13-Year-Old Escapes Death – To Meet Men Who Saved Her Life Nearly 36 Years Later

| News | August 9, 2018

On December 12, 1982 at approximately 1:30 p.m., tragedy struck. The day before her 13th birthday, a speeding car hit Christine Hermann as she and other neighborhood children were playing.

The fire department was called, and the crew on the A-shift that day responded to find her lying in the middle of the street, unresponsive due to a head injury. They were just doing their jobs, but Christine is here today because of them.

After nearly 36 years and hours of tireless searching, Christine located the heroes who answered that call and saved her life that day.

At 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 15, at Fire Station 107 at 18239 W. SoledadCanyon Road in Canyon Country, Christine will meet these five men for the first time. Because of the help and tireless dedication of Maria Grycan LACOFD Division III Community Services Liaison, Christine will be able to thank these men in person, something she has wanted to do since she began writing her memoir, “Because It Didn’t Kill Me,” in which she tells the story of this near-fatal accident that forever changed her life.

“As I went through the process of writing my story, I reflected on all the people who had anything to do with the events of that day, as well as with my recovery and realized that the only people who had not been acknowledged were the men who came to my rescue that day,” Hermann said. “Although the book has been published, the story was incomplete. Meeting these men and being able to thank them in person wraps up this story and allows me to finally turn the last page on that chapter of my life.”

For any further information, please contact Maria Grycan, Media Relations liaison with LACOFD at 661-250-2710, Maria.Grycan@lacounty.gov

Santa Clarita’s Facebook Community – Love thy neighbor, share thy dog video

| News | August 9, 2018

Want to be kept updated on the local fire? There’s a Facebook page for that.

Need to know what your friends think about a particular issue? There’s a Facebook page for that.

Feel you have to sound off on what some school board, city council or water board member said? The same Facebook page is available.
While there are numerous community pages residents can join to be informed about what’s happening around Santa Clarita (and what people are saying about it), only one has more than 20,000 members: Santa Clarita Community.

“When something comes up, and people want to discuss it, there’s a forum for it,” said Mike Devlin, one of the group administrators.

Here is where people share video and photos, ask for recommendations, create polls, link articles and sound off when somebody angers them with their comments.

It’s where reporters troll for story ideas, people connect with strangers, and candidates announce their fundraisers.

“The goal is to be there,” Devlin said.

And they have been since May 2013. There was an earlier group, SCV Letters to the Editor, in which the administrator kicked off several people, including Lee Rogers, who suggested a new group, Santa Clarita Community.

“We wanted a better version of what we got kicked off of,” Devlin said.

At the time, Facebook group pages were relatively new, and Devlin said nobody realized how big it would become. An early clue was the number of comments they got when the Saugus Union School District censured then-board-member Stephen Winkler for posting online comments people found inappropriate, then removed him because he violated residency requirements.

Another hot-button issue was Measure S, the digital billboard issue. So was the 2014 city council race and the House race between Steve Knight and Tony Strickland (Devlin said that once upon a time, Knight actually posted in the group. “It was a different time,” he said).

Like any group, the administrators have rules. The original ones included no in-search-of or recommendation posts, no spam or fake names, no personal attacks; and topics must be local Monday through Thursday but anything goes on the weekends. Also, members had to have some tie to the area.

Some of those rules still exist, but Devlin said it can be tough to enforce. ISO and recommendations were easily found (a violation of rule 4, although the rule says that if it’s unique, it might be allowed), and members personally insult and shame each other (rules 2 and 5). Devlin said this is the price that’s paid for having so many members. Of the one third of posts not allowed, most violate the ISO or personal-attack rules.

“The destruction of the other person is your main objective if you’re online. That catches us off guard. We’d rather people find a way to get along,” Devlin said. “It comes and goes with the issue. … You have to commit to being in the fray and taking on all comers, or not at all.”

The most important thing, Devlin said, is to have polite discussions. In fact, to him, the conversation is more important than the outcome.

“We have a really good thing going,” he said. “We’re not trying to drive it in a particular way.”

Railroad Fire in Newhall Displaces More Than 50 Residents

| News | August 2, 2018

The Railroad Fire, which broke out Monday in Newhall, plowed through heavy brush and swept into several apartment buildings, leaving 24 units uninhabitable and more than 50 residents who lived in them without a roof over their heads. About 30 residents visited the evacuation shelter that was set up by the Red Cross at Golden Valley High School on Monday night, to learn what services were available to them. Of those 30, five spent the night at the shelter.

“Our hearts go out to these residents whose homes and belongings fell victim to this fast moving fire,” said Mayor Laurene Weste of Santa Clarita. “We are working with the Red Cross, the County of Los Angeles and our local Santa Clarita Disaster Coalition to assist these neighbors with all the services and resources available to get them back on their feet.”

Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger is reaching out to residents and offering supportive services to displaced residents. “This is a difficult time for many individuals and families and I am committed to collaborating with the City and helping in any way I can.”

There are currently four buildings that are yellow tagged. Each building houses six units, for a total of 24 units that are uninhabitable. Of the 24 units, 18 are without utility service and residence cannot return home until the utilities are restored. Many of these units also have water damage. The additional six units were damaged by the fire, and it will take some time to get them repaired.

The Terrace Apartments, some of which were burned in the fire, require that all of their tenants have rental insurance. In addition, the owner has been able to relocate residents from 11 of the damaged units into a different apartment building.

The Railroad Fire broke out just before 4:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon in the thick brush southeast of Valle Del Oro in Newhall. The blaze quickly spread uphill toward the Terrace Apartments and a condominium complex to the north on Trumpet Drive. Sheriff Deputies and California Highway Patrol Officers went door to door making sure everyone, and their pets, got out safely. Meanwhile firefighters worked to knock down the blaze and extinguish the flames that had crept into patios, and stop the embers that blew onto roofs and balconies.

“Our firefighters, deputies and CHP officers are the heroes here,” said Mayor Weste. “Initial reports indicated that more than 50 units were in danger from this fire. They risked their own lives doing their best to protect our neighbors’ homes.”

To find out more about resources available for those affected by this fire or how you can help, contact the Santa Clarita Disaster Coalition at coalition@hometownstation.com or call (661) 298-1220.

New Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Officially Breaks Ground

| News | August 2, 2018

Last Wednesday, July 25,  Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean, Councilmembers Bob Kellar, Bill Miranda and Cameron Smyth from the City of Santa Clarita; Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Fifth District, County of Los Angeles; Sheriff Jim McDonnell from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Captain Robert Lewis from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station hosted an official groundbreaking for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station. The event took place at the construction site located along Golden Valley Road, between Centre Pointe Parkway and Robert C. Lee Parkway.

The new 46,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, Sheriff Station will feature a detached 4,000-square-foot vehicle maintenance facility to repair vehicles on-site, a heliport, 9-1-1 dispatch center, a jail and enough space to house the entire Sheriff’s team.

“Our highest priority is your safety. We are building a state-of-the-art facility and providing our deputies with the tools necessary to keep Santa Clarita one of the safest cities in the Nation,” said Mayor Laurene Weste.

The City of Santa Clarita and the County of Los Angeles are working together to finance and construct the new and larger Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, to replace the existing 25,100 square-foot station located at 23740 Magic Mountain Parkway. The existing station opened in 1972, and at the time, the population of the Santa Clarita Valley was at 50,000.

“As of July of this year, the estimated station service area population is at 293,000 residents and rapidly growing to 300,000, which would be six times the population for what it was originally built for,” said Sheriff Jim McDonnell.

“As someone who’s worked for Los Angeles County for three decades, this is a day that I know we’ve all been waiting for,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “This station is going to be a wonderful way for us to show those who want to go into law enforcement why L.A. County Sheriffs are the best and premium to go into.”

Representatives from the Aero Bureau, Special Enforcement Team, K-9, Arson Explosives, Mounted Enforcement Unit, SCV Command Post and Search and Rescue were on hand to celebrate today’s milestone. In addition, representatives from the offices of Congressman Steve Knight, State Senator Scott Wilk, State Assemblyman Dante Acosta and State Assemblyman Tom Lackey presented certificates honoring the groundbreaking event. The event culminated with a golden shovel ceremony to unearth the first soil from the development site.

The new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station is expected to be completed by 2020 and is part of the city’s Santa Clarita 2020 Community Strategic Plan.  For more information, visit SantaClarita2020.com.

Early’s First Attempt to Keep Becerra off the Ballot Fails

| News | August 2, 2018

A judge rejected an attempt to have Attorney General Xavier Becerra removed from the November ballot because his state bar status was “inactive,” but the man who brought the case is appealing.

Eric Early

Eric Early, a candidate for attorney general who didn’t qualify for the November election, said he filed an emergency petition for a writ of mandate with the state Court of Appeal.

“This needs to be heard,” Early said.

And it needs to be heard by Aug. 13, he said, because that’s the date the secretary of state sends the names and statements to the printer.
At issue is whether Becerra, who was appointed AG by Gov. Jerry Brown to replace Kamala Harris in early 2017, is eligible to serve and run for AG because from January 1991-January 2007, Becerra was an inactive member of the state bar.

Government Code Sec. 12503 says, “No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.”

