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New council starting out shaky and showing dysfunction

With two meetings behind it, the Ceres City Council is already proving to be dysfunctional and circus like.

In December Mayor Javier Lopez and the council set in place the process to appoint three planning commissioners. But when time came last week for the appointments, Vice Mayor Couper Condit caused chaos when he suddenly proposed that the appointments get delayed until a full council is seated. Never mind that his brother caused the vacancy because of a premature appetite for higher office and he bailed on his four-year commitment. Never mind that the council had a plan in place. Never mind that Couper had no problem whatsoever taking the appointment of vice mayor in December despite there not being a full council. It was apparent to me that Couper just didn’t like WHO was being recommended for appointment when he suggested that since the voters “rejected” the council incumbents they shouldn’t reinstall two commissioners – Bob Kachel and Gary Del Nero – who, even by his own admission,  have served “honorably.” Remember that Condit was often voting at odds with the Planning Commission when he served – which is why he was removed in January 2020 and replaced by Bret Silveira – who, by the way, wasn’t rejected for voters for City Council! 

It was also recommended that Daniel Martinez be appointed to fill Silveira’s seat. Why the last-minute call for delaying appointments? Maybe Condit was playing games because applicant Angela Smith – a good friend of the Condit family – was not being picked for an appointment? Makes one wonder about motives.

The new mayor crumpled like an aluminum can at Condit’s suggestion, saying yeah, we need to renege on our plan “only out of reason of transparency.”

The mayor might want to look up the definition of “transparency.” The entire process was taking place TRANSPARENTLY in total PUBLIC VIEW! Making appointments after a fifth councilmember is appointed doesn’t make this process any more transparent!

The whole episode underlies the dysfunction brought on by illogical and inexperienced members.

* * * * *

Channce Condit has not left the City Council for his clone, his brother, is sitting in the Council District 4 seat.

You see, Couper C. has picked up where his brother left off (and I might add, failed), when insisting that all revenues from marijuana developer agreements be earmarked for public safety. Channce tried more than once and was called out for grandstanding on the matter because honestly that money goes into the General Fund of which 74 percent is spent on police and fire anyway. Linda Ryno applied pointed out that essentially Condit’s actions would place budgeting decisions in the hands on two people – the police and fire chiefs – instead of the duly elected council; not to mention cheat other departments without funding.

Bret Silveira aptly noted that the idea was absurd given how none of the marijuana businesses have caused any burdens for service on police or fire. Basically cannabis businesses are the cash cow for cities to receive free money. Let’s face it, it’s all gravy money. You don’t charge such fees on Stuart’s Furniture or Walmart or Adtech Solutions.

It’s sad to see yet another Condit turn this into political theater.

* * * * *

America is in serious trouble.

The effort to lie and distort is at a fevered pitch in our country as the mantle of government changes today from a conservative president to a liberal one.

So let’s review. We just had an election where Trump narrowly lost the presidency because of the vote count in several states. It was no mandate for Biden whatsoever, despite what he might think or feel. Trump received over 74 million votes while Biden received 81 million. Biden received 306 electoral votes, Trump 232.

However, because of the question of ballot harvesting and questionable vote counting systems in key swing states, Trump called for an investigation and initiated court action which ultimately went nowhere. Why would they given the judges and never-Trumpers want to see Trump packing nor wanted to get involved in the hornet’s nest of logistics of delving into possible voter fraud?

In the great tradition of Americans protesting on the Washington Mall, Trump called for his supporters to protest. Never did he call for mob violence. Over 15,000 showed up on Jan. 6 to protest what they considered a stolen election. Only a handful breached security to enter the Capitol.

Democrats know Trump didn’t incite the illegal action but, ever fearful the Orange Man will return in 2024 to run again, rushed to impeach for a second time, hoping this was the nail in Trump’s political coffin.

Lo and behold this time some cowardly Republicans joined with them in the House vote. Those in the GOP might as well just change their political party to Democrat. One of them is David Valadeo, who just won his Bakersfield area seat back from Democrat carpetbagger T.J. Cox. Valadeo has ticked off all of his base in the 21st Congressional District and is doomed to win re-election in 2022.)

