Thursday, March 21, 2019

Assemblyman Vince Fong says threat to kill the oil industry is real and "dire," will Supervisor Leticia Perez resign before her trial, and we get the last super moon of the year

Friday, March 22, 2019

 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 tips to

 * ... OIL SUMMIT: How dire is it for the oil and gas industry in left leaning California? "The fight is real," says Assemblyman Vince Fong. "It's dire." That was one of the themes coming out of the West
Kern Petroleum Summit put on by Sheri Horn-Bunk and the Taft College Foundation. Fong, joined on a panel by Supervisor Zack Scrivner and state Sen. Shannon Grove, said it was too early to assess how Gov. Gavin Newsom feels about hydrocarbons, or if he is willing to sign onto legislation that would set a time limit on how low fossil fuels can be developed here. "Common sense is not very common in Sacramento," Fong noted.

 * ... LETICIA PEREZ: Julie Solis is a local Democratic activist and she prides herself with being plugged into the local political scene. And that is why I was so intrigued to see her Facebook post claiming that Supervisor Leticia Perez, charged with a conflict of interest violation for not disclosing her husband was representing cannabis interests, would resign before her trial. True? Perez told me via text that she was fighting the charge and would continue to serve her district. Time will tell.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Do regular dogs see police dogs and think, 'Oh crap! It’s the cops'"?

 * ... HEAD SCRATCHER: After reporting the number of homeless in Kern County had jumped 50 percent since last year, KBAK TV uses this headline over its story: "The number of homeless in Kern County doubled since 2018 PIT count." Doubled? Math is not someone's strong point over off Westwind Drive.

 * ... DORMS: The opposition to the proposed privately funded dormitories for CSUB students is formidable, and if I were a betting man, I would say this project is dead on arrival. Some of the most prominent names in town live in areas that oppose the idea - Stockdale Estates, Olde Stockdale, Amberton, the Shores, and Quailwood - as well as CSUB  president Lynnette Zelezny.

: Did you catch the full moon this week? This was your last chance of the year to catch the supermen and it'd falls on the same day as the vernal equinox, which signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It is also called the Full Worm Moon. Also known under names like the Crow Moon, Sap Moon, Sugar Moon, and Lenten Moon, the Full Worm Moon is the last full moon of the winter and basically signals the start of spring—it's finally here!—which is when temperatures rise and earthworms begin to surface, hence the name. This full moon is also a supermoon, meaning it'll be the closest to the Earth at that time than it was the whole month of March.

 * ... GRIMMWAY FARMS: Grimmway Farms President Jeff Huckaby joined Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue this week to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. The New York Stock Exchange welcomed Secretary Perdue, other agriculture executives, and his guests to profile the future of agriculture in America. Also joining the group were two young members of the New York Future Farmers of America.

 * ... MEMORIES: Another great old picture from downtown Bakersfield over the years.

* ...MORE MEMORIES: And here, thanks to the Kern County of Old Facebook page, is a wonderful shot of the county court house. (1912-1952) 1415 Truxtun Avenue. Demolished after 1952 quake.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A fight is brewing over proposed privately funded student housing at CSUB, Muslim students at the campus plan a prayer vigil for the victims of the New Zealand massacre and a weekend car show sucks the life out of downtown

Monday, March 18, 2019

 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 tips to

 * ... CSUB DORMS: Keep an eye on CSUB were a fight is brewing over student housing, in this case a developer's attempt to build two high-rise student dormitories off campus. CSUB president
Lynette Zelezny weighed in on the controversy immediately, penning an opinion piece in the Sunday Californian siding with residents of Stockdale Estates who oppose the idea. The idea is to build two dorms on six acres of land at the corner of Stockdale Highway and Gosford Road, already one of the busiest intersections in the city. Zelezny argues, convincingly, that any new dorms should be located on campus, but there is no guarantee the CSU regents will approve any new projects particularly given that CSUB dorms are only 64 percent occupied. This seems to be a classic case of NIMBY (not in my back yard). Go to any major campus - UCLA, UC Berkeley, USC, Michigan at Ann Arbor etc - and you will find privately funded student housing co-existing along with campus housing. Zelezny and the NIMBY warriors may win this round, but if CSUB truly continues to grow, privately funded student housing will be a near certainty.

 * ... PRAYER VIGIL: The Muslim Student Association at CSUB will hold a prayer vigil for victims of the New Zealand massacre on Monday evening starting at 7 p.m. at the student center. patio All members of the community are invited.

