By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Kline spared Ceres of another election

I found it interesting last week how Councilman Jim Casey decided to give a short prepared speech lamenting how the council’s reputation has suffered in 2021, making reference to the series of deadlocks earlier this year that crippled the city, and the most recent embarrassing royal screw-up by appointing John R. Osgood III and later rescinding his appointment. Casey’s statement ended as a call for a special election, saying the people of District 4 should decide who represents them.

The people did decide in 2020 and apparently made an unwise choice, as they often do when they fall for image and not substance. Couper Condit begged for the four-year job and quit 10 months later. We’ve given up receiving an explanation.

A new special council election would have been unable to occur until March 2021 and cost about $35,000 on the low side. The winner only would have served eight months, until November. What part of Casey’s suggestion made any sense when they had a qualified former councilman in Mike Kline eager to fill in the gap? And the chances are that a new councilmember would have been inexperienced as Casey is – something not needed on this body.

Let’s review. On Nov. 3, 2020, Couper Condit won first place with 1,229 votes (38.19 percent) after spending over $10,000 while Kline came in in second place with 757 votes (23.52 percent) after spending nothing. If this tells you anything about lack of voter savvy, consider that Eric Gonzalez, an unemployed 22-year-old MJC poli-sci student who made no attempt to run a real campaign, won 19.45 percent of the vote with 626 votes. Gonzalez even bested the 606 votes that Daniel Martinez claimed in the race. Martinez is now serving on the Planning Commission and Gonzalez has slipped into the annals of wannabe Ceres councilmen along with the names of Kevin Johnson, Jerry Sheffield, Richard Felix, Mike Rego, Irv Gilgert, Mike Soffa and more recently Gene Yeakley, Mohinder Kanda and Juan J.P. Vasquez.

When Casey’s motion for a special election failed to garner a second, the council quickly appointed Kline. It was honorable that Casey didn’t exact revenge in voting “no” out of spite which allowed Kline to come into office with a unanimous vote.

Here’s a toast to a much productive and friendlier Ceres City Council in 2022. Kline is experienced, amiable and gets along with just about anybody. 

* * * * *

The actions of the yet-to-mature brains of young people under the age of 25 – make that 30 in some individuals – never cease to amaze me.

I’ve personally seen some pretty stupid and dangerous driving by “kids” who don’t get that they are flirting with life and limb and finances. These kids aren’t driving Toyotas; they’re usually driving sporty cars that they likely can probably only afford because they are living at home with mom and dad and don’t have to pay exorbitant rents or mortgages required to live in California.

On Dec. 6 two drivers were arrested by Ceres Police for racing on a public street – and lost the privilege of possessing their cars for up to 30 days. It’s really stupid to risk losing your car for a month or worse, killing others or yourself. Once your car is gone, you can’t go to work – assuming you do work – and you can’t go to restaurants or anywhere. Talk about isolation!  These two clowns will be in court, and have to pay $2,260 to get their cars out of impound. And if I were their parents, I wouldn’t front them the impound fees; I’d tell them to walk until they can grow up.

The California Vehicle Code states that a person shall not engage in a motor vehicle speed contest on public streets. A person may be punished by both a fine and imprisonment. That person shall also be required to perform 40 hours of community service. The court may revoke driving privileges for 90 days to six months. Police can also arrest and have the car impounded for up to 30 days.

Far worse happened last week.

Two 19-year-olds are dead following Saturday evening’s crash at Crowslanding Road and Whitmore Avenue in Ceres. The crash is being blamed on a young lady, Danielle Morgan, 28, of Fair Oaks, who was reportedly intoxicated when she ran a red light in her Ford pickup.

Not only are two young men dead but Morgan’s life is forever ruined by what happened after she made a very unwise decision to drink and drive. It’s all unnecessary but it happens again and again and again.

Drinking and driving killed 10,327 people in California last year. Alcohol-related traffic fatalities make up just under 30 percent of all traffic fatalities each year. Young people are the most at risk for drunk driving. Drivers aged 21 to 24 account for 27 percent of all fatal alcohol-impaired crashes, followed closely by 25- to 34-year-olds at 25 percent.

* * * * *

I saw a great meme the other day that only someone in their 60s or older can appreciate:

“I feel bad for parents nowadays. You have to be able to explained the birds & the bees, the bees & the bees, the birds and the birds, the birds that used to be bees, the bees that used to be birds, the birds that look like bees, plus bees that look like birds but still have a stinger!

* * * * *

Lots of elected officials and pundits have been weighing in on the disastrous news that inflation surged 6.8 percent, even more than expected, in November to its fastest rate since June 1982.

The consumer-price index, which measures the cost of a of goods, rose 0.8 percent for the month, good for a 6.8 percent pace on a year over year basis and the fastest rate since June 1982.

One of the biggest surges in prices has been in fast-food. You are now paying nearly 8 percent more for that less-than-healthy food because restaurants have to pay more in wages to get workers to show up in this “I get paid more to sit at home than actually work” socialism program.

The Labor Department on Friday said this puts pressure on the economic recovery and raises the stakes for the Federal Reserve.

It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why prices have gone up so high. The federal government (read that Congress and the president) has been printing money like there’s no tomorrow. Too many dollars chasing too few goods means prices rise. 

