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The Bridge to Somewhere, Someday

| News | September 13, 2018

An unforeseen complication with a storm drain has caused a “substantial delay” in construction of the pedestrian bridge near the intersection of Golden Valley Road and Sierra Highway, city officials said.

The city set a target completion date for November, and according to city communications specialist Mayumi Miyasato, that is still the plan. But according to the city’s website, the bridge was supposed to be installed this summer.

“At this moment the crew is working on preparing the foundation for the bridge placement,” Miyasato said in an email. “The steel-truss bridge itself is currently being fabricated out of state and we expect to receive the bridge sometime in October when it will be placed.”

The city council last Sept. 26 awarded $3,477,652 to C.A. Rasmussen, Inc., to build the bridge that will go over Sierra north of Golden Valley. Miyasato said it’s part of a federally funded project that includes a new bus turnout and right-turn lane from southbound Sierra onto Golden Valley, a new sidewalk, bus shelter pad, access ramps and crosswalks, landscaping, street lights, extending the median nose, new pavement and traffic striping, and signal modifications to allow for U-turns.

Additionally, the intersection of Sierra and Rainbow Glen Drive will receive pavement maintenance, traffic striping and signal modifications for U-turns, Miyasato said.

“The City is diligently working to complete the project and will continue to do its part to ensure the impact to our residents is mitigated,” Miyasato said.

Public Invited to Permit Center Open House at City Hall

| News | September 7, 2018

The City of Santa Clarita and Santa Clarita City Council invite the public to attend a Permit Center Open House on Tuesday, September 11, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Permit Center, located at 23920 Valencia Boulevard, Suite 140.

The Santa Clarita City Council will start the event with a welcome highlighting the services offered at the Permit Center. Permit Center staff will showcase the new online Permit Guide software and representatives from the city’s Building and Safety, Engineering and Planning divisions will be present to answer any questions.

The Permit Center at City Hall offers residents, contractors and businesses a one-stop shop for building and safety, engineering and planning needs. Providing applicants with a central place to obtain development permits, the Permit Center attempts to make applying for and obtaining permits simple.

In addition, the city recently launched a new online Permit Guide software for residential construction projects at santa-clarita.com/PermitCenter. The new website is user-friendly and provides easy, step-by-step guidance through the process of obtaining approvals and permits from the city. The online Permit Guide is currently only available for residential construction projects, but an option for commercial projects is in the works.

For additional information about the Permit Center Open House event, contact City Building Official John Caprarelli at jcaprarelli@santa-clarita.com or at (661) 255-4396.

In the Present – A History of Banned Books, Part 2

| News | September 6, 2018

by Natalia Radcliffe

Even in the modern age, books have been subject to challenges or bans.

One recent example in California is John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars,” which was banned at Riverside’s Frank Augustus Miller Middle School in 2014. According to Suzanne Hurt, a writer for local Riverside news outlet “The Press-Enterprise,” the book was ultimately removed after a parent “questioned whether the book should be available at the middle school library because the subject matter involves teens dying of cancer who use crude language,” in addition to the book’s discussion of sexual matters.

Green has made it onto the American Library Association’s top ten most challenged books list four times in the past eight years with his book “Looking for Alaska.”

According to the ALA’s website, found under “Top Ten Most Challenged Books Lists,” for 2017, the “ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials… Of the 416 books challenged or banned…the Top 10 Most Challenged Books are:

  1. “Thirteen Reasons Why” written by Jay Asher
    Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA (young adult) novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it depicts suicide.
  2. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” written by Sherman Alexie
    Consistently challenged since its publication in 2007 for acknowledging issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and sexuality, this National Book Award winner was challenged in school curriculums because of profanity and situations that were deemed sexually explicit.
  3. “Drama” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    This Stonewall Honor Award-winning, 2012 graphic novel from an acclaimed cartoonist was challenged and banned in school libraries because it includes LGBT characters and was considered “confusing.”
  4. “The Kite Runner” written by Khaled Hosseini
    This critically acclaimed, multigenerational novel was challenged and banned because it includes sexual violence and was thought to “lead to terrorism” and “promote Islam.”
  5. “George” written by Alex Gino
    Written for elementary-age children, this Lambda Literary Award winner was challenged and banned because it includes a transgender child.
  6. “Sex is a Funny Word” written by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
    This 2015 informational children’s book written by a certified sex educator was challenged because it addresses sex education and is believed to lead children to “want to have sex or ask questions about sex.”
  7. “To Kill a Mockingbird” written by Harper Lee
    This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.
  8. “The Hate U Give” written by Angie Thomas
    Despite winning multiple awards and being the most searched-for book on Goodreads during its debut year, this YA novel was challenged and banned in school libraries and curriculums because it was considered “pervasively vulgar” and because of drug use, profanity, and offensive language.
  9. “And Tango Makes Three” written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole
    Returning after a brief hiatus from the Top Ten Most Challenged list, this ALA Notable Children’s Book, published in 2005, was challenged and labeled because it features a same-sex relationship.
  10. “I Am Jazz” written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    This autobiographical picture book co-written by the 13-year-old protagonist was challenged because it addresses gender identity.”

