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Kudos to Laurie Smith for 16 years of service to city

Laurie Smith will be missed on the Ceres Planning Commission. She decided to walk away from service after 16 years. You have to admire her sense of commitment, unlike recent elected city officials who wouldn’t served less than half of their four-year terms.

I was sorry that the voters of Ceres City Council District 1 chose not to elect her last year. Hands down, she had the experience and much professionalism and knowledge to offer the job. Unfortunately, some unfair characterizations of her being an “entrenched bureaucrat” made by John Osgood types did her no favors. Smith’s “day job” as head of Modesto parks also gave opponents a convenient target.

Now Smith takes all her talent home with her. It’s the commission’s loss, for sure.

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It was just another example of how Democrats are ruining California when Fox News reported last week that thousands of convicted pedophiles in California have been released from prison after only spending less than a year in prison, according to a recent analysis.

Using California’s Megan’s Law website, the Daily Mail found that more than 7,000 sex offenders convicted of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age were released from prison in less than a year of being convicted.

That should mortify any parent and it also stunned Los Angeles sex crimes prosecutor Samuel Dordulian who told the Daily Mail: “Statistics clearly show that pedophiles don’t get reformed. They’re going to come out and they’re going to commit again.”

Dordulian partially blames policies endorsed by Gavin Newsom which allow for shortened sentences of convicts, saying: “That has been the push for the last at least five years: letting people out of prison much earlier than what their sentences were for.”

Instead of building more prisons, the state is finding ways to set convicts loose.

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As much as I detest social media, it can be valuable in seeing what others in the community are experiencing and thinking.

On Wednesday last week a John Herlihy posted on Stanislaus News Facebook page the following comment: “The other day I was at Starbucks on Oakdale Road next to Ace. Young man of color walks in dressed in black with a black hoodie walks calmly over to the freezer picks out two sandwiches and a drink and walks out the door. I asked the barista about this and she explained it was a common occurrence.”

His comment drew some condemnation for pointing out that the thief was black.

What I cannot understand is the apologists who defended this thief’s actions.

Charlie Shoe commented: “I use to work at Starbucks. Trust me they are not hurting because this guy came in and took a sandwich! They throw half there (sic) stuff out in the garbage when nobody buys it!”

So stealing is okay because the product might be thrown out? Maybe the thief can try to not be a thief by checking the dumpsters daily since allegedly so much food is being thrown away.

Apparently Charlie didn’t read this recent story in the New York Post: “Starbucks to close 16 US stores because of crime, rampant drug use.” Most of the closures were in Seattle, that liberal bastion of soft-on-crime officials. Other closures were in other blue mayor cities of Portland, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Starbucks has also changed its tune about allowing just anyone to use their bathrooms to go in and shoot up and do all sorts of other things. (And, yes, it happens in the Ceres Starbucks because my daughter worked there and had to phone police often about the strung-out junkies refusing to leave the restroom.) Starbuck’s interim CEO Howard Schultz said this about the bathroom policy change: “We have to provide a safe environment for our people and our customers. The mental health crisis in the country is severe, acute and getting worse.”

We all see the mentally ill on our streets but why is it getting worse? No doubt, drugs and spiritual neglect are primary reasons.

Claudia Linares tore up John for using the term of “man of color” but opined “Second off he’s hungry. Compassion has really gone out the window. And I also don’t need people coming at me for the words I wrote. Be grateful for what you have and if you can give back do so. Less judgement for we are all fighting our own personal battles.”

Claudia’s kind of thinking has me baffled!

Boy, if misfortune is the legitimate basis for the commission of crimes, I guess we can justify the pervert who is fighting his own “personal battle” to molest children. Or the husband who is fighting his demons when he kills his estranged girlfriend’s son as a final act of revenge for her breaking it off.

Sherrie LoForti commented that she was in Safeway on two separate visits and watched thieves walk out with a full basket of food. She said store employees reported that if they intervene they could “get fired. Such a shame.”

Stores don’t want employees intervening because of the harm that could come to either employee or thief and there would follow a lawsuit. Remember, we live in a sue-happy world.

I was in a Save Mart store about three months ago and saw the same thing happen. Young tattooed man walks in looking very suspicious, nearly crashed into me coming around the aisle with a menacing look on his face, grabs a package of Little Debbie’s, stuffs it his jacket and walks right out the door. I told the clerk and she replied, “Oh really? We’ll keep an eye out for him.” What’s she gonna do?

And yes there was a security guard in that parking lot but they won’t detain suspects either.

Thieves will continue brazenly and unconscionably stealing from stores as long as there are no consequences. We need legislation that would forbid anyone from suing a store during the commission of a crime if they were to, let’s say, get the crap beat out of them by an employee or loss prevention officer.

Cody De Ruiter answered LoForti and said he saw “two POS (piece of s--- thugs) … in Boot Barn” who grabbed handfuls of pants and a set of boots and walked out.” Security guard told them to stop but couldn’t physically stop them. The bystanders thought to take down a license plate number but it was covered up.

