Steve Knight Introduces a Solution to Family Separation

| News | 1 hour ago

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 | 5 hours ago

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 | 6 hours ago

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.”

Knight’s Office Window Shot

| News | May 31, 2018

Twice since November, windows in the building on Carl Boyer Drive where Congressman Steve Knight’s Santa Clarita office is located have been shot at – although Knight’s office was hit just once – causing the building’s owner to take to social media and announce that protests will be limited to the public sidewalk.

“The SCV Sheriff’s office has been contacted about illegal trespassers in the Centre Pointe Plaza private parking lot and building. From now on, trespassers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, regardless of their personal intent or political affiliation,” Kiza Hilton wrote on Monday morning on Facebook. “There will be no exceptions. This post will serve as public notice. Centre Pointe Plaza is a privately-owned building and its tenants’ rights will be protected. Please direct your concerns or comments to the SCV Sheriff’s Station.”

Local resident and Democrative operative, Stacy Fortner, responded to Hilton’s warning on Facebook.

“Hey you! The one who shot out the windows at Steve Knight’s office.You’re an idiot! Now they want ALL trespassers arrested. Nice job, dumbass!” Fortner’s Facebook post said.

According to Knight spokesperson Chris Jusuf, a bb or pellet gun caused a small hole in a window back in April, which followed a November incident in which another window of a different office was hit. Jusuf added that local authorities and Capitol Police were contacted, but it’s not known if a report was filed. Hilton also said she contacted the SCV Sheriff’s Department and asked them to take action, but she did not file a report because she wasn’t a victim.

Reached Monday, Hilton said she was “disappointed, dismayed and disgusted that someone would shoot an office building, especially one that has our elected leader in Congressman Knight. … Many of us do not agree with the positions Congressman Knight has taken, but there are other ways of expressing dissatisfaction.”

Hilton said that her building houses a bank and a medical facility frequented by elderly and disabled persons. These people do not feel safe and deserve to.

“The protests have been harmful to the building’s tenants, disrupted their business and threatened their livelihood,” Hilton said. “The proper place for demonstrations is public property, and that would be the sidewalk in front of the building.”

Many on Facebook posted opinions that the incident never happened because no police report was filed.

“Given that there is no police report and no news report I’m not convinced this happened,” Logan Smith wrote. “This would be a pretty serious thing if it DID happen and it’s absolutely bizarre that no evidence exists to support the claim.”

Hilton said, “I wish it would not have happened.”

Smith, who’s running for Santa Clarita City Council, said he now believes it actually happened and does not support “political violence.”

“If it happened, the individual should face the consequences,” Smith said.

Young Democrats Censure Candidate

| News | May 25, 2018

A local Democratic club has formally censured the congressional candidate it originally endorsed over negative attacks aimed at another candidate. It did not, however, rescind the endorsement.

The Santa Clarita Valley Young Democrats took Bryan Caforio for Congress to task in a letter dated Monday for “a blatant and intentional lie” in distributing a mailer claiming Katie Hill supported Trumpcare because she said “it guarantees access.”

Hill’s actual quote, which was printed in the May 11, 2017 Gazette and quoted in the censure letter, says, “The (Affordable Care Act) always needed significant reform, but the (American Health Care Act) is not the answer. The AHCA makes it so that people aged 50-64 could pay up to five times as much for health insurance. It eliminates the cap on how much those with pre-existing conditions can be charged for insurance. Yes, it guarantees access, but it does not guarantee affordability.”

“This is but one of multiple examples in which the Bryan Caforio campaign has misrepresented and distorted Hill’s positions on campaign mailers,” the letter said. “To suggest that ‘Katie Hill promoted Trumpcare’ in the above quotation cannot be construed as anything but a blatant and intentional lie.”

“The point of this is to tell Bryan, and any candidate in the future we might want to endorse, that we want a candidate to run a positive campaign,” SCV Young Democrats President Nathan Bousfield said.

As for the endorsement, Bousfield said the group’s bylaws prevent anything from being done for 14 days after such a vote to rescind an endorsement is taken. No vote took place at Monday’s meeting, which was 15 days before the primary.

