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Taxes go up along with the insanity

Celebrating Fourth of July may just cost you more this year, thanks to California Democrat lawmakers who are proposing a tax increase of another three percent on safe and sane fireworks.

Even though the state is working with a $9 billion budget surplus this year, Democrats cannot seem to get their hands on enough taxpayer money.  SB 794 is on top of Democrats hitting Californians with a new gas tax (thank you, Republican Anthony Cannella) and housing tax over the past year.

In case you’re wondering whose on your side, the consumer, it’s the Republicans in the Assembly and Senate who stand in united in opposition.

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Yes, it’s true. The left continues its insanity. Bill Maher recently said “I think one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy. So please, bring on the recession. Sorry if that hurts people but it’s either root for a recession or you lose your democracy.”

Let that one sink in for a moment.

He wants the economy in shambles and people to lose their jobs and houses just so the president stands a chance of not being re-elected. So much for compassion from the left. You might want to boycott that nut job’s show.

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Firefighters’ call for residents to turn out on June 11 to express their feelings about city spending priorities didn’t quite go like they wanted when Avery Jackson stood up and requested more dollars for police services. Jackson called for a return to a police Street Crimes Unit, and a return to a volunteer fire department and shutting down the Pecos fire station (Ceres Station #2). He suggested that hundreds would rush to apply to become volunteer firefighters to “pride themselves in helping man the fire stations and responding to calls even if just to say that we are firefighters and take a ride in the big red truck.”

His comments rankled the paid professional firefighters. Fearful that the comment might resonate with others, the Ceres Professional Firefighters Local 3636 quickly posted this on their Facebook page: “During last night’s council meeting a citizen spoke to the idea of Ceres going back to using volunteers to supplement staffing. The idea might have worked in the fire service 30 years ago, but the truth is that today the surrounding volunteer and combination agencies are struggling to keep a steady pool of volunteers.”

They continued:  “All firefighters, volunteer or paid, are mandated to maintain the same amount of training hours, wear safe equipment, and be covered under workers comp insurance. The volunteer force is mostly made up of younger aspiring men and women working hard to obtain a full time firefighter position. The majority of the volunteers that an agency can get to apply, stay as free labor for 2-3 years. During that time period large sums of money are invested in background investigations, pre-employment physicals, pre-employment psychological exams, training, equipment, and time to transform that individual to be part of the modern day all risk fire department.

“The days of being a volunteer to, as the citizen stated last night, ‘just ride around in a big red truck’ are over. With an annual call volume of over 6,000, the city of Ceres and the surrounding areas demand a highly trained professional fire department that can mitigate all hazards 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”

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It was interesting to see Modesto Bee reporter Garth Stapley in his weekend article, “Denham and Harder trade barbs on social media about who’s really local” suggest that Rep. Jeff Denham started his career in the “Bay Area.” I don’t consider his running for a city council seat in agricultural based Salinas to be starting a career in the “Bay Area.” It’s part of the Central Coast area. Even SF Gate in its March 2 article titled,“In or out? Which of these towns is actually in the Bay Area?” states “Salinas is in Monterey County, which is not part of the nine county Bay Area region.” Not surprising to see the Bee – which endorses his Demcrat opponents – eagerly attempt to erronesouly portray Denham as a Bay Area candidate. If you go to and look for Josh Harder you will see one address: that of Modesto Junior College. Hmmm.

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The leftist media’s narrative of a so-called “blue wave” hitting Republicans this year even wormed its way into a Turlock Journal story where the coined phrase in an article on the Denham-Harder race. The reporter wrote: “Denham will defend his incumbency against the blue wave for the fourth straight election.”

Blue wave?

Do the math. All the votes for the six Democrat candidates amounted to 44,481 while the two GOP candidates picked up a total of 48,548 votes. That tells me more voters are supportive of the Republicans over the Democrats even though the 10th Congressional District voter registration make-up of the 333,928 registered voters shows 127,878 Democrats (38.3 percent) and 117,900 Republicans (35.31 percent). Three percent are American Independent and 0.29 percent are Green Party. That leaves 23.1 percent who declined to state or have no party preference.

Denham’s stand on immigration has gained favor of some Democrats but ticked off right-wing Republicans. 

While conservative Ted Howze definitely siphoned support from Denham in the primary, in his absence do you expect his supporters to vote for Harder? Hardly.

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Gee, I was waiting with bated breath to see who Jerry Brown would endorse for the governor’s race. Surprise, surprise. He likes Gavin Newsom. Now that’s a real shocker, isn’t it folks? And I thought there might be a chance he’d back John Cox, who was endorsed by the president. He he he.

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While it was a no-brainer that Brown supports the candidate of his own party, it was surprising that John Cox defeated L.A. liberal Antonio Villaraigosa for the second slot. In the old days, California typically sent a Democrat and a Republican to the November general election. In the “top two” system, neither party is guaranteed they will have a candidate in the general election. In fact, if you will remember, two Democrats duked it out for the U.S. Senate seat when Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez vied for the position.

It’s no secret that immigration has tilted California politically in favor of Democrats. State voter registration shows 7,932,373 Democrats and 5,225,675 Republicans, or 43.9 percent to 28.9 percent. But Independents are growing.

