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Good for Oroville for standing up to state

I’m always holding out that Ceres will set itself apart from the rest of the pack and take a stand for liberty – but I never hold my breath.

You may remember that the Atwater City Council declared itself as a sanctuary city from the state’s draconian lockdown in 2020. You may remember how the state threatened to withhold funds as well – showing what contempt the governor of this state has for people living in the Central Valley and any official who dare stands up to his decrees.

Now the city of Oroville has made the news by declaring a “Constitutional republic” in a pushback against a ‘barrage’ of Covid-19 health restrictions. Oroville Vice Mayor Scott Thomson accused Gov. Newsom of going on a “rampage” with “increasingly intrusive” mandates, including a vaccine requirement for school kids. Thomson said the state was inch by inch infringing on his citizen’s “inalienable rights.”

It’s doubtful that the city action will give Oroville any more rights but it’s making a stand that is important. California cities have long just rolled over when it comes to all sorts of state mandates, including meeting housing formula requirements and now recycling laws that not only drive up costs but are onerous for citizens to follow. The state even grabs our most precious resource – water and says, “tough, deal with it.”

Thomson is right. I had predicted that Newsom would step up state control since the recall failed, giving him carte blanche authority to run roughshod over our rights. I never voted for that guy nor could I understand how anyone could but apparently there are a lot of bleating sheeple voting in California.

We need for elected officials with courage to stand up for freedom but I see little resistance coming from our very compliant Ceres City Council who still wears masks as they sit between plastic sheets. Wouldn’t want to go against the mandates now, would we?

A so-called law expert at the University of California, Lisa Pruitt, said cities cannot “unilaterally declare itself not subject to the laws of the state of California. Whatever they mean by constitutional republic you can’t say hocus pocus and make it happen.”

Hmmm. Why then could state leaders thumb their nose at federal immigration law and protect illegal aliens from being deported? If the state can pull those kinds of stunts, why not cities? And are they incorrect in stating that every city in this land is a “constitutional republic”? Does not every elected official take an oath to defend the constitution?

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Public schools in our country are failing miserably.

No wonder China is cleaning our clock! They are doing something right in Chinese schools while American schools aren’t despite throwing billions of dollars at it.

The Program for International Student Assessment results showed that 20 percent of American 15-year-olds don’t read as well as they should by age 10. Also, the results showed American performance in reading and math has been flat since 2000. That suggests that federal initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Common Core — which have cost billions of federal and private dollars — haven’t improved education quality in the U.S.

Only 14 percent of American students were able to reliably distinguish fact from opinion in reading tests. For example, one exercise asked students to read two pieces of writing: a news article covering scientific research on milk, and a report from the International Dairy Foods Association. The students were then presented various statements about milk, and asked to judge whether they’re reading fact or opinion. For example:

“Drinking milk is the best way to lose weight.”

The reason they can’t is because of the plethora of information that often contradicts itself. They can’t differentiate what’s fact and what’s fiction, what’s opinion and what’s fact.

* * * * *

Wow, there are a lot of folks who are poo-pooing the new Supercenter.

On our Facebook page linked to our story on the opening of the new store, a lot of folks weighed in. Angella Salas said “The store is way too big , we were in line 30 minutes on the grand opening , it was a mad house. I definitely miss the old Walmart. Can you please put a Target in its place? That would be great!”

Who goes to a grand opening and doesn’t expect a long wait? And if you were Walmart would you say, “Yeah, let’s put a giant competitor like Target in our old building?” They’d fire you.

Don Cool was peeved when he went for bird food and learned they didn’t sell any.

Jenny Villalobos Resendiz mentioned that she “Literally got lost today couldn’t find simple paper towels they should give us a map at the entrance.”

On our FB page about filling the old Walmart store, folks definitely have their ideas about what they want but it’s all just chatter. Walmart owns the store and will not be filling it with another business that competes with them. You can wish all you want but forget any ideas about Target because that won’t be happening inside of a Walmart owned structure.

Matt Easley wrote: “I thought I heard years ago that if the the city of Ceres green lit the new Walmart that they would donate the old Walmart building to the city?” Nope, that was never the case. Take it from the reporter who has reported on this for 14 long years.