“Trying to revoke an endorsement the day before the primary did not seem feasible,” Bousfield said.

But Brett Haddock, a member who attended the meeting and helped craft the letter, seemed to have second thoughts.

“When we’ve got three great Democratic candidates, and the Caforio campaign opts not to stand on its merits, it demonstrates he’s not about representing the 25th district. He’s about winning the congressional seat,” Haddock said. “That’s not what it should be about. I want someone to represent me.”

The letter was sent to the Caforio campaign and posted Tuesday on Facebook. Caforio didn’t return calls for comment. Caforio campaign manager Nicole DeMont emailed a statement saying someone who endorsed Hill’s campaign sent the letter, “so I certainly understand why Ms. Hill’s supporters don’t want voters to know that she has directly said Trumpcare ‘guarantees access.’ It doesn’t.

“Trumpcare would have been an absolute disaster, with 23 million Americans losing lifesaving healthcare. Not only did Katie Hill say Trumpcare ‘guarantees access,’ she has also criticized the Obamacare provision that allows children to stay on their parents’ healthcare plans until they’re 26-years-old (sic) and wants to let insurance companies make even higher profits at our expense. There are enough Republicans in Washington trying to sabotage and take away our healthcare. Our community needs a representative like Bryan Caforio who believes that healthcare is a right, and is absolutely committed to ending medical bankruptcies, lowering prescription drug costs, and passing Medicare for all.”

Hill said she found out about it after her husband texted her a copy.

“I’m glad to see the organization is taking a stand and holding Bryan to his promises, the same one we all promised to do,” Hill said. She and the other Democrats pledged back in January to not speak ill of any other Democrat running.

Hill said Caforio’s actions make it harder for her – though not impossible – to vote for Caforio if he, and not she, advances to the general election, and have her supporters vote for Caforio as well.

Getting Out the Vote

| News | May 24, 2018

Less than two weeks until the primary election. Time to get out the vote.

Candidates and volunteers are knocking on doors, working their phone banks, sending out postcards and trying to reach as many people as possible between now and June 5. Many are focusing on the undecided and absentee voters, trying to convince them to not only submit their ballots, but also submit them with a certain name marked. Or they’re making sure the voters know their polling location and have ways to get there.

It’s getting down to crunch time, so here is a roundup of what the candidates (and their campaigns) are doing.

Caforio, who challenged incumbent Steve Knight in 2016 but now faces a stiff challenge from fellow Democrat Katie Hill, is letting his campaign take care of the phone banks so he can focus on knocking on as many doors as possible to “look them in the eye and explain my plan.”

And he’s crisscrossing the district’s approximately 1,691 square miles. On recent consecutive days, he said, he was in Lancaster, then Canyon Country, then back to Palmdale, often with his wife, Lisa. He’s also been to Simi Valley and Lake Los Angeles.

Many times, he said, he has come to a constituent’s door, only to be told he is the first candidate to appear. He said it happens all over, but when he’s in the Antelope Valley – Knight’s designation is R-Palmdale – it’s telling.

He’s also taking time to talk at the various high schools, targeting the 18-year-olds who can vote for the first time. Mostly, he tells them to get involved, be informed and exercise their right to vote – even if that means voting for someone else.

One of the schools he visited, back in February, was Highland High School in Palmdale, and the students there expressed concern about gun safety, the shooting in Parkland, Fla., having just occurred.

“They were scared to go to class,” Caforio said, “and then that violence came to Highland High School.”

Earlier this month, a 14-year-old was accused of shooting and injuring a 15-year-old former classmate. Caforio returned and talked to still-shaken students and teachers.

“I let them know I’m here, and I realize this isn’t normal and this isn’t acceptable,” he said.

Hill said she doesn’t think the “Vice News Tonight” piece that aired on HBO showing her making sexual comments about a staffer is negatively affecting her campaign. But she continues to have to weather attacks from the Caforio people.

The latest is that Hill failed to file a personal financial disclosure with the House Ethics Committee by May 15. “Katie Hill failed to do so, leaving voters unaware of potential conflicts of interest,” the Caforio campaign statement said. “As stated in the Ethics in Government Act, the penalty for ‘knowingly and willfully’ failing to file a Candidate Financial Disclosure Statement is up to $50,000.”

