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Wilk’s Attorneys Respond to Claims

| News | June 21, 2019

Star Moffatt’s claim that Scott Wilk should be disqualified from further serving in the state Senate because of his lobbying past is untimely, improper and uncertain, Wilk’s attorneys claim in court documents.

In filing a notice of demurrer, Wilk attorney Scott Hildreth of the Sacramento firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk said Moffatt’s case fails to “state facts constituting a cause of action” against Wilk and it should be completely dismissed.

A demurrer generally assumes the truth of a case’s facts but argues they’re legally insufficient.

“Demurrers are meant to be opportunities for early resolutions of cases that are procedurally or legally improper,” Hildreth said. “We believe Ms. Moffatt’s case is both procedurally improper and legally improper.”

Moffatt filed suit in 2016 seeking to prevent Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) from running for the Senate because he had been a registered federal lobbyist who had not sat out a year before seeking office, per the state’s Government Code.

Wilk had worked for Alexandria, Va.-based Anchor Consulting from 2007-11 doing public affairs work for then-Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon. He won election to the Assembly in 2012 and then won his Senate seat in 2016. He said three years ago that he received his last payment from Anchor in 2012, and an Anchor employee previously told the Gazette the company’s records showed Wilk stopped actively lobbying in 2011 before he ran for the Assembly.

Moffatt has countered that because Wilk had never unregistered, he is ineligible to serve and must be removed from office retroactively. Wilk is more than halfway through his term.

The demurrer documents make the following assertions:

–The case is moot because Wilk has already been elected, that the statute of limitations expired because the election happened, and state law holds that courts don’t have jurisdiction to either remove a legislator from office or hear such cases.

–Moffatt waited three years to serve Wilk, even though Wilk is easy to locate, making the delay in bringing an action unreasonable and prejudicial.

–Since the election happened, the only way to get post-election relief is to have another election. Moffatt should be barred from preventing Wilk from seeking any future election. “Here, the Court cannot know (and should not speculate about) Senator Wilk’s potential future candidacies and how the facts and law cited by Plaintiff would apply to said potential candidacies,” Hildreth wrote in the demurrer.

It’s not known when this demurrer would be heard because the original case, Moffatt v. Wilk, must be reassigned because of the court’s limited jurisdiction. The documents show Hildreth had sought a July 3 hearing date, but the minutes from the May 31 hearing show Wilk or his attorneys must contact the clerk of the new court to reschedule.

“Wilk and counsel members may want to withdraw their demurrer to avoid sanctions for filing their demurrer motion with the wrong court,” Moffatt said in a text.

Regardless, Moffatt said she plans to file an opposition and motion to strike the demurrer in its entirety. She didn’t divulge her entire strategy but said she would make two points: Wilk’s attorneys failed to meet and confer with her before filing the demurrer, per the state Code of Civil Procedure, and they failed to file appropriate supporting declarations.

“They jumped the gun. They were trying to do that stall tactic,” Moffatt said. “I think they put the cart before the horse.”

Hildreth cited the same law as Moffatt in asserting an insufficient meet-and-confer process isn’t grounds to overrule or sustain a demurrer.

You’ve Got Theft: Stolen Mail in SCV

| News | June 20, 2019

On June 9 at 2:31 a.m., someone pulled up in front of Stacy Fortner’s house, walked up to the curbside mailboxes belonging to Fortner and her neighbor, checked them and took whatever mail was in there.

Fortner caught all of this on her outdoor Nest camera. The man walked down Lobelia Lane checking other mailboxes. After 10 minutes, he drove away.

Because of the camera, and because Fortner called the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, the man was apprehended and arrested.

Fortner posted the video on Facebook. Unfortunately, according to sheriff’s PIO Shirley Miller, this wasn’t the first time mail theft was reported – and it won’t be the last.

“It comes and goes,” Miller said. “We’ve made arrests with the public’s help when they’ve called and reported something suspicious like in the wee hours of the night.”

Mail theft is a federal felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. According to thebalance.com, a mailbox is the riskiest non-technological point for identity theft, a study released in October 2007 found.

People typically steal mail for a variety of reasons, which Miller calls a “crime of opportunity.” These include looking for money, credit cards or anything else that can be used to steal an identity, such as a new or renewed driver’s license, bank statements, credit card bills, preapproved credit card offers, re-ordered bank checks and junk mail, the latter to learn about you to determine what kind of scam could work on you or to impersonate you to someone else.

It happened to Fortner’s friends Renee Bowen and Debbie Anderson. Although neither returned calls for comment, Bowen posted on Facebook that it happened to her despite having a locked mailbox, which was one suggestion Miller had to combat mail theft.

“When the sheriff came out for a police report, he said it was constant and really hard to catch,” Bowen wrote, adding she and her husband had their identities stolen as a result.

Anderson wrote that three in a group of mailboxes that included hers were broken into earlier this month, although hers wasn’t. Still, it has required her to go to her local post office to get her mail. The last time this happened, some years ago, she wrote, the post office refused to deliver her mail for two months.

There are plenty of things people can do to combat mail theft. Miller said the best way is to mail everything from inside the post office, although she acknowledges that’s not always feasible. Even official USPS boxes can have mail stolen if the thief opens the slot and fishes with something long with a sticky tip.

In addition to a locked mailbox, in which the carrier puts mail through a slot and the owner opens the box with a key, other suggestions include: finding out when the mail arrives and getting it then, get a box inside the post office, shred all mail before trashing it, switch to paperless billing and statements and don’t use the mailbox flag.

Miller said the United States Postal Service offers something called Informed Delivery, in which the post office sends an email each day showing what mail you’re going to get. If you don’t, you can alert the post office and any appropriate agencies.

Finally, invest in a camera as Fortner did.

Cannabis Law Could Be a Real ‘Doobie’ for Seniors in Pain

| News | June 13, 2019

Val Thomas says she suffers from severe arthritis, a cracked pelvis and has had multiple joint replacements. She has never tried medical marijuana but would like to, except there’s a ban on dispensaries in the city. Her pelvis has made it too difficult to drive, but even if she could (or if she could get a ride), she knows dispensaries are close by in Los Angeles, but she wouldn’t know what questions to ask the people working at one.
“It’s very shortsighted,” the 78-year-old said of the city’s policy. “As you get older, it’s a lot more difficult to get around. If marijuana is an alternative, it should be examined. … I’m not interested in running down to Van Nuys Boulevard and hopping in with some 21-year-old who really doesn’t understand where I’m coming from and hands me something off the shelf. I would prefer working with someone that does understand the type of problems I have and that many of us have up here.”

As the population ages and conditions associated with aging continue to increase, more people will be hurting and seeking pain relief. Many fear opioids because of their addictive and possibly deadly qualities – a Harvard Medical School study published in October found 115 people die daily from opioid overdoses in this country – and are curious about the possible positive effects cannabis could have for them.

Barbara Cochran, 82, knows some of these benefits. She was diagnosed with lymphoma seven years ago and underwent chemotherapy, which caused tremendous stomach and chest pain and nausea. She took hydrocodone for the pain until her son, Scott Stearns, who operates the American Original Collective dispensary in Rosamond, saw the pills, threw them in the trash and insisted she try cannabidiol (CBD) pills.

“My pain was gone in less than two days,” Cochran said.

She said the chemo also zapped her of her appetite, so she tried tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the ingredient that gives people the “high” feeling. It got her eating again.

Cochran has hosted “The Senior Hour,” a Wednesday-morning radio show on KHTS with Dr. Gene Dorio devoted to senior living, for many years. The pair often extoll the virtues of medicinal marijuana.

“I’ve always felt cannabis can be very useful for medical treatment and for those who have a pain-management problem,” said Dorio, who specializes in geriatrics and internal medicine. “My patients have been on opioids and I have been able to switch them to cannabis, and it’s just as effective as opioids.”

Now cancer-free, Cochran still takes two drops of CBD oil daily, either on her toast or in her coffee. “It’s like a vitamin for me,” she said. “I haven’t been sick since then. I never get a cold. I strongly believe (CBD) has a lot to do with it.”

Two city councilmembers said they have no problem with their older constituents using cannabis and having it delivered to them. But inadvertently or not, the city and county have placed obstacles on seniors getting access to such treatments. The Board of Supervisors in 2017 unanimously banned cultivation, manufacturing, processing, transportation and retail sale of medical and nonmedical marijuana in any unincorporated county territory until a comprehensive regulatory plan is in place. Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents Santa Clarita, introduced the measure. Barger spokesman Tony Bell emailed this week to say the ban remains in effect.

“It’s unacceptable that L.A. County hasn’t lifted the ban,” Stearns said.

Barger’s move came two weeks after the city unanimously banned cannabis beyond six indoor plants per residence. Then the city council unanimously extended the ban in March 2018. Councilmember Bob Kellar made the motion.

“Having been a 25-year member of the Los Angels Police Department, and seeing the unbelievable destruction of lives as a result of drugs, I, Bob Kellar, will never support anything having to do with drugs as long as I can follow the law,” Kellar said this week.

It is this mindset that bothers Stearns and Thomas. Thomas said Kellar’s view is “at least 20 years out of date.” Stearns said many of his clients are veterans, elderly, in wheelchairs, and suffer from arthritis and nausea. He wonders how a city can be so opposed to helping these people.

