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The nightmare of deadlock votes is over

Congratulations to James Casey who won a seat on the Ceres City Council last week.

Now the great Ceres council nightmare of deadlock votes is over.

I believe that local government has more direct impact on our lives than do state and federal. Our cities handle the roads we drive on every day, our cities pay for our police and fire who respond to our needs, we play in local parks and shop at local businesses. So it’s rather pathetic and sad that the county mailed out 6,002 votes to District 1 voters and only 22 percent bothered to vote. Apparently 78 percent found it too hard to open up an envelope, fill in one bubble and mail their ballots back.

Jim Casey has made a lot of friends in Ceres as owner of a moving company and member of St. Jude’s Catholic Church. He is a Vietnam War veteran and as a businessman appears to be a straight shooter.

I have no doubt that Casey benefited from political assistance. The fact that Laurie Smith was about 148 votes behind Casey and only 26 votes ahead of a candidate with little understanding of how government works while being the most qualified person to fill the slot and ready to hit the ground running hard tells us several things. First, that people aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in city government and vote based on who is influencing their vote. This is also the second municipal election which confirms that qualifications don’t mean squat to Ceres voters.

Casey was he didn’t apply to be considered to be appointed to the empty District 1 seat when the council called for applicants. He said that in January he was dealing with personal matters at the time and didn’t apply. Then the council beat its head against the wall and couldn’t agree on a pick. It was 2-2 all the way with Javier Lopez and Couper Condit stubbornly against Smith. Linda Ryno and Bret Silveira wouldn’t support anyone other than Smith. But nothing gets done when you’re 2-2.

When the city was forced to go to a special election, Casey decided then to run. 

We shall see if he can bring maturity to the council.

* * * * *

Code enforcement is on a lot of folks’ minds. Ceres has some major housekeeping to do.

When a visitor comes over to your house he or she will notice things about your house that you no longer see because you’ve seen it so long. The same goes for your town. I think there are a lot of things in Ceres that Ceres folks just no longer see and accept.  I was thinking this as I rolled down Mitchell Road on Thursday and began noticing all the disheveled appearance of things I saw.

Let’s start with the little commercial center at the northwest corner of Mitchell and Roeding. The owners long ago removed the grass strip and replaced it with gravel. Only the gravel has slid down the slope and the landscaping fabric is peeled back. Looks horrible.

The Church of Christ property on the west side of Mitchell Road is a dirt lot. I’m not sure if that church is still functioning but its appearance is only likely to attract a tumble weed.

The Taqueria Carniceria has a gaudy appearance with all of its window space covered by excessive and clashing signage. If I’m not mistaken it’s in violation of the Mitchell Road Corridor Specific Plan since only so much window space can be covered by signage.  

The landscape strip along Del Taco is a complete disaster with dead grass. It the outside looks that bad what’s going on inside? Maybe corporate Del Taco needs to know this restaurant doesn’t care what it looks like next to Carl's Jr. with its nicely watered and trimmed landscape. 

The Taylor Shopping Center on the east side of Mitchell Road looks just as bad as when I pointed out that its owners don’t give a rip about its landscaping years ago. 

The Ceres Post Office, one of the most visited places in Ceres, has landscaping more fitting of a boot hill cemetery. 

Those are just a few of my observations of Mitchell Road, one of Ceres’ most major commercial corridors. But go into the residential areas and see the unsightliness of many neighborhoods. I think the businesses should adopt areas around their places to have regular cleanups. 

Jim Casey is right when he said it needs to be corrected from the top down. Nothing has been done about the sorry condition of Ceres’ most visible landmark – the water tower – which sets the standard for the whole town.

Casey said “the city has been sliding into a disheveled appearance that I believe some people wonder ‘Why would I want to live there?’ ” He feels the city needs to be more proactive to have all employees to get involved for code enforcement “with consequences for those who do not comply.”

Any renewed effort will be appreciated. I’ve always said that the citizens who do care can help erase some blight in small ways, like picking up trash in the parking lots. If everyone just took care of their property and what’s in front of their house, the city would start looking better.

But you can talk until you are blue in the face but there is a reality that with a large segment of the population who doesn’t care, nothing significant will change. We all have that one neighbor who lets his yard die or doesn’t mow it, who keeps abandoned cars or boats in his driveway, who doesn’t deal with peeling eves or dying grass and who has debris in front that should be hauled off to the dump.

It’s not just Ceres where this problem exists. It’s everywhere up and down the Central Valley, the Valley of the Poor. But a difference can be made one person at a time.

* * * * *

You can’t make this stuff up. I recently wrote about state Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill to pay people to stay clean off drugs. Now there is a harebrained pilot program in San Francisco to pay a select group of 10 thugs $300 a month to not commit gun crimes such as shoot people.