Hill acknowledged she missed the deadline, but she said there is a 30-day extension allowed and will file by June 14.

“In case anyone noticed, I’m kind of busy,” she said. “I haven’t done my taxes. I got an extension for that, too.”

Deputy Field Director Kassie King posted a get-out-the-vote form on Facebook in which a person can choose how, where and when to volunteer. Hill said that’s part of “the all-out effort with our volunteers.”

Overall, Hill said, the experience continues to be positive.

“The volunteers show up,” she said, “people come to the debates. They say, ‘I want to meet you. I love your authenticity.’ The donations come in.”

As the sole Republican in the race, one might think Knight doesn’t have to do much to secure one of the top two spots in the primary and advance to the Nov. 6 general election.

Campaign consultant Matt Rexroad said, “The likelihood of turning out the Republican vote is 90-plus percent – if nine Republicans were on the ballot, I don’t know.” And it’s also true that as the only Republican, Knight can target all Republicans, whereas Democrats might call somebody and find he or she isn’t voting for their candidate.

But there are still things to do. The focus is on absentee voters and making sure they fill out and send in their ballots. There’s also political data to analyze, and Rexroad said there were 6,827 absentee ballots in the district as of Monday, according to politicaldata.com. Of these, 3,706 were of registered Republicans; 3,121 were of registered Democrats.

Keeping in mind that Knight got almost 20,000 more votes in the district than Donald Trump did, Rexroad said his candidate tends to be popular among Republican and independent voters.

“They like Steve Knight, and they plan to vote for him,” Rexroad said.

Another advantage Knight figures to have: He will have about $1 million available heading into the general election; the Democratic challenger might have 10 percent of that – or less – and will have to start the fundraising over again.

“We will be in seven figures, and they will be in single digits,” Rexroad said.

Phoenix also is getting out and about, attending community events, going to shopping centers and knocking on doors. “It’s about meeting as many people as possible,” she said. “I have done so much outreach.”

Targeting the undecided seems to have been a priority.

“It’s still a pretty fertile ground,” she said. “My campaign manager was at the Saugus Swap Meet starting at 6 a.m. He talked to so many, and only a couple had filled out their ballots.”

For people who don’t know where she stands on an issue, Phoenix or her people will refer articles to them. And if somebody wants to help, there’s an app for that. It’s called Outvote, and it allows users to send text messages to their contacts, urging them to vote for their candidate. There are ready-made scripts that can be used, or one can customize.

As she travels the district, she has come across what is an alarming trend nationally: voter apathy, resulting in low turnout, which happens often in midterm elections.

“It’s really sad how low voter engagement is across the country,” she said, “which is why we need automatic voter registration and ballots sent to your house.”

Oregon already has automatic voter registration, and Phoenix would like to expand that. She also would like to see Election Day be a national holiday so people would have time to vote instead of trying to fit it into their busy schedules.

Assault on Salt Pools

| News | May 24, 2018

Since late 2005, there has been a ban on certain saltwater swim pools throughout the area, but local pool contractors say it’s easy to circumvent the ban.

Because of the requirement that county sanitation districts must ensure that discharged water contains no more than 100 milligrams of chloride per liter (mg/l), no one may install a saltwater pool or convert a freshwater swimming pool into a saltwater one if the water is discharged directly or indirectly into the sewer system. Violators are subject to misdemeanor charges that carry fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Bill McLaughlin, owner of California Pools in Santa Clarita, says it’s a simple workaround: Build or convert a pool that isn’t connected to the sewer system. He estimates 50 to 60 percent of the pools he’s installed or converted are saltwater.

“We don’t ever connect to the sewer. That’s illegal,” he said.

And Tom Reid of Thomas Pools & Spas in Castaic said he, too, has installed or converted “hundreds or thousands of salt systems,” but estimated 10 since the ban went into effect on Dec. 9, 2005, including one last week.

Additionally, McLaughlin said, the permit process doesn’t require a person to specify what kind of water is being used in the pool, and Reid said he isn’t telling the city what kind of water he’s using, either.

