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.

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