Thursday, May 24, 2018

CBD oil picks up a fan in Kyle Carter, turmoil over at Clinica Sierra Vista under a new CEO and Father Craig Harrison heads to Italy for a sabbatical

Friday/Memorial Day Weekend May 25, 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. Email your news and notes to 

 * ... CBD OIL: You know the world is changing when someone like former home builder Kyle
Carter, a staunch conservative who rarely drinks, comes out in favor of CBD oil, the non-intoxicating marijuana extract that is being credited with helping treat a host of medical problems -- everything from epileptic seizures to anxiety to inflammation to sleeplessness. Carter, who lost to Karen Goh in the last mayoral election, told me a friend turned him onto CBD oil to help him deal with pain and other issues associated with five surgeries for scoliosis. "They put two drops under my tongue" and it helped alleviate his pain, he said. Cannabidiol is extracted from the flowers and buds of marijuana or hemp plants. It does not produce intoxication. Instead, marijuana's "high" is caused by the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

 * ... CLINICA: So what is happening over at Clinica Sierra Vista? The once proud health organization, built by now retired CEO Steve Schilling, has been in turmoil since Schilling retired and was replaced by new CEO Brian Harris. I am told Harris came in with a swagger, telling a group of managers a week into the job that there was "a new sheriff in town" and to expect changes, and that a number of key employees have been unceremoniously fired. "He is dismantling everything Steve built" is how one former employee put it. So is this a simple matter of a new CEO mixing things up and facing a "deep state" of employees loyal to the previous boss, or is Harris the proverbial sharp elbowed bull in a china shop eager to put his own stamp on the organization? Stay tuned. (file photo of Brian Harris)

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "How many consecutive weeks do you have to miss church to requalify for visitor parking?

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "It doesn’t matter if the glass is half full or half empty… it’s clearly almost time to order another drink."

* ... FATHER CRAIG: Monsignor Craig Harrison is headed to Italy for his annual trip, but this time it is not for a week or two, but for three months. Harrison told me this three-month trip recognizes a well deserved sabbatical after 30 years in the priesthood. While there, he hopes to meet with Pope Francis, preside over a wedding of a couple from Bakersfield and meet with friends touring Italy.

 * ... CRIME WAVE: If recent events are any indication of things to come, it will be long summer of crime here in Bakersfield. Oleander has been hit with a long string of car break-ins and windows smashed, with one street seeing five cars hit in one night. Meanwhile over in Seven Oaks, a rash of home burglaries near the Ronald Reagan School has homeowners on edge. And if you really want to be frightened, go to and check out the video of two teenagers trying to kick in the door of a home near Stockdale and Old River Road, in broad daylight.

 * ... TACOS: Check out these tacos offered at the Silver Fox Starlite Lounge on Taco Tuesdays. The iconic lounge, restored and reopened by Pyrenees Cafe owners Rod and Julie Crawford, has been enjoying a gangbusters business since reopening.

 * ... RIDGE ROUTE: Here's a great picture of part of the old Ridge Route on a bad stretch of road call "Deadman's Curve" as seen along the southbound later of I-5 about two miles below Lebec. Photo courtesy of the Bakersfield Memories Facebook page.

 * ... BEST BETS: Check out Los Angeles Americana singer Chelsea Williams Friday night at Temblor Brewing. Showtime is 7 p.m. Then make reservations to hear the Birds of Chicago June 8 at the Bakersfield Museum of Art. Both great shows featuring rising artists.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Remembering the legacy of Harvey Hall, Bakersfield has its own version of a royal wedding and someone was caught cheating in the La Cresta area

Monday, May 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. Email your news and notes to 

 * ... RIP HARVEY: We lost Harvey Hall this weekend, and with it a bit of Bakersfield history. Everyone has their own story of the former mayor, but all of them have one thing in common: his
love for this community and his big heart. Harvey's lesson for me? Wake up every day and be thankful for what you have, embrace your community even with all its flaws, and love your neighbor. This is his legacy, and he left us all in a better place because of it.

