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The political shams back in Washington and here at home

It was a huge political sham. I pored over Trump’s rambling speech on Jan. 6 that the Democrats are making hay over. These are direct quotes from Trump that day:

“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”

“But our fight against the big donors, big media, big tech, and others is just getting started. This is the greatest in history. There’s never been a movement like that.”

“We must stop the steal and then we must ensure that such outrageous election fraud never happens again, can never be allowed to happen again.”

“And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

And here is what the Constitution says about impeachment:

Article II, Section 4:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Are there legal grounds for impeachment? If you’re honest you’ll say no. This is an assault on free speech and Democrats warning any others to never try to take back the government.

* * * * *

An old high school classmate of mine is a school teacher and he made his feelings known the other day about the continued breakdown of education in this state. We should not be calling it distance learning – we should be calling it for what it is: the breakdown of education.

Mr. Mondo, a teacher in this county, posted this on Facebook: “This is not working. I spent a full hour today with my class on Zoom. They do not pay attention. They cannot or will not answer questions for the most part. They turn the sound off. Some turn the camera off. There are no responses. Too many seem to have no supervision at home. They need to be back in school.”

What is up with educators and the teachers unions? Real teachers who are worth their salt want their students back in their classrooms. They know this distance learning thing isn’t working at all.

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I received an interesting voicemail call from a Ceres resident who is wondering, upon seeing how the recall effort against Gov. Gavin Newsom is gaining steam, if there is a same mechanism for the recall of a mayor and city council member. The phone caller – whose name I will only release as Bill for his protection – said, and I quote: “the dysfunction that I see in the City Council is horrendous and I have new nicknames for the two egregious members, Mayor Loopy Lopez and Vice Mayor Pooper Couper because I’ll tell you know, they are messing it up big time.”

Yes, city councilmembers can be recalled. There is a process that is outlined at starting on page 17. While I didn’t want to see either Lopez or Condit get elected to their offices, I think talk of a recall is a bit premature given they have only served for a short time. Still, others like former Mayor Louie Arrollo are suggesting a recall may be in order (see his letter to the editor in today’s edition).

Like we have seen time and time again, the voters chose poorly and may have to live with their choices and sleep in the bed they made for themselves.

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As you know, the teaching establishment is at war with charter and home schooling, probably because it threatens teacher job security, and does not allow the state to indoctrinate students into the liberal ways of thinking .You see this resistance at play in South Dakota where the conservative governor there, Kristi Noem, is receiving widespread praise by homeschool families and the ire of South Dakota educators for her push to loosen rules around home schooling and force school districts to let students educated at home participate in sanctioned high school activities. South Dakota school districts have local control over whether home school students can participate in team sports and activities. And many of them don’t. Noem wants to change that policy.

Sounds like there are a bunch of educator s who don’t really care about kids but who are jealous of the successes in homeschooled children.

The same liberal establishment that condones transgendered boys competing against females in sports with no regard to that unfair advantage, suddenly has a concern about home-schoolers getting an unfair advantage when it comes to competing or participating in public school activities.

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Everyone knows that California is not keeping up with housing demand. By 2018 California ranked 49th among the 50 states in the number of housing units per resident. Some statistics place California as being three million to four million housing units short – and by housing units we mean apartments, condos, and single-family residences.

So you would think that any project to create more housing locally would be hailed as a good thing. But on Feb. 1 when the Planning Commission considered the site plan for a 10-unit apartment complex in-fill project, the neighbors came out with their NIMBY attitude. NIMBY, if you’re not familiar, stands for Not In My Back Yard.

As one who has heard decades of council and commission meetings, it’s amusing at times to hear the exaggeration dispensed when somebody is opposed to a project, the Supercenter a case in point.

Let’s face it – 10 units is a small project. A couple on Ninth Street made all kinds of wild statements in opposition to the project out of fear. Abdul Malik Salahuddin said the project would crowd the street with cars despite the project providing a 20-stall interior parking lot. He said the “crime rate will possibly go up.” Seconds after Salahuddin said Ninth Street are lined with cars and trucks and that his visiting daughters have no place to park, he said the reason he moved there was because “it was nice, it was quiet and the fact that it’s not congested.” He then said the project – described as architecturally attractive by city planners – would “de-beautifies this street and this area.” He also stated it would be doing an “injustice.” (The real injustice would be denying a property owner his right to develop his property to the exact zoning already approved for it). Besides, if you saw what was there now on that 0.61-acre site, you’d chuckle at Salahuddin’s remark.

Diane Salahuddin, a Bay Area transplant who arrived in 2019, said she was “very disturbed” to hear about the 10-unit project.

Winning the prize for far-flung opposition against the project relates to the claim of a Noel Garcia, reportedly a police officer in the county, who wanted the city to reject the project because he feared that future tenants might include somebody who he may have had dealings with as a police officer. His reasoning might be as flawed as saying, “Don’t build on this lot because a meteorite may fall on it one day.”

At least Tenth Street resident Jorges Padres stated that he was appalled that a police officer would speak disparagingly of renters. He said the Salahuddins had a “very selfish” attitude.

Commissioner Bob Kachel also stated being off-put by the remark that not all apartment renters break the law.

