Sunday, November 11, 2018

Bakersfield family loses a family home in Malibu, thieves make off with two road bikes stolen in broad daylight, and words of wisdom (and warning) from Tim Calahan

Monday, November 12, 2018

 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 place to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... MALIBU FIRE: Among the victims of the Malibu fires is a Bakersfield family with deep connections to a neighborhood there that has been devastated by the flames. Jolie Brouttier, a local
elementary school teacher, said her late grandparents owned a home in Malibu and that her mother and father were there when the fires broke out. They evacuated and had no idea if the house had been spared until they watched a Los Angeles news station and - you guessed it - saw the house aflame. "Any memories I have of my grandparents were in this house.," she said. "From watching my grandpa paint in the garage, eating dark chocolates on the lap of my grandma, to both of them waving from the top of the hill as we headed home. Now it’s gone. All a blaze in a matter of seconds. We can rebuild but the heart will take time. My family is devastated." Jolie and her mother, Lois Brouttier, will be on The Richard Beene Show on KERN NewsTalks 96.1 FM tomorrow (Monday) at 2:30 p.m. Tune it to hear their story. (The first photo shows the roof of their family house intact. It later burned to the ground.)

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Shout out to weathermen telling us the barometric pressure like we know what the hell to do with that information."

 * ... TIM CALAHAN: ABC23 anchor Tim Calahan has covered three mass shootings in the past five years at the station. Appearing on my radio show last week, he wondered about the world we will be leaving our children. "Remember when we used to say that everyone knows somebody who has been touched by cancer? The thought came to me that we are heading to a time where everyone will know someone who has been touched by a mass shooting."

 * ... BIKE THEFT: The recent spike in crime locally has touched two friends, whose only mistake was taking a bike ride. Tom and Christy Morgan, avid cyclists, were out riding Saturday when they decided to stop at the Finish Line bike shop right across Stockdale Highway from Cal State Bakersfield. They parked their bikes at the entrance to the shop and left them unattended for just minutes. Two men, seen here in security footage, tossed the bikes in the back of an older Toyota pickup and took off. If you know these guys, contact Bakersfield police.

UPDATE: The bike thieves have been caught. This from Tom Morgan: " Great news everyone. Thanks to a tip from someone who saw the shared post, we were able to locate the suspect vehicle. Shortly thereafter, BPD arrived and was able to recover both bikes. Both suspect’s were taken into custody and our bike are home safe and sound (minor scratches and missing Garmin’s). BPD Officer Holmes (who took the earlier report) heard the call and did an excellent job recovering the bikes and catching both suspects. BPD Rocks! A great big Thank You to everyone for your support and kind words and especially for sharing the post

 * .... MEMORIES: I spotted this picture of what is now Lake Isabella on the Kern County of Old Facebook page. The caption read: "1927 photo of what is now Lake Isabella. You can see Cooks Peak in the upper center back. Then to the left side just out of the photo would be Kissack Cove. You can see Paradise Cove about 2 inches from the left side. To the right side of the photo would be where the Southfork Boat Ramp is now. 26 years after this photo was taken. (1953) we then had Lake Isabella."

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Andy Vidak's defeat is a stunner from election night, someone needs to snatch up Michael Bowers, voters choose experience over tribalism in electing David Couch and a mother-daughter team starts a new business

Friday, November 9, 2018

 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 place to live. Send your news tips to

 * ... ELECTIONS: The biggest surprise (for me at least) on election night was the defeat of state
Sen. Andy Vidak. Vidak lost to a Democrat from Sanger named Melissa Hurtado, who to my knowledge never campaigned in Kern County. Vidak's defeat will also mean his Kern County aide, Michael Bowers, will be out of a job. Bowers is one of the most personally dynamic people I have met in a long time, and I suspect it won't take long for him to find a new gig.

 * ... DAVID COUCH: I was also heartened to see that Supervisor David Couch won reelection to his newly redrawn 4th District, where Hispanics comprise almost 68 percent of the population. Few public servants work harder than Couch, and I was glad to see that experience trumped tribalism in the 4th District. Running second was Delano Mayor Grace Vallejo, also a solid public servant but a candidate who was simply outworked in this race.