 * ... ROYAL MARRIAGE BAKO STYLE: Did you know that Bakersfield had its own form of a royal wedding right here at home this weekend? That's what friends of Matt Munoz and Miranda Whitworth were calling it with the popular pair tied the knot before friends at the Kern County Museum. Matt is the marketing director for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (he is also the lead singer in the wildly popular band Mento Buru) while Miranda works in marketing for Kern Medical. Congrats to these two who make this a special place to call home.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "You can't please everybody. You are not a taco."

 * ... MEA CULPA: I goofed last week in saying that district attorney candidate Cynthia Zimmer was represented by Cathy Abernathy's Western Pacific Research. In fact, Zimmer is using the Sacramento-based Meridian Pacific Political Consulting, a highly regarding consultant known for its tough tactics to win elections.

 * ... MOVING UP: Congratulations to Amy Radditz who has taken a job with OneLegacy, an organization dedicated to saving and healing lives through organ, eye and tissue donation. She will join the organization as a Donation Development Coordinator. Radditz has served six years with CASA as a resource development manager.

 * ... ACHIEVER: And add Alex Shelbourne to your list of local young people making their mark in the world. The Bakersfield High graduate is now entering New York University as a sophomore and was recently appointed to the board of the Tisch New Theater. The TNT has become the premiere student theatre organization at NYU.  It has established itself as an avenue for students to work in all facets of the theatre: performance, management, direction, production, and other technical and design aspects. Alex is the son of Jeff and Sarah Shelbourne. His mother is CEO of Optimal Health Services.

 * ... CHEATING HUSBAND: Well now, check out these posters that appeared in the La Cresta area this weekend. Looks like someone is cheating.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Harvey Hall, Bakersfield's biggest cheerleader and ex mayor, dies at 77

 Harvey Hall, Bakersfield's unapologetic biggest cheerleader and a popular former mayor, has died at the age of 77. The cause of death was not announced and a spokesman for Hall Ambulance said only that he died of a "rapidly progressive disease." Hall was known for his sartorial flair and big personality and smile, as well as his ability to embrace all races and ethnicities of his beloved hometown. In memory of Harvey, enjoy some pictures of our former mayor over the years.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Will the District Attorney's race be a litmus test for the power of Western Pacific Research without Mark Abernathy? And Kern County voters will get another change to vote on legal marijuana this November

Friday, May 18, 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. Email your news and notes to

 *... ABERNATHY MACHINE: For years Mark Abernathy and his political consulting firm Western Pacific Research have served as kingmakers for Republican party hopefuls. If you wanted to be "in" with the machine, you were an Abernathy client. But Mark Abernathy died recently, and it has left WPR in the hands of his quite capable wife, Cathy Abernathy. Among the WPR clients and
supporters: Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, former Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, Mayor Karen Goh, DA candidate Cynthia Zimmer and judicial candidate Chad Louie. But this year is stacking up to be something different, thanks to the growing influence of Kern County Latino leaders and diverse but potentially powerful movements like the woman's #metoo. So what does this mean for this election cycle? Look no further than the District Attorney's race where Zimmer is taking on assistant district attorney Scott Spielman, in what appears to be a litmus test of the old Abernathy machine's ability to make things happen. McCarthy has put his considerable weight behind Zimmer and is hoping to push her across the finish line ahead of a resurgent Spielman. (Interestingly, McCarthy's mentor former Congressman Bill Thomas is supporting Spielman). There is a lot riding on the DA race for WPR, and if Zimmer loses, so will the WPR and its legacy of winning at all costs.

 * ... POT VOTE: It looks like it will be up to the Kern County voters to decide if we want marijuana sold and grown here legally. That's the word from Ben Ellenberg, a Riverside County attorney who is working on two initiatives that may appear on the November ballot. One would deal with the unincorporated county, and the other with the city of Bakersfield. A simple majority is all that is needed to pass either initiative. According to Ellenberg, some polls show Kern County residents support legalized marijuana by an 80 percent margin.

