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Oregon has become more conservative than California!

I’m flying blind here with this column coming out the day after the election. This paper printed on Election Night before the polls closed, which means this column has no reflection on what happened last night. That means I don’t know, as of this writing, who will be on the Ceres City Council; don’t know if Gray or Duarte is off to Congress; don’t know if Juan Alanis or Jess Self is off to the state Assembly; or if Tim Robertson or Marie Alvarado-Gil is off to the state Senate.

But this I know: Newsom – who 29 of the 58 counties wanted to see recalled in September 2021 – will be re-elected. Big city voters rule the state and because they fail to see the abject failures of Newsom policy, the problems we face as a state will continue to worsen. That means no progress toward building new dams, reducing homelessness, no increased electrical output and no catching up to reduce our housing shortage.

Too bad Californians can’t follow the lead of our neighbor to the north. 

Going into the election, Oregon voters were poised to dump its Newsom like governor to elect their first Republican governor in 40 years. Like California, Oregon normally elects liberals and has made the Democrats a one-party rule in Salem.

Republican Christine Drazan was in a dead heat with Democrat Tina Kotek. What was different about this election? According to MSN’s John A. Charles Jr.: “It’s very simple: the overall quality of life in Oregon has rapidly declined. Homeless camps are everywhere, crime is rising, and public school test scores have plummeted. Gov. Kate Brown’s tyrannical handling of the COVID-19 crisis, which included extended school shutdowns, alienated many of her natural allies.”

Sounds just like Newsom’s Californian.

Kotek was Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives during most of the Brown era, and widely perceived to be a Kate Brown clone and in this Red Wave year, that was not an advantage.

Oregon voters may have finally realized that Democrat policies spell disaster.

* * * * *

I caught a bit of the radio conversation between KFIV radio station’s “Real Estate Jerky” program with Assemblyman Adam Gray and found it enlightening.

A lot of folks like Gray because he is a moderate Democrat and has supported efforts to increase water storage projects for the Valley. But his support of Prop. 1, making abortion a guarantee in the state’s Constitution, is enough to excuse me from ever supporting Gray for any office.

The conversation touched on the housing shortage and how California is now 4.3 million housing units short right now. Newsom campaigned on building 3.5 million homes. He hasn’t gotten even close. In the nearly four years since Newsom took office, California cities are projected to have permitted a total of about 452,000 homes — less than he pledged he’d build in one year alone.

If there was a way to start building homes right now at the press of a button, Gray asks where are we going to get the labor to build those houses and apartments? Where are the carpenters, the electricians, the plumbers?

Gray aptly points out that our California school system singularly pushes kids to go to college while most districts fail to get kids prepared for blue-collar jobs. Ceres High School, of course, has a program to teach students skills sought by local manufacturers but those types of programs are rare in the state.

If a plumber today can make $200,000 a year, why only push kids toward college where they leave with massive debts?

Government must incentivize people to work by quit subsidizing laziness. We must return to the work ethic of the boomers for we have a generation of people who don’t want to work manual labor jobs because they feel the work is beneath them.

TV personality Mike Rowe, who is somewhat of an expert on blue-collar work as the TV host of “Dirty Jobs, says we are headed for serious trouble if we don’t get people to work. The labor shortage is threatening our way of life as we have seen with product shortages and inflated product prices. One recent survey noted that 77 percent of manufacturers report issues getting and attracting skilled workers. Blame blue state policies during the pandemic that incentivized workers to stay home. Red state governors who discarded COVID mandates and halted most pandemic-related handouts have seen the greatest success to solve the blue-collar workforce crisis.

* * * * *

Mike Kline’s term on the Ceres City Council will be coming to a close soon.

Since I’ve been with the Courier over the past 35 years, I know a little bit about his political experiences in Ceres. Mike was tenacious over the years in seeking office. He lost his 1999 and 2001 races for Ceres School Board. Undaunted, in 2007 he ran for the Ceres City Council and lost in a three-man race to Rob Phipps – by only 149 votes.

Losing that many times would cause most people to quit but Kline ran for council in 2011 and won. He was then re-elected in 2015. He decided not to seek re-election to the council in 2020 to instead run for county supervisor against Channce Condit. When he lost, Kline signaled that he was done with politics.

However when the city needed the experience former councilman to fill the District 4 seat last year, Mike rose to the challenge but pledged not to run again. Daniel Martinez was favored to take his place headed into the election.

While he’s not the most eloquent speaker at the dais, Kline has always had his heart in the right place. He’s always been a big supporter of police and fire. His community service has included being a Ceres volunteer fireman in the 1980s and 1990s, a coach for the Ceres Dolphins, president of the Ceres Lions Club and a term on the Ceres Planning Commission.

That kind of involvement is rare in this day and age when folks aren’t even bothering to show up for work. Mike Kline is commend him for his dedication to Ceres!

* * * * *

At the Oct. 24 Council meeting, Councilman Kline made a mention about the Public Works Department’s monthly report to the council. He was impressed by the fact that the city cleaned up 13 illegal dump sites in non-right-of-way locations and cited 11 garbage can storage violations.

He also pointed out this item: That a free community disposal day for Ceres customers is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Ceres River Bluff Regional Soccer Complex Parking lot from 8 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Ceres residential garbage customers will be able to dispose of large items such as furniture and appliances, e-waste, up to nine discarded tires, and old mattresses. This event is being funded through a Department of Transportation Clean California Grant.

Mark it on your calendar!

