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"Sound Off!" calls published on March 5, 2008
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• Not all get pay increase

I keep reading in "Sound Off!" from people who claim they are concerned parents and warning that the school district had better not cut teachers and support staff. Why am I suspicious that these callers are actually employees who are afraid of their jobs being cut?

Let's face it, the bulk of school district money goes to salaries. If there are cuts, they need to be in the area of jobs.

If I was a school district employee, I wouldn't be complaining about not getting pay increases. At least you have a job. Some of us don't get raises. Why not start tying in wage hikes to performance like the rest of the world does?

• In defense of Jeff and Courier

I would like to respond in "Sound Off!" to the reader who kind of took a pot shot at you for being so conservative and wants other perspectives in the Courier. If you, Mr. Reader want liberal perspectives all you have to do is read the other 75 percent of the newspapers in this country or listen to NBC, CBS, ABC, CNBC, CNN, etc. I promise you, you will get all the liberal dribble your heart's desire. For myself, and I think I speak for the majority of others who live in Ceres, I think it's refreshing to find a newspaper man like Jeff Benziger who is not afraid to speak from a conservative point of view.

And to the other reader who thinks that all of our problems have been caused by the so-called "Christian right," it might interest you to know, sir, that there is no such thing as the "Christian right." We haven't moved from our position in 2000 years. It is the liberals who have moved so far to the left that it makes it appear we have moved. But if you think that it is the decency, the morals, the pro-life stand to protect innocent babies who can't speak for themselves, the desire to do away with the hideous practice of partial-birth abortion, that Christians stand for, that is the BIG problem in this country, then you, sir, are the one with the problem.

• Bravo, Jeff, for your opinion

Regarding the recent letter to "Sound Off!" entitled, "Same old right-wing diatribe," we say bravo Jeff, keep up the good work. We look forward to Wednesdays because we know something other than the same old liberal left-wing diatribe will hit our doorstep.

Your column is refreshing, and a wonderful change from the same ole' blah-blah-blah we get in the editorial pages of the Bee or any other mainstream media, print or otherwise.

Lately, for example, I don't know if I am reading about a presidential campaign, or if I am on the pages of the Hanna Montana Fan Club when it comes to Barack Obama.

We really appreciate your opinions and most often agree. If the writer wants to read second and third opinions from the left, he will find plenty in the Bee; there's not much "old right-wing diatribe" there.

• Why have to fight for a COLA?

Regarding what's going on in the Ceres school district, the cost of living allowance, or COLA, as it's better known, is just that: A cost of living allowance. It is not a raise or an increase in salary for a job well done. It's given to state employees and those on Social Security to allow for the cost of inflation. The COLA this year was 4.53 percent. COLAs automatically given by the state and to the senior citizens on Social Security and they do not have to barter or negotiate to receive their COLA. The administrators and confidential staff at our Ceres Unified School District did not have to negotiate or beg for their COLA. They received their increase on July 1, 2007. Why then do the certificated and classified employees have to bed and barter/negotiate what is rightfully theirs? They have yet to receive their COLA and as a parent of a CUSD student, I am appalled and embarrassed at this injustice. Shame on you, board and Dr. Hanline, for taking care of your administrative staff and not caring for those closest to the students. As they so often remind us, it is supposed to be about the children. Ain't that correct?

• Keyes voter balks at new tax

I'm calling to complain in regards to the town of Keyes. They think they're fooling all these people by sending out a map and telling them you're in this area and your taxes will be raised in the year of 2008-09, $159.58 if we vote this in to assess, which is putting in a water filtration system and having curbs, not sidewalks and trying to fix our streets. Well, years ago we were promised money from the tobacco tax to fix our streets and put in curbs and sidewalks. That money was spent.Then when they put in the new school and put in the new Bonita Ranch Park, that was supposed to be taken care of and maintained by Bright Development, which now they're trying to put off on the taxpayers. We pay enough taxes already and we don't have sidewalks and yet they're promising us again just curbs and new streets.

And in the new subdivision, I don't know what they're trying to do (lower theirs) but if they can afford big houses like that, they can afford to pay more money. This is getting ridiculous. Besides, after they put in the park, they tore up the street and had the street blocked off for five to six months and they put in that water treatment filtration system already. So here they're trying to get taxes and telling us they're going to put this in when it's already in! People in Keyes, wake up! Do you want to pay $159.58 more per year on your taxes? If you do, then vote yes.

(Editor's note: The proposed assessment is for the ongoing maintenance and operation of the storm drainage system, not for capital costs. The Stanislaus County Redevelopment Agency is funding a $17 million project to install curbs and gutters in Keyes designed to reduce localized flooding during storms and channel stormwater to an existing filtered storm drainage system at Bonita Ranch Park. The redevelopment funding is also paying for the overlay of streets in Keyes and matching paveout to new gutters.

It's proposed that with the improvements, all residents should pay for the costs of the system's maintenance since all will receive benefit, not just those who bought homes in the newest neighborhoods of Keyes.

Those with questions may contact Raul Mendes with the Stanislaus County Chief Executive Officer's office, at 525-6333.)

• Too much time off in schools?

Do kids in the Ceres Unified School District ever go to school? They were off a whole week last month, for what reason I do not know. Now I find out that for spring break they are taking off six weekdays, from Friday, March 21 and come back March 31. What gives?

Why do these teachers and classified staff complain about their pay all the time? They get so much time off. The real world doesn't get that kind of time off.

• Latinos need to get up to speed

I have to get this off my chest because I am so tired of the media slant on the news. My beef is with this Friday front page Modesto Bee headline: "Latinos hit hard by mortgage crisis."

What does race have to do with losing your house? I mean, aren't whites and blacks and all kinds of people who overextended themselves losing their houses? Why make race a factor? Are they trying to say that there is something with the Latino brain that they think and behave differently than non-Latinos? I would be ticked if I was a Latino, for the implications of the story.

Look. If you're losing your house it's probably because you got into a house you could not afford nor should have stuck out your necks for.