* ... DOG FIGHTS: Were you aware that there is an epidemic of professional dog fighting and gambling here in Kern County? Count me among those who didn't know the practice was as widespread as it apparently is. At least that is according to several pit bull experts I hosted on my daily radio show focusing on pit bulls. Sundee Martineau, head of the Bakersfield Boxers and Bullies Rescue, said the cruel and inhumane practice is thriving. "Black bags full of dead pits" routinely show up on the side of the road, she said, and gamblers spend thousands betting on the dog fights.

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Some people are like clouds. When they disappear, it's a brighter day."

 * ... BAKERSFIELD GOOD FORM: If you have lived here for long, you know Bakersfield's reputation for kindness and hospitality. And Bakersfield native Jarret Martin, a Centential High grad working his way through major league baseball, experienced a bit of that recently in Midland, TX. Listen to what his mother, local author Dana Martin, explain it: "Jarret, playing for Oakland As affiliate RockHounds in Midland, Texas, had just arrived from spring training and settled in for his opening day game, when he was called from the clubhouse to speak to a fan who said they knew him. Jarret, excited to see maybe a family member or friend, emerged to greet a stranger’s face. The stranger said he was from Bakersfield and had seen the roster before traveling to Midland, saw that a player from Bakersfield was on the roster, and thought he would bring Jarret a gift from home he KNEW anybody from Bakersfield would love. He handed  Jarret a two pound box of Dewar’s chews!! What a surprise! Jarret was so touched and yes, it was exactly what the doctor ordered....A taste of home. We would love to thank the fan for his thoughtfulness in knowing that a kid from home would appreciate that small but amazing gesture. We love this town."

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old photo I spotted on the Bakersfield Memories Facebook page. The caption reads: "Lester Rose and wife Helen on left. Earl and Viola Pearce on right. Lester and Viola ran the TRAVELER'S INN in Greenfield for many years. Viola is the mother of Milton Huggs (Was owner of MILTS CAFE and the grandmother of Mark Huggs (owner of the 24TH STREET CAFE. A wonderful family.)

 * ... HAY BUILDING: Here is an old photo of the corner of 19th and Eye streets in the 1890s. The corner building on the right, “Dinkelspeils”, became Hay Building in the 1900s.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

District attorney candidate says pot shops are frequented by gang members, Maya Cinemas to give it Bakersfield facility a facelift and yet another telephone scam

Monday, May 14, 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 

 * ... MARIJUANA: California has decriminalized marijuana and made it legal to use for both medical and recreational purposes, and recently President Trump indicated he was ready to allow
states to decide for themselves, signaling a radical change in the federal government's view of cannabis. And consider this: nine states and the District of Columbia now allow for recreational marijuana use and 30 allow for medical use. And more states are lining up to join the legalization wave. Sounds like a trend, right? Yet locally, opposition to cannabis remains strong and appears rooted in an antiquated view of the hemp that has been around for thousands of years. Which is why I found a story in the Taft Midway Driller on district attorney candidate Cynthia Zimmer so intriguing. In it, she says this: "I will tell you, the customers in pot shops are gang members. They are not (all) people who are sick, although some may be." The most frequent customers, Zimmer said, "are physically well people between the ages of 18 and 24, male, who come up and buy marijuana." That may make a good sound bite for a DA candidate in a conservative county, but it does not sync with well documented research that shows the heaviest support (and use) of cannabis comes with people ages 50 and older, middle aged professionals who hardly qualify as gang members. And it also detracts from research showing that widespread use of cannabis (even for recreational use) can help combat the opioid crisis by providing addicts with a more benevolent alternative than street drugs. The times are changing, as they say, just slower here in Kern County.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Sometimes, when my husband has a day off, I like to bring the TV remote with me to work."