“We’re doing this to make sure that we don’t have more senseless violence,” said Sheryl Davis, executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

Hers is a special kind of stupid. That’s just like a liberal to think throwing money at a problem will solve it.

David Muhammad of the National Institute of Criminal Justice Reform thinks that it’s not fair to say it’s paying people not to shoot other people. It is fair and it is accurate.

Three hundred bucks is hardly an incentive to end thuggery.

I like the old way of taking care of the problem. If you shoot somebody, you go to prison for a long time because you obviously don’t value life. If you shoot somebody and they die, then you die. It’s an amazing concept.

* * * * *

I recently skimmed through an LA Times article titled, “Even voters who like Kamala Harris worry about her future.”  Are all the writers at that paper so far left they are blinded by reality that, no, the country is not racist? They even called black candidate for governor, Larry Elder the black face of white supremacy.

The thrust of the piece is how Harris is being dragged down by the old senile white guy – who they promoted to be president over Trump, by the way. The Times writer quoted one Harris fan in the Democrat Party who said she would make a good president. (Funny because when Harris ran for president she never attracted more than seven percent of the Democrats’ support). 

The Times suggests “Harris cannot overcome the country’s sexism.”

While some men – and women – would never vote for a female to be president, most of the country would. Look at all the women who have become governor. But the key is that the wrong women have always run, whether we are talking Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton. They were all the wrong women. The funny thing is that the best female to come along in some time, Tulsi Gabbard, was rejected by the Democrats because she is too conservative.

Conservatives loved Sarah Palin who was on the McCain ticket in 2008. They also love conservative South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. No sexism there. No, the problem is that Harris is not a popular political figure.  She’s just not likeable. Something is inherently phony about her with the way she worked her way up the political ladder first with her sleazy relationship with Willie Brown, former SF mayor and Speaker of the Assembly. She’s a walking contradiction and her progressive ideas were already rejected through the primary process.

Do yourself a favor and read the Times with a wary mind.

* * * * *

I’ve long been saying the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is a menace to progress. One major reason why we don’t have affordable housing is because CEQA drags down the building process with environmental studies, and at a much greater price.

But Jerry Brown appointee, California Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman, recently used CEQA to declare students at UC Berkeley are an environmental menace and he’s using it to micromanage university admissions.

There is a battle in Berkeley. The school wants to expand enrollment and a group called Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods doesn’t. Well, they say that the university should have built more housing to keep up with rising enrollment, it’s apparent that he they didn’t want more housing built in their area. Instead they want a satellite campus built five miles to the north, on the other side of the freeway.

* * * * *

The Hoover Institution at Stanford University recently released a report, “Why Company Headquarters are Leaving California in Unprecedented Numbers.” They note that 265 companies moved headquarters to other states just in the period from January 1, 2018, through June 30, 2021. The losses accelerated this year. The 74 which left January through June 30 exceed that for all of 2020. And every month in 2021, twice as many companies are relocating their headquarters as in the prior year.

That’s not counting the smaller companies which flew under the radar.

The report finds that companies moved for reasons we already know: “high tax rates, punitive regulations, high labor costs, high utility and energy costs, and declining quality of life for many Californians which reflects the cost of living and housing affordability.” Lay the blame at the feet of the party that has a stranglehold on state legislation and crafts all of these harmful restrictions: the Democrats.

Gov. Newsom can say California is doing just great as he fights a recall but remember that we lost about 180,000 residents between 2020 and 2021. For that reason, we’re also losing a congressional seat.

* * * * *

Angel Eduardo, a black New York writer and musician is upset that he’s being called white because he’s conservative. He wrote an op-ed recently that Biden should have read before he suggested that black Americans who voted for Trump “ain’t black.”

Eduardo accurately notes that he is called “white” as a pejorative, often to silence or shame me for speaking heresies. 

Eduardo is upset that journalists like New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones insist that “there is a difference between being politically black and being racially black.” He justifiably said “taking away people’s blackness if they don’t agree with your politics is pernicious, a cynical gatekeeping that’s as rampant as it is deplorable.” 

He notes how if a black person is conservative – why not because the Trump Administration was great for the economy of black America – their “of color” card gets revoked by liberals. But he also said the card is meaningless so have at it.


* * * * *

The powers that be take great pains to keep thrusting the narrative that our dry spell is due to “climate change.” Climate change this, climate change that. When it gets hot they say it’s climate change. When we get little water they say it’s climate change. When we get too much rain and the coast line slides away they blame it on climate change. When Texas freezes it’s climate change. When the hurricane batters Louisiana its’ climate change.

The climate has always changed. The earth is constantly moving, flaking, cracking, shifting, belching.  We’ve had dry years and wet years since the days of Noah.

They continue to preach the message. In its press release of Aug. 20 in which they preached about the need to flush what little water we have left out to the ocean and deny farmers to use it, the state Water Resources Control Board (an all Democrat panel) noted their action was due to “climate change-induced drought conditions.”

