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Experience is needed for this City Council

Chris Vierra must be shaking his head and thinking of asking Ceres residents: “Miss me yet?”

If you want a reason why Ceres needs experience on the City Council, look no farther than Javier Lopez’s lack of experience.

For decades I marveled at how Ceres city leaders remained free from scandal and controversy as other city councils and members in Hughson, Riverbank and Turlock experienced their own embarrassments. Now it seems like the new Ceres City Council is the laughingstock of the county.

Lots of folks are now asking what I asked on Nov. 4: how did this guy – a man of little vision, no experience and no money – get elected over an experienced councilman in an 8,753 to 6,924 vote margin? It wasn’t because he suggested the water needs of Ceres could be met by self-serve water kiosks and not addressing the problem of continued water source (I kid you not). His coziness with the Condits – he appointed an inexperienced Couper Condit as vice mayor over council veteran Linda Ryno – might be your clue as to who had worked behind the scenes to elect Lopez. (“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”) The other factor is that you had a vocal and young mostly Latino segment of the cancel culture who made a racial issue over the actions of the past council – yep, all members were white – cracking down on unlicensed street vendors who happen to be mostly Latino. They create a simple order of health and safety law issue turn into a race issue and took it out on Durossette.

In his opposition to the appointment of Laurie Smith to fill the vacant seat left behind by Channce Condit, Lopez boasted last week about being elected mayor despite having zero experience in city government, and boy, does it show. In three separate meetings Lopez has shown no leadership and no willingness to heal a divided council by accepting the appointment of someone who has been serving longer than Lopez has had ambitions to become mayor. 

In the normal world, a person with experience would be the preferred choice, especially when you have a council with three brand-new councilmembers. But both Lopez and Condit are puzzling lots of folks when they suggest they have nothing against Smith while treating her vast experience as a liability.

If only Lopez and Condit would come clean and just tell the Ceres people: “We don’t want Laurie Smith because she’ll vote with Ryno and Silveira against our agenda, whatever that agenda is when we figure it out. We want members who will support our cacamamie ideas.”

Smith is being opposed because she wouldn’t tolerate the antics that we’ve seen played out since Channce Condit took office. Those antics include: Create an issue where there is none; refuse to budge when you’re told you’re wrong about something; and throw the other members of the council under the bus while you champion yourself as the selfless servant of the people.

We’ve already seen a flustered Couper Condit chide Ryno and Silveira for solely supporting Smith, saying they hold “this aristocratic attitude that folks in government will make better elected officials than folks who have worked in the fire service or healthcare industry or with children.” In an alternate universe, experience in city government means nothing to Lopez and Condit when selecting people to run city government. Like Lee Brandt said, if you want to hire a fire chief you don’t pick the person who knows nothing about the fire service. You need someone who can step up without having to learn everything first. And as Lopez has proven, the learning curve can take an excruciatingly long time.

Surely Condit doesn’t believe his own babble about experience, given that his brother used council experience as a selling point in his campaign for county supervisor.

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John Osgood, a truck driving resident of Ceres, needs to be a little more self contained when participating in council meetings over Zoom. We couldn’t see his face but I visualized Osgood’s face burning tomato red and the vessels popping on his neck during his rant in which he blamed the council for his violating driving laws while messing with his device to participate in a Zoom meeting while driving a big-rig. If Osgood planned to participate in a Zoom council meeting why did he decide to drive a truck beforehand? Even if the meeting was open up in-person he would have had to decide to drive or not to participate.

I will agree with Osgood that the public should not be barred from physically attending council meetings but it’s ludicrous for him to blame others were controlling his actions as a driver.

In an alarming tone of voice, Osgood suggested that the only reason that Ryno and Silveira want to appoint Smith because she was some “entrenched government agent.” Huh? An entrenched government agent? Smith is a Ceres resident who has gained experience in zoning and planning matters – which is a function of government – in her 14 years of semi-volunteer service on the Planning Commission. She has exhibited professionalism and a command of knowledge at meetings while interjecting a folksy quip here and there. Her “day job” indeed is working for the city of Modesto as director of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods so she is knowledgable about parks and recreation. What an asset she would be. That makes her a perfect to fill in where Channce Condit bailed.