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I found this interesting. Ceres has 19,470 registered voters and 9,212 (47.3 percent) are registered Democrats and 5,657 (29 percent) are Republicans. A total of 472 (2.4 percent) are American Independents, 118 Libertarian, 74 Peace & Freedom Party, and 52 belong to the Green Party. That means there are about 3,700 Ceres voters have no party preference.

Hughson is much more conservative with more Republicans than Democrats –1,493 versus 1,052. And Turlock has more Republicans than Democrats as does Oakdale and Waterford.

But Patterson, replete with Bay Area commuters, is a lost cause for Republicans. Can you believe 4,525 Democrats and 1,873 Republicans, 52 percent versus 21.5 percent?

Modesto has slightly more Democrats and Riverbank and Newman is roughly split 50-50 with a slight tilt toward Democrats.

Needless to say, the unincorporated area of the county – with its farmers, large land owners and dairy farmers – are predominantly Republican by a margin of 43.4 percent to 32.9 percent.

Add them all up and Stanislaus County has 90,733 Democrats and 86,072 Republicans.

Realize, of course, that not everybody strictly votes party line and our rural area has a vast number of Democrats who tend to vote more conservative than Democrats in liberal inner cities like Oakland.

It was obvious, however, that conservatives seem to be more driven to vote this year than the Democrats. Wouldn’t that classify as a red surge?

Here’s evidence of a local red surge: While Denham has withstood an inordinate amount of bashing the last two years from progressive groups like “Indivisible Manteca” and “Indivisible Stanislaus,” the Democrats didn’t even get a plurality of the vote.

Locally, the older voters (which tend to be more conservative) were more enthusiastic. By 10 a.m. on Election Day June 5, 49 percent of the early vote were cast by voters 65 and older while just 8 percent were from the 18- to 31-year-olds. So as you can see, marches in the street and caterwauling on social media do not necessarily result in voter participation. 

Harder, a 31-year-old venture capitalist whose values are more aligned with the Silicon Valley than the Central Valley, may energize some young voters but many voters will be wary about his lack of any record and his age – he’s barely out of his 20’s.

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An insider told me that he expects the Denham-Harder race to hit $20 million to $25 million, up from $14 million in 2016.

Expect a brutal campaign. Harder will be milking his Bay Area interests for money but the GOP and Republican National Committee will have no problems matching it. Look to Harder and the Democrats continuing their assault on gun freedoms (our Second Amendment) and making hay of Denham’s “A” rating from the NRA (such an assault will tick off freedom-loving voters in the 10th). Also expect Harder to bash Denham for voting with Trump 96.7 percent of the time – a fact that should play well with conservatives.

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Okay, folks, we have a decision to make about this one. Do we split up California into three states? It’s made the November ballot.

I suspect this cockamamie proposition won’t pass voter approval nor get the stamp of approval from Congress if so.

I like the idea of splitting up California but not like the boundaries as outlined by proponent Tim Draper. For one thing, I surely don’t want to have my home included with San Francisco. That new state would just be led by the same ilk who are ruining California now.

I think a more palatable idea is to split off the coast – with Humboldt County, San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey, Santa Barbara and the Los Angeles basin – as one liberal state and the Valley and mountain counties as another red state. LA can find a way to get its own water instead of stealing it from our farmers. They have the option of getting all its water  by building desalinization plants along their beaches. We get sane leaders back in Sacramento and they can build their capital in Hollywood. If Orange County wants to be a part of Inland California, that works for me.

Sounds like a dream but at age 56 I will never see it in my lifetime.

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We need to be careful, folks. Test everything you see on social media. I was livid when I read a so-called news story that Democrats were planning to draft a bill, The CFAHATE Act Of 2018, making it a “hate crime” to eat at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant because of its traditional values stand. It was a bogus story started by the Babylon Bee, which carries the disclaimer that it is “Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire.”

So much misinformation out there.

Here’s another: A demonstrator holding up a large piece of paper with a drawn black spot about the size of the palm of a hand and the words, “This is the size of a hole made by an AR-15. Tell me again why you need that?” The actual size of an AR-15 round is more like a Sharpie barrel.

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On April 22 we lost Annette Service Van Norman. She had lived in Oakdale in her later years but hailed from Ceres as a descendant of the pioneer family for whom Service Road is named.

It’s a small world for Annette’s husband happened to be my elementary school bus driver when I grew up in Oakdale in the 1970s.

Annette’s father was pharmacist Ward E. Service (who was married to Martha Monica Marko in 1934). Ward’s dad was Hubert Service (who married Flora Amanda Ward in 1899). Ward’s dad was none other than John Service, who settled in Ceres in 1867 with wife Julia Warner.

Annette taught school in Waterford and Escalon. I was fortunate enough to meet her at a 2013 class reunion of Ceres High School held at the Oakdale Golf & Country Club. She seemed like a sweet woman and was touched to know that her late husband Hiram had drove my bus in the 1970’s.

More “small world” stuff: John Service was born in Canandaigua, N.Y. in 1839. My paternal great-grandparents lived in Canandaigua and are buried in the cemetery there.

Do you have any feedback about this column? Let Jeff know by emailing him at He will read it, promise.