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Ceres’ nightmare is over with Mike Kline

On Aug. 9, 1974, Gerald Ford took the oath of office to become the 39th president upon the resignation of Richard Nixon. He said “our long national nightmare is over.”

I had a similar thought when Mike Kline was appointed to the empty council seat on Monday and promptly took the oath of office. Ceres’ nightmare scenario is over.

Untold drama and angst has been averted with the rescinding of the John Osgood appointment in favor of a seasoned and reasoned individual in Mike Kline. He truly has no enemies and has always conducted himself in a respectful manner. Kline also can hit the ground running hard when he attends his first meeting to get down to business on Monday.

With the council correcting its error and now complete, the council will hopefully begin repairing its damaged reputation.

Hopefully the voters will also learn a valuable lesson: Experience does matter.

* * * * *

Sometimes you hear some incredulous things at City Council meetings, things that leave you scratching your head and asking, “Whaaattttttt?”

Gene Yeakley, who ran unsuccessfully for Ceres City Council in 2015 and for the District 2 seat in 2018, is no stranger to council meetings, usually bringing an armload of complaints about lack of code enforcement, illegal dumping, loud music, signs and unlicensed peddlers.

I was astonished to see him get up at the Nov. 9 special City Council meeting advocating for the appointment of John R. Osgood III to the vacant District 4 council seat. After complaining that applicants Mohinder Kanda and Daniel Martinez hadn’t shown up at council meetings, he supported Osgood saying: “I believe that John Osgood would do a great job. You know, there’s a lot of people that feel differently but he’s studied, he’s well versed, he’s got his opinions to himself … but he gets to the point and a lot of those go by the codes and that’s what we need.”

At the next meeting 13 days later, the council rescinded the Osgood appointment after they were blasted for voting 3-1 to install him. Osgood was publicly eviscerated for many of the things he has said on his podcast and for his conduct at council meetings. The NAACP came to the meeting after the Bee publicized how Osgood flippantly used the “N-word” on a podcast. That’s all it took. The council did an about-face, this time voting 4-0 to ditch Osgood. It was pathetic how the council even considered Osgood in the first place; only shocked into reality by what newspapers had reported.

Yeakley got up to blast the council for appointing Osgood, the one he supported! “Evidently nobody did their studying at the last minute,” charged Yeakley. “I don’t condone some of the things (he said) 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 on not doing the right thing and finding out the information that you should have found out …”

Fine advice coming from someone who did no homework or vetting himself. He personally saw and heard how Osgood behaved at council meetings, which should have been enough to give him thumbs down.

* * * * *

Former Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Wall is undergoing his trial for voluntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of Evin Olsen Yadegar, co-owner of a Modesto eatery. The woman was shot to death in February 2017 in Ripon. The entire shooting was captured on police dash cam video. If you watch it you may arrive at the conclusion I’ve arrived at that Wall was not justified in shooting Yadegar.

You can see her car back up ever so slightly – it didn’t even look like it moved back one foot – and then steers to the right as it moves forward and as Wall aims his gun toward her body through the window and fires away.

Wall’s attorney, Paul Goyette, said Wall never perceived the Jetta moving forward. The video says otherwise. He’s actually shooting as the car is moving forward and to the right and he is chasing after it. No officers were in the path of the car as it moved forward. She is driving away from Wall and the officers. Everyone watching the video can clearly see the car is moving forward and yet Wall, who is facing the car from the side, couldn’t see it moving forward? Sounds like a story to me.

Also telling on the video is the response of the Ripon officer seen coming into view from the sidewalk, acting almost incredulously like what the hell just happened?

* * * * *

If you’re a normal human being who doesn’t believe stealing is justified under any circumstance, you’re shocked and dismayed by the wave of organized “smash-and-grab” robberies of stores in California. Thugs are storming stores just before closing time to steal as much merchandise as they can.

A mob of about 90 people arriving in 25 vehicles and wearing ski masks and holding crowbars stormed a Nordstrom location in Walnut Creek, where they stole six figures dollars’ worth of in goods. Employees were also pepper-sprayed, kicked, punched and assaulted with a knife.

On Nov. 15 in Concord, a group of nine entered the Iceberg Diamonds jewelry store inside Sunvalley Shopping Center, smashing glass display cases with hammers to steal valuables.

At the Southland Mall in Hayward, where eight to 10 individuals carrying sledgehammers entered Sam’s Jewelry late on a recent Sunday, smashed several jewelry cases, and fled carrying an unknown amount of loot.

In November more than $50,000 in merchandise was stolen from the Lululemon store in Santana Row and at the Westfield Valley Fair Mall into Santa Clara.

More than $1 million worth of items were stolen from stores in San Francisco’s Union Square. Five arrests were made in the Louis Vuitton robbery. Tamiko Miller and Jamisi Callaway were charged with stealing $6,000 worth of goods. Miller’s mom, Jackie Miller, said the two did “wrong” but she was disappointed her son suffered an eye and leg injury during his arrest.

Live stupid, suffer stupid is what I say. Maybe they shouldn’t be stealing, riding around with guns and trying to flee from police.

Ivan Speed was detained leaving Union Square. He was in possession of about $13,000 worth of stolen merchandise. Speed had previously spent 42 months in prison on a number of convictions including selling cocaine.

In Lakewood, about eight people entered the Home Depot there to steal approximately $400 worth of sledgehammers, hammers and crowbars – obviously to use on future smash-and-grabs. Police arrested four of the men, all members of the liberal’s favorite underclass community.

Last week a jewelry store robbery took place at the Del Amo Plaza Shopping center in Rancho Dominguez. In 12 seconds the robbers made off with tens of thousands of dollars in purloined goods.

In California you can thank Proposition 47, woke prosecutors and liberal lawmakers to take the blame.