Becerra changed his status to “active” Jan. 1, 2017, court documents say, and Early contends in those same documents that Becerra would be active for one year, 10 months and five days on Nov. 6.

“When you’re inactive, you’re not allowed to practice, and if you practice, it’s a misdemeanor,” Early said.

In his 34-page brief to the Court of Appeal, Early lays out the reasons he believes the Superior Court erred in ruling Becerra is eligible.

First, he quotes a 1999 case that says if the law’s language can be interpreted more than one way, the court must consider, among other aspects, “the legislative objectives of the statute, its legislative history, public policy, and the overall statutory scheme of which the section is a part.” Early contends that Sec. 12503 clearly states that inactive membership doesn’t allow Becerra to be admitted to practice.

“The phrase ‘admitted to practice’ as used in the statute can mean only one thing – the actual ability to practice law,” Early’s petition says. He adds that the court erred in interpreting the law any other way.

Early then goes into the history of Sec. 12503, which started as Assembly Bill 147 in 1966. At that time, he argues, the state constitution contained an identical eligibility requirement for judges. “The language in Government Code Sec. 12503 is identical and appears to have been lifted directly from this provision,” Early brief says.

Early also quotes then-AG George Deukmejian, in 1980: “We believe the [five year bar membership requirement] is designed, at least in part, to establish a minimum qualification of actual experience and skill in law, demonstrated by uninterrupted membership in the State Bar.”

Early says the court disregarded the various cases he quoted because they involved involuntary suspensions (Becerra voluntarily changed to “inactive” status).

“However, this is a distinction without a difference,” Early’s petition says. “Whether the suspension from the ability to practice law is involuntary or voluntary, the effect is the same – the attorney is prohibited from the practice of law.”

Next, Early cites Sec. 6006 of the Business and Professions Code, which he says the Legislature added in 1989 to ensure an inactive lawyer could not become a judge. “However, the Legislature did not extend this statutory modification to the eligibility requirements for Attorney General in Government Code Sec. 1250,” the petition says. “(T)he Legislature’s decision not to extend such an ‘inactive lawyer’ exception to eligibility for Attorney General directly reflects the Legislature’s intent that ‘inactive’ membership in the State Bar does not count toward the five-year admission to practice requirement of Government Code Sec. 12503.”

Finally, the petition states out-of-state cases that support Early’s position, from 2007 in Maryland and from 2010 in Connecticut. Each time, an inactive attorney was ineligible to run for AG because he hadn’t been active for the statutory minimum time.

“We want to make sure a person who runs for attorney general has minimum competence as a lawyer,” Early told the Gazette.

This is the second time Sec. 12503 has been cited in a failed attempt to invalidate an AG. After Brown was elected AG in 2006, Contra Costa County Republican Central Committee chairman and state GOP vice-chair candidate Tom Del Beccaro brought the exact same suit. Brown’s status was “inactive” from Jan. 1, 1997, through May 1, 2003, according to bar records.

Brown won; Del Beccaro planned to appeal, but didn’t because of costs.

Early said emergency writs with the Court of Appeal are rarely granted. “This is one circumstance where the writ should be granted,” he said.

Katie Hill and Steve Knight Weigh-In on Summit

| News | July 26, 2018

President Trump’s performance at last week’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin caused widespread condemnation from all sides. Arizona Sen. John McCain called it “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.” Former CIA director John Brennan called it “treasonous.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sided with the intelligence community. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said Trump must recognize that “Russia is not our ally.” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump’s inability to contradict Putin was “another sign of weakness.”

CNN commentator Anderson Cooper found it “disgraceful,” and Fox Business Network host Neil Cavuto called it “disgusting.” And so on.

Keeping in mind that any action Congress might take against a president starts in the House of Representatives, and since neither incumbent Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) nor challenger Katie Hill have made public comments about the summit, the Gazette posed the same questions to each. Both responded Tuesday morning by telephone.
1. What is your overall impression of Trump’s performance at the summit? Does it match what someone else already said, be that McConnell, Ryan, Schumer, McCain or any Fox or CNN commentator?

Knight said he didn’t like that Trump sided with Putin at the expense of the U.S.’s own intelligence and military. He also repeated his belief that the Russians meddled in the 2016 election, that “Putin is not our friend, Russia is not our friend,” and that the president needs to talk to Russia from a position of strength, something Trump did not do.

Hill called Trump’s performance “one of the most embarrassing moments in modern American history. We shouldn’t be kowtowing to a dictator. It’s embarrassing and scary at the same time.”

2. Do you believe Trump meant to say “would” or “wouldn’t”?

“We all know he meant what he said,” Hill said, and that Trump only walked it back after the backlash from both parties was so immense.

“To be clear, changing one word doesn’t take away what he said about Putin and our own intelligence agencies,” she said. “You don’t get to say, ‘Oops.’ It’s irresponsible, a pretty terrible way to lead, and it’s not credible.”

Knight said he hoped that Trump misspoke and meant to say, “wouldn’t,” but he declined to directly answer.

3. Do you believe the president’s comments and actions rise to the level of treason or high crimes and misdemeanors? Why or why not?

Knight said, “no” and said he thought people mentioning treason hated Trump before Helsinki. But he also found Trump’s comments “weak” and wondered why the president tweeted so forcefully (in all capital letters) at Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, which he also didn’t like, but couldn’t be as strong to Putin when they were in the same room.

Hill examined the definition of treason. According to Article III, Sec. 3 of the Constitution, a person commits treason if he makes war against the U.S., “adheres to the enemies” of the state or gives them aid and comfort. Hill added an element of intent and committing an overt act to her definition. Conviction requires two witnesses in open court, and the penalty ranges from five years in prison to life without parole and a minimum $10,000 fine to death.

Hill said Trump’s comments are an overt act that gives adherence to the enemy. “Those we can see,” she said. “We’ve seen him give aid and comfort to the enemy. He’s choosing Putin over our own security agencies and intelligence.”

However, Hill is not yet convinced of Trump’s intent and isn’t ready to declare Trump has committed treason.
4. Do you believe Congress should take action against the president? Censure? Impeachment? Why or why not?

Hill said that before Congress takes any action, the Mueller investigation must be allowed to continue “without interference.” The findings would determine what action Congress should take, she said.

She also doesn’t like Trump’s efforts to undermine it. “How are we going to investigate a president if it’s always being blown off as a witch hunt?” she said.

Knight said he does not believe Trump committed any crime and therefore is not deserving of censure or impeachment. But he insisted that because of social media, representatives and senators are taking actions all the time, whether that’s criticizing or complimenting the president (Knight specified that he liked that Trump requested NATO countries contribute two percent of their gross domestic product to defending NATO).

5. Trump wants to meet with Putin again, this time in Washington. Do you think that’s a good idea? Why or why not?

Knight said he has no problem having any president meet with any other world leader, but it must be done from a position of strength. “Putin is a KGB operative and very crafty,” he said. “It’s got to be done right. Talk about the issues and tell people your stance: ‘We absolutely believe you interfered in our election.’ ”

He believes that the backlash from Helsinki will cause Trump to deal with Putin differently the next time. “It’s a time to be firm, or don’t meet with him,” Knight said.

Hill said the meeting in Helsinki went so badly that she doesn’t see how another meeting would be a good idea. She doesn’t like the symbolism of “inviting a dictator … into the White House. What does that tell you? (Trump’s) willing to ignore blatant attacks on our democracy. … Trump’s actions have put us in a position of weakness across the globe. Our leader doesn’t have trust in our military and our intelligence. What does that say? We’re incapable of having a unified message of protection with a leader who’s all over the place.”

Farnell Named Gazette Editor

| News | July 19, 2018

There has been a staffing change within the Santa Clarita Gazette, as Martha Michael has stepped down from the position of editor. While Michael remains the editor of Canyon Country Magazine and Pet Me! Magazine, the new editor of the Gazette is Sarah Farnell.

An effervescent, 21-year-old Saugus Centurion alumnus, she has been a College of the Canyons (COC) Cougar since she graduated from high school. Farnell started at the Santa Clarita Gazette as an intern during the summer between graduation and college, as she had worked with her high school’s newspaper, The Saugus Scroll. By the end of summer, she accepted an offer to work at the Gazette. She started to take up many different positions, and soon was not only in demand at the Santa Clarita Gazette, but also with The Signal as a graphic designer.

As the years went by, she continued to thrive at both the Gazette and COC. While attending college, Farnell changed her major from Wine Studies to Political Science, eventually deciding on Theater. “When you register at COC, you have to choose a major. At 18, I thought checking off Wine Studies as my major was hilarious.”

She was originally slated to graduate in two years, but, due to the fact she changed majors multiple times, her academic journey experienced a slight delay. Farnell does not mind though, joking, “I will be at COC until I am a literal cougar.”

Farnell also enjoys comedy improvisation. She chartered COC’s first official Comedy Improv Team, for which she has been president for two years. Farnell also attends Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), a sketch comedy and improvisational school in Hollywood.

In May, she was elected to the prestigious position of Student Trustee at COC by her peers. According to the College of the Canyons website under the Associated Student Government Officers’ page, the “Student Trustee shall represent the Association at all Santa Clarita Community College District Board meetings. He/she shall also be responsible for advocacy and legislative issues at the state level. He/she shall also be responsible for representing the Association at the Academic Senate.” Sarah will have this position for a full year.

