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Grand jury complaint details kept secret – why?

I wasn’t going to report on this story but since the Modesto Bee did – without merit I feel – I must comment.

Former Ceres Mayor Louie Arrollo disclosed that a group of Ceres residents has presented complaints to the Stanislaus County Civil Grand Jury about “possible wrongdoing with the Ceres government including elected officials and city staff.”

Arrollo, who now lives in Hughson, would not disclose to the Courier what allegations he brought to the government oversight body. We pressed him for details, feeling since he’s casting aspersions on the reputation of the city he needed to put up or we weren’t going to run the story. It’s always a little fishy when someone says, “We think the city is corrupt but we won’t tell you why we charge that.” Nor would Arrollo divulge the source of the allegations, vaguely stating that it came from a group of unidentified Ceres residents which have gathered for months as some sort of mysterious committee named “Citizens Advocate Responsible Entity” (CARE). Without disclosing who members are, Arrollo said the members are citizens “dissatisfied with the past and current city leadership” who have discussed “past suspicious practices and possible allegations of criminal activity as it relates to city policies.”

Those are pretty serious charges but failure to disclose specifics, there’s not much of a story until the Grand Jury investigates, if it choses to at all. For all we know, this could be a baseless witch-hunt.

Who are these citizens operating in some shadowy location? Former elected officials who may have abandoned their offices and have axes to grind? Citizens who regularly complain to the council about code enforcement? Disgruntled folks like John Osgood who made sport of making all sorts of bombastic charges at council meetings in the months before he was embarrassed by the rescinding of his council appointment? Others with a political agenda? One could speculate all day long but we prefer to deal in facts and yet we weren’t given the courtesy of a hint of what could possibly be packed into Arrollo’s complaints.

I told Arrollo that we would wait for the Grand Jury to produce their report. Then the Bee published the story, in my opinion, while violating journalistic standard. Often the mere suggestion of wrongdoing unjustly casts a shade on the person or organization.

What happens if the Grand Jury comes back and says, “nothing here”? 

* * * * *

There seems to be a huge misunderstanding as to why Ceres and Turlock are jointly building a surface water plant and delivery system. Also, a lot of misinformation is being spread.

First let me tackle the comments on our Facebook page. While he was probably kidding, Terri Bradford commented that Ceres probably won’t know the difference in water quality, saying it will be “chunky style with a hint of chlorine.”

While it’s true that you likely won’t notice an improvement in the taste of tap water, it won’t contain chunks either. It will be comingled with groundwater. Remember that river water is less contaminated with excessive elements you’ll find in groundwater, such as manganese and arsenic. The filtration system will take care of the kids peeing upriver and birds dropping waste in it.

Brandy Krutsinger commented, “Oh the same river they used to dump the tallow in?” Our comment back to her was: “Are you referring to a past practice that occurred long ago far downstream from Fox Grove where this water will be drawn from? Keep in mind that this river water is supposed to be purified to very clean state and federal water standards.”

So now for the “why” the plant is needed. Because in the long run you are guaranteed water from the river and are not dependent on wells that drop and go dry during prolonged droughts. Remember that as cities grow with more people – at the same time that farms use water conservation measures that don’t allow the water table to recharge like it used to with flood irrigation – the aquifers drop and quality worsens. Wellhead treatment is expensive – very expensive.

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Friday afternoon I went to the Carl’s Jr. on Mitchell Road for lunch and because I couldn’t see a car in the entire parking lot, I thought the restaurant was closed. It was 12:30 p.m., just 30 minutes into the lunch hour and there was only one table occupied with two people.

I remarked to the manager that it was a ghost town in there. I suggested that the jaw-dropping increase in gas prices will cause a lot of folks to scale back their dining out and she replied, “Yeah we’re already seeing it.”

As long as our national leaders continue to botch things a lot of people are going to be hurt. There will be more devastation for our economy, more jobs lost and higher inflation.

I would take Trump’s “mean” tweets over this inept White House any day of the week.

* * * * *

I tried to listen to Gavin Newsom’s State of the State address last week but I couldn’t stomach what I was hearing.

