Thursday, April 18, 2019

Bakersfield makes a list of top cities to live in America, yet homelessness continues to grow and move west, and RIP to car dealer Chuck Haddad and farmer Fred Starrh

 Friday, April 19, 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

 * ... HAPPINESS: Is Bakersfield worthy of making a list of one of the top cities in America to live? Well, U.S. News World Report thought so and it included our town in its list of top places to live in
2019. That's right, Bakersfield ranked 124 among 125 cities listed as top places to live. Said David Knoeb, president of Frontier Real Estate Services: "There is not a better place e to raise your family, to live and the people around here... it's just a great community." The report based its findings on the value of local housing, the local job market and overall desirability.

 * ... HOMELESS: Back in the day, give or take five years ago or so, the homeless were more or less a downtown problem. Well no more, and no where was that on greater display than out near the baseball fields near Jewetta and Calloway roads. There, running along the river bed, are dozens of makeshift campsites, full of litter and reeking of urine, right within sight of some of the most desirable neighborhoods in town. District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer addressed it when I interviewed her this week, saying these homeless encampments have their own hierarchy that includes a "governor" who acts as the head of the camp. Often, she said, the "governor" will send homeless out to intersections to raise money for their camp. And so it goes.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When your boss tells you you’re fired do you finish the YouTube video or just leave? I need to know for future reference."

 * ... SPOTTED PON FACEBOOK: "Just a last-minute reminder that tax rates are merely legal minimums. If you believe you should pay more, it’s perfectly acceptable to send more."

* ... RIP: We lost some great men this week, and Assemblyman Vince Fong said it best in this post: "The past week, we have lost some tremendous individuals who have blessed me with their kindness, guidance, and mentorship. Words cannot describe the impact David Price, Chuck Haddad, and Fred Starrh Sr. has had in my life and the lives of countless others in our community. They were committed to family, service, and our community. My heart goes out to their families and I will be forever grateful for the friendship of these amazing individuals."

  * ... MEMORIES: Spotted this on my friend Matt Munoz's Facebook Page. Not sure what year this was published.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And how about this old picture?

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Former county department head Dave Price dies, Campbell Soups sells Bolthouse Farms, cleaner air leads to fewer "fog days" in Kern County and spring in Bakersfield ...

 Monday, April 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

 * ... DAVE PRICE: RIP to Dave Price, one of the great citizens of our community who died last
Thursday at his Tennessee retirement home. Price retired as director of the county Resources Management Agency and left California for Kingsport, Tennessee, where his jovial manner and quick wit quickly endeared him to the locals. I knew Dave well and was proud to call him a friend, as did many. His wife, Liz, said he died of a cardiac event.

 * ... BOLTHOUSE: Bolthouse Farms, one of Kern County's powerhouse carrot and juice producers that was sold to Campbell Soup Co. a few years ago, has become a private company again. Campbell was looking to unload Bolthouse because, according to the Wall Street Journal, it proved difficult for the company to handle fresh food. Former Bolthouse CEO Jeff Dunn was leading a group of investors who purchased the business. No word yet if Bolthouse will return to Bakersfield as its corporate headquarters.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "No matter how nice I ask random people, nobody will take me to Funkytown."

 * ... WEEKEND: If it is spring in Bakersfield it is time for outdoor events and celebrations. This weekend alone we saw downtown Rotary's Havana Nights, the Stars Dinner Theater Dancing with the Stars (congratulations to Robin Mangarin-Scott for placing first), the Coconut Cup pickle ball tournament at the Bakersfield Racquet Club, the 4th Annual Sikh Peace Parade, a community trash cleanup day and more. Spring in Bakersfield.

 * ... RIG CITY: Congratulations to the Rig City Coffee Roasters on its one-year anniversary downtown. The popular coffee and pastry shop is part of a downtown renaissance of small businesses that are breathing new energy into our downtown.

