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There's a lot of politics in picking names for parks and schools

It’s a great honor to have one’s name attached to a school.

It’s also a great honor to have a park named after you.

Soon the Ceres City Council will be considering changing the name of Eastgate Park. For those of you who don’t know, Eastgate is the development that was constructed east of Boothe Road and west of Faith Home Road, bounded by Hatch Road to the north and Whitmore Avenue to the south.

Other than Marie Neel Park there has been no park built within Eastgate until now. The city has been calling it Eastgate Park for over a decade and even ordered a massive and heavy concrete sign for it that reads Eastgate Park. However, Councilman Channce Condit threw a monkey wrench in the process when in September he called for the park to be named after the late Guillermo Ochoa who served on the City Council a while. Last week I had recommended that it be named after former Mayor Louie Arrollo, who has contributed far more to the community since he arrived in 1958. While some like Condit have been touting the historic nature of Ochoa’s service on the City Council, it was actually Arrollo who was the first Latino on the Ceres City Council.

The city will be following the naming of parks policy it set in 2005 to make things fair. That process will call for others in the community to recommend names. That’s how the names of Sam Ryno and Marie Neel were chosen for Ceres parks. Condit won’t be around for that discussion because he’s heading off to the Board of Supervisors midway into his council terms.

Naming of schools and parks can be tricky business. Lots of folks in Ceres remember the angst against the Ceres Unified School District board of trustees when in 2009 it broke the CUSD policy of naming schools after geographical regions or local people and bypassed names like Wayne Salter for someone (Cesar Chavez) who wasn’t even from Ceres and seen by many in agriculture as a trouble maker. Consider too that there must be a bizzillion schools, parks, buildings and avenues in California memorializing the name of Cesar Chavez and none honoring Wayne Salter, a Ceres farmer who served on the School Board in the late 1950s. The late Salter helped to organize the first Ceres Peach Festival, which evolved into the Ceres Harvest Festival and now Ceres Street Faire. People were upset in 2009 when the board violated its own policy in order to qualify the farm labor union leader’s name. The backlash prompted Eric Ingwerson and Mike Welsh to motion to reconsider the Chavez decision but it was rejected by trustees Edgar Romo, Jim Kinard, Teresa Guerrero, Faye Lane and Betty Davis. Romo, Kinard and Guerrero are off the board now.

Alisal Union School District in Salinas experienced a different kind of school naming controversy. In 2012 the School Board approved the naming of a school after California outlaw Tiburcio Vasquez. He was executed as a criminal, horse thief and alleged murderer. Monterey County law enforcement recoiled in horror at the name, which hung on the school until 2016 when the school name was changed to Monte Bella Elementary School. Francisco Estrada, a retired teacher who was on the naming committee, defended: “Vasquez as a fighter for social justice of the Mexican-Californio whose rights have been deprived.” ( suppose Estrada thinks BLM is also a good cause too.)

Jose Castaneda, president of the Salinas board in 2012 when the name was chosen, was removed by a judge’s order. Most of the other board members who approved the name have been voted off.

I can understand why the sane residents of Salinas didn’t want the name of Tibercio Vasquez on their school. It wouldn’t be much different than considering the names of Joaquin Murietta, Juan Corona, Charles Mansion or Dorothea Puente for a school. Having said that, the words of Board Trustee Noemi Armenta troubled me. She said: “I don’t want our students to be studying a person who had a violent death. That’s not appropriate for elementary students.”

It’s inappropriate to try to sanitize history, even the ugly parts. Students should be educated on the good and bad in the world. There is a valuable life lesson that a life of crime can lead to the loss of life.

* * * * *

It’s sad to see the newspaper to the north shame Stanislaus County for the draconian actions of our governor as he tramples on constitutional rights. The Bee thinks it’s a sin that we want to live our lives. They might as well condemn the sheriff and all the police chiefs who refuse to punish people who have a right to travel at any hour of the day.

Lots of people on the left haven’t seemed to figure out that more testing means more revelations of coronavirus cases. We’re not seeing many deaths to justify shutting down life for healthy people.

Like country singer Aaron Tippin sings in “He believed,” a song about his God-fearing father, “…if he couldn’t be free, he’d rather be dead.” That’s not different from Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death,” or Benjamin Franklin’s “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

The Bee editorial board seems just fine with trading liberty for security and the state telling people what they can do and who they can have in their homes this holiday season. The rest of us think that’s utter bull as government overreach.

Conservatives like me see sheer hypocrisy of state leaders who say one thing but do another. Twenty California lawmakers found it essential to fly to Maui to mingle with roughly 100 people from four states at the Fairmont Kea Lani for a four-day legislative conference. And of course we know our social distancing and mask wearing demanding governor himself goes out to dine at fancy restaurants not following his own mandates – and lying when he is caught on video! This at a time when Newsom tells us who we can have over for Thanksgiving.

I wear a mask where it’s required (stores) but you will never see me wearing a mask outdoors very long – only from the car to the store entrance if people are around – and never in my car or outside running like I see some folks doing. This governor has so many people snowed. I prefer the approach that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott take and that is let people live their lives.

According to an online age risk calculator with my health status, age and weight, I have a 0.3 percent chance of dying from this thing. Better put, I have a 99.7 percent chance of living if I get it. But I have 0 percent ability to live my life as I did back in February before the heavy hand of Gavey boy came down on us all.

