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Illegal dumpers know they are doing wrong

Did he really say that? 

At Wednesday’s City Council workshop on a beefed-up code enforcement strategy, Councilman Jim Casey said, and I quote: “Some of the illegal dumping is done by the general public. They don’t know that it’s illegal and I think somehow or another we need to educate them.”

Of course people know it’s illegal to dump their garbage and discarded furniture and stuff, which is why they do it stealthily in the cover of darkness.

There is a class of people that just doesn’t give a flying rip about being good, decent members of the community. They are the self-centered ones, the people without conscience if they dump their problems on someone else. We see how renters dump all sorts of household items into the street when they move out. We see how people make great effort to haul their discarded appliances out into the country and foist it upon farmers’ properties. We see how fly-by-night roofing companies dump piles of shingles in the country. They just don’t care because they want a free place to discard.

We have places near Ceres to dump things but some don’t want to pay for the disposal costs. That’s why government must get heavy-handed and citizens must get involved to report dumping when they see it happen. The fines must be greater than disposal costs to offset the temptation to engage in illegal dumping.

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You can tell a lot about what people are thinking by reading social media comments.

On our Facebook post on our article about the Planning Commission approving the development of a 58-unit apartment complex and a new AM/PM across the street from the Quik Stop at Service and Morgan roads, some folks went negative. I get it; they are tired of Ceres seemingly only getting more gas stations, more car washes and more fast food places. Kristal Mitchell spoke for a lot of folks when she stated: “maybe a nice steak house restaurant and something to do that is fun for the kids and adults alike, maybe a movie theater in the old Walmart building?”

City officials would love to have that as well. The problem is that private business which brings new stores and eateries to town – the city certainly doesn’t – haven’t felt the need to located here. Maybe now that the Ceres Gateway Center and Mitchell Ranch Shopping Center are a reality we can snag some nice dinner restaurants. Hint, hint, Cracker Barrel? Come to Ceres!

The other negative comments were directed to the apartment complex component of the project. Julie Cothran commented: “The apartment prices are so extravagant the average person cannot afford them.”

While prices have gone up everywhere on everything, apartments are often more affordable than single-family home mortgages. Consider that apartments haven’t been constructed in Ceres for quite some time. They have been approved but I haven’t seen any start.

Stanislaus County has a housing shortage as does the entire state of California. As long as people keep having babies, we must keep building more homes – apartments or single-family homes.

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Caltrans is doing a horrible job of roadside maintenance in Ceres. The state insists on using rock in its freeway interchange landscaping to save water (unless we’re talking LA and they can waste water like crazy with no repercussions). But anyone who uses rock for groundcover knows that you have to take measures to stay on top of the weeds.

Take a look, next time you go northbound on Highway 99, as you approach the Whitmore Avenue exit and see how horrible the weeds are at the Howard Stevenson Interchange. Since it does so for private property owner who allows their grasses to get out of hand, the fire department should post an abatement notice for the state to clean up its property. It looks terrible.

Of course the biggest eyesore in the area is the row of homeless camps between the South Ninth Street exit 224 and the Crows Landing Road exit 225A. If that area catches on fire this summer, there could be a great loss of life with trapped homeless people unable to escape! How the state allows this to happen as “compassionate” is beyond my level of understanding of the word.

* * * * *

I saw a very accurate meme the other day in response to the “elimination of student debt.”

The Biden administration is likely on shaky legal ground as it considers whether to cancel student loan debt for thousands of Americans. The White House said his decision will be made before the moratorium on payments expires on Aug. 31.

The meme stated: “Just to be clear, there is no plan to eliminate student debt. There is a plan to transfer that debt to those who don’t owe it.”

* * * * *

I had a good chuckle when I saw a headline in our sister newspaper, the Turlock Journal last week: “Program offers college students $10,000 to volunteer in their community.”

Silly me, I thought volunteering was the act of selflessly giving of your time and talents to your community with no financial reward. I guess the definition of “volunteer” is changing.

Apparently there is now a Californians For All College Corps program for 6,500 students at UC, California State and California Community College campuses, as well as some private schools.

We did have a program in the private sector called W-O-R-K. But this state program one pays a $7,000 living allowance stipend and a $3,000 education award for 450 hours over a year. That breaks down to 8.6 hours a week, or 1.23 hours per day. Nice gig.

* * * * *

I worry about the direction of our country as far as our citizenry is concerned.

There was a Facebook post about a drive-up ATM at a March Lane bank in Stockton that had been absolutely mangled by some thief who apparently used a crowbar. The face had been peeled away and some effort had been made to pry open the area where the cash is stored. It looks like the criminal didn’t get a dollar.

Most people had opinions that most law-abiding citizens would hold – that it was horrible and terribly brazen for anyone to break into an ATM to steal cash. I’m no expert on ATM machines but they must cost at least $10,000 and this one in Stockton looked like it was headed for a costly repair or the dump.

I bring this up because an individual named Pac Young praised the crime (and I apologize ahead of this for his severe deficiency in grammar, punctuation and spelling): “Whoever it was came up, if they got away, ain’t no one hurt by it, banks got insurance and more money to spare, it’s not like big banks don’t deserve it, kudos to the guys that completed their objectives, some people mad they didn’t think of it first, times is hard and people will do what they can to survive, it’s Stoccton, don’t expect nothing different.”