For those bleeding heart liberals who excuse thievery, here’s a thought: Anyone who is legitimately hungry and not merely feeling empowered to exercise his “freedom” to figuratively flip the bird to corporate America can ask customers to buy them something as opposed to stealing. Someone will help. That happened to me recently and I helped out. Americans are basically charitable people but tolerating theft is a whole different thing.

Like Gary Gunkel said: “Used to be if someone was hungry they would ask if they could sweep a floor, bus a table, clean up the parking lot in exchange for food. Now they just steal it! When did being a thief become acceptable?”

You see, back then people had respect for others and themselves for they were instilled with the idea that I work for my food. The government wasn’t giving out as much free assistance like it is today.

To excuse the behavior of a thief, Amanda Munoz wrote this: “He who is without sin cast the first stone. I’m assuming most of you grew up reading the Bible, and are aware of God’s word. You all sound like a bunch of heartless hypocrites. It’s a shame. Who are we to judge someone based off of their sin. We are all sinners.”

Amanda has trouble understanding the difference between the forgiveness of sins and condoning of sin. And perhaps she missed theNew Testament passage in 2 Thessalonians that offers this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

No wonder the world is in sad shape. No consequences for slothfulness and bad behavior and wholesale segments of our population expect no price to be paid for transgressing a basic rule of humanity: You don’t take what doesn’t belong to you.

It’s tough enough these days for businesses to make a profit without having to face individual and organized thefts. Andrew Puzder, the former CEO of Carl Karcher Enterprises, said theft threatens the viability of any retail store. Just remember how many Walgreen’s closed in San Francisco because the liberal DA wouldn’t prosecute shoplifters there. Puzder is right on the money when he states: “You’ve got this incredible expense that really comes from a lack of policing.”

The Starbucks sandwich may be “free” to the thief but it’s an expense paid for by you and me in what we buy. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2021, retail thefts cost the industry $94.5 billion in losses, up 4 percent year-over-year and nearly double the $50.6 billion in 2018. Organized retail crime rings – where thieves are hired to steal specific items to be resold online – have surged more than 26 percent from the year prior.

I must say that relative to Ceres, things are not out of control like in other larger cities. Police here do go after thieves, which are among the lowest form of human being.

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Seriously? More vote buying by Democrats?

Who are these members of the task force who determined California taxpayers need to pay $223,000 apiece to any black Californian whose long-dead ancestors suffered as a slave? 

The nine-member Reparations Task Force is a Gavin Newsom thing. 

I mean, for crying out loud. It was justified when President Reagan saw to paying $20,000 to the actual Japanese-American citizens (82,219 of them) corralled and placed in internment camps after Pearl Harbor by Democrat President Franklin Roosevelt — not paid out to their descendants generations out.

The odd thing is the panel decided that they needed to factor in the housing discrimination against blacks from 1933 to 1977. Again, I doubt if any recipients of such government windfall payouts actually lived in that time period. Of course, Democrats will try to figure out a way to hand out far more than the $569 billion they are currently suggesting.

One of the members of this task force is a Berkeley professor named Jovan Scott Lewis.

Where does this end? No groups of people is without its past injustices. It’s horrible policy. It’s a Democrat vote buy. It’s something Californians overwhelmingly don’t support. It’s not something overtaxed Californians can afford. Democrats should be ashamed that they even came up with this idea.

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There sure has been a rash of teen girls disappearing from Ceres and then showing up in a matter of hours or days. Generally they’ve run off with an irresponsible young man until reality smacks them both in the face. I’m not saying it’s always the case but most of them are seeking male affections because there’s an absent father. We all see how insecure they are as they post their duck-lip poses with ample cleavage on display to get male attention in our sex-obsessed social media culture.

Fathers are routinely dismissed as not necessary by feminists and liberals who deny the importance of a male-female marriage in the upbringing of children.

I truly believe most of what ails young people are fathers who are AWOL. According to the Marriage & Religion Research Institute, one-third of US children live in a fatherless home and they are robbed of physical, emotional, intellectual, and economic benefits throughout their lifetime.

They report that:

• A girl whose father leaves before she is five years old is eight times more likely to have an adolescent pregnancy than a girl whose father remains in her home.

• African-American girls are 42 percent less likely to have sexual intercourse before age 18 if their biological father is present at home.

• Boys that are close with their fathers have better attitudes about intimacy and the prospect of their own married lives than boys who do not feel close to their fathers.

• Adolescents who live without their father are more likely to engage in greater and earlier sexual activity, are more likely to become pregnant as a teenager, and are more likely to have a child outside of marriage.

• Children who live without their fathers are more likely to have decreased school performance.

• Children who do not live with their father are more likely to experience behavioral problems at school.

• 71 percent of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.

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Congratulations to John Duarte for winning his congressional seat.

I had a chance to chat with John when he was working to paint the backstops at the Ceres High School baseball field for Love Ceres this year. Nice guy.

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