“It’s not fair to not have access,” he said. “I’d come in there with a couple of my veterans and a couple of my cancer patients and just hopefully make them feel like sh**.”

And yet, Thomas, Dorio and Stearns are not in favor of casual marijuana use and want strict regulations. Dorio, like Kellar, believes the stuff is a gateway drug, although he stresses that applies to young people. Stearns said, “You don’t need gangsters from MS-13 running a pot shop in your town.” Thomas said she isn’t interested in “getting high.”

“The people about whom most of the council is concerned are the people who can easily drive over the hill, pick up their stash and come back,” she said. “People who are older, who suffer from arthritis or pains of other types, are extremely limited in what they can get.”

The state has always seemed to have an uneven relationship with cannabis. It was the first state to legalize medical marijuana, in 1996. Twenty years earlier, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that reduced marijuana possession to a misdemeanor. And the voters passed Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized recreational cannabis starting Jan. 1, 2018.

But the voters also rejected recreational legalization in 2010, and the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (other Schedule 1 drugs include LSD, heroin, ecstasy and Quaalude; cocaine, PCP, Vicodin, oxycodone and methamphetamine are Schedule 2 drugs; anabolic steroids are Schedule 3). While the 2018 farm bill removed hemp from Schedule 1, the other forms remain.

Dorio would like to see marijuana reclassified as a Schedule 2 drug, and there have been several unsuccessful attempts since 1972 to change its Schedule 1 classification, most recently in 2017. Councilmembers Bill Miranda and Cameron Smyth said a reclassification might change their minds about having cannabis inside the city.

But first, Miranda said he would want to ensure marijuana is kept out of teens and young people’s hands.

“I’m a brother of an overdose person,” he said. “You have to be very, very careful to make marijuana available to young people.”

Smyth said he’s concerned that cannabis is still predominately a cash business, which to him increases the likelihood of criminal activity. According to the American Bankers Association, because possessing, distributing or selling marijuana remains illegal under federal law, money that can be traced back to state marijuana operations could be considered money laundering and expose a bank to significant legal, operational and regulatory risks.

Smyth believes a reclassification would allow banks to get involved, meaning credit comes into play, meaning less criminal possibilities such as fraud.

“Certainly, the time has come for the federal government to have a serious discussion,” Smyth said.

Yet Smyth and Miranda said they don’t support any brick-and-mortar cannabis shops in the city but have no problem with delivery services.

Unfortunately, Stearns said, there is no money and increased danger in delivery, so he doesn’t.

As intractable as Kellar seems, he said there is one possible way he could consider allowing cannabis inside the city: if compounding pharmacies handled it, which is something Thomas also said she favors. Miranda, again, said he would have to see how young people’s access would be limited. Smyth would want to see if compounding pharmacies could get around “the cash component” before he agreed to lift any cannabis ban.

Neither of the two local compounding pharmacies the Gazette called, The Druggist Pharmacy and Lyons Pharmacy & Compounding Lab, are involved with cannabis, although it’s not illegal.

For now, nothing will change. People can get cannabis, but they have to leave the city to do it.

“It would be nice if we grew up and joined the real world,” Thomas said.

If the county ever lifts its ban, Stearns believes a dispensary will open in the valley but outside the city limits.

And it will be he who opens it.

Wilk Case Continues in Court

| News | June 7, 2019

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Star Moffatt’s quest to have state Sen. Scott Wilk disqualified from office was continued to June 14, Moffatt said. It was not dismissed after Friday’s court session, in which Moffatt had to show the court she had properly served Wilk.

“It’s still alive. I’m happy about that,” she said. “I was able to show that I had hired a legal process server who had served the complaint on May 20, I believe.”

Court documents list the date as May 24. Moffatt said Wilk’s representation challenged that they had never received a copy in the mail. Wilk attorney Brian Hildreth wrote in an email that no motion to dismiss has been made and that the case was continued to give Moffatt time to prove she had properly served Wilk.

“They must have neglected to read the proof of service because the process server had indicated he had put a copy in the mail,” Moffatt said.

She said she expects Wilk’s attorney to challenge the service at the next hearing, which she considers “a stall tactic.”

Hildreth disputed Moffatt’s claim. “The case was filed three years ago and was only allegedly served just days ago,” he wrote in an email. “Senator Wilk is not the one stalling. The continuance was to give the parties time to confirm that proper service had been made.”

Moffatt said, “I will be responding they obviously forgot to read the proof of service. Reading is important.”

Moffatt filed a civil complaint three years ago alleging Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) was ineligible to serve in the Senate because he was a registered federal lobbyist who had not sat out a year before seeking the office, per the state’s Government Code.

Wilk had worked for Anchor Consulting, located in Alexandria, Va., from 2007-11 doing public affairs work for then-Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon. He won election to the Assembly in 2012 and then won his Senate seat in 2016. He said three years ago that he received his last payment from Anchor in 2012.

Moffatt has countered that because she claims Wilk had never unregistered, he is ineligible to serve and must be removed from office retroactively. Wilk is more than halfway through his term.

Moffatt said Wilk’s election was fraudulent.

“Fraud can still go retroactive to disgorgement of his campaign donors’ funds,” she said. “The campaign donations he received were fraudulent for 2016 and (he’d) have to return those monies back. There’s no statute of limitations on that. If he committed fraud, there’s no statute of limitations to disgorge, request and return all taxpayer dollars (to the state) he received as far as salaries for 2016.”

State law indicates a three-year statute of limitations for fraud.
Moffatt had previously sought the county clerk’s office to join her in the suit and was under the impression the office had forwarded the matter to the county’s counsel.

Instead, she was surprised when the Gazette called about it, and she had to explain to the court’s satisfaction last week why she hadn’t properly served Wilk in the last three years.

“I think I had legitimate reasons why,” Moffatt said. “It will be up to the court to determine after that if the court still retains jurisdiction to move forward with the disqualification. …When you break the law, you break the law. If it’s found by the court that you have broken the law, then you have to pay whatever restitution the court orders you to pay.”

Hildreth called the suit “wrong on the facts, wrong on the law and wrong on the timing, but otherwise we are taking this as seriously as we would any other lawsuit that seeks to improperly use the courts to overturn the will of the voters of the 21st Senatorial District.”

Why No Canyon Country Hospital?

| News | June 6, 2019

Bob Kellar and Cameron Smyth have heard the cries: We need a hospital on the east side of town.

“About every election cycle during at least one candidate’s forum” is how often Councilmember Smyth says he hears it, although he acknowledged he didn’t when he last ran in 2016.

Councilmember Kellar doesn’t question the need, either. He said he had a good friend with broken ribs take a ride to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.

“Bob, it was the most excruciating trip,” Kellar said his friend told him.

Social media is a place people have expressed their desires. On Facebook, Martha Estrada and Andrea RC have posted wishes for a new hospital, citing valley expansion and population growth.

However, it’s not happening anytime soon. It is too expensive and time-consuming to build a hospital here, whether a new one or a second Henry Mayo campus.

According to Joan Hoffman, a health care manager who posted on the discussion website Quora, two hospitals that opened in Dallas in 2017 cost between $800 million and $1.3 billion. Hoffman also wrote that 185-bed Mercy Hospital in Merced cost $166 million when it was built in 2012.

“At less than $1 million per bed, it was considered quite economical, especially for California,” Hoffman wrote, and does anyone expect the 2019 cost to be the same as seven years ago?

What the city could actually do is limited, Smyth said. It could help by speeding up the approval process should some hospital operator seek a parcel of land on which to build.

Or it could task the Economic Development Corporation with finding some company that wants to bring a hospital here. Holly Schroeder, EDC president and CEO, said the organization’s current focus is on bringing industrial, aerospace, technology and biotechnology companies into the city.

That isn’t to say the EDC isn’t ignoring medicine entirely. If a medical-office company wants to move here, Schroeder said she’s happy to help.

And there are numerous options in the city, many of which offer urgent care. Kaiser Permanente opened an urgent-care facility on Tourney Road to go with its medical offices in Canyon Country. Facey Medical Group has several area locations, including one on Soledad Canyon Road that offers mammograms, ophthalmology, optometry, pediatrics, primary care, radiology, ultrasound, treatments for infectious diseases and diabetes, and nutrition and general wellness.

Samuel Dixon Family Health Centers offers a variety of non-urgent services, including immunizations, mental – and behavioral – health counseling, family medicine, women’s health and physical exams.

Exer, which claims on its website that it’s “more than urgent care,” offers emergency-room services at lower costs.

Schroeder said she’s also aware of something she calls “centers of excellence,” in which people can go for a specific purpose, such as cancer treatment or hip replacement, that aren’t full hospitals.

But sometimes, one needs a hospital because the situation is dire, a true emergency – and according to Scripps, there is a difference between “emergency” and “urgent” – or the patient has suffered a trauma. Henry Mayo is the only designated trauma center in the area.

The way Henry Mayo was built also probably couldn’t be replicated today. It was built on land donated by the Newhall Land & Farming Company and opened in 1975 with 99 beds at a cost of $9 million.

Perhaps a second Henry Mayo facility in Canyon Country would also be a trauma center, except Director of Marketing and Public Relations Patrick Moody said it’s too expensive to build another campus. He estimated if would cost more than $100 million to build. Also, with the healthcare industry moving toward what he called “preventive care,” also known as preventative care, which emphasizes shorter hospital stays and more urgent-care facilities, it might not be profitable to build another hospital.

