that words and colloquialisms have new meanings. For example, 'Getting Lucky,' is now defined as being able to quickly locate my car in a parking lot."

 * ... RIP DANA: The oldest daughter of the late Merle Haggard has died at the age of 61. Dana Haggard, born in 1957 to Merle and his first wife, Leona Hobbs, died in Arkansas of an undisclosed illness. Dana was also a musician and toured with her brother Marty and the Driftwood Band. For a time, she sang in her father's bad, The Strangers.

 * ... NEWS NOTES: Congratulations to Grimmway Farms President and CEO Jeff Huckaby who has been appointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture by Gov. Jerry Brown.... Lots of early good reviews for the Tower Craft Grill that opened in the old Bell Tower Club church on Truxtun.... The Studio Movie Grill opens this week, offering a robust lineup of full meals and drinks along with the movie ... Remember that District Attorney candidates Scott Spielman and Cynthia Zimmer will face off in a debate at CSU Bakersfield next Thursday at the Walter Stiern library. Seating is limited ...

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of the old Union Avenue Plunge, courtesy of the Facebook page Kern County of Old.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A CSU Bakersfield economics professor looks into the causes of obesity in Bakersfield, street improvement projects cause chaos on our local roads and more warnings about this IRS scams

 Monday April 9, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. 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 place. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes to

 * ... OBESITY: Why do areas like Kern County have such a high rate of obesity? Dr. Richard
Gearhart, an economics professor at CSU Bakersfield, believes it could be because Kern County is an area with a "resource curse." Among other things, that means we rely heavily on resources like oil that provide hourly and shift work jobs, and in those types of jobs, employees tend to eat on the run, use more fast food and put on the excess pounds. "So as oil prices rise," he told me, "you would expect" the rates of obesity to rise as well.

 * ... RETAIL: The new Texas Roadhouse restaurant opens Monday next to Valley Plaza Mall, and I am hearing early good reviews. One friend attended during a VIP dinner this past weekend and said the prime rib and ribeye steaks were outstanding, but expect a lot of enthusiasm from the staff (as in impromptu line-dancing for the guests.) Also, remember when Target left its old location on Wible and Ming and how the shopping center went to hell? Well there is a new anchor tenant - Furniture City - and the place is clean and inviting. Check it out.

* ... MARIJUANA: Our Board of Supervisors and City Council may have turned thumbs down on marijuana but it bucks a national trend showing an overwhelming majority of adults support it - at least in its medicinal form. A survey by the National Poll on Health Aging shows that while only six percent of older adults currently use cannabis, four out five Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 support medical marijuana if a doctor recommends it. Only 13 percent would definitely say no to cannabis. The survey also reported that 40 percent support allowing marijuana use for any reason and that two-thirds say the government should do more to study the herb’s health effects.

 * ... TRAFFIC: The city of Bakersfield is simultaneously working on several major road improvement projects at some of our busiest intersections, and it is a mess out there. The intersection of Truxtun and Oak is being widened, and it is absolute gridlock at almost any hour of the day as Truxtun is taking down to one lane headed east into downtown. In-bound traffic on the Westside Parkway is sometimes backed up to Mohawk during rush hour. Add to that the 24th Street widening, and the soon to be project at Oak and 24th, and we are in for a world of hurt for a long while. My advice: avoid Oak and Truxtun at all costs.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The dinner date fell apart when strangers from surrounding tables started yelling out she could do better."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "You know when your dinners have glasses instead of red cups, you are officially grown up."

 * .. IRS SCAM: I thought everyone had been warned about the IRS scams where someone calls pretending to be from the IRS and demands money. Well, not everyone, and in this case it was a 30ish local teacher who was the victim. I will not use his name to spare him the embarrassment, but it happened recently when he fell for a scam that cost him $6,000. He was at a local high school when he received a call telling him he had committed tax fraud and to avoid arrest, he had to wire money immediately. "They said that if I didn't comply, the local police department would call me with a warrant for my arrest, upon which I would be incarcerated for 72 hours and have an $85,000 fine. These people were not stuttering. They all had an accent from India. I should have known. But when they yell at you for questioning them, and you hang up the phone, and you immediately receive a call on your phone that reads: Bakersfield Police Department--you begin to think--uh oh...This is real! And so I followed all of their orders." He was told to go to a local pharmacy and buy Google Play gift cards, which he did, all the while having the "IRS agent" on speaker phone.  "In the end, I was scammed out of 6,500 dollars," he said. "Fortunately, the credit card company voided the 4,500. But Kern Schools being a checking account--I lost two grand. Such. An. Idiot. But these people, the longer you stay on the line with them, the more you begin to question your own intuition."