No one is doubting that we winter storms were a huge disappointment but the state’s assurance that this shortage is caused by climate change is like saying you know your uncle died of a heart attack because his wife made life hell for him. Prove it.

If we get a wet year this fall and winter, can we stop this nonsensical preaching that all of us ants on this terrestrial ball are responsible for changing weather?

I remember in July 2017 when sage Len Shepherd stood up at a council meeting to comment on the triple-digit temps and how some were using it as “proof” of global warming. Shepherd, a retired state fire captain, said: “In Fresno in 1963 10 days straight it never got below a 100 and they’re talking in school about an ice age. It’s nothing. It’s just going to get hot because it’s the Central Valley. Welcome to Mother Nature.”

By the way, I saw a website suggesting that the hottest temperature ever officially recorded in Modesto was 113 degrees on July 23, 2006. Try again. I read of a handwritten account of 114 degrees in Ceres in the 1910s.

* * * * *

George Soros, one of the most despised political figures in America, gave another half million dollars in an attempt to save the hide of one of California’s least popular governors.

This is the same liberal moneybags who just handed over $1 million to an activist group attempting to defund the police. This is the same guy who financially supported Kim Gardner in St. Louis, the prosecutor who went after a white couple because they defended their house by holding guns as a menacing crowd pushed onto their property.

You know someone by the company they keep. Newsom keeps bad company.

 * * * * *

I grew up loving Disney. Uh, I mean the old Disney which made wholesome movies that provided good entertainment free from propaganda. Disney now is run by people who don’t honor Walt Disney’s values. It seems every film has an agenda.

We all grew up watching the 1950 Cinderella animated feature featuring a kindly old fairy godmother.

Amazon has come out with a musical this month that reinvents the story of Cinderella, who is now a feminist. They have replaced Disney’s fairy godmother with an effeminate silly-acting dress wearing queer man.

The prince has been reduced to an “idiot son” of the king and queen yet the daughter is of course better material to lead a nation. Of course it contains suggestive material and coarse language.

* * * * *

Well, well, well.

Last week I told you that Assemblyman Evan Low tried to pass a bill in 2020 to force gender neutral store departments. I told you he would bring it back. Play the Poltergeist music and imagine little Heather O’Rourke says creeply, “They’re backkkkkk!”

The same day as my column the state Legislature passed it! California would be the only state in the union to FORCE large department stores to display some child products in gender neutral ways. So, forget buying a pink toothbrush for your daughter or a blue for your son, provided they have agreed with their gender.

The bill doesn’t outlaw traditional boys and girls sections in stores, but it will FORCE retailers to have a gender neutral section to display “a reasonable selection” of items “regardless of whether they have been traditionally marketed for either girls or for boys.”

The bill would only apply to department stores with 500 or more employees, so most small businesses would be exempt. It doesn’t apply to clothes, but to toys and “childcare items,” which include hygiene and teething products.

Low claims he was inspired by a 10-year-old Britten who asked her mom while shopping why certain things in a store were ‘off limits’ to her because she was a girl, but would be fine if she was a boy.” Off limits? Really? What store was it that prevented a little girl from strolling into the boy’s aisle? No store has an off limits area unless it’s International Imports and you’re a minor who is prevented from going into the adult toy section. But sooner or later Low will introduce a bill to allow even that.

Unfortunately there are few legislators willing to put a stop this nonsense, people like Sen. Melissa Melendez, a Republican from Lake Elsinore, who voted against the bill, saying “I don’t think parents need the government to step in and tell them how they should shop for their children.”

Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, said that while he and Low are “childless gay men,” he defended the bill, saying “We know what it was like to grow up not conforming to the way that your gender is supposed to be. This is about making safe spaces for all children in today’s society and not pushing, sometimes forcing children to conform.”

Wow, what would we have done without Wiener and Low to come along and FORCE businesses to deal with a problem that few people have ever had? We don’t want stores making a judgment call about gender and hurt any confused child’s feelings now, do we? Pass a bill and enact a fine. Control is always the progressive’s answer.

* * * * *

A Natomas neighborhood is enraged that a teacher there named Gabriel Gipe bragged online about trying to subvert his students to become revolutionaries.

Project Veritas released a video where Inderkum High School teacher Gipe states that he tried to “scare the f---“ out of students to motivate them politically. His classroom has a poster of former Chinese dictator Mao Zedong hanging on the wall, as well as one with the Antifa flag.

The teacher said that when a student complained that the Antifa flag on his classroom wall made him feel uncomfortable, he replied, “Well, this is mad to make fascists feel uncomfortable, so if you feel uncomfortable, I don’t really know what to tell you.”

He also described China’s Cultural Revolution, a Mao-led purge resulting in the deaths of between 500,000 and 20 million people from 1966 to 1976, as “fixing the problem.”

Gipe has been fired. Good!

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