* ... MAYA CINEMAS: It looks like Maya Cinemas will get a facelift later this summer. That's the word from Larry Poricelli, vice president of marketing for Maya, who told me last week work will begin in August to spruce up the popular theater. The downtown theater is now eight years old and Poricelli said we can expect new seats (likely the new larger leather recliners that will reduce the total number of seats in each theater) as well as other upgrade. Meanwhile, the new Maya Cinemas in Delano opens this Thursday.

 * ... FOODIE: Good news for the local Pettit family that producers the grass-fed, carrot finished Santa Carota beef. The beef has been so popular at our local Eureka Burger that the restaurant chain now offers it at all 20 of its California locations.

 * ... MORE FOOD NEWS: Speaking of restaurants, how difficult is it for restaurants to recover after getting a bad review or running into trouble with the health department? First, restaurant critic Pete Tittl savaged the new Texas Roadhouse out a Valley Plaza in a piece in the Sunday Californian, faulting  both the quality of the steaks and the side dishes. And last week, downtown eatery T.L. Maxwell's was also savaged when an ex worker sued it claiming she was forced to served moldly food in a dirty kitchen full of vermin and roaches. In the age of social media, these stories are circulated, shared, liked and commented on thousands of times, zipping through the internet at the speed of light and tarnishing reputations along the way.

* ... SCAM: Remember when I told you about the 31-year-old high school English teacher who was scammed out of $6,000 by someone on the phone claiming to be from the IRS? Well it has happened again, and this time it turned ugly and personal. Tina Zimmerman, a sales rep for the American General Media radio group in town, received a call Friday from someone claiming to have kidnapped her daughter. "When I answered the phone there was the voice of a young girl screaming that she had been kidnapped," Zimmerman said. Then a man came on the phone, claiming he had kidnapped her daughter and ordering her to go to a bank to withdraw money, all the while demanding that she stay on the phone. Zimmerman smartly put the man on speaker phone and motioned to a nearby friend to call her daughter's boyfriend. It turned out her daughter was okay, but Zimmerman was left badly shaken. "All I could think about was my daughter and if she was safe," she told me. So the next time a stranger calls, let it go to voice mail.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this classic photo from the Kern County of Old Facebook Page. A classic.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The best tacos in California? Right here in downtown Bakersfield. Plus we turn our attention to pit bulls and beware of a pack of sharks spotted off of Pismo Beach!

 Friday, May 11, 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

 * ... BEST TACOS: So where are the best tacos in California? At one of the many dives in Los
Angeles? Or San Diego? Or San Francisco? Not so fast. According to Thrillist, that honor goes to Nuestro Mexico right here in Bakersfield. Located in the original location of La Costa Mariscos on 21st Street, Nuestro Mexico is my personal favorite and apparently writer Matt Meltzer agreed, explaining that what pushed Nuestro Mexico to the top of the pack was the restaurant's meat, which is expertly seasoned and piled high on the tortilla.

 * ... MASON MAROTTA: It was standing room only for the funeral and mass for Mason Marotta, the 23-year-old Garces High graduate who died suddenly recently. Mason was the son of Lynda and Mike Marotta and like his father, was a gifted athlete with a wide range of interest and friends. The mass at St. Francis Parish was presided over by Monsignor Craig Harrison who used Mason's love of his own family and nieces to remind us all to tell our loved ones how much we love them.

* ... SHARKS: A pack of sharks has been spotted off Pismo Beach and folks are being warned to be careful if you plan to visit the popular beach. It was a pilot who spotted at least 13 large 
sharks swimming in the three-mile stretch of ocean between Pier Avenue in Oceano and the Pismo Beach Pier, California State Parks district superintendent Kevin Pearce said the sharks measured 5 to 12 feet long. Some were within the surf line, he said, while others were within a half mile of the shore.

* ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to four remarkable local women who were honored by Garden Pathways for their contributions to our community. At the "Women with a Heart" lunch at Seven Oaks Country Club, the organization honored Beverly Camp, Robin Fleming, Lili Marsh and Janis Varner for their work.

* ... PIT BULLS: So what is your take on pit bulls and other large, aggressive dogs? Are they ticking time bombs, born aggressive, or are they misunderstood and like any other loving pet? Don't ask that to Lois Henry, the former Californian columnist who has now had two bad experiences with pit bulls. The first time came a couple years ago when she was out walking her dogs (on leashes) and a female pit attacked and killed one of her dogs. Then last week, she was out walking again when three pit bulls charged out of a neighbor's house and attacked her dogs again, injuring a small sweet one named Fugs who was treated  by a local veterinarian. Henry told me the story on my radio show, and it triggered an outpouring of love, and hate, for the breed. Next week, on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM, a group of pit bull owners, including Matt Nelson and Sundae Oberlies Martineau, who runs a pit rescue program, will appear on my show to defend the breed. Tune in at 2 p.m. Tuesday for the show.

 * ... SICK BAY: Here's hoping Harvey Hall bounces back from his undisclosed illness. The former four term mayor was hospitalized in Los Angeles and was forced to step down as head of Hall Ambulance, turning over the reins to his wife Lavonne.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "I woke up early and drank coffee on my back porch just like one of those people in a commercial for prescription drugs."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "You cannot make everybody happy. You are not a taco."

* ... MEMORIES: I spotted this old photo in the Bakersfield Memories Facebook page. It's a keeper. The caption read: "Looking west down 19th from Chester in 1910. A Pope automobile sits behind the pedestrians in the foreground. The building with bunting and a flag is a land sales office. Beyond that at 19th and Eye is the Dinkelspiel Brothers store, beyond that is the Hayden Building then the largest one is the Oil Exchange Building which became the Tegeler Hotel. It was operated by Fred Tegeler, former manager of the Southern Hotel. Behind the Oil Exchange can be seen the front of the Kern County Land Co. building at 19th and H."

Sunday, May 6, 2018

California may have the fifth largest economy in the world, but we also lead the nation in poverty and homelessness. Plus more on that boneheaded call to close down streets in the arts district and the Padre Hotel shows some real class

Monday, May 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

* ... CALIFORNIA POVERTY: Here's something that probably won't surprise you: While California has the fifth largest economy in the world, we also lead the nation in poverty and homelessness. Think about that for a second, because it hasn't always been this way. But after decades of nanny-state government, homelessness (and hopelessness) have exploded and the streets of our major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles look like Third World countries.
Consider this from the Orange County Register: "One in five Californians live in poverty, 20.4 percent to be exact, compared to a national average of 14.7 percent, the highest rate of poverty in the nation. By extension, California also has the distinction of having the highest child poverty rate in the nation, with an average of 22.8 percent of California's children living in poverty in 2013-15, including 5.1 percent living in 'deep poverty.'"

 * ... DOWNTOWN BAD FORM: Remember my earlier rant about the decision to close off the heart of the downtown arts district (the intersection of 19th and Eye streets) for the National Day of Prayer so a small church could have a ceremony? It was a stupid decision and it forced restaurants and businesses to close. Well now I learn that the streets were closed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., virtually shutting down one of the busiest commercial areas in town for an entire day. Who made this decision and where is the Downtown Business Assn. which claims to represent the interests of local businesses. Are you listening Councilman Andrae Gonzales?

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "When I'm gone, my legacy will be, 'I don't know, man, she was just tired a lot.'"

 * ... GOOD FORM: Hats off to the Padre Hotel for showing some really good form in hosting the annual Tigerfight fund raiser to fight childhood leukemia. Chris Wilson, who founded Tigerfight after his 18-month-old son came down with blood cancer, said the Padre regularly donates multiple rooms so parents whose children are sick can have a night off and attend the festivities. This year's Tigerfight will be held Saturday, June 9.