 * ...MEMORIES: Who remembers the motorcycle hill climbs out at Hart Park? Check out this old photo courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Are more apartments headed for downtown east of Chester Avenue? Plus tension on the Board of Supervisors and DA candidates to square off in a debate at CSUB

Wednesday April 4, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. 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 place. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes to

 * ... 18th STREET CORRIDOR:
It looks like another big apartment project may be headed to
downtown Bakersfield on what I call the "18th Street Corridor" east of Chester Avenue. City Councilman Bob Smith said he is eyeing a parcel of land at the intersection of Q and 18th streets for yet another apartment complex, following the success of his 17th Place Townhomes. If the new project is built, it will mark yet another important chapter in the evolution of this important area of town that some have called "Eastchester."

 * ... BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: The federal court-ordered redistricting on the Board of Supervisors has thrown the board into some unknown territory: it has evolved from a clubby, polite group to a board where trust is in short supply. Perhaps as never before, the board is so divided that some members have a hard time making eye contact with others. The long feud between Supervisor Leticia Perez and Mike Maggard lingers, and now Supervisor David Couch feels the other four (particularly Maggard and Zack Scrivner) threw him under the bus by carving up his district to appease the federal judge's mandate.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, maybe that's where your kid should be practicing the trumpet."

 * ... DEBATES: CSU Bakersfield will be hosting a debate between Cynthia Zimmer and Scott Spielman who are running to succeed Lisa Green as Kern County District Attorney. The debate is set for Thursday, April 19, at the Walter Stiern Library. The following week, on Friday April 27, a debate featuring the top office seekers (state Assembly, Sheriff, District Attorney, judges and county supervisors) will be held at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 * ... APRIL FOOLS: Did you hear that In 'n Out Burger is now offering a "Cali style" burger with avocado and bacon? That was the news sweeping social media last week but before you get too excited, understand that it was apparently an April Fool's joke that got out of hand. The popular burger chain says it has no intention of changing or adding to its menu.

 * ... SACRAMENTO NUTTINESS: Did you hear about Assembly Bill 1945? Sponsored by Assemblyman Phillip Ting, the law would ban the sale and use of internal combustion engines in California by the year 2040. That's right, no more gas-powered cars and trucks. Is there a chance the Assembly could approve this bill? It's California, so go figure.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

County supervisor David Couch to appear on The Richard Beene Show to talk about how he ended up the odd man out in the county redistricting. Is it over yet? He says not yet. And who remembers the old Chateau Health vitamin store?

Sunday April 1, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. 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 place. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes to

 * ... SUPERVISORS: So what really happened when the supervisors redrew their districts lines to
comply with a federal court order to create two "safe" districts for Latinos? One thing we do know is that District 4 Supervisor David Couch was the odd man out, and he watched (and silently fumed no doubt) when his colleagues on the board took a 12-inch Wusthop carving knife to his district to satisfy the court's mandate. Couch lost his traditional areas of strong support - Taft, Frazier Park and Pine Mountain Club - and instead picked up heavily Hispanic cities. Meanwhile, Zack Scrivner picked up Taft, Frazier Park and Pine Mountain Club and Mike Maggard emerged with a tighter, Bakersfield centric district that actually put his only challenger - Jeff Heinle - out of District 3. Couch has made no bones that he feels betrayed, and he tells me this isn't the end of it. Couch will be my guest on Monday at 1 p.m. on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM. Tune in to hear his side of the story.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "We enter this world alone, we die alone, and we spend the time in between looking for our car keys."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Let’s get married and have kids so instead of spring break in CancĂșn we can stop four hours into a road trip to clean puke out of the audio port on the iPad and hose off the car seat."

 * ... KGET: Jason Galvan has left the KGET morning show. Galvan was originally a sports reporter but moved up to the morning anchor desk after Kiyoshi Tomano left to join the private sector. No word on what he will be doing.

 * ... RIP MILT: Milton Huggs, the former school teacher and owner of Milt's Coffee Shop, Milt's Iron Horse and Milt's Ranch Inn, died last week. Milton Oscar Huggs was born on November 29, 1929, in Little Rock, Ark., and died on March 26. His coffee shop is one of the most popular in town, enjoying a loyal following for years.

 * ... ALL I WISH: Congratulations to Selah Victor, a 1999 graduate of Highland High School who has co-produced the new Sharon Stone movie "All I Wish." Victor, one of eight children, graduated from UC Irvine and studied acting in England, but she got the bug as a youngster at Juliet Thorner elementary school. She has a long list of commercial appearances, including roles in "Modern Family," "The Office," "Teachers" and on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. "All I Wish" tells the story of a struggling fashion designer who finds love - and second chances - later in life.