Ruel Joyner, CEO of a Savannah furniture design and manufacturing company, told a Congressional committee that before the pandemic a shipping container to transport his furniture cost $2,400. Today that same shipping container costs $24,000. Joyner pointed to the government’s pandemic-era policy of “paying workers to stay home” as the problem. “When businesses started to reopen and people were getting back to normal, the federal government mandating private health decisions and shamed those who had conscientious objections, further hindering a return to a normal, healthy workforce.”

State Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, said the inflation numbers are “the worst possible news at the worst possible time for Californians struggling with our state’s runaway inflation. From housing, to food, to gas, California Democrats have spent a decade creating an affordability crisis. Now, just before the holidays, it’s clear that the Party’s radical plans in D.C. are pouring fuel on the fire.

“When inflation forces Californians to shrink their holiday meals, skip travelling to see family or scale back their gift-giving, they can thank Democrats and their years of high taxes, reckless spending and costly mandates.”

A record high 11.5 percent of Americans say they won’t be buying Christmas gifts this year.

* * * * *

The fact that Brian Williams, the long-time NBC and MSNBC news anchor, said that he is worried about this county and that America is unrecognizable should send shivers into the soul of every American.

Williams retired on Thursday and told his audience: ”I will wake up tomorrow in the America of the year 2021, a nation unrecognizable to those who came before us and fought to protect it, which is what you must do now. They’ve decided to burn it all down with us inside. That should scare you to no end as much as it scares an aging volunteer fireman.”

He condemned elected officials who “have decided to join the mob and become something they are not while hoping we somehow forget who they were.”

This is a shocker, given how the mainstream media with their bias slant, has fomented much of the discord in our country. MSNBC spent five years trying to portray Donald Trump as the greatest American villain since John Wilkes Booth. Because of that we elected a man in the White House who is in cognitive decline and controlled by others and their socialist agenda is a scary one.

* * * * *

During a virtual Sacramento Press Club interview last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg – whose last job was being the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a city more than half the size of Modesto – said paying for infrastructure without raising taxes on the middle-class and low-income people is “something Americans understand and echo.”

Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell Peter that’s exactly the opposite of what California Democrats did the last time they wanted more infrastructure money. Remember how they passed SB 1 in 2017 to raise gas tax and user fees by $1.5 billion EACH YEAR?

Now, California drivers are billions poorer (unless they own a Tesla), and the roads have actually gone from the ninth worst in the country to sixth worst.

Hopefully Mayor Pete has some serious oversight planned or the federal government will get ripped off just like California drivers did.

* * * * *

There seems to be misunderstanding about how the three-can system will work once January arrives.

Lee Brandt posted this on Facebook on Friday: “OK, I understand Ceres will be changing the way our garbage picked up with the new recycle rules the state has put on us. I know we are no longer going to be able to use plastic liners for garbage.

What are people going to use? Plus what do I do with the large rolls of plastic bags I now have?”

The truth is that you can still use garbage bags, including kitchen liner bags! You just cannot put plastic garbage bags in the blue or green containers.

We’ve done a lot of educating on the changes coming but it sounds like a lot of folks are still confused.

The green cart is for organic waste, including food waste, grass clippings, leaves, garden trimmings, yard waste and food-soiled paper. Just don’t, let’s say, toss leaves or grass (which is recyclable) in a plastic bag and dump the bagged waste at in the blue cart. The plastic bag is a no-no in the green container.

The blue container is for recyclables such as soda bottles, aluminum cans, milk jugs and paper like newspaper and junk mail. Just don’t, let’s say, toss newspapers (which are recyclable) in a plastic bag and dump those bagged items in the blue cart. The plastic bag is a no-no in the blue container.

The black/gray cart is for all other garbage. It’s okay to haul your bagged kitchen garbage and drop it into the black garbage can.

* * * * *

Finally someone gets it.

In our story, “Planners approve two commercial projects along Mitchell Road,” lots of Facebook users were, as usual, complaining. They specifically dislike the idea of yet another convenience store and gas pumps with another car wash. They also don’t like that Ono Hawaiian BBQ is coming to the new Ceres Gateway Center. Chad Dana Mahu put it this way: “We do not need Ono Hawaiian BBQ. Bring in something different; we don’t need an In-N-Out Burger nor did we need Habit (Burger). Bring a sit-down restaurant, something different not something that we can get five minutes away maybe OK 16 minutes give or take.”

Ciara Chacon said Ceres needs a Texas Road House. That would be wonderful but would Ceres be able to support one?

Jim Patton is one of the few who gets it in replying to those who think they can order up a new business like a DoorDash for Taco Bell. He responded to all the complainers: “To all the people complaining about another gas station and fast food place. The city does not bring these businesses to town. The businesses themselves decide to come to town. If the property is zoned for that purpose then the city says ok. If you want something else put your money where your mouth is and open one.”

* * * * *

Black Lives Matter’s reaction to the Jussie Smollett conviction tells you everything you need to know about how the truth doesn’t matter to that organization.

Smollett, of course, was found guilty of staging a fake hate crime so he could vilify conservatives and Trump supporters. BLM went on to malign the Chicago Police, saying they lied just to set up Smollett for charges. In a released statement, BLM said the verdict was “decided in a white supremacist charade” and they continued in their push to abolishing all police “and every unjust system.”

CNN anchor Don Lemon, a gay black man, saw the case differently, saying “what he did might undermine future victims, legitimate victims of hate crimes.”

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