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Prop. 1 won’t reduce our homeless problem

I’ve already voted and marked “no” on Prop. 1 – for two reasons.

Prop. 1 would float a $6.38 billion bond to build mental health treatment facilities for those with mental health and substance use challenges; provides housing for the homeless.

Why did this have to go to an initiative? If the state wants to spend money on new programs, budget for it; don’t float bonds that have to be paid back with interest. According to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, bonds are the most expensive and inefficient way to pay for a government program. Voters appear to be blind to the fact that bonds are like pulling out the credit card! And with interest rates today, it’s a bad time to be taking on new bond debt, adding at least 60 percent in interest costs, costing taxpayers an estimated $10.58 billion to $12.45 billion. This will take decades to pay back. The state should have prioritized spending through the budget process when we had a $100 billion state budget surplus. Our children will be paying our debts, and their streets won’t be any cleaner for it.

2). The state rarely solves problems with allocation of billions of dollars. I haven’t forgotten how they swindled us into voting for Prop. 1 in 2014 to build new water storage projects with a $7.5 billion bond and nothing has been built to date! Some suggest the Sites Reservoir project could start in 2025 but it wouldn’t be finished until 2032. But don’t hold your breath.

Sacramento has thus far thrown $20 billion at the homeless crisis in the last five years without making a dent. In fact, the number of homeless people increased six percent last year. 

* * * * *

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen three members of the Ceres City Council show up at a Planning Commission meeting like they did last week.

Sitting in the audience were Mayor Javier Lopez and Councilwoman Rosalinda Vierra close to one another and James Casey on the other side of the room.

Is the council signaling a mistrust of its own commission in light of how commissioners approved a gas station next to the Flyers gas station on Whitmore Avenue and they later reverses the decision? After all, Lopez stated in January that he wants to “avoid these kinds of things in the future” and pressed for the Jan. 29 joint council and commission meeting for better understanding of the city’s goals.

If anything, the Flyer’s decision fiasco shined a light on issues within the Community Development (planning) Department. The owners of the Flyer’s station claim they wanted to buy the neighboring property years ago for a car wash until they were told by Director Christopher Hoem that that use and a gas station would not be permitted next to theirs, but that’s exactly what happened anyway. Someone else came in, bought it and won approval for a car wash and a gas station. Commissioner Bob Kachel – who has a vast experience in planning as a former county staff member – stated that he had no grounds to oppose the project since the Ceres General Plan allowed the new gas station and that it was “consistent with the zoning out there.”

Seems there is a need to tweak the General Plan then.

* * * * *

Just a short time ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom bragged in his debate with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about how his leadership was stellar for California.

Days later it was announced that California faced a budget deficit of $58 billion. But last week, lo and behold the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) said California may now be dealing with a $73 billion hole in the budget – an increase of $15 billion!

Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones asked “How are we supposed to balance the budget when our governor can’t even admit the true size of the deficit his administration racked up?”

Jones suggested that the Democrat controlled Senate should freeze Medi-Cal for undocumented immigrants to help curb the state’s looming budget deficit. But it never should have been offered in the first place.

Newsom has a track record of failures, which is why the country should never ever trust him to occupy the Oval Office. God help us all if he does.

* * * * *

Newsom’s approval numbers are tanking like Joe Biden’s.

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) seized on the news of a poll released by the Public Policy Institute of California and stated: “Californians are waking up to Gavin Newsom’s complete failure as a leader. Under Newsom, gas and utility prices skyrocketed, people can no longer afford their groceries, homelessness and crime soared, our budget plunged into a deficit and we have the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation. Running a make-believe campaign for president while ignoring the issues hurting Californians will only push Gavin’s approval numbers lower.”

Only 47 percent of adults approve of Newsom’s job performance. This marks the first time since November 2019 that fewer than 50 percent of adults approve of the job Newsom is doing.

Not surprisingly, Democrat voters have the blinders on, with 70 percent of Democrats liking Newsom, as opposed to 84 percent of Republicans disapproving. And of course, it’s LA and the Bay Area regions that love him most with majorities in other regions – like the Central Valley – disapproving. Breaking down ethnicity, 56 percent of whites disapprove of Newsom, Asians were split 48-48, blacks gave him a 67 percent approval rating and Latinos were at 51 percent approval.

This tells you where bad politicians continue to receive support. 

* * * * *

If you’re feeling pessimistic about the future of our country, you’re not alone. I feel it too.

Eating continues to cost more, even as overall inflation has eased. Prices at restaurants and other eateries were up 5.1 percent in January compared with January 2023, while grocery costs increased 1.2 percent during the same period, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

According to the Wall Street Journal: “Denny’s, Wendy’s and other restaurant chains told investors this month that their guest counts fell last year compared with 2022 levels as consumers, in particular those with lower incomes, feel the financial pinch. Big food makers including Hershey and Kraft Heinz  have reported that their sales volumes declined as prices rose for their products, with several reporting a hit to profits in the latest fiscal year — and others an increase.”

If you’ve been to Chipotle recently you may have choked on the price but expect that to worsen thanks to Democrats in Sacramento who ordered a 25 percent raise in the minimum-wage for larger chains come April 1. Food prices will increase again. “It’s a really fast move and a high percent increase,” commented Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol. “Pricing is going to be part of the puzzle.”