City Building Department official John Caprarelli sent the Gazette a drainage acknowledgment all owners must sign before the city will issue a permit for any pool. It specifically states that wastewater shall not be discharged to a private sewage disposal (septic) system and lists the five legal ways to dispose of wastewater. These include a three-inch P-trap legally installed and permitted by the city’s building and safety division, to a storm drain, provided certain conditions are met, on the property if the property is large enough to ensure runoff doesn’t enter another property, or by tank truck or pumping service. By doing this, he said, all pool permits comply with the city’s ordinance.

“We would not issue a saltwater-pool permit intentionally,” Caprarelli said, but it’s almost impossible for the city to catch someone who states one thing on a permit and does something else.

As for enforcement, Caprarelli says the only way to catch somebody is if a person files a complaint, launching an investigation that uncovers the wrongdoing; or a disaster such as a fire causes the city to come out and discover the violation.

New Principals in Newhall School District

| News | May 18, 2018

When the doors open to students in the fall, three elementary schools in a local district will have a newly hired principal at the helm. The Newhall School District has announced that Jennifer Boone, Wendy Maxwell, and Jackeline Tapia have been named principals for three of the district’s schools, all beginning July 1, 2018.

“We’re fortunate to have three incredibly gifted leaders as our three newest principals,” Superintendent Paul Cordeiro said. “All three are excited to work collaboratively with teachers, parents and students at their respective schools. They will work hard to ensure high achievement for all students, carrying forward the Newhall School District’s tradition of excellence.”

Boone, McGrath Elementary’s new principal, is currently serving as the director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment for the Conejo Valley Unified School District, where she has been employed for the past 14 years. Boone received her bachelor’s degree from California Lutheran University in liberal arts and her master’s degree in educational administration from Chapman University.

Boone began her career teaching in California and England. She brings over 18 years’ experience as an elementary principal in the Palm Springs Unified School District, Beverly Hills Unified School District and Conejo Valley. Outside of work, Boone enjoys volunteering with 4-H, reading, and spending time with family.

Maxwell is currently serving as the interim principal of Oak Hills Elementary School and will now take over as principal. She brings 22 years of experience as a teacher, assistant principal, ASES program administrator and as a categorical/curriculum director. Maxwell earned her bachelor’s degree in child development from California State University, Los Angeles, and her master’s in educational leadership from Pepperdine University. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, especially watching her children compete in their various athletic events on the weekends.

Tapia started her career 14 years ago in the Santa Clarita Valley. She was a teacher in the Castaic Union School District and a Spanish dual immersion teacher in the Palmdale School District prior to starting her administrative career as an assistant principal at Newhall Elementary School. She is looking forward to serving as Newhall Elementary School’s principal. Tapia received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente and her master’s in administrative leadership from California State University, Northridge. Tapia enjoys hiking and salsa dancing when not at school.

Local CEO on World Stage as Panelist

| News | May 18, 2018

Ahmad Fares, founder and CEO of Celitech, attended a meeting in Madrid, Spain where he served as a panelist to discuss changes in the mobile connectivity industry. Last month Fares was featured as a guest panelist at the Mobile Virtual Network Operator, or MVNO, World Congress. Celitech is a current tenant in the Santa Clarita Business Incubator.

MVNOs are wireless communication service providers that offer mobile phone services to customers by leveraging existing network infrastructure. The MVNO World Congress is a global meeting where telecom innovators and mobile connectivity industry disruptors from around the world discuss and share how the telecom market is shifting and what technologies are emerging. Fares was chosen for the panel to share his perspective on the needs of consumers in the era of digitalization.

Celitech was one of the 134 companies selected from thousands of candidates spanning 80 countries and 200 cities to participate in the Startup Exhibition portion of Google Startup Grind’s Global Conference. As part of the exhibition, Celitech gained visibility among investors, industry leaders and potential customers.

The company is based in the city’s Business Incubator and aims to improve the way mobile phones connect to cellular networks by developing the world’s first digital MVNO. Celitech’s service will enable international travelers to access local mobile data connectivity (4G) through the ease of a mobile phone application.

