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Nothing boilerplate about Citizens group

Editor, Ceres Courier,

We were disturbed by the misleading comments in the Ceres Courier article, "Deadline Delayed In Supercenter: Mitchell Ranch Center on the verge of reality?" It is unclear whether this is supposed to be "news" or "opinion." The editor's bias in favor of Walmart and against members of Citizens for Ceres is certainly evident. For example, characterizing us (we are members and have been for nine years) as a front group for the attorney representing our group is unfounded and simply wrong.

Not only does the Courier's misinformation seem libelous, but it does a disservice to readers in Ceres, Hughson, Keyes, and Modesto, and everywhere the news is read on the internet. These readers may notice that not one city official or city leader from Ceres has come forward publicly to refute or agree with the editor's claims that according to the article, unnamed "City officials say that ‘Citizens for Ceres' is merely a boilerplate group..."

There is nothing boilerplate about our group. So allow us to go on record as saying: We formed this group of our own volition. We direct our attorney. Not vice-versa. That our attorney has a history of successfully challenging Walmart on land use issues is one of the reasons we engaged him to represent us.

We also find it disturbing the Courier does not contact Citizens for Ceres' spokesperson or our attorney for comment on these one-sided articles. As the editor is likely aware, the Society of Professional Journalists has adopted a code of ethics which includes the following: "Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing." Seeking input from only one side and reporting unsubstantiated opinions as fact violates this ethical obligation.

In the bigger picture: Our group refuses to be pitted by members of the press, against our city officials and city leaders, even though at times our perspective may vary quite a bit from theirs. Many Ceres residents are opposed to how the Environmental Impact Report was presented by Walmart and believe as it stands, the project will result in our fine city losing more than it will gain. In fact, several Ceres Planning Commissioners and City Council members expressed similar concerns at the time of Walmart's approval.

Tony and Carol Dutra,