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New ownership does not mean big changes

There is some misunderstanding about the Ceres Courier and its sister newspapers in the area being sold by Morris Multimedia to 209 Multimedia.

Morris is frankly tired of dealing with California as an onerous state and wants out. I don’t blame them. But fortunately Hank Vander Veen, our existing publisher, is eager to buy them up.

There should be no change to your Courier. We think we offer the best coverage of this community and strive to improve. We also offer an editorial view that often runs counter to the majority of left-leaning newspapers in California. I still remain the editor of the Courier, a post I’ve had now for 33 years. Since 2012 Hank has been our publisher, or essentially the business manager. Hank pretty much gives his editors free reign over content but we are expected to put out good local news content that is relevant to our communities.

Having said that, some folks on the left, who have been trying to silence my opinion column, thought this ownership change meant sweeping changes in the news room. People like Marilyn Zumstein – who has been vocal about wanting me removed because she can’t stand that I don’t share the liberal views of most of the state’s newspapers – will be disappointed that I’m not going anywhere any time soon.

A young man named Luis Calderon Jr. called for “young and open minded writers,” but when I checked his Facebook page I saw narrow-minded posts against Trump supporters and conservatives. Calderon started high school in 2011, my 24th year as editor of the Courier. I suppose that in his mind the only people who have a right to have opinions are those who haven’t had much in the way of life experiences.

As a side note, it’s funny how the Democrat Party bypassed a very young presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, 38, for the political dinosaur Joe Biden, 77. 

We’ve always welcomed people to submit their own guest opinion pieces but, for the most part, we don’t even receive many letters to the editor. It seems most people don’t want to spend the time and energy into expressing their thoughts like I do each week.

But I am grateful to those who expressed their support of me, after reading Zumstein’s remark, and their appreciation for my column – Branden Mund, Debbie Weaver-Sewell, Krista Michelle, David Eckhardt and Jeremiah Sasser.

* * * * *

Isn’t it interesting that the state finds it unacceptable that churches provide drop-off boxs for the collection of ballots for church members – claiming they aren’t secure – but has no problems with campaign individuals running around neighborhoods and asking for you to hand over your ballot at your doorstep? Ballot harvesting is where political campaign volunteers or staffers can offer to take your ballot and hand it in for you! It should be an illegal practice like in many states but it’s not here in California. Who’s to say your ballot won’t be steamed open, examined and tampered with or even trashed if you vote for somebody other than their candidate?

Treat your ballot as though it contained a $100 bill you’re sending to a faraway child or grandson as a birthday gift. Never hand your ballot to anyone you don’t know! Drop it off in-person through the mail drop-off slot inside your post office – not outside – or take it in on Election Day. There will be a number of satellite election offices most convenient for Ceres area voters including:

• The Ceres American Legion Memorial Building, 2609 Lawrence Street on Saturday, Oct. 31 through Tuesday, Nov. 3;

• Keyes Community Center, 5506 Jennie Ave, Keyes; on Saturday, Oct. 31 through Tuesday, Nov. 3;

•Mancini Senior Center Hall, 718 Tuolumne Blvd., south Modesto, on Saturday, Oct. 31 through Tuesday, Nov. 3;

• Community Services Agency, 251 Hackett Road, Ceres, on Saturday, Oct. 31 through Tuesday, Nov. 3;

• Stanislaus SELPA, 1404 Stonum Road, Ceres;

• United Samaritans Foundation, 2413 Third Street, Hughson.

On Election Day, other official indoor ballot drop-off locations include:

• Howard Training Center, 1424 Stonum Road, Ceres;

• Community Services Agency, 251 Hackett Road, Ceres.

You may also track your ballot online if it’s been mailed. I tried it and it confirmed my ballot arrived and is ready to be counted. Just go to

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I was intrigued to see our sister newspaper, The Turlock Journal, publish results of a mock presidential election conducted among Pittman High School students. (Pittman is responsible for foisting upon the world the political attitude of a one Colin Kaepernick.)

The results confirmed what we already know. Students overwhelmingly vote liberal because: 1). They are under the direction influence of their progressive teachers and the California Teachers union; 2). They are influenced by social media accounts of Hollywood machine and music types like that intellectual giant Taylor Swift; 3). They watch CNN and think it’s a straight-shooting news source when it’s been guilty of extreme propaganda against conservatives; 4). They have no life experience and haven’t paid taxes and want lots of free stuff those of us who do work and pay taxes have to fund.

So drumroll … Pittman kids voted 446 for Biden, 255 for Trump. That 53.7 percent to 30.7 percent disparity is nowhere near what occurs in real life. The popular vote in 2016 was 48 percent for Hillary Clinton, 45.9 percent for Trump.

The Pittman vote tells you everything you need to know why the Democrats keep pushing the voting age younger and younger.

* * * * *

Every election year it happens: Candidate signs are ripped down or stolen. I don’t remember any election where a candidate didn’t lose a sign for whatever reason.