Gone are the days of hospitalizations for such procedures as tonsillectomies, Moody said; they’re now outpatient procedures. Open-heart surgery patients also are being released sooner than a generation ago, he said.

But say Henry Mayo officials wanted to build another hospital and had the money to do it. Moody said it still would take between 10-15 years to finally get it opened because the state regulations are extensive.

The Facilities Development Division of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) in 2013 put out a 129-page advice guide for working on projects under OSHPD jurisdiction. There are 10 review processes just to get a hospital built, including ones relating to building safety and seismic concerns, to say nothing of whatever city and county requirements there might be.

But if someone else wants to build one, Moody said the hospital would not object.

For now, Henry Mayo and its 232 beds will have to suffice, and Rob Skinner knows this.

“Cities don’t build hospitals, companies do,” Skinner wrote on Facebook. “Hospitals are private businesses. If a company sees SCV as a good place to earn money, then maybe they will invest the hundreds of millions needed in order to build a new hospital. It comes down to money. Just like everything else.”

The Frank Ferry Fan Club

| News | June 6, 2019

Although Frank Ferry failed to receive enough votes to advance to the Los Angeles city council runoff election in August, he nonetheless received help from friends in the area.

Several current and former Santa Clarita city councilmembers endorsed Ferry, as did a former congressman. But it wasn’t enough, as Ferry received 8.86 percent (2,862 votes), good for fifth place out of 15 candidates.

Ferry served the city from 1998-2014 and worked with Mayor Marsha McLean, Mayor Pro-Tem Cameron Smyth and Laurene Weste, all of whom offered endorsements.
McLean said that whenever she went down to the valley as part of any of the various government-related organizations such as the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments, in which she is a board member, “I let them know I support Frank.”

Smyth endorsed Ferry in a video on Ferry’s campaign Facebook page, although he identified himself as a former Assemblyman and neither a city councilmember nor a Santa Clarita resident.

Smyth told the Gazette that as an L.A. City Councilmember, Ferry would keep the relationship strong between Santa Clarita and the north San Fernando Valley.

“With Frank, you got what you saw,” Smyth said. “He was very clear about his position, and very honest about them. Whether you agreed with him or not, you always knew where he stood.”

Another person who endorsed Ferry was former Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, who said in a video Ferry posted on Ferry’s campaign Facebook page that Ferry was a person McKeon relied on for information.

“Frank worked hard and listened to his constituents,” McKeon said. “He was a strong advocate for families, police officers, our youth and our older Americans. I knew I could always count on him.”

Former city councilmember Laurie Ender also endorsed Ferry, mentioning Ferry’s work with the city’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, which the city council formed January 2010 to provide information and education to the community about alcohol/drug/tobacco use by teens (McLean also credited Ferry with it).

One person who did not endorse Ferry was Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce), although a photo dated May 31 on Ferry’s campaign Facebook page might have given people that idea.

According to Hill campaign manager Kelsey O’Hara, Hill has a relationship with Ferry, as he was one of her teachers at Saugus High, and she invited him to host her local swearing-in ceremony in January.

Officially, Hill endorsed Loraine Lundquist, O’Hara said. Lundquist finished second with 19 percent of the tally (6,145 votes) in Tuesday’s election and advanced to August’s runoff.

As for the photo on Ferry’s page, O’Hara was unconcerned.

“It doesn’t particularly bother us,” O’Hara said. “She does know him, and she has taken photos with him.”

Wilk Animal Cruelty and Violence Prevention Act Clears the Senate

| News | May 30, 2019

This week, the Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 580, the Animal Cruelty & Violence Intervention Act of 2019, introduced by Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, to change the way California handles animal abuse offenders.

“Animal abuse crimes are serious and should be treated seriously,” said Wilk. “The link between individuals who abuse animals and those who go on to commit crimes against humans is real. By ensuring animal abusers receive the mental health assessments needed we will be taking a step forward in breaking that link.”

Senate Bill 580 will require the most serious offenders convicted under animal abuse crimes to undergo mandatory mental health assessments and, at the discretion of the court, to attend ongoing counseling. The bill also allows a judge to assign less serious offenders to a state-approved humane treatment education course to teach them proper techniques for interacting with animals in a positive way.

Wilk cited studies showing that 90 percent of mass shooting suspects, half of all school shooters, and 71 percent of domestic violence offenders had serious animal abuse in their histories.

“Animal abuse is often the first act of violence committed by a troubled individual. Intervening with mental health assessments, and/or counseling at that early stage could save human lives down the road,” said Wilk. “This bill will not only protect innocent animals, it will also help mental health experts get someone the help they need to avoid escalating their crimes to include humans.”

Law enforcement leaders, Animal rights groups – including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the California Police Chiefs Association, the Humane Society of the United States, Social Compassion in Legislation and a number of individuals – are all in support of SB 580.

Senate Bill 580 now goes to the Assembly.

Senator Wilk represents the 21st Senate District which includes the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor Valleys.

Katie Hill on the Current State of the Constitution

| News | May 24, 2019

Ask any American what their most cherished part of the Constitution is, and chances are the answers will vary. Some might say the Bill of Rights; others might specify a specific Amendment.

This was not one of the questions the Gazette recently posed to Rep. Katie Hill. However, her emailed answers imply that she is keenly aware of the Constitution’s separation of powers.

When one branch of government does something the other branches can’t resolve, a constitutional crisis arises. Many believe we are in one right now because of President Trump falsely claiming exoneration from the Mueller Report, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refusing to turn over Trump’s recent income tax returns and Attorney General William Barr refusing to testify in the House.

Asked if we are in a crisis now, Hill wrote, “We’re seeing a breakdown in how our country is supposed to operate and what the founders set up within the Constitution, which is a system of checks and balances. I don’t believe in unchecked use of executive privilege and I believe the Constitution only works if we have three separate but co-equal branches of government.”

The New York Times reported that Trump’s tax returns showed he lost about $1 billion through 1994. Hill (D-Agua Dulce) wrote she wants to see Trump’s more recent returns to ensure his only allegiance is to the United States “and that there are no foreign entanglements. That’s what we want to see and I believe it’s necessary on the grounds of national security.”

She wrote she would be willing to let the process play out, but she expects there will be votes to hold Barr and others in contempt of Congress “if individuals are unable to comply with the rules laid out in the Constitution.”

She also doesn’t see how it would be helpful to anyone for Barr to order an investigation into how the Russia-meddling investigation began.

Finally, she wrote that she didn’t run for Congress on an impeach-Trump platform, instead wanting to improve the cost of prescription drugs and housing. “But we also swore an oath of office to uphold the Constitution, and it is our responsibility to ensure that there is accountability for the president’s actions,” she wrote. “If we let this continue, what does this mean for the future of our democracy?”

Other topics she discussed:

-On the trade war with China: “I’ve heard from Republican businessmen who didn’t support me, but who reached out because they are having to lay off staff and upend their business plans due to these trade wars. The burden of this policy is on the backs of American business, and I take huge issue with that.”

-On a push for family-leave legislation: “Family leave is hugely important, especially because the cost of caretaking is so expensive. We see it not only for new parents, but also for children taking care of their aging relatives. Paid family leave is not only good for individuals, it’s good for communities, and I’m proud to support legislation addressing the gaps within our system.”

-On a photo of four teachers from Summerwind Elementary School in Palmdale holding a noose: Hill released a statement on Facebook, which incorrectly stated the school principal was in the photo. In fact, the principal took and distributed the photo.

“Make no mistake about it, hatred has no place in our schools and no place in our community,” Hill’s statement said. “Our office is in contact with the Palmdale School District’s superintendent, who has put those involved on leave while the incident is investigated. The strength of our community is in its diversity.”

Lancaster Republican Seeks Scott Wilk’s Disqualification

| News | May 23, 2019

Three years ago, a Lancaster Republican filed a civil complaint alleging then-Assemblyman Scott Wilk was ineligible to run for the state Senate because he had been a lobbyist who had not sat out a year before seeking another elective office.

That case remains on the books, with a hearing scheduled May 31. Star Moffatt said she had Wilk served a week ago. She continues to seek Wilk’s disqualification, albeit retroactively.

Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) defeated Democrat Johnathan Ervin 53 percent to 47 percent to win the 21st Senate district seat in 2016. Moffatt had run in the primary but got just 8 percent.

Moffatt expressed surprise when the Gazette contacted her because she thought the matter had been resolved. She had petitioned the county registrar-recorder’s office to join her suit and had received a response on Aug. 5, 2016 saying that while the office doesn’t usually do that, “(O)ur office has not taken a definitive position on the disqualification that is sought in your civil complaint. We have consulted with our County Counsel and will take a look at this again at a future time…”

At issue is Wilk’s lobbying career. He told the Gazette in 2016 that he had worked for Anchor Consulting, located in Alexandria, Va., from 2007-11 doing public affairs work for then-Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon. He said he received his last payment from Anchor in 2012.

“I did not lobby,” he said.

Moffatt contends that doesn’t matter because Wilk never unregistered as a federal lobbyist. “He was still licensed to do federal lobbyist work,” she said, and her original 2016 complaint showed Wilk listed as a current Anchor employee.

An Anchor employee who answered the phone last week said his company’s records showed Wilk stopped actively lobbying in 2011 before he ran for the Assembly.

