By Guest Columnist Michael Ceremello; Former Vice Mayor/Councilman City of Dixon
Constructive criticism is always a welcome commodity. The premise of unsolicited advice is my audience or followers already know of my distinct displeasure with our current city government. As I have already made my points numerous times, it has been suggested I be more “positive” and talk about the good things in and about Dixon.
I have never stated Dixon is nothing but bad. What my postulation has been and remains is there are way too many things which have been left unaddressed by the worthless people we have continually elected to public office. A D9 Caterpillar tractor would be a good and needed remedy for some issues.
I do not believe by “fluffing” up this column designed to provide accurate, insightful, and incisive political critique,
anyone on “the other side” will miraculously come to their senses and have a cathartic “I see the light” moment. In
other words, the well is already poisoned so even if I became a Jack Batchelor worshiper, no opinions will be
changed. My wide ranging background and interests do provide me with the ability to give you an opportunity to
see a different Mike.
It truly amazes me that people don’t understand why I fight so hard to preserve the “small town character” and
culture of a rural town such as Dixon. Go to Amador City, Sutter Creek, or even Elmira to see a different way of
life being encroached upon by those who want to homogenize every town in America. You shouldn’t have to go
and live in the country on 50 acres to enjoy rural life.
Mariposa was my original foray into the California foothills. Among my many meanderings along Highway 49, I
found an old Italian home in a state of disrepair. It was the site of Albany Flat and was built and owned by James
Romaggi from Genoa, Italy who arrived in 1850. He was not a prospector but an orchardist and viticulturalist.
At one time, you could actually enter the house and explore it. The construction used limbs of trees for floor joists
and it is a two story home. Now it is surrounded by cyclone fence wire although there still is an historical marker
talking about it.
Romaggi was ahead of his time. Drought ruined his enterprise and the orchards and vines disappeared. Now my
cruises through this foothill country contain stops at the wineries which have sprung up all along this famous
“golden chain” highway. With the many streams throughout this area, as well as underground aquifers, I have to
wonder why water wasn’t piped in by Romaggi or wells dug. Perhaps the technology didn’t exist other than for gold
I have bachelor degrees in both geology and plant science. Maybe that is why I can relate so well to the endeavors
of the gold country including supplying the miners and prospectors with foodstuffs. I see opportunity in these places
the same way I see opportunity in Dixon. Those with open minds and adventurous spirits recognize and seize these
opportunities. I see government as the “obstructionist” and it has happened in Dixon as well.
You want me to tell you something positive about Dixon? It is coming up very soon. It is called Grillin’ and
Chillin’ and will be held between 10 am and 10 pm on Saturday July 18th. Founded by Mike Hamilton, Tom Carrier,
and Rich and Janette Barrango with others who have helped or got in the way along the way, this is the same spirit
which represents what America is and what America can accomplish.
This event has grown each year and I see it eventually experiencing expansion pains as volunteers are lacking. As
much as Lambtown is a tradition, Grillin’ and Chillin’ is rapidly becoming one. It reminds me of John Ascauga’s
Labor Day event. John has sold the Sparks, Nevada Nugget and is no longer involved. Will that happen here?
Perhaps the key is just to enjoy it until it goes. That is something I have learned from my attempts to get a recall
started against the current four worst council members in the history of Dixon. It takes commitment from a group
but it is hard to round up volunteers as talk is cheap. We need to sit back and laugh at the current council until they
are gone because if we don’t, we will cry.
In addition to Grillin’ and Chillin’, Hamilton and Carrier are producing a real brew fest later on during Oktoberfest
season. My only question for all of you “positive” beautiful people is this: why haven’t these two been nominated
and honored as “citizens of the year”? Can you see how hard it is for me to not be critical?
One doesn’t have to stay in Dixon to enjoy the area nor does one have to go as far as the foothills to find a good
time. I was lucky enough to get invited to Cal-Expo for the annual “best of California” fete where wines, olive oils,
cheeses, and next year breweries celebrate their awards. I was truly impressed by some of the best Barbera and
Pinot Noir wines I have had the pleasure of tasting. While I was accompanied by Dave Scholl, the editor and owner
of Dixon’s only locally owned newspaper, what was missing was fellow wine aficionado and friend, former human
resources director for Dixon, Steve Johnson.
Steve gave me the opportunity to experience a truly fabulous Pinot, far beyond the palate of most wine tasting
novices. Produced by Eyrie Vineyards in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the story goes the supposed experts at
UC Davis told the then graduate and future vineyard/winery owner that Pinot wasn’t suited to the area. So much for
Police chief Jon Cox and I speak often on a variety of subjects. He ends the conversations with “God bless you”.
