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Councilman doesn’t fail to confuse – again

Last week Councilman Channce Condit both praised Economic Development Director Steve Hallam as as a “great guy” just before trying to push him right out the door.

Something doesn’t jive.

“This has nothing to do with Mr. Hallam personally…” stated Condit.

Yeah, right.

Condit claimed he wants the city to get away from the “bad precedent” of using part-time consultants (of which Hallam is one). I’ve watched Ceres councils for decades and know that the city has always desired strong economic development efforts but in recent years couldn’t make it a budget priority – because of a lack of enough funds – for a full-time manager. So in 2015 they hired Hallam as a part-time consultant because he’s roughly half the cost of a full-time “employee.”

Condit should have explained his singular opposition to part-time consultants. After all, the city routinely uses consultants to do laborious tasks which city staff has not the time or expertise, such as general fund updates, planning freeway interchanges, designing a surface water plant, performing water rate forecasts – even updating the city’s phone system. Yet, Condit failed to explain his opposition to part-time consultants, holding fast to – and repeating – what sounded like a scripted reason. 

Secondarily, his we-may-not-have-the-money-in-the-budget argument was kicked out from beneath him when he was reminded that Hallam is not paid out of the general fund (which is where sales tax shortfalls are expected). Condit wasn’t even willing to at least entertain keeping Hallam on until the fall when the budget is finalized. “That’s just where I’m standing with my position,” was all he offered.

I don’t know this to be the case but it sure sounded like Hallam was the intended target.

Of all people, Condit – who has worked as an economic development “specialist” since he was hired at Opportunity Stanislaus not long ago – should know the value of a part-time economic development manager versus not having one at all – especially given how the state continues to destroy our business community.

Thankfully, Councilman Bret Durossette saved Hallam until a full council can vote on the matter. Had the vote proceeded, Hallam’s contract would have been cancelled in a 2-1 vote since three votes are required when only three members are present.

Stay tuned.

* * * * *

Apparently the mountain lions or lions that have been spotted in Modesto have slipped away undetected back to the foothills.

But as election draws near political wolves will be at the doorsteps of Ceres’ voters. Talk about “defunding police” – even just a little – won’t fly well in a community that passed a half-cent sales tax in Measure H to bolster police and fire.

* * * * *

I’m all for calling out racism – when it exists.

Trouble is that the “racist” word is tossed about so recklessly, so often and incorrectly that it loses its punch in instances where racism is actually applicable.

Racism as defined is: “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.” Or this definition: “the belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another.”

Thus, the KKK is obviously racist because they feel blacks are inferior to whites.

Thus, Aunt Jemima on a bottle of syrup is not racist. Being black on a product does is not an example of racism. Same goes for being white. Same goes for an Indian name on a sports team. That clearly does not fall under the definition of racism, but as you know, the Left is doing its damnedest to redefine everything.

Here’s another example of what is not racism: A meme that reads: “How much should descendants of 360,000 Union soldiers who died to free slaves be paid by descendants of slaves they freed?” A Facebook friend of mine who posted that meme was scolded by another white woman as a “racist.”

Nothing about the meme can be construed as racist. The meme is a political answer to the ridiculous liberal concept – pushed by the likes of Senators Cory Booker, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren – that somehow those of us living today need to pay reparations to black people because some ancestors may have served as slaves. Nobody alive today was a black slave picking cotton or tobacco in the South 150 to 300 years ago. And not all white people had slaves, my Swiss immigrant grandfather coming here in 1870 being one of them. Make no mistake, the idea shelling out reparations to descendants of slaves is solelu about garnering political votes, and does nothing to right the wrongs of the past. And even reparations wouldn’t be enough to satisfy any liberal and move on.

Robin Cathcart Mathews , the white woman who shame my FB friend not only charged that the meme was racist to share, but added “I’m appalled that you would post this as a woman who says she cares about her Christian faith.”  Words mean something and this Robin intended to slam my friend as having a counterfeit faith.  I rose to my friend’s defense, calling Sandy a good woman who is using the meme to push back against this stupid narrative about reparations.

