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Fires have erased state’s greenhouse gas reductions

As Democrats in Sacramento work to outlaw gas-powered leaf blowers, kitchen stoves, and gas-burning cars, all their work is in vain.

A new study found that all wildfires in 2020 alone resulted in more than double the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions slashed by the state for 16 years, from 2003 to 2019.

In one fire season, the state’s progress on cutting emissions was set years.

Lawmakers should abandon their quest to outlaw everything as a sacrifice to their Planet God and make fire prevention a priority by better cleaning out forest fuels.

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You all know that we are electing a new governor on Nov. 8. Is that why Governor Newsom recently announced his intention to call a Special Session on Dec. 5 to vote on a tax increase proposal?

Republicans are opposed to the Governor’s Special Session on tax increases, which some say will add an additional $1.50 per gallon in California.

Last week Legislative Republicans formally requested the Legislature to reconvene in Sacramento to act on reducing gas prices and tackling other urgent matters. Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) specifically said: “Soaring gas prices and the explosion of violent crime and homeless camps must be addressed immediately.”

Pursuant to Joint Rule 52, the Legislature may be recalled from joint recess and reconvene in regular session at the request of 10 or more members, which was accomplished by last week’s request. The Assembly Speaker and Senate President pro Tempore are now required to act within 10 days. If the two leaders do not approve the request, Republicans will take the next step which includes petitioning every member of the Legislature to come back into Session to address these urgent issues, which requires a two-thirds vote.

Earlier this year, Republicans made three attempts to lower fuel prices by suspending the state’s 54 cents per gallon gas tax, but were denied by opposition from the Democrat supermajority. With gas prices soaring to record levels, Republicans are again insisting that the Legislature suspend the state gas tax and reduce the fees and regulations that make California gas so much more expensive than the rest of the nation.

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When did the time come that young people believed they don’t need to work? It’s hard for me to fathom.

I started working the week after I graduated from high school in 1979 – even as I attended college. I haven’t stopped working – even through the pandemic – and it’s 2022. Of course, I know most of you have been working all your lives as well.

Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs” is concerned about few people wanting to hold down blue-collar jobs. He said those with a desire to work, willing to learn a skill in demand, the opportunities are great.

He said 7 million men aged 25 to 54 are not working nor looking for work. How does that work? Are they living with Mommy? Who is paying their bills as they statistically spend 2,000 hours a year looking at their screen? I don’t get it. Rowe says that is an enormous problem.

When I was 29, I not only was buying my own house but raising four children with the support of my wife. I added onto my house by doing the labor myself. I was working for a newspaper, serving in the church and serving on a City Council. I later wrote two published books and now at age 61 have a successful YouTube channel. 

To see others wasting their potential in life is mind boggling.

Take care of your life! Life is short so do something with it!

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The headline last week read: “Susan Sarandon Shares Alarming Video of Homeless Encampment in Oakland.” The story was about the liberal actress sharing a TikTok video of a large encampment with her 828,000 Twitter followers on Oct. 17. The footage naturally shows a collection of tents, dilapidated makeshift homes, clothes, and discarded furniture strewn along a street in Oakland.

This is not news to anyone who has been to Oakland. I was there in March of last year and saw the massive amounts of tents tucked underneath freeway overpasses. Take a drive through Los Angeles – Sarandon’s backyard – and see the disaster there! Nearly 5,000 people live in the half square mile of Los Angeles’ Skid Row. 

CalMatters estimates that California has 173,800 homeless. This is despite the state spending a whopping $13 billion on the problem over the last three years. I won’t lay the blame totally at their feet but Democrats’ policies shoulder a lot of the cause for homelessness here. To me the biggest cause of homelessness is the breakdown of the nuclear family.

Trying to put a positive spin on his dismal record, in August, Gov. Newsom bragged that the state had cleared 1,262 encampments over the past year and removed 1,213 tons of trash –- “enough to fill 22 Olympic-size swimming pools.”

Great, go ahead and play your game of “Whack a Mole.” Smash down one camp and another pops up somewhere else.

He said that “Leaving people on the streets and our highways is dangerous and inhumane. It’s unacceptable.” Agreed but why is it being allowed?

Holding fast to environmental policies and regulations has jacked up the cost of building homes. There is no such thing as affordable housing here because government stands in its way.

Get rid of or modify CEQA, which is responsible for a lot of the problem of high costs of building. CEQA is the California Environmental Quality Act that dictates environmental studies and requirements before you can flap up one two-by-four.

Pacific Research Institute, produced a report, “The CEQA Gauntlet: How the California Environmental Quality Act Caused the State’s Construction Crisis and How to Reform It.” The report explains that “CEQA has thwarted the construction of new and expanded health care facilities, new housing and other facilities to help the homeless, the modernization of public-school campuses, efforts to reduce California’s wildfire risk and protect lives and property, and projects to ease traffic gridlock.”

CEQA can be used as a strategic weapon to slow development down. UCSF Medical Center wants to expand its Parnassus campus (a place I am familiar with because my wife was treated there for leukemia), yet three groups are suing to block their project – using CEQA.

CEQA abuses prevented the Ceres Walmart Supercenter from being built for 14 years.

A CEQA suit is now so terrifying to developers—the delays so long, the legal fees so excessive—that the mere threat of one is enough to force a developer to the table. A host of CEQA lawsuits delayed final approval of Newhall Ranch near Valencia for nearly 25 years. The lawsuits went away after the developer agreed to install 20,000 EV charging ports for a city which will have about 20,000 autos. Given that only one percent of California cars are EV, this means that Newhall Ranch will have an excess supply of EV charging ports of about 100-fold. 

Drugs, of course, play a huge role in the problem and California’s conservatorship laws  make it too difficult to compel treatment for homeless folks with mental illness or drug addiction.

Of course the ACLU argues that conservatorship should be used as sparingly as possible, as it risks violating civil liberties and is a hollow remedy given the severe shortage of actual treatment options. A 1967 California law (Lanterman-Petris-Short Act), says Californians can be held for treatment against their will only if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others, or are determined to be gravely disabled. States like New York don’t impose such strict requirements. Several GOP candidates in California’s recall election wanted to loosen these restrictions, but were defeated.

There is no clear answer to the widespread problem but cities like Houston and Atlanta have managed to cut their homeless numbers in half. How? By bringing together more than 100 agencies, including the city, the county, nonprofit agencies, businesses and HUD. Coalition members continually update a data dashboard that tracks homeless people as they interact with shelters and services. During regular meetings, they match a list of homeless people in need of permanent supportive housing with locations. A sobriety center provides a safe place for people who are publicly intoxicated to sober up to avoid an arrest. Federal HUD dollars have been used to bring thousands of new supportive housing units online.

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