My response is “He already has”. He has blessed me by giving me Dixon to educate, enjoy, and experience. He has
given me the people of Dixon to interact with, become new friends, and hear their life experiences such as John
Grahl. He has given me the ability to be inquisitive and enjoy this great State of California.
All of this, from Hamilton and Carrier to individual problems people involve me with, to the larger issues facing us
as the real citizens and the real city of Dixon, are a blessing to me. The stray cats who find and adopt me are a
blessing as is the occasional hungry racoon. Life is to be lived. Now if the small minded in government would just
go away …
* * * * *
Keeping with the different direction in this column, one which will be ignored by those who requested it, I want to
talk about the last council meeting and the issue of the vote to repeal sewer rates. As was to be expected, the
mindless council voted unanimously as directed by staff on three of the four separate items just as I told them they
The first item was city attorney Doug White’s hypocritical analysis of the call for a “special election”. After I had
stated from the podium that White has continually failed to provide State code which supposedly states precisely
where within the initiative you have to call for a special election, he responded that he would get it to me. I am still
You don’t put the call for a special election within the ordinance portion of the initiative. The ordinance is what you
are putting in place, just as the city council would do. You put the “request for a special election”, as stated in
Election Code, in the notification portion of the initiative. There is nothing in the election code about a “call” for a
special election, as White pontificated. Talk about nit picking attempting to defeat the citizens’ right to tell their
representatives they are wrong without having to recall them.
White also challenged the constitutionality of being able to tell the State and the city government “NO” when their
actions are so blatantly stupid even members of the bureaucracy referred to the last proposed solution as “a flawed,
band aid” one. Interestingly enough, neither the State Water Board or the former city attorney challenged the Dixon
Chapter of taxpayers in 2006.
White continues to throw the potential of huge fines from the State at us. Do you wonder why the State only fined
us $220,000 rather than the $11 million mentioned as “potential”? Litigation would have cost the city more than the
latter. If the fine had been larger, the city would have litigated and exposed the cesspool of ignorant bureaucrats
who don’t know science from a bucket of bolts.
Half truths are the normal milieu and purview of the legal profession. I especially loved White’s dissertation on
how all of the options have been pursued and no combination of the solutions I have put forward would work. Yet
somehow “activated sludge”, which only preserves water from evaporation, does? In an attempt to put the onus on
the public, he challenged any of us to show how any combination of suggested solutions would work. You really
want to go there, Doug?
In-Pipe Technology’s bacteriological solution removes 50%, not 30% as White contended, from the effluent stream.
That means that 50% of the totally dissolved solids (TDS) and biological oxygen demand (BOD) also disappears as
does nitrogen. According to our consultant Stantec, BOD and nitrogen are two of the primary concerns for the
State. Boron is the other.
Boron can be removed by ferrate treatment as is 95% of Kjeldahl nitrogen. Documentation from Lake Apopka,
Disneyworld’s lake, shows that 57% of Boron is removed. Activated sludge removes nothing. Are you telling me,
Doug, that 50% of evaporated water is saved to equalize these two solutions? The cost for these last two solutions is
around $1.5 million as opposed to $20 million for activated sludge. Not enough of a solution?
Let’s throw in an S200 model Omniprocessor at a cost of $5 million. One Omniprocessor will not process all waste
coming into the plant. It doesn’t have to. Former city engineer, Royce Cunningham, stated to the entire waste water
committee that the city would only have to put in a partial tertiary plant which would only process enough effluent
to meet the limits set by the State.
Now consider this. When the State tells the city of Dixon that activated sludge isn’t removing enough boron, which
is the fact and truth of the matter, then tells us we have to go to tertiary at a cost of $60 million more, I suggest we
could take that same $60 million and buy 12 more Omniprocessors. You say, “so what would be the difference
The Omniprocessor produces its own energy and in surplus plus 70,000 liters of absolutely pure water. There is no
cost for removing sludge as with the system currently being constructed. It uses the sludge for fuel. Both the water
and surplus energy can be sold rather than being paid for.
The truth of the matter is any person with an ounce of intelligence can tell you the city hasn’t looked at combining
technology to provide a solution. They are looking at ways to stop progress. Someone is getting paid off. What is
that saying, “follow the money”?
The citizens of Dixon are finally getting our chance to tell these morons exactly how we feel about tripled sewer
rates to fund their idiotic program. The vote will be held on either September 22nd or 29th because they are the
Tuesdays which fall between the 88 to 103 day period required by law, which is September 19th to October 4th.
I did pay particularly close attention to the countenances of the stooges of Batchelor as well as the mayor himself. I
noticed your voice quavering, Jack. I guess you guys are all a little sick to your stomachs.