California’s Government Code Sec. 87406(b) says, “No Member of the Legislature, for a period of one year after leaving office, shall, for compensation, act as agent … by making any formal or informal appearance, or by making any oral or written communication, before the Legislature, any committee or subcommittee thereof, any present Member of the Legislature, or any officer or employee thereof, if the appearance or communication is made for the purpose of influencing legislative action.”

“Just like you and I, a politician is required to uphold both Federal and State laws,” Moffat emailed. “When politicians intentionally do not uphold our laws, it is up to the sovereign people (taxpayers) to hold a politician accountable for lacking transparency when they break law(s).”

Moffatt’s chances are unknown. There’s no indication anyone has ever been disqualified based on past lobbying. For those who have lobbied and then run, a 2014 Washington Post article found some win and some lose. It is more common for elected officials to turn to lobbying after they leave office.

“Society is taking a closer look at candidates and politicians who are not forthright. I think the chances in this case are very good,” she said, “and the thing is, even though he’s served almost half his time, if a person commits a crime and they’re later found that they committed it, should they be exonerated for it? No. You commit a crime, you do your time.”

And if Moffatt loses, she said she’d file in federal court, citing Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Section 207. It governs restrictions on former elected officials of the executive and legislative branches. It mostly deals with federal positions but mentions certain areas under which state lawmakers might be governed.

Wilk’s Doggie Donor Bill Sails off the Senate Floor

| News | May 23, 2019

Senator Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, announced that Senate Bill 202 (SB 202) unanimously passed the Senate. SB 202 allows for the commercial use of animal blood from community-sourced donors.

“California’s shortage of available blood for animals in need is putting our pets’ lives in danger,” stated Senator Wilk. “SB 202 allows community animals – like those you or I own – to donate blood. This common-sense measure will increase the blood supply and ensure the health and happiness of pets everywhere. It is a compassionate solution to our woefully inadequate supply of animal blood.”

Because of the restrictive nature of California’s regulatory laws on animal blood donation, there are currently only two commercial blood banks in the state.
As a result, veterinarians are running out of blood to use in their practices when an animal is in need. Currently, California only allows for the commercial licensing of closed-colony blood banks, which keep dogs and cats caged on premises for years on end to give blood, limiting the available blood supply.

A robust blood supply is needed to save animal lives in cases of serious injury, illness or disease. SB 202 allows privately owned animals to donate blood under the oversight of a licensed veterinarian in order to guarantee a healthy supply of blood when other animals need it – not too differently from how people give blood.

“Improving the amount of blood in the donor system will save pets’ lives. I’m thankful to my colleagues for their support on this critical issue,” said Wilk. “I look forward to continuing this work to benefit the lives of beloved animals in our communities.”

SB 202 has support from many in the animal rights community and the veterinary community. Social Compassion in Legislation is the sponsor of this legislation. The California Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Board are also in support of the bill.

This bill will now move to the Assembly.

Public Meetings Scheduled For New Inclusive Play Area at Canyon Country Park

| News | May 23, 2019

The City of Santa Clarita will host two additional public meetings for residents to have the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed plan for the upcoming construction of an inclusive play area at Canyon Country Park. The first meeting will take place on Thursday, May 30 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. The second meeting is scheduled for later that evening from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Community Room at Canyon Country Park, located at 17615 Soledad Canyon Road. The same content will be covered at both meetings, and activities will be provided for children.

At the meetings, the updated concept design, incorporating comments and feedback gathered from the city’s first public meeting on April 16, will be shared with the public. Attendees at the upcoming meetings will be able to speak with city staff members and consultants about the project.

These meetings are a great opportunity for residents to ask questions and offer any input they may have about the inclusive play area, which will be the first of its kind built by the city.

The play area is set to include inclusive play structures, accessible connections to existing facilities, a shade structure and new seating areas for children and adults. Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2019 and is anticipated to be completed by the end of the year.

Inclusive playgrounds provide meaningful play experiences. This project will construct an enjoyable outdoor play environment that provides physical and social inclusion for people of all ages and abilities.

For more information about the Canyon Country Park inclusive play area, contact Elena Galvez at (661) 255-4911.

White Ribbon Campaign: Reminding Students to Drive Safe

| News | May 23, 2019

The City of Santa Clarita, in partnership with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, Frontier Toyota and the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department, is sponsoring the 2019 White Ribbon Campaign in the Santa Clarita Valley from May 27 through June 7.

The campaign began in 1997 in response to concerns over a large number of local teenagers who lost their lives in vehicular collisions as a result of reckless or impaired driving.

Prior to graduation ceremonies at high schools in the city, a Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Deputy will visit each local graduating class to encourage students to be aware of the dangers of driving tired or impaired.

White ribbons will be provided to graduating seniors during cap and gown distribution in memory of Collin Gore, Madeline “Mads” Rossiter and Wyatt Anthony Savaikie, who lost their lives in traffic collisions since 2014. Students are encouraged to pin the white ribbon to their gown during graduation ceremonies as a reminder to others to be careful during their celebrations and in support of families who have lost a loved one in traffic-related incidents.

While driving through the city, residents will also see large white ribbons attached to light poles at major intersections during the official White Ribbon campaign, from May 27 through June 7. These ribbons act as a reminder to drivers to obey traffic rules and follow safe driving practices.

On May 28, the city council will wear the white ribbons during its regular meeting to honor those who have lost their lives, and to remind Santa Clarita residents to be safe and aware of the consequences of unsafe driving.

For more information about the White Ribbon campaign, contact Elizabeth Arambula at earambula@santa-clarita.com or (661)250-3734.

Legality of Measure E Support in Question

| News | May 17, 2019

College of the Canyons may have broken the law when it signed a lease to use space in Valencia Town Center in support of Measure E, a critic of bond measures believes.

Richard Michael, who runs the website Big Bad Bonds, said that because the school and not the pro-measure committee handled the lease, it violates the state Education Code.

“The agreement is made with the College of the Canyons, so the College of the Canyons is using its nonprofit status and its resources to get an advantage for a committee that’s going to benefit them politically,” said Michael.

COC spokesman Eric Harnish wrote in an email that without seeing the documents, the school couldn’t comment.

At issue is an event agreement between the school and Westfield, which owns the Valencia Town Center, to lease space in the mall between March 25-June 25, 2016 as a campaign headquarters.

The event description lists a college phone number, the college’s Rockwell Canyon Road address and Claudia Dunn, then the special assistant to Chancellor Dianne Van Hook, as the contact. The lease was for no money.

Contrast that with a state form that lists the Committee For College of the Canyons – Yes on Measure E as having a Woodland Hills address and contact name of Robert McCarty, who was one of the seven committee co-chairs.

Board member Joan MacGregor said she recalled being told about the lease at a meeting, but it was not voted on. “I believe it was donated,” she said, “a donation of an empty space.” Board president Michael Berger didn’t return calls for comment.

In fact, a confidential document received via public-records request and given to the Gazette said that when COC entered into the lease, “the prior tenant had abruptly breached the lease by vacating the space three years before the expiration of the term and Westfield was left without a tenant.”

Richard said the school violated section 7054 of the state’s Education Code, which prohibits community college districts from using funds, services, supplies, or equipment for urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure; and Government Code Sec. 8314, which prohibits an employee from using public resources for a campaign activity. “Public resources” is defined as “any property or asset owned by the state or any local agency, including, but not limited to, land, buildings, facilities, funds, equipment, supplies, telephones, computers, vehicles, travel, and state-compensated time.”

“Here, we have a setup,” Michael said. “They’re using the assistant who’s getting paid a whole boatload of money for her time and energy to put the deal together.”

It’s not known whether the event agreement was signed before, during or after regular business hours. Zach Eichman, Westfield’s senior vice president of communications and public affairs, didn’t return a phone call.

Nor is it known whether the phones, tables and other furniture used in the mall came from COC, the Yes on E committee or outside sources.

Board member Edel Alonso, who wasn’t yet elected to the board when the measure passed, said the possibility that the college broke the law concerns her.

“I would have liked to see what the cost would be, who was making the arrangements, who was responsible for the arrangements (and) was the college staff involved in any way, because that would not be legal,” she said.

Michael believes COC engaged in a common practice he calls “advocacy paid for by the public.” It’s when an entity puts out what is purported to be information about an issue but is really a pitch to approve or defeat it. His latest example is Measure EE, a proposed parcel tax on the June ballot that would benefit the Los Angeles Unified School District to the tune of $500,000,000 a year for 12 years.

There’s a Yes on EE committee website but also an LAUSD-sponsored site that lists the advantages of the measure without any opposing views.

Another point Michael finds suspicious: A state form to the Secretary of State Political Reform Office, the Citizens for College of the Canyons-Yes on Measure E Committee became active April 4, 2016, 10 days after the event agreement began. Additionally, the state form that lists McCarty as the committee contact shows the state qualified it as a committee on March 22, three days before the lease took effect.

Payroll records from the Los Angeles County Office of Education, which handles COC’s payroll, show that Dunn, who now works for UCLA Health under her married name of Claudia Dunn-Martinez and did not return phone calls, made exactly the same pay before and after the lease dates.

A 20-minute video on the KHTS website from April 27, 2016, shows Van Hook, who interviewer Carl Goldman identified as “our chancellor of College of the Canyons,” talking about all the good things she expected to come from the measure if it passed. She never corrected Goldman by insisting she was a private citizen or an individual with no ties to the college.

