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On the water rate hike, code enforcement & other important things
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This probably won't make Ceres residents feel any better but the city of Ceres isn't the only one looking to increase water rates over the next five years.

The Turlock City Council is moving forward with a proposed water rate increase that would go to treat the City's current groundwater wells, and help fund a new surface water treatment plant.

To make the plan a reality, however, both cities will need to raise water rates to fund the $278 million project - with Turlock's share approximately $172 million and Ceres' share being $100 million.

Under the proposed rate structure in Turlock, a single family currently paying $36 a month is projected to pay $42 a month in 2018, $49 a month in 2019, $57 in 2020, $67 in 2021 and $79 in 2022. The new rate includes a $25-month service fee for the typical single-family home, which covers the cost of securing the water source and delivering it to the customer.

By contrast, Ceres is proposing rate increases that would result in the average single-family household water bill climbing from the current $40.13 per month to $56.18 on Jan. 1, 2018; to $76.97 on Jan. 1, 2019; to $80.82 on Jan. 1, 2020; to $84.86 in 2021; and $88.25 in 2022.

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Ceres resident Jamie Hancock sent me a message about the story I wrote on the city's code enforcement position. Since others may be thinking the same thing, I thought I'd share that he wrote: "It is no wonder the city doesn't have any money for improvements when they hire a code enforcement person for $8,300 per month. This kind of overspending is unnecessary. And how do they fill this position? Is it appointed or do they take applications? Who can be code enforcement? $8,300 a month, a perfect example of government waste and overspending."

To clarify, the city is not paying the next code enforcement officer $8,300 per month. That is the fully-burdened cost to the city, such as health insurance benefits, retirement benefits, employment taxes and equipment. The actual salary range for the position is $3,568 to $4,337 per month. The position is currently advertised on the City website at and Here is the link to the job announcement

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Sometimes it takes an "outsider" to point out things that are obvious to us yet we don't see because we are so accustomed to seeing things daily. Riding with someone not used to entering Ceres from Mitchell Road near the airport, it was pointed out to me how marred the entrance is. Granted, the entrance to Ceres is county on the east and city of Modesto on the west but the first thing that slams you is the graffiti blight on the cement divider approaching the bridge. The metal webbing sitting atop the concrete barrier is ripped up, half hanging. Trash is sprinkled between the river and the welcome to Ceres marque.

Do we not see this as a community? Is this okay?

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Sometimes there are no solutions for our country's problems.

Everyone recoils from what happened in Las Vegas, and they should. Watching a video shot from the perspective of the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert crowd, I could sense the horrifying feelings everyone across the Strip from Mandalay Bay must have felt.

We want answers. But more so, we desperately want to prevent things like this from happening.

News flash. There is no answer. (And, no the Wynn hotel searching guests bags is not a solution - it is a good way to lose business, sans the TSA).

Democrats have a knee-jerk reaction to ban guns. All that accomplishes is taking guns away from those who obey laws in the first place and only want guns to protect their family and castle. That's not unreasonable.

Unfortunately, when you live in a free society - and I would argue America is no safer despite freedoms taken away from us - bad people can do bad things. We live in the illusion that we are safe. Truth be told, any one of us can be struck by a car while walking down the sidewalk, hit by a falling airplane part while in the park, mangled in a car crash because of some drugged or drunken soul, or picked off by the guy in the high rise like sitting ducks.

Stephen Paddock was hell-bent on reigning bullet fury on people he didn't know. A person with that kind of drive cannot be stopped. No gun law would have stopped what he did. Murder is illegal and he broke the law anyway.

My son is one of those who happen to believe that we should ban all guns. Just get rid of them all, he believes. Never mind how we might seize everyone's guns. I'm pretty sure criminals won't be surrendering theirs. Then you might think about what other item criminals might use to inflict their terror. Let's remember that many murderers have used baseball bats, knives, ligatures, telephone cords, bombs, airplanes, pressure cookers and sometimes water.

But one of his chief arguments is that if you have more guns in a country, there will be more gun violence. He likens it to the old "have more swimming pools, have more swimming pool deaths." Perhaps his argument is more appropriately framed this way: "The more people on the planet, the greater the incidence of such atrocious acts being committed." You see, guns didn't kill - a man pulling the trigger and aiming the gun committed the murders.

The problem with my son's logic is it isn't backed up by the facts. Since 1994, the number of firearms owned in this country has increased 56%. The gun murder rate is down 49 percent in the same time frame. You could say that having more guns has reduced the number of gun homicides.

If you suggest guns are responsible for evil, you must acknowledge that guns can be used for good. Like obtaining freedom in war. It was, for example, a gun which ended the carnage on the Strip. Had Paddock not taken his own life, a police officer using a gun would have.

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California has many problems.

1). It's getting way too crowded here - everywhere and the state infrastructure hasn't kept up.

2). There's not enough jobs.

3). Sacramento has gone haywire with its control.

4). The state has a very anti-business attitude which is driving companies out of state, fleeing to less restrictive states like Nevada, Texas, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming and Idaho.

5). Drugs and homelessness in the Valley are on the rise.

6). The Valley has among the highest auto theft rates in the country.

Maybe that's why a lot of people left the state. According to data shared by the IRS, about five million left California from 2004 to 2013. It amounted to a net loss of about $26 billion in annual income for the state. The biggest drawing state was Texas, followed by Arizona and Nevada.

You might ask yourself how much did state lawmakers contribute to this exodus?

At a recent appearance in Salida, I heard gubernatorial hopeful Gavin Newsom talk about how the state's poverty rates have climbed under Democrats' watch.

For some reason, it hasn't clicked with Democratic Party leaders that if a state puts onerous burdens and regulations on businesses, they will leave the state and take with it its payroll taxes, disposable income and spinoff businesses. Job opportunities will be lost and household incomes will drop.

Travis Allen, another candidate for governor, spoke of this in a recent editorial, "Democratic policies have made California poorer" published Oct. 4 in the San Francisco Chronicle. Both he and Newsom note that California leads the nation in poverty rates, at 20.6 percent. The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that another 20 percent of Californians live in "near-poverty" and struggle to pay for such necessities as food and shelter.

Allen notes that "California once led the nation in opportunity, housing, affordability, educational excellence and upward mobility. Now we rank at or near the bottom in nearly every category."

He blames the state's lack of enough housing on "a tangled web of environmental and land-use policies that make it nearly impossible for developers to bring affordable housing to the marketplace."

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I'm going to just say it. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is a fool.

The way I know so much about his ultra-leftist activities is because his office floods my email box with press releases. The one on Thursday has him applauding the Brown's signing of the so-called and badly named California Values Act. It doesn't reflect the values of roughly half of the people who live here.

In a nut shell, SB 54 "ensures that no state or local resources are diverted to fuel any attempt by the federal government to carry out mass deportations and that our schools, our hospitals, and our courthouses are safe spaces for everyone in our community."

In other words, the state will stand in the way of federal authorities enforcing immigration policy which even Bill Clinton himself endorsed when he was president. These are, after all, future Democrat voters!

Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at
He will read it, promise.