These banned books make up a wide range of genres, and feature many different kinds of topics. The reasons behind the backlash are vast, however, there are many similarities. Sexual content and LGBTQ+ issues appear to be contributing factors as to why they are banned.

This year, Banned Books Week is September 23-29. For an in-depth look at the history of banned books, visit the American Library Association’s website.

Picture obtained from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/NLW-Top10

Cornhole-in-One

| News | September 6, 2018

A stranger approached Ben Budhu and offered his explanation of the game Budhu calls cornhole: It’s an excuse to drink beer, socialize and throw beanbags at a hole.

“You pretty much nailed it,” Budhu said with a laugh before adding, “and you’re not going to get hurt.”

Whether it’s called cornhole, beanbag toss, bag toss, sack toss, bean sack or any other name, if it’s being played in Santa Clarita, chances are Budhu is somehow involved.

Every Monday, he hosts games at The Dudes’ Brewery in Valencia. Twelve times a year, he runs a four-week league out of Wolf Creek Brewery (the current iteration, which has its league finals Friday, has 26 teams). He does corporate and charity events, too.

On Labor Day, he was at The Dudes’ again, only this time running a 100-person tournament, with the winner (he and his partner, as it turned out) earning a free hotel stay and entry into the Wild West Showdown in Las Vegas Nov. 2-4.

Many locals competed, as did teams from the Antelope Valley, Ventura, San Diego and Fresno. Just about each time someone new walked into the brewery, Budhu greeted them warmly with a guttural groan or a “what’s happenin’, buddy?” He then used an app he and a buddy created to sign up people into the tournament.

Cornhole dates to 1883 but gained popularity in Cincinnati and Chicago in the 1970s. The two competing governing bodies, the American Cornhole Association and American Cornhole Organization, are in the Cincinnati area. The ACA runs the American Cornhole League, which sanctions the Las Vegas tournament; and ESPN broadcasts the ACO national championships.

It’s a simple game: Teams of two to four try to toss four one-pound beanbags into a six-inch hole from 27 feet away. The beanbags are six-by-six inches, with one side being slicker so it can slide on the board and the other side stickier so it doesn’t slide.

The hole is in a two-feet-by-four-feet platform called a board that is raised three inches in front and 12 inches at the back. Bags that go into the hole are worth three points; those on the board get one point. The first team to get 21 points wins, but points are only earned after cancellation scoring. This means that if Team A throws four bags into the hole and Team B lands three bags on the board, Team A gets nine points.

Budhu discovered the game four years ago and thought he was really good. Then he found out that he had been playing it wrong, tossing from 20 feet instead of 27. Still, he went online and discovered the ACA and ACO, neither of which had any West Coast presence.
So, he took it upon himself to spread the game. He found SCV Cornhole in 2015 and is now a certified regional director, meaning he can run tournaments.

The Labor Day one featured 30 teams, many with names befitting the sport: CornDawgs, Slide It In, Me So Corny, Can O Corn (Budhu played on SellBud; his wife and sister competed as Booyah Sisters).

Brian Reagan, who competed on Sacks Deep, said he had only been playing four months. He said he saw a Facebook posting from Budhu, came out one Monday, “had a blast and now I’m here all the time.”

He said he loved the competitive spirit and the people, plus the beer.

Chris Haslock competed with his son, Chad, as the Haz Beens. He said the team name arose out of him and his kids playing baseball and softball; now, they play cornhole and are “has beens” with the other sports.

“I would golf with my dad,” Chris said. “Now, it’s me and my kids playing cornhole.”

He said the family likes the game so much that on a recent golf vacation to Palm Springs, they brought along their cornhole bags and boards and played poolside, in their hotel rooms and in a nearby bar.

They played two rounds of golf.

Sitting off to one side was Budhu’s wife, Sheri. Does she consider herself a cornhole widow?

“I call him my corn star,” she said.

District Voting: The People Could Force the Issue

| City Council, News | September 6, 2018

When Mark White ran for city council in 2016, changing to district elections instead of at-large voting was one of his platform points. Although he’s not running this time, he still feels the city would be better served if there were elected representatives from various communities.

“We shouldn’t be a city where one half of one percent gets elected and decides who runs things,” he said. “District elections will make it harder for them to decide.”

