Friday, February 23, 2018

Central valley Republicans Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao pick up challengers, keep an eye on those young protesters and Bakersfield gets another burger joint

 * ... MID TERM ELECTIONS: The Democratic Party has a good chance of retaking the Congress in the mid-term elections, but so far it looks like the Central Valley Republicans are in little danger of losing their seats. Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy got his first challenger this week in Mary
Helen Barro, a longtime Democratic activist but one not likely to be able to mount a serious challenge to McCarthy. And over in the 21st Congressional District, labor activist Dolores Huerta is using her sharp elbows to make sure other Democratics don't join her son, Emilio Huerta, in opposing Rep. David Valadao. Virtually no one gives Emilio Huerta a chance of unseating Valadao. If the Democrats expect to retake the House, they likely will have to pick up seats elsewhere.

 * ... STUDENT PROTESTS: Keep an eye on the young students calling on Congress to enact sweeping gun control. That's the word from CSUB professor Jeanine Kraybill who told me these early protests show the promise of developing into something much deeper and more widespread, reminiscent of the early days of the Vietnam War protests. The political parties that ignore this movement do so at their own peril. 

 * ... EVACUATION: So were you listening to the radio, or watching TV, when the mandatory evacuation order scrolled across the screen? That's right, it called for a "mandatory evacuation" in Kern County and then was quickly dismissed. What happened? It looks like the mistake was make in the county emergency management department. Remember what happened in Hawaii recently? Who has the hand on the button in Kern County?

 * ... WILDEST DREAMS: A popular consignment shop that was once across the street from The Padre Hotel has moved east to 716 19th Street. In Your Wildest Dreams Consignment is now part of the emerging "east of Chester" renaissance that has shown remarkable resilience in the past few years. Expect it to open soon and check out its eclectic wares.

* ... IMBIBE: A couple of events coming up at Imbibe Wine and Spirits that are worthy of your attention. First, on Thursday, March 1, Imbibe will be featuring 13 wineries pouring over 40 high end wines (some over $100 a bottle) from the Mt. Veeder area of the Napa Valley. Tickets are $35 each. Then, the following week on March 14 the craft beers of Barley Forge Brewing will be featured during a tasting that cost just $15. Make sure you check out The Patsy, a coconut beer that is unique and popular.

 * ... CALI BURGER: Yet another burger joint is opening in town, this one off Olive Drive and Highway 99. CaliBurger will open Monday at 10:30 a.m. at 5646 State Road in Oildale, right off the 99 and Olive Drive. The restaurant offers burgers and chicken sandwiches along with "perfectly seasoned fries and delicious shakes." The burger joint has locations in 13 countries, including Spain and Taiwan.

 * ... OLD PHOTO: Check out this picture I borrowed from the Kern County of Old Facebook page. Amazing.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Democratic leaders worry that Dolores Huerta's self interest will spoil their chances of unseating Rep. David Valadao, Youngblood says Perez should not have voted on marijuana and Santa Carota burgers are a big hit

 * ... DOLORES HUERTA: For those who don't know her, Dolores Huerta is known as a labor rights "icon" because of her work decades ago with Cesar Chavez. But for those who do know her,
she is known as something of a political bully who puts her own interests above that of others. Sound harsh? Not if you know Huerta, and more evidence of that was on display recently when the Los Angeles Times wrote about her involvement in the Democratic fight to unseat Rep. David Valadao in the 21st Congressional District. If you remember, Huerta's son Emilio challenged Valadao in 2016 and lost badly. He was a horrible candidate and he failed to raise much money. He is running yet again, and Democratic leaders fear he will again fail to flip a district that went heavily for Hillary Clinton in the last election. But Huerta has made it clear that she doesn't want the Democrats to recruit any other candidates. "She told me clearly," one Democratic official told The LA Times, "stay out of the race." Democrats privately worry that the 87-year-old Huerta is putting her own self interests above that of her party, and for those who know her, this comes as no surprise.

 * ... DONNY YOUNGBLOOD: Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood thinks Supervisor Leticia Perez should have recused herself from voting on legalizing marijuana sales because of a possible conflict of interest with Perez's husband, Fernando Jara. Jara denies he was involved in local pot issue but others, including Supervisor Mike Maggard and his chief of staff Jeff Flores, claim otherwise. "I like both Mike and Leticia so I am caught in the middle," Youngblood told me. "But yes I do think she should not have voted" on that issue.

