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.

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