Santa Clarita is one of the largest cities that has not moved to district voting, even though attempts have been made. Most famous was the lawsuit the city settled in 2014 after two Latino plaintiffs claimed they and their fellow Latinos’ votes were diluted under the California Voting Rights Act. The CVRA, which expands on the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, has been widely used to compel cities, school districts, water boards and the like to move to district voting. But the city didn’t, instead moving the election to November from April and going to cumulative voting, which a judge threw out.

White fears another lawsuit – and the settlement that taxpayers would foot – is coming.
“It’s inevitable,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if a lawsuit happened right after the election, even if (current councilmember) Bill Miranda gets elected.”

However, White is not actively looking for a plaintiff to sue, nor is he personally planning to sue, which wouldn’t work because the CVRA is used to prove minority groups have their votes diluted.

A lawsuit isn’t the only way the city would be forced to move to district voting. Two other ways exist: the council places the matter on the ballot or an initiative earns enough signatures to qualify for a vote.

Since three current councilmembers, Bob Kellar, Marsha McLean and Laurene Weste, oppose moving to district voting, the only way the council will put the matter to the people is if candidates who favor it are elected (McLean and Weste are running for re-election in November).

The other two councilmembers, Miranda and Cameron Smyth, are open to discussing it, although Miranda said in a text he wants “input from the public before deciding whether to introduce (the) measure to the council. The input needs to be a large sample.”

Candidates on the record of either favoring district voting or letting the people decide include Logan Smith, Diane Trautman, Brett Haddock (“We desperately need districts,” he said) and TimBen Boydston. Smith even went as far as calling for seven districts and directly electing the mayor, and Boydston said he would ask to place the matter on the council agenda during the very first meeting after he’s sworn in.

Common reasons given for making the move include spending less money to get elected and that the city is too large and too many people don’t feel like they are being heard.

“It’s time for our community to move in that direction,” Trautman said. “I want people to feel they are having a voice in their governance. This is something we (should discuss) to understand what it entails, what it involves, what the repercussions would be.”

Another possibility is the initiative process, which Haddock said he would explore if he were not elected. The state Election Code spells out the process for how a municipal initiative (as opposed to a state ballot proposition) could qualify for a ballot. Basically, proponents must file intent to circulate a petition, the initiative’s text and any other written statement or purpose (500 words maximum) to the city clerk, plus pay a maximum $200 filing fee. The same information also has to be published in a local newspaper.

Then the proponents have 180 days to collect enough signatures (10 percent of the city’s registered voters for a regular election, 15 percent for a special election) to qualify. This is where it gets expensive. Haddock and community activist Alan Ferdman estimated it would cost $100,000 to successfully qualify for a ballot, which was the cost to defeat Measure S. Most of those costs would be from hiring paid signature gatherers and advertising.

“With 30 to 40 people, it could be done,” Ferdman said, “but it would require a large amount of dedicated individuals that would be willing to spend three months or however long.”

Right now, the initiative process seems a real long shot. White said he hadn’t even thought about it, Trautman would be willing to work on it but not take the lead, and Haddock might take the lead but is worried about the cost. Smyth said he wouldn’t sign the petition.

Boydston also questioned whether district voting is as important to others as it is to White and Haddock, who put district voting among his top five priorities.

“I don’t see the issue, like many city-level issues, as being important enough to enough people,” Boydston said. “The population, as a whole, doesn’t have enough time to follow the arguments.”

McLean Touts Vision and Experience

| News | August 30, 2018

If the three most important words in real estate are “location, location, location,” then the three most important words in Marsha McLean’s city council re-election campaign are “experience, experience, experience.”

She laughed at this suggestion, but make no mistake: Over a long career that has included four council terms, McLean has amassed a sizable list of accomplishments, 20 of which were on a sheet of paper she provided.

“I could keep you here another hour,” she said near the end of a 59-minute interview at Cathy’s Deli.

However, if pushed, McLean lists the following: her involvement with Bridge to Home and securing more affordable housing, the new senior center and sheriff’s station; increased train service, including a direct route to Burbank airport, and various capital projects in various stages of development. These include, but aren’t limited to, the Canyon Country Community Center, the parking structure and Laemmle Theatres in Newhall, a new library/community center in Saugus and replacing bridges and infrastructure in Valencia.

McLean also kept returning to all of the various committees, coalitions, organizations, associations, task forces, councils, clubs and boards she has served, led, sat on, worked for and advised. Another handout she provided listed 28 different bullet points, many of which included more than one position or organization.

“There’s something to be said for experience,” she said. “(With) my experience on regional boards and commissions, I have built up relationships that benefit the people of Santa Clarita. That doesn’t happen overnight. We still have many issues ahead of us in which the relationships I have built are relevant.”

One issue she returned to repeatedly regarded roads. She claimed she secured $300 million for roads and road improvements, including a $47 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. A press release from Rep. Steve Knight said the $47 million was an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority that would help ease congestion on Interstate 5; McLean’s name was nowhere to be found.