 * ... TULE FOG: Remember a few years back when the tule fog was so think you could hardly see the car in front of you? Well, those days are largely behind us and we can thank lower levels of air pollution for it. That's according to a new study by scientists at the UC Berkeley who analyzed meteorological and air pollution data from the Central Valley reaching back to 1930. They reported this: "The results help explain the puzzling decades long rise and fall in the number of 'fog days' affecting the region, which increased 85 percent between 1930 and 1970 and then decreased 76 percent between 1980 to 2016. This up and down pattern follows trends in air pollution in the valley, which rose during the first half of the century when the region was increasingly farms and industrialized, and then dropped off after the enactment of air pollution regulations in the 1970s."

* .... MEMORIES: Take a look at this, the before and after of 20th Street downtown.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Friday's Bakersfield Observed: Conservative firebrand Candace Owens is coming to Bakersfield to support state Sen. Shannon Grove, celebrating fresh produce at Dot and Ott and the annual Mac 'n Cheese Festival coming up later this month

Friday, April 12, 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

 * ... CANDACE OWENS: Leave it State Sen. Shannon Grove to bring in a big hitter for a fund
raiser next month. Set for Saturday, May 25, Grove will host a VIP reception and dinner featuring Candace Owens as the guest speaker. Owens is an conservative commentator and political activist known for her pro-Trump stance and her criticism of Black Lives Matter and of the Democratic Party.  She is wickedly smart, articulate and her frequent clashes with Democrats have elevated her to being a darling of the political right.

 * ... DOT AND OTT: Have you been to the new green grocer and restaurant downtown on Eastchester called "Dot and Ott?" Owned by Jesse and Jeremy Blackwell, the eatery is named after former neighbors of Jesse's named Dot and Otto and it certainly does the couple justice. Housed in a beautiful old historic building on 18th Street that was once a feed store, it features fresh vegetables from Pickalittle Farms, locally produced eggs and a full lineup of beer and wine. It is open Monday through Saturday with a full service of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "I may be chubby, but I identify as thin. I am trans-slender."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Not to brag, but I've been invited to join AARP. This is all happening so fast."

 * ... MAC 'N CHEESE: One of our community's most popular outdoor events is coming on on Saturday, April 20, when the sixth annual Mac 'n Cheese Festival is held on the youth soccer fields at CSUB. Put on by American General Media (owners of KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM)s the event features beer, wine, live music and varieties of macaroni and cheese from 30 local restaurants. Get tickets at or at Event Bride website.

 * ... RAINBOW: Remember that wind we had earlier in the week? It triggered some interesting weather including this rainbow out near Taft, captured by my friend Pam Taylor.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of the old St. Pauls's Episcopal Church.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Rep. Kevin McCarthy's weekly update from Capitol Hill: praising Valley Children's Healthcare and its CEO Todd Suntrapak

 House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy gives us his weekly update from Capitol Hill. In his words:

 "Last week, I was fortunate to meet with several important organizations from California to discuss both emergency service efforts during a crisis and the need to protect our children’s health.

"California has faced many natural disasters over the past several years. From drought to flooding to fires, Californians have had to persevere through some of the deadliest and destructive disasters in our state’s history. Through each experience, I have worked directly with federal, state, and local officials to ensure that immediate and long-term federal response and support is on hand to help Californians. That coordination is vital to saving lives, rebuilding our communities, and returning to a semblance of normal life following a disaster. One official who consistently answers the call to serve is Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), Mark Ghilarducci. Mark is an old friend who I have known for many years and I am appreciative of his steadfast commitment to protecting Californians through robust preparedness strategies and disaster mitigation.

 "Just a few years ago, the Erskine Fire ravaged Lake Isabella, and CalOES was there each step of the way providing every resource imaginable. Without CalOES’s immediate action, this fire would have been even more devastating. The Erskine Fire left a painful memory in our community - 309 buildings were destroyed and two lives were sadly lost -  Byron and Gladys McKaig. We must honor their memory by always being prepared for the possibility of unexpected threats, so that future lives can be saved.

 "Last week, I also met with Valley Children’s Healthcare President and CEO Todd Suntrapak; he is paving the way for children’s health in the Central Valley.