Knowing the council is forever stuck in a 2-2 quagmire in appointing its fifth member, Couper Condit disingenuously suggested the council go back and glean more applications from the public. Why, when only four District 1 residents answered the call? What would happen with more applicants? Are we to expect that Ryno and Silveira should abandon the best candidate from the first batch because two unreasonable councilmembers come up with lame excuses?

Why are Ryno and Silveira – both elected in their own right – the ones who are expected to budge?

And what would happen if, just for the sake of argument, former councilman Ken Lane – he has been critical of the Lopez and Condit – were to apply? Would the mayor and vice mayor disqualify him because of his experience?

* * * * *

Couper Condit suggested last week that since Ryno and Silveira are fully camped on Smith being the next councilmember – thereby forcing the matter to a special election – he offered to give up his council pay and motioned for the others to give up their city-funded health benefits to pay for that election.

If Condit thinks giving up his stipend is a noble gesture, why does he need an issue to attach it to? Why doesn’t he just give up his stipend quietly for no cause in particular instead of trying to make political leverage with it?  He uses it to bludgeon those who don’t vote his way. If you Conditistas can’t see that then you’ll never know where I am coming from. That goes from Shirley Rogers who obviously doesn’t get it by reading her letter in this edition of the Courier. 

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There is a movement underway among Democrats in Congress that should scare every American. Democrats like Jerry “Nasty” Nadler want to silence conservative news outlets of Fox, OAN and News Max, saying they spread misinformation. Strange how they dismiss the biggest purveyors of misinformation which hands down is MSNBC and CNN.

Misinformation is an epidemic, and the liberal media is spreading it. Those two news organizations – along with ABC, NBC and CBS – are guilty of slanting the news all the time. How else do you explain that 44 percent of liberals think that American police shot and killed around 1,000 unarmed black men in 2019 when the number was actually 13. In contrast, about half of those who reported being “conservative” or “very conservative” estimated about 10 unarmed black men were killed in 2019.

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Anyone who watched the Superbowl knows that corporate America is shoving this false narrative of systemic racism down our throats. Now I may have to rethink my soda of choice, Coke. Coca-cola Corporation has gone off the reservation by making its employees complete a racist training program with the goal to be “less white.”

Apparently it’s okay to be racist against whites, in particular, white men.

Can you imagine a soda company ever forcing black people to undergo a course to be “less black”? Screenshots that leaked out from Coke included this script: “To be less white is to: be less oppressive, be less arrogant, be less certain, be less defensive, less ignorant, more humble to listen, believe, break with apathy and break with white solidarity.” Ok, I see, Coke sees all white people as oppressive, arrogant, assertive, ignorant, unwilling to listen and generally all around racist.

Maybe Coke needs to have some white people like me refuse to buy their products now.

It’s now okay to be racist in America – as long as its against white people.

* * * * * *

Former President Obama is advocating more racism against white people by suggesting that all black folks should be paid reparations because the country was “built on the backs of slaves.” That means make white people pay for the sins of relatives they never knew because of the way they treated other people whose bones are decayed in the ground.

Strange Obama says black slaves built the country yet also told the successful business people they didn’t build what they did.

Obama said he didn’t push reparations when he was president because of “white resistance.” Nobody of any skin color should endorse this outright buying of votes. Nobody should support reparations to persons of any colors because Obama feels they are held back by history. It certainly didn’t hold back Morgan Freeman or Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice or Susan Rice or Dave Chappelle or Benjamin O. Davis or George Washington Carver or Shaq O’Neal or Oprah Winfrey or Tiger Woods or Eddie Murphy or Denzel Washington or even Obama himself. How did they make it without a taxpayer funded reparation? No, if anyone isn’t making it today it’s not because anything like systemic racism exists today.

Obama has done more to destroy race relations than any president.

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What is it about fame that makes some entertainers lose all common sense?

Singer Demi Lovato slammed gender reveal parties, saying “this is not about being politically correct, it’s about being correct.” Not only did she say: “Only individual people can self-determine their gender,” she also stated “there are boys with vaginas and girls with penises.”

Let the stupidity of that remark sink in.

If that’s not an example of Romans 1:25 I don’t know what is: “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.”

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