Less than a month and a half later, the $230 million bond measure passed, 58 percent to 42 percent.

The district attorney has until next year to determine if Dunn or Van Hook broke the law. Even then, it’s possible the DA wouldn’t want to spend time and resources prosecuting because violating Sec. 7054 is either a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum one year in county jail, a $1,000 fine or both; or a felony punishable by between 16 months and three years in county jail.

A similar case involved the Fair Political Practices Commission ruling that the Bay Area Rapid Transit District was guilty of three counts of spending public funds in support of Measure RR, a $3.5 billion bond measure that passed with 70.53 percent of the vote in 2016.

The total fine assessed was $7,500.

COC Men’s Golf Wins State Competition

| Community, News, Sports | May 16, 2019

College of the Canyons won the 2019 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship by a whopping 18 strokes at the Silverado Resort & Spa on May 13.

The Cougars completed the day with a five-man, 36-hole score of (734-371/363) to finish 14-over-par. Canyons topped the eight-team field followed by runner-up Santa Barbara City College (752-381/371), third place Cypress (766-383/383) and fourth place Folsom Lake College (768-384/384).

The state championship is the program’s ninth overall (1993, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019), all coming under head coach Gary Peterson. COC has now won four state titles in the last seven years. The Cougars also finished runner-up at the state tourney in 2018, 2016 and 2014.

“This was not a year I expected to win a state championship,” said Peterson, about his team which featured four freshmen and two sophomores with limited tourney experience. “With six new guys it was surprising. I thought we would be building for next year, now I’m hoping we get some of these guys back.”

COC Freshman Nobuhiko Wakaari (142-73/69) won the individual state title after finishing two-under par for the tourney. His final round of 69 came after back-to-back bogeys on the final two holes but still represented the low score of the day.

“Nobu came into the clubhouse with a big smile on his face,” said Peterson, about the golfer from Niigata, Japan who he also described as a humble hard worker that always puts the team first.

His final round score capped a season in which Wakaari was named the Western State Conference (WSC) Player of the Year before finishing fourth at the Southern California regional tourney.
Wakaari becomes the third individual state champion in program history joining former Cougars Sidney Wolf (2014) and Ben Campbell (2016). Prior to Monday’s championship run Canyons had never won team and individual state titles in the same season.

Freshmen Jules Lavigne (146-72/74) and Anguerrand Voisin (146-75/71) finish third and fourth, respectively, in the final standings, with Lavigne’s opening round of 72 serving as the difference maker. Lavigne and Voisin both hail from France.

Wakaari, Lavigne and Voisin all earned All-State team honors. Sophomore Tom Sims (150-75/75) placed 12th and sophomore Matthew Mansholt (150-76/74) was 13th in the field of 60. Freshman Jack Greene (158-78/80) finished 40th overall.

“I can’t recall another state championship event where we had so many high individual finishes,” commented Peterson. “But this team has the ability to play all aspects of the game. They’re a great example of what we’ve tried to do here for a long time.”

The Cougars’ nine state titles are the most of any program in CCCAA history. The college has also won seven Southern California regional titles and 25 Western State Conference (WSC) championships.

Last fall, COC’s women’s golf program, also led by Peterson, won its third state championship. The Lady Cougars also have two individual state titles to their credit.

“We’ve had a really good run,” Peterson added, “I think the last 10 or 12 years have been a great success.”

The College of the Canyons Athletics department now boasts a combined 34 state championships (18 team and 16 individual) across 17 intercollegiate sports programs.

2019 CCCAA State Championship Final Scores:

1. Canyons (734-371/363) 2. SBCC (752-381/371) 3. Cypress (766-383/383) 4. Folsom Lake (768-384/384) T5. Mt. SAC (771-382/389) T5. Reedley (771-381/390) 7. San Jose City (788-398/390) 8. Fresno City (794-402/392)

Canyons Individual Scores:

Nobuhiko Wakaari (142-73/69); Jules Lavigne (146-72/74); Anguerrand Voisin (146-75/71); Tom Sims (150-75/75); Matthew Mansholt (150-76/74); Jack Greene (158-78/80).

Stay up to date on all this season’s action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Mike Dawson to Read ‘The Pact’ in Downtown L.A.

| News | May 10, 2019

Voice and Co-Producer of the Adam Corolla Show, Mike Dawson, will be presenting a live reading of “The Pact” by local author Robert Patrick Lewis on Thursday, May 16 at 10e Restaurant in Los Angeles.

“The Pact,” written by former Green Beret and Gazette columnist Robert Patrick Lewis, is the first of a three-book fictional series based on true events.

The narrator of Lewis’ audio book, Dawson will read portions of “The Pact” during the Booze & Books event from 7-9 p.m. Following the reading, Lewis will sign books and stay for a Q&A with the audience.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A), CMO of Heroes Media Group, entrepreneur, MBA and award-winning author of Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for A Green Beret In Post-9/11 War , The Pact and The Pact Book II: Battle Hymn of the Republic. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

Over 6,000 Instances of ADA Noncompliance on COC Campus

| News | May 9, 2019

In the College of the Canyons library is a black three-ring binder called the ADA Transition Plan. At about four inches thick, it runs 295 pages and details the more than 6,000 instances the school was found noncompliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as recommendations on how to fix them and the expected completion dates.

It’s not known what has been fixed because the plan has not been updated, although many projects were supposed to be completed by the last day of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Other projects are not supposed to be finished until Dec. 31, 2030. College spokesman Eric Harnish emailed to say the school is finishing Phase 1, which focuses on replacing doors. Phase 2, which is scheduled to start later this year, addresses access and paths of travel, including parking lots and walkways. A third phase will address bathrooms and disabled seating in public areas.

The Board of Trustees will receive a full update from Vice President of Facilities, Planning, Operations and Construction Jim Schrage in August, Harnish and board president Michael Berger said.

COC is one of the few of the state’s 114 community college campuses that has such a plan, several people said. The reason it exists in the first place is because of a lawsuit.

Julio Ochoa, who was 28 and disabled from a motorcycle accident when he filed suit April 3, 2013 in Superior Court, alleged that the college “failed to remove these physical barriers to ensure that each of its programs, services, and activities are readily accessible to and useable by persons with mobility disabilities.”

The suit named numerous areas: parking lots and curbs, classrooms, the library, cafeteria, restrooms, gathering areas and sidewalks and other paths of travel with excessive slopes that made it difficult, if not impossible, for Ochoa to get around in his wheelchair.

“Due to his disabilities, Plaintiff (was) unable to independently and safely use public facilities that are not designed, constructed or altered in compliance with applicable accessibility standards for use by disabled persons, without placing himself at significant risk of injury,” the lawsuit said. “Plaintiff has suffered disability discrimination, deterrence, humiliation, emotional distress, and embarrassment, all to his damage.”

Two years later, the sides settled. Included in the settlement was the school paying Ochoa $270,000 “if my notes are correct,” COC lawyer Terry Tao said on a Feb. 21, 2018 video detailing the updates to the transition plan, with another $155,000 in attorney fees. COC also agreed to make 1,769 changes, down from tens of thousands the plaintiff originally wanted. Finally, Ochoa could return and see the progress made (Ochoa couldn’t be reached; his attorney, Jeff Harrison, didn’t return calls).

Tao added that even though some deadlines are still many years away, it’s possible additional extensions can be granted, provided there’s proof of dealing and making progress with the Division of the State Architect (DSA), one of the agencies in charge of overseeing ADA compliance.

One thing was certain: “This campus was identified as having some significant ADA issues,” Tao said on the video.

In addition to personal instances where Ochoa believed he was impeded, the lawsuit named other places the school should fix, including various athletic facilities, a coffee kiosk and the women’s restrooms.

Tao said Ochoa signed up for disabled student programs and services but didn’t use them, which contributed to him ending up in non-accessible classrooms.

Several Canyons officials said the lawsuit was one of several in which the same attorneys went from school to school looking for opportunities to sue. Tao said Harrison’s firm sued UC Riverside, Riverside Community College, the Los Angeles Community College District, Chapman University and “a bunch of campuses from Newport Beach to us.”

“Our impression was that it was about money in some respects,” Tao said. (The Gazette found proof that the firm sued Pierce College in 2008.)

Still, after settling and agreeing to make 1,769 fixes, the school decided to expand its transition plan and look at every single possible instance of ADA non-compliance. One reason was money: No one wanted someone else to find something else that’s ADA non-compliant and bring another suit. Architect Greg Sun said in the 2018 video that a school could be subject to $4,000 per violation. This meant that COC could have paid as much as $7,076,000 plus attorney fees this time.

Another reason, Schrage said on the video, is a desire to be a fully accessible campus.

“We’re not trying to shuck and jive here,” he said. “We want full accessibility. We’re doing everything we can to make this accessible, and to maintain that accessibility.”

As a result, the school contracted PBWS Architects to survey the entire Valencia campus. Tao called it “an unfunded mandate” because the college doesn’t get any money to make ADA fixes.

Tao said the state inspected 41 buildings and 154 acres covering 793,000 square feet, with COC officials following along, trying to get an idea of the cost.

“I don’t remember the cost,” Berger said. “It was extremely expensive.”