Many people, most notably TimBen Boydston, have criticized McLean for allowing traffic to escalate to the point of comparing it to the San Fernando Valley. McLean said she’s ready to have roads built through the Whittaker-Bermite property right now, as well as extending Magic Mountain Parkway, Santa Clarita Parkway and Via Princessa. There just needs to be a developer willing to come in and show a plan.

The problem is no developer wants to build only roads. They want to build homes, offices, retail centers – McLean envisions a large conference center – and everything else a developer and city council want with 996 acres to spare. But since no plans have been forthcoming, there are no new roads, and traffic continues to worsen.

“You have to fight for it. You have to work for it, on all levels of government,” McLean said. “We are not finished with our roads.”

While McLean touts accomplishments and optimism, when challenged and criticized she states that certain people “have a propensity to always bring out the negativity, so I don’t believe in negativity. I believe in truth, and if I sound defensive and sensitive, I can’t help how you think it sounds. I’m trying to tell you the way things are, and I would find it very sad if everything positive gets turned into a negative.”

Still, she knows as an incumbent, she wears a target. Various council candidates have objected to various qualities, behaviors and actions McLean (and other councilmembers) have taken.

Mostly, she sticks to a pat answer: “I respect other people’s opinions even when I don’t agree with them.” This was her response when asked to respond to Brett Haddock’s calling for a four-term limit, Logan Smith’s thinking the council has its mind made up before coming into chambers and hearing public comment, and Boydston’s criticism of “One Valley, One Vision.”

City Council Candidate Diane Trautman was once appointed to the city Planning Commission by McLean. When asked to respond to Trautman, who said, “Marsha takes offense when anybody disagrees. She’s really sensitive,” McLean interrupted and said, “I’ve known Diane Trautman years upon years upon years. I won’t comment on what she says, but she knows me better than that.”

Regarding the three-councilmember rule she said, “No comment. We need to – no comment.”

She answered almost every other question. She said she reads each council agenda packet in its entirety, asks the city manager numerous questions (most of which are answered before the council meeting), and reads various other city, county and private-sector reports looking to find ways to benefit the city.

“I am in this job 24-7,” she said. “My day goes beyond an eight-hour day. That’s just the way I wish to do the job.”

She does not think, as Trautman does, she gets critical or insulted if someone comes in and offers an opposing viewpoint. “We are five members that were elected to our positions,” she said before correcting herself because Bill Miranda had been appointed. “I represent the residents of Santa Clarita. My decisions are based on facts and as a resident what I feel is best for the residents of the city.”

That is why she said she voted against marijuana dispensaries in the city. She said a majority of residents have emailed, called and spoken to her voicing their objections. When asked to provide how wide a majority, she refused.

“I talk to families. I talk to parents, and the way they feel is they don’t want their children exposed to this,” she said. “People who need access to medical marijuana should have access to medical marijuana, and they do.”

McLean turned 78 in July. She is running for her fifth term and, unlike Laurene Weste and Bob Kellar, has not ruled out running again in four years.

“I have a vision, and I have the experience necessary to ensure our city continues to grow and enjoy the quality of life our citizens deserve,” she said.

Monitoring Traffic from the Bowels of City Hall

| News | August 30, 2018

Deep within the third floor of City Hall is a window. You could walk past it and never realize it’s there or what’s behind it. The sign on the glass is nondescript, too: “Traffic Operations Center.” Blinds are shut, preventing any peeks inside.

The locked door leads to another door that requires punching in a code to gain access. But once past that door, enter the center and see how the city monitors the flow of traffic.

It’s not a very large room, just 216 square feet, but three large screens on two walls and four smaller screens atop a desk in the center of the room dominate. Opposite the entrance are five large cabinet doors that hide the computers. Next to the door are 11 other computerized boxes called controllers.

This is the room where Cesar Romo spends much of his time, when he’s not out in the field or looking at the same images and intersections on his cell phone that are on the screens.

“I’m very passionate about this,” said Romo, the city’s traffic signal system administrator. “I’m always looking for ways to make traffic better for Santa Clarita.”

Romo took about an hour Tuesday to demonstrate how the multimillion-dollar system works and has been operating since 2006. First, some basics: The city only monitors the 191 signals within the city limits, so if someone calls and reports a malfunction to a light in Stevenson Ranch or Castaic, Romo or a city staffer will call the county or Caltrans to report it.

On one desktop screen is an overhead map of the valley filled with colored dots that denote traffic signals. The colors have meanings: A green dot means the signal is synchronized and operating properly, a blue dot means a signal only changes when a car trips a sensor at the intersection, a purple dot means a train is crossing, and a red dot means the signal is offline but not necessarily malfunctioning, Romo said. In fact, during the demonstration, red dots changed to green or blue.

