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Council should revisit garbage can visibility

Now that we have a new Ceres City Council perhaps it will reverse the policy recently set that allows residents to keep their garbage cans in public view seven days a week.

As you may remember, the city had a law on the books that said you had to hide away your cans unless it was during the hours you could set them out for collection. In November 2019, three members of the old council changed that, saying they had no problems with cans being stored next to a house or garage. Those three – Chris Vierra, Bret Durossette and Mike Kline – are gone now. If Couper Condit is anything like his brother, he would vote to change back. Linda Ryno didn’t believe in letting cans be viewed from the street either. It remains to be seen how Bret Silveira and Mayor Javier Lopez would vote on the topic if it’s revisited.

The eyesore is especially great when neighbors have abutting side gates, which is where many folks leave their cans. In those instances, you have the visual blight of four cans in a cluster. Imagine what happens in 2022 when Ceres households will have three cans. It’s going to look horrible if the council does nothing!

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I think thieves are among the most despicable sort of human beings. We earn it and they steal it. We work for it and they don’t. How dare they take what’s not theirs.

Jae Deering reported on Facebook that she was at La Morenita in Ceres when the car she was in was broken into. Get this: her study Bible, packed with notes, was stolen. Chances are the thief thought it was some kind of purse.

The thief might do well to read the Good Book he stole, especially the Ten Commandments which state “Thou shalt not steal.”

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In her letter to the editor last week, Eileen Wyatt criticized Supervisor Jim DeMartini for his lack of compassion and concern in dealing with the homeless in Stanislaus County. She cited DeMartini’s lack of tolerance and willingness to make the bums pay for their crimes – their crimes being trashing up areas, trespassing on private property, etc. Eileen crassly said: “Whatever, Jim. Happy trails. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

We can debate all day about how compassionate we should be to people who have totally messed up their lives with drugs and alcohol, checking out of school and making rotten decisions. Americans tend to want to show compassion to the downtrodden. But I also get what Jim is saying – those who don’t want help should not be allowed to make our county and state look like Third World slums. We have a right not to see piles of crap stacking up along our streets, canals, freeways, rivers and bridges.

I must protest how Wyatt characterized something Jim uttered when she was running against him in the 2016 campaign. She wrote: “We were on the campaign trail, and in several forums, he blamed all the woes of society on fatherless homes. In other words, single mothers.”

Forgive the interpretation but hers is a typical response of a liberal. Jim was not faulting single mothers – he was faulting how many fathers have gone AWOL. I believe the way God designed things required a father and mother to jointly raise a child.

Being a retired social worker, I cannot believe that Eileen does not understand a fundamental truth that children who are raised without a dad do immeasurably struggle far worse in life than two-parent households.

Even former Stanislaus County CEO Stan Risen in 2016 shared a number of startling statistics about fatherlessness, including that:

• 43 percent of U.S. children live without a father in the home;

• 63 percent of suicides are from fatherless homes;

• 71 percent of pregnant teens lack a father in the home;

• 71 percent of high school dropouts come from homes without dads;

• 85 percent of prison use is tied to those who grew up in fatherless homes;

• 90 percent of homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes.

Risen wonders why those statistics aren’t discussed. He said society doesn’t like talking about those realities, maybe because people get defensive about the single mom getting her feelings hurt. But as Stan said back then: “This is about absentee fathers; this is about men who fail to meet their parental responsibility and have left the poor mom hanging to raise the family on her own.”

Social workers are not the answer; they try to deal with the mess left by the breakdown of the family. The answer is an intact healthy two-parent family.

I am going to miss Jim’s candor. He knows that government rarely solves a problem. He’s right, of course, that throwing millions of dollars is not the answer.  On Oct. 26 DeMartini told the Ceres City Council: “I was informed just a few days ago that we’re getting $22 million for homeless programs that we didn’t ask for and have no plans to spend. Generally in the past you have a plan and then you apply for the money. Here the federal government is just throwing this money at us and says here’s $22 million, come up with a plan. And we had spent $35 million last year on homeless programs with pretty scant results. So I don’t see how $22 million is justified, in addition.”