We should all be mad enough to search out the recall petition with pen in hand.

* * * * *

Leave it to the Left to attack the great tradition of Thanksgiving. For years it’s been in the crosshairs of the politically correct who are anti-God and against thanking God because to them God doesn’t exist. But MSNBC personality Jason Johnson has gone over the cliff. He called your Thanksgiving gathering a “super-spreader event.” Johnson also revealed his true feelings for the holiday when he said: “I know several people who call it ‘Colonizer Christmas,’ because they don’t really like the idea of what Thanksgiving represents.”

I never thought there would come a day when people protest being in a thankful state of mind. Sad, sad, sad.

* * * * *

The ever-dwindling Bee ran a story headlined: “California Republican infamous for social posts refuses – like Trump – to concede election.” The story is about 10th Congressional District candidate Ted Howze who lost to Democrat Josh Harder, the guy who used his millions in campaign funds to distort Howze’s record on TV 24/7.

The Bee story raised the ire of Ted Howze who on Thursday posted this message on Facebook: “This bankrupt wad of birdcage liner still hasn’t caught on … I’ll never give a crap what they think or the lies they tell. They are outright scumbags. I truly regret not pressing charges against their ‘reporter’ for trespassing on my property and digging through my garbage cans.”

It’s strong language but good for Ted.

I found it odd that the Bee referred to Ted Howze as a California Republican, as if local readers of the Bee didn’t know that the congressional candidate is from Turlock. Strange, too, how they link him to Trump, a president who didn’t even travel to California to stump for Howze.

The Bee and left-wing media sources have disregarded the screwy way ballots have been handled this election, the coup de grace of elections since it was the media’s chance to send the Evil Orange Giant packing. For such a suspicious lot, media types have been strangely dismissive of the examples of voter fraud with their blanket assertion that “there’s no evidence of voter fraud” as a cover. Even Big Tech has gone out of its way to censor conservatives who claim voter fraud exists. There were plenty of ballot shenanigans happening in big cities, including counting ballots that came in late with NO POSTMARK! 

Any time you have ballot flying through midair and not directly into a ballot box, there will be concerns about ballots being lost or tampered with. That’s why Republicans support in-person voting only after a person shows their ID to prove who they say they are. That was also the recommendation of the 2005 Jimmy Carter-James Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform to ensure valid and fair elections; yet it was summarily dismissed while blue state governors have dump in-person voting!

The crux of the Bee story is how this uncivil Cro-Magnon candidate is not issuing a “Hey, Josh, I agree you’ve won the election and I’m so happy for us all.” Concession is not necessary; it’s tradition. I’m sorry but there’s too much of America at stake to be following the PC tradition of conceding elections. Half of the country – and indeed the 10th CD – see the results of the last election as a real threat to our republic. We expect a full-scale assault on liberties, such as the Second Amendment, and an escalation of socialist policies – especially if Biden is removed from office for reasons of senility or corruption – and the country is turned over to a woman with dangerous ideas about race, wealth and environment.

The Bee mentioned how Howze didn’t return their phone call. Why should he? (Come to think of it Gary Condit didn’t return Bee phone calls either because of how they sting.) The Bee worked overtime to assassinate the character of Howze, stirring up controversy about his home address – saying he lived in Stockton and not Turlock – and making hay out of social media posts which the Bee labeled as distasteful. To be fair, Howze distanced himself from the posts, which were taken down, calling them “negative and ugly ideas.”

Whoever made those posts, honestly, some of the posts were painfully truthful and deserve no apology. One post critical of Black Lives Matter pointed out that the biggest problem in the black community is not racist police but black children growing up without fathers and the correlation to urban black-on-black homicide. The post also noted that black voters overwhelmingly vote Democrat, a party which has only made matters worse for them. The views in that post coincide with popular and brilliant black conservative Candace Owens. But count on the media to condemn any conservative for pointing out those truths.

A Politico story alluded to some other posts which they did not share screenshots of.

There’s a different standard leftist journalists apply to left candidates. We saw it when the media ignored the Biden Ukraine scandal while reporting for years the false narrative of a Trump Russia collusion narrative that we now know is fake and came from the Steele Dossier paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Even if Howze did post some of those social media posts – he says someone else did – why wouldn’t the media dismiss them like they did posts calling for Trump’s assassination made by Democrats?

My hunch is that those alleged politically incorrect posts were just political satire; and we know how humorless progressives are. Trump supporters have had to tolerate mean and classless media treatment of the Trumps. They made constant fun of one of the prettiest and classiest First Ladies after eight years of glowing praise of Michelle Obama. But making fun of white conservative people is okay; just not for black women.

One of the alleged Howze posts made fun of Maxine Waters, saying she hit “the crack pipe too hard.” But let’s face it, there’s a lot to poke fun at this crotchety and hateful congressional crank from LA who at 82 should have retired long ago. Waters started her annoying parrot call of “impeach 45, impeach 45” before the ink on the 2016 election results dried.

The Bee enjoyed maligning Howze as if the alleged posts were of the same vein as the countless social media posts that called for Trump’s murder. But if you’re white, male and Republican you must be a racist in the eyes of the left.

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