Unfortunately a lot of people on the left like Robin Cathcart Mathews have bought into this bogus narrative of white people having more in this country because they are white. People get ahead in life with drive and ambition so saying black people can’t make it in a so-called racist country is not horribly incorrect but serves as a crutch for a whole class of people to sit back and do nothing but bellyache and push for a parade of government subsistence. When you constantly tell people over and over that they can’t get ahead because of “systemic racism,” they become enslaved. The whole notion that there is widespread systemic racism in our country which can only be remedied by “burning down” the house and rebuilding it is a racist idea at its very core. Not even black actor Morgan Freeman believes white privilege exists today in America – he told that to Don Lemon, a black TV news personality on CNN.

Obscene numbers of middle- and upper-income white women – especially the ones who got brainwashed by liberal college professors – have succumbed to false white guilt. They feel being white is bad and that they have an upper hand in life since they’re white and that somehow confessing the sin of “white privilege” and shaming anyone who doesn’t believe in it, is an atonement for isolated wrongs that pop up here and there.

The ones who promulgate the concept that “white privilege” exists today continually default to the unprovable charge that black people are pulled over “all the time” by police only because they are black (as opposed to being pulled over for acting sketchy or actually breaking the law). Look, we all know there are some police officers who should not be police officers. They handle things badly and lose control with people of all color. Funny thing, though, my “white privilege” never got me out of a traffic ticket when I got pulled over by a white cop. But then again I didn’t smart off to the officers involved.

I do, however, believe in the concept of being blessed and most of that is God given. There are different ways of being blessed, chiefly being raised in a home where mom and dad were present and worked hard; and being born in America where opportunities are endless, as opposed to, say, Indonesia or Mozambique. I’m blessed, but not because of my pigmentation. Color and talent are independent of one another. It’s through an application of that talent and hard work that have resulted in earning what I have starting the very week after I left high school in 1979.

But I also sense why younger people –my oldest son included – don’t feel they have the same opportunities that I had. He complains about how he’s forced to pay high rents in Sacramento, laying the blame on corporate America and not his own poor money management decisions as to why he can’t get into his own house. Yet he also refuses to see that his rents here in the Valley are caused by Democrats who’ve passed such environmental laws that it’s impossible to build housing in California quickly and cheaply.

My son’s generation is constantly told by MSNBC and CNN how bad this country is and that racism is prevalent while the rest of us watch black person after black person – of any color, really – lead hugely successful lives out of sacrifice and hard work.

* * * * *

When somebody attacks me on Facebook with outlandish comments, I check out their social media profile to verify what I already know: Most of the vicious comments are from white women who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome, or TDS, which is caused by left-leaning “news” organizations like a brain-eating virus.

Laura Willey (I believe she’s from the Bay Area and not Ceres) banged on my column while defending the lawless tearing down of statues. She asked “the statues were of people who stole land from indigenous people, raped and pillaged, enslaved, tortured and oppressed others for centuries and we’re just now correcting it?” (She’s referring to people like George Washington, in case you’re not clear). She and Nick Maynard of Ceres got into a keyboard battle. Laura then called Maynard a white supremacist because he’s Republican – and because he noted many of America’s past racists were Democrat governors and senators.

What you’ll find is interesting on Willey types’ posts.  On June 21 she commented: “As I’ve said before, if you are still supporting the bloated orange turd, you’re either evil or stupid, or a combination of both. His racist agenda is toxic to this country. And if you support it, you are too.” This is perhaps the worst case of logic I’ve read recently.

FYI, the mask must be a symbol of the Democrat Party because Willey types sure do treat non-mask wearers with the same vengeance as they treat Republicans.

* * * * *

Have you noticed how COVID-19 has allowed the Left to shove their radical agenda down our throats?

