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Random thoughts of politics local and in general
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The election's over.

Too bad I'm not a betting man because everything came to pass the way I predicted.

I believed that Measure D would pass and so would Measure E, the TOT increase, by a lesser margin. Measure D passed 66.28 percent to 33.72 percent. Measure E passed by a margin of 56.63 percent to 43.37 percent.

The race for City Council also went exactly the way I thought it would - and pegged the right order. I believed Bret Durossette and Mike Kline would come in first and second places respectively, and that Don Cool would come in third and Gene Yeakley in last place. Their respective vote counts were 1,080, 1,039, 442 and 231.

Someone asked me before the election how many votes I thought Yeakley would receive and I replied a couple hundred. I was 31 votes off.

Don Cool had an inkling of the things he could have done differently before the election but vows he will run again. He has to wait four years now with D passing.

During the Chamber's candidates forum, I heard people say that neither Cool nor Yeakley communicated an inspiring vision of leadership. Few people are willing to replace an incumbent with someone who just wants to be involved in decision making.

Yeakley conducted a what-not-to-do campaign. He went into the campaign without doing his homework. A virtual unknown, he raised no money. He didn't put up signs. No mailer. His campaign took on a tone of negativity and sourness. It came out in ghastly comments like "There's a lot of people who live there, they don't like law enforcement, they don't want any contact, they come from somewhere else - I'm not going to say where - but they do come from other parts of the world and they don't assimilate." Or this comment: "We have serious problems with low-income people here." Yeakley also suggested segregating all low-income housing from other types of housing, as if low-income people were a leper colony. His "We haven't had a good infrastructure in a long time" statement was dumbfounding to say the least, given that Ceres has and is investing millions in infrastructure like sewer, water and roads.

I get that Gene doesn't like crime, noise, barking dogs, trash and blight in his neighborhood. Nobody in their right mind does. But you can't build a successful campaign based on a laundry list of complaints with no solutions.

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Having been in the business of covering City Council meeting for decades, this fall held true to form as what I've seen in the past during pre-election periods. Agendas were thin and meetings were short in September through October. Do you think that's by design? Think about it: Low-key agendas guarantee the absence of potentially controversial votes that might become campaign fodder for the opponents of the incumbents. It's not their first rodeo, folks.

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I suppose it's also my journalism skepticism that made me suspicious about the Ceres City Council's sudden tweaking of the water use targets. Approximately half of the city was primed to receive warnings and fines for using more than the city's 7,000-gallon water limit for October. That wouldn't exactly be good PR before the election, would it? But lo and behold on Oct. 26 - a week before the election where two incumbents were involved - the council changed its tune. You know the story. The council now allows households to use up to 22,000 gallons of water in October. That means most get off the hook. And instead of the 7,000-gallon cap for November, December, January and February, households may now use up to 12,000 gallons.

The election year rigging will surely result in lots of confusion. Ceres now has three water target numbers and residents may need a program to keep things straight.

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When the incumbent councilmen touted recent economic development victories, they mentioned the upcoming rehabilitation of the Whitmore Plaza Shopping Center and Ross filling an empty storefront.

You know things really aren't going like gangbusters when the only bragging rights are a long overdue remodel of an old shopping center and when discount clothing retailer Ross fills a vacant storefront. Yawn.

Where is the big promise for downtown: the Leer Building, which came with great city fanfare? It was approved by the council nearly two years ago.


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Does anyone else find it tragic that a former county clerk and congressional candidate in Karen Mathews Davis felt she had to fake two death threat letters as a way of trying to win a concealed weapons permit from the Lodi Police Chief? He doesn't give out permits there except on rare occasion. U.S. Treasury officials investigated her claims as a lie and arrested her.

Why should law-abiding citizens need a permit to carry a gun to protect themselves anyway? The Second Amendment guarantees the right of the people to keep and bear arms, a right that shall not be infringed.

I'm glad our sheriff, Adam Christiansen gives them out to people who just want to protect themselves. However, we reallu shouldn't have to obtain permits to do what the Constitution already guarantees for us.

* * * * * *

Ruben Martinez was ready to spit nails at me last week after he read my piece, "Battling Ceres' bad perception held by outsiders." Specifically, the Hughson resident demanded that I "remove Hughson's name from your list of ‘looks the worst.' "

That's not what I wrote. My sentence mentioning Hughson read as follows: "An outsider would have trouble picking out which city or town looks the worst: Oakdale or Riverbank, Merced or Ceres, Hughson or Keyes, Manteca or Turlock."

He wondered if I had ever been in Hughson.

I replied back to Mr. Martinez: "I think you totally missed my point. What I was suggesting is that no town looks any worse than the others. That all the Valley towns look pretty much the same. Of course I have been in Hughson. It's a nice town. But if you think all of Hughson looks good then I could point out some properties that are not well kept. But that goes for any town in Stanislaus County."

He still wasn't settled. He emailed me: "By grouping Hughson together with the towns you mentioned gives me the impression that they are all similar. Please don't use Hughson to prove a point. We don't fit in with any of the towns in any way shape or form."

My last response to him: "If you were an outsider rolling through these towns, whether it be Gustine, Newman, Denair, Patterson, Oakdale, Salida, etc., they would not differentiate one from another. They all have similar qualities. To suggest Hughson is superior to the others, I think, is a stretch but I appreciate your sense of pride in your community. Have you been to the residential areas south of Hughson Elementary School? Do you think those are superior neighborhoods?"

I wish all had pride in their properties, their blocks and their towns. All we can control is our own.

Mr. Martinez's emails remind me of something I heard President Ford say in Fresno in November 1974: "I am not going to get into a discussion whether your band or your football team is the best, but let me say this: I like a mayor who thinks they have the best band and the best football team."

Likewise, I like that Mr. Martinez thinks his city of Hughson is best.

How do you feel? Let Jeff know by emailing him at