 * ... SANTA CAROTA: The locally produced Santa Carota beef hamburgers now served at Eureka burger on Stockdale Highway have been a huge hit. Priced at $17, this burger is not cheap by any means but is hugely popular. Cody Bossaert, Eureka's local general manager, told me the restaurant sold 160 Santa Carota burgers the first week alone.

 * ... PICKLEBALL:  Here's a tip for the Chabad of Bakersfield, the new owners of the old Laurelglen Tennis Center: if you own those tennis courts behind your facility, convert them into pickle ball courts, charge for admission (or a pickbleball monthly membership) and reap the rewards. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America, and you saw it this weekend when the Bakersfield Racquet Club held its first "Coconut Cup" (named after the sponsor Coconut Joe's) drew more than 100 entries from places like Shell Beach, Fresno, Nippomo, Pismo Beach, Visalia and the Antelope Valley. Pickleball is so popular at BRC that they froze the membership and there is now a waiting list.

 * ... THE PLUNGE: Enjoy this old picture of the Union Avenue Plunge, where Bakersfield cooled off during the hot summers.

Friday, February 16, 2018

District attorney looking into a conflict of interest on the Board of Supervisors, a classic Craftsman comes up for sale downtown and a new Greek eatery gets some love...

 * ... CANNABIS: It appears the Kern County District Attorney's office is looking into the controversy involving Supervisors Letitia Perez and Mike Maggard in the ongoing debate over
marijuana. Specifically, KGET's Danny Freeman reported that the DA public integrity unit was looking into allegations that Perez had a conflict of interest when she voted to regulate marijuana in the unincorporated areas of the county. Fernando Jara, Perez's husband, is alleged to have been deeply involved in the cannabis fight therefore creating a conflict for his wife. Stay tuned because all this is just heating up.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The problem with drinking with people from work is they’re the ones I bitch about when I’m drunk."

 * ... CRAFTSMAN: One of my favorite homes in Bakersfield, a beautifully restored Craftsman on 19th Street downtown, has come up for sale. Easily one of the most recognizable homes in the downtown area, the home has 2,637 square feet of living space, four bedrooms and two baths, a detached garage and a classic wrap around porch. The price: $625,000.

 * ... DARLINGSIDE: Don't miss the Boston-based group Darlingside when they appear at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame on Wednesday, March 7. Sponsored by Passing through Productions, tickets are available on for just $20 each. Consider this excerpt from a recent review of the group: "Boston quartet Darlingside manage exactly that on their new album, Extralife, a sumptuous set of harmony-heavy songs that, like an impressionist painting, conjures the feeling and texture of end times while leaving plenty of space for the listener to decide just what such an event would actually look like. The follow-up to their acclaimed 2016 album, Whippoorwill, finds Darlingside eschewing the Americana-leaning folk-rock of their earlier work to explore experimental, complex chamber pop, all while spinning sparkling yarns of underground bunkers and nuclear fallout."

 * ... SULTAN'S: Have you tried Sultan's Mediterrean Grill out off Allen Road? A friend swears it is the hottest new eatery in town, featuring fresh Greek entrees at affordable prices. The restaurant is located on the corner of Allen and Brimhall roads.

 * ... FATHER CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison may be one of the most joyful, hopeful and spiritual person I know. But even a man of the cloth has his limits. What bugs him most? Negativity, divisiveness and personal attacks. "That's the main reason I defriend people on Facebook," he told me this week. "I use Facebook to uplift me, not to make me angry." And the other reason he defriends on Facebook? "People who post every meal they eat." Sounds about right, Father Craig.

 * ... OLD BANK: I found this photo of the old Anglo-California bank, located at 18th and Chester, on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. The building now houses the Chain Cohn Stiles law firm.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

RIP to the old mainstream media, and get ready for a new "gold rush" by podcasts and streaming video platforms to fill the void. .. and hey how about a cool old photo?

