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We have no gun problem; we have a parenting problem

My son was shaken Sunday when a drive-by shooting right outside of his South Natomas apartment ended with one man dead – next to my son’s car. He heard about 12 shots, ducked and within minutes saw paramedics giving the man CPR.

Then on Monday two were shot in a Ceres park, one seriously hurt.

Bret and I have always argued about gun control. He wants a society without them but it will never be. He says make it harder to get guns, to which I say that thugs will always break the law to possess them, even steal them.

Also over the weekend the Old Historic Cemetery in Sacramento was vandalized. Headstones were pushed over and marked. Decent people are left to wonder what’s happened to our young people (you know mature people don’t do this type of thing.)

What we have is a people problem, not a gun problem. And more specifically we have a parenting problem. We have people making babies and not raising them, not telling them absolutes of what’s right and what’s wrong. “Train up a child and they will not depart from it,” the Bible told us long ago.

Why is crime in the black community so high? Well, father absenteeism in the black community is unacceptably high. Look at the population of our prisons and then see the correlating data: 57.6 percent of black children, 31.2 percent of Hispanic children, and 20.7 percent of white children are living absent their biological fathers. According to the latest Census figures, about 50 percent of African-American boys under age 17 live with a mother only, compared with 16 percent of their white counterparts. Research shows that children in fatherless homes are more likely to drop out of school, exhibit behavioral problems, end up in the criminal justice system, suffer unemployment, and are at a greater risk of substance and drug abuse.

Liberals rush to the “ban guns” argument but are quiet as a church mouse about addressing father absenteeism. I believe if you take care of that, it’ll take care of the other.

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There’s your state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, now the environmental wacko, hard at work fighting a water project we so desperately need in California for farmers.

He was proud as a peacock last week to announce that he is siding with the Sierra Club against the raising of Shasta Dam for more water storage. Becerra chooses fish over people and sacred Indian burial sites – likely because Trump wants California farmers to have more water and he is opposed to all things Trump.

By the way, the ACLU (it should stand for the American Communist Lawyer Union) is in lockstep against the raising of Shasta. What in the name of Sam Hill does a dam have to do with someone’s civil liberties other than the farmers being deprived of their right to farm which you should be taking the side of?

Does Becerra like to eat? He might want to retract his ridiculous stand that the raising of an existing dam “would create significant environmental and cultural impacts for the communities and habitats surrounding the Shasta Dam.”

Not being able to farm and feed people would have a significant environmental and cultural impacts for mankind.

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But that’s not all with the radical leftist Becerra. On Wednesday his office sent out a presser explaining that he has filed an amicus brief in Zzyym v. Pompeo to defend the rights of gender non-binary individuals. His release states that “Under current federal policy, individuals who are neither male nor female (non-binary individuals) are under threat that their U.S. passport applications will be denied.” (First off, the vast majority of people are born with either male or female genitalia, which is what most of us use to identify gender).   In the brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Becerra assert that individuals deserve full legal recognition of their accurate gender identity on passports provided by the U.S. Department of State (Department).

That we are having this discussion seems rather moot given that you’re either born male or female and there’s really no such thing as non-binary. Is non-binary kind of the same concept as a person who insists they are really a cow or horse instead and dislike being referred to as a human being?

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Editors have the discretion regarding letters to the editor; or editing them, such as when I ran Shirley Rogers’ letter taking aim at my critique of Councilman Condit. She didn’t like me editing out her personal insults aimed at me despite the edited version making her look less antagonistic.

Typically when letters are full of irresponsible conclusions I discard them but in Andy Constantinou’s case, I’ll make an exception – only this time the letter will come with a response.

To put his words in context, you should know that Andy, a former councilman from the 1990s who was endorsed by the Democrat Party, and is/was good friends with former Police Chief/City Manager Art deWerk. Art lived in a trailer on Andy’s River Road property. That might play into his contempt for the current city manager.

Let’s get into Andy’s letter (with my comments in italic within parenthesis.)

“Dear Editor,

“I just read the hit job article you wrote in this week’s Courier. It seems as though you are doing the work of the City Manager at a public forum.”

(I don’t consider an editorial critique of an elected councilman’s performance in a “hit job” but you’re entitled to your own terminology. Everything in my column is my own thoughts; there was no coaching).

“You have nothing but criticism for Councilman Condit and glowing praise for Toby. The only way this is possible is that you got an earful from the city manager and failed to do a little investigative reporting.”

(Maybe the ‘other way’ came from attending hours of meetings per month and observe things. I haven’t seen you at any of them, Andy. I offer praise of Wells because he’s doing an exemplary job. Likewise, I criticized Condit because of his performance.)

