Thursday, April 12, 2018

Patriarch of a prominent Delano table grape company is gunned down and killed, former House Speaker John Boehner joins a multi-state marijuana company board and the race for sheriff heats up

Friday, April 13, 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

 * ... RIP JAKOV DULCICH: What has our world come to when an 85-year-old farmer is gunned
down in cold blood on crisp morning? The victim was Jakov Dulcich, patriarch of Dulcich and Sons, a Delano-based table grape company known for its "pretty lady" grapes. No one knows for sure what happened - road rage? disgruntled employee? gang violence? -  but Dulcich was left dead by the side of the road. Police say they are looking for an Hispanic man in his 20s, who apparently had an altercation with another motorist shortly after Dulcich was shot. Stay tuned.

 ... MARIJUANA: So does it really surprise anyone that former House Speaker John Boehner has changed his tune on marijuana and has joined a company that is now producing it? Boehner was once a strong opponent of pot and - like Attorney General Jeff Sessions - worked hard to keep it classified as a dangerous drug. Yet now, he announces he is joining the board of advisers at Acreage Holdings, a multi-state cannabis business that aims to "make cannabis available to any patient who can  benefit from safe and reliable access." Times have changed.

 * ... JUSTIN FLEEMAN: The race to unseat Sheriff Donny Youngblood started off dirty, and we can expect more mud to sling. Justin Fleeman, who has been a Kern County deputy since 1998, appeared on my radio show (KERN NewsTalk 96.1 FM) to explain why he believes Youngblood has failed. "He's not around," Fleeman said, "he doesn't get around to speak to the deputies. He has become too political." On the issues, Fleeman said he is sympathetic to medicinal marijuana because his late father benefitted from it, but he will abide by the wishes of the Board of Supervisors to ban its sale locally. Fleeman  thinks he will need up to $200,000 (the limit) to unseat Youngblood, who he describes as "a nice guy" who "lost his way. It's time for him to go."

 * ... BAD FORM: So did you hear about the 29-year-old guy who was arrested for slashing literally dozens of tires around Garces Memorial High School this week? Remember this name: Joey Head, arrested for a bizarre series of tire slashing in broad daylight while people filmed him doing so. One friend said as many as 70 vehicles were vandalized on the streets surrounding Garces.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "There are over 4 million workplace injuries reported every year. Play it safe…call in sick tomorrow."

 * ... SPOTTED ON FACEBOOK: "Now that I am officially pushing 50, I've noticed that words and colloquialisms have new meanings. For example, 'Getting Lucky,' is now defined as being able to quickly locate my car in a parking lot."

 * ... RIP DANA: The oldest daughter of the late Merle Haggard has died at the age of 61. Dana Haggard, born in 1957 to Merle and his first wife, Leona Hobbs, died in Arkansas of an undisclosed illness. Dana was also a musician and toured with her brother Marty and the Driftwood Band. For a time, she sang in her father's bad, The Strangers.

 * ... NEWS NOTES: Congratulations to Grimmway Farms President and CEO Jeff Huckaby who has been appointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture by Gov. Jerry Brown.... Lots of early good reviews for the Tower Craft Grill that opened in the old Bell Tower Club church on Truxtun.... The Studio Movie Grill opens this week, offering a robust lineup of full meals and drinks along with the movie ... Remember that District Attorney candidates Scott Spielman and Cynthia Zimmer will face off in a debate at CSU Bakersfield next Thursday at the Walter Stiern library. Seating is limited ...

 * ... MEMORIES: Check out this picture of the old Union Avenue Plunge, courtesy of the Facebook page Kern County of Old.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A CSU Bakersfield economics professor looks into the causes of obesity in Bakersfield, street improvement projects cause chaos on our local roads and more warnings about this IRS scams

 Monday April 9, 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

 * ... OBESITY: Why do areas like Kern County have such a high rate of obesity? Dr. Richard
Gearhart, an economics professor at CSU Bakersfield, believes it could be because Kern County is an area with a "resource curse." Among other things, that means we rely heavily on resources like oil that provide hourly and shift work jobs, and in those types of jobs, employees tend to eat on the run, use more fast food and put on the excess pounds. "So as oil prices rise," he told me, "you would expect" the rates of obesity to rise as well.

 * ... RETAIL: The new Texas Roadhouse restaurant opens Monday next to Valley Plaza Mall, and I am hearing early good reviews. One friend attended during a VIP dinner this past weekend and said the prime rib and ribeye steaks were outstanding, but expect a lot of enthusiasm from the staff (as in impromptu line-dancing for the guests.) Also, remember when Target left its old location on Wible and Ming and how the shopping center went to hell? Well there is a new anchor tenant - Furniture City - and the place is clean and inviting. Check it out.

* ... MARIJUANA: Our Board of Supervisors and City Council may have turned thumbs down on marijuana but it bucks a national trend showing an overwhelming majority of adults support it - at least in its medicinal form. A survey by the National Poll on Health Aging shows that while only six percent of older adults currently use cannabis, four out five Americans between the ages of 50 and 80 support medical marijuana if a doctor recommends it. Only 13 percent would definitely say no to cannabis. The survey also reported that 40 percent support allowing marijuana use for any reason and that two-thirds say the government should do more to study the herb’s health effects.

 * ... TRAFFIC: The city of Bakersfield is simultaneously working on several major road improvement projects at some of our busiest intersections, and it is a mess out there. The intersection of Truxtun and Oak is being widened, and it is absolute gridlock at almost any hour of the day as Truxtun is taking down to one lane headed east into downtown. In-bound traffic on the Westside Parkway is sometimes backed up to Mohawk during rush hour. Add to that the 24th Street widening, and the soon to be project at Oak and 24th, and we are in for a world of hurt for a long while. My advice: avoid Oak and Truxtun at all costs.

* ... SPOTTED ON TWITTER: "The dinner date fell apart when strangers from surrounding tables started yelling out she could do better."

 * ... MORE TWITTER: "You know when your dinners have glasses instead of red cups, you are officially grown up."

 * .. IRS SCAM: I thought everyone had been warned about the IRS scams where someone calls pretending to be from the IRS and demands money. Well, not everyone, and in this case it was a 30ish local teacher who was the victim. I will not use his name to spare him the embarrassment, but it happened recently when he fell for a scam that cost him $6,000. He was at a local high school when he received a call telling him he had committed tax fraud and to avoid arrest, he had to wire money immediately. "They said that if I didn't comply, the local police department would call me with a warrant for my arrest, upon which I would be incarcerated for 72 hours and have an $85,000 fine. These people were not stuttering. They all had an accent from India. I should have known. But when they yell at you for questioning them, and you hang up the phone, and you immediately receive a call on your phone that reads: Bakersfield Police Department--you begin to think--uh oh...This is real! And so I followed all of their orders." He was told to go to a local pharmacy and buy Google Play gift cards, which he did, all the while having the "IRS agent" on speaker phone.  "In the end, I was scammed out of 6,500 dollars," he said. "Fortunately, the credit card company voided the 4,500. But Kern Schools being a checking account--I lost two grand. Such. An. Idiot. But these people, the longer you stay on the line with them, the more you begin to question your own intuition."

 * ...MEMORIES: Who remembers the motorcycle hill climbs out at Hart Park? Check out this old photo courtesy of the Kern County of Old Facebook page.