What is the answer? I suspect the root of the problem is a spiritual one – one that is less readily visible. We have millions who are out of touch with God and lead empty life as they serve themselves only and try to fill their lives with nonsense that leaves one feeling meaningless. While the answer is within the walls of church, millions seek refuge in the Church of Government. No wonder that government grows and grows while the church dwindles and dwindles.

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Word is that California’s senior U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein probably shouldn’t be in office. She’s having cognitive decline at age 87 (like our new president, age 78.) The New Yorker magazine reported last week that Feinstein’s short-term memory has grown so poor that she “often forgets she has been briefed on a topic, accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have.” She’s been approached about stepping aside but she even forgets that.

DiFi needs to step down.

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On Wednesday the Ceres Police Department shared a social media message about Operation Safe Driver where “we see you when your (sic) speeding, we know when you’re driving safe. We will be rewarding those who drive real good so drive safe for goodness sake.”

Ismael Rodriguez called out the officers he’s “seen multiple cops mot using turn signals.”

I routinely see the motoring public – police officers and government vehicles – failing to use turn signals, like they’re optional or don’t exist. It drives me crazy, but then again so does changing lanes in the middle of an intersection and people who race through a yellow light to beat a red one.

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An old high school friend – he was actually a groomsman at my wedding party in 1981 –moved to Ohio and recently tested positive for COVID-19. He is 60 but guess what? He didn’t die. He temporarily lost his sense of taste and smell and suffered flu like symptoms for a while.

All the people I know – my brother, sister-in-law and several co-workers included – got COVID but nothing serious happened to them.

Makes you wonder what the shutdown is really all about.

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It never ceases to amaze me how Xavier Becerra – the most radical California Attorney General in history and now a possible Biden cabinet member – caters to the criminal, specifically the poor criminal. On Thursday Becerra rose to the defense of criminals, arguing that charging poor criminal defendants “unaffordable” court user fees, which primarily serve to raise money for court processes and are not tied to culpability, is unconstitutional. He argues that the current system unjustly exposed defendants to harsh societal and financial consequences based solely on their economic circumstances.

Basically Becerra wants to excuse court fees from being paid, saying, “Pushing low-income criminal defendants into debt just to go through the court system does not further the cause of justice.”

That burns me up that this Democrat again wants to protect people, who make poor choices, from facing their consequences. It’s what Democrats do all the time. Now he wants to make exceptions for poor defendants.

Becerra doesn’t think it’s fair that some who are “gainfully employed or have money in the bank” can easily pay court fees which “may be impossible for another defendant to ever satisfy without great personal and familial sacrifice.”

Here’s a concept for you Mr. AG: Maybe the poor dumb criminal should learn from his or her mistakes by facing more consequences than you’d like them to face. Why shouldn’t a criminal defendant pay a “user fee,” if you will, to raise funds to support court functions since they are contributing to the drain on the court system?

You’ll laugh when you hear the fees that Becerra is protesting:

• A court operations and security fee of $120;

• A court facilities / immediate critical needs account fee of $90; and

• A criminal justice administrative fee of $154.

I bet the average defendant has spent more than that in tattoos and cigarettes.

Even more laughable is how AG Becerra’s press release notes how he “is committed to improving public safety and the criminal justice system by advocating for reforms across the state and the nation, and working with local authorities to implement new policies.” My foot he is! He’s supported no bail for poor defendants, extending voting rights to felons who have been released from prison. He’s continually hammered against police officers and defending idiots who get killed by police during the commission of burglaries.

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I noticed some interesting disparities in recent voter turnout in supervisorial districts 1 and 5.

District 1, where Buck Condit trounced Bill Zoslocki, saw 81.7 percent voter turnout.