 * ... CHATEAU HEALTH: Who remembers one of Bakersfield's first health food and vitamin stores called Chateau Health that existed in the Stockdale Fashion Plaza in the 1980s? The owner, who worked at KERN radio under the nickname Pete Shannon, did regular radio segments called "The Health Nut" in which he would share healthy living tips.

 * ... SMITH'S: Enjoy this vintage picture of a Smith's delivery truck back in the day.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Town Hall "Uncensored" debate is set for April 27, sound walls going up on 24th Street and the new dine-in Studio Movie Grill prepares to open

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. 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 place. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes to

 * ... SOUND WALLS: The sound walls along 24th Street are going up, and they stand out for their
design and beauty. The sound walls are 12-feet high (they appear much higher) and are made out of a composite made to resemble brick. They are coated with an anti-graffiti substance that will make it easier to clean once they are tagged, which they certainly will be. The wall will be staggered - not one continuous wall - between Elm and C streets.

 * ... POLITICAL DEBATE: Mark your calendars for Friday, April 27, when a big town hall political debate will be held at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame. The debate is sponsored by KERN Radio and KERN CAST and will feature appearances by most of the local candidates for the top offices, including sheriff, District Attorney, Congress, state Assembly and Senate and judgeships. I will be moderating the debate along with Supervisor Leticia Perez. Questions are being prepared by both the Young Democrats and Young Republicans. This is a can't miss event to determine where the candidates stand on local issues.

 * ... CENTENNIAL CORRIDOR: And speaking of construction projects, City Manager Alan Tandy announced that the city will receive some $94 million from two separate grants to help fund the completion of the Centennial Corridor. The city has three more grant applications out and Tandy is hopeful the city will not have to borrow money to complete the project. Expect to see yet more construction on the interchange and eventual bridge over Truxtun at the Westside Parkway.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "It's funny how we say 'a bug hit my windshield' when we are the ones going 70 mph. I'll bet the bug's family describes it differently."

 * ... ZELEZNY: I interviewed the incoming president of CSU Bakersfield, Dr. Lynnette Zelezny, and found her engaging, passionate and eager to join our community after 30 years at Fresno State University. Her father was an aerospace engineer and as a youngster she lived in areas with NASA research centers. She starts her work at CSUB in late June after President Horace Mitchell retires.

 * ... STUDIO MOVIE GRILL: Is Bakersfield ready for a movie theater that offers full in-theater dining? Well it is coming in just a few weeks when the Studio Movie Grill will open over off Rosedale Highway. The theater will offer a full and robust menu with "ninja" waiters who are trained to deliver food quietly and without obstructing the view of the screen. Studio Movie Grill opens April 12.

 * ... BAKER'S OUTPOST: A young couple in town is getting ready to open a local bakery specializing in locally grown grains. Laura and Ian Journey are owners of Baker's Outpost and are already providing Luigi's with special breads for sandwiches. The retail location will be next to The Mint at 19th and M streets. In the meantime, if you want to try their bread, head over to the Haggin Oaks Farmer's Market on Sundays. Because of Easter Sunday this week, the farmer's market will be open on Friday.

 * ... BAKERSFIELD INN: Who remembers the old Bakersfield Inn on Union Avenue? Check out these old photos, and the menu, complements of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Monday, March 26, 2018

An "island" of trash twice the size of Texas drifts in the Pacific, Bakersfield shows up on a list of hot home markets and Jerry's Pizza is sold

Monday, March 26, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. 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 place. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes to

* ... GARBAGE ISLAND: Here's one result of generations of not taking care of our planet. There is now a floating island of garbage in the Pacific Ocean that stretches 600,000 square miles - twice the size of Texas and three times the size of France - and it is growing every day. It's called the Great

Pacific Garbage patch and it stands as mute testimony to the carelessness in which we treat our planet. Consider this from a story in the New York Post: "Environmentalists expressed concern in October 2016 after a team of researchers from The Ocean Cleanup Foundation surveyed the vortex of trash piling up between California and Hawaii, spotting chunks of plastic glued together measuring more than a yard. '[It’s a] ticking time bomb because the big stuff will crumble down to micro-plastics over the next few decades if we don’t act,”' Boyan Slat, founder of Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit that helps remove pollution from the world’s oceans, told Newser at the time. The size of the trash pile has nearly doubled in size since then, containing at least 79,000 tons of plastic — “a figure four to sixteen times higher than previously reported,” Scientific Reports said.

