Visibly absent from the Ceres Street Faire parade were members of the Ceres City Council who showed up at the parade lineup and were signed up to be the seventh in line. But they didn't have a ride. In years past the council has always ridden aboard a fire engine.
Mayor Chris Vierra said there was "probably just a little miscommunication. In the past, I'm not sure who has made arrangements for us to have a ride. We were always just told to be down there and somebody took care of it. It's always been a fire engine so I can only speculate the ways things are going but I don't know."
You see, the council has been talking about cuts or adjustments to fire services as it crafts its 2017-18 city budget.
I did not, however, that an older fire engine was provided for Parade Grand Marshal Sid Long to ride on.
Without a ride, members of the City Council left and went down to the Street Faire.
It's probably a good thing. It would be poor optics to ride on a half-million dollar fire engine down a parade route at a time when cuts are being considered. The city is staring at a budget deficit of $1 million to $2 million.
There's been lots of talk about retooling the way Ceres does fire business to save money. Lots of people question why roll out large and very expensive pieces of equipment out to be worn out attending to medical aid calls. In the last council election, even former council candidate Don Cool was questioning the wisdom of that practice.
The council is considering turning over fire services to Stanislaus Consolidated and/or Modesto Fire departments.
The budget will be discussed Monday at a special workshop at the Ceres Community Center. You can bet lots of fire personnel will be present.
* * * * *
I was at a beach in Half Moon Bay on Sunday afternoon, April 30, enjoying a gorgeous summer-like day. As usual, the beach was populated with lots of families. Two little girls got into a personal tiff about 10 feet away with sand being the ammunition of choice. Mom, who was sunning herself face down on a blanket, finally took note of what was happening and intervened. She stopped it promptly.
It got me thinking. Moms and Dads are a lot like police officers, agents of enforcing the laws to preserve peace and life and limb. The little girls could have ended up with grains of sand in the eye and damaged corneas. Mom stopped things before they or someone else got hurt. So is mom an agent for good? This one was.
Today's arrogant generation, operating under a "new enlightment" that they know better than every generation since the dawn of man, has done its best to make authority the enemy. They attack police as the villains of society and have bent the rules so much that, in some cases, criminal behavior is almost excused - a human right, if you will - and sometimes justified.
* * * * *
Today's generation tries reinventing everything. Apparently they've redefined the term "hunger strike."
A group of Yale University grad students decided they would engage in a hunger strike to pressure administrators into granting better union benefits.
According to a pamphlet posted on Twitter by a former Yale student, the hunger strike is "symbolic" and protesters can leave and get food when they can no longer go on.
And to think Cesar Chavez believed in his cause so much that in 1988 he went without eating for 35 days and lost 30 pounds until he was urged by others to stop. It caused health problems that ultimately led to his death.
So apparently the libs think you can eat during a hunger strike.
Wow, what conviction. They want their cake and eat it too.
* * * * *
Some people are desperately wicked and probably don't deserve to live. That sounds harsh, but not when you hear about the case being tried in Phoenix. Sammantha Lucille Rebecca Allen, 28, and husband John Michael Allen, 28, go to trial in August for the July 2011 death of Ame Deal, 10. Because she allegedly took a popsicle, Ame was locked up in a padlocked plastic storage box where she suffocated. The couple is charged with heaping abuses on the girl, such as making her eat dog feces, beat her with a wooden paddle, kicking her in the face, forcing her to crush aluminum cans with her bare feet, making her drink hot sauce, dunking her in freezing cold water and relegating her to stay in the storage box.
If that doesn't break your heart, I don't know what would.
* * * * *
There's lots of special-interest groups on the left gunning for GOP lawmakers. But remember how I just spoke of reinventing terms? An activist group of women are out to stage protests at the offices of California congressman. Why? Because they are repealing sections of Obamacare which many Americans are opposed to. Women's March organizers are encouraging people to rail against any policy changes that "rolls back, cuts or restricts women's rights." Nobody is taking action to restrict women's rights. It's all about "free money," though. They want taxpayer money to subsidize everything, including abortions. I'm sorry. There's many of us who do not like the idea of our tax dollars paying to kill babies. As far as reproductive choices go, birth control pills cost less than cable TV and condoms are cheaper yet.
Spare us the vitriol.
If you closely examine the groups railing against Rep. Jeff Denham, you'll find they are the same one who are the ones wanting free services courtesy of the hardworking citizens.
We've really come a long way since the days of President Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge who made draconian cuts. Consequently, during the 1920s, taxes and spending were cut 50 percent, and about 30 percent of the national debt was paid off. There were budget surpluses every year during the 1920s. Unemployment dropped to 1.8 percent, the lowest in more than a century. There were plenty of jobs.
* * * * *
Over the years I've had requests occasionally from people who want us to remove their names from old police stories. Internet stories, it seems, have a longer life and farther reaching effect than print stories. Unless there is an extenuating circumstance, we are not in the business of erasing names from the record as if our stories did not happen.
One individual complained that his criminal actions might affect his ability to get a job. Well, wow, I guess he should have thought about that before speeding around the streets of Ceres and leading police on a chase.
* * * * *
Recently a person who attends the church I now attend mentioned that he was in a Ceres accident in October 2005 which I covered. Frank Ortiz was riding down on Highway 99 on his Harley when he was struck from behind by a pickup driven by a Delhi man. Ortiz went flying and somehow the pickup flipped on its side. The Ortizes clipped the article I wrote and photo I took and saved it. After meeting me they realized I was the one who wrote the piece.
Frank remarked what a small world it is. It sure is. The officer bending over to examine the wreckage was none other than CHP Officer Earl Scott who was tragically murdered a few months later by Columbus Allen.
* * * * *
While I am a staunch supporter of law enforcement, I cringe when I witness officers fail to set the example for the rest of us. That goes for Ceres Police K-9 officers who don't use their blinkers when riding down Highway 99 from downtown Modesto to the Hatch Road exit. After watching several turns and lane changes executed without a blinker, I shook my head. How many drivers have been cited for doing what he was doing? If you'll remember in a huge story of 2015, Sandra Bland was pulled over in Texas for not using her blinker. She became combative and argumentative and ended up arrested and later dying in her jail cell.
Police have powers the rest of us do not enjoy. But with that power comes responsibility to behave professionally and obey the laws we also must obey to make our roads safe.
Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at email@example.com. He will read it, promise.