Following significant public outcry over his conduct at past meetings and remarks made on his podcast, the Ceres City Council on Monday voted unanimously to rescind its earlier appointment of John R. Osgood III to the vacant District 4 council seat.
The Osgood appointment, made two weeks ago, drew fire from both the Ceres Courier and Modesto Bee editorial board. The newspapers called attention to controversial remarks made by Osgood. Mayor Javier Lopez, who provided the swing vote on Nov. 9 to break a 2-2 tie in support Osgood, announced he wanted to reconsider that decision. Agreeing to reconsider the appointment were James Casey and Linda Ryno who on Nov. 9 voted in favor of Osgood’s appointment. Vice Mayor Bret Silveira was the lone vote in opposition of Osgood’s appointment.
Osgood was noticeably absent at Monday’s council meeting which drew a number of his critics.
Over the weekend the Bee published an editorial slamming Osgood for his use of the “n-word” on his podcast, Forgotten Liberty Radio. The report brought swift condemnation from Wendy Byrd, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) who played a Feb. 8 audio excerpt of Osgood’s podcast where he repeatedly used the phrase “dumb b-----d” and the n-word.
“The NAACP raises the question about the appointment of any elected official who practices hatred, bigotry, misogyny and racist terminology which makes specific ethnic and gender groups feel demeaned,” said Byrd.
She said while Osgood “did raise some good points about city governance, it appears that he still lacks the temperament, cultural sensitivity, character and political judgment to be in a position of authority.”
Samuel White said Osgood’s language is divisive and inflammatory.
“I heard what he said,” said White of Osgood. “I listened to that podcast and he said the n-word was part of community slang. I would look at any of you up there and say, is that part of your culture of community slang? I think not. I think not.”
In rescinding the appointment, the council decided to discuss a direct appointment at a special meeting set for 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 6. The council has until Dec. 10 to decide how to fill the vacancy or face a special election.
Mayor Lopez suggested offering the empty seat to former Councilman Mike Kline who lost his re-election bid in the November 2020 election to Couper Condit. Condit served in the District 4 seat for 10 months before suddenly resigning on Oct. 11. Condit still has not offered an explanation for quitting. Ryno suggested she could support Kline and forego another round of applicants.
Kline, who did not apply for the appointment earlier this month, told the Courier yesterday that he would accept an appointment for the interim until the next election.
On Nov. 8 the council was deadlocked 2-2 in appointing Daniel Martinez and then Osgood. Applicant Mohinder Kanda was not considered. After expressing a desire to avoid an expensive special election, on Nov. 8 reluctantly agreed to support Osgood. The council voted 3-1 with Silveira casting the lone no vote.
On Monday Lisa Mantarro Moore praised the NAACP for showing up “speaking their truth and being very clear and concise in their comments.”
Renee Ledbetter renounced her Nov. 9 support of appointing Osgood “in light of everything that has come out.”
“I had not known anything about Mr. Osgood that was brought to light in the Modesto Bee or the Ceres Courier and I am very offended by his actions and hope that you do consider rescinding this appointment. I do not as a constituent of District 4 want him representing my district nor do I want him representing the city of Ceres.”
Ceres resident John Warren suggested reopening the application process again to see if somebody new will apply.
“I believe this item has caused quite a stir in the community and there may be some more interest in the District 4 seat,” said Warren, who on Nov. 9 supported Osgood’s bid to be on the council.
Gene Yeakley, who was earlier supportive of Osgood’s appointment, on Monday chided the council for not properly vetting him.
“Eventually nobody did their studying at the last minute,” charged Yeakley. “I don’t condone some of the things but I’m bright enough to know that I think you, the City Council, failed the city because you shouldn’t have got us this far …. You should have the shame for not doing the right thing …”
Raymond Rodriguez mentioned how Osgood in May chastised Mayor Lopez for speaking to Ceres mother Sonya Ruiz in Spanish at a council meeting.
“His character is not good for the community,” said Rodriguez. “He showed his character that he’s bigoted, vile, spewing bigoted garbage.”