 * ... OVERHEARD: A woman is telling a friend about visiting the new branch of La Costa Mariscos in the old Elephant Bar building at the Shops at Riverwalk: "It was over an hour wait, a typical Bakersfield response to a new restaurant! We'll go back in a month when things die down."

 * ... MAYA DELANO: Workers are putting the finishing touches on the new 12-screen Maya Cinemas in Delano, giving residents there a reason to stay closer to home to view a movie. The new Maya will be equipped with the bigger, leather lounge type seating that has become so popular. No exact word on when Maya Delano will open.

 * ... TREES: It was nice to see the new trees that were planted on 18th Street near Cafe Smitten, yet more improvements to the growing area known as "EastChester."

Friday, May 4, 2018

More disruption for local restaurants downtown, Bill Thomas and Kevin McCarthy split in the race for District Attorney and seeking bar food at the Firestone Grill

Friday May 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

* ... BAD FORM DOWNTOWN: You really have to feel for the people who run a retail shop or restaurant in the downtown area. It's my favorite place to dine, but it battles a perception that crime is rampant and parking is scarce. But that's not the worst of it, because it seems the city is determined to
do what it can to hurt business. First there was the long weekend of a classic car show where blocks were roped off for the car show and some restaurants were forced to close their doors because their patrons could not make it beyond the barriers. Then on Thursday, to celebrate the National Day of Prayer, 19th and Eye streets were blocked off for a prayer ceremony, once again reeking havoc for all the downtown eateries. Chef's Choice Noodle Bar actually closed for the day and bar owners like Kenny Reed (the Alleycat) claim they were never notified. The Downtown Business Assn. dismissed this as a simple mistake, but instead of making excuses for the event, shouldn't the DBA being fighting on behalf of the businesses it claims to serve? (photo courtesy of The Bakersfield Californian)

* ... POLITICS: I am not certain just how important endorsements are in political campaigns, but they are fun to follow. The race to succeed Lisa Green as district attorney is one to watch. Former Congressman Bill Thomas, who casts a long political shadow locally, has endorsed assistant DA Scott Spielman while his friend and successor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, has thrown his support behind deputy DA Cynthia Zimmer.

* ... LITERACY: Can you imagine going through life hiding the fact that you are functionally illiterate? It happens more than you might think, particularly here in Kern County where the adult illiteracy stands around 25 percent. Norm Brown, a high school dropout, went 47 years hiding the fact that he couldn't read before he headed over to the Kern Literacy Council where he was teamed up with retired petroleum engineer Ed Western as his English tutor. He is now reading daily, is the proud owner of his first library card, and devouring a biography on Walk Disney. Next time you are looking to write a check to a non-profit, consider the Kern Literacy Council.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "What position is it in soccer where my kid tries to find a four leaf clover?"

 * ... FOODIE: There are plenty of sports bars in town featuring bar food and big screen TVs, but few offer better customer service and quality food than Firestone Grill on California Avenue. In addition to having the best French fries in town, Firestone's staff goes above and beyond and the lineup of salads, burgers and barbecue is consistently top shelf.

 * ... JOHN COX: John Cox, a seasoned business reporter who left The Californian more than a year ago, is returning to the newspaper. Cox left TBC to take a job in San Diego but will will rejoin the newsroom on Eye Street. This is good news for The Californian, which has witnessed a serious talent drain over the past year. Among those who have left are columnist Lois Henry, sports editor Zach Ewing, city editor Christine Bedell, lifestyles editor Jennifer Self, politics reporters James Burger and education reporter Harold Pierce.

 * ... MORE TBC: Meanwhile the newspaper also announced that Cliff Chandler has joined the staff as advertising director. Chandler previously worked at The San Diego Union-Tribune as automotive sales manager. He previously worked at the Santa Clarita Valley Signal and Digital First Media.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this old photo of the Garces Circle compliments of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.