 * ... LOCAL MEDIA: The graveside services for what was known as "the mainstream media" - your local newspaper, network TV and its local affiliate news stations - were held long ago. Media is splintering, newspapers are struggling to keep the lights on and TV ratings are shrinking. In its place,
blogs, podcasts and new video streaming platforms are flourishing, if for no other reason than they don't need truckloads of cash and advertising to stay in business. This is particularly true on the local level, where new "media channels" position themselves to capture the audiences that have abandoned newspapers and other "mainstream" platforms. Locally, look no further than KERNCAST.COM, a new venture catering to the political right and run by former mayoral candidate and pro cannabis activist T.J. Esposito. So far, he has signed up former KNZR radio personalities Chad Garcia and Inga K. Barks, as well as Denise Gary, to do weekly video streaming episodes, and more are in the works. (KERNCAST also hosts a lively "Bored in Bakersfield" channel that is worth checking out). Esposito can be a polarizing figure about town, but it would be wrong to prematurely dismiss him or KERNCAST. The gatekeepers of old media are dead, and there is a new gold rush to see who will fill the void.

 * ... CANNABIS DRAMA: Speaking of old media, it took our local newspaper more than a month but it finally got around to covering the dramatic charges and counter charges involving Supervisors Mike Maggard and Leticia Perez in the local cannabis debate. It's another example of how shrinking staffs in "old media" simply can't keep up with more nimble news sources, and how new alternative news outlets are now leading the way. By the way, if you want a real, unfiltered view of this cannabis mess, go to the KERNRADIO.COM archives to hear interviews with all the players in the local pot debate: Heather Epps, David Abbasi, T.J. Esposito, Kim Schaefer, Ben Eilenberg, Fernando Jara, Maggard and Perez.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: Pat Sajak, host of "Wheel of Fortune," posted this: "It must be exhausting to spend your days monitoring everyone’s speech searching for something to turn into a hashtag hate campaign. #Getalife"

 * ... DISNEYLAND: There is some bad news at the happiest place on earth. That's right Disneyland is raising its prices again and those on the annual season passes are getting slammed. For annual passes, the least expensive pass now costs $729, up from $619, and the Signature Pass (includes parking) is now going for a princely $999 a year. A family of four can easily spend near $4,000 a year for the passes, and that doesn't include gas, hotels or food.

* ... VETERANS: Comrades and Canopies, a group of local veterans dedicated to improving the lives of those who have served, is taking eight Honor Flight vets out to Skydive Taft this weekend. Event organizer Chad Garcia said some of the War World II and Korean War vets had not jumped out of a plane in decades. Garcia and other veterans will be raising money this week at BJ's Brewhouse on Stockdale Highway and Salty's BBQ on White Lane.

 * ... MEMORIES: Tell me you are not transfixed by this photo shared by Mark McGown on the Facebook page "Kern County of Old." In McGowan's words: "L to R: May Stark, Adalaine Nicholson, and Ella Faye in 1894. They were teachers at Kern County High School."

Kehinde Wiley, the artist who painted the portrait of Barack Obama, coming under fire for previous paintings depicting beheaded white women

 The portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama have drawn fire, and some criticism and praise, for their unconventional take on the former president and first lady. Now comes word that the artist who painted Obama, Kehinde Wiley, has done paintings of black women holding the severed heads of white women. Artistic license or in bad taste? You decide.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A new report says virtually all of the Central Valley is doing well economically ... except for Bakersfield. Meanwhile, another successful Crabest for the St. Francis Parish and Imbibe features its top 100 wines

Monday February 12, 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

 * ...
CENTRAL VALLEY: A new study by the University of the Pacific has some good and bad news for the Central Valley. The good: Central Valley cities fare well in the study, except for one, and of course that one is Bakersfield. Modesto is doing well as are Sacramento, Fresno and Stockton. But
Bakersfield plunged in the rating. "When economies are so reliant on natural resources like oil or water, external shocks can cause significant drops in a growth based ranking," the report said. It continued: "In Bakersfield's case, it was affected by the contraction in the oil and energy sector and California's drought that only recently ended." 

 * ... ROCK COBBLER: If you noticed hordes of bicyclists around town this weekend you can thank the annual Rock Cobbler, a torturous 80-mile race through the streets, foothills and mountains that is not for the faint of heart. Organized by Sam Ames and Keith Barnden, the race attracted more than 320 riders who crossed through town, tackled the hills overlooking Hart Park and even detoured through the living room of a home off Panorama Drive. That's right, the course took the riders through a resident's back yard and right through his house.