Here’s one example: as you know the teachers unions have gotten about as far left socialist kooky as possible. The United Teachers Los Angeles is using COVID in its insane demands to craft its “The Safe and Equitable Conditions for Starting LAUSD in 2020-21” to include the defunding of police, Medicare for all (socialist to the core) a federal bailout of L.A. schools and the abolition of charter schools. (The Left hates charter schools because they’re jealous of their successes, because they take funding away from public schools and because charter schools don’t engage in the Leftist indoctrination of students). They also want to tax the rich into oblivion (or more likely to a state with lower taxes).

Read this race-baiting statement from the L.A. teachers union: “Restarting physical schools during the pandemic will inevitably increase the risk of infection and death for all Angelenos, but especially for over half a million LAUSD students and families who fall into a vulnerable category because of race and/or poverty.”

Any educator worth his salt knows distance learning is an abject failure with an estimated 30 to 40 percent of students not disciplined enough to log into class daily. Millions of public school children are falling through the cracks. And if they were honest they’d admit that the so-called pandemic largely affects older people who never step foot on campuses.

We are told – and there are good reasons to question the legitimacy of these numbers – that COVID has claimed 138,000 Americans. If that’s accurate, 0.0004 percent of the U.S. population has died from COVID-19, or four-ten-thousandth of one percent. So relax, you have astronomically high odds that you won’t get it and, if you do, that it won’t kill you. Young people may fear this pandemic more than others but they are the least vulnerable of all.

Again, stay home if you wish to stay “safe,” but the rest of us have jobs and lives to live. We can’t live in fear like Dr. Fauci would have you. After all, the fatality rate of humanity is 100 percent and our precious time living life is being robbed from us.

* * * * *

We have a real threat to California in Attorney General Xavier Becerra. He helped to land a major property tax increase on the November ballot. Becerra and his merry band of thieving Democrats want to drive up taxes again in California and they do it in such deceptive manners.

This ballot measure seeks to strip the protections of Prop. 13 away from some people. Prop. 13, passed in 1978, was a landmark initiative that capped California’s out-of-control property tax system that caused some older people and those on fixed income to lose their homes. Known as the Jarvis-Gann Initiative, Prop. 13 capped property taxes at no more than 2 percent annually. The exception is if the property is improved then it is subject to a supplemental tax. Also when a property is sold it is reassessed to reflect current market value.

Becerra wants to wipe away Prop. 13 protections on properties whose business owners have $3 million or less in holdings in California. (Read that as “soak the businessman who is already suffocating on Newsom’s shutdown.”)

It’s also the gateway to begin chipping away at other Prop. 13 protections.

The state already has a firm grip around the neck of the goose that lays the golden egg and any tighter and they are going to choke it to death!

Becerra masterful deception will be in how this will be presented to the low-information voter (read that young liberals who don’t pay taxes because they live with mommy and daddy who do pay taxes). Becerra is a master at false labels to fool voters. If we named it what it should be named “Repealing Prop. 13 so Democrats Can Tax the Crap Out of You Property Owners” initiative, it will have a snowball’s chance in hell. Instead he’s calling it the “California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020.” Sounds innocuous and harmless and most beneficial to those schools and communities, doesn’t it?

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Roseville) wants to strip Becerra’s ballot naming powers because he is clearly misleading voters. Besides the ignorant voter, Becerra is one of the reasons California is suffering.

Look at the initiative’s supporters and it tells you everything you need to know: Democrats, Beto, Biden, Sanders, Harris and Booker – all the liberals including the ACLU and the San Francisco Board of Supes. Who’s against it? The California Chamber of Commerce, the California Business Roundtable, the California Farm Bureau, California Taxpayers Association.

