By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
If you ignore politicians you’ll fall for their tricks

The best way to fall for the games that politicians play is to fail to pay attention to their conduct in office.

I keep an eye on what’s going on at Ceres City Council meetings. I rarely miss a regular meeting, which is twice a month. As a reporter I am paid to observe and listen, and condense into words the actions of the council. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. I can tell you that the quality of leadership seems to be diminishing as time goes on.

Channce Condit may seems like a nice guy – he works a room like a pro like his dad and congressman grandpa – but he plays dirty. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) But truly his political ambitions have outpaced his abilities.

Condit was elected to a four-year term on the City Council last year. His term is up December 2022 so it has three more years before it expires. Let me run a hypothetical: If he had gone to door-to-door a year ago and said, “I want to serve you on the City Council but if something better comes along, don’t think for one minute I wouldn’t drop everything and run,” how do you think voters may have responded? Maybe with “Where is your sense of commitment for the community you say you want to be the greatest?” Or “You’re just out for political ambition,” or “Just a typical politician looking to climb the ladder.”

I know, I know. Condit says he had “no intention of running” for the Board of Supervisors and that he was compelled to jump into the race after Anthony Cannella said he was a no-go and “we needed a strong voice for District 5” and believe he “can provide it.” But, sorry to say, he’s an empty suit.

One would have hoped that Condit would honorably serve out his term before seeking higher office. I had hoped he would mature a bit and become seasoned in the experience and grow wiser. (If he remains on the council he just may may do that). So far I’ve seen nothing but political gamesmanship for political gain while the merry band of Conditistas cheer him on. 

But what I saw last week was inexcusable. Again, I’ll get to that in a minute but let’s talk about his new political pursuit.

Last week Condit announced his candidacy for the county supervisor seat in a press release. It was emailed with a presumptuous pose of him wearing a business suit and broad smile, standing in front of an American flag with his hand up as if take an oath for Congress. Such self-serving poses aren’t appropriate art for a news story. It all fits together: The optics of such a photo, the eagerness to bail on a job just handed to him, and the bold and controversial posturing at council meetings underscores it has been his ambition to climb the political ladder all along since running for council under the pretense of serving the community.

Condit has made overtures just to get things “on the record” to be used for bullet points on his campaign flyer for whatever higher office he seeks next. The controversy following Condit – with his pointed questions and votes that often defy logic – has also been designed to garner publicity, even if it’s bad publicity. It’s not been “Ceres Together We Achieve,“ but “Whatever to Promote Channce.” 

Take last week, for example, when Condit was the only one who voted against the surface water project advancing. The project has been in the works since he was a high school student in Arizona. While saying he favored the regional surface water project – indeed calling it “necessary” – Condit then suggested the ratepayers were somehow getting screwed. I’m curious where this late arrival thinks government gets money to build public projects. What Condit said is as ludicrous as: “I’m in favor of buying this house – and we really need it – but it’s unfair that the people living under its roof have to pay the mortgage.” Of course ratepayers are going to be the ones covering the costs because you can’t have your cake and eat it too! A five-year series of rate hikes were adopted by the council in November 2017 to do just that.

Condit then crossed the line by casting reckless and irresponsible aspersions on the integrity of fellow council members, insinuating that he heard “someone in Turlock” suggest some “elected official” was financially benefiting from the surface water project. After seeing that his list of campaign supporters includes Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak – a critic of the project – I bet I know from where this little jewel of an innuendo came.

I suspect Condit wanted to go on the record so his radio campaign commercial script over ominous music will read, “Channce Condit boldly opposed massive water rate hikes in opposing a multi-million-dollar boondoggle (his word).” I can hear the Conditista now: “Oooh, oooh our hero.” But if you could shut down the project, where will the water come from, Channce?

 * * * * *

It’s hard living in a state governed by people who continually thumb their noses at all the law-abiding citizens while throwing down the welcome mat to the lawbreakers.