Harnish said they found approximately 5,000 additional items; he added that not every item is a separate violation. “For example, a restroom that requires the grab bars all be raised an eighth of an inch could account for as many as 20 items,” he wrote.

Board member Edel Alonso said she spent hours counting all violations in the transition plan and came up with 6,859.

Some could be considered trivial. For example, an accessible parking space in lot 14 is too narrow by .63 inch.

Some could be considered significant: Rooms in Mentry Hall don’t have enough knee and toe space under tables and desks, the sidewalk near the softball field is almost a yard too narrow, and Pico Canyon Hall lockers are inaccessible.

Then there’s four buildings, Bonelli Hall, Boykin Hall, Towsley Hall and West P.E., whose repairs Tao said would be so difficult to bring into ADA compliance that they will be done last in hopes that state comes up with the money to repair or replace them. A future bond issue could be a solution, and Harnish said that some Measure M and Measure E funds are being used. But Berger said, “I don’t remember that being a part of any long-term planning for us.”

Sun said state law requires entrances to be first priority, so doors made up the first phase. The focus was to make doors accessible, including changing knobs for levers and increasing door widths. Kirstyn Bonneau, a PBWS Architects associate, said on the video they looked at between 2,200 and 2,500 doors.

More recently, board member Joan MacGregor said, the locks were changed so they could be locked from the inside.

Since the plan in the library is not updated, very few know exactly what has been completed. Berger said he asked Schrage last month for an update.

“I know that we are – and I’ve asked a lot of questions over the years – it was reported that, as far as the timeline, we are ahead of schedule,” Berger said. “That doesn’t mean we are ahead on every single thing. But the majority of the projects that are online are ahead of schedule. I’m waiting for the August report to get the details.”

Alonso and MacGregor said they have asked for updates, but they know things are getting done because items come to the board for approval.

“I know we’re making progress, but I don’t know how many identified violations have been fixed,” Alonso said. Schrage didn’t return phone calls, but he said on the video he had made numerous purchase orders for new ADA-compliant furniture “for two years.”

Alonso openly wondered if all of this could have been avoided. Tao said communication would have been key.

“How well did you handle the student? How well did you communicate with them? Were you on them right away? Did you make sure that they were properly accommodated?” he said. “Because the law is somewhat unforgiving, and since it is so unforgiving, if somebody’s upset, they have options with regards to using the legal process, and under (the law), they’re entitled not only to their damages but also to their attorneys’ fees.”

Former School Board Member Stephen Winkler Dies

| News | May 2, 2019

Stephen Winkler, who shockingly won a school board election only to be removed because he lived outside the district’s boundaries, died April 1 of heart failure, his family said. He was 67 and had been in poor health.

According to his brother, Mike, and Mike’s wife, Deirdre, Winkler spent about $20,000 in what many considered a quixotic attempt to gain a seat on the Saugus Union School District board in 2011. He ran as a teacher, claiming he had more educational experience than most board members. He finished second, ahead of incumbent Rose Diaz by 264 votes, but the top two were elected.

“That was his moment in the sun,” Deirdre Winkler said of Stephen being a board member. “He loved it.”

Almost immediately, he set himself apart by voicing his disdain for unions and his support for charter schools. He also was censured and asked to resign after making statements about Adolf Hitler that the board found to be “expressing support for Nazism, slavery and segregation and enjoyment of cruelty towards animals,” according to a statement then-board member Paul De La Cerda read at a 2013 meeting. Winkler refused to resign, and the board couldn’t remove him.

“He did not do what I advised him: Shut up and play ball and don’t go against the grain,” Mike Winkler said.

Winkler was removed from his position in 2013 after it was found he lived in Sylmar and not on Rio Prado Drive in Valencia like he claimed. Mike Winkler said that his brother lived in Valencia, where he worked as a security guard at a townhome complex.

Part of his pay allowed him to live there, Mike Winkler said, so Stephen would live in a vacant townhome while it was being renovated, then move to another one once the fixes, upgrades and improvements were complete.

“They called him a squatter,” Winkler said, adding that his brother was unable to explain his living situation because “he was book-learned but not quick-thinking on his feet.”

Winkler was born Jan.13, 1952 in Florida to Hungarian immigrants, a year before Mike was born in New York. The family moved to California in 1955, Mike said.

Winkler was known for having a photographic memory in matters related to history, sports or the Bible.

“Have you ever seen the movie ‘Rain Man?’ ” Deirdre Winkler said. “Steve was like that but higher-functioning.” She acknowledged her brother-in-law never was diagnosed with any autism spectrum disorder, although Mike said he thought he should have been.

“He was very intelligent in certain areas, but had absolutely no common sense or social skills,” Mike said.

Stephen earned bachelor and master degrees in history and political science from California State University, Northridge, his brother said, and then got his teaching credential while working as a security guard. He substituted in districts such as William S. Hart, Los Angeles and Palmdale.

“He loved being a substitute teacher,” Deirdre Winkler said. “His students often referred to him as the Penguin,” after the Batman villain.

After his removal, Winkler “went on with his life,” his brother said, but had a difficult time supporting himself. He was never one to make a lot of money, and the election had put him deeper in debt. Being removed from a school board made it harder to get any teaching position. Mike said he told him that the demand for history and political science teachers is far less than for math, science and English.

His lack of finances caused him to seek low-cost or free meals, which was why he frequented various houses of worship: a Catholic church on Friday for fried fish or Tony Alamo’s church for 9 p.m. dinners (he was raised Catholic like his mother, his family said, although his father was Jewish).

Winkler also didn’t exercise and preferred to sit in a cart while shopping. He suffered from Type II diabetes for about 17 years. He had a heart attack in March and underwent quadruple bypass March 20 at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. He was transferred to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center the next day, his brother said, and died there.

Winkler had been married once. He is survived by his brother, sister-in-law and four nieces and nephews. He was buried in California City in a plot next to Mike’s daughter.

Katie Hill Town Hall Disrupted by Unruly Attendees

| News | May 2, 2019

After Rep. Katie Hill held a town hall Saturday, one attendee posted his disgust on Facebook.

“I recently shared a live feed from a town hall meeting with Representative Katie Hill. I wish I hadn’t,” Phil Gussin wrote.

He detailed why: People booed a Valencia High teen when she tried to read a question. They booed when someone said Michelle Obama’s name. They shouted and interrupted Hill when she spoke.

“The display of ignorance and intolerance did not reflect well on the community. We — and I’m including myself — are better than that. Much better,” Gussin concluded.

Hill (D-Agua Dulce) held the town hall at Santa Clarita City Hall to talk about her first 100 days and take questions from constituents. In a nearly three-minute video she posted on Facebook afterward, Hill blamed the commotion on “eight or 10 people who were unfortunately very loud and disruptive and made the experience pretty unpleasant for a lot of the others there.”

Hill Communications Director Kassie King said she knew the most disruptive were from outside the 25th congressional district because when they registered to attend, they were required to give their zip code. Also, King said, “We have video footage and we can match those individuals with other public behavior. We know who they are.”

This isn’t the first time district town hall meetings have become disruptive. Former Rep. Steve Knight dealt with boos several times, including after he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Gussin wrote that people considered the actions as payback for when Knight took gruff.

“Here’s the problem with that ‘reasoning.’ As far as I know, Rep. Hill never condoned that kind of behavior,” he wrote. “Throughout the campaign, she repeatedly expressed her respect for Rep. Knight despite strong policy disagreements.”

Hill said the importance of hearing from constituents, whether they agree with her or not, remains paramount, so she’s trying to figure out how to hold future ones while limiting disruptions. Her Facebook video mentions such possible formats as one where people talk (or yell) and she listens, or a court-like format where one topic would bring out opposing viewpoints.

King said they have considered asking for proof of residency and barring people who don’t live in the district, but nothing has been decided.

“We’re figuring out the best path forward based on recommendations from other offices, based on recommendations from others who have done this before or who have gone through this before,” she said.

College of the Canyons Suing Saga Continues

| News | April 26, 2019

Former College of the Canyons employees aren’t the only ones who have brought lawsuits against the school. The Auto Tech Department chairman also did so.

Gary Sornborger filed suit June 3, 2015 against the district, President Dianne Van Hook, two deans and four others, alleging retaliation, negligent and intentional inflicting of emotional distress, assault, illegal hiring practices and conspiracy. The complaint was amended twice, on Feb. 17 and Aug. 22, 2016, with one fewer defendant named each time.

Sornborger settled in late 2018 but received no money. In effect, the sides agreed to walk away.

“My official comment is no comment,” Sornborger said. “They tried to knock me out twice. I want to teach.”

College spokesman Eric Harnish declined comment in an email, citing personnel matters. He also wrote, “This is a matter that was resolved in 2017 with no admission of liability by the Defendants and with Plaintiff dismissing his Court complaint.”

COC board member Edel Alonso, who was faculty president at the time, said she found Sornborger to be a good teacher who “didn’t receive the support he needed to be successful.”

COC board member Steve Zimmer, without asking what the Gazette was calling about, referred questions to board President Michael Berger, who didn’t return calls or texts beyond saying he had a client in the lobby and that he had been on vacation for 10 days.

According to the complaint, Sornborger’s troubles began in the summer of 2014 when he needed to prepare for recertification or reaccreditation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation. His bosses, Kristin Houser and Jerry Buckley, wanted the work completed before the fall semester. Sornborger completed most of the work and submitted payment requests, but Buckley and Houser refused to approve payment for almost a year.