* ... CRABFEST: When it comes to fund raisers it's hard to beat the celebrations hosted by the St. Francis Parish and Monsignor Craig Harrison. Catholics, let's face it, know how to wean more milk from their flock. And this year's Crabfest was no exception, a huge event that drew hundreds to benefit the parish school operations. The dinner, featuring fresh crab, salad, potatoes and quite yummy dry rubbed ribs, honored Mike and Marcie Soper and long time teacher Shirley Ottenstein. Among those I spotted were Rep. Kevin McCarthy and wife Judy, Assemblyman Vince Fong, Mayor Karen Goh, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, District Attorney candidates Cynthia Zimmer and Scott Spielman, deputy DAs Gina Pearl and Kim Richardson, taxpayer's advocate Mike Turnipseed, Brian and Katie Kirschenman, John and Ginette Brock, Dr. Mark Root and wife Bernadette, George and Cindy Meek, Kim Schaefer, Robin Lake Foster, Jason and Laura Barnes, and too many to list here. But you get it: they know how to raise money for good causes.

 * ... IMBIBE: Imbibe Wine and Spirits held its 10th annual "top 100" wine tasting Saturday and a little known wine from the Suisan Valley near Napa took the top prize. The winner: GrapeHeart Vineyards 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. My other personal favorite: the 2016 Toloso No Oak chardonnay that sells for under $15 a bottle.

 * ... FOOD: For me, the best food in town is served at our locally and family owned restaurants about town. And there are plenty of them. But perhaps nowhere in town are so many locally owned eateries clustered than downtown. Consider this: within a few square blocks you will find these family run restaurants, and they are all good: Muertos, Chef's Choice Noodle Bar, Mama Roomba, Jin Sushi, TOSSit salad bar, The Mark, Uricchio's Trattoria, Sequoia Sandwich Shop, Cafe Smitten and Bill Lee's.

 * ... CLOCK TOWER: Check out these photos of the old Beale Clock Tower that once stood at Chester and 17th Street.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Kern County Raceway is for sale for a cool $15 million, the indie band Darlingside heads to Bakersfield and remembering an old saloon in town

Friday, February 9, 2018

Welcome to Bakersfield Observed, now online only. We 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

 * ... RACEWAY: Did you see that the Kern County Raceway is now for sale? Coldwell Banker's

Gary Belter and Georgia McCaffrey have listed the property for $15 million, a bargain if you believe it was a $40 million project. The raceway has room for 3,000 general admission seats and another 1,000 reserved seats, plus 22 luxury suites. The raceway is located just off Enos Lane and Interstate 5.

* ... OUR WORLD: What does it say about our society when the two top local stories recently were the City Council approving a "shot spotter" system to locate gang shootings and a program reminding parents they can relinquish their children at a local fire station?

* ... COKE AND PEANUTS: Growing up in the South, my summers were spent drinking an ice cold Coke with salty peanuts. That's right, we'd take a few swigs from the Coke and pour in a small bag of salty peanuts, creating a tasty and crunchy summer drink that never failed to satisfy. When I mentioned this on my radio show (KERN NewsTalk 96.1) a caller said he too drank the same concoction while growing up in Shafter. They called it an "Okie float."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Don’t you hate that person who almost never answers your calls or texts… then when you see them they can’t put down their phone?"

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Love is like hearing your favorite song for the first time. Then listening to it over and over again til you hate that song."

 * ... DARLINGSIDE: One of the hottest groups in America, an indie folk band called Darlingside, is coming to Bakersfield on Wednesday, March 7, at the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame. This four-man group from Boston features incredible vocals and lyrics and is a can't miss event if you are into music. Go to to get your tickets.

