By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
No dams have been built since 1978 because Sierra Club has bought Dems

There is an old truism that Social Security is the third rail of politics at the national level. “Third rail” refers to an old system whereby if you touch the electrified rail it will kill you. In this case, mess with Social Security and it will kill you politically.

Water is the third rail of politics in the Valley.  No matter what party you belong to, if you want to get elected to state office from the Valley, you must wholeheartedly support water. That means support building dams or creating new storage.

Water is good. Without it we die. With too much of it, we die.

Republicans traditionally have supported new storage. Even Valley Democrats like Adam Gray supported new storage while the governor and most of our state Legislature doesn’t. That’s apparent by their feet dragging.

On Thursday, Assembly Republicans held a press conference to highlight the importance of water infrastructure and call for Governor Newsom to prioritize flood protection and water storage and conveyance projects. Despite years of record drought and recent devastating floods, the governor’s budget fails to invest in critical infrastructure. Attending were our new Assemblyman Juan Alanis, Assemblyman Heath Flora and Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City), as well as eight others.

Let’s be honest. Money is the mother’s milk of politics and Democrats are owned outright by the environmentalists like the powerful Sierra Club – and environmentalists hate dams. But the truth is that without Don Pedro, Melones and McClure dams, your house in Ceres would be under way right now.

Wide scale flooding of the Valley occurred in 1862. For the historically ignorant, that was way before any dams were built in California. The pineapple express came through, melted the snowpack and flooded the Valley from Merced to Sacramento. It was devastating to Sacramento but at that time there were few houses in Stanislaus County. Ceres didn’t get its first house until 1870 and Ceres didn’t become an established community until about 1875.

Dams are essential to flood control. The second benefit is water is stored for dry years, which means farmers can continue to farm. The third benefit is we generate the cleanest energy possible from spinning turbines by the force of water.

Democrats once had common sense but that trait went out the window with Pat and Jerry Brown. Pat Brown invited JFK to come out to Santa Nella in 1962 to break ground for the San Luis Reservoir. You have a better chance of seeing a gold-horned unicorn prancing down your street than seeing any Democrat lawmaker from a big city, a Democrat governor or President Biden embracing a water project in California. It defies all logic.

The Democrats loathe dams so much they refuse to even admit that hydro plants on dams are clean energy.

In 2019, state Senator Anna Caballero – she represented Ceres at the time – tried to get the state to acknowledge that hydroelectric dams are a renewable source of energy. Her effort – remember the third rail  – was in light of a 2018 law signed by then Gov. Jerry Brown to require California’s utilities to produce 60 percent of their electric power from renewable sources by the year 2030. Clean energy from hydroelectric power plants doesn’t qualify as “renewable” because of another law passed over two decades ago to protect fish. Caballero, a Democrat, authored a bill to rectify the situation. The bill died at the hands of her fellow Democrats.


* * * * * 

I was approached by an intelligent and upstanding gentleman last week who pointblank asked me, “Who’s responsible for the conservative political tone of your paper? It just seems one-sided.”

He explained how he once cancelled his subscription but later decided to renew it to keep abreast of local news.

At first it was tense as he quizzed me about my views. For the next several minutes we exchanged thoughts. Obviously he is not a conservative like I am nor should either of us make apologies for how we view politics. But as a conservative I try to explain why I think the way I do.

I view issues through the lens of Christianity but not all Christians agree on the issues. For example, some Christians feel capital punishment is wrong but I don’t. Some Christians and non-Christians can see eye to eye on some things but normally not.

The Courier doesn’t subscribe to syndicated columns to choose from. We do have a local columnist in Dennis Wyatt, who is probably far less conservative than mine. We also pick up free editorials from the Daily Torch, a conservative group.

I explained to the gentleman that I have, often over the years, offered space to people on the Left but haven’t gotten any takers. To be honest, people like to complain about a lack of balance but when are invited to step up and take the time to formulate opinions and put those thoughts into words, they shrink. Writing is not a talent which all people have. Today political discourse mostly involves cheap shots, the trading of insults and name calling in social media but that isn’t truly writing, now is it?