Tom Campbell, the former state Director of Finance, said, “From the point of view of attracting and retaining businesses and jobs, the power of Prop. 13, rather, was in allowing California to tell a business: go ahead and sink that concrete into Texas if you want, but you’re taking a big risk that Texas won’t revisit that building a few years later and double your tax assessment. With California, you’re safe. ... In repealing Proposition 13 for businesses, California will be forfeiting our best argument to attract new jobs – a long-term sacrifice that will hollow-out California’s economy, costing us far more $10 billion in a very short time.”

* * * * *

I’m convinced that some on the Left have lost it.

Last week I shared excerpts of a letter written by a Jake Pickering of Arcata (far outside of Ceres Courier’s coverage area). I didn’t print his entire letter but I printed most of it.

I will reprint that section of my column in the following italicizing lettering and follow it up with his response. He loses it, folks. Absolutely loses it. Read my piece from last week and his emailed response replete with personal insults:

“Other socialists are joining in the fray. People like Jake Pickering of Arcata who wrote newspapers a letter suggesting the Northern California town of Fort Bragg needs a name change ASAP! He writes: “No self-respecting Californian could ever possibly justify or countenance any town or city in the Golden State being named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg, who was not only a traitor and a slave owner, but an especially intemperate and incompetent military commander as well. Why would any patriotic American want to set foot in a town named after a racist traitor to the republic, like Braxton Bragg? Too bad, Fort Bragg, but you’re not getting another dime from me until you change your town’s name.”

Pickering suggested the following substitutes of Fort Lincoln, Fort Grant, Fort Sherman, Fort Roosevelt, Fort Eisenhower, Fort Patton, Fort Marshall, Fort Bradley, Fort Kennedy or Fort Powell.

Fort Bragg dates back to 1857 before the Civil War and was named after Braxton Bragg. Bragg fought in the Mexican-American War which resulted in Texas being wrestled away from Mexico.

Changing names is kind of silly, when you think about it. It doesn’t rewrite history nor change geographic boundaries. You can argue all day about a name but it doesn’t change the fact that the town has been branded with that name and it really serves no purpose to change it up now 163 years later."

Pickering’s emailed reply:

“In which edition of the Ceres Courier did my letter to the editor “Rename Fort Bragg” run? I looked on your website and didn’t come across it. However, I did come across a voluminous amount of brainless, right-wing racist gibberish barely passing as editorials and opinion pieces in your Ceres Courier publication (how can you possibly stand working there - I guess they must pay well?), but no sign of my letter. On which date did my letter run? I’m assuming it did. Whatever possessed you to publish that incredibly long and boring, pedantic and pathetically dimwitted dissertation that just appeared in your publication about a make-believe modern-day revolution in America? I especially appreciate the personal attacks against me, and you didn’t even publish my letter in Ceres Courier that this hilariously ham handed hit piece was supposedly in response to? That’s both craven & classless. You have got to be kidding me! I’m assuming that I must have missed my letter “Rename Fort Bragg” in your publication. Please send a link if you can. If the Ceres Courier would like to begin publishing political opinion pieces from folks who actually have some knowledge of which they speak, I am at your service – for free! (So long as you publish my letters and/or columns FIRST before you run your hit pieces that are supposedly in response. Is that really too much to ask of you? You are above the age of 12, right? It’s hard to tell considering your apparent low-IQ problem.)

Jake Pickering Arcata, CA

P.S. - I’ll be showing you from now on, son, how a real writer and political expert does it! So get to publishing MY letters and/or opinion columns already, if you aren’t just another typical Trump acolyte. You are of course aware of the fact that these days the only folks in your local area who want to read deranged defenses of psycho Trump the traitor and his beloved long-dead demonic Confederacy are far-right racist fools, and who gives a damn what those anti-American idiots think (other than you, I guess)? Good luck with that ever-shrinking demographic that becomes less relevant by the day! Speaking of relevancy, I’ll be sending my latest letters and opinion columns your way, so make space for them, because your publication clearly needs the help.”

Spare the trouble, Jake. After all, newspapers are so “irrelevant” you spend your time sending your thoughts to them in hopes they print them.

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