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Cities can’t just order up new businesses

It’s readily apparent that many residents have no grasp of how city government operates – or about its limitations.

I’m not sure who to blame for that – public apathy, the school system or just lack of interest on the part of the citizenry – but each time we publish a story about a new business being approved for a new shopping center, we hear this banter about how city officials are selling the city short.

Apparently there is always someone disappointed in the latest offering. I get that. Sometimes it seems like Ceres can never land that one business everyone is salivating over,

On our Facebook page last week regarding Tractor Supply being approved for the Ceres Gateway Center, a Tony Macc commented: “Cool but completely unnecessary and once again the city council fails to offer residents entertainment and dine in restaurants.”

Well, the city isn’t the one to offer entertainment venues and upscale dining establishment. That’s up to the private sector. All the city can do is zone for those uses.

Folks, the way it works if a business wants to come into Ceres and proposes a new building, it goes before the Planning Commission and City Council to see if the proposal jives with the zoning and architectural features the city wants to see. They usually approve these applications. The city cannot order a Chic-Fil-A or a Cracker Barrel or a Texas Roadhouse or a Target to locate in Ceres; that’s a business decision made by a corporation based on several factors, including demographics and disposable income of residents.

The city does have an economic development manager who makes an attempt to “sell” Ceres to businesses. But again, a business will not locate in Ceres if they don’t believe they can make it a profitable enterprise.

I go back to the true story of when Charlie Wood was working for the city during the Gary Napper days. Napper was the city manager then. Wood invited Applebee’s executive to check out Ceres on the city’s dime, ushered them around to available sites and tried to get them to open a restaurant in Ceres. Do you know what they did? They looked over the river and said to themselves privately, “Hmmm, now that’s a place we should be – Modesto.” So that’s how Applebee’s decided to build in Modesto along Highway 99 frontage.

You can lead a horse to water but can’t make them drink.

So then last week the public chatter went something like this: “Why not use the old Walmart building?” To which a knowledgeable Susan Borges replied: “Walmart owns that buildinghe city doesn’t not. They are not going to put a competitor in their own building.”

That’s correct. Besides, the old Walmart building is not in view of the freeway.

Then Travis Tschantz chimed in, writing, “they (Walmart) were supposed to have that building filled before new Walmart opened I don’t know what happened with that. Now just plywood over doors and a fence to keep homeless out.”

Incorrect, Travis. It would have been nice but, no, Walmart was not supposed to fill their old building before the Supercenter opened. Walmart only agreed to market a new tenant for their building and as everyone predicted, it was going to be a major task. The retail world has changed. If you buy from Amazon, I don’t want to hear you complain about a lack of brick-and-mortar retailers. Some businesses just cannot compete with Amazon hogging sales.

While folks say the old Walmart building would be great for some kind of indoor recreation or entertainment facility, nobody is coming forward to invest potentially millions of dollars to retrofit the building for such a use.

Besides, remember that Ten Pin Fun Center in Turlock is just 15 minutes away. That puts a big crimp in Ceres’ style.

* * * * *

The Academy Awards were Sunday and I could have cared less.

I can’t tell you the last time I went to see a movie in the theater.

Hollywood just doesn’t come up with anything I care to spend money to watch.

I find that most of the films today are regurgitated sequels with over-the-top Computer Generated special effects at the expense of a good plot. Super hero and fantasy movies are exceptionally unappealing. “Cocaine Bear,” really? Horny gay guys acting like impetuous teens with unbridled desires grabbing each other in “Bros”? You’ve lost me.

I have to agree with something that Mike Huckabee wrote on Feb. 8 about the theater industry suffering economically with all the bad productions and AMC Theaters facing big blowback over an idea to charge a three-tiered rate, with the best seats costing the most. Huckabee wrote: “They claim this will accommodate both patrons who value the best seating and those who prefer the best value. Actually, what it will do is tick off both and make more people watch movies at home. If they want people to go back to theaters, there’s a simple solution. Hollywood could stop making boring remakes and sequels to sequels filled with woke preaching and bring out more movies like ‘Top Gun: Maverick.’ They didn’t have any trouble selling tickets to that.”

* * * * *

Newsom – Governor Death if you will – continues to make my blood boil.

Last week the arrogant leader of the state declared war on Walgreens of all businesses because they won’t make it easier for women to kill their babies. He can’t even respect a business making a decision to abide by what is law in states that value life and not like California which promotes death.

Walgreens announced that its pharmacies won’t dispense the Mifepristone abortion pill in states where abortion is illegal and in several other states where there are minimal or no restrictions, including Alaska, Iowa, Kansas and Montana — because of the “complexity and flux of the laws.”

America has sacrificed babies to the tune of 60 million since 1973 when Rowe v. Wade was handed down. Isn’t that enough death, governor?

How about showing some concern for the women who’ve had abortions and whose consciences have been scarred by the act, governor.

Ever the bully you are, Newsom, you inappropriately wield the power of state government to pressure Walgreens to comply with a view many in your state and this nation do not share. Your attack on traditionally held values is disturbing, but what’s new? You routinely display your disdain for conservatives and people of faith in a way that is over-the-top disregard. But you are the most arrogant governor the likes of these 50 states have ever seen in recent times.

Gov. Death is so out of step with many Americans that I hope he is burying any possibilities of him being president one day. God help us if the country continues to ignore truths and vote in ways that are destroying our nation.

* * * * *

I’m absolutely convinced that San Francisco city officials are certifiably insane.

This from AP yesterday: “Payments of $5 million to every eligible Black adult, the elimination of personal debt and tax burdens, guaranteed annual incomes of at least $97,000 for 250 years and homes in San Francisco for just $1 a family.”

Won’t happen. Can’t happen. And if they try, there needs to be a recall of everyone who supports that notion. But we all know that Newsom – who supports forcing people who have never been slave owners to pay people who have never been slaves – survived a recall that he deserved.

It is estimated that everyone in that city who isn’t black would have to pay at least $600,000 in taxes.

Elections have consequences.

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