In June and July, Sornborger alleged, Houser signed his name to two college assistant employment forms implying Sornborger approved hiring three people, which he didn’t. He reported this to Vice President of Human Resources Diane Fiero, who in turn informed Houser.

In August, the court documents say that Houser retaliated by removing Sornborger as department chair, firing two employees Sornborger had hired and transferring another employee to the night shift, thereby making it impossible to help Sornborger with computer communications (the documents say Sornborger is disabled, and the employee was a reasonable accommodation for that). The documents say the terminations stemmed from complaints Houser received from then-Instructional Lab Technician Mark Veltre about a “hostile work environment” in the auto shop.

Veltre, who no longer works at the school, couldn’t be reached for comment. Houser, now a lecturer in the California State University, Northridge marketing department, declined comment.

“I don’t have the time and energy for that. I spent way too much time in my life dealing with all that crap,” Houser said. “It’s over and done with. I’d love to help, but I can’t. I’m not interested in getting involved in all of that stuff again.”

On Aug. 19, the Academic Senate convened an ad hoc committee to discuss Sornborger’s removal as department chair. Two days later, the committee found that Sornborger had not been given an official evaluation of non-performance, which was required to remove him from his chairmanship. It also recommended to Buckley that Auto Tech be removed from Houser’s division and placed within a different dean’s division, and the new dean, with Houser’s help, would formulate a new performance plan that Sornborger must abide by for the fall 2014 and spring 2015 semesters.

According to the complaint, Houser refused to sign the committee’s findings and Buckley took no action until October when he moved Auto Tech to the Math, Science and Engineering Department and restored Sornborger’s chairmanship. He also threatened to strip Sornborger again if the NATEF accreditation wasn’t completed by Jan. 1, 2015, and forced him to take a seven-module department-chair training program that did not exist and had never been required before.

On Aug. 25, Sornborger requested Fiero launch an investigation into Houser’s retaliatory actions and take “prompt and corrective action.” Fiero did not return a call for comment.

Two days later, Sornborger alleged, Houser retaliated further by telling then-Assistant Director of Campus Safety Howard Blanchard to curtail an established arrangement in which Sornborger gave his office to Blanchard in exchange for additional Auto Tech student parking. This caused Sornborger to ask then-Academic Senate President Paul Wickline to set up a meeting between the two of them, and Wickline to discuss the situation (Wickline and Blanchard didn’t return phone calls; Alonso said Sornborger told her the meeting took place, but she doesn’t know what was resolved, if anything).

The complaint says that around Sept. 12, Sornborger spoke with Houser and believed “an understanding had been reached.” Instead, he alleged, that while Blanchard was on vacation, Houser ordered campus security officers to start ticketing Auto Tech students’ vehicles. After Sornborger questioned her, he alleged Houser escalated things by ordering vehicles be towed.

According to the complaint, a vehicle belonging to a student who wasn’t on campus got towed on Sept. 17. While Sornborger reported the incident to Buckley and Van Hook, Houser canceled classes for the day.

The student, unnamed in the complaint but later identified as Nick Vaughn, went to campus security to ask Blanchard why his car was towed. The lawsuit alleges campus security officer Tommy Thompson threatened and assaulted Vaughn, something Thompson denied.

“There was a verbal altercation between one of Gary’s students and (Blanchard),” Thompson said. “I heard the verbal altercation, and I came out in the office hallway to back Howard up. … The student started going off on Howard, and basically when I came down the hall, me and Howard were instructing the student he needs to leave the campus, and then when he was going and hopping in his truck, I told Howard, ‘You’re probably going to want me to write a report.’ And he said, ‘Oh, absolutely.’

“I walked out towards the student as he’s getting in his truck, and instead of me trying to write down his license plate and all that, I pulled out my phone camera and took a picture of him, the student and his truck that he was about to get into. Nick Vaughn started cursing me out.”

Thompson then asserted that Vaughn revved his engine and twice charged at Thompson, something Vaughn’s mother, Kelli, denied. She explained that Thompson had informed the students that class had been canceled and if they didn’t leave campus, they’d be arrested for trespassing. She added she had witnesses claiming Nick didn’t curse but screamed, “Excuse me?” repeatedly.

The lawsuit says Sornborger, “while protecting the student, was injured and required hospitalization.” Kelli Vaughn said her son is 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds; Sornborger is 5-foot-7, 165 pounds.

Nick then got into his car, a 1984 Ford Bronco, which was parked next to Sornborger’s car and backed out, still screaming, “Excuse me!” over and over.

Vaughn said Thompson then said, “Are you going to hit me?” and her son responded, “Well, you’d better move!” Vaughn said Thompson didn’t immediately move.

Nick then pulled next to the building, Vaughn said. Sornborger followed to give him paperwork to give to the sheriff’s department to file an addendum to his complaints of retaliation by the school. Then Nick left.

The next day, Vaughn was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, his mother said (Thompson said it was attempted assault). He eventually pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to two years of summary probation, six months of anger management and 30 days of community service.

While Sornborger was hospitalized, the lawsuit says, Houser sent “a threatening and accusatory email falsely accusing (Sornborger) of organizing his students to protest the towing of the student’s vehicle and demanding to know how he planned ‘to make up the instruction time missed by the morning’s activities.’”

Veltre is accused of telling people that Sornborger was or had gone crazy, that he was suspended, that he encouraged students to interfere with the towing, and that he would not be teaching in the fall 2014 semester.

Sornborger was medically cleared to return to work Sept. 24 but was placed on administrative leave and forbidden to discuss the matter with anyone related to Canyons. He was reinstated in November but barred from teaching until the spring.

The lawsuit says Sornborger sustained “physical, emotional and mental damages as a result of his anxiety, loss of self-esteem, loss of self-confidence, embarrassment, humiliation, worry and mental distress.”

 

COC Chancellor’s Legal Fee Reimbursement Questioned

| News | April 25, 2019

Around June 22, 2016, College of the Canyons Chancellor Dianne Van Hook won a restraining order against two people, which required attorney fees, court costs and the like.

According to documents in the matter Van Hook v. Petzold, attorney fees came to $15,099.05, which included a $1,638 discount.

On March 1, 2017, Van Hook wrote a personal check to the law firm Poole & Shaffery for $15,099. In June, the board of trustees approved a purchase order for Van Hook’s reimbursement.

However, two board members claim they don’t recall approving it and expressed concern that it wasn’t clear what they were approving. Nor are they completely sure Van Hook was entitled to the reimbursement.

“I don’t believe I knew what this was for,” Edel Alonso said. “I don’t remember voting for an item to reimburse Dianne Van Hook.”

And from Joan MacGregor: “This is a unique case. As far as I’m aware, it’s not happened before, since I’ve sat on the board, where she has taken reimbursement for a legal expense. It normally goes to the law firm.”

Documents the Gazette obtained include Poole & Shaffery’s invoice to Van Hook dated July 19, 2016 that does not specify what the $15,099.05 was for; Van Hook’s personal check to the firm and a purchase order dated June 7, 2017 for $15,099 for “reimbursement of unanticipated legal expenses in accordance with normal reimbursement procedures.”

There’s also a check voucher, a direct payment voucher signed by Van Hook dated March 9, 2017 and then-board president Steve Zimmer dated June 2, 2017, and a list of 39 purchase orders between May 22 and June 18, 2017, for the board to approve. Van Hook is listed as the vendor, the activity is “general institutional support” and the category is “approved expenditures.”

Zimmer, without asking what the Gazette was calling about, referred questions to board president Michael Berger, who texted to say he had a client in the lobby. Later, he didn’t respond to calls or texts. Nor did board member Michele Jenkins respond to calls.

School spokesperson Eric Harnish emailed to say that because Van Hook was a victim in her role as chancellor this allowed her reimbursement. “She reviewed the expenditure with the Board President. He approved submitting that expenditure for reimbursement by the District.  The item was processed for reimbursement by Business Services per the District’s established procedures, and was unanimously approved by the Board,” Harnish wrote.

MacGregor said when the board receives purchase orders, the specifics are not usually stated. The board also regularly approves reimbursements to Van Hook, the law firms the college can use and legal fees. Poole & Shaffery is on the approved list, she said, but “we don’t use them a lot.”

From time to time, MacGregor said, she or Alonso will ask to discuss a specific expense and vote on it separately. Neither board member recalled asking to have this one separated.

Alonso said Berger, Jenkins and Zimmer often express disdain when she wants a specific expense discussed, accusing her of “getting into the weeds” and unnecessarily lengthening the meeting. Her response is, “I need to understand what I’m voting on. When I ask, I’m given an answer that is not always a satisfactory one.”

MacGregor said she doesn’t feel “I made a mistake” in approving it, but she wants more information. “I have put in a request to the Chancellor’s office, but that’s just gone in, so I don’t expect an answer yet,” she said.

Nor do they understand why Van Hook fronted the money. MacGregor said that when the board discussed Van Hook getting a restraining order, she assumed the district would pay for it.

“It’s rare for her to put that money out,” MacGregor said.

The other issue is whether Van Hook should have been paid back in the first place. In her contract dated Feb. 11, 2015, it clearly states Van Hook is not responsible to pay to defend herself when she is sued. It does not clearly state she is entitled to the same courtesy if she initiates legal action; nor does it expressly say she isn’t.

