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“No” votes on new fire chief puzzling

Ceres has a new fire chief in Kevin Wise – but barely.

The council voted 3-2 last week to ratify Wise and, frankly, I’m sure I’m not the only one puzzled as to the “no” votes of Councilman Channce Condit and Vice Mayor Linda Ryno. A 3-2 vote is not exactly the kind of vote Wise would have hoped to receive in starting his new career in Ceres.

Condit told me that he voted no “because of a major flaw in the city’s interview process.” What does he perceive as a “major flaw” in that process? Condit thinks all new prospective managers need to be asked if they would move to Ceres. However, the city manager said that question isn’t asked because it’s discriminatory in nature.

While Condit said Wise “has a great resume and … he’s going to make a great chief, the newly installed councilman voted “no” on Wise.

Why vote against a candidate you believe will be good only because he wasn’t asked if he would be willing to move to Ceres? Especially since Condit said he wasn’t “asking for a mandate” of requiring residency in Ceres but “asking for future panels and interviews that we should at least ask the question.”

Voting against a good candidate as a way of forcing a change in future interview policy seems most punitive as well as illogical. It’s not like Ceres is a volunteer department of the 1950s where businessmen jump out of bed and dash down to the fire station. Paid staff is always at the fire station.

Wise, for the record, lives in west Modesto minutes from Ceres.

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If public employees must reside in the city they work, virtually most of Ceres Unified School administrators would be disqualified from hire, including Scott Siegel, Jay Simmonds, Dan Pangrazio, Denise Wickham as well as the bulk of school teachers and principals.

I think it could be argued that a professional’s residential address does not determine whether or not they will be a great employee. Their “skin in the game” is really there salary.

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Some truly classless individuals are making Ceres look like a Third World country.

The problem has become profound on Moffett Road (yes, I spell it with two T’s because that’s how it was intended to be despite the signs) where some bottom feeders have found a convenient place to dump in front of The Parks gated community next to Mae Hensley Junior High.

The city cleaned up Moffett last week and on Wednesday – two days after citizens pled for the City Council do some clean up – some discarded cabinets and boxy furniture appeared at the curb. Some suspect the illegal dumping is coming from the nearby duplex dwellers who drag it down or across the street.

One parks worker told me of the horrors where, in the stealth of the night, apartment dwellers drag bulky items over to “the Smyrna Park garbage can because nobody’s there.” The city parks crew found a full size coach, love seat and chair inside the new Smyrna Park restrooms. Because of that the restrooms were locked up.

It’s irritating that there are people who foist their trash on other people’s property and expect them to clean it up. Behavior like this is unacceptable and all residents need to be on the lookout for dumping when it happens and call police so they can either be arrested or pay a hefty fine.

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With the Dec. 26 murder of Cpl. Ronil Singh you may have forgotten about the murder of Iowa College student Mollie Tibbetts by illegal alien Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, back in August. It is sad and angering that murderers have no qualms about rejecting the pleas of their victims to live but damn sure will ask for their trials to be delayed. It doesn’t seem very fair to waive the right to a speedy execution in our quest for fair trials.

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The Left wants Trump gone so bad that they create their own fantasy world – and printed up a mock Washington Post with headlines they want to see. The newspaper said it was looking into who created the fake papers.

It reminded me of Aerosmith’s hit, “Dream On.”

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A shout-out to Modern Urgent Care. When my girlfriend Sarah’s cold went from bad to worse, she needed to see a doctor. The Sunday morning wait at Sutter Gould’s urgent care was two to three hours. I had the idea to take her to Modern Urgent Care in Ceres where she got some great care – and a follow up call to see how the medications were doing to combat her near pneumonia.

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My last column about Trump, the Democrats and the partial government shutdown touched off a flurry of pro comments from conservatives and con comments from the Left. Some answered by questioning where I went to school and calling me an idiot for suggesting the wall is needed for border security.

Eduardo Tovar posted on our Facebook page that yours truly is “getting stupider.” I considered the source since he had posted a selfie in the mirror flipping himself off; and posted a meme of three Latinos on a couch captioned “F--- Off Yankee.” A model U.S. citizen, no doubt.

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Since it’s open season on police officers in our country, I wasn’t too thrilled when a close relative of mine suggested he was going to apply to be a police officer in Austin, Texas. (Texas has a booming economy because of all the California businesses fleeing the Democrat policies and high tax rates and thus local governments have more money for police and fire positions). When I asked my son how it went, he said that he was disqualified – because he admitted smoking marijuana four times in his life in a state that has made it legal.

So, you see, marijuana use has its consequences. 

I’m no fan of pot use and think it’s not doing society any favors. Californians spent $2.75 billion on a drug that has addictive qualities, harms lung health, can take away ambition, creates a dependency for escape, impairs cognitive ability, contributes to auto crashes, results in loss of opportunities (like my relative) and is still illegal federally (try taking your doobies into Yosemite). 

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Governor Gavin Newsom recently railed against incompetence in Washington during his inaugural address, but maybe he should stick to tackling all the problems his party created in California. Here are a few:

• Just recently, the state auditor reported that California’s new accounting system is so unreliable that large state agencies flat-out refuse to use it, increasing the risk of incomplete or inaccurate financial reports. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

• A major accounting firm is filing paper tax returns because California’s online system is too hard to use.

• A state prison is spending more than half a million dollars per year on bottled water because its “state of the art” water treatment plant won’t stop breaking.

• The Secretary of State’s campaign finance database is nearly a year behind schedule, while costs have doubled.

• The DMV issued millions of Real IDs that didn’t meet federal standards, and waited a month to tell anyone about the issue.

• Workers at the DMV botched tens of thousands of voter registrations, and five months later elections officials still can’t explain how bad the problem actually is.

• That’s not to mention the money being wasted on the high-speed rail boondoggle. 

There are serious competency issues in state government that deserve Newsom’s attention. But I say he and his party helped create a mess they’re not going to fix.

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They took a swipe at plastic straws. Did you hear that Democrat Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco now wants to stop businesses from handing out paper receipts unless asked for? Ting, who introduced AB 161, said his is “common-sense legislation” and added, “We think it’s a minimal cost, and it’s really putting the power back in the consumers by saying, ‘Hey, if you want the paper, yeah, you can ask for it, but why force you to take the paper?’”

Whoa, hold on a sec. As a consumer I am asked all the time by clerks if I want the receipt or not. They do that voluntarily because: a) a lot of people don’t want them; and b) it saves them from having to buy more rolls of computer receipt paper.

Why are Nanny State Democrats always trying to MANDATE actions that should be left up to the marketplace?

The so-called plastic straw ban is ridiculous on many fronts but also because fast-food has been exempt – that’s where most of the straw waste is coming from. Lawmakers cited all the garbage in the ocean, as if everyone with a straw rushed down to the beach to toss it in the waves. (Hint: Sacramento, your culprit in ocean trash is China, not Joe Blow in Banta or Susy Homemaker in Hughson).

I predict the next target will be the paper tray liners in fast-food restaurants and plastic trash can liner bags.

Why don’t we let the private marketplace determine solutions to our problems? For example, some places are now serving plant starch cutlery that is 100 percent biodegradable.

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The Rev. Jesse Jackson said he was “offended” that President Donald Trump served fast-food to the Clemson Tigers at the White House after they claimed the College Football Playoff national championship.

I’m not surprised. There’s nothing the Left won’t get offended over. Seriously, get a life Mr. Jackson. You haven’t really had a real job your whole life; and I say that because you really cloak your real occupation as a leftist activist in holy cloth. Your brand of religion is a perversion of the real gospel.

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