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Osgood undeserving of a City Council seat

They made their bed and now they will have to lie in it.

The appointment of John R. Osgood III to the Ceres City Council was one of the worst decisions I’ve seen in my 34-year career at the Courier.

Osgood does not deserve a seat on the Ceres City Council.

Last week’s vote also underscores how dysfunctional this inexperienced council truly is.

As the Modesto Bee said in its scathing editorial last week, “Ceres leaders made a huge mistake.” I agree with their summation that “it’s doubtful that the people of Ceres will benefit from someone as angry, condescending, bigoted, and foul-mouthed as Osgood.”

For at least a year Osgood has proven himself a self-aggrandizing man full of hostilities and who pontificates like he is a constitutional expert on par with Antonin Scalia. He has badgered, bullied and threatened the council with appalling condescension.

And the council promotes him to Couper Condit’s vacant seat for his behavior? Go figure!

Let’s review how this disastrous appointment came about.

Earlier this year the council embarrassed itself when it was unable to agree on who to appoint to fill an empty seat left by Channce Condit. At four meetings, grown-ups sat in silence at the dais, refusing to budge, thus throwing the choice to a special election. Channce Condit’s seat remained vacant from January to Sept. 10 and cost about $35,000 to fill because the leaders couldn’t lead. The special election of Aug. 31 gave the council its fourth inexperienced councilman in James Casey. The City Council was complete for one meeting and then the second Condit quit.

To fill Couper Condit’s seat the council – traumatized by the damaging optics of its last quagmire – was determined to make quick work of this appointment. But by setting a very short filing period for applications, they likely shut out more qualified candidates.

Last week disaster loomed again with a 2-2 split council.

Ironically, Osgood opposed filling the Channce Condit seat earlier this year, saying the seat needed to be decided by the people. This time, Osgood voiced zero objections to an appointment because he had designs on the seat as a District 4 resident.

Ceres has not been large enough to be split into four council districts but it happened anyway. The result is that three-quarters of city residents were disqualified from applying. The council received only three applications – from Osgood, Daniel Martinez and Mohinder Singh Kanda. 

At the Nov. 9 council meeting – in which are three applicants were asked the same basic questions – the council likely realized its new dilemma. Kanda was called out for his questionable District 4 residency requirement as he had just lost his 2020 bid to run for the District 3 seat. Aside from that, Kanda communicated very poorly in his interview. As such, he was never seriously considered.

That left Martinez and Osgood. Martinez ran for council in 2020 and Osgood did not. Martinez posed a problem, however; he had just been appointed to the Ceres Planning Commission, another seat that went vacant so long. Offering him the council seat would mean another vacancy to fill on the commission and we all know this council’s dismal track record in making appointments.

The council asked Osgood why he felt he was qualified. He boastfully touted his achievement as an Eagle Scout almost 30 years ago and being a descendant of Mayflower passengers as he portrayed himself as being solid on the law and constitution.

Osgood, however, has not modeled good citizenship. He has used a whole host of tasteless and demeaning remarks about others including use of the term “retard.”

He can disregard his outrageous behavior as “an act” but it speaks volumes for the man’s lack of judgment.

Osgood has disparaged police officers and police unions.

He has consistently called for changes to the Ceres Municipal Code which was painstakingly updated from 2019 to 2020.

Osgood also holds this bizarre belief that Ryno and Silveira have a conflict of interest and cannot vote on city labor issues because Ryno once worked for the city – she no longer does – and because Silveira is employed by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. There is no conflict of interest as neither elected official benefits financially when they vote on compensation packages for city employees.

Osgood has shown how thin his skin is because anyone who disagrees with him or calls him out for his wild viewpoints and insulting behavior, he unleashes his torrent of baseless and belittling insults.

I’ve criticized his conduct in past columns and Osgood’s response is to call me an “idiot” and say: “He needs to retire, he needs to go away. He needs to quit writing lies about people.” In one rant, Osgood falsely portrayed me as a “closeted liberal … a proponent of big government … a proponent of nepotism … (having) no idea what the concepts or principles of liberty or self-governance are” … and vulgarly suggested that my support of Laurie Smith for council was  “licking Laurie Smith’s a--.”

He has made demeaning and vulgar remarks about Councilwoman Linda Ryno, calling her a jamoke and an idiot. He compared Councilman Bret Silveira to a “power hungry penis.”

The council battle lines were drawn between the two camps: Linda Ryno and James Casey in the Osgood camp and Javier Lopez and Bret Silveira firmly in the Martinez camp. More long periods of silence. More displays of stubbornness.

Casey explained that he was supporting Osgood because “more than one” supporter of his phoned up on his behalf. Apparently if you get more than one person to call Casey he’ll bend to your whims while dismissing his own analysis, not exactly the soundest way to make a choice but then again Casey doesn’t have the perspective on how Osgood has behaved in the past because Casey hasn’t been there.

Even Renee Ledbetter, who suggested giving Osgood a shot, later admitted she was unfamiliar with the reprehensible things he uttered on his podcasts.

Ryno – who trusts Mayor Lopez or Silveira no farther than she can throw either – supported Osgood, only suggesting in a mocking tone that he has “the passion, Mayor that you speak so often of.” It was a reference to how Lopez, in his 2020 mayoral campaign, suggested that “passion” made up for a lack for experience.

Ryno’s spitefulness was off-putting.

Passion in and of itself is not the sole characteristic of a good leader. Hitler had passion, too, but we all know where that got the world.

Only Silveira stuck to his guns opposing Osgood and for that I applaud him.

To avoid a special election at all cost, Lopez caved. His reputation has been seriously tarnished far greater than had he stuck to his vote and this thing went to another special election.

Why would you tell your appointee: “Don’t let me down” unless you knew he was going to be trouble for you? And more than one person felt that Lopez’s remark which followed: “We’re on this dais. You’re closer to me than you are over there” was a veiled threat for Osgood not to step out of line.

When Osgood was called out for his salty-tongued tirade in a March council meeting he replied: “We shouldn’t have to get this passionate. And whatever words you may not like, they’re words that even five-year-olds are using.”

Nothing like lowering the bar of conduct to that of a five-year-old.

When Osgood’s angry, shrill rant started using words that shouldn’t be used in a public meeting, Silveira asked the mayor to cut off his Zoom feed. That prompted a fusillade of immature insults Osgood directed at Silveira on his March 10 podcast.

His disdain for Bret Silveira is disconcerting. On his podcast, Osgood said of Silveira: “You ain’t in charge m----- f-----, I’m in charge.”

Osgood also mentioned community threats of recalling Couper Condit and Javier Lopez. In retaliation he indicated that he had a “Doomsday” file with recall papers for Silveira and Ryno, adding “I will burn the f------ city down.”

Osgood also threatened to mobilize a recall effort against Silveira using organizations that “despise the very existence of police officers” including Black Lives Matter. Any citizen of Ceres should be concerned that they will have a councilman who would dare breathe such a threat.

And because of his outburst at the Sept. 27, 2021 Ceres City Council meeting the city felt it needed to post a sign of rules warning of such poor conduct. Osgood’s outburst can be seen on YouTube by searching for the City of Ceres channel and find the Sept. 27, 2021 meeting. A shortcut URL is and fast-forward to the 4:23:52 mark and watch until 4:27:17.

Osgood is undeserving to serve on the Ceres City Council.

The council should reconvene and revisit this decision before Osgood is administered the oath.

 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