* ... BAD FORM: So who is the genius behind the downtown Cruise-4-Charity car show, and why is it such a good idea to basically close down the central business district so a few hundred people can gawk at vintage cars? God forbid you own Uricchio's, Chef's Choice Noodle Bar, Jin Sushi, Muertos or any of the other downtown restaurants, because it was virtually impossible to reach those places thanks to the closed off streets on Saturday. How about Hart Park, or the fairgrounds, or anywhere else where businesses are not so impacted? A bad idea that needs to end.

 * ... URNERS: Congratulations to Urner's Appliance Center which is celebrating an incredible 100 years in business in Kern County. If you live here, chances are you have bought a washer, or a dryer, or a range or a refrigerator from this iconic Bakersfield appliance company. Founded a century ago and still going strong.

 * ... MEMORIES: Chester Avenue as seen on a postcard, circa 1912.

Friday, March 15, 2019

"Oildale the movie will premier at The Fox Theater on March 30, a horrific motorcycle accident on Union Avenue leaves a rider dead and the Bakersfield Open tennis tournament heads into its final weekend

Friday, March 15, 2019

 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 tips to

 * ... UNION AVENUE DEATH: There was an absolutely horrific motorcycle accident on Union
Avenue at 17th Street this week which led to the death of the cyclist. Video footage of the accident, which was horrible to watch, was posted on the KGET website showing a car making a U-turn on Union and the motorcycle crashing into the back of the car, sending the man flying through the air and landing hard on his back yards down the road. Authorities said the motorcyclist died Friday. He has not been identified.

 * ... TENNIS TOURNAMENT: Make sure you head over to the Bakersfield Racquet Club this weekend to soak in some sun and some of the best tennis you will catch anywhere. The Bakersfield Open is now it the quarterfinals in both singles and doubles as we head into its final weekend. There is no cost to attend.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Everyone tells teenagers that they don’t know what love is. But everyone wants to feel like a teenager when they fall in love."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "I’m sure he’s great but Beto O’Rourke always makes me think of like some guy you dated in college who said 'I can’t say I love you because I just don’t know what it means,' and then made you listen to a Toad The Wet Sprocket album and look at his pictures from Joshua Tree."

 * ... MOVING UP: Jason Kotowski, longtime court reporter for The Bakersfield Californian, is moving on to KGET TV as a web content producer. Kotowski is the latest Californian reporter to leave the paper, which abandoned its downtown offices and moved its reporters and sale representatives to the printing facility on Pegasus Drive.

 * ... OILDALE THE MOVIE: "Oildale" the movie, a bittersweet look at the life of some local veterans set in the backdrop of Kern County, will have its world premier at the downtown Fox Theater on March 30. The movie, written and produced by two movie veterans from Los Angeles, was shot almost entirely in Kern County. After opening at the Fox, the movie will go on a "Heartland Tour" throughout the country.

 * ... EVA SCHLOSS: Hats off to Rabbi Samuel Schlanger and the Chabad of Bakersfield for putting on an evening with Eva Schloss at the Fox Theater. Schloss, the step sister of Anne Frank who is about to turn 90 years old, told her personal story of surviving the Holocaust, Auschwitz and even a terrifying meeting with the Nazi "death doctor" Josef Mengele to a packed audience of 1,400 people on Tuesday night. Said one attendee: "You could have heard a pin drop people were so mesmerized with her story."

 * .... MEMORIES: Check out this postcard of the old Padre Hotel circa 1940.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Rep. McCarthy: New research on Valley Fever and it is time for the federal government to abandon California's high-speed rail

 House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy checks in with his weekly contribution to Bakersfield Observed. In his words:

 "Last week I held a Valley Fever Roundtable at the U.S. Capitol, bringing together Members of Congress, leading Valley Fever researchers, patient advocates, doctors, and scientists from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). It was an excellent opportunity to bring together the brightest minds from around the country for an update on efforts to combat Valley Fever. This meeting also served as a chance to address the progress that has occurred and must continue in order to fight this disease.

"Doctors and scientists taking the lead are working diligently to develop a vaccine and I’m proud to report that an updated research study is being conducted by NIH, in partnership with Duke University, which will hopefully bring to light new solutions to stamp out Valley Fever. I’m thankful to all of our attendees and panelists, including Dr. Chiller (CDC), Dr. Erbelding (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH), Dr. Royce Johnson who is leading the fight back home at Kern Medical, and Rob Purdie who has been a passionate advocate at the Valley Fever Americas Foundation. Together we can continue building upon our successes while working to find new ways to stop this disease in its tracks.