 "Valley Children’s is one of the largest pediatric healthcare networks in the country. Through the help of programs like the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education (CHGME), Valley Children’s is able to receive funding to support the training of new pediatric physicians and specialists at their facilities.

 "Their team has directly seen enormous benefits from CHGME, a program helping to train the next generation of pediatricians who will administer world-class services to families in need. Additionally, the Advancing Care for Exceptional (ACE) Kids Act, which recently passed both the House and Senate, will help ensure that children with the rarest medical conditions receive quality and coordinated care under Medicaid. I am proud that Congress was able to act swiftly to ensure that our youngest patients are never forgotten.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The documentary Seattle is Dying is a stark warning for any number of American cities, including Bakersfield, city staff deals a blow to those proposed private dorms and hundreds fan out to clean up the town

Monday, April 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

 * ... SEATTLE IS DYING: If you haven't seen the hour-long documentary "Seattle is Dying," you should make the time to do so. Produced by KOMO-TV in Seattle, the documentary takes a hard and
sober look at how homelessness, egged on by well intentioned laws that back fired, have left the city awash in urine, feces, street urchins, crime and drugs. And yes, it is happening here in Bakersfield, for many of the same reasons: state laws that emptied our jails and flooded the streets with criminals, rampant drug addiction and mental illness. Unfortunately, we can't buy our way out of it by writing checks for equally well intentioned but ineffective programs. Talk to your local city councilman and county supervisor and tell them we must find real answers before we become Seattle. Go to YouTube and search for "Seattle is Dying." It will be worth your time.

 * ... CSUB DORMS: The city planning division has put the proverbial fork in a developer's plans to build two five-story dormitories at the corner of Gosford and Stockdale Highway. In other words, I think we can consider this idea DOA (dead on arrival.) The staff indicated the idea was not "in harmony" with the surrounding area, a recommendation that is bound to please the residents of Stockdale Estates who have rallied to vehemently oppose the plan. While staff recommended against it, the ultimate decision will be up to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) which could always vote to approve the plan, but I wouldn't bet on that. Stay tuned.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Stop trying to please everybody. You're no tequila."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "All alcohol should be half price if you can provide proof that you are married with kids."

 * ... HOMELESS: Check out this picture and the caption written by a reporter at KGET TV. It says volumes about the problem we have in this town. The caption read: "Have you seen this man?
The owners of Blue Oak Coffee downtown say he came into their shop this morning—demanding money, touching himself, and threatening to rape them. The city believes it’s part of Bakersfield’s growing homeless problem."

 * ... RILEY PARKER: And speaking of the homeless, I received this note from retired private investigator (and ex Bakersfield police officer) Riley Parker, who left California fed up with high taxes and liberal state politics. Said Parker: "Our son and daughter-in-law fled Seattle’s Green Lake for a small village in Wales, and with broken hearts Jane and I fled CALI for a village of 3,000 on Colorado's western slope. Unfortunately, there is now a Democratic super majority in Denver and they are in lock step with Gavin Newsom. The good news... at 73 I am deep enough into life’s fourth quarter that that they can’t do us a lot of harm. Gas is still $2.49, we buy fresh organic foods at great prices from local growers, have our own garden, socialize with our migrant field workers, and take our kayak to the Colorado River and nearby mountain lakes on the Grand Mesa. And we enjoy CBD oil in our coffee at Pressed in Palisade. Heartbroken every time I return to Bako and see the trash alongside the broken concrete of Highway 58."

 * ... CLEANUP: Here is to all the hundreds of volunteers who participated in the Great American Cleanup on Saturday. Ward 2 City Councilman Andrae Gonzales spent his birthday picking up trash, and I saw Memorial Hospital CEO Ken Keller along with Dignity vice president Robin Mangarin-Scott leading a big group in the effort. Imagine how clean our city would be if we all participated.

 * ... MEMORIES: A Hell's Angels motorcycle rider in front of the Kern County Museum in the 1960s.