In June, just a month after being elected Student Trustee, she accepted the position as editor of the Santa Clarita Gazette. “I’m extremely grateful to have this opportunity. If you told me three years ago that I would be the editor of a Santa Clarita publication, I would have choked on my lunch,” Farnell said. “So far, this job has been more fun and interesting than I could have imagined, and I am excited for the future.”

Tied Up in Lancaster

| News | July 19, 2018

Cameron Smyth said he had heard about Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris’ desire to ban neckties on the radio last week, and then saw it online on the Drudge Report, so he didn’t need to see the story in the front page of Monday’s Los Angeles Times.

“If Rex is doing this, maybe we should do Tank-top Tuesday and see how that goes,” the Santa Clarita councilmember said, tongue firmly in cheek. “Maybe Flip-flop Friday. I think that would go over very well.”

Although Smyth wasn’t taking Parris seriously – in fact, none of the four councilmembers reached did – Parris insisted he wasn’t joking when he suggested his city should consider banning employers from requiring their workers to wear neckties. He made the suggestion at last week’s city council meeting, Fox News reported.

Parris pointed to a July 7 article on the Big Think blog that referenced a study that found blood circulation to the brain can be reduced by 7.5 percent, which the study called “statistically significant.” The study appeared in the journal Neuroradiology and involved 30 participants at the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Half had their blood flow observed while wearing a Windsor-knotted tie tied to the point of slight discomfort; half went tie-free.

“I don’t think that’s a small number,” Parris said of the 7.5 percent. “I’m certainly not going to laugh at it.”

Parris also was aware of a 2007 study that suggested a link between blood flow to the brain and creativity, he said.

Parris said he was unaware if Lancaster has any dress code. Smyth said that back in the late 1990s, Lancaster Mayor Frank Roberts instituted what Smyth called a “desert dress code” of short-sleeve Hawaiian-print or pullover shirts for city employees. Parris said that was done during the summer months only.

According to Human Resources Clerk Diane Long, the Santa Clarita’s dress code ranges from business casual (long pants, collared shirt, turtleneck, loafer/dress shoes for men; dress, skirt, blouse, sweater, turtleneck, loafer/flats/pumps/dress shoes for women) to professional attire for council and commission meetings (suit/sport coat and tie for men; pant or skirt suit for women). T-shirts, various tank tops and spaghetti straps, cargo pants, jeans or denim pants, stretch pants, sneakers, flip-flops, and sandals are among the disallowed items.

Parris said the feedback he has received has been “98-percent positive. The only people opposed to it are men’s clothing stores.”

Santa Clarita councilmembers are in the two percent. Smyth laughed at it and called it “silly, and there’s no need for a government involvement. I work for a large corporation and we have our own dress code policies, and it’s predicated and set by the corporate leaders, not our local government.”

Bill Miranda also laughed before adding, “I hope they enjoy their necktie party, but we have more important things to do.”
Other councilmembers found little to no humor.

“I don’t know that a necktie is a requirement for good work production,” Mayor Laurene Weste said. “Do you wear one? I don’t wear one, either.”

“Are you serious?” Bob Kellar said. “I probably won’t waste my time. He can knock himself out. This is absolutely ridiculous. No further comment need be said.”

Parris said he understood the pushback from Santa Clarita, considering he was one of the lawyers that represented two residents who successfully sued the city over California Voter Rights Act violations in 2014.

“They tend to say demeaning things,” he said. “When it comes to city (councilmembers), some are proactive, and some ride in parades, and I find people that are proactive tend not to ride in parades.”

But he remains undaunted in his desire.

“If it takes the city of Lancaster to lead the charge, I’ll lead it,” he said.

What Went Up Must Come Down

| News | July 19, 2018

For months, whenever Alan Ferdman saw Community Development Director Tom Cole, he would ask about what was being done with the solar panels on the hillside of the Canyon View Estates mobile-home park. The first 11 times or so, Cole didn’t give him an answer he liked.

But last week, Cole told Ferdman something was up, and on Monday, the city finally hit the owners with a notice of violation and ordered the panels to come down.

According to a city press release, “The owners installed multiple solar panels on the hillsides, within and outside of the mobile home park, without obtaining required permits and without complying with conditions of approval associated with the conditional use permit for the park. … While the City supports efforts to move to renewable energy, the City takes seriously its responsibility to enforce conditions of approval designed to protect the quality of life in Santa Clarita, balancing the need for development with the preservation of open space.”

“It pays to be persistent, and it pays to be patient,” Ferdman said. “Just got to keep at it – and have enough people complain.”

Ferdman was by far not the only person to complain about the panels, which were erected in such a non-symmetrical way as to be an eyesore.

Councilmember Cameron Smyth, who was mayor last year when the panels went up, said a dozen people complained to him. City Community Preservation Manager Daniel Rivas said he received multiple complaints from residents inside and outside the complex, including single-family homeowners along Whites Canyon Road.

Clearly, the city had to do something. Just complaining about how the city had no jurisdiction and blaming Sacramento, as many claimed Councilmember Bob Kellar often did, wasn’t going to cut it with the residents.

“There was unanimity amongst the council that something needed to be done,” Smyth said.

But because Canyon View Estates is a classified as a manufactured home-planned unit development, the owners only needed approval from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development. Managing Director Kerry Seidenglanz, who didn’t return a call for comment, previously acknowledged that he didn’t go through the city because he didn’t have to. He also said he received the necessary state permits after “50 inspections.”

Rivas said it took months of research and communication with the HCD and the county before they found something. Before Santa Clarita incorporated, the county issued conditional-use permits, and the city was required to honor them upon incorporation, Rivas said.

What officials finally found was a requirement that such a county permit required 50 percent of the property to be maintained as “open space.” The panels violate that, so the owners need additional permits from the city.

Rivas said officials reviewed the matter with the city attorney before issuing the violation. Communications Specialist Kevin Strauss said the city sent the owners notices by regular and certified mail last week, and waited for confirmation of receipt before announcing.

“I don’t have the name of who mailed it or who signed for it,” Strauss said.

Kellar applauded the move.

“I’m delighted to see any possible solution to this problem,” he said. “To (muddle) the view with such a mess is unacceptable. … I was delighted to find any possible vehicle.”

Rivas said the owners have until Aug. 11 to meet with city officials and either detail how the panels will go away or seek the additional permits.

As for a possible lawsuit, Rivas said he didn’t know what to expect and can’t speak to that. Kellar said he isn’t going to read into anything.

“The proper thing is to have the panels removed and restore the area to what it was,” he said.

Owners of Canyon View Mobile Home Estates Issued Notice of Violation

| News | July 16, 2018

City directs property owners to remove solar panels

Today a Notice of Violation was sent from the City’s Community Preservation Division, to the owners of the Canyon View Mobile Home Estates property. The owners installed multiple solar panels on the hillsides, within and outside of the mobile home park, without obtaining required permits and without complying with conditions of approval associated with the conditional use permit for the park. Those conditions of approval require that 50% of the property be maintained as open space. The Notice of Violation directs the property owner to remove the solar panels.

All mobile home parks are generally under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). City staff has been working with HCD and the County of Los Angeles to obtain and review file materials concerning the solar project as well as the conditional use permit, which was originally issued by the County. The review indicates that Canyon View Estates should have sought additional entitlements from the City, and is in violation of the conditional use permit conditions of approval.

While the City supports efforts to move to renewable energy, the City takes seriously its responsibility to enforce conditions of approval designed to protect the quality of life in Santa Clarita, balancing the need for development with the preservation of open space.

Staying Afloat with the USS Iowa

| News | July 12, 2018

Jeff Armendariz finds practicing law stressful. That’s why he loves his weekends, when he can leave the pressures of defending people accused of drunken driving or domestic violence and drive the 58 miles south to the Battleship Iowa Museum in San Pedro.

“Not only is it a great escape from being an attorney, it’s a subject I love and get to learn more about,” he said.

Two to three times a month, Armendariz finds himself on the Iowa, where he gets to indulge his passion for military history, which stems from his sixth-grade teacher bringing the Civil War to life. He has collected numerous artifacts, including rifles, pistols, swords, cartridge boxes, carbines and an 1811 printing of George Washington’s Farewell Address.
The USS Iowa has a colorful past that includes carrying President Franklin Roosevelt across the Atlantic to meet with Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin, and bombing the Marshall Islands and Japan during World War II; bombing North Korea during the Korean War, and escorted oil tankers during the Iran-Iraq War. Also, a mysterious explosion inside the second turret killed 47 crewmen in 1989.

Armendariz gets to tell visitors these stories and more, but he especially enjoys what he learns from the guests, some of whom served on the Iowa and worked in the hot and sticky confines of the engine room or kitchen. They tell tales of sleeping under the stars on the deck because it was so hot below deck, and they remember how rough the Pacific Ocean waves could be.

“They can tell you more than what you learn from a book,” Armendariz said.