It began when he began praising various state officials from backgrounds near and dear to California liberals – poor immigrants and gay lifestyles.

Newsom praised his wife but referred to her as ‘First Partner.’ That’s typical of Democrats to trash traditionally used phrases like First Lady to deny a woman her own gender. 

He then singled out praise for an official for what she does in the bedroom. I’m referring to his remarks about State Senator Toni G. Atkins who he noted is the “first openly gay woman to lead both the Assembly and the State Senate.”

When was the last time you heard a liberal praise someone for being openly heterosexual in a monogamous relationship? Too traditional? Not all voters embrace such lifestyles (that was obvious when Pete Buttigieg failed to gain traction in his presidential bid). 

Atkins, as you might guess, fits the liberal bill. She just introduced AB 164 which would allow qualified nurse practitioners to have the opportunity to practice independently, including the ability to provide first-term infanticide. Hers is the party of death.

Newsom stated: “Tonight, too, is a moment for us to reflect on what it means to live in a society where elected leaders still settle our disagreements largely with civility and compromise.” Really? I didn’t forget his incivility toward Trump in March 2018 when he called him a “small, scared bully.”

Newsom expressed contempt against Trump for wanting to preserve our national sovereignty. He mockingly tweeted: “So @realDonaldTrump has finally worked up the nerve to come to CA and visit his precious wall – a 1,900-mile monument to idiocy that is literally IMPOSSIBLE to complete. We cannot let this small, scared bully hurt our economy and turn ICE into his own personal army of hate.”

Apparently if you oppose the U.S. border being flooded with destitute foreign nationals thirsting to drain the taxpayers Newsom thinks you’re an advocate for “idiocy” and “hate.” His is such a twisted ideology.

We need a merit-based immigration policy, which means we let you in if you have skills and can work; not let you in because you need our government to feed you.

Newsom also singled out officials in his audience which included “the proud son of undocumented Mexican immigrants.” I wish our duly elected governor – who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution –would abstain from singing the praises of someone who violated U.S. immigration law, i.e., cheated to be here, and worm his way into office so he can favor ushering in more illegal immigrants.

More crap flowed from of the governor’s mouth when he stated: “Authoritarian and conservative impulses are not only growing abroad, they have been resonating here at home for some time now. While our country doesn’t really have war-forces, we are plagued by agents from the Fuel Department, a national anger machine who weaponizes grievance. Powerful forces and loud voices – inciting fear and dividing us, undermining the institutions of our democracy. Relying on complacency to erode the right to vote by making minorities a scapegoat. Accepting conspiracies and promoting ‘otherness.’”

Is he talking about states like Georgia and Texas which have clamped down on voter fraud? What chutzpah. 

Newsom spoke out of both sides of his mouth when he signaled he would support a gas tax holiday while expressing that “by embracing the polluters” (code for you and I with a car that runs on gasoline), will lead to more oil drilling and more colossal climate damage.  He stated that he wants to free California “once and for all from the grasp of petro-dictators.” Why not then expand oil drilling and fracking in California to make us not depend on exports? Because ramping up the oil industry does not jive with his enviro-dictator policy! According to the slick-meister, “Drilling even more oil, only leads to even more extreme weather, more extreme drought, more wildfire.”

He blamed the wildfires, once again, on climate change induced drought while totally ignoring the state’s failure to clear out forests of fuels that caused towns like Paradise to burn to the ground.

Newsom knows that fires have plagued California’s timber country since the dawn of man and certainly way before white man came in and began documenting life in newspapers. Fire is a part of the earth cycle and through them come new life. Forest and wildland fires happen and will continue to happen. Unfortunately, as we crowd into areas that weren’t populated before, fires have more reportable effects. But it’s rather disingenuous to blame fires on people who drive to work every day in gas-powered cars!

Newsom patted himself on the back reciting the litany of socialist programs delivered to his favorite constituency – those who depend on the hand of government to live. It’s the old pay off – he helps them and they vote for him, no matter what.