When Romo clicks on a dot, the intersection pops onto the screen, courtesy of a satellite photo. Green or yellow arrows appear and disappear, indicating the flow of traffic (no arrow means the light is red). There’s also a flashing red light to indicate a pedestrian (shown as an orange light at a corner) pushed the crosswalk button.

On another desktop screen, Romo calls up a camera that’s broadcasting live from the intersection. Now, he can watch traffic move on one screen and see how it matches the arrows on the other screen.

“It’s nice to be able to look at two images and see traffic at the same time,” city Traffic Engineer Gus Pivetti said.

From this remote distance, Romo said, he can modify the timing if needed, whether by emergency, malfunction or enough people call about an intersection and he, after investigating, decides it needs modification.

“It’s a lengthy process,” he said. “You can’t just retime one light. You have to look at the whole artery.”

And if he’s not in the office, he can call up the image on his phone.

When a signal malfunctions or when the sheriff’s department makes changes because of an accident, Romo and Pivetti are among those in the department that get emails – no matter the time of day or night.

“Whether he’s in the center or not, there’s full-time communication,” Pivetti said.

If the situation warrants alerting the public, when a fire erupts, a water main breaks or an evacuation is needed, city spokesperson Carrie Lujan gets involved by sending the alert through various social media platforms. Then Romo or someone else calls the county, because that’s who’s in charge of signal maintenance.

Another aspect the center has been able to help determine is the need for what Romo and Pivetti call “dynamic lanes,” which are lanes that can be used for various purposes at various times of day.

Romo called up the intersection of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway. The camera – one of 300 the city uses – showed that eastbound on Soledad Canyon, a sign lights up at certain times to make the right lane, normally a turn lane, a lane to either go straight or turn right.

This system also showed that over time, that intersection needed more left-turn lanes, so the city moved the median over, giving more lanes to the eastbound Soledad Canyon and northbound Sierra Highway sides.

Since the traffic center has been online for several years now, there have been several upgrades and improvements (Romo said he’s currently in Phase 4A
of 7). A current one is called the adaptive traffic system, and its purpose is to measure the best timing plan during peak hours.

Romo is testing the system in Canyon Country on Whites Canyon Road between Stillmore and Steinway streets because there are three schools nearby “and traffic fluctuates a lot,” Romo said. “I want the system to adapt.”

Is it a perfect system? Romo admits it’s not.

“It’s going to have some issues, but what is acceptable?” he said. “Roads are designed to handle a certain number of vehicles. When the number of cars exceeds that, you have congestion.”

But something must be going right. In a back corner are various awards the center has won. These include two Best Use of Technology honors from the American Public Works Association and the 2007 Outstanding Public/Private Sector Civil Engineering Project from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

And yet, when asked if the residents by and large knew this room existed, Romo said, “I’m not sure.”

But he also said, “I think we manage traffic pretty good.”

Demolition of City-Owned Building Underway

| News | August 23, 2018

Demolition work has begun, as the City of Santa Clarita makes way for the new Canyon Country Community Center. Crews are working to take down the building on the recently acquired property, formerly Caruso II, as part of preparation for construction. The project site is on the northeast corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway and is expected to begin construction in the spring of 2019.

The demolition of this building, including the foundations and hardscape areas, will take approximately two to three weeks to complete. Reusable parts from the demolished building will be separated and sent to a recycling center. The Caruso II building was the last privately-owned property to be acquired, and is now being removed in order for the city to move forward with implementing the Community Center Master Plan, adopted by the city council in June of 2016.

The city has planned for this new facility to serve as a landmark welcoming people to Canyon Country. The center will be a community hub offering cultural enrichment in the form of classes, activities, programs and more, for both youth and adults. It will also have an outdoor event space and offer workshops for personal and professional development.

The city continues to work on completing the construction documents for this project and anticipates the project will go out to bid this fall. The Canyon Country Community Center is tentatively scheduled to open towards the end of 2020.

The new center will replace the existing temporary community center located on Flying Tiger Drive, at Sierra Highway.

For more information, visit the Santa Clarita 2020 website at SantaClarita2020.com, or contact Parks Planning Manager Wayne Weber at wweber@santa-clarita.com, or at (661) 255-4961.

Concussion Repercussions

| News, Sports | August 23, 2018

by Natalia Radcliffe

If you have seen the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit, you might pity the rabbit. His head never gets a break, being subject to constant, comical thumps. For a human, having a glass cookie jar dropped on the skull does not result in laughter, but possibly, a concussion.

And recently, there has been increasing concern over concussions for local athletes. This concern is commonly seen in sports where there is a risk of obtaining head injuries.