The commission voted 4-0 to support the site plan of Putney Apartments as an appropriate use and that it complies with the zoning code.

I also have to address how Diane Salahuddin took the proceedings of the Putney apartment public hearing to slam Planning Commission Chairwoman Laurie Smith as one of the applicants considered for City Council appointment. At the Feb. 2 special council meeting she expressed how the commission didn’t convey “care” and “concern” about her feelings – which are at odds with facts concerning the project. I listened to the whole meeting more than once and cannot understand how Salahuddin could interpret anything Smith said as being “very rude.” Diane seemed steamed that Diane and her husband wasn’t allowed to speak more than once in opposition to the project and said Smith “shouldn’t be considered to be on the council.”

Ironically and most puzzling, Salahuddin returned to the Feb. 8 council meeting to chide the council for not being willing to choose the most experienced applicant (which is Smith).

Dealing with the public can be an exercise in extreme tolerance.

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I have a very smart nephew who is in his early 20s and “gets it.” On Friday he posted this on his Facebook page: “Can we stop firing people just because they say something ‘controversial.’ The First Amendment is being attacked and this needs to stop! We believe in freedom of speech. I’m sorry if someone says something you disagree with, but that’s ok or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be. Why don’t we stop censoring those with differing views rather than fire them for saying something against your agenda?”

This hit home because of the 2020 effort to have me resign because some in the local Cancel Culture disliked what I said about them.

The very speech that is most in need of protection is controversial speech.

* * * * *

Nancy Pelosi. Oh what a piece of work she is.

It’s bad enough that newly elected Republican Congresswoman Claudia Tenney had to wait three months since the Nov. 3 to be sworn into office, Petty Pelosi denied her son the right to witness the ceremony from the gallery. Her son, Trey Cleary, is a 2013 graduate of the Naval Academy and now a captain in the U.S. Marines.

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Valentine’s Day 2021 has come and gone but the scams relating to romance are going strong year round.

My dear mother, God rest her soul, fell for one of these. She went on a cruise to Alaska and one of the younger men paying her a lot of attention started corresponding with her long after the ship came into port. He apparently lived in Romania and scammed her out of tens of thousands of dollars. She was convinced that he was going to come to the US to marry her. 

The FBI Sacramento Field Office is raising awareness about romance scams and urging victims of the crime to reach out to law enforcement. Isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased online communication and virtual connectivity, including the search for lifelong love. While many well-intentioned singles are seeking online matches, criminals lurk among them, seeking to ensnare hearts and finances.

What is a romance scam? A romance scam is similar to “catfishing,” a situation in which a person creates a fake online identity to gain a victim’s affection and confidence, fostering the illusion of a romantic or close relationship. The difference is the person on the other end of the virtual relationship that is a romance scam is a cybercriminal who will exploit the victim for financial gain.

The principal victim group targeted by romance scammers is over 40 years old and divorced, widowed, elderly, or disabled; however, all demographics are at risk. In 2019, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center received complaints from 2,206 California victims who experienced a combined total dollar loss of $107,853,977. Nationally, 19,473 individuals were victimized by confidence scams in 2019 resulting in a total dollar loss of $475,014,032. That’s a lot of broken hearts.

Romance scammers profit from exploiting their victims and are experts at their craft. Criminals search chat rooms, dating sites, and social networking sites looking for potential victims and often target unsuspecting individuals looking for love and companionship. Scammers often monitor social media accounts and glean information from online dating profiles and other sources to better understand how to manipulate and exploit their intended victims.

As the relationships progress, scammers spin tales of severe life circumstances, tragedies, deaths in the family, injuries to themselves, or other hardships to keep their victims concerned and involved in their schemes. The criminals frequently ask victims to send money to help overcome a financial situation they claim to be experiencing.

In my mom’s case, this swindler purportedly named Bogdan had medical bills after allegedly being shot on the street and a whole host of other problems to convince my mother to send money to him. Eventually she began tapping my elderly grandmother for money and before it was all over with, my grandmother said she lost about $200,000. I was dumbfounded that my wise grandmother allowed this to happen.

The FBI has tips to avoid becoming a romance scam victim:

• Be careful of what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.

• Be wary of anyone you first encounter online rather than in real life. People can pretend to be anything or anyone online.

• Research a person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name, or details have been used elsewhere.

• Go slowly and ask lots of questions.

• Never send money to someone you meet online, especially by wire transfer.

• Never provide credit card numbers or bank account information without verifying the recipient’s identity.

• Never share your Social Security number or other personally identifiable information that can be used to access your accounts with someone who does not need to know this information.

Beware if your virtual beloved:

• Seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.

• Attempts to isolate you from friends and family.

• Requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.

• Promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.

Keep in mind that most cyber criminals do not use their own photographs; they use an image from another social media account as their own. A reverse image search can determine if a profile picture is being used elsewhere on the internet, and on which websites it was used. A search sometimes provides information that links the image with other scams or victims.

If you are a victim of a romance scam, seek help from law enforcement immediately. Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at, the FBI Sacramento Field Office at (916) 746-7000, or both. Additionally, contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions. Please also report the activity to the website where the contact was first initiated to protect others from becoming victims.

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