Ever hear of "First Amendment auditors?" They are people with plenty of time on their hands who go out with cameras in the hopes of having poor contact with law enforcement, resulting in a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights and/or a bad arrest. This places the officer and agency in line for civil damages and embarrassing online videos.
Some local creeper with amateur video skills posted a YouTube video in which he baits Ceres Police officers to come out to hassle them. He does this all around the county, stalking post office parking lots and school offices. He walks up to the glass windows of Ceres PD as a hooded figure, videotaping the building like some stalker. After ignoring intercom contacts, Sgt. Darren Venn comes out to ask him what he's doing. "Just taking some pictures," replies the hoodlum in his mousy voice. Venn replies, "We're just kind of curious. People don't just normally do that so we can be a little paranoid sometimes." Anyone who recalls the horrible murder of Ceres Police Sgt. Howie Stevenson realizes evildoers can start out like this creeper before committing mayhem.
Venn probes, asking if he is from a newspaper or if it's for a school project. The videotaper is evasive with his answer, suggesting he's doing a "little story." Immediately, just to test the officer, he asks for a name and badge number and Venn complies. As Venn walks back to the front door, Officer Pat Dayton comes from the south and waves to creeper guy. The self-appointed "auditor," in sporting fashion, barks out for the officer's name and badge number. Dayton realizes it's just a pointless game and waves him off. Our antagonist tells Dayton, "Aren't you supposed to give your name and badge number when you're asked?" Realizing the kid is just wasting valuable police officer time, Venn replies, "We're not going to play this game."
Dayton and Venn reappear after the pest - still hooded - continues to keep his camera at the building. He continues to engage Dayton in a confrontational manner. Dayton refuses to give his badge number, telling him to pull it off his video. "No accountability, huh?" badgers the kid, who apparently didn't think to look at the badge number.
It's one thing to catch officers doing wrong; it's another be their antagonist.
Venn and Dayton exhibited professionalism. The video shooter needs to get a life but I suppose people with no purpose in life need something to feel important as they go around harassing police officers in their attempt to become a YouTube sensation. However, it was most appalling to see all the anti-police sentiments, including remarks making fun of their beards and weight. One had the audacity to post a comment about the name of the police building, suggesting the "G.W." in name of G.W. "Pete" Peterson Police Building stood for "Grand Wizard."
Police have a hard enough time dealing with the riffraff without being hassled by unemployed millenials hoping for a gotcha moment.
Such stupidity. Such disrespect.
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Well this is a real shocker: the United Farm Workers sent out a press release titled, "Immigrants protest ICE in 6 Central Valley-Central Coast communities."
"The immigrants and their supporters will demonstrate against enforcement activities targeting hard working people who have not violated the law," said the release. "Farm workers, DACA recipients, other immigrants and their allies will gather on Monday, March 5 in six Central Valley and Central Coast cities to denounce recent beefed up ICE enforcement actions in major California farming regions. The United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation are organizing their members to turn out since ICE agents have been stopping, interrogating and sometimes detaining farm workers and other immigrants as they go to and from work in the state's two largest agricultural areas."
ICE, of course, is targeting people who have broken U.S. immigration law.
You would think that the UFW would be supportive of efforts to keep the picking crews clear of those who broke laws being here - since it's illegal to hire illegals - but then again the UFW is just another leftist organization.
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Surprise, surprise. (If you heard the strains of Gomer Pyle just then, I meant to have that affect). The UFW have just endorsed Antonio Villaraigosa for governor.
Their Feb. 24 press release concludes: "Moreover, Antonio Villaraigosa offers California's best response to Donald Trump's hate. Que Viva Antonio Villaraigosa, the next governor of California!"
While I have some issues with Trump's Twitter battles, calling him hateful for trying to get the country back on a more common sense course seems a bit extreme.
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There's an old saying that you reap what you sow.
Hear me out. Under no circumstances do I condone acts of violence but word is that the Florida school gunman was the brunt of unmerciful harassment by other students. Actions have consequences.
While the leftist media continues to make school shootings about guns and the National Rifle Association, there's plenty of blame closer to this trouble young man. There have been reports In Miami Herald that Nikolas Cruz was harassed and ridiculed for his odd behavior. His mother reportedly the child who had ADD and was autistic. His father died when he was five. He was scrawny and felt unloved.
Paul Gold, a neighbor, said Cruz attempted to join other kids riding their bicycles, but the kids brushed him off and called him names. He would come home from school angry or depressed. "He would come over after school and was visibly upset about being teased, but he pretended that he really didn't care," Gold said. "Despite his mother's attention, he just felt horribly unloved, and felt he had no one to turn to."
He also was obsessed with violent video games - you know, the ones where you kill people and there's lots of blood everywhere and then the body is soon forgotten. Or you get killed but don't stay dead for long.
Cruz was hurt a lot in life. My former pastor said something that I believe as truth: "Hurting people hurt people."
The leftists are busy waging war with the NRA when it should be the Broward County Sheriff's Department. We are told that 45 to 67 calls were placed to authorities warning them of this kid's behavior or conditions in the family. Nineteen of the calls were about Nikolas alone. On Nov. 30, the Sheriff's Office received a call from a tipster who warned them Cruz was "collecting guns and knives" and "could be a school shooter in the making."
So let's end this nonsensical focus on the NRA - which had NOTHING to do with any school shooting - and look at blaming sources closer to Cruz.
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Last week's special Centennial gathering felt like an old family reunion to me. For the first time in decades I got to speak to Sal Cannella and Blair Bradley. It was a reminder of how everybody is getting older. I bounced around the room in quick conversations. Stan Risen, a former councilman who just retired as CEO of Stanislaus County, told me how he is staying busy watching his grandson. Stan and I shared the good memories of being in the Promise Keepers movement in the 1990s.
