Ceres resident Richard McKay wrote us a letter in praise of a recent cleanup of a southbound onramp of Highway 99 in Ceres. He stated that it had been an eyesore for "much too long" and he is offering his praise of whoever was responsible for getting the job done.
He didn't specify which of Ceres' three onramps was cleaned but it's possible it was the downtown onramp and the kudos would then fall to the Ceres Chamber of Commerce under the direction of Renee Ledbetter.
The Chamber has held two freeway cleanups along the southbound stretch between Ceres and Keyes. Among those who have helped in the cleanup were Steve and Renee Ledbetter, Sam and Linda Ryno, Don Cool, Dave Pratt, Ramon Mendez, Michelle Norleen and Dovie Wilson.
On one Saturday in June the group of volunteers spent four hours and rounded up nearly 40 bags of trash that was scattered along the west shoulder of Highway 99 north of the Faith Home Road overpass and the Pine Street overpass. The area is the one Caltrans has assigned to the Chamber. Ledbetter said the cleanup was an idea after "hearing over the last couple of years ... that the entrances to Ceres are ugly, they're trashy, they're dirty." She adopted the attitude that "everybody's complaining about the trash so let's do something about it."
Apparently the effort is being noticed.
Ryno, a member of the Ceres City Council, drew nervous laughs at the Sept. 22 council meeting in which she tried to recruit others to participate in the second cleanup of 99 on Sept. 28 when she said "it's a lot of fun - it really is."
I, too, have participated in roadside cleanups in one community so I know what she is saying. Picking up trash can be rewarding as an activity and fun comes when it is done as a group where conversation and laughter occurs along the way.
Kudos to the Chamber.
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Are you glad the election season is over? Each year we get the same old mudslinging back and forth. It's annoying.
I just can't let Tony Coelho's last-minute push for Adam Gray go unanswered. Coelho, who doesn't even live in the Valley anymore (writing from Doylestown, Penn.), wrote a letter of endorsement that made some exaggerated claims.
As you know, the Assembly seat occupied by Gray was being hotly contested as part of the Republican effort to take control of the lower house. Gray held onto his seat following Tuesday's election.
Coelho, always the Democratic partisan, really is in no position to be offering advice considering how he resigned from his congressional seat in disgrace over a 1989 junk bonds scandal. In his letter, Coelho insists that the election of Jack Mobley, a businessman and 22-year Air Force veteran, would threaten the Valley's interests. Coelho didn't say if it was because Mobley supported gun rights or more water storage or less regulation so businesses can flourish and create jobs. Or if it was because he opposed the wastefully expensive $67.6 billion High Speed Rail project. Or if it was because he opposed the early release of state prisoners?
Coelho cited Gray's "big victories" such as supporting the water bond and FFA funding and "small victories" like "getting the power turned back on at a mobile home park in Santa Nella." The park lost its power in a fire and residents balked at fixing the electrical panel so Gray called on his labor union friends to get some free work done. I will concede that was a nice gesture but I would have been more impressed if Gray had a 100 percent voting record from the California Chamber of Commerce as did Anthony Cannella. As it is, Gray rated 10th from the bottom list of 39 Assembly members. (In case you're curious, Republicans voted most with the interests of business).
What Coelho said next is what got me. He said "the campaign against Adam Gray is without parallel in its viciousness and character assassination. It is not representative of the values of our people."
Both sides were doing their share of mudslinging. Mobley called into question the expenses of Gray while in office. Perhaps Coelho has an aversion to frugal living while on the taxpayer dime. Coelho is no stranger to living high on the hog. In 2000 it was revealed that as the commissioner general of the United States Pavilion at the 1998 World Expo, Coelho reportedly cost the government $18,000 a month for a Lisbon apartment, which exceeded the department's per diem rate of just over $4,000 a month. A report also noted that Coelho improperly charged the U.S. government for several stays at a Lisbon hotel when he could have been living in his apartment instead.
Democrats are not innocent of conducting unfair and negative advertising either. Forces attacked Mobley by calling him "Racetrack Jack" for supporting a race track when he was on the Merced Board of Supervisors. Keep in mind the entire board supported the project based on zoning and land use allowances.
No, Mr. Coelho, the viciousness and character assassination has been much worse elsewhere in politics, not in the 21st California State Assembly District. Need I remind you that the "Throwing Granny over the Cliff" ad against Paul Ryan was a pretty mean ad financed by Democrats. As were the Georgia Democratic Party fliers warning that if folks didn't vote, there will be another Ferguson shooting. As were mailers sent by Democrats in Arkansas with images of Ferguson. And it was pretty poor taste in North Carolina, where Harry Reid's super PAC financed a radio ad accusing Thom Tillis of leading an effort to pass kind a gun law that "caused the shooting death of Trayvon Martin."
What's worse than negative campaign advertising is the fact that the voting public is so apathetic that they are swayed by such tactics. Negative ads tend to work. Voters tend to respond emotionally rather than logically and based on fact. So if negative ads work, look in the mirror and ask, who me?
Remember, the antidote to negative ads is studying and reading up on candidates and issues.
Getting involved, whether it be picking up trash or getting politically active, seems to be key to a better and healthier world.
How do you feel about running? Let Jeff know at firstname.lastname@example.org.