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Sound Off! calls published on Sept. 2, 2009
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• The rights of the press

I'm a former daily newspaper reporter (I worked for the Modesto Bee for nearly 14 years until last September). Kudos to you (Jeff) for writing about your experience ("Officers violated this newspaper man's rights" published Aug. 26). All law enforcement officers need to know that journalists cannot be arbitrarily barred from doing their job of reporting the news. I imagine that you'll get comments from readers who will argue that reporters "shouldn't get special treatment" and how your taking pictures at the scene was an invasion of the accident victims' privacy. A free press is not a privilege in our society; it is a right.

• No sympathy for the editor

Sorry, no sympathy from me. One picture of mangled cars is enough; no pictures of bodies being extracted are necessary. Suck it up, this wasn't a public emergency situation and as such did not require a front page write-up. Sad for those involved and their families, but just news for everyone else. The officer was out-of-line, but your anger is entirely overblown for the situation. As a USPS employee, the mail carrier has the right-of-way over all emergency vehicles, but we are never to assert this right-of-way.

You say you were out of the way, maybe you were, maybe you weren't, but once again your anger and fury is entirely out of proportion to the incident. Were you in the right? Probably, but when an officer tells you to do something, do it. Too many people today feel they are too important or above status and don't need to follow the police/sheriff's orders. Obviously, you were able to cover the story, so take a step back and a deep breath and get over yourself.

• Thoughts about business here

I have lived in Ceres for 25 years and being a part of the community is very important to me. I want the best for our schools and our kids. I want to support our local businesses and preserve a quality of life of small town USA.

I remember the time when Ceres was made up of hard-working families that everyone knew who everyone was. Ceres High football games on Friday night, parades down Whitmore, a volunteer fire department and a feeling of security even though Ceres has never been a wealthy community. I am very frustrated with the direction our city is going. Is our city planning so hungry for revenue that they overlook the long-term investment of what Ceres will evolve into? We are a city of vacant strip malls, mini storages and Mexican food restaurants, (no offense, I love Mexican food). I recognize our Hispanic culture is a large part of what makes up our city but I don't want Ceres to turn into Crows Landing Road. Give us some credit we have diversified cultures here. Most families' largest investments are their homes and what surrounds us is what will keep our values up.

Here is a thought: Diversify our business. Quit building strip malls that stay vacant.

Support the businesses that are here already; don't bring in more competition for them.

Rejuvenate downtown. Give incentives for new businesses to occupy downtown buildings.

Limit types of businesses that come here. Ceres can only support so many grocery stores (lets keep them here).

We don't need more Mexican restaurants; maybe give incentive to open up a Italian restaurant, a restaurant with an atmosphere for the high school youth that young families can afford and enjoy.

I appreciate that this is the most difficult time to make decisions with our economy but the city planning is making decisions for the city that will effect generations.

One last comment; If you bring Walmart Supercenter here you are putting every small business out of business. Forget about planning anything else. Ceres will be Walmart, a post office and remnants of what used to be.

Does anyone have any suggestions for the city planning to promote a better future for the Ceres community?

• DA protecting citizens

The DA's office is clearly protecting the county from allowing criminals from patroling our streets. I feel Ceres Police are seriously violating people's civil rights, and unless drastic changes in the police practices are enforced by the top level management staff, then the city will go broke from class action, and individual civil suits to protect people's rights. When the facts are shared, the public will see this officer not only shouldn't get his job back, but the DA's office, and the Ceres Police Department need to work jointly to identify those silent victims that this officer help prosecute prior to being placed on the Brady List. It's much easier to achieve police results when officers use wild card quotes to pull anyone over (i.e. "your vehicle matched the description of a car we were trying to locate," "your clothes match the description of an individual we are looking for" or simply offering no excuse) while searching people and their vehicles with no true probable cause.

A bill needs to be passed that would require an officer provide a report number of the suspect(s) they were looking for, or be open to civil prosecution for illegal search and seizure, and civil rights violations.