Specifically, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra who continually slaps the legal immigrants in the face by accommodating border jumpers and wage war against a president who believes in borders and the rule of law.

President Trump realizes the tremendous cost to American taxpayers when people sneak into the country to milk the system. It’s inherently unfair to those who did it the right way, waited years, learned the English language and about the Constitution and about our government. The illegal ones may come with some low skills and a hard work ethic but they don’t know the language and they certainly don’t have the same allegiance of the proud folks who wanted to become an American through the proper channels and honor our system of laws. And because they have no respect for that, they find solace in one political party that pats them on the head and says, “That’s okay, Juan, you can stay – just vote for us for the rest of your natural days. Oh and can we offer you some free healthcare too? Don’t worry, the poor saps who voted for us and the evil ones who didn’t will pay for it. Here ya go, just remember who your friends are. Look for the “D”: behind our name on the ballot.”

Just know this: Becerra hates the wall. He is more beholden to those living south of the border than the legitimate citizens. So he and his cohorts with the ACLU (might as be the American Communist Loving Union and the liberals in the Sierra Club and then U.S. District Court said Trump can’t use $3.6 billion in military construction project funds to build part of the border wall along California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Yay, what a great victory for those who would just as soon take a blow torch to anything resembling a border. Remember what Ronald Reagan said: ““A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.”

Becerra argued that using those funds for a wall would have robbed the states of facilities “which would have brought hundreds of millions of dollars in direct and interstate benefits to their economies.” Realize, though, this was all about fighting the wall. Becerra has no affinity for the military.

Mr. Becerra, why don’t you go back to bilking all the corporations of their money with your fines?

* * * * *

Have you noticed how the Left will label something “big” on something they don’t like?  When they started to wage war against the companies that put gas and oil in our cars – because they hate cars – they called them “Big Oil” with capital letters. They accused the Bushes of being in the pocket of “Big Oil.”

Then when they waged war on cigarette companies it was “Big Tobacco.”

Notice that they never make the disparaging connection to “Big Government.” The reason is the Left loves big government because while they don’t trust “big” any company, they love the power and the money of Big Government.

To quote Reagan again: ““I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”

* * * * *

Speaking of Big Government, let me share with you about my latest experience with the Department of Motor Vehicles. For over a month I risked getting pulled over because of their ineptitude.

It’s bad enough that the Democrats jacked up the gas tax by $52 billion in SB 1 – and then confuse voters about the effort to repeal it – and jacked up car registration. Now if you want to pay for your vehicle registration online with a credit card or debit card, you get to pay an extra 2.1 percent.

Now because I don’t want to pay out an extra dime, I sent in a check. My registration was due at the end of November. I wrote my $195 check on Nov. 5 and sent it in to Sacramento, which is less than a two-hour drive for the mail truck. At the end of the month there was no sign of my tag, so I went to the Turlock DMV and the frazzled guy at the door asked when I sent it in and then he added, “Oh, it takes about a month.”

DMV cashed my check on Dec. 2. I finally got my license tag on Saturday, Dec. 14.

And how is that Big Government working for you? It’s not working well for me and costs me.

* * * * *

Our state’s Attorney General Becerra – who is more aptly Trump Litigant in Chief – is such a hypocrite.

If Trump takes subsidies from people he is “robbing” them. When California Democrats enact new taxes they never use that word in a phrase. You will never hear them say, “We’re going to rob Californians with a $53 billion gas tax hike.” In fact, if they can’t tax they deceive by saying something or some project is being denied funding. Trump does it and he’s stealing from the mouths of babes.

* * * * *

Obstructionist Becerra acts like his jurisdiction reaches up Alaska. He has the arrogance to interfere with the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed rule exempting Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from the national Roadless Area Conservation Rule. The environmental radical that he is, Becerra is whining about Trump wanting to open up some development – such as harvesting timber in the region.