 "This week I also introduced a new bill called the Repurposing Assets to Increase Long-term Water Availability and Yield (RAILWAY) Act. The RAILWAY Act would end the Federal government’s involvement in the failed California High-Speed Rail project by repurposing up to $3.5 billion in recovered Federal funding for the California High-Speed Speed Rail project to water storage infrastructure projects as outlined in the bipartisan WIIN Act. Under the WIIN Act, five storage projects in California are advancing, and when completed, could provide 5 million acre-feet of additional water storage in our state. This is a far better use of taxpayer money that can address more important needs in our state, and I’m happy to report that every Republican Member of the California Congressional Delegation joined served as cosponsors of the RAILWAY Act. We will continue fighting for Californians across our state.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Is California ready for the ARkStorm, a period of rain and flooding of near biblical proportions? Scientists say we are over due. That and more on Alex Trebek and the Bakersfield Racquet Club hosts its annual pro open

Monday, March 11, 2019

 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 tips to

 * ... ARKSTORM: If you are running out of things to worry about, boy do I have something for
you. Climate scientists are now warning that California could be on the verge of another "ARkStorm," a devastating period of rain and flooding that could leave the entire state under water with trillions of dollars in damages. A severe ARkStorm “is estimated to produce precipitation that in many places exceeds levels only experienced on average once every 500 to 1,000 years,” a 2011 government report states. The last time we experienced an ARkStorm was in December 1861 and January 1862 when the state was inundated with non-stop rainstorms for 43 straight days. The storm overwhelmed Sacramento, “turning the Sacramento Valley into an inland sea” and forcing California’s government to temporarily relocate to San Francisco.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Imagine going to the gym and not posting about it."

 * ... EVA SCHLOSS: Once again anti-Semitism is on the rise, not only in the United States but across the world. It has even infected the Democratic Party (77 percent of Jews identify themselves as Democrats) which cannot seem to find the courage to censure a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota who clearly speaks in anti-Semitic dog whistles. All this to explain why it is important you attend an evening with Eva Schloss this Tuesday at the Fox Theater, where the 90-year-old step sister of Anne Frank will recount her own harrowing ordeal at the Auschwitz death camp where Anne Frank and her family were also taken. There are a few tickets left (check the Fox website for availability) for this important evening with a Holocaust survivor.

 * ... ALEX TREBEK: The outpouring of love for Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek continues, particularly among his fans at Taft College where Trebek helped fund an engineering scholarship in his name. Bob Hampton, a longtime Taft College booster, even went so far to share his anti-cancer drink that helped him overcome two bouts with cancer. Trebek, 78, has been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

 * ... TENNIS OPEN: "Players from around the globe have descended on Bakersfield this week for the 6th annual U.S. Tennis Association's Men's Futures Pro Tournament at the Bakersfield Racquet Club. Qualifying begins Monday, culminating with championship weekend March 16 and 17, where American Tennis Professionals will compete for a $25,000 purse in our own backyard. Some of the best players have come through this tournament where Bakersfield's hospitality makes it a favorite on the circuit. Access to top-flight players on their way up the rankings any place else might cost hundreds of dollars per seat. Admission to the Bakersfield Tennis Open is free.

 * ... MEMORIES: A shot of old 19th Street.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The generosity of Alex Trebek to Taft College, the top 500 most polluted cities in the world exclude North America, and Dennis Quaid stops by for a cocktail at Uricchios

Friday, March 8, 2019

 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 tips to

 * ... ALEX TREBEK: The news from Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek that he is suffering from Stage 4
pancreatic cancer stunned America, but few know if his personal connection and his generosity to Taft College. It was five years ago that Sheri Horn-Bunk, head of the Taft College Foundation, read on the Huffington Post that Trebek joked he wanted to take a course in oil exploration at Taft College once he retired. Calls were made and Trebek ended up speaking at the West Kern Petroleum Summit in 2015, introducing Oklahoma oil baron T. Boone Pickens. In honor of his appearance the college started an oil engineer's scholarship in his name, and he promptly sent Horn-Bunk a check for $10,000 to endow it.