The Santa Clarita Business Incubator, created in partnership with the City of Santa Clarita, College of the Canyons and the Small Business Development Center, works with creative and technology-focused entrepreneurs to stimulate economic growth through entrepreneurship and enterprise development. The program provides participating businesses with customized support, trainings, mentoring and networking opportunities, low-cost office space, meeting rooms and more.

For more information about Celitech, visit Celitech.com. For more information about the Santa Clarita Business Incubator, visit ThinkSantaClarita.com or contact the City of Santa Clarita’s Economic Development Division at 661-255-4347.

Musella: Chamber on ‘Solid Financial Footing’

| News | May 17, 2018

The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce lost $290,847 in 2016, according to its Internal Revenue Service Form 990, but its interim executive director promised 2017 was better.

Saying “The past is the past” and “I see no value in wallowing in the past,” John Musella declared in an email that the 2017 forms will show that the chamber paid its debts and showed a net profit of approximately $100,000.

“We have demonstrated through actions and results that the Chamber is on solid financial footing with a focus on the future,” Musella wrote.

But to get there, the chamber had to go through some rough times. According to its 2016 filing, it grossed almost $228,000 less than in 2015, while keeping expenses similar. Also, its total liabilities skyrocketed from $175,018 to $413,317 while its assets declined by about $16,000.

Musella told the Gazette last summer that the chamber hadn’t been on solid financial ground for “at least five or six years, if not longer. It could have been close to a decade.”

One reason was a lease to the building on Tournament Road that the chamber could not afford and eventually defaulted on. Court documents showed the building owners sought $700,000 plus attorney’s fees, interest, court costs and any other relief the Superior Court wanted to award.

So, when he took over as chairman, he cut staff (including the CEO) and costs, negotiated a settlement with the building owner, did not take the chamber into bankruptcy when it was an option, found new digs on Westinghouse Place and implemented a financial plan based on paying debt first and then saving money while still giving the membership what it wants – as long as it keeps the chamber on solid financial ground.

“We have a responsibility to our membership to be fiscally prudent and I believe we’ve demonstrated that,” Musella said.

The British are Wedding

| News | May 17, 2018

When you turn to the Facebook page for the Rose & Crown Restaurant, you see: “Come witness Diana’s youngest get his ‘happily ever after’ with the beautiful Meghan Markle.”

Indeed, the British pub is opening early and inviting you to join them in celebrating the marriage between Prince Henry of Wales, known as Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle. It begins at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 19. You must have a ticket to attend.

You’ll receive a glass of champagne upon arrival and feast on a four-course menu the chef created for the viewing event. You will also have unlimited access to a snack bar filled with treats and there will be festive drink specials and other surprises.

Doors will open at 7:30 a.m. and the wedding viewing (including pre-show, ceremony and balcony showcase) will begin promptly at 8 a.m. It is, of course, a delayed airing of the royal couple’s nuptials.

You must purchase a ticket to attend and the cost is $50 per guest. Stop by the Rose & Crown Pub to purchase one.

There is limited space, and the restaurant suggests you bring your own fascinator (hat) just like the royal guests will wear across the pond in Windsor.

The Rose & Crown is located at 24246 Lyons Avenue in Santa Clarita. For more information, call 661-255-5048.

Ashley HomeStore Opens 50th New Store in Canoga Park

| News | May 17, 2018

A new store in Canoga Park, Calif. is the 50th grand opening for Ashley HomeStore west division. The public will join staff members in celebrating the opening of the new store on Friday, May 18 at 9 a.m. at 21301 Victory Blvd. in Canoga Park. This is the seventh HomeStore in Los Angeles County.

A ribbon-cutting will be held in the more than 32,000-square-foot showroom as it opens its doors to the public. This location will be home to approximately 38 new positions that were made available to the surrounding communities.

Members of the Stoneledge Management Ashley team will be in attendance, including the executive vice president, vice president, regional, operational, and visual managers. Members of the local business community have also been invited to attend.

Special offers include 15 percent off merchandise, plus five years financing during the Memorial Day sale in addition to special hot buys that include savings up to 47 percent off. The first 500 customers through the door will receive a scratcher and one lucky winner will receive a $5,000 Ashley cash giveaway.

