Friday, January 12, 2018

City firefighter Jeff Heinle challenges Supervisor Mike Maggard. Will the question of regulating marijuana be enough to elevate Heinle's candidacy? And check this out: there is some good news in the fight against cancer

Friday, January 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. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes (good form, bad form, kids doing well, anniversaries, observations) to

 * ... MAGGARD VS HEINLE: Hold onto your seats but it looks like we have a doozy of a race coming up when Supervisor Mike Maggard faces off against city firefighter Jeff Heinle in the 3rd District county supervisor's race. Maggard has already come out swinging, implying Heinle will bring "Bay Area values" to more conservative Kern County, and he also accused Heinle as being a front man for pro marijuana interests. And even worse, Maggard claims fellow Supervisor Leticia Perez and her husband, consultant Fernando Jara, may also be conspiring against him. For the record, Heinle was born in the Bay Area but moved here as a teenager and has served 27 years as a city firefighter, hardly a carpet bagger. Heinle also took issue with Maggard on two important issues: he said he would support the regulation and sale of marijuana and he would have supported the Rudnick proposal to build a concert venue off Interstate 5.

 * ... THE POT VOTE: The real question in the Maggard-Heinle race will be this: to what extent did Maggard injure himself by voting against regulating and taxing marijuana when the county faces such a huge budget deficit? I think Maggard and the other supervisors were stunned by the blowback on social media by people of all ages, incomes and races after the Supervisors chose not to regulate cannabis. This much is true: there is a huge number of people (doctors, lawyers, veterans, business people) who support the legalization of marijuana because they recognize is it a relatively benign natural drug and its taxation could greatly help our community. The backlash is real. Will it be enough to elevate Heinle's candidacy? We will see.

 * ... CANCER: Are you ready for some good news on cancer? I posed that query to Dr. Ravi Patel, chief oncologist at the Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center who appeared on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM this week. And indeed there is some good news. It turns out total deaths from cancer have dropped 25 percent since 1991, mostly because more people are giving up smoking. And if you want to reduce your chances of getting cancer, keep your weight down. Patel said it also turns out that 35 percent of all cancers are linked to obesity.

 * ... ECONOMIC WOES: Every year the Milkin Institute surveys the nation's largest metro area and rates them in terms of economic growth. The best performing large metro area? That would be Provo, Utah, which has become a technology hotbed. Following Provo were Raleigh, N.C., and Dallas. The worst performing metro area? You guessed it: Bakersfield. We fell from 59 last year to 101 this year. Said Milkin: "One of the largest oil producing counties was hit by the crude downtown a few years ago and employment still hasn't fully recovered."

 * ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "Optimistic people want to hear the bad news first, while pessimists ask for the good. Realists just start drinking."

 * ... GOOD FORM: Local combat veteran Christopher Quinones believes in karma, so when a cashier accidentally gave him an extra $10 in gas than he paid for, he reminded her of her error. "But I couldn’t let it happen so I had to go back in and tell her what she did because I believe highly in karma. Then she says 'let me find out how God is going to bless you today!'"

 * ... BAD FORM: There are few things worse than bad grammar and misspellings when you are in the communications and marketing business. One repeat offender is the Downtown Business Association whose newsletter regularly contains misspellings and bad grammar. In its latest missive, it confused "your" and "you are." The DBA needs to learn to spell or hire a copy editor.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jeffrey Green is out at Grimmway Farms as general counsel, City Manager Alan Tandy has no plans to retire and the Silver Fox teams up with Salty's BBQ to serve lunch

Wednesday, January 10, 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. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes (good form, bad form, kids doing well, anniversaries, observations) to

 * ... ALAN TANDY: City Manager Alan Tandy says his top three priorities this year will be dealing with a budget crisis, completing the transportation infrastructure projects like the 24th Street widening and the Centennial Corridor, and funding the police department to fight crime. Tandy also told me, during a wide ranging interview on KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM, that at 69 years old he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

 * ... GRIMMWAY: It looks like longtime general counsel Jeffrey Green is out at Grimmway Farms. The privately owned company is not talking about what happened, but I have confirmed that Green's long tenure with the carrot company is over. Green worked for Grimmway for 27 years and he told me is now figuring out the next step forward. Green is married to District Attorney Lisa Green, who has announced she will not run for reelection.

 * ... SILVER FOX: The Silver Fox Starlite Lounge, which recently reopened after an extensive renovation, is partnering with Salty's BBQ to provide food service. According to Rod and Julie Crawford, the Starlite's owners, Salty's will be serving from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. It all starts next Monday, Jan. 15.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "There's water falling from the sky in Los Angeles. Grab your gluten-free, vegan, certified organic supplies, and take cover!"