 * ... MORE MEMORIES: And lastly, who remember's Larsons dairy?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Friday's Bakersfield Observed: Kern Medical revokes a job offer to a young doctor who hates Jews, Rep. Kevin McCarthy raises $23 million for the GOP in the first quarter, and Ryan Alsop moves to beef up security at Panorama park on the bluffs

Friday, April 5, 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

 * ... KERN MEDICAL: Hats off to Kern Medical for doing the right thing when decided not to provide a job to a doctor who was fired previously for making anti-Semitic remarks. Dr. Lara Kollab
was fired from the prestigious Cleveland Clinic after it was revealed she used Twitter to denounce "Jewish dogs" and call for violence against Jewish people. In 2012, she tweeted she would give Jews "the wrong meds" and wrote that she hoped "Allah will kill all Jews." Kollab had been matched with Kern Medical to receive a job there but the hospital decided it would not be a good fit. Kern Medical released a statement saying it decided against Kollab because she submitted information that "false, misleading and incomplete."

 * ... KMAC: Want to know how important Rep. Kevin McCarthy is to the Republican Party? Listen to this: McCarthy raised $23.06 million during the first quarter of 2019, an amount that Politico called "the biggest ever" raised by any House member, including the speaker. McCarthy sent $5.56 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee and another $12.5 million to campaign efforts for members, candidates and supporting organizations.

 * ... HOMELESS: If you want some straight talk about the homeless problem, listen to Sheriff Donny Youngblood. Not too long ago his jail was busting at the seams, full of people who had been jailed for heroin possession or other drug charges. At the jail, they received treatment from experts who were there to help. Today? Thanks to our "progressive" state legislature, the possession of heroin is now a misdemeanor as are dozens of other crimes that used to send people to jail. Where are they now? Out on the street, Youngblood told me the other day. "I have 600 empty beds" at the jail, he said. I am not sure emptying the jail and tossing all these people on the street is progress, but then I remembered I live in California.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "No matter how nice I ask random people, nobody will take me to Funkytown."

 * ... PANORAMA PARK: Are you sick of the constant trashing of the park along the Panorama Bluffs? Well so is county chief administrative officer Ryan Alsop. This county-maintained park, which stretches from Manor to Bakersfield College, is heavily used but is also heavily trashed, littered with fast food cups and wrappers, empty beer cans and assorted junk. Alsop is working on a plan to beef up security with county park rangers patrolling the park 24-7 in hopes a heavier law enforcement presence will deter litterers and some of the people who use the park to peddle drugs.

 * ... CHIMNEY DEATH: Do you remember Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac, the Bakersfield doctor who died while trying to slide down the chimney at her boyfriend's house? That happened back in August of 2010 and now it is the subject of a true crime podcast called "My Favorite Murder." Kotarac was 49 at the time and suffocated inside the chimney.

 * ... GOODBYE CALIFORNIA: This scene was spotted on Highway 101 in the Los Angeles area.

* ... MEMORIES: Check out the sign posted at the old Sinaloa restaurant. Adios, Sinaloa.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Lightspeed Systems gets a new investor, The New York Times examine the La Paloma power plant in McKittrick and remembering the old Redlick's store downtown

Monday, April 1, 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

 * ... LIGHTSPEED SYSTEMS: Big news for Rob and Judi McCarthy, founders of Lightspeed Systems, perhaps Bakersfield's most successful local technology company that moved to Austin a few years ago because of California's hostile business climate. The company has received a strategic  
growth investment from Madison Dearborn Partners LLC, a leading private equity firm based in Chicago. Rob McCarthy will remain on the board but will now become a minority investor, ending an incredible run as head of a company that specializes in educational software. Madison Dearborn said the existing management team will remain in place, and terms of the deal were not disclosed. Before leaving for Texas, Judi McCarthy was a philanthropist and one of the founders of the Women's and Girl's Fund of the Kern Community Foundation, which she once ran. (Facebook photo of Rob and Judi McCarthy) 

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sometimes you might feel there is no one there for you. But that's not true. Laundry will always be there for you."