Yet the most interesting person he ever met since starting as a volunteer tour guide July 7, 2014, was a WWII army paratrooper from the 82nd Airborne who jumped onto the beach at Normandy on June 6, 1944. This veteran also participated in the Battle of the Bulge and the unsuccessful Operation Market Garden.

As he walked around the Iowa – and Armendariz marveled that this 80-something man walked up and down ladders like he was 18 – he walked onto the bridge and remarked, “If I’d known the Navy was this cush, I’d have joined the Navy.”

Armendariz’s law career has been anything by “cush.” After passing the bar in 1994, he worked in the Ventura County district attorney’s office handling assault and battery, driving under the influence, drug possession, weapons charges, petty theft, grand theft and hit-and-run cases.
Starting out on his own in 1998, he went with what he knew and started defending people who he says are “legitimately responsible” for the crime of which they are accused “and must pay a price.”

Much of his job is damage control and managing expectations while showing he cares, he said. For example, a domestic violence case might find him defending someone whose spouse demands “a pound of flesh,” but other times the victimized spouse might not realize that a call to law enforcement brings about an arrest, emotional tolls and the need to report what happened.

He often encounters a wife that tells him, “I don’t want my husband to go to jail even though he hit me. Help me, Jeff.”

Armendariz might be able to have his client plead down to something like disturbing the peace. Some clients appreciate what he does; others wonder if that was the best he could do. Not every client’s sense of what’s fair matches reality, he said.

His other cases – DUI, drugs, hit and run, grand theft, child pornography and sex crimes – often are similarly stressful. He often finds himself with clients who committed the acts they are accused of, and it’s his job to explain why going to trial might not be the best option (a majority of his clients never face trial, he said).

“But if a person didn’t do it, and they’re factually innocent, I’ve got to convince a jury, or prosecutors, so they can see it the same way. That can be stressful,” he said.

Is it any wonder he likes to indulge his passion on weekends?

“It’s a nice place to get away for five hours,” he said of the Iowa.

Court Rules in Favor of Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

| News | July 5, 2018

No Longer Required to Disclose State-Sponsored Services

As president and CEO of a crisis pregnancy center, Angela Bennett was unhappy that the state required her clinic, the SCV Pregnancy Center, to post information about what was available at state-sponsored clinics.

Specifically, that meant information about abortion, a service Bennett’s center does not offer – although she acknowledges it’s an option many consider, and her center’s website has a page devoted to it (generally, crisis pregnancy centers are nonprofits that counsel women against abortion).

Bennett was quite happy that the Supreme Court last week struck down that California law. The justices decided that in the matter of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA, of which the SCV Pregnancy Center is a member) v. Becerra, the state violated the free-speech clause of the First Amendment.

“No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their convictions, especially on deeply divisive subjects such as abortion,” Bennett said in an email. “The Supreme Court rightfully said that the state of California could not use its power to force pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry.”

On the other side, a despondent Philip Germain, chair of CA 25 United for Progress, lamented, “It’s pretty sad we have a government that wants to regulate a woman’s body more than banks or firearms.”
The SCV Pregnancy Center is a licensed medical clinic staffed by licensed doctors and nurses, Bennett says, and narrowly focuses on diagnosing pregnancy, then providing alternatives. That includes tests and ultrasound imaging. It also offers other services, such as STD testing and some counseling.

Once pregnancy is confirmed, a woman is educated about her options. Bennett said on “The Real Side with Joe Messina” that the goal is to ensure the woman has the information she needs to confidently decide.

In 2015, while the state considered Assembly Bill 775, the Reproductive FACT (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care and Transparency) Act, Bennett went to Sacramento to express concern.

“Women are really smart. They know what their legal rights are, and they know what’s available to them. You don’t have to put posters and signs in medical clinics or in doctors’ offices to tell them that they have a legal right to have an abortion or where they can get it,” Bennett said on “The Real Side.” “The major issue was the mandated speech, the violation of our freedom of speech.”

The Supreme Court agreed, Justice Clarence Thomas writing for the 5-4 majority that the law “imposes a government-scripted, speaker-based disclosure requirement that is wholly disconnected from the State’s informational interest.”

On Messina’s radio show, Bennett likened the law to going to a Ford dealership and being told there is a Chevrolet dealer nearby.

“To mandate speech is just as egregious an assault against the freedom of speech as silencing groups of people,” Bennett said. “The government should not mandate speech, and least of all require organizations to speak against their conscience.”

Local reaction went along pro-choice/pro-life lines.

Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) said in a statement, “The First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees us the right to free speech. This also includes protecting citizens, in this case pregnancy centers, from being forced to convey messages they object to or do not believe in.”

His opponent, Katie Hill, had a different view, saying this gives such centers the chance to not provide “fully accurate information to women about their options and programs related to pregnancy and family planning. This decision allows an organization with an agenda to provide incomplete information to women in crisis who are, in many cases, completely unaware of the bias of the supposed health care practitioner.”

Bennett said in an email that she has no plans to take down the abortion page from her center’s website.

“We provide factual information about all of a woman’s options to anyone who walks through our doors,” she said. “There is no reason for us to remove information from our website that tells women that we will provide accurate information in a non-judgmental environment.”

For his part, Messina told the Gazette that the SCV Pregnancy Center offers post-abortion counseling, something Planned Parenthood does not do (in fact, some PP clinics do).

“If you’re looking for abortion, go to an abortion clinic or Planned Parenthood. They offer abortions at a discount,” Messina said. “If you want counseling, go to a crisis pregnancy center.”

Local attorney David Barlavi claimed there is a difference between “religious free speech,” and “medical free speech,” which he says doesn’t exist in the law.

“Doctors can’t tell you (that) you have cancer knowing you don’t have cancer,” Barlavi said.

To which Kevin Theriot, senior counsel of the Christian, conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented NIFLA, said in an email, “The Supreme Court disagrees.”

Some pro-choice advocates see this decision as a step toward overturning Roe v. Wade and a return to, as Barlavi put it, “back-alley abortion.”

Others are less concerned.

“As a world leader, I don’t see us going backwards on women’s rights,” Stacy Fortner, executive board member of the San Fernando Valley chapter of the Democratic Part, said while in Washington D.C. “If it were overturned, there would be an amendment to the Constitution that gives the rights back. I don’t see it as an end. I see it as an attempt.”

Steve Knight Introduces a Solution to Family Separation

| News | June 21, 2018

Steve Knight does not make it a habit of injecting himself into a national debate. But the subject of separating children from their parents who illegally crossed the border has caused him to weigh in.

Knight on Thursday introduced House Resolution 6173, which he called End Family Separation at the Border. Unlike other pieces of immigration-related legislation that he cast votes about this week, his bill is short.

In four pages, the Knight bill says alien children are to remain with their parents, even if the parents are detained and if the only charge is illegally crossing the border. Other charges such as terrorism or child abuse would warrant separation, Knight spokesperson Chris Jusuf said.

Additionally, the bill says children who are detained with adults who aren’t their parents or legal guardians must be released only to their parents or legal guardians, and the bill authorizes $50 million to build facilities to house families together.

“I think we can do better,” Knight said. “We can do better with families. Just pass my bill.”

Knight refused to let any other lawmaker add anything to his bill – and some asked – repeating his belief that Congress would get more done if each bill dealt with just one subject.

“If we put DACA up there, let’s have a vote. If we put border security up there, let’s have a vote,” he said. “People might think we’re OK instead of giving us a 13-percent (approval rating).”

Messina: LGBTQ Community ‘Lost Nothing Since I’ve Been on Board’

| News | June 21, 2018

Joe Messina, currently serving and running for re-election on the William S. Hart Union High School District board, sought to respond to opponent Kelly Trunkey’s claim, first reported in the Gazette two weeks ago, that Messina is not a friend of the LGBTQ community.

Messina discounted that as untrue, and referred to a Dec. 11, 2013 meeting in which Andrew Taban, then a Canyon High student, expressed concern that the district wasn’t doing enough to implement the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act. Informally known as the LGBT History Bill, the state law requires textbooks to include various contributions by people with disabilities and LGBTQ people.

“When Andrew Taban came forward and expressed concern we weren’t implementing the FAIR Act, I was president at the time, and I directed staff to make sure we were working within the law, and if not, what do we need to do,” Messina said. “We found out the law hadn’t taken effect yet.”

The law became effective Jan. 1, 2012.

Reached to confirm Messina’s account, Taban instead said the only board member who showed support was Gloria Mercado-Fortine. Then he said, “I am not endorsing Joe Messina. My endorsement is going to Kelly Trunkey.”

Taban’s reasons were similar to Trunkey’s reasons for running: He does not believe Messina’s conservative views as a talk-show host have a place in school matters.

“I think it’s highly unprofessional to have his job,” Taban said. “It is intimidating as a student. How’s this person going to treat me without knowing me?”

Messina said he didn’t care who Taban endorses, and insisted that “the one place I can put my partisan politics aside is on the school board.”

“My politics never come up at the board level, and I never use my politics to bring people in,” he said. “Miss Trunkey was involved with her husband in Democratic politics. What’s the difference?”

Messina also asserted Taban was incorrect in saying Mercado-Fortine was the only supporter.