 * ... POLLUTED CITIES: I ran across a list of the world's top 500 most polluted cities, and guess what? The United States, and in fact Canada, did not have a single city on the list. Does that mean we are free of pollution? Certainly not, but it does point to the lunacy of mounting a  all-out effort on climate change here while the rest of the world does nothing. Consider: of the top 10 most polluted cities, nine are in India. Of the top 100, fully 57 of them are in China. Mexico and several Central American counties - Guatemala, Colombia, Peru and Costa Rica - made the list far down but no U.S. or Canadian cities made the list.

 * ... DID YOU KNOW? Did you know that upwards of 70 percent of the incoming freshmen at CSUB enter college deficient in both basic math and English.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If Morgan Freeman was narrating my life story, I bet he'd be tired of repeating 'He's still eating' all the time."

 * ... SPOTTED AT URICCHIO'S: Well look who was spotted at Uricchios the other day, none other than actor Dennis Quaid. Word was that Quaid was here, along with country singer Tanya Tucker, to record music at a local recording studio.

 * ... MEMORIES: How about this old postcard featuring fishing on the Kern River?

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And how about this advertisement for the Padre Hotel in 1962:

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Two Marine veterans join the office of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

 This week's report from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, in his own words:

"I am proud to report that my office recently welcomed two new fellows from the Wounded Warrior program to our team – Gary Medina and Perry Finzel.

 "Gary Medina is a Bakersfield native who graduated from Foothill High School and later attended California State University, Bakersfield. Answering the call to duty, Gary left CSUB to join the
Marine Corps in 2007. While in the Marine Corps, he was deployed three times with an infantry unit, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines 1st Marine Division, and attained the rank of sergeant.
 "In 2017 he was accepted to serve as a Wounded Warrior Program Fellow for former Congressman Steve Knight.
 "Perry Finzel was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1998 as a Field Radio Operator, and has been stationed at Camp Pendleton, MCAS Miramar, and in Boise, Idaho as a recruiter. Perry deployed three times and has been to Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Kenya, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar. He was honorably retired from the Marine Corps after 16 years of service in 2014, and joined former Congressman David Valadao’s office as a Wounded Warrior Fellow in September of 2017.
 "I am confident that these gentlemen will continue to excel in their new roles, and that the citizens of the Central Valley, Antelope Valley, and Indian Wells Valley will benefit from their knowledge and experience. Both Mr. Finzel and Mr. Medina have illustrious military backgrounds and proven track records of exceptional public service, and I am excited to continue working to advance the interests of our constituents with them on board.
 "The Wounded Warrior Program provides veterans with two-year fellowships in the House of Representatives.

American Airlines brings back daily service between Bakersfield and Dallas, Action Sports celebrates 30 years in business and and bad optics with the citizen oversight committee

Monday, March 4, 2019

 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 tips to

If you have lived in Bakersfield for any time, you know how fickle our air service is out of Meadows Field. Remember when we had daily flights to Houston, a true
convenience if you were headed anywhere on the east coast? For a brief time we had flights to Dallas as well, and then the recession killed that, or rather a slump in oil prices. Well, American Airlines has brought back daily, morning service to Dallas on an aircraft that seats anywhere from 72 to 79 passengers. Let's see how long it lasts, but enjoy it while it is here.

* ... OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: The creation of the citizens tax oversight committee in Bakersfield has been a political mess. Women claimed they were under represented, people said the panel is a collection of insiders, and no one seems to be happy. And then there was the picture in the Californian of the committee being sworn in. Talk about bad optics: a predominately white male group of blue suits. Kind of reminded me of the old Soviet politburo members during the May Day parades during the Cold War.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The sole purpose of a child’s middle name is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble."

 * ... ACTION SPORTS: Congratulations to Kerry Ryan and his popular bike shop Action Sports which is celebrating 30 years in business. Kerry is one our community's most generous people, and over the decades he has provided service to thousands of residents at his store location on Brimhall Road. In addition, he has employed hundreds of young people, often providing first jobs for those just entering the work force.

 * ... BAD FORM: ABC23 showed some really bad form the other day (not to mention just poor judgment) in posting on its Facebook page an account about the CEO of the San Francisco Giants and his wife. The hook: apparently the Giants executive grabbed a cell phone from is wife's hand and she plumped back in her chair. Really? Have we reached a time where even the smallest of interactions among couples merit some kind of "breaking news" stature? I am betting people like my friend ABC23 anchor Tim Calahan were off duty and a low paid intern pulled this stunt. And you wonder why people don't trust the press.

 * ... MEMORIES:  Here is a fun old picture compliments of the Kern County History Fans Facebook page.