A concussion occurs when the head suffers a jarring blow, causing the brain to slide around inside the skull. This can result in damage to the brain cells. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), some observable signs of a concussion are: “not being able to recall events prior to or after a hit or fall, appearing dazed or stunned, forgetting an instruction, being confused about an assignment or position, or unsure of the game, score, or opponent, moving clumsily, answering questions slowly, losing consciousness (even briefly), and showing mood, behavior, or personality changes.”

Locally, schools and organizations within the City of Santa Clarita have taken up the gauntlet to better protect its youth against concussions in regards to “tackle football,” the sport most associated with these kinds of injuries. The Hart School District, private schools, and Pop Warner organizations have been making an effort to prevent the repercussions of concussions.

The Hart School District consists of the public high schools Canyon, Saugus, Hart, Valencia, West Ranch, and Golden Valley. It has a partnership with Henry Mayo Hospital, which hires athletic trainers to be at each of the six schools. It was the first school district to hire such people. The athletic trainers’ main function is to oversee rehabilitation of injuries, making sure the proper protocol is followed so students can safely return to playing the game as soon as possible.

Dave Caldwell, the public relations officer of the Hart District, says the district “is very fortunate to have a full time, certified athletic trainer at each of the six schools. They make sure the athletes are healthy enough to play.”

The Hart District is part of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) southern section, which oversees athletics in the state of California. Because it is a contact sport, there are rules put in place to prevent injuries, which include limiting the time spent on full contact practices in order to prevent the opportunity for students to suffer concussions. Caldwell also mentions there is an emphasis nationwide on training coaches to teach tackling techniques that do not require players to use their heads. There are even penalties “when players are leading with their heads or hit someone in the head with their heads,” known as targeting.

The local private Christian schools, Santa Clarita Christian (SCCS) and Trinity Classical Academy, are also working toward protecting their students.

All of Santa Clarita Christian’s coaches take a national course with the National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) in football and concussion safety before coaching students. They are always observing tackling and blocking techniques, and constantly work toward better ways that do not involve the head taking the brunt of the force. According to Mark Bates, the Athletic Director at SCCS, there have been major changes in how the game is played since he played football many years ago, when players would tackle headfirst.
These days, players tackle with the chest and shoulders, with the head being behind the body when the action occurs. The same thing goes with blocking. When Bates played football, players would block by hitting the opponents with their heads. Now, players are taught to use their hands. Helmets are another avenue in which the school is preventing concussions.

According to Bates, a helmet’s “primary use was to prevent lacerations on the head,” not to protect the brain from being jarred. This is not the case anymore, as the school uses newer helmets that better protect the head from hits as well as cuts. Like the Hart District, Santa Clarita Christian hires athletic trainers, but they are only are present at games. Bates says the school is working on getting them for practices as well. Despite these concerns, the school has not noticed a decrease in football registration.

Trinity Classical Academy is also working toward preventing concussions. According to Dr. Matthew J. Dixon, the Director of Athletics and Dean of Spiritual Life, the school has “been (obviously) having all coaches do the required CIF concussion training.” He says the school is “also exploring with better ways to register and account for injuries (including concussions), using tools like Player’s Health,” which, according to playershealth.com/about, is an interactive software that allows coaches to monitor and document injuries that happen while playing football. Coaches are also more aware of the consequences of a concussion injury, and therefore bench students over the slightest suspicion of one. As far as the school’s registration numbers for the football team, they have stayed the same 27 to 30 students, which Dr. Dixon says is normal for a school such as theirs.

The Pop Warner organizations say they are doing their part, as well.

The Saugus Spartans football organization, for example, requires all their coaches to pass an exam with USA Football. This exam includes recognizing concussion symptoms. If a concussion is recognized, the player is taken off the field and will need to be cleared by a doctor before returning to the sport. All of the teams have a medic on site during games, and someone who is medically trained available during practices. The president of the organization, Tony Moore, is in his seventh year at Saugus Spartans. In his time there, he says he has only been aware of two concussions, and both of those injuries were initiated by illegal hits from the opposing team.

Santa Clarita Cowboys is another Pop Warner organization that is striving to keep its kids safe. Like Santa Clarita Christian, all their coaches are trained in heads up tackling, which is tackling without using the head. According to Michael Haiby, the president, the rules have changed since twenty years ago. Players can no longer blindside the opposition, nor tackle with the head. He said that in 1999, coaches used to say to players, “go smack heads,” before going out onto the field. Obviously, this is not the case anymore.

Requirements for certification and inspection of helmets have also become stricter. Haiby says the organization uses the brands Riddell and Schutt for their helmets, and they are no more than four to five years old. The maximum number of years a helmet can be used is ten, but Haiby says a lot can change with helmets in a decade, as they can wear down from seasons of use.