For more information about the company, established in 1945, visit Ashley HomeStore online at www.ashleyhomestore.com or find Ashley on Facebook, follow the store on Twitter and Instagram, or see design-focused boards on Pinterest.

Local Politics Affected by Views on SB 54

| News | May 17, 2018

Lost among the din of either celebration, embarrassment or despair from last week’s City Council’s unanimous decision to file an amicus brief supporting the federal government’s lawsuit against California and the state sanctuary law is this fact: There will be a City Council election in six months. Three sitting members will face the public and attempt to be elected or re-elected, while many more will attempt to unseat them.

Right now, there are three primary challengers – all are Democrats, all support the California Values Act (SB 54), and all opposed the council’s action.

Diane Trautman and Logan Smith are two. They were there, spoke, and saw and heard the vast majority of people crying out for the council to do something, although Trautman disputed Councilmember Bob Kellar’s claim on Fox News that the ratio in council chambers was “nine or 10 to one” against SB 54. The third, Brett Haddock, got sick and didn’t attend.
The question remains: How will the council’s action last week affect the election? Did Mayor Laurene Weste, Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha McLean and Councilmember Bill Miranda – all Republicans – help or hurt their cause? Did Trautman, Smith and Brett Haddock just punch their tickets or now face an impossible hurdle?

Or will it make no difference?

“I personally don’t believe this decision will cause either side to be elected or non-elected,” community activist Alan Ferdman said. “There are an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in the area, and an equal number of independents. The moderates and independents will decide the election.”

Ferdman isn’t alone in his viewpoint. Former councilmember TimBen Boydston thinks anyone that uses a national issue to run for local office is setting up for failure.

“Local politics are local,” Boydston said. “It’s a mistake for people running a campaign based on ‘I’m a fan’ or ‘I’m a detractor of Donald Trump.’ ”

Not everyone agrees with Ferdman and Boydston. In fact, the three challengers expressed differing viewpoints.

Smith said he wasn’t sure of the impact. He said he thinks the council took a national issue and made it local.

“It gives us an issue we can use to turn out voters,” Smith said, “and it can give my opponents an issue to turn out voters.”

Haddock thought the council’s action, which he called “symbolic” because it changed nothing, made his job harder.

“It’s going to be a bit more challenging,” Haddock said. “People are going to ask how I would have voted, and I think there are more important issues to discuss.”

Trautman, said, “It might have made it easier, but I’m not going to rest on my laurels.” She said she wants to run on a platform of extolling the city’s virtues and find ways to work together to make the city even better. This issue, she said, proves the community is divided, which she believes helps her.

“When people are angry, they vote,” she said. “If this motivates people to get out and vote, great.”

But the numbers speak for themselves: Of the 110 people the Gazette counted who voiced an opinion last week, 68 wanted the council to take action against SB 54, 40 supported SB 54, one person declared himself “neutral” and one presented an unknown opinion. Additionally, Councilmember Cameron Smyth said, 442 people sent emails opposing SB 54, compared to 69 who favored it.

Trautman said she knows the council has a history of doing what it wants and ignoring the opposing side – something former Councilmember Carl Boyer told the Gazette was true and something Boydston disagreed with – so many opposing viewpoints went unexpressed.

Trautman also set her sights on Weste, faulting the mayor for what she sees as “a lack of leadership.” Trautman criticized Weste for letting the council meeting get out of control (indeed, the Los Angeles Times called it “political theater” and The Signal took Weste to task over the lack of civility and her inability to control the crowd).

“It was probably the ugliest environment I’ve ever been in,” Trautman said. “People from out of the area got primary seats. They displaced local residents. They were extremely vocal and consistently nasty. … The council did not observe its rules, and that falls to the mayor.”

Weste did not respond to requests for comment; neither did Miranda nor McLean, who with Weste will stand in November. McLean remained silent throughout. Ferdman said he thinks it’s because McLean doesn’t want to alienate anybody. “I don’t think she was concerned (about) anything except getting elected,” he said.

Miranda made his view known at the council meeting, saying he doesn’t buy people threatening to vote him out if he doesn’t vote a certain way.