“I was the first to speak up at the meeting,” he said. Later, he produced a copy of the meeting minutes that clearly state he made the suggestion.

According to the minutes, Taban spoke during the time for public comment and “distributed a one-page information sheet about the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act law, and he asked how the law is being implemented in the Hart School District. Mr. Messina asked Mrs. Engbrecht (then deputy superintendent Vicki) to contact the student and inform the Board of the contact.”

That’s not what Mercado-Fortine remembers, however. She backed up Taban’s story and said it was she who suggested to Engbrecht that the matter be placed on a future agenda and that Engbrecht should meet with Taban, currently Vice President of Democratic Alliance for Action.

“My comments were, this is something we need to examine,” Mercado-Fortine said. “I supported that and moved it forward. I said something at the meeting: ‘Where are we with this? What are we using?’”

The minutes also say that student board member William Oh of Golden Valley High requested a report on the FAIR Act, and that Engbrecht would follow up with Taban by phone.

Deborah Dunn, Engbrecht’s executive assistant, left a message this week saying the superintendent is on vacation until Monday. An email to Engbrecht generated an automatic response saying she would be out of the office until Monday and has limited access to email.

In a phone call last week, Dunn said meetings aren’t video recorded. Messina said audio recordings are kept for three years.

Messina said he has never talked down to any LGBTQ student, and has met Taban several times for coffee and lunches since Taban graduated high school, something Taban confirms.

“I always encourage every student to work hard, try their best and not let anything get in their way,” Messina said. “All students deserve a safe environment, and all students deserve an equal opportunity to succeed. The LGBTQ community has lost nothing since I’ve been on the board.”

Conservative Group Strives for Voter Education

| News | June 21, 2018

Upset by what he saw as the silencing and misunderstanding of conservative voices, Matthew Funicello decided to do something about it.

“We’re being marginalized greatly. Conservative voices were not being heard,” he said by telephone this week. So, in January 2017, he founded the grassroots California Conservative Action Group “to rally against the lies and mistruths that are being told about us.”

He gave examples: Not all conservatives view immigration the same way, and not all conservatives are racist or anti-gay. In fact, he said, conservatives he knows care about immigration and the rule of law, and he doesn’t think the government should have the right to say who can marry whom.

“Yes, there are racists on the conservative side. I will concede that freely,” he said. “Nazis and the KKK tend to side with conservatives. Why? I don’t know. I’m not one of them. But, it’s the same with the new Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam. They tend to side with Democrats. Why? I don’t know. I’m not one of them.”

Funicello is president of the group, and David Goss is the vice president. They said a current goal is to educate people to think for themselves when reading about a political race or a ballot proposition. In fact, they want to us the hashtag “#doyourownresearch.”

“Know what you’re doing before you start talking,” Goss said. “Do your research.”

Examples they cited include the passing of the Affordable Care Act, Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and Proposition 47. Funicello referenced Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Jonathan Gruber’s comments that “lack of transparency” and the “stupidity of the American voter” helped Congress approve what is known as Obamacare. The Hill newspaper called Gruber an architect of the ACA.

As for Russian interference, Funicello acknowledged Russia, the U.S., China, Korea, Israel, England, Germany and Italy have meddled in various countries’ elections because it suited their goals. He also criticized people who took what they saw on Facebook at, well, face value.

“They (Russia) created a whole bunch of Facebook accounts and put in a whole lot of BS, and who passed it around? Everybody,” Funicello said.

“People need to see. Do not listen to hot takes and headlines,” Goss said. “Look into it.”

Proposition 47, which supporters called the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, received almost 60 percent of the vote in 2014. Funicello thinks too many people looked at the title and thought, “Who doesn’t like safe neighborhoods and schools? I’m voting for it” without realizing that the measure’s main effects were to convert many nonviolent offenses, such as drug and property offenses, from felonies to misdemeanors, leading to some people committing more crimes with few consequences.

“We want to educate the voter and take ignorance out of politics,” Funicello said.

One place they recommend that is in the White House. Yes, Donald Trump is president, and yes, they want him to succeed, just as they want every president to succeed. But they grow tired of people who criticize just because they’re liberal.

Goss said he has a liberal friend from Israel who was thrilled that Trump moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but his liberal leanings made it difficult for him to publicly laud Trump for that.

Similarly, Funicello thinks Trump erred in signing the $1.3 trillion spending bill in March, and believes Trump hasn’t done enough to protect gun owners. But, he dislikes that not enough people have joined him in crediting Trump for North Korea’s Kim Jong Un crossing the demilitarized zone, meeting with South Korea’s president and meeting with a sitting American president.

“If nothing else comes to this, he did something no person in a pro-Democracy government has been able to get done since 1953,” Funicello said.

While national politics is fun to talk about, the two want to focus on California issues, so, they’ll be watching the 25th congressional and the 38th Assembly race, but want to extend to other districts as well.

Photo: Matthew Funicello, David Goss

Hill Climbs to General Election

| News | June 14, 2018

Katie Hill vanquished her four Democratic opponents, but had to spend most of her money to do so. Steve Knight, meanwhile, was the sole Republican running, so he has much of his cash stockpiled for the Nov. 6 general election.

With Knight holding about a $1 million advantage, there’s one major thing for Hill to do now.

“We’re going to have to raise $3 million,” she said. “Three times as much in one third of the time. No small task.”

If this candidate wants to unseat the incumbent – one who received more than 50 percent of the primary vote – she can’t just limit herself to small donations from individuals.

Hill knows this, so her plan is “getting ready to run one of the largest congressional campaigns in the country.”

That means accepting money from just about everywhere: individuals who donated to her campaign, individuals who supported Jess Phoenix, Bryan Caforio or Mary Pallant; the Democratic Party (“If they’re going to throw money at me, I’m not going to say no,” she said); corporations, organizations and companies that already endorsed her, and Democrats running for re-election in safe districts who can afford to donate some money her way.

She will attend the 25 United for Progress Unity Barbecue on June 30 at Richard H. Rioux Memorial Park in Stevenson Ranch.

Hill said Knight has accepted money from Republicans running in safe districts, claiming he has about $200,000 from those sources. She also alleged that Vice President Mike Pence and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) have been making pleas for donations on behalf of Knight (the next reporting period ends June 30).

“We have an uphill battle. We’re sitting in a ditch. We’ve got ground to make up. He’s starting with a cash advantage,” Hill said.

Of course, there’s more to a campaign than just money. Money is just a means to the end, and the end means votes. Hill and campaign manager Zack Czajkowski said they must reach out to Phoenix and Caforio supporters, continue to mobilize a vast army of volunteers and take as many one-on-one meetings as possible.

Debates also aren’t out of the question, although none have been set.

“We’ll do what the congressman wants,” Hill said, “but honestly, how many can you have?”

Caforio, who didn’t return calls for comment, put out a statement the day after the primary asking his followers to support Hill, something Czajkowski said he appreciated.

“That was all class on his part,” he said. “Huge respect for the statement he made.”

Czajkowski also said he has heard from some Caforio supporters who are willing to support Hill.

“Some folks said, ‘I supported Bryan, but Katie has a lot to offer, and we can beat Steve Knight, so let’s do it,’” he said.

Feds Announce $47 Million for Interstate 5 Improvements

| News | June 14, 2018

Grant funds will be used to enhance regional mobility and reduce congestion

In an attempt to relieve traffic congestion on Interstate 5 in the Santa Clarita Valley, a grant of $47 million was awarded to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). On Tuesday, June 5, United States Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced that she has approved the grant funds for freeway improvements.

The funds were awarded to Metro for a federal grant application submitted for the Interstate 5 Golden State Chokepoint Relief Program. The funds are being awarded from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program to address freight and goods movement issues along corridors of national significance.

“This project award recognizes the important role that Interstate 5 plays in local, regional and national goods movement,” said Mayor Laurene Weste. “These improvements will address freeway congestion, improve traffic safety, boost economic vitality and enhance air quality in Santa Clarita.”

The proposed project will extend High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes an additional 13.4 miles, with one new lane in each direction on Interstate 5 between Parker Road and the junction of Interstate 5 and State Route 14 (SR-14) in the Santa Clarita Valley. The project also calls for a 3.4 mile northbound truck lane between SR-14 and Calgrove Boulevard and a 4.7 mile southbound truck lane between Pico Canyon and SR-14. Further, the project includes 8,000 feet of soundwalls and modifications to impact on and off ramps.

Interstate 5 is the backbone of the west coast trade corridor, stretching nearly 800 miles between Canada and Mexico. Santa Clarita is ideally located for manufacturing and other businesses to set up shop, given access to Interstate 5 and close proximity to the major Southern California ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Port Hueneme.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority formed a regional collaboration with the County of Los Angeles and the State of California in submitting the grant application. The City of Santa Clarita, Golden State Gateway Coalition, Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation, Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and Five Point Communities are among the partnership organizations that actively supported the effort.

“The City Council and I especially want to thank Supervisor Kathryn Barger and Congressman Steve Knight, who were critical to the success of the grant award through their leadership and direct communication with Secretary Chao and others in the nation’s capital,” noted Mayor Weste.