District 5, where Channce Condit slam-dunked Tom Hallinan, saw a 72.07 percent voter turnout. Apparently District 5 voters are less interested in voting – by nearly 10 percent points. Considering that the entire county saw a 77.76 percent voter turnout, District 5 voters disappointed in a big way.

What’s also interesting is that both races seemed to experience a large number of people who didn’t mark a candidate. In District 5 (Ceres and the west side), 3,978 voters skipped picking either Channce or Tom. In District 1, 5,733 voters left its blank. Apparently the only voter priority was the presidential race, which saw 1,337 “under votes,” which goes to show you how little voters bother to know or care about the local races that probably affect their lives in a more tangible way.

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Stanislaus County was greatly polarized in the last presidential election but narrowly stayed blue. You might say we are a purple county.

The Biden-Harris ticket won over 105,841 county voters while the Trump-Pence ticket came in at 104,145 – a razor thin margin of 1,696 votes.

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People are funny how they protest what they don’t like. I guess it makes people feel empowered. 

Our sister paper, the Turlock Journal reported how 200 folks in Turlock spent time protesting laws passed in India which they say will subject farmers to corporate exploitation. The law specifically removes price guarantees for crops, which is not a right. I’m holding my breath to see if New Delhi will change the law because of a small group that stood on the street corner in a dusty town a whole world away. 

Protest organizer Parmine Randhawa said: “When their rights are being attacked there, it’s essentially our rights, too.” Not exactly. Parmine, you’re an American citizen, not a citizen subject to Indian law.

At least it made them feel like they were doing something. Young people are so into “feelings.”

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Remember how the Democrats were playing politics in the fall – still are – with COVID relief packages because they tried to make Trump fail? But now one of them admits it was wrong. Far left Sen. Bernie Sanders admitted to CNN’s Jake Tapper that they should have passed the $1.8 trillion bill offered by Trump as they held out for $2.2 trillion.

Isn’t it sad how they play politics at the expense of the American people.

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Our governor and Legislature just do not care. Businesses are fleeing and yet they don’t correct their ways of high taxes and overregulation. The blood loss continues.

Elon Musk announced he is moving to Texas and selling his Bel-Air home. Hewlett Packard is now moving its headquarters from San Jose to Houston, Texas. On Friday Oracle announced its relocating from Redwood City to Austin.

As of November, 39 companies have relocated to Austin. They’re tired of high taxes, the high cost of living, and the business unfriendly culture of Sacramento, not to mention quality of life matters with homelessness and traffic.

Texas has no state income tax. California has a personal income tax, which maxes out at 13.3% for anything above $1 million a year — the highest in the country. Capital gains are taxed similarly. Texas not only has lower taxes, it enjoys a lower cost of living (California housing costs are about 60 percent more than in Texas) and has relaxed environmental regulations.

Newsom can say Californians are just fine with the direction of his leadership, lockdowns and all. I beg to differ with him. And if the people of California would be honest with themselves and look to reflect on the disastrous results of their choices at the polls, they will see Texas or Idaho is the state to emulate – and that is not to let Democrats run things.

A fear of these other states is that defecting Californians will contaminate their politics. Like Mike Huckabee stated last week Californians fleeing the state should remember that “it does no good to flee if you vote for the same kind of idiotic policies that fouled the nest you just flew away from.”

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There is a chance to vote out Newsom as organizers have more than half of the nearly 1.5 million petition signatures needed to place the recall on the ballot.

The remaining signatures must be collected by mid-March.

Apparently there is greater enthusiasm since he was caught violating his own orders relating to COVID-19.

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The iconic Cliff House Restaurant is closing for good on Dec. 31. One hundred eighty jobs gone like a puff of smoke.

It’s been a landmark in San Francisco for 157 years. Theodore Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill dined there.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. There’s the pandemic and the shutdowns. There’s the ungodly high cost of doing business in San Francisco. There’s the National Park Service which has been dragging their feet on giving out a new concession contract.

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