 * ... MARIJUANA: Now that Kern County voters have rejected three measures to regulate the sale of medical marijuana, it looks like the 20-something dispensaries that remain open will be closing before the end of the year. That's bad news for folks who rely on medicinal cannabis to treat anxiety, pain or sleep disorders, who will soon be driving to Arvin where its sale and distribution has been approved. No word on when the first dispensaries in Arvin will open.

 * ... LOVE AND CHEESE: I was at the Crash Lounge the other day when I ran into a mother-daughter couple who have started an impressive new business. It's called Love & Cheese and it features custom made cheese and veggie trays that are nothing short of amazing. Lisa Miller, the mother, is in business with her two daughters, Heather Ahlf and Victoria Stockman. Check the photos of their products and if interested, give them a call at (661) 444-1506.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "How many different animals did we have to jump on the backs of before we discovered horses were cool with it?"

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree years ago."

 * ... LEAVING CALIFORNIA: This popped up on the internet the other day. Ain't it the truth.

 * ... MEMORIES: I found this picture on the Kern County Historical Society Facebook page with this caption: "In 1918, a photograph was taken on the steps of the Kern County Court House in Bakersfield. On the front steps stand the men that had returned home from 'over there.' Behind these servicemen stand the veterans of the American Civil War. No further proof required -- Kern County supports its veterans."

Sunday, November 4, 2018

In just a few short hours we will all be voting. Watching the Latino turnout, Couch and Maggard fight for their jobs and Providence Strategic Consulting throws a soiree

Monday, November 5, 2018

 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 news tips to

If you are into local politics as I am, you will be watching the outcome of a slew of hot local races on Tuesday. But forget about the national implications for a second and remember the old refrain: all politics are local. So first, keep an eye on the Latino turnout, and if they swing
Democratic (as expected) or Republican. That no doubt will play out in the 4th Supervisor District where David Couch is vying for reelection. In the 3rd District, can Mike Maggard fend off Jeff Heinle, and in the Assembly, can incumbent Rudy Salas contend with challenger Justin Mendes? (By the way this is a race in which both candidates will spend a combined total of around $3 million). And then there are the twin sales tax issues for both the city and the county, the dueling marijuana initiatives and Prop 6 which seeks to repeal the gas tax. It will be a full few days and we will watch the results.

 * ... BIG QUESTIONS: One of the things to look for Tuesday: are we seeing the end of the "old guard" in Kern County because of demographic shifts in the electorate? Can you image if both David Couch and Mike Maggard were defeated on the Board of Supervisors? If Grace Vallejo beats Couch walking away, what does that say about the emerging strength of the Latino vote in Kern County? And are the Latinos a lock for the Democrats? Justin Mendes is a formidable candidate against Assemblyman Rudy Salas, but does he have enough support to push him past Salas and his deep campaign coffers? Even the down ballot race for an open seat on the Kern High School District raises important issues. Bryan Colebrook, backed by Cathy Abernathy's Western Pacific Research, fumbled badly in implying his opponent Jenifer Pitcher was not qualified because she is single and has no children. Will the vaunted Abernathy machine be able to push him past the finish line?

 * ...GAVIN NEWSOM: Have you seen pictures of the truck following the Gavin Newsom bus around the state? Check it out here:

 * ... PROVIDENCE CONSULTING: I ran into CASA's Colleen McGauley at the annual soiree that Providence Strategic Consulting put on at The Mark restaurant. Providence owner Tracy Leach always puts on a good show, providing an excellent opportunity to network and catch up with old (and new) friends. McGauley was there, and we had a chance to talk about her decision to leave CASA after 17 years. She said it was her call to step aside, citing how large and involved the organization had grown over the years. She will no doubt remain in the non-profit world, and when she lands a new job, we will report it here. Others I spotted there were Kevin Burton, Holly Arnold, Rick Kreiser, David Couch, Perry Finzel, Barry Zoeller, Cindy Pollard, Beatris Espericueta Sanders, Derek Jeffery and so many more.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "You know it's a big game day when your husband walks in the bedroom at 10 a.m. and nonchalantly says, 'Wanna beer?'"