Helmets are required to be conditioned every two years; however, the Santa Clarita Cowboys have their helmets inspected every year after the season is over. This is to keep their helmets looking new and clean, as well as making sure they are in top condition.

When helmets are recalled to be inspected, they are dropped from four or five feet to see if they crack. This is called drop testing. The helmets are also buffed down so the finish can be seen, called inspection reconditioning. In a nutshell, the helmets are literally taken apart and put back together to determine if they meet the requirements. If the helmet is deemed safe and competent, new pads are put in the inside of the helmet and a sticker is placed on the back, labeling it as successfully inspected. It is then shipped back to the organization to be used again.

All the coaches at Santa Clarita Cowboys are also required to take the CDC’s concussion class. When a concussion is spotted, they fill out paperwork detailing the specifics and send the player with the paperwork to a medically trained professional who treats the injury. The player then must be cleared by a medical professional before getting back into the sport. Haiby says, “We are more aware of concussions these days, and we are watching what we are doing.”

Helmets and Other Concussion Risks

Not only are schools and organizations working on preventing concussions, so are helmet companies. Both Riddell and VICIS are working towards preventing concussions. According to Riddell’s website, they came out with the “Insite Impact Response System,” which is technology that can “monitor and record significant head impacts sustained during a football game or practice” in 2013. This technology is located inside the helmet, and is commonly used with high schools.

VICIS is also a major player in concussion prevention technology. Their newest helmet is the ZERO1. According to their website, “it is Virginia Tech’s top-rated 5-star helmet.” Virginia Tech is a public, land-grant university research center. The technology in the ZERO1 helmet can be used with high schools as well as college and the NFL.

It is worth noting, however, that football is not the only sport where players can risk obtaining concussions.

According to a study by the American Journal of Sports, girl’s soccer also has a high tendency for concussions. This makes sense, as players are not required to wear helmets, but are susceptible to being hit in the head by a soccer ball. During the game, there are times where the ball is kicked into the net or passed to other people that can result in players being accidentally hit in the head. Since the players do not have any protection for their heads, they are more likely to suffer from a concussion.

Flag football also has a tendency to produce concussion injuries, because players are not required to wear helmets. According to Michael Haiby, the president of Santa Clarita Cowboys, most of the concussion injuries come from catching passes when the players dive for the ball and fall on the ground.

As The Pages Turn

| News | August 16, 2018

After the city decided to take control of its three libraries and give a private company the boot, City Manager Ken Striplin wrote an article in The Magazine of Santa Clarita assuring people that this move will benefit everyone.

“Transitioning to an in-house service will help the City better deliver on the library mission,” Striplin wrote.

Months later, people on Facebook beg to differ. One string started last week had 160 comments, mostly from people complaining about employees not knowing what they’re doing, a lack of books and having to go to county libraries in Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and Acton; staff cuts, program cuts, cleanliness and computer glitches.

“Libraries are, believe it or not, huge with my generation,” city council candidate Logan Smith wrote. “I’m really frustrated with how this whole thing has been handled.”

Jodi Bachman Osburn wrote, “Since the city has completely taken over it seems as if no actual librarians and the depth of materials is awful, even e books the amount available is horrendous. Shame on our Santa Clarita city council.”

For his part, Striplin did not respond to the Gazette. The Gazette sent city spokeswoman Carrie Lujan 11 questions for Striplin, to which Lujan responded.

“Every day we get feedback from our residents about City services, and we make adjustments to address their concerns and improve services,” Lujan wrote. “This is why nearly 90 (percent) of residents are satisfied with City service per our public opinion poll conducted by Godbe Associates. We always invite feedback, questions and concerns through our Resident Service Center (RSC) at santa-clarita.com/RSC.”

Lujan said that in feedback in July revealed that 90 percent of respondents said the staff effectively addressed the issue, 89 percent said the staff timely responded to them, and 93 percent found staff courteous.

Still, Lujan included in the Facebook string a message from city librarian Shannon Vonnegut, who apologized.

“I want to assure you that providing the best library service possible is our first priority,” Vonnegut said, offering her email address and phone number. “I also wanted to share options for getting books that are not currently on the shelves at any of our three branches. We do offer interlibrary loan borrowing and our staff is always willing to help request a loan for our patrons.”

It was Barbara Hills Kehoe who began the string Aug. 7, complaining about staff failing to verify books had been returned, emailing a scanned document and providing incorrect information on how to print from the computers.

“I have spoken to at least 10 new employees … and I am appalled at their ignorance on how to do things,” Kehoe wrote. “I know they arent (sic) all librarians, but heck, know your basic stuff.”

Lujan did not think the staff was learning too slowly.

When the city left the county library system in 2010, the New York Times reported, it paid Rockville, Md.-based Library Systems & Services (LSSI) $4 million to run the Newhall, Canyon Country and Valencia branches. That included hiring staff and buying books. LSSI held the contract for seven years before the city took over. The Signal reported the move would save the city $400,000 the first fiscal year.