The project is one of two INFRA grants awarded within the State of California. It is anticipated that the project will begin construction in 2019 with a completion date in 2022. The new Metro construction project will follow completion of the Caltrans pavement rehabilitation project currently underway, which is slated for completion in 2019.

Comments Off on Crosswalk Improvements Being Constructed Along Creekside Road in the Valencia Auto Center

Crosswalk Improvements Being Constructed Along Creekside Road in the Valencia Auto Center

| News | June 14, 2018

In order to improve pedestrian safety, the City of Santa Clarita began a project to enhance three existing crosswalks located along Creekside Road, between Valencia Boulevard and Auto Center Drive on Monday, June 11. The project is expected to raise crosswalks and add a landscaped safety island in the center median, where pedestrians can stop before they finish crossing a road.

In addition to improving aesthetics, these changes will decrease vehicle speeds, which will increase safety in an area that receives heavy foot traffic. In addition, the speed limit will be decreased from 35 mph, to a business district speed limit of 25 mph. Most of the construction will take place at night, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. This project is expected to be complete by early July.

During construction hours, traffic will often be reduced to a single lane, with flagging operations. During daytime hours, one lane will remain open in each direction of travel. Delays are expected. Motorists that are not accessing area businesses are advised to use Magic Mountain Parkway as an alternate route.

The Valencia Auto Center is one of Southern California’s largest auto centers, attracting shoppers from all over California. Over 300 pedestrians cross Creekside Road between Valencia Boulevard and Auto Center Drive each day. On May 22, the Santa Clarita City Council awarded the construction contract for the crosswalk improvement project and adopted the resolution to establish the 25 mph speed limit for the business district on Creekside Road. The project is being funded through a local assessment district which the auto dealerships contribute to.

For questions or concerns, contact Gus Pivetti from the City of Santa Clarita’s Public Works Department at (661) 286-4047 or at gpivetti@santa-clarita.com.

Xavier Becerra Could be Disqualified

| News | June 14, 2018

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra is ineligible to be elected and hold the office because he fails to meet the minimum requirements set by state law, and his name should not appear on the ballot, a lawsuit filed by AG candidate Eric Early says.

Early, who didn’t advance to the November general election, claims that because Becerra’s status with the state bar was “inactive” from 1991-2007, he is in violation of Government Code Sec. 12503. It says, “No person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office.”

The suit was filed May 29 in Sacramento, court documents show. Early’s attorney, Steve Cooley, said a hearing is scheduled for July 17. Early seeks to have Becerra ruled ineligible and have Secretary of State Alex Padilla remove Becerra’s name from the ballot.

Becerra’s office did not return a request for comment.

“We think we’ve got a great lawsuit here,” Early said. “There are some serious issues that need to be addressed.”

Actually, Sec. 12503 has been cited before. After Jerry Brown was elected AG in 2006, Contra Costa County Republican Central Committee chairman and state GOP vice-chair candidate Tom Del Beccaro brought the exact same suit. Brown’s status was “inactive” from Jan. 1, 1997, through May 1, 2003, according to bar records.

Brown won and called the suit “a political stunt by a Republican office seeker.”

An editorial in the Los Angeles-based and conservative Metropolitan News-Enterprise took Del Beccaro and others to task for bringing the suit.

The East Bay Times reported that Del Beccaro promised to appeal, but Del Beccaro told the Gazette that the appeal never happened because, “We couldn’t afford to pursue it.” Cooley said that this makes Early’s case a test to see if the courts will uphold the state constitution.
“We believe, as a matter of principle, that constitutional standards should be upheld, and we are testing the courts and we’re testing this principle, and we’re doing this pro bono,” Cooley said Monday while on vacation in Tuscany, Italy. “We all like the lawsuit. We think we’re right. But in a suit like this, with the vagaries of politics, we know it’s a roll of the dice.”

“We” also includes Lancaster attorney Rex Parris, who first got involved after receiving an anonymous correspondence at his firm. Included was the Brown case and Becerra’s inactive status.

“I liked it,” Parris said. “I called my friend Steve Cooley, and I called some Republican friends (and asked) ‘What do you think of this?’ Next thing I know, I’m talking to Eric.”

Del Beccaro said he applauds the second attempt and believes Early will have “a decent chance” if the judge follows what he called the “plain language” of the law.

Cooley, Parris and Early admit they are no fans of Becerra. In a March interview with the Gazette, Early attacked Becerra, a former U.S. representative appointed by Brown to replace Kamala Harris after her Senate election, as “a Nancy Pelosi clone who has been gifted the Attorney General’s office, and he’s been using it for his own personal, political platform.”

But Parris said politics should not be a factor, although he acknowledges that this case might be an example of “a distinction without a difference.”

“Just enforce the law,” he said. “There’s something fundamentally wrong when and if the Attorney General is violating the law to be the Attorney General. He should be meticulous in fulfilling the law. The (Govt. Code) words couldn’t be simpler.”

The Ups and Downs of Election Night

| News | June 7, 2018

They came to a private residence on Quigley Canyon Road to watch returns and celebrate Katie Hill’s advancing to the general election to face Steve Knight in the 25th congressional district.

But since returns came in so slowly, most people had left some six hours before 100 percent of the precincts had at least partially reported. This left people unable to truly exult in what Hill accomplished.

This was not the time to realize how much work still lay ahead. Hill had pretty much depleted her campaign coffers, while Knight still has about $1 million. Nor was much made how Knight was above 50 percent of the vote for the entire night, making it even more difficult for anyone to call him “vulnerable.”

Still, plenty happened.

8:50 p.m. Tuesday: Party host Jeri Boyd picks up people parked down the street at The Master’s University and drives them back to her home in a golf cart. She says she’s had several parties for Hill before and expects more than 100 people tonight.

8:52 p.m.: A reporter from “Vice News Tonight,” the HBO series that aired an episode about Hill last month, parks in Boyd’s driveway, blocking her access. The reporter moves her car, which then blocks a KCBS-TV news van.

8:54 p.m.: Hill is interviewed on KCBS before she enters the party. She’s wearing a white top and cowboy boots, befitting Boyd’s request for a Western theme. She’s asked about the approximately 118,000 people in the county who couldn’t vote because their names were left off the rolls.

“I didn’t know about that,” Hill said. “My staff has been trying to keep me calm.”

9:00 p.m.: Early returns from seven district precincts in Ventura County have Hill and Bryan Caforio deadlocked at 1,719 votes each.

9:03 p.m.: Hill enters the party without fanfare. But amid applause and cheers, somebody shouts, “You survived the fire,” referring to Hill’s Agua Dulce home being about a mile from the Stone fire.

9:09 p.m.: Mike Hill, the candidate’s father, grills hamburgers. He’s proud of her and how she ran a positive campaign. A Republican, he says he has influenced her on the need for fiscal responsibility, and she has changed his views on health care. He also isn’t sure everybody knows her real name is Katherine.

9:13 p.m.: According to the Secretary of State’s website, Caforio leads Hill 5,849-5,199. These numbers will not change for several hours.

9:26 p.m.: Hill’s husband, Kenny Heslep, says that Tuesday is their eighth wedding anniversary. “She’s always been extremely interested in politics,” he says. “She always talked about how she wanted to make a change.” He adds that he couldn’t run for office if he wanted to because, “I’m not a very good speaker and I don’t know policy like Katie does.”

9:35 p.m.: Julie Olsen, Saugus Union School District board member, sits in a wheelchair with both feet bandaged as a result of having broken bones in each foot for stepping off a curb. She says she helped the campaign by making phone calls and raising money. “She has a great knack of bringing together people with different points of view,” Olsen says. “I respect Congressman Knight, but I feel he has failed to represent all constituents.”

Reminded that it is impossible to do that, Olsen responds, “It’s not impossible to try.”

9:48 p.m.: Angela Giacchetti, 30, who lives in Glassell Park, in the 34th district, says she has been volunteering for Hill since January. She had quit her job and was looking for something to do when a contact suggested she check out Hill’s website. Giacchetti found she’s the same age as Hill and appreciated Hill’s candor on issues such as women’s rights and choice. “She reminds me of me,” she says.

10:11 p.m.: Rob Lafferty tends the bar. A guy pulls out some money to pay for his beer, and Lafferty says, “Keep it. Donate it to Katie. She’s going to need it.” Lafferty also calls Hill, “A breath of fresh air, and just what we frickin’ need.”

10:15 p.m.: Returns from the Los Angeles County sections of the district show Caforio leading 4,130-3,480.

10:19 p.m.: Staffer Hannah Nayowith and volunteer Stacy Fortner disagree over Nayowith’s employment status.

In introducing Nayowith, Fortner says, “She worked for Katie in Simi Valley.”

“I work. I’m working,” Nayowith said.

10:32 p.m.: Brett Haddock, city council candidate, sports a Bill Nye the Science Guy bow tie. “Early on, I was very impressed with Katie Hill,” he says. “It wasn’t until February that I decided to fully back her.”

He also wanted to remain neutral toward Caforio, “but he kept pushing me and pushing me to be against him. If he loses, he’s not staying (in the district). No way.”