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Life is short. Make sure you spent most of your time arguing about politics with strangers on the internet."

 * ... ART IN THE PARK: Sometimes it is the small things that uplift us. That's how I felt when I saw so many of the electrical and power boxes along Panorama Park painted by local artists, a brilliant move that enlivens the area and deters graffiti artists. Supervisor Mike Maggard teamed up with local artist David Gordon of the Arts Council of Kern to have artists do the painting. Panorama Park now has "art in the park" so to speak.

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this grainy old photo of the mouth of the canyon when it was just a dirt road, compliments of the Facebook page Kern County of Old.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Colleen McGauley out at CASA, Memorial's Jon Van Boening gets a big promotion and KERN radio host Ralph Bailey mixes it up with KHSD candidate Bryan Colebrook

Friday, November 3, 2018

 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 news tips to

 * ... BRYAN COLEBROOK: We are within a week of the mid-term elections and things are getting hot, not only among the candidates but between some candidates and the press. On the local level, KERN radio host Ralph Bailey mixed it up with Kern High School District candidate Bryan
Colebrook in a less than four minute interview that ended with Bailey abruptly ending the interview. At issue: Colebrook's statement questioning why his opponent Jenifer Pitcher is running when she doesn't have children and is single. Things got hot and the interview went to hell. Colebrook and Pitcher are running neck and neck, so we are left to wonder: will this help or hurt Pitcher, or Colebrook? The Valley Voice, an acerbic online newsletter, posted a video calling Bailey the "town drunk" and saying he basically ambushed Colebrook. Your take?

 * ... DIGNITY HEALTH: Dignity Health, which operates the two local Mercy Hospitals and Memorial Hospital, is going to grow in a big way when it merges with Catholic Health Initiatives, creating a $28 billion health system giant with 700 facilities in 28 states. The deal was announced at the end of last year and is expected to close by the end of this year. CHI is based in Colorado and it operates 103 hospitals, including four academic health centers and major teaching hospitals. Dignity operates hospitals in California, Arizona and Nevada.

 * ... VAN BOENING: The pending merger may explain why Memorial President Jon Van Boening has just been promoted at Dignity, moving into a position making him responsible for the business operations of seven hospitals in Dignity's Central California service area. Van Boening, who has been president of Memorial since 2001, will retain an office in Bakersfield. Meanwhile a search has begun for a new president of Memorial Hospital.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "If anybody tells you you’re putting too much Parmesan on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don’t need that negativity in your life."

 * ... MCGAULEY: After 17 years as head of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Colleen McGauley is out as its director. No one is saying what really happened (there is a story there somewhere) but CASA said in a news release that McGauley is moving to a new position as senior advisor. Stay tuned.

 * ... GRIMMWAY: Hats off to the employees of Grimmway Farms who spent Saturday helping clean up the area around Lamont. More than 200 employee volunteers and their families pitched in to help clean parks, road and walkways throughout the community.

 * ... MEMORIES: Thanks to the Facebook page Kern County of Old for sharing this old photo of the Grapevine, then and now.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Work gets under way on the 24th Street widening, Candi Easter dies and did you know that more than 50 U2 spy planes were made right here in Oildale?

Friday, October 26, 2018

 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 news tips to

 * .. 24TH STREET: The widening of 24th Street has been decades in the making, and now after eight lawsuits and years of delays, the final construction phase is now under way. The city held a
ground breaking Thursday morning at the corner of 24th and Oak Street on the empty lot that once was used to sell pumpkins and Christmas trees. Now that houses on the north side of 24th have been razed and a brick sound wall erected, the next step is a sound wall on the south side near Oak and Beech Street, the widening of 24th between the Kern River and Beech and the widening of the northwest portion of Oak Street. It should all be done by spring 2020.

 * ... RIP CANDI: Candi Easter, the longtime head of the Kern County Democratic Party, has died after an extended illness. Easter stepped down from her party post a few years ago and has been in ill health for months. Services are pending.