* .... MEMORIES: I loved these pictures of an old Bakersfield saloon featured on the "Kern County of Old" Facebook page. The entry from Todd Walker read: "Jean Eyrauds Saloon...While on one of my history seeking adventures about 25 years ago, I met the owner of an old home in East Bakersfield. The owner of the home happened to be the great grandson of Jean Eyraud, the proprietor of the Jean Eyraud Saloon. Now, most of you probably have never heard of this saloon or even knew it existed, and neither did I at the time. Anyways, after we got to talking a while about Bakersfield and its history, he mentioned that his great grandfather, Jean Eyraud, had owned a saloon on Sumner Street across from the old train depot, and that he had a trunk containing old family photos and pictures of the inside and outside of the saloon and other businesses on the block. Trying to hold my excitement back I said I would love to check it out. He took me down to the cellar of the old house, and there it was an old trunk from the 1800s! After looking through the old trunk, he had mentioned he wasn’t interested in anything in it, and that he had planned on selling or getting rid of it. Being a collector of old Kern County photographs I gladly purchased just the photos of the saloon and the various buildings around it from him. I told him that he should at least keep the pictures of his family and the old trunk. Anyways, that was 25 years ago and I’m not sure whatever happened to him. Since then I have researched the old photographs and believe them to be from around 1890 to 1900. I have yet to find any old advertisement or any other photographs from this saloon besides the ones I have. Here’s all the pictures I got from him. Notice the picture in front of the saloon with everybody holding old bottles, lots of details! Notice the 'Ladies Entrance' in the picture with the restaurant in it. Definitely different times back then! Hope you enjoy these pictures, I’ve been wanting to contribute them to Kern County photo collection for years."

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Nine year old Girl Scout sells 300 boxes of cookies in a single afternoon ... in front of a pot shop. Meanwhile look to Adventist Health for some smart marketing and bee keepers descend on the San Joaquin Valley

Wednesday, February 7, 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

 * ... GIRL SCOUTS: Did you hear about the 9-year-old Girl Scout who sold more than 300 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in a single afternoon? It turns out the young lady picked the perfect spot to
peddle her wares: right in front of the Urbn Leaf marijuana dispensary in San Diego. Now that is a brilliant bit of marketing. The annual cookie sale does not begin for another week but the Girl Scouts allow booth sales earlier as long as they have a parent or guardian present.

* ... ADVENTIST HEALTH: Some of the best video marketing in town is being done by the folks over at Adventist Health Bakersfield (formerly known as San Joaquin Valley Hospital). Savvy marketers know that local sells, and messages that include local icons and personalities add a warmth and familiarity that speaks to where we all live. So check out the people and local businesses I spotted in one of Adventist's latest TV branding advertisements: former Assembly member Shannon Grove, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Dewar's, Cafe Smitten and its owners, Luigi's and police chief Kyle Martin. Keep an eye on Adventist Health and the way it extends and markets its brand.

* ... BEE KEEPERS: I was out early this week playing pickle ball at the Bakersfield Racquet Club and met a man named Bill from Arkansas. It turns out he is a professional "bee broker" and he is in town for two months coordinating the trucking in of millions of bees to pollinate our almond orchards. Thirty years ago he said it was almost impossible to kill bees, yet today their lifespans have been greatly shorted by parasitic mites.

 * ...  INTEREST RATES: If you are looking to buy a home this year, you might want to speed up the process. As The New York Times said: "A decade long era of easy access to money engineered by central banks in Asia, Europe and the United Staters" is ending "opening a new chapter in which corporations would have to pay more to borrow and ordinary people would have to pay more to finance homes, cars and other purchases." Scott Berry of San Joaquin Valley Mortgage told me we can expect two to three hikes in interest rates this year.

* ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: I saw this on my friend John Kelley's Facebook page: "It was during a heat wave in August one summer when I saw this sign on a telephone pole. 'Garage sale this Sunday 7 a.m. until 100 degrees.'"

* ... MEMORIES: Check out this old postcard of Bill Lee's Bamboo Chopsticks that I found on my favorite Facebook page, Kern County of Old. From Art Moore's post: "Here is an early postcard view of Bill Lee's Bamboo Chopsticks on the SW Corner of 18th Street at M Street in Bakersfield. (ca 1940's / 50's) Bill Lee founded the restaurant in 1938 and it is still a local, legendary, eatery that has continued to be family run. Bill Lee passed away in 1990 and is buried at Hillcrest Memorial Park. Oh! ...that the sign could have survived! What a treasure!"

 * ... HOTEL LEBEC: And a friend sent me this picture of the old Hotel Lebec, a favorite getaway for Hollywood stars and travelers on the old Ridge Route connecting Los Angeles with Bakersfield.