* ... TAXES: All those tax and fee hikes passed by the California legislature are starting to show up in our lives. Chris Padham is one who noticed the new fees when he went to the DMV to renewal his motorcycle registration. Check this out: "Just paid the registration fee on my 16 year old motorcycle. Last year was $109, this year $148. And I have three more vehicles coming up. A good thing the economy is picking up so I can afford the privilege of paying for the crazy train, and public transportation and without a doubt the general fund. Who knows, maybe even some left over to improve the roads:"

 * ... BAD FORM: I won't name names, because that is besides the point, but I was alerted to perhaps one of the worst examples of bad form that I have seen in a long time. It turns out two 10 year olds were friends and one was mildly developmentally disabled. When the disabled child returned home after spending the night with his friend, he carried a note from his friend's mother. In it, the mother proclaimed the friendship was off because the disabled child liked cartoons that the mother deemed "too young" for her son, as well as the fact the disabled child occasionally shook his hands involuntarily. She said she didn't want her son picking up those habits so the disabled child was no longer welcome. This left me speechless. How about this mom: you should celebrate your son befriending someone with special needs. It may teach him patience, empathy and understanding and at the end of the day make him a better person. Shame on you, mom.

 * ... RIDGE ROUTE: Did you know that Ulysses S. Grant Jr., one of two sons of the famous ex president and Union Civil War general, died at the Sandberg Summit Hotel on the old Ridge Route that connected Los Angeles and Bakersfield? Grant had come west and settled in San Diego, speculating in real estate and building a hotel, and was staying at the Sandberg when he died in September of 1929 at the age of 77. The Sandberg was located just south of Gorman and was a favorite haunt for the rich and famous on their way to and from Los Angeles.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Bakersfield Observed is now online only. Today's topics: Super PAC enters the fray behind the local marijuana vote, just how responsive are our city council members and Supervisor Mike Maggard's office shows some class

 Monday, January 8, 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. We value your feedback. Email your news and notes (good form, bad form, kids doing well, anniversaries, observations) to

 * ... BALLOT INITIATIVE: Keep an eye on that ballot initiative to put the question of marijuana before Kern County voters. First, the Political Action Committee (PAC) pushing the measure is well
funded by outside interests who see Kern County as an ideal place to cultivate cannabis for the Los Angeles market. And make no mistake about it, this has nothing to do with the retail sale of pot but rather big money investors who are salivating over our ability to grow, package and distribute marijuana, much as we do pistachios, grapes and almonds. Word is this could be the same money that is behind those "Mad Mike Maggard" radio advertisements attacking the supervisor for voting against regulating marijuana in Kern.

 * ... WHO IS LISTENING: I ran into a retired Bakersfield elementary school teacher the other day who shared that she began using medicinal marijuana after brain surgery. "I called (city councilman) Ken Weir because I live in his district, and I even wrote him a note telling him how it (marijuana) has helped me. He never called me back. So I called Andres Gonzales (Ward 2 councilman) because I knew him when he served on the school board. Same thing. Never got back to me. And I even worked on his campaign." Both Weir and Gonzales voted against the regulation or sale of medicinal cannabis in Bakersfield.

 * ... FLU SEASON: It seems like just about everyone in town is sick with the flu, or at least flu like symptoms, and it's a strain that puts folks down for two solid weeks. How bad is it this year? In Ventura, a friend received a call from Kaiser with a prerecorded, “widely broadcast” message warning that wait times in all ERs and Urgent Care facilities are very long right now. In other words, "don’t even think about coming in." Meanwhile here locally, doctors at Preferred Family Care on Truxtun say this is one of the worst flu seasons ever.

 * ... SIGNS: Have you seen the signs that pranksters put up on the "Welcome to California" posts along the state lines? They read: "Official sanctuary state. Felons, illegals and MS13 Welcome! Democrats need the votes!"

 * ... LOCAL HISTORY: Are you a history buff? Ever wonder what the city of Bakersfield looked like before the 1952 earthquake? Or what a sleepy little burg it was before Interstate 5 connected us with Los Angeles. On Wednesday, January 17, I will host local historian David Kelley on my radio show (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) to chat about the old Ridge Route and the grand hotels that lined the winding, dangerous road. It was a favorite retreat for the Hollywood elites, yet today little evidence is left. Tune in at 1:30 p.m. for a fascinating interview.

 * ... MAGGARD: Hats off to Supervisor Mike Maggard's office for being responsive to its constituents. A resident of La Cresta, upset at the overflowing trash bins on Panorama Bluffs, complained to Maggard's office and the next day the park was spruced up. Said the resident: "We may disagree on the marijuana issue but his staff is great with stuff like this," she said.

 * ... TYRONE WALLACE: Another Kern County kid heads to the pros. Tyrone Wallace, a former Bakersfield High School standout who later went to Cal Berkeley, has signed a contract to play for the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA. Wallace played with the a D-League affiliate in Salt Lake City before signing with the Clippers. Wallace scored his first NBA points with the Clippers this week.