* ... HOUSING: Bakersfield has popped up on a list of the top ten hot home markets to watch. According to Forbes, the top ten markets considered "secondary" and under the radar are, in order: Spokane, Washington, Portland, Maine, Knoxville, Deltona, Fla., Boise, Jacksonville, Fla., Charleston, North Port, Fla. and Bakersfield. Said Javier Vivas, director of economic research at "It's pretty much Millennials who are looking at these markets because they offer inventory at the right price point. Over the next few months I think inventory in these markets may start to go quickly as the spring buying season begins. It's a trend we saw begin last year and are now seeing the pace pick up."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Never do you get a greater sense of your advancing age than when you have to find your year of birth on an online drop-down menu."

 * ... RESTAURANT NEWS: It looks like the Tower Craft Bar and Grill, the latest restaurant to take over the elegant old church on Truxtun Avenue downtown, is getting ready to open. Chef Robert Alimiraie, formerly head chef at The Petroleum Club, is planning on an open house this week and he prepares to open to the public. Meanwhile, over at the new Wood-Dale Market in Grand Island Village, they are on the cusp of opening a small dine-in area for small plates, anything from tri-tip sandwiches to barbecue.

 * ... JERRY'S PIZZA: After more than 27 years in business, the iconic downtown music and pie venue Jerry's Pizza has been sold. The owner who guided Jerry's Pizza through the years and made it a musical hotspot for young adults, said the new owners, Corina and Ernesto Topete,  will take over on April 1. Ernesto and his brothers worked at Jerry's for years and promise to retain the most popular pizzas while introducing new ones themselves.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture The Club Saloon located at 1302 19th Street circa 1905. Photo courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The beauty of our world ...

 If you live in Kern County, the drive up to Woody, Hart Flat and beyond is stunningly beautiful in a way that only westerners can fully appreciate. So feast your eyes on this photo on the road to Hart Flat, 2014, that Pep Munoz took on a visit to his family's ranch.

Father Bert Mello of OLPH dies, county supervisors struggle with redistricting and a veteran sheriff's deputy says crime is out of control here

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. 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 place. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes to

 * ... RIP BERT MELLO: Father Bert Mello, who took over at Our Lady of Perpetual Help just
three years ago, has died. His passing was announced Wednesday morning at the start of the
inaugural Kern Catholic Prayer mass to audible gasps from the capacity crowd. There is no immediate word on how he died. Mello had a compelling personal story and spoke opening of his hard partying self indulgent way of life before he turned to the church.

* ... SUPERVISOR DISTRICTS: The biggest story politically is what will the federal court rule in deciding what happens to the county supervisor districts before the November election. Thanks to the lawsuit bought by the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund and the Dolores Huerta Foundation,
the court ruled the districts must be redrawn because they were crafted in a way that dilutes Latino voting strength. In other words, the county needs a second "safe" Latino district. How that is done and which incumbent it might effectively unseat - David Couch? Mike Maggard? Mick Gleason? - is critical since campaigning is already under way for those incumbents like Maggard who face reelection. All this is unprecedented and we should know soon what the court decides. Meanwhile, Maggard and others continue to campaign hard in a district that might not soon exist.

 * ... AMAZON DELIVERY: Bakersfield has been chosen for a new distribution center that will help deliver Amazon products quicker to the home. According to Oscar Baltazar, senior vice president for Collier International, the new "fulfillment" center will be located at the Wonderful Industrial Park near 7th Standard Road. Amazon does not own the facility but rather contracts with its owner to help fulfill its mission of fast delivery.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When my dog sniffs another dog’s poop I can only assume that it’s their equivalent to checking a friend’s facebook page."

 * ... CRIME: How bad is crime in Kern County? How about the worst as it has been in more than 30 years. That is how Kern County sheriff's deputy Martin Downs answered the question when he appeared with partner Casey Brunzel on KERN NewsTalk 96.1. Downs and Brunzel are part of the KCSO's rural crime unit that specializes in oil, agriculture and livestock crime. Why has crime spiked? "There aren't any consequences," Downs said, describing a cycle of arrest and release that leaves few in fear of the law.

 * ... KERN VETS: Some of the most interesting talk radio locally is found on a new program devoted to our local veterans. Hosting by Army Airborne veteran Chad Garcia, "KERN Vets" runs every Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM. Last week Garcia interviewed two veterans of the Battle of Iwo Jima and this week his guest will be a Vietnam veteran with two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star. They will also discuss the issue of "professional veterans" who seek attention but don't tend to their own issues.

 * ... CHINA PALACE: The county health department has shut down another popular restaurant,  China Palace on California Avenue. Inspectors found cooked chicken and some vegetables were kept at improper temperatures and there was also some uncovered raw shrimp and chicken in a walk in refrigerator. No word on when it will reopen. Meanwhile, Muertos remains closed after inspectors found multiple violations about a week ago, including roaches.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of Chester Avenue and 18th Street back in the day. Photo courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.