This year it seems to be worse in Ceres. I don’t think these acts of vandalism or theft is always politically motivated; there are just mean destructive people. Some, I am sure, are acts of the opposition.

One of the reasons I don’t believe the polls that say Biden will win is because Trump voters are afraid of retribution if they answer the “wrong way,” or put signs in their yards for fear what the leftist anarchists will do. Take what happened in Turlock recently for example. Two homes on Colorado Avenue with Trump signs were targeted by people who destroyed them and threw rocks through their window as a lesson to support the Orange Man. Surveillance video shows a white man about 40-50 years old doing the dirty deed.

* * * * *

It’s interesting how politicians attack opponents rather than promote their own ideas or themselves. Couper Condit and Susan Eggman are among them.

I wrote about Condit’s tactics last week.  Ceres isn’t part of the 5th state Senate District but I want to share how Democrat Susan Eggman sent out a Condit-like hit piece. Her slick mailer was headlined, 

“When Modesto faced declining revenues, then Mayor Jim Ridenour called for millions of dollars in cuts.” I know it’s a difficulty concept for a Democrat to accept but yes, government must cut back when there is less to spend. Obviously because public safety takes up the vast majority of a city’s General Fund, police and fire have to bear the brunt of cuts. 

When I first heard of Susan Eggman I thought she was the wife of that other Democrat, the carpet-bagging Michael Eggman who twice tried to take out Congressman Jeff Denham. Couldn’t be because this Democrat woman has a wife.

Eggman’s hit piece refers to Ridenour’s support of a pay increase for the City Council, just as Condit did with Kline.  The piece concludes “Republican Ridenour – out for himself.” Thank goodness Susan Eggman isn’t out for herself. (Eye roll.)

Dig deeper into the issue. The 2008 salary hike for the Modesto council was passed by a 4-3 vote. Ridenour went from $2,800 to $3,600 per month. That pay increase followed passage of a Measure M which created a commission charged with recommending salaries for elected officials. That committee held a dozen public meetings and recommended the pay hike. Ridenour justified the increase by saying being mayor cost him more money than he ever thought.

That Modesto council pay raise cost $117,000 a year which would not have hired one police officer.

Context is everything but political mailers never offer it.

* * * * *

Speaking of taking something out of context, Josh Harder has built a singular attack on Ted Howze based on a discussion about how to save Social Security.

Ted Howze was interviewed in April 2016 by our own Angelina Martin. She asked him about Social Security, which everyone knows is going broke just like California pension funds. He mentioned a gamut of possible solutions to be considered:

• Taking more tax out of people’s (which he said affected future workers);

• Raising the cap on Social Security limit (which was done recently and will mean high-income workers will pay a few hundred more dollars in Social Security taxes next year);

• Preventing the wealthiest  Americans like Gavin Newsom and Joe Biden from receiving Social Security benefits;

• Increasing the retirement age to 70 in slow increments. Howze accurately said that when Social Security was first conceived, recipients were not living as long as they are now. Try 15 to 17 years longer now. Howze also said he wasn’t thinking an overnight increase from 65 to 70 but raise it incrementally over time until we reach 70.

Howze’s views are refreshing unlike the vast majority of legislators who bury their heads in the sand by refusing to take action to avert financial problems such as our national debt, and Social Security and Medicare insolvency.

* * * * *

I think the polls being touted by the California Teachers Association (read that teachers union) about widespread concern about COVID-19 and students and teachers are the same polls showing Biden with some inexplicable massive lead over Trump. On Thursday, the CTA hosted a virtual news conference unveiling the findings of their new poll.

I don’t know who they polled but every parents I’ve heard from thinks it’s absolutely ridiculous that their children aren’t going to class and they are absolutely frustrated with having to be the teacher and the parent while they work full-time jobs. Kids are getting lost in the cracks. Even Ceres Unified School District Supt. Scott Siegel admitted the Zoom classes are “an inferior product” and that CUSD is “committed to getting our kids back just as soon as we can safely do so.”

The one group least affected by COVID are children and young people!

Like I said last week: “The person working the checkout line is deemed essential, worked for the past seven months, eight hours a day, five days a week and sees tens of hundreds of people so you can buy your pickles … but a teacher can’t work seeing the same 20 students daily because it’s dangerous. Science left a long time ago. You are being played!”

* * * * *

There are really two Americas. The one America – of which I belong – loves God, our country and its flag and is kind and respectful to neighbors. We believe in the value of hard work to get ahead. The need to be tough on criminals. We bristle at government handouts and debt spending. We live and let live.

The other side, which has members like Flemington N.J. Mayor Betsy Driver, is vulgar and mean-spirited,  far from God, believes in mollycoddling criminals, giving free goods to those who don’t work for anything and hates their very country, its history, its flag and its system of government. Last week Driver compared Trump supporters to “religious zealots” who want to “enact the Christian version of Sharia law.” The lesbian mayor vulgarly posted: ““If you voted for the orange monster with COVID, go f--- yourself. If you plan on voting for him again, unfriend me and go f--- yourself again.”

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