The costumes were interesting. At least two persons commented that City Manager Toby Wells looked like a gangster with his fedora. Public Works Director Jeremy Damas donned a long coat and top hat with blue jeans. Community Development Director Tom Westbrook had a striped zoot suit on. Perhaps the best costumed pair was Lee and Shelia Brandt, who are part of the Centennial Committee. Shelia came up with the idea of having the officials come dressed up. Also sporting nice period dress were Sheryl Trout of the Ceres Historical Society and Finance Director Suzanne Dean.
Boy was there negativity bubbling under the surface. One former council candidate - who didn't get elected - was milling around and suggested "those guys look like they belong in some damned cartoon."
And, by the way, I can't remember who said it but somebody erroneously suggested that Ceres is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a town. That's not quite accurate. It has been 100 years since the Ceres became incorporated as a city but the town itself goes back to 1869 when Daniel Whitmore built the first house here in the Ceres town site. The first plot map was drawn and recorded in 1870. So the math says Ceres is at least 148 years old.
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Is the Democratic Party a culture of death? It seems so. The ideology of far left-wingers in the Democratic Party like California State Attorney General Vicente Fox - whoops I confuse the former Mexican president with Becerra - embraces death. The same ones who seek gun control as a kneejerk reaction to the rare instances of school shootings are wholly peddle abortion. Based on available state-level data, approximately 893,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2016 - down from approximately 914,000 abortions in 2015.
Instead of focusing on crime in California, Becerra is busy pushing his leftist agenda in other states! He joined other liberal state AGs in support of abortion policy in Arkansas last week. A federal judge there, presiding over the Hopkins v. Jegley case, blocked four Arkansas state laws, one of which was a ban on a procedure known as dilation and evacuation. Abortion rights supporters say it is the safest and most common procedure used in second-trimester abortions, but the state argued it is barbaric, calling it "dismemberment abortion" and saying it can have emotional consequences for the women who undergo it.
Apparently Becerra condones the thought of babies being diced up in the womb and goes out of his way to meddle in other states to do it. What a guy!
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I don't know if you heard that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that Trump will be able to move ahead with building a border wall, saying the administration could continue waiving environmental regulations for the barrier's construction. Xavier Becerra must have clutched his heart like Redd Fox on Sanford and Sons. The state AG released this statement: "We remain unwavering in our belief that the Trump Administration is ignoring laws it doesn't like in order to resuscitate a campaign talking point of building a wall on our southern border. We will evaluate all of our options and are prepared to do what is necessary to protect our people, our values, and our economy from federal overreach. A medieval wall along the U.S.-Mexico border simply does not belong in the 21st century."
Note his key phrase: "prepared to do what is necessary to protect our people, our values, and our economy from federal overreach." Is not rule of law, including immigration law, a value held by Californians? Are not Californians worthy of being protected by the criminal aliens streaming across the border? Are not illegal aliens a drain on our taxpayers, which affects our economy? He talked about a "medieval wall." You mean like the medieval fence protecting Becerra's lavish Los Angeles private residence from intruders?
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Saw a meme the other day I had to share of some. You may have seen it. It featured three photos of scantily clad Hollywood women with the words, "If you don't want people touching your critters, don't make your barn look like a petting zoo."
You betcha Hollywood is guilty of promoting the sex culture that abuses women - and then they cry about it when somebody like Harvey Weinstein or Charlie Rose misbehaves.
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Shirley Rogers of Ceres made a post on a Ceres Facebook page about the appearance of the war memorial in Whitmore Park, saying it needs "some tender care and cleaning. Mostly it has been hit with so much hard water from the sprinklers that it's discolored and has milky streaks down its face. Days later came this remark from her: "City has agreed to take care of it. Thank you Ken Lane."
I'll have to get out there and take a look.
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This should be an interesting political year locally.
This is the first year that Ceres will elect City Council members on the basis of districts and not on an at-large basis. Council seats up for grabs this year are District 1 occupied by Ken Lane and District 2 occupied by Linda Ryno. Only registered voters living in District 1 may run for Lane's seat - and Lane said he is not running - and only those registered voters living in District 2 may take on Ryno.
Keep your eyes on the wide-open District 1 where a prominent Ceres family lives.
Meanwhile, Mayor Chris Vierra has said he won't run for re-election in 2020, which is causing some to jockey in position.
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Peggy Moss Horner, facilitator of the Keyes City News Facebook page, was ready to shut the page down as of March 15. Prior to changing her mind and turning it over to someone else, Peggy wrote that the page was intended to be a place to "share good memories, news, announcements" but said it has "turned into a nightmare."
The straw that nearly broke the camel's back was Moss being threatened and "ashamed and embarrassed at the language and accusations made by a handful of citizens in Keyes." A flap started about a Latino woman who warned others that ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) was in town. I can understand the anger over someone tipping off lawbreakers about the presence of law enforcement because protecting lawbreakers is wrong - even elected officials like Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf have done it. Apparently Leon Norsworthy posted his hopes that "they get them all and take them to the river and dump them out." That resulted in a rash of back-and-forth badmouthing that strained Peggy to no end.
It's just an illustration that civility is out the windows these days.
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I might add that one of the stupidest, most intellectually dishonest phrases being used out there is that when someone suggests that immigrants only come to the U.S. by a legal process means they're worthy of being called a racist. Look up the definition of racist, folks.
It is more accurate to call someone an anarchist for the thumbing their nose at U.S. immigration laws.
Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will read it, promise.