Jeanette Baker posted: “Ceres screwed up by allowing Walmart to build on a second location. Instead they should have solicited Target to purchase the new lot. Now, Walmart has the upper hand and our town will likely never have any competition for them. Most Ceres residents I know shop in Turlock instead. Ceres planning commission needs to do better.”

Well, Jeanette, it doesn’t work like that. Walmart bought the property and filed an application to develop not just the Supercenter but the entire Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center. So, more businesses other than Walmart will be coming. Target has yet to buy a site in Ceres and propose a store here. You can bet that if it’s financially feasible in the future they will but lots of things have changed in the retail world.

* * * * *

Derek McGinnis had his left leg blown off in Iraq when an improvised explosive device tore a hole in the Humvee in which he was riding. He also lost an eye in the attack and sustained head trauma.

He woke up not knowing what happened, only that he was racked with pain and missing body parts. As the gravity of his physical situation settled in, Derek grew despondent. He was no longer than physical specimen that he was before arriving in Fallujah. He was thrust into a deep depression, and once suggested that his wife leave him as he was «no good» anymore. With the prospects of many years of recovery and rehabilitation ahead – hard work – Derek was certain that life was over.

But he’s around today as a restored human being. I know because I shook his hand in November 2009.

Why the turn around? Why the changed man? When Derek learned that his wife was pregnant, he resolved that he would have something for which to live. It wasn’t easy – and still isn’t – but today Derek McGinnis can run, surf and swim with the help of a prosthetic leg. He has a renewed faith in the God who saved him.

His life is characterized by “thanksliving,” or the daily practice of counting blessings, not recounting the curses.

McGinnis relates a poignant moment of his life in his book, “Exit Wounds.” Upon his release from an East Coast military hospital, one of the first things Derek wanted to do was visit a Starbucks as a civilian. As he ordered his drink, thankful that he was alive and home in the greatest nation on earth, he listened to a customer’s pathetic whine about the cream that was floating atop her drink. Apparently she went on and on, unaware that the veteran listening to her and been to hell and back. Derek believes that many Americans are like her – spoiled by pleasures with no real gratitude or thankfulness as to what we have been blessed.

I am afraid that I can be like that, too. But I’m trying to be among those who have an attitude of gratitude because I am sure that’s the key to being happy.

Thanksgiving was last week and many are in circumstances that not ideal. Millions are in difficult financial times and many have lost family to COVID and other diseases like cancer. The future of the economy and the mismanagement of the state and country is enough to make life seem especially gloomy.

But if we view our circumstances differently, it would change our outlook. Derek McGinnis once was asking God why him. Of all the people on the battlefield, why did the bomb hit his truck and tear into his flesh? But the Derek McGinnis I saw this week had a change perspective. He now asks God, “Why have you chosen to bless me in this way?” Today he is helping other servicemen and their families to deal with injury and death. And he feels privileged to do so.

One sentence that he said has stuck with me: “I am so blessed to be vertical.” We should all be so ready and able to echo his sentiments of thankfulness. We are living!

Sure, he’s missing a leg. But he’s happy that he can bound around on an artificial leg. At least he can get on a surfboard and feel the sting of the ocean spray in his face. One eye doesn’t work. At least he has a good eye to see the faces of his wife and children.

It takes work to be so genuinely grateful, especially when what we’ve possessed has been stripped from us.

Before my wife Karen passed away in 2013, after a late Monday night of work and an early rise for a grinding Tuesday production day, I groaned that it seemed like I was working more and more for less and less. She stopped me and reminded me that at least I have a job to go to. I quickly retreated down the hall, ashamed that I allowed complaining to creep in so quickly.

Each Christmas I am comforted by a song when I view “White Christmas,” in which Bing Crosby croons out the words to “Counting My Blessings.” Among them are, “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep And I fall asleep counting my blessings. When mybankroll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all ... and I fall asleep counting my blessings.”

Being the spoiled Starbucks complainer is a very becoming state of being. May we all make it our goal to thank God for what we have and live in a perpetual state of thanksliving.

 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