 * ... LA PALOMA: The La Paloma power plant near McKittrick was the subject of a lengthy Sunday  Business story in the New York Times, focusing on the ties between the owner, wealthy Texas investor Daniel Andrew Beal, and President Trump. Beal purchased the power plant out of bankruptcy and has filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission arguing that California's current rules and use of renewable power are killing existing plants. This is a politically charged effort that the state and environmentalists vehemently oppose, but the regulatory commission has shown recent sympathy to the fossil fuel industry. Keep an eye on this one.

 * ... PAINTED LADIES: Now that we are seeing the Painted Ladies butterflies around town in their annual migration up from Mexico, I thought I would share an old wive's tale from by friend Gene Bonas. Said Gene: "I understand that, when a butterfly lands on you, it is a sign of good luck coming your way. It's an old wives' tale told to me by a girl I once dated. Nothing came of our association, so I guess that was my luck!"

 * ... MAP PERSPECTIVE: Feast your eyes on this map and let it all sink in.

 * ... MEMORIES: Old Bakersfield back in the day, then and now. Thanks to the Facebook page Kern County of Old.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Did Rep. Kevin McCarthy warn President Trump against trying to kill the Affordable Care Act? City Councilman Bruce Freeman talks about the controversial dorm project, Keanu Reeves pays us a visit and Blaine Hodge gets a well deserved award

Friday, March 29, 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

 * ... MCCARTHY AND TRUMP: Did House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy warn President  Trump against trying to kill the Affordable Care Act?

That's the word from the Axios website that reported McCarthy called Trump and told him it was a bad idea that could hurt the Republicans in the 2020 general election. Said Axios: "McCarthy told Trump over the phone that the decision made no sense — especially after Democrats killed Republicans in the midterms in part over the issue of pre-existing conditions, according to two sources familiar with their recent conversation. As Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur points out — health care was the top issue for 2018 midterm voters, and voters who cared most about health care favored Democrats over Republicans by more than 50 percentage points." My two cents: I think McCarthy is absolutely right about this. Trump should leave the ACA alone and focus on our booming economy.

 * ... CSUB DORMS: It is not often you get authentic, honest dialogue with a politician, but that is what I had with Ward 5 City Councilman Bruce Freeman on the proposal from a private developer to built twin five-story apartment buildings to house CSUB students. For the record, CSUB president Lynnette Zelezny hates it, as do the high end residents of Stockdale Estates across the road. Freeman - remember he is the past CEO of Castle and Cooke which built Seven Oaks - knows something about zoning and he questioned how the developer used a conditional use permit (CUD) to bypass normal zoning regulations. Freeman clearly believes this is an incompatible development - that is my read of what he said, not his words - and I think we can all expect this thing to die on the vine. At the end of the day, after talking to Freeman for a half hour on my radio show, it was good to hear someone speak so honestly about a controversial project in the city.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If your boyfriend has a sticker on his vehicle of Calvin pissing on something, you're gonna be a single mother."

 * ... HOMELESS: Here is your random homeless picture this week, compliments of a runner on the Panorama Bluffs who shot this of folks living on the bike path.

 * ... STAR SIGHTING: Hats off to actor Keanu Reeves who ended up in Bakersfield on a  unscheduled stop and made the best of it. Reeves, 54, was on a United flight from San Francisco to Burbank when the plane landed in Bakersfield because of a mechanical problem. The passengers were later loaded in taxis and driven to Burbank, but not before Reeves regaled them with statistics and fun facts about Bakersfield, and playing some old Bakersfield Sound songs from the past.

 * ... BLAINE HODGE: And here is another shoutout to Blaine Hodge, the young man who was injured when he tackled a man wielding a machete who was attacking a woman at a local Starbucks on Stockdale Highway. Hodge received the civilian version of the Medal of Honor for his actions.

 * ... WOMEN: And finally, congratulations to my friend Sheri Horn-Bunk who is among a group of impressive women recognized by Garden Pathways as the 2019 "Women with a Heart for Bakersfield." Bunk and the others - Jasleen Duggal, Diana Mestmaker and Natesha Johnson - will be honored at a high tea on Wednesday, May 8, at Seven Oaks Country Club.

* ... MEMORIES: Check out these old photos of 19th Street and the original Kern County Hospital. Wow.