“This article is one sided and has nothing to do with improving our city and everything to do with promoting an uneducated and inexperienced city manager.”

(It was an opinion piece, not a news article. Opinions offer a perspective and I offered mine after 30 plus years of watching councils).

“I had my rounds with Toby on code enforcement and I can tell you he knows nothing about our city. He knows nothing about public administration. Toby’s education is engineering and he was ‘trained’ to be an assistant city manager by a police chief who was ‘interim.’ What skills can a person bring to our city who has neither the education nor the proper training?

(There is no college for city managers. Did deWerk have city manager training before he took the job? But that aside, for somebody who isn’t qualified by your standards he sure has been doing one fine job in the past several years).

“He told me (a former city councilman) he couldn’t care less about the community’s desire to improve the image of Ceres by single handedly overruling a code enforcement agent. This, by itself, should be cause for alarm to the community since it was the citizens who asked to clean up downtown blight. Furthermore, he is filtering department head info to the Council and the employees are getting frustrated.”

(I don’t believe Wells said he didn’t care about community aesthetics. Andy, I know you bitterly complained about Jim Delhart’s mattresses on the sidewalk but city staff’s approach wasn’t to use a hammer on him while coaxing him into upgrading his buildings – and they are now complete. At times one should use tact in dealing with someone who can make things better or worse for a community. But aside from that, when you were on the council Andy Delhart was still putting mattresses on the sidewalk.)

“Toby’s vision for Ceres is to tear up downtown and force several business to the brink of collapse only to finalize the project with an impossible road maneuver off frontage road into Fourth Street. I suppose he was the architect for the messed up round about on Morgan Road too.”

(Really, Andy, destroying downtown was Toby Wells’ goal? The temporary hassle of remodeling has resulted in some amazing results. Most everybody applauds the downtown improvements which prior councilmembers were only talking about. As far as the southern connection to Fourth Street, it was designed to be ‘narrow’ to calm the traffic onto Fourth Street. I’ve never seen anyone having problems navigating it.)

“You praise him for the city coffers. Jeff, we all know that a big boost to our city’s economy is due to the cannabis industry. This is being experienced by many cities and not just ours. Please do not give him credit for taking the baton from Chief de Werk on HIS approach to public safety and taxing the cannabis industry.

(Of course cannabis revenues are what turned the city finances around! But Wells was the one who negotiated the three cannabis developer agreements in 2017 — three years after deWerk left the city).

“Jeff, why don’t you ask around and see how employee moral (sic) is doing. Why don’t you ask city employees how Toby overrules code enforcement, building codes and traffic violations. There is too much favoritism.”

(That’s an odd observation because even Mayor Chris Vierra told me that Wells would not give him special consideration when he faced an issue with his property).

“Uneven administration of the rules & regs. Toby is slowly destroying our city from the inside out. He is getting nervous and has resorted to using the local paper as his ‘self-promoting’ and ‘ladder climbing.’”

(Andy, Andy, Andy. You couldn’t be farther from the truth. My opinion came from me and my opinions alone. If anything, Wells is probably having a hard time dealing with the negativity of people who don’t appreciate his hard work to transform Ceres into a better community. After all, he is doing the job the council set before him; he is not the politician making political platitudes.)

“You criticize Councilman Condit for ‘breech of protocol’ for bringing up a ‘serious’ email from a department head. But, in the same article you discussed a personnel matter about the Police Chief position. How does your reporting not break protocol?”

(Andy, surely you realize that as a newspaper editor it’s my job to report the news and cover City Council meetings. The council took public votes on both the fire chief and police chief so tell me again how I breached protocol? It’s also no secret that both Kevin Wise and Rick Collins do not reside in Ceres yet they were treated vastly differently in Condit’s vote.)

“There is a groundswell of support for new councilmembers to get our city back on track.”

(I might argue that’s not true given that 26.7 percent of the electorate either passed on an unopposed council candidate or chose write-ins. It is your opinion that the city is off track, Andy, but let’s agree to disagree).

“Jeff, next time you write an article about a division you really need to check both sides. That is what true reporting is about.”


Andy Constantinou”

(We think we do a great job covering Ceres news in a balanced manner.)

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Consider this quote and tell me if it doesn’t accurately reflect what’s going on in today’s society when it comes to abandoning reason or truth in public discourse. The quote was written by Christian leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was one of the few German Christian pastors to speak out on the atrocities of Hitler and his Third Reich. He warned of stupid people: “Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”

This column is the opinion of Jeff Benziger, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. How do you feel about this? Let Jeff know at