He specifically asked me if I was concerned about the new Congress. Why, I asked? Well, investigating the FBI, he said.

Why not question the leadership of the FBI? It seems like there’s been plenty of cause for concern that the FBI has been weaponized against the GOP. If some funny business is going on with the FBI, why not investigate? Every American should welcome an investigation to get to the bottom of it. Justice is supposed to be blind in cases of wrongdoing. 

I mentioned James Comey, who after four days of investigating Hillary before the 2018 election declared, “Nothing here, folks.” I failed to mention to him that Comey’s FBI specifically was responsible for the two-and-half year investigation of the phony Trump-Russian collusion allegation.

He felt Comey’s October 2018 announcement looking into Hillary Clinton’s emails containing classified information threw the election to Trump. To which I said Clinton was not a likeable person. He agreed. I also chimed in that Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are not likeable people either. He also agreed.

If the FBI can raid Trump’s home in search for keepsakes he declassified as president, then why should the FBI not be investigated for its kid glove treatment of Hillary Clinton for possessing classified material on her home computer?

I think a lot of us just want our country to come together and find more common ground. I think we can get there if we just talk it out – without getting angry and refusing to see how each other thinks and believes – and why we believe what we believe.

* * * * * 

A lot of folks out there are hurting in some way. Chances are this newsprint will land in the hands of people with failed marriages and relationships, addictions, economic hardships, loss of a home, health problems and disease, loss of family members and feelings of depression and hopelessness.

Life goes a lot better, though, with faith in the Almighty.

In the 1990s I became a fan of Christian singer Bryan Duncan who began with the Sweet Comfort Band and evolved into a solo artist. I saw Brian perform twice in the 1990s, once in Modesto and once in Oakdale.

One of Duncan’s songs, “Things Are Gonna Change,” is a favorite of mine and might be of comfort to folks feeling like things are hopeless. To me the song helps convey the words of hope and you can hear it for free on YouTube:

“Tell me you don’t sleep at night, I know

Because of how things have been

Tell me how you just don’t trust your life to someone

Don’t trust that love can win

Just as sure as God lives in my heart I’ll say take heart, it won’t say this way.

If there’s one thing you can count on

If there’s one thing you can know for sure

If there’s one thing you can count on

Things are gonna change

If there’s one thing you can count on

Things are gonna change

I’m sure it’s hard to be where you are now, won’t say I’ve been there before but I’ll be at your side in silence, words are wasted before a broken heart

Where I’ve failed in the past to be there for you, you’ll find this truth comin’ through

If there’s one thing you can count on

If there’s one thing you can know for sure

Things are gonna change, oh yeah

Oh, don’t give up,

Well, I’ve seen some hard things

I never thought that I would ever smile again, holdin’ on when I feel half-hearted

I keep my faith without a way to explain it ‘cause I believe it won’t always be like this every day

Hold on, and trust what I say

If there’s one thing God has promised

Things are gonna change, oh yeah

If there’s one thing you can count on

Things are gonna change

Gotta have a little faith

Maybe add a little trust

Add a lot o’ love

You see your gonna rise above the things that are so rough

‘Cause we have a hope

And we’ll be alright.”

* * * * * 

Ceres got a little less colorful last month with the death of Don Keough. The longtime Ceres resident passed away at age 91 on the final day of 2022.  Don was well known for riding his adult tricycle around town, sharing a smile, waving and conversing with others along his path.

Don served in the Navy aboard the USS Rowan during the Korean War. He later worked for Hershey’s Chocolate Factory in Oakdale for over 30 years. Don was a model train hobbyist who was a member of the Oakdale Model Train Club. He also loved gardening.

Don was the grandfather of Ashley Smith who is married to a son of Laurie Smith, who just left the Ceres Planning Commission.

It’s always a sad time when valued members of a community like Ceres pass away.

Thank you, Donald, for serving your country and being one of the great people of Ceres.

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