By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
If Democrats cared they would suspend the gas tax

If members of the state Legislature truly cared about helping the downtrodden and beleaguered citizens of California – particularly the impoverished Central Valley where we have to drive farther than folks in the bigger cities – then they’d suspend the gas tax for the time being while Biden policy gas hikes continue to wreak havoc on our budgets.

I know Republicans would do it. In fact, last week Legislative Republicans joined government, business and community leaders from Orange County to call for California to suspend the state gas tax to ease the affordability crisis. AB 1638 would suspend California’s 51-cent per gallon excise tax for six months and use a portion of the state’s $45 billion budget surplus to ensure continued funding for transportation projects. 

Democrats should get onboard since it was their president who cut off the pipeline and immediately shot up gas prices after Trump left the White House. But I’d say there’s a better chance of you being able to pick up a toothpick from the table with your butt cheeks.

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher said: “A gas tax holiday would cut prices by 50 cents a gallon overnight, and with the surplus we have, there’s no reason we can’t ease drivers’ pain at the pump.”

Californians pay the highest gas tax in the nation, which is adding to the skyrocketing cost of fuel. The state’s average gas prices last week were $4.87/gallon, and are now at $5.28 a week later – a new record. We are also $1.11 above the national average.

Taxes and mandates add $1.27 to the cost of a gallon of gas in California. At least someone in Sacramento is recommending a gas tax holiday but they are not the political party in charge.

* * * * *

Newsom is so out of touch with the needs of the Central Valley. I’m not sure he cares because he knows the Valley largely supported his recall.

The lifeblood of the Valley is water. Pure and simple, the engine of our economy runs on farms and water is essential to run farms. You cannot grow corn or almonds or cows without water. It doesn’t work.

But on Wednesday the Newsom Administration appeared before the Assembly Budget Committee Sub 3 to defend their budget on drought resilience. The Administration touts its $750 million proposal. But only $30 million is dedicated to groundwater recharge. There is no new funding for above groundwater storage!

We don’t have enough dams and the ones we have the state tells us to flush obscene amounts out to the Delta!

In 2014, voters approved $2.7 billion for aboveground storage. Not a drop of water has been added as the permits have been held by the Newsom Administration. 

That’s the sad truth of state leaders who head off to their favorite restaurants and stuff their faces with beef raised on lands that are parched for water.

* * * * *

I had a chance to hear Modesto City Councilman Chris Ricci on KFIV 1360 AM recently talking about illegal dumping. Judging by Ricci’s topic, Ceres isn’t the only city in Stanislaus County dealing with the dilemma.

Since Modesto and Ceres have some of the basic policies, let’s talk about his ideas for Modesto. While the city to the north of us has a “free” bulky item pick-up service, it’s limited. The problem is that it is not offered to apartment dwellers and I believe that’s where the problem is coming from. Most apartment renters don’t have a lot of money for dump fees and limited access to pickups for self-hauling.

I believe another source of illegal dumping is coming from independent clean-up companies who clean up properties for a fee. They collect the waste and to maximize profits head out of Farmer Fred’s dairy or orchard and dump it in the cloak of night.

Ricci is trying to work out a program that would allow bulky item pick-up in apartment complexes.

I’ve often wondered why the city couldn’t arrange for people to bring their junk to a lot somewhere instead of hauling out to out-of-the-way street locations or into the country.

* * * * *

At last week’s City Council meeting Mayor Javier Lopez and Vice Mayor Bret Silveira wore old fashioned clothing to help mark the 104th anniversary of the incorporation of the city. The mayor also read a proclamation reviewing the history of Ceres as far as its incorporation in 1918 is concerned.

Lee Brandt expressed disappointment that the community wasn’t notified of the celebration and said he would have made it down. Mayor Lopez explained that it wasn’t much of a celebration that night but likes the idea of an annual celebration.

Brandt said he is “kind of upset” at the city for not completing the Centennial Plaza which had a groundbreaking in February 2020. The Ceres Centennial Committee raised nearly $20,000 to build the Centennial Plaza feature on Fourth Street near the Community Center. To be fair, the pandemic had a lot to do with the construction phase. Brandt pushed for the city to have some kind of specific date for a completion date.

* * * * *

The bellyaching continues. The news item about the city approving the Quick Quack Car Wash brought some more complaining. On Instagram came this comment from someone: “I’m sorry but ceres you need to do better!!! Why do we need three dam (sic) car washes in the little a** town!!! Bring in apple bees (sic), Texas road house, sizzler, red lobster, Red Robin, Buffalo Wild Wings something we don’t have.”

Does this person realize that it’s the companies which decide what to build, not the city? Judging by the way people comment on social media, they must think the Planning Commission get together and says, “Heck no to Applebee’s, let’s build a new car wash!” Not close to reality.

The truth is if Applebee’s or Sizzler’s or Red Lobster or Red Robin came to the city and proposed a new business, the city would drop to its knees and say “Thank you, Jesus.” Until then, it’s a waiting game.

The city has been begging Cracker Barrel to come to Ceres for years and it’s fallen on deaf ears thus far.

* * * * *

On a personal note, I had a chance to visit Knott’s Berry Farm on a recent Saturday (HUGE MISTAKE) and it was a miserable experience. At what point should an amusement park continue selling tickets when it’s so miserably crowded that one waits 2 hours, 45 minutes to ride the two minutes, 40-second GhostRider rollercoaster?

Never again.

I’m supposing that Knott’s gets huge crowds because the ticket prices are so low. The trade-off is you can only ride about five rides all day – which is a rip-off.

My Feb. 3-4 experience at Disneyland – where there was a reservation system – was far better.

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