Every statewide elected official in Alaska supports the exemption from the federal regulation, which was implemented at the last minute by the Clinton administration. It prevents road construction, road reconstruction and timber harvesting across millions of acres in the Tongass. Many Alaskans believe the Roadless Rule should never have been applied to the state because of the uncertainty and barriers it imposes. It works against common-sense projects such as renewable hydropower — raising costs, extending approval timelines and causing some projects to be nixed altogether.

It must be pointed out that lifting the Roadless Rule would not automatically result in the development of more of the forest. New projects in areas where development is allowed would still have to secure all relevant federal approvals, including compliance with the Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan, the National Environmental Policy Act and other applicable laws such as the Clean Water Act.

Instead of sticking his nose in other states’ affairs where he has no jurisdiction – just because he detests all things Trump – Becerra should focus on problems in this state. True, he’s not the governor – he pretends that he is some sort of federal official – He and Newsom seem to be so filled with Trump hate and obsession that they neglect the woes that face California, such as homelessness, gang crime, lack of affordable housing, failure to keep up with road infrastructure and a burdensome tax system.

* * * * *

It’s tragic when anyone loses their life. And I think it’s true that no peace officer desires killing anybody and have that stirring memory haunt them the rest of their life, mulling over if it could have been prevented.

At the same time, nobody wants to have their child killed by an officer either. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a son to a bullet fired by an officer who was responding to a crime your child was involved in.

Nobody wants police officers to cross the line but sometimes the line is such a fine one to define. So while other liberal newspaper to the north condemned Officer Ross Bays’ actions regarding the fatal shooting of Spencer Carmen Mendez, 15, I have a different take.

Bays was responding to a call of a carload of young men of which one flashed a gun at Smyrna Park. The car sped off and several blocks away hit a car in haste to flee. It was a reckless hit-and-run. Bays spots the car and chases it after the driver refuses to stop. The car runs miles out into the country where the driver stops in rural Denair. Everyone in that car knew that police were in hot pursuit. Mendez gets out of the car, drops a gun, picks it up, and runs, leaving Bays to worry about an armed suspect fleeing into the cover of an orchard in one direction and a carload of potential cop assassins in another direction.

If I had to pick how this scenario ends it’s not with the funeral of an officer sworn to uphold the law and protect the public. I know we live in a world that doesn’t want people to pay the consequences of really stupid decisions but defying the law by picking up a gun is about the dumbest thing anyone can do. While I do find it troubling that Bays apparently did not issue a command to “Stop or I’ll shoot!” but at times mistakes are made in split-second decisions. And do you really think this kid would have stopped in his tracks?

Constitutionally, police officers are allowed to shoot under two circumstances, said University of Missouri professor St. Louis David Klinger, who studies use of force. The first circumstance is “to protect their life or the life of another innocent party” — what departments call the “defense-of-life” standard. The second circumstance is to prevent a suspect from escaping if the officer has probable cause to think the suspect poses a dangerous threat to the life of others – himself included.

It doesn’t sit well with me that Mendez’s parents get handed a gift of $2.1 million. They lost their kid because he did something supremely stupid and paid for it with his life. It’s almost like being awarded a prize because you allowed your child to go far astray from the standards most parents should expect of their kids. Hanging out with a bunch of punks who have weapons – reportedly stolen – and going around to inflict terror on people is a sign of parenting gone wrong. It’s just too bad the taxpayers have to pay for such stupidity.

And the comments on our Facebook were against the officer? It kind of clues you in how far our country has slid into a morale morass.

* * * * *

Speaking of morality, I saw the comments of one woman who witnessed a theft at the Walgreen’s on Oakdale Road in Modesto and how cooly the pair of thieves walked to their car. They didn’t run. That’s because in California today there are no consequences for stealing under $950.

The rest of us get to pay for the costs of thieves by higher products.

Thank you, Democrats and Democrat voters who supported Prop. 47 in 2014.

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at