My eyes were drawn to this statistic from the report: The city removed blight and weeds from the alley in the 1900 block of Darrah Street and a total of six dump truck loads were removed! Unbelievable.

* * * * *

Recently a Ceres resident named Alvaro Franco criticized the city’s effort to reach out to citizens. He was specifically referring the two community workshops the city held on Oct. 4 and 12 to receive input about what features Ochoa Park should include. A total of 115 participated, which is an exceptional turn-out given the apathy that plagues society and the pathetically low voter turnout.

Franco suggested that the 115 number was an indication that the city didn’t try hard enough. But I can’t think of any time in the past when the city consulted the citizens as to what they want in a park.

His logic is that since Eastgate has way more than 115 houses that the city survey failed to reach half of Eastgate where the park is because the city isn’t keeping with the times. He suggested the city should be mass texting everyone in Ceres lest they opt out “in this Amazon economy where people want everything delivered to—and from—their fingertips.”

I bristle at Franco’s suggestion that “With such low turnouts, maybe it is not citizens who are the problem, but rather the outreach used to gather input.”

Aside from the fact that 115 in attendance was a great turnout, Franco is being too kind toward citizens. Most people don’t care, they only complain after the fact. Life has become so convenient for people that they get lazy. For example, few attend council meetings. Few voters really dig into the meat and potatoes of the issues and candidates, opting instead to form their opinion based on the TV ads they watch.

If the city was at fault for anything regarding Ochoa Park is that it rushed ahead for the dedication ceremony in 2021 before a single blade of grass was installed. That was for political reasons.

* * * * *

It seems you can’t open social media without seeing a posting about a missing person. Typically they are female teenagers who run away with a boy and turn up days later. You can never tell, though, if this next case will be another Jaycee Dugard, Polly Klaas or Steven Stayner.

A lot of people are under the false assumption that 24 hours must pass before family can call police to report a missing person. Not true; by law police must take a report on a missing person regardless of the amount of time that has passed.

Their information is entered into a national data base called Missing and Unidentified Persons Section (MUPS) so that law enforcement can see if a person is missing if contact is made.

In some cases a woman might be reported missing when she has decided to leave a spouse or boyfriend. If the police find a “missing” woman (or man) and they don’t wish for their location to be revealed, police may only report to the family that contact was made, that the person is okay but “we can’t tell you where she (or he) is.”

* * * * *

I’m big into history. History tells you everything you need to know about what is tried and true and what is failure. I’ve all heard the adage, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

History also lets you stand firm in the face of lies when politicians make false statements.

Consider California Gov. Gavin Newsom who entered the California scene with his birth in 1967. My youngest brother is older than he is. So I would expect the man who thinks he’s smarter than everyone in the room to just take his words at face value since most people don’t know history.

Newsom has only been governor since 2019 which is a blip on the radar screen of time. Weather records don’t go back all that far since California was first really visited by the first European in 1542 and explored for the first time by East Coast white men around 1820. Things didn’t really take off until the Gold Rush starting in 1849.

In his debate with candidate Brian Dahle, climate alarmist Newsom sounded the rant when he said: “the hots are getting a lot hotter, the drys are getting a lot drier, we have atmospheric rivers – we’ve unprecedented extremes, leaving us in a position where we’re dealing with unprecedented drought and wildlife.”

Climate change to progressives means an excuse to control and shakedown corporations.

I had to laugh because we’ve had many droughts in the past in California. Maybe Newsom was too young to remember 1978. I was in high school and California was in a dire drought situation to the point that the saying in the gym was: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.”

Of course when it gets hot like they did in early September, politicians ratchet up the scaremongering that the planet is burning up. But the truth is this past fire season wasn’t as bad in California.

In July 2017 Ceres resident Len Shepherd cried bunk to the global warming alarmists when he stood up at a council meeting to say “Anybody here alive in 1963? 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 of California. Welcome to Mother Nature.”

But consider a rare little gem from Mildred Lucas’ book on Ceres history. Allura Ulch took an account of the temperatures in Ceres in July 1886 – way before Newsom’s great-grandmother was born and before LA became the Smog Central and certainly decades before the jet plane was commonplace in the 1940s. Here are the temperatures she recorded in Ceres:

July 9 – 102°

July 10 – 104°

July 11 – 101°

July 12 – 108°

July 13 – 109° (hot all night)

July 14 – 114°

July 15 – 113°

July 16 – 110° 

July 17 – 109°

July 18 – 106°

July 22-29 – above 90°

July 30 – 100°

July 31 – 112° (108 inside of the Averill Brothers blacksmith shop

August 1 – 108°

August 2 – 104°

August 3 – 108°

August 4 – 108°

August 5 – 110°

August 7 – 100°

August 11 – 107°

August 12 – 103°

Unprecedented extremes, Newsom said. Go ahead and laugh.

The last big flood we had was in 1997.  You remember it, right? You probably won’t remember the 1955 flood that swept through the town of Knights Ferry. You definitely won’t remember the flood of 1862 that was so bad that the Valley was underwater from Merced to Sacramento. Ceres and Modesto were under a lake. The only thing that saved us in 1997 during the same Tropical Express that hit in 1997 were the dams constructed. Imagine if a Newsom type governor had been governor when Pat Brown or son Jerry Brown were our leaders and the state refused to build dams.

In 1955 Knights Ferry was devastated by a torrent of water that came down the Stanislaus River canyon. Make no mistake about it – had the New Melones Dam not been constructed in 1978, Knights Ferry would have been destroyed again in 1997.

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