It is this vagueness that troubles Alonso and MacGregor.

“That is not clear to me,” Alonso said.

“We didn’t have a board discussion authorizing it,” MacGregor said. “I do feel there should be full transparency to the board.”

Elks Lodge Collecting Dictionaries for Third Grade Students

| News | April 25, 2019

The Elks, or Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, is a national organization whose motto is Elks Care Elks Share. Its national charities support veterans, education, and drug awareness, in addition to hosting hoop shoot competitions and other programs. The Elks National Foundation (ENF) awards scholarships to high school students across the nation. Additionally, they provide grants to local Lodges to use for a variety of projects.

One of the current projects the local lodge is working on is to provide a dictionary to each third grade student in the Santa Clarita Valley. Each dictionary will have a drug awareness bookmark with a drug awareness coloring book as well. There are approximately 3,350 third grade students in our valley that the organization hopes to provide with a dictionary. This endeavor is quite a task, starting with the application for grants, purchasing, inserting bookmarks and distributing to every school in the valley.

The Elks Lodge has received tremendous feedback from teachers and administrators, saying that the kids love them and use them as learning aids.

The California/Hawaii Elks Association’s other major project is called The Purple Pig. The motto is, “A Coin a Day, They Will Walk, Talk, See and Play.” This is a program that helps to meet the unmet needs of children with disabilities by providing support services at no cost.

Some of the many things the local Elks Lodge #2379 provides is hot dogs, drinks, chips and cookies to all who help place the American Flag on the grave of every Veteran buried at Eternal Valley for the Memorial Day remembrance. They also participate in the Fourth of July parade and provide over 10,000 American Flags to all of the spectators along the parade route.

These are only some of the many programs that the Elks do for the community, the state and the country.

For further information about donating a dictionary, visit www.elks.org or email elks2379@la.twcbc.com.

Rep. Katie Hill’s 100 Days

| News | April 18, 2019

Traditionally, congressional freshmen take it slow, keep their heads down and learn from the more experienced lawmakers. Rep. Katie Hill is not acting like a typical freshman.

Before she even took office, Hill led a movement to ensure Nancy Pelosi was re-elected Speaker of the House, was elected co-freshman representative to the Democratic House leadership, became the first congresswoman-elect to deliver the party’s weekly address, and co-signed a letter to President Trump asking for more federal aid for California fire relief.

Once taking office, she was appointed vice chair of the House Oversight Committee.

Last week marked 100 days in office, and Hill (D-Agua Dulce) sent out a press release touting her accomplishments. In a statement, Hill said, “I am so proud to serve the people of my hometown in Washington and even prouder to already be delivering for our community. I promised that I would put the priorities of the people above corporations and special interests and that’s exactly what I’ve done to achieve results.”

Republicans Mike Garcia and Angela Underwood Jacobs, who have announced they will challenge Hill next year, said in separate statements they object to Hill’s connections to Pelosi and New York Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez’s agendas. Both also accused Hill of moving too far to the left toward socialism.

Here are the highlights:

Authored bipartisan legislation to address concerns from 25th Congressional District constituents about the flaws in their Medicare Part B enrollment;
Passed a bipartisan bill through the House of Representatives to protect whistleblowers and follow through on her promise to weed out government corruption and promote accountability and transparency;
Delivered on her promise to focus on healthcare by cosponsoring 16 different healthcare bills, including sweeping new healthcare legislation that would lower Californian’s health insurance premiums, crack down on junk health insurance plans, and strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

This first refers to HR 1788, introduced March 14. Fourteen people have co-sponsored it, including one Republican, Brian Babin of Texas. It currently sits in two committees.

The second refers to HR 1064, introduced Feb. 7. It expands whistleblower protections to include talking to a supervisor in the employee’s direct chain of command up to and including the head of the employing agency, or to an employee designated to receive such disclosures.

The third refers to HR 1884, introduced March 26. It amends the Affordable Care Act to improve affordability, undo sabotage and increase access to health insurance coverage.

It currently sits in three committees.

Hill said she knows it isn’t realistic to get legislation through Congress and onto the president’s desk in 100 days, given how slow things progress through the chambers. The previous Congress passed just 388 bills that became law, according to govtrackinsider.com. The Congress before that passed 329 bills that went to President Obama, according to Quorum.

“The fact that we not only passed some things through but actually had them signed into law is a pretty big deal, especially in a divided Congress like this,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

So far, Hill has authored four bills. Only HR 1064 has passed the House. It currently is in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

According to congress.gov, Hill has attached her name to 177 pieces of legislation. Of these, eight have passed the House, and all of them are in Senate committees.

Hill also signed onto 18 resolutions. Trump vetoed the joint resolution objecting to his declaring a national emergency at the southern border, and Congress failed to override.

Used her position in Washington to cut through bureaucracy and tackle pressing local issues like the CEMEX mine.

Last month, Hill wrote a letter to the Department of the Interior Board of Land Appeals requesting an expedited decision on whether Mexican building materials company CEMEX can mine gravel in Soledad Canyon. Two days later, the ruling came down: Cemex’s contracts are valid until July 2020, but since it would take longer than that to get the operation going, it’s unlikely any mining would ever happen.

According to Communications Director Kassie King and senior advisor Ben Steinberger, who ran point on CEMEX, the IBLA informed Hill that her letter had been received and sent to the right people. Steinberger also said he expected the ruling to come later this year.

Hill insisted, “There was no way that timing is so fortuitous when we’ve been waiting on a decision for three years,” she said. “The fact that we pushed for it and it got done is a testament to the work of my office. The issue is the IBLA has been sitting on this decision for three years. … It became clear the issue was a bureaucratic one. We used our political leverage to make that decision happen, and that shows bipartisan relationships. You don’t get a decision from the (Trump) administration without working across the aisle.”

Of course, Hill wasn’t the first to deal with this issue. Former Reps. Buck McKeon and Steve Knight had tried, to various extents, to get something done. Hill took credit for finishing the job.

“You have something sitting there three years. Then we get the letter issued, then we get a response within two days,” she said. “You’re telling me that happens to be a fluke?”

Introduced her first bill addressing a top local priority, and ensured the legislation was included in a public lands package that passed both Houses of Congress and was signed into law by the President.

King said this refers to Senate Bill 47, a public lands package in which Hill secured a memorial to the Saint Francis Dam disaster of 1928 (Hill’s original bill, HR 1015, never got out of committee).

Hill said that the memorial was a top city priority, even though she acknowledged, “If you go around the district or go around Santa Clarita and ask if this was their top priority, I can’t imagine you would have a huge number of people that would say yes, that’s the case. The city is a massive stakeholder and it’s something they prioritized. We were glad to be able to finish it off for them.”

Opened two district offices, held two town halls, attended 22 community events, and visited 16 businesses, military bases, and other key sites in the district.

That does not count a Santa Clarita office. However, Hill said there is now one, in Valencia near City Hall, but it’s not officially opened pending final House security clearance.

Hill said she felt “frustration at how slow the process can be” to get offices opened. “I’m glad we have it now,” she said.

Secured more than $80,000 in VA and Social Security benefits for 25th Congressional District constituents;

District Director Angela Giacchetti said the actual total was $80,808.66. Two constituents received benefits from the VA, and one receive Social Security benefits.

“People who were broke and struggling have now $80,000 in benefits they didn’t have before,” she said. “We have dozens of cases that are open.”

Santa Clarita Valley Mayors Prayer Breakfast Returns in May

| News | April 18, 2019

The 2019 Mayors Prayer Breakfast, presented by The Diako Group, will take place in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2 at 7 a.m.

Writers and Producers Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, known for God’s Not Dead, will be present at the event and discussing the topic of prayer in Hollywood. Their faith-based production company Believe Entertainment aims to produce films which “honor God and strengthen family values.”

Also present at the event will be special guest Niamani Knight, a local teen who founded the nonprofit organization “S.T.R.E.A.M” while she was in high school. She will be discussing her faith as it relates to her success in reaching thousands of young people through her nonprofit.

Registration begins at 6:30 a.m., with the event beginning promptly at 7 a.m. Breakfast is included with ticket purchase. For more information about the event, or to purchase tickets, visit www.scvmpb.net.

The Diako group is a 501c3 nonprofit working to help young people take their place as community leaders, movers and shakers.

Emergency Locating System Markers Added to City Trails

| News | April 18, 2019

Trail users in Santa Clarita will now be easier to find during emergencies – even in the city’s vast open space hiking areas – thanks to a new Emergency Locating System recently launched by the City of Santa Clarita. As part of the system, a total of 658 markers have been posted every 1/8 mile on all city trails, including bike paths and hiking trails.

The trail markers provide a quick and easy way to convey a location during an emergency situation. Each marker displays a specific number which designates its location. These numbers correspond to a GIS map that first responders can use to locate the emergency. When a hiker or cyclist provides an emergency operator with the designated number, the operator will be able to pinpoint the location and know where to dispatch emergency personnel.

This new Emergency Locating System will cut down response times during emergency situations. After over a year and a half of planning and design, the system is now in place and ready to be used by residents and visitors who are out enjoying the city’s trails.

For more information on the Emergency Locating System, visit santa-clarita.com/emergencylocator or email gis@santa-clarita.com.

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