Business will drop and employees will need to be cut. Good going, Sacramento.

* * * * *

While he doesn’t represent Ceres in Congress – John Duarte does – I’m very disappointed that Tom McClintock voted against the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. McClintock places the bar very high when it comes to impeaching incompetent officials – even Biden. Under the Biden/Mayorkas watch, 7.2 million illegal aliens have flooded the U.S. But Mayorkas told Congress that the border is secure. I suppose Mayorkas believes in the tooth fairy as well but the rest of us think it’s more about outright deception.

* * * * *

The shooting at the Union Station in Kansas City during the Chief’s Super Bowl victory party was surreal to me as I had visited the same side of that historic building on July 12 – seven months prior. I was there as a history buff to check out the scene of the 1933 Kansas City massacre which left bullet holes in the side of the building. My son lives about nine miles from the site.

I had my own suspicions as to the profile of the shooters who left one woman dead and more than 20 people injured.

Laura Ingraham was on Bill Maher’s show and accurately surmised the race of the shooters based on the glaring absence of facts in media reports. She told Maher: “We have some idea. If it were a white man shooting, we’d know. That’s why it’s not a white man I can tell you that much.”

She went on to point out how the media was strangely neglectful to note that it was a transgendered woman who shot up the Christian school in Tennessee while keeping her manifesto under wraps for nearly a year. Ingraham also pointed out that the media conveniently glossed over that the December 2015 San Bernardino shooting was done by a “crazy terrorist Muslim.”

Now what she was pointing out here is media bias, not an indictment on race since persons of all races commit heinous acts. In fact, most mass shooters are white males. But the national media will gleefully and eager report the details of any white man who commits a heinous act while subduing coverage of black suspects.

Ingraham, turns out, was spot on. The two men arrested in the KC shooting were both black – Lyndell Mays, 23, and Dominic Miller, 18.

Perceptive folks see what’s going on with biased media coverage. Many are catching on with the constant drip of anti-Trump news coverage, the most unfair we have ever seen in American politics. They hate Trump so bad they have abandoned law and principles of fairness.

The mother of shooting suspect Mays, Teneal Burnside, had the audacity to start a GoFundMe account for her son (who admitted shooting first with no regard for the large crowd surrounding him) saying he needed help through a “tragic time.” Her post included a photo of him lying in a hospital bed with the verbiage: “He is in the ICU fighting for a recovery from several surgeries from going to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl celebration with his older sister.”

Her appeal for money has since been removed.

* * * * *

Speaking of the Super Bowl, I find it reprehensible that there was an inclusion of a so-called Black National Anthem, as if we live in two different nations.

The song’s lyrics were written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and put to music as a hymn. Johnson likely would find disdain in his words being used to supplement an anthem for all Americans are included.

We have one National Anthem for all people so the Woke mob needs to quit dividing Americans by race.

* * * * *

Can we just have some balanced reporting in our national news?

I nearly upchucked when I heard ABC News anchor David Muir on Thursday state: “Tonight after Republicans torpedoed that bipartisan border security deal, President Biden signaling he will take action on the southern border on his own.”

Hold on. It was Biden who created the border fiasco all by his lonesome the moment he took the oath! He halted border wall building and ended the Title 42 under Trump that kept so-called asylum seekers from crashing the border. As a result, people are seeking asylum who have suspicious intentions. U.S. Customs and Border Protection data reveals that 21,000 Chinese nationals were encountered in the San Diego Sector since the start of the fiscal year, compared to 18,700 Mexicans and 28,000 Colombians!

Biden has been A-OK with years of border jumping – until the very issue is threatening his chances of losing to Trump this year.

Remember, the Republicans did not support the $118 billion border “deal” because the Democrats jammed it with $60 billion more for Ukraine!

* * * * *

Kevin Waugh abruptly resigned as City Engineer in January, calling it quits at age 70 from a long and distinguished career.

I didn’t see it coming because he told me many times how excited he was about getting the Smyrna Park renovation finished and completion of Guillermo Ochoa Park in Eastgate. Park projects thrilled him, he expressed over and over.

Waugh took a lot of heat for the center median installed on Morgan Road north of Service Road. Lots of folks didn’t like the median and made accusations that it was installed so that folks would have a hard time entering the Quik Stop parking lot with a path of least resistance to the new AM/PM. As ludicrous as the accusation were, I believe they were hurtful. Waugh and I had conversations about why he felt the median was important. Engineers have to go by Caltrans design guidelines and having a left turn that close to an intersection that was previously a four-way stop but now controlled by signals was deemed a recipe for serious crashes. In other words, without a median, someone could speed through a yellow light for northbound and collide into someone turning left into the Quik Stop some 218 feet away since there’s not enough time to stop to avoid a crash. Before, a northbound driver had to accelerate from a stop sign at Service Road. 

I asked him why the city allowed the left turn for eastbound Hatch Road traffic accessing the CVS parking lot because it’s also close to the intersection at Central Avenue – 258 feet – and he cringed because apparently it doesn’t meet safety standards either. I believe I remember some serious crashes happening at that location.

The protests about the Morgan Road median continue to drip into the ears of the council. But it’s a good thing public sentiment doesn’t drive safety standards.

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