“Understand one thing, and I think I can speak for Marsha and Laurene, although I don’t have to, it’s not about elections, OK?” Miranda said. “It’s about doing the right thing for the right reasons, and if that means I don’t get elected, so be it.”

Saugus District Satisfied with Measure EE

| News | May 10, 2018

A member of the Saugus Union School District’s nine-person citizens oversight committee said the committee is satisfied the district is not misusing Measure EE construction-bond funds.

“We haven’t seen anything to suggest otherwise,” Jason Gibbs said.

At issue was an item in the audit for the year ending June 30, 2017 for $263,863 in salaries and benefits. State law says bonds may not be used for teacher and administrator salaries or non-bond operating expenses.

Richard Michael, who runs the website Big Bad Bonds, has said that the actual text of the Measure EE bonds differs on various pages, which gives districts “reliable cover to do what they’re doing … to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars in bond money.”

The actual text on page 1 of the Measure EE bond, which voters approved in 2014, says the bond proceeds cannot be used for “teacher and administrator salaries and any other school non-construction operating expenses.”

Yet, on page 11 the text differs slightly, saying that “teacher and non-construction related administrator salaries and other non-construction related operating expenses” are prohibited.

Gibbs said he understands how the bond text can cause misunderstanding, and he said he remains vigilant to ensure the district continues to operate within the law.

Michael said Monday that an oversight committee has two responsibilities: to determine if funds are being used properly and to inform the public of how the funds are being used. He said the Saugus committee is failing to do the latter.

“If the people know about it and say OK, that’s one thing,” Michael said, “but for a handful to determine it’s legal and not report it, to me that’s beyond the pale. … People could not do anything about it, or people could complain.”

If someone chooses to complain, he said, the only legal recourse is to go to the district attorney.

Both Sides of the Fence

| Community, News | May 10, 2018

Jennifer Hughes hates the fence. From her Laguna Court home, she had a clear view of Valencia Valley Elementary School. Now, she has a clear view of the eight-foot wrought-iron fence the Newhall School District is erecting.

“Everyone that lives in close proximity hates the fence,” she said. “The Newhall School District bulldozed the fence (through the school board) and didn’t take into account how the community is so upset.”

The change of view is not the real reason Hughes objects. In an email to the Gazette, she bemoaned “the loss of our beloved park/school open space.”

She also told the Gazette she dislikes the fence being eight feet, when other district schools have six-foot fences.

“The community is upset from being open to (having) an eight-foot fence that looks like a prison,” Hughes said.

Furthermore, she said, the school sits in a low-crime area, making the fence unnecessary. She has been fighting this fence for more than a year, even bringing petitions with as many as 59 signatures opposing the fence – and one signature favoring it – to the school board.

It’s fallen on deaf ears.

“The fence is going up,” school board president Phil Ellis said. “The board decided we needed a fence.” He added that the sheriff’s department recommended an eight-foot fence.

Hughes said Ellis voted against a fence back in June before voting in favor of it in January. Ellis said he has long favored a fence, but voted against the plan that came before the board.

This disagreement illustrates the differing points of view over safety and security. How far does a school, and a district, have to go to guarantee the safety of the students?

“Safety is an issue becoming more and more paramount,” Ellis said, “so you do what you can, but there is nothing you can do that will stop everybody.”

The non-profit Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund reported that there have been 39 school shootings at various elementary, middle, high schools and colleges/universities this year, and 310 between Jan. 8, 2013 and May 3. Not all of these resulted in deaths or injuries, but a gun went off in all cases.

Ellis said he recognizes that a fence won’t necessarily keep out someone hell-bent on shooting up the place from doing so. Hughes said a fence could keep people from being able to escape.

Hanover Research conducted a study in 2013 on the benefits and disadvantages of school fencing and found properly selected fencing can restrict access to less-visible areas, but the wrong kind of fencing can limit surveillance. Wrought iron is generally considered best, but each school must determine its own needs.

Ellis said the fence is just one part of the district trying to ensure better security. “It’s not just a shooter we’re trying to stop,” he said. “It’s to protect and force entrance to a school from a central point, (the front door), where we add layers of security. We’re in the process of analyzing a couple of security issues surrounding Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi is not the best (at Valencia Valley).”

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