It’s hard to comprehend that there are people who think it’s okay to rob and steal to make their ends meet because “times is hard.”

Which is the reason we need law enforcement to deal with the losers in our society.

* * * * *

I had a chance to talk to Linda Sherman, a longtime resident of the no man’s land area of Ceres. You know, the neighborhood that has been encircled by Ceres yet want to pretend that they aren’t and want to remain being serviced by the county.

She lamented the passage of many of her neighbors, including Tom Dimperio and – this came as a shock to me because I hadn’t heard – Eldon DeWitt. Eldon was 96 when he passed away on Dec. 17. Eldon came to work for the Ceres Unified School District in1966 where he became Director of Guidance and Pupil Personnel Services until his retirement in 1993. He was a charter member of Kiwanis, belonged to the Chamber of Commerce, was CUSD’s liaison to the Ceres Ministerial Alliance and was a founding board member of the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children. In 1989, Eldon was named Ceres Citizen of the Year.

Eldon was a good man. While I lost contact with him in the 1990s, I can still hear his voice in my head.

* * * * *

It looks like we are still paying dearly for the way government shut down our economy from March 2020 onward.

Shutting down plants and lines of transportation means food shortages.

I have been unable to find okra in the stores.

Cat food has been in short supply.

Now baby formula. National out-of-stock levels of baby formula jumped nine percentage points, from 31 to 40 percent between April 3 and April 24. That’s up sharply from 11 percent in November.

This is a big deal because 75 percent of American babies get their nourishment through formula. Costs for it – if you can find it – are up by as much as 18 percent over the last 12 months.

Why is this happening? In a sentence, labor shortages and supply chain issues. We have a labor shortage after people got used to getting paid for not working for there is a labor shortage.

Rodney Holcomb, a food economist at Oklahoma State University, explained that a better term to “shortage” is “really more of a food supply bottleneck. We still have the same production potential, but labor shortages are having widespread impacts across harvesting, processing, packaging, and shipping.”

Holcomb is optimistic that the “very resilient” food industry will “make big adjustments instead of small tweaks. Given a little time, we’ll steady the boat.”

* * * * *

Baby formula isn’t the only thing in short supply. Try electricity.

California’s power grid operator, the California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO), predicted we may be having power outages this summer. Cal ISO stated that the state could be 1,700 megawatts short of what it needs for the grid to function properly.

One megawatt is enough electricity to power 750 homes. 750 times 1700 is 1.275 million homes that could be without power – especially if fires or excessive heat is a problem and we know it typically is.

As is typical, Democrats blame climate change and not their own failed policies, one of which is never build clean hydroelectric power plants because they consider dams to be this unspeakable evil.

All that California Public Utilities Commission President Alice Reynolds can say is: “We continue to see climate-change conditions are impacting our energy system in unprecedented ways.”

Just like their failure in water policies, Democrats think the answer is to conserve our way out of a shortage. You’d think the voters would try electing others who do have answers. In California’s case is it build more dams, more houses and more prisons and enact lower taxes.

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I am getting to the point that I absolutely loathe the governor of California. To me he is the biggest face of evil in politics today besides Nancy Pelosi.

As the U.S. Supreme Court has signaled it wants to let states decide whether to allow abortion or not, Gov. Newsom (I feel dirty writing his name) embraces the death practice and he wants California to not only be a place where babies can be killed but he wants you and I to pay for the barbaric practice.

This from the Associated Press: “Gov. Gavin Newsom and top legislative leaders committed Monday to putting an amendment on the November ballot that would "enshrine the right to choose in California …" Newsom has pledged to make California a sanctuary for people to come and get abortions. State legislative leaders have endorsed 13 bills to do so, including proposals that would potentially use taxpayer money to pay for people from other states to come to California for abortions.”

Working in lockstep with Newsom is Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins.

The AP notes: “It takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. That shouldn’t be a problem in California’s Legislature. Democrats control so many seats they could muster the necessary votes without relying on Republicans.”

If this were a movie it would be titled: “Democrats: The Party of Death.”

* * * * *

The liberal news media is a despicable lot. MSN reporters are among the worst.

The reason Bryan Metzger ran this story, headlined, “Susan Collins called the cops to report ‘defacement of public property’ after someone wrote a pro-abortion rights message in chalk on a public sidewalk outside her house,” was in an attempt to embarrass her for being so petty.

It’s a non-story but was used anyway.

Senator Collins, a Maine Republican, is poised to vote no today on a bill labeled the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” that would codify the right to an abortion afforded by Roe v. Wade into federal law. Senate Democrats have sped up a vote on the bill in the wake of the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe.

Collins, who is no conservative, describes herself as in favor of abortion rights but said the bill goes too far in that it wouldn’t allow medical providers who object to abortion for moral or religious reasons to refuse performing the procedure.

I don’t blame Collins for calling police. Pro-abortion activists have been protesting outside of justice’s homes when such protests should be conducted at official places of business. Protesting at homes where family live is nothing more than intimidated tactic and used to be off-limits. But the Left goes to extremes to bully decision-maker – like in October when Senator Kyrsten Sinema was followed into a bathroom and demanded that she vote for the reconciliation bill (read that as Government Overspending Bill).

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