10:44 p.m.: Hill gives a 25-minute speech in which she thanks family, friends, volunteers and staff. She asks the crowd questions, such as who broke bones from volunteering, who had been in car accidents from volunteering, who knocked on at least 1,000 doors, who worked at least 1,000 hours and who donated money. She also claims her campaign had the most individual donors, something Jess Phoenix’s campaign also claimed. “You guys are making this happen,” she said.

10:49 p.m.: During her speech, Hill asks where her campaign manager is, Zack Czajkowski. “He’s writing your acceptance speech!” someone shouts.

10:55 p.m.: Hill briefly stops her thank-yous to let Finance Director Graham Kelly speak. “Trust the process,” Kelly says. “My football coach said, ‘You’re down at the half? Go out and hit ‘em in the mouth in the third quarter.’ When we’re done, I think we’ll all be happy campers.”

10:58 p.m.: Czajkowski addresses the crowd: “Seeing the level of enthusiasm you’ve shown toward Katie is amazing. Let’s win this sh*t.”

11:01 p.m.: Kelly checks returns. Knight has 55 percent, Caforio 20 percent, Hill 18 percent.

11:13 p.m.: People start to leave.

11:18 p.m.: While waiting for more returns, Nathan Bousfield, president of the SCV Young Democrats who endorsed and later censured Caforio, plays the board game Catan with three others. Bousfield says his computer beeps every time the Secretary of State site updates. He checks and finds no new results. “Or maybe it’s a false alarm,” he concludes.

11:30 p.m.: Caforio leads 5,955-5,297. Knight, meanwhile, has 15,445.

11:35 p.m.: Hill says if she loses, “I’ll tell my supporters to vote for Bryan. I won’t be thrilled about it.”

11:49 p.m.: The gap is closing. Caforio leads 7,302-6,969. What’s left of the crowd whoops it up.

12:01 a.m. Wednesday: Hill supporter Ryan Asher, who’s been tracking results by county, announces that with 96 percent of Ventura County precincts in, Hill’s ahead by about 700 votes and trails Caforio by 330 in L.A. County, putting her ahead overall.

12:03 a.m.: Melainey Foerster, who got hit by a car Monday while canvassing, checks her phone and says Philip Germain, chair of 25UP (United for Progress), is saying Caforio will advance to face Knight. People express skepticism.

12:09 a.m.: Bousfield announces Hill is ahead 9,250-9,018.

12:11 a.m.: The Secretary of State website has Caforio ahead 7,668-7,234.

12:14 a.m.: Kelsey O’Hara, the volunteer to whom Hill made sexual comments in the “Vice News Tonight” segment, says the party cost nothing because everything was donated, saving the campaign thousands of dollars.

Regarding the HBO show, in which Hill says O’Hara is “texting all of her ex-hookups,” O’Hara said, “All I saw myself doing was working and hanging out. No one asked me my opinion, and I didn’t feel any of those things people say I felt.”

12:21 a.m.: Hill reads a text on a phone that says the Cook Political Report calls Ventura County for Hill.

12:24 a.m.: Hill leads 10,535-10,022.

12:39 a.m.: Hill on the lack of celebrities at the party: “This is a party for the people. This is my first Coors Light, but it’s on top of a tequila shot. Also, I’m functioning off two hours of sleep.”

12:58 a.m.: Czajkowski refuses to claim victory, citing superstition. Instead he says, “Katie has worked incredibly hard. She had the strongest message, deep, deep ties to the community, and the voters know she will represent this community.”

Czajkowski also says he has not received a concession call from the Caforio campaign. In fact, a concession statement didn’t come from the campaign until 9:57 a.m. Hill later said that Caforio called at 10:30 a.m. and left a message. She called back and didn’t reach him either.

1:05 a.m.: With about 64 percent of the precincts reporting, Hill leads Caforio 11,226-10,498. She also refuses to claim victory.

“We are on a great trajectory,” she says. “We’ve been looking at November from the get-go. People are ready for a change. They’re ready for more than politics as usual. Women are ready to rise up. People are ready to rise up and take on the challenges ahead.

Hill’s mother, Rachel Stevenson, says, “Perfect.”

“Thanks, Mom,” Hill replies.

Gazette Debuts New Job-Searching and Hiring Product Powered by ZipRecruiter

| News | June 7, 2018

New Partnership Brings the Combined Reach of Local Media and the Power of Fastest-Growing Online
Employment Marketplace to Job Seekers and Employers

Santa Clarita Gazette publisher Doug Sutton announced the launch of new job search features and hiring products powered by ZipRecruiter, the fastest-growing online employment marketplace.

Available at https://santaclaritagazette.jobboard.io/, these new features will help readers of Santa Clarita Gazette find highly relevant jobs, locally and nationwide, through an easy-to-navigate job search tool and one of the nation’s largest job alert email services, which gives them access to over eight million jobs from ZipRecruiter every month.
With the national unemployment rate at near record levels, and the competition for talented workers among businesses growing every day, it’s more important than ever for job seekers to be able to easily look for and evaluate relevant job opportunities as they plan their next career move.

In addition, employers purchasing print classified advertisements and online job postings from Santa Clarita Gazette will receive a ZipBoost, which puts jobs in front of ZipRecruiter’s highly engaged audience of millions of active job seekers via a distribution network of 100+ job boards.

“The established reliability of a national online job marketplace like ZipRecruiter combined with the local market penetration of community publications like Santa Clarita Gazette will benefit everyone. It will provide the best employment opportunities to both employers and employees, regardless of the company size or the market size,” said Loren Colburn, Executive Director of the Association of Free Community Papers (AFCP). Mr. Colburn worked with AFCP committee chairpersons Dan Alexander, President of The Sun Community News in Elizabethtown, N.Y. and Trevor Slette, Publisher of the Shopper in Windom, Minnesota, to launch this partnership.

“We’re excited to partner with Santa Clarita Gazette to bring our job search capabilities and innovative hiring product to their readers,” said Dennis Alshuler, Vice President of Strategy & Business Development at ZipRecruiter. “ZipRecruiter uses sophisticated matching technology to connect job seekers with the right job opportunities fast, making it easier for people to find great jobs, while streamlining the hiring process for employers.”

This is the latest partnership between ZipRecruiter and a member of the Association of Free Community Papers, which represents publishers of community papers from coast to coast, reaching millions of homes on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis.

About Santa Clarita Gazette

Based in Santa Clarita, Ca. the Gazette delivers valuable community news, sports, entertainment and advertising free of subscription charge to over 18,000 people in Santa Clarita California. The homegrown company was founded in 1998 and has a long history of community service and support.

About ZipRecruiter

ZipRecruiter is the fastest-growing online employment marketplace. Powered by industry-leading artificial intelligence matching technology, we connect job seekers with millions of businesses through innovative mobile, web, email services and partnerships with the best job boards on the web. Founded in 2010, Santa Monica-based ZipRecruiter has close to 1000 employees in two states and three countries.

Kelly Trunkey Challenges Joe Messina

| News | June 7, 2018

CORRECTION: In last week’s article titled, “Kelly Trunkey Challenges Joe Messina,” it was stated that Joe Messina is the current Hart District Governing Board President. Steve Sturgeon is the current board president. It was also stated that this year is the first year of district elections. The first year of district elections was in 2015. The Gazette regrets the errors.

Saying there is no place for a conservative radio-show host on a school board, Kelly Trunkey has announced she is running for the William S. Hart Union High School District board seat currently held by board president Joe Messina.

This is the first time the Hart district elections will be based on district voting. Past elections were at-large voting. Messina was first elected in 2009, when five people vied for three spots. He ran unopposed in 2013.

It is Messina’s role as host of “The Real Side with Joe Messina,” which Trunkey called “behavior I am not comfortable with,” that motivated her to run.

“He’s so involved in partisan politics that it takes away from his duties to our students, to our teachers,” she said. “I believe I do not agree with him being on the board when he has obviously, an agenda.”

Trunkey said Messina has come out against the LGBTQ community. In fact, Messina took some heat in 2014 over some comments he made in person and on his show. Two parents sought to unseat him, but failed. One claimed Messina mocked the process of former NBA player Jason Collins coming out. Messina said he questioned if people care if Collins is gay or if he can play.

Trunkey claims Messina’s views do not fit on a school board.

“We’re here to serve every child,” she said. “I don’t believe a radio show with personal, political views is right for this position,” she said. “If he wants to vocalize his views, we don’t need someone to talk down to the students he’s responsible for.”

Trunkey, married to Saugus board president Chris Trunkey, who’s also seeking re-election, said she wants “an inclusive district,” and for “everybody to have a voice. I want to provide parents with as many educational choices as possible.”

As an example, she cited a district program in which various schools offer specialized courses, mentioning the auto shop at Saugus High. But she says the district doesn’t do a good enough job of letting parents and students know that the students could transfer to said school.

“I didn’t know I could look at these schools and see if there’s something specific my child could go towards,” she said. “The Hart district has so much to offer. We need to ensure parents and children know Hart has so much to offer and where those programs are located.”

Other platforms Trunkey favors:

•She believes the district can do more to protect the safety and security of students, teachers and staff. She said she is concerned that a mentally unstable person could easily bring a weapon onto a campus, so the district needs to do more to find and treat those students before they commit violent acts.