Valadao gave a seriously stupid explanation for his impeachment vote: “President Trump was, without question, a driving force in the catastrophic events that took place on January 6 by encouraging masses of rioters to incite violence on elected officials, staff members, and our representative democracy as a whole. 

“Speaker Pelosi has thrown precedent and process out the window by turning what should be a thorough investigation into a rushed political stunt. I wish, more than anything, that we had more time to hold hearings to ensure due process. 

“Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi did not afford us that option. Based on the facts before me, I have to go with my gut and vote my conscience. I voted to impeach President Trump. His inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent, and absolutely an impeachable offense. It’s time to put country over politics.”

Valadao admits it was a “rushed political stunt” yet played right into the Democrats’ hands. What a despicable gutless man Bakersfield has in Congress. 

* * * * *

Likewise, like sharks smelling blood in the water, the liberal groups are circling Trump’s supporters. Groups including “Courage California,” “LA Voice Action,” “IE United,” “Communities for a New California Action Fund,” and “Alliance San Diego Mobilization Fund” embarked on a “we’ll-get-you” campaign against the brave Republicans who refused to go along with the political charade of impeachment. They dubbed Congressmen Devin Nunes, Jay Obernolte, Ken Calvert, Darrell Issa, Mike Garcia, Doug LaMalfa and Kevin McCarthy as the “Seditious Seven” with the patently false claim that by failing to vote to support impeachment they supported the “white supremacist insurrection at our nation’s capital.” First off, the Capitol incident was bad but it wasn’t an insurrection, it was a protest gone bad – and possibly gone bad because of infiltration by BLM members. And how does a pro-Trump rally get tainted as white supremacy? That’s absurd and faulty logic at best.

But spare us the vitriol that the GOP congressmen “unconstitutionally subvert our democracy and disenfranchise voters — particularly people of color – who turned out in record numbers in November for a free, fair, and decisive election.” I know the Left only cares about minority voters but what about the feelings of 74 million Trump voters who want questions about election fairness answered yet are being treated like they are nuts by the left? If the shoe were on the other foot, don’t believe for one second that our Nation’s Capital wouldn’t still be smoldering from the Molotov cocktails and broken windows like the day Trump was inaugurated.

* * * * *

We are in for a rough ride, fellow Americans.

Today is not a day I will be celebrating because I feel like my country is on a tilted slant and ready to fall right into the lap of socialism and chaos.

The Democrats have the White House, the Congress and the Senate. Only the Supreme Court – and that may be iffy – is left to hold things in check.

Get ready for tax-and-spend policies on steroids.

Get ready for the freebies the federal government will be doling out to buy and keep voters in the pocket of Robin Hood.

Fundamental unfairness will be the order of the new day.

While the Democratic Party has made student loan forgiveness one of its great policy priorities, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos warned Congress that as she leaves her post that it would be wrong if the debt of this generation of college students is erased and put on the backs of the rest of us. She wrote: “I hope you also reject misguided calls to make college ‘free’ and require the two-thirds of Americans who didn’t take on student debt or who responsibly paid off their student loans to pay for the loans of those who have not done the same.” She also said that “Across-the-board forgiveness of college debts is not only unfair to most Americans, it is also the most regressive of policy proposals – rewarding the wealthiest sector of our labor force at the expense of the poorest.”

Think about that. You’ll be making the housewife, the farm laborer, the market cashier, the accountant, the farmer, the fast-food worker – the two-thirds of Americans who didn’t get college degrees – to pay for the degrees of those who will be entering higher-paying jobs.

It’s a huge slap in the face of those who, at great pains, strived and worked to pay off their debts responsibly. It also cheapens the sacrifice for and appreciation of a college education.

But that’s what socialism is all about. Motivated out of self-interest, many young Americans wish to abdicate their responsibilities by making their student loans magically vanish.

There is no such thing as a free lunch – or a free education. But to socialists like AOC, it doesn’t matter.

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