Prop. 47 sounded like a horrible bad idea when I voted against it in 2014. It was billed as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” It was nothing of the sort. It should have been called “Steal up to $950 With No Consequences Act.”

San Francisco Police Officers Association President Tony Montoya said that the ACLU lied about 47. “Voters were told that prosecuting thieves was really a racist attack on people of color whose only real crime was poverty. So, Proposition 47 … lowered felonies to misdemeanors for theft of goods valued at $950 dollars or less.”

Most of California fell for that one, supporting Prop. 47 by a margin of 59.1 to 40.39 percent. No doubt the 59.1 percent were mostly Democrats. Then Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom supported Prop 47! So did the ACLU. No surprise there!

The real problem in California is the stupid voter – the voter who doesn’t think and who falls for expensive TV commercials without intelligently analyzing measures on the ballot. They also elect smooth politicians who helped to get us into this hot mess.

There are more causes for the problem.

Los Angeles police recently arrested 14 suspects in connection with 11 smash-and-grab robberies in the city in late November – but all 14 suspects are back on the street. The zero-bail program is to reduce jail population amid the coronavirus “pandemic.”

Los Angeles stores were struck 11 times between Nov. 18 and Nov. 28, costing the businesses about $338,000 in total stolen merchandise and more than $40,000 in total property damage.

If there are no consequences, look for it to happen again!

Then there are the “woke” prosecutors who feel like minority groups have had such a bad time getting ahead in a country – always known for its opportunities for those who use their talents and work hard – that it is up to wealthy corporations to pay up. The “pay up” is to allow the inner city thugs to steal whatever they want and let them get away with it.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association president says ACLU is “rolling out the red carpet for criminals.”

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp said, “If I were the San Francisco or Los Angeles DA, that would be the first call I would make, is to the U.S. Attorney’s office to prosecute these people federally because the laws in California are so weak that they don’t hold people accountable.”

Even Democrat State Senator Melissa Hurtado of Sanger is frustrated about the Legislature’s unwillingness to pass legislation to help close some of the loopholes of Prop. 47, saying: “We can’t even get up a good proposal or moderate proposal through some of these public safety committees, so I feel frustrated.”

And why does California keep electing the party that has caused the problem?

Makes you want to stay away from the Vintage Faire Mall this happy time of year.

* * * * *

The older you get the more you realize that some folks just have no conscience when they do wrong. Nor do they expect consequences for their actions.

Take career criminal Darrell Brooks Jr. for example. He’s the guy who shouldn’t have been out of jail on bail to plow his vehicle into a crowd at a Nov. 21 Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six and injuring dozens more.

“I just feel like I’m being [made out to be a] monster — demonized” and “dehumanized,” Brooks told Fox.

News flash: When you deliberately run people over in your car to kill and maim them, then you are a monster. It’s a well-deserved title.

* * * * *

Stanislaus County is sick of Gavin Newsom and voted to give him the boot. Unfortunately the big city voters decided they like his Nanny State style of governing.

His arrogance never ceases to anger me. In November Newsom said it’s time to start focusing on what’s right, and questioned where were the headlines that the state poverty rate dropped in 2020 from 16.2 to 12.3%. The Public Policy Institute of California reported that those numbers are right but found in reality poverty likely increased.

And lo and before, if gas prices are hurting us, the governor’s response is: “We’ve gotta disenthrall ourselves that we’ve got to be victims of petro politics. ... We have to accelerate our transition once and for all away from fossil fuels.”

He hasn’t said how we are going to get jumbo jets to fly at 550 mph on solar. Nor has he said how poor and middle-class families whose buying power is being stripped because of inflation, could ever afford an electric car. Nor has he explained how California’s fragile power system could support everyone charging their hybrid or all-electric vehicles.

Of course, Newsom would never do anything to help out struggling Californians by reducing the steep state taxes and fees on gas. In California a gallon of gas has a hidden $1.19 charge of taxes and fees. Inflation has gotten so out of control that even Democrats are waking up to the impact their high taxes have on ordinary consumers. Democrats outside California, that is. 

From Iowa to Florida to South Carolina, Democrats have called for suspending gas taxes to ease the burden of sky-high gas prices. 

California Democrats need to get inflation under control and end the price crisis that’s devastating family budgets.

* * * * *

I’m amused at the ways government can waste money.

An example: the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors spent $75,000 to contract with Moore & Associates of Valencia to come up with the new slogan and logo for the regional bus system. “Ride the S” was picked on Nov. 18, 2021, as the logo for the bus system following the merger of the Modesto Area Express and Stanislaus Regional Transit or StaRT.

Modesto City Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer, who might want to think about retiring now that she is 86, said, “Whoever came up with this ‘Ride the S’ is really clever.” Is it just me or does “Ride the S” sound patently ridiculous?

Now how much money is needed to paint all the buses?

* * * * *

Friday offered a foggy early commute for many in Stanislaus County. A woman who wanted to remain anonymous emailed saying: “Can you please do me a favor and run another article about the importance of turning on your headlights in the fog? On my way to work this morning through the rural area into Ceres there were at least six cars without their headlights on. How are we supposed to see them without their headlights? Visibility was down to less than one telephone pole ahead. Why can’t people think of others’ safety? Little tiny parking lights are useless and don’t count either.”

Some folks are unaware that they are riding around without their headlights but that is really no excuse. On Thursday evening I watched a driver pull out from a parking lot at a very dark 5 p.m. and she didn’t have her headlights on. (Go back to my paragraph about stupid voters for a reminder).

The odd thing is that the woman ended her email saying, “Please do not print my name in your article, I don’t want any retaliation from this.”

The fact that anybody would retaliate for stating obvious truth is all you need to know about social media being a public cesspool.

 This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or 209 Multimedia Corporation. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at