She mentioned an article she saw in Time magazine in which a student at Santa Fe (Texas) High said she was unsurprised that a shooting took place there.

“We need to find a way to stop the bleeding,” she said. “It’s not just high school students who are afraid to go to school.”

•According to U.S. News and World Report Best High School rankings, Hart was the highest-ranked at 171 in the state (982 nationally). Next came West Ranch at 210 (1,154 nationally) followed by Saugus (247/1,339), Golden Valley (338/1,772), Valencia (344/1,793) and Canyon (411/2,125). The district’s average college readiness was rated 37 out of 100.

Trunkey said the district should be doing better.

“I don’t think our students are completely ready for college,” Trunkey said. “If we don’t have preparation, these students lose focus on what they’re going to do, possibly floundering, possibly not going after the education they should be getting.”

Will Youth Vote Impact Primary Election?

| News | May 31, 2018

The numbers don’t lie: Voter turnout for a primary election in a non-presidential year is among the lowest in any election cycle. That holds true for all groups, but it’s especially so for voters ages 18-25.

That might happen again come June 5, or maybe this cycle will be different. Anecdotally, it already is.

From increased voter registration and greater involvement in campaigns to marches and on-campus demonstrations, the youth seem to be more engaged and more ready to go to the polls than in previous cycles.

“We’re seeing incredible energy among young people,” Jess Phoenix said in an email. “They are more aware of current events and both local and national issues than ever before, and they’re spreading the word to their families, friends, and classmates. They’re a force to be reckoned with, and I’m excited to see their leadership evolve and grow.”

Bryan Caforio said he has more volunteers younger than 25 than he had total volunteers when he challenged Steve Knight for the 25th Congressional District seat two years ago. Andrew Taban, who’s a member of four liberal-leaning groups, and 38th Assembly District candidate Christy Smith said they have seen increased voter registration, including between 1,200 and 1,500 at College of the Canyons alone.

They’re getting involved, Taban, Smith, Caforio and fellow 25th Congressional District candidate Katie Hill said, because of issues they view as important – gun violence, immigration, the environment, gender equity and education costs – that incumbents are not addressing or solving.

“This is not an administration that represents their values, so they’re standing up to that,” Taban said.

In some cases, the youth aren’t waiting to become voting-eligible. Phoenix said that her campaign has volunteers as young as 11. Stacy Fortner, Assembly District 38 regional vice chair for the Democratic Party, said that once the Hart High school day ends, her 16-year-old daughter, Melainey Foerster, often canvasses and works phone banks for the Hill and Smith campaigns.

“She goes after school, goes to Katie’s office, picks up (stuff) they want her to get, gets a list and goes out and canvasses,” Fortner said. “That’s what the kids are doing these days. She feels horribly underrepresented in government.”

It’s not just the Democrats that are fired up. Republicans such as Jordan Dixon-Hamilton and Dane Anderson, who talked to the Gazette while manning Congressman Steve Knight’s Santa Clarita campaign office on Soledad Canyon Road, said their expectations of youth involvement have been exceeded.

“I’m surprised at how many young people are working and volunteering their time,” said Anderson, 18.

Dixon-Hamilton, 21, last year interned in Knight’s Washington office, where six of the eight interns were around his age. In the Santa Clarita campaign office, three of the four are similarly aged.

“I see young people, and it’s really encouraging,” he said.

And it’s the youth that typically volunteer for campaigns. Dixon-Hamilton, Anderson and Foerster have the time, excitement and energy to do so, as do countless others throughout the country.

Knight campaign consultant Matt Rexroad said the faces might change, but even in his Sacramento office, there are always six or seven interns around; during election season, there’s more.

“We’re never lacking in applications,” Rexroad said.

But will this involvement translate into votes? According to COC political science professor Lena Smyth, quoting census data, only 16.3 percent of registered 18- to 24-year-olds turned out to vote in the 2014 midterm. Presidential elections always have higher turnouts, Smyth said, and 43.4 percent of registered voters aged 18-29 (the U.S. Census Bureau expanded the voting group) voted in November 2016. But that was still smaller than the turnout for voters ages 30-44 (56.9 percent), 45-59 (66 percent) and 60 and older (71 percent).

“They’re still not carrying candidates over the finish line,” Smyth said. “Call me skeptical. I don’t think so, but I do see excitement among my students at COC. That gives me hope.”

Logan Smith, who two years ago ran Christy Smith’s campaign and now is a Santa Clarita City Council candidate, pointed to the various March for Our Lives held around the country, organized by survivors of the Parkland school shooting.

Also, young voters turned out in droves (34 percent, according to an analysis of exit polling by a group at the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University) to elect a Democrat governor of Virginia last year.

“If we see something like that in Santa Clarita, we’ll see a large turnout at the polls,” Logan Smith said.

Hill to Caforio: ‘I Cannot Sit By and Allow You to Lie’

| News | May 31, 2018

Bryan Caforio continued his attacks on Katie Hill, this time going after the organization Hill has worked for, and Hill responded by sending him an email asking him to stop – and pleading with her supporters who attack Caforio to do the same.

The latest Caforio mailers say Hill prioritized her “skyrocketing salary” over the needs of the residents served by People Assisting The Homeless, the nonprofit in which Hill served as deputy CEO/executive director.

Hill sent Caforio an email, which she copied to various media outlets, including the Gazette, telling him he “crossed a line” by going after PATH. She also posted the note on Facebook.

“I cannot sit by and allow you to lie about my former organization,” Hill wrote. “In just the last five years, PATH has helped more than 7,500 individuals, veterans and families in 140 cities across California make it off the streets into permanent homes. That work is too important to be dragged into the mud for your political gain.”

Also on Facebook, Hill told her supporters to cease the negative comments and remain true to the goal of running a positive campaign.

“(P)lease finish this campaign as we started it. I know this primary is tough, and I appreciate you all coming to my defense. But let’s please rise above all of this in this final week. Let’s leave Bryan and his supporters alone,” she wrote. “Please – no more name-calling, no more #neverbryan. … At the end of the day we are all on the same team – regardless of which candidate you support on June 5th.”

Caforio has been unrelenting since April, perhaps because Hill has outraised him, and he sees her as a credible threat to his finishing in the top two in the primary and advancing to the Nov. 6 general election.

“Katie is the clear frontrunner,” Hill campaign manager Zack Czajkowski said. “She’s raised the most money, has the strongest ground game, has the best message and has the best endorsements.”

Regardless, his attacks have always been on Hill herself, whether that’s criticism for her refusing to sign the “People’s Pledge,” missing a Spanish-language candidate forum to attend a fundraiser outside the 25th Congressional District, highlighting her sexual comments about a staffer during a “Vice News Tonight” segment, or sending out mailers likening her stances on guns and healthcare to those of Donald Trump and Congressman Steve Knight. The healthcare mailer caused a local Democratic club that endorsed him to censure him.

But this is the first time Caforio has brought in Hill’s work.

“When you bring in an organization that does good work, that needs to be called out,” Hill said. “This is a story of national significance in terms of how low Democrats will go, in terms of attacking a charity, in terms of attacking my salary, from a man that makes three times that.”

PATH’s 2015 Internal Revenue Service Form 990 shows Hill made $154,159 in salary as deputy CEO. Caforio, an attorney, made $517,629 in 2015, according to a House financial disclosure form.

Reached for comment, Caforio referred to campaign manager Nicole DeMont’s email, in which she stood by the articles referred to in the mailings.

The first was an LA Weekly article from April 17, 2014 that detailed residents at a PATH shelter complaining about the quality and quantity of food; how staff threatened to expel residents for failing to be neat, neglected chronic bedbug infestations that sent a resident to the hospital with life-threatening infections, berated homeless clients during mandatory Monday house meetings, conducted invasive locker searches and ignored sexual harassment claims.

Hill isn’t introduced until the 75th paragraph. Soon after, she is quoted, “We can’t afford to do a full breakfast for everybody every day. We’re not a hotel. Our food budget is very small.”

This comes after the article said PATH is contractually obligated to serve three meals a day. The story also says the food budget is $4,077 a year, less than the $6,000 in exterminator costs.

The article also quotes Hill of bedbugs, “People go out and come back and bring them in. It’s a revolving door for bedbugs as much as it is for clients.”

Furthermore, DeMont included a San Diego County grand jury report on PATH’s Connections Housing program that said salaries and fringe benefits accounted for $793,000 of the 2014 fiscal-year budget’s $2.39 million total, or 33 percent.

In response, Hill said the LA Weekly story was debunked and refuted by PATH, although no other journalistic publication wrote about it, and Hill wasn’t able to forward PATH’s official response in time. She also said the Caforio campaign took online photos of bedbugs, rusted bathtubs and moldy bread and inserted them into the mailings. In fact, none of those photos appear in the LA Weekly story.

In Hill’s note to Caforio, she acknowledged that she knew she would be attacked along the way.

“I’m not so naive as to think this would be rainbows and butterflies the whole time,” she wrote. “But what I am surprised by is that you would run such a relentlessly negative campaign after standing on stage right next to me, at least a dozen times, promising that you wouldn’t. I promised the same and I’ve lived up to it, because where I’m from – right here in this community – I was raised to believe that my word is my bond.”

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