With Newsom you must read between the lines because he says things in code. So when he was talking about crime and said, “Our approach is neither to be indifferent to the realities of the present day, nor to go back to the heavy-handed policies that have marked the failures of the past,” what he was saying is we can’t throw people in prison – nor execute them – like we did in the past. No, governor, there was no failure there! You take a life, you forfeit your own and you most certainly didn’t walk the streets again to do your dirty deeds. His failure is letting criminals out of jail to continue repeating their thefts, murders and rapes.

True to his liberal nature, Newsom bragged about “investing millions in new programs to tackle the root causes of crime…” Has the man ever cracked open a Bible and read that Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” There, I just saved California taxpayers millions of dollars – it’s a heart issue. So, bottom line is no matter how hard you try, in this fallen world, you will never get rid of all crime and you will never get rid of all poverty.

Newsom pushed his gay agenda in “a real transformation of our public education system, like we’re doing right here in California.” He stated: “I’m not talking about ‘reforming’ that version of education in some states, where they’re banning books, where you can sue your history teacher for teaching history, and where you can’t say the word ‘gay.’”

It was a direct slam at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who backed the Parental Rights in Education bill that prevents teachers from talking about sexual orientation of gender identity in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms. I think most Americans agree that public schools have no business talking sex with impressionable young minds and that gender is fluid and that homosexuality is normal. I agree with DeSantis when he states: “We’re going to make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum.”

Liberals are up in arms over the bill, but Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill restricts all instruction about sexuality and gender theory in grades K-3, not just homosexuality.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki can brand the Florida bill “discriminatory,” “horrific,” and “a form of bullying” against families and LGBTQ children, but brushed off a question about why her boss, Joe Biden, voted for similar legislation when he was a U.S. senator in 1994. Of course Biden has conveniently changed to kiss the butt of his political base. It’s political hypocrisy at its finest. 

Psaki did not clarify how the bill allegedly “discriminates” against certain children and families because it is a bogus claim.

The governor smugly boasted: “Look, people have always looked to California for inspiration.” Unfortunately, they aren’t getting inspiration – they have facing desperation to the point that 110,000 Californians fled the state last year, resulting in one less seat in Congress.

If you look at the state precinct by precinct, the majority of California voted to recall Newsom. Stanislaus County favored his recall, as did 27 other counties. Newsom was ONLY saved by Southern California and Bay Area voters.

We lead the nation in homelessness and poverty. We have an inadequate supply of housing like never before because build homes is too expensive and mired in red tape. We have an inadequate supply of water like never before because we haven’t built new storage and, to make matters worse, are forced to flush excessive amounts of water from the dams built by prior generations. 

* * * * *

Do you ever get the sense – because I do – that the national media is always trying to convince us of something that just isn’t true? Like they’re hoping if they repeat it enough people will believe it and because “Well, it’s on TV, it must be true”? I watched talking head after talking head last week say something to the effect of “most Americans we talked to say they don’t mind paying higher gas prices if it helps the Ukraine and hurts Russia.”

Don’t mind $5.50 per gallon for gas? Don’t mind paying that when gas averaged $2.57 per gallon under Trump? Don’t mind shelling out $144 million more per day for gas and not to mention the higher cost of everything that is delivered by truck! The media is making this crap up!

The truth is Biden’s actions only hurt America’s middle class. Not buying oil from Russia won’t hurt Russia; they have plenty of customers worldwide. Under Trump we were energy self-sufficient. The moment Biden took office he yanked the federal permits on the Keystone XL pipeline and gasoline prices began to soar. So when Biden said oil production didn’t level off after he became president, he told a whopper.

On Wednesday White House press secretary Jen Psaki said restarting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was not one of the options on the table.

“If we’re trying to bring about more supply that does not address any problem,” Psaki said. “The pipeline is just a delivery mechanism – it’s not an oil field, so it does not provide more supply into the system.”

The pipeline is part of expanding supply! 

High gas prices are a liberal politician’s dream. They prefer high gas prices to push their agenda of electric cars and mass transit.

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