 * ... U2 SPY PLANES: Did you know that the famous U2 spy plane was assembled right here in Bakersfield? That's right, according to retired Gen. James Whitehead the first 50 U2s were assembled at a secret Lockheed manufacturing facility on Norris Road in Oildale. The U2s were assembled there in 1956 and 1957. The planes were assembled there and flown to Nevada where they were flight tested in the military's super-secret Area 51 airfield.

 * ... DOWNTOWN EATERIES: If you don't live or work downtown, you might be missing a growing culinary trend toward mom and pop family owned restaurants devoted to healthy eating. The Locale Farm to Table across from the downtown Post Office started the trend, and now right down the street are a growing number of eateries: Rig City Coffee Roasting, Better Bowls and the Hen's Roost, home of the best vegan burger in town. Meanwhile, more local restaurants and bakeries are planned for the so-called Eastchester where the Smitten Cafe has enjoyed a gangbuster's business. If you haven't been downtown lately, it is worth your while.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Why are you showing me pictures of your kid if you have a dog?"

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

 * ... SPAY NEUTER: Hats off to a group of local pet rescue organizations for a successful day vaccinating more than 300 dogs this past weekend. Dozens of spay neuter vouchers were issued, pet food was provided for those in need and distemper vaccinations were administered at Heritage Park. Volunteers represented a number of organizations, including Bakersfield Boxers and Bullies Rescue, SafeFurr Place Animal Rescue, Cook's Veterinary Hospital, Bakersfield SPCA and the Bakersfield Pet Food Pantry. The event was funded by the Basic Needs Foundation. The next clinic will be held Nov. 11 at the same park.

 * ... MEMORIES: How many of you attended this Fleetwood Mac concert back in the day?

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Some random Facebook pictures of our world ... amazing sunsets and nature

 The world is a beautiful place, as witnessed by these pictures I lifted from the posts of some of my friends on Facebook. Enjoy these amazing shots.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Scientists are predicting a strong El Nino year in 2019, the effort to repeal the gas tax seems to be falling short and who knew that the original diet soda Tab had a cult-like following?

Monday, October 22, 2018

 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 news tips to

 * ... GAS TAX REPEAL: It looks like the attempt to repeal the gas tax (Proposition 6) is failing to
win broad support. That's the word from a new USC Dornsife/LA Times poll which revealed that 17 percent of California voters are undecided and nearly half are not familiar with the initiative. With the election just a couple weeks off, 41 percent of likely voters said they support Prop 6 or are leaning toward supporting it, while 42 percent are in opposition.

* ... EL NINO: The west, and California in particular, got some good news this week when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a bearish El Nino is in our future. If the El Nino arrives, we should experience some major storms and snowfall in the Sierra that California needs to replenish our aquifers. Harry Starkey, general manager of the West Kern Water District, said the El Nino effect will be "full blown" in 2019.

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Don’t you wish karma was like pizza and could be delivered in under 30 minutes?"

 * ... MAGGARD VERSUS HEINLE: One of the more interesting local races this year pits Supervisor Mike Maggard against city fireman Jeff Heinle. It started out ugly, things turned civil, and here in the stretch it is getting ugly again. I will be interviewing Heinle on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM on Tuesday and Maggard on Friday. Tune it to hear their closing arguments. The Richard Beene show runs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. daily on weekdays.

 * ... TAB SODA: Who remembers Tab, one of the original diet sodas introduced by Coca-Cola back in 1963. I thought the brand died years ago, but it turns out the soft drink as a cult-like following by people who will drive hundreds of miles to buy a six pack. After a major bottler discontinued it in a 14-state territory, Tab drinkers took to social media to demand that Coke make it available. Coca-Cola said it continues to bottle Tab, but it just isn't available everywhere.


 * ... MEMORIES: How cute is this? Thanks to the Facebook page Kern County of Old.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A collection of Elizabeth Warren memes... just for grins

Elizabeth Warren's bizarre claim of Cherokee ancestry has triggered a field day of memes on social media. Here are a few.