Cecill Cornell Holguin wrote that she encountered some issues getting books from other libraries when LSSI was in charge. “I knew that when the city decided to run everything ‘in house’ it would be even worse,” she wrote. “With only 3 libraries in town how are they supposed to have a big enough catalog for requests?”

Lujan said 94 percent of items checked out came from “our local collection. Of that 6 (percent), many were titles we had in our collection, which were currently checked out by another patron. We believe we can meet the needs of our library patrons through better collection development. We invest $850,000 a year in our collection by adding new items.”

Kathy Bullock bemoaned the difficulty her book club is having securing the necessary 10 copies.

“I never had to go to county for book club books before. Or for most books for that matter,” Bullock wrote. “I don’t know how the person in charge got the city to believe we don’t need to borrow from other libraries.”

Lujan said the city can handle book clubs and referred to the Book Club in a Bag program in which the Valencia branch provides 10-12 copies of pre-selected titles (the library website lists 22) along with conversation starters.

Many people also complained that many experienced (read: high-paying) staff were let go and replaced by younger people.

Evelyne Vandersande wrote, “They want to save money and they will. They are closing one hour earlier and are using young employees, minimum wages and part time so no benefits. Those employees do not know what they are doing? Of course not! No experience at all.”

Actually, Lujan said, the Valencia branch hours shifted an hour earlier, from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. to 9 a.m.-8 p.m., on Mondays through Thursdays to give families with younger children more time to access the library before lunch or naptime. She added that all library employees are paid more than minimum wage and that the pay and benefits are better now than in the previous contract.

Kim Durand Nunez wrote about a time she asked a Valencia branch employee a question. “The girl rolled her eyes at me and gave me a hard time while checking out. Won’t go back unless absolutely necessary,” she wrote.

Many posters made it clear that they are now going to the county libraries in Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and Acton, although Dana Eklund, who wrote she worked at the Sylmar branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, said she sees many “come over the hill to get access to the vast collection of 72 branches plus the LA Central Library. It takes about a week to transfer items across the city to Sylmar Library, sometimes less. Granada Hills branch is also close.”

Not every post on the string was negative. Pat Czyzyk said she would rather deal with someone who is still learning but is pleasant than have to deal with someone who has experience but is unpleasant.

Darren Hernandez, who didn’t identify himself as a city employee but Lujan said was deputy city manager and director of neighborhood services, defended those hired.

“The implication is that unqualified people were hired. That’s untrue and unkind to those who were selected,” he wrote. “You aren’t being mean to me, you’re being mean to them.”

Eric Early Strikes Out Again

| News | August 16, 2018

Denied.

That one word, issued Friday by the Supreme Court of California, put to rest attorney Eric Early’s attempt to have Attorney General Xavier Becerra removed from the November ballot because his state bar status was “inactive.”

“No comment, just one word: denied,” Early said. “Sweet, huh?”

Last week, the Supreme Court requested immediate briefing, and Early asked the Court to rule whether an attorney who maintains “inactive” status with the bar can serve as AG under Government Code Sec. 12503, which states, “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.”

Early, who ran unsuccessfully for AG in the June primary, has long maintained the answer is no. 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.

In their reply, Becerra’s attorneys insist Becerra is eligible to continue serving as AG.

“Becerra meets that eligibility requirement many times over. The Court admitted him to practice 33 years ago, on June 14, 1985, and his admission has never been revoked or suspended,” Stephen Kaufman, Gary Winuk and Jay-Allen Eisen wrote in court documents Early provided to the Gazette. “Apparently unwilling to accept the democratic process, Early and his campaign committee ask this Court to take the extraordinary step of overturning the primary election.”

Early, vowed to continue fighting, but he won’t meet his goal of having the matter heard before the Aug. 13 deadline for the secretary of state submitting names and statements to the printer.

“That ship has sailed,” he said.

Early’s next move is to re-file with the state Court of Appeal and let the matter be heard on a non-emergency basis. He previously filed an emergency writ with the court.

“Someone’s got to interpret this statute, because it’s not been interpreted by the courts,” Early said. “It’s got to be ruled upon by a court.”

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

Canyon Country Woman Meets Firemen Who Saved Her

| News | August 16, 2018

Thirty-six years have gone by since Christine Hermann was hit by a car while playing in her neighborhood on Flowerpark in Canyon Country, just one day before her 13th birthday. After stabilizing the victim and sending her to the hospital, the five responders from Fire Station 107 on Soledad Canyon Road never saw her again.

Until Wednesday.

Speaking into microphones from local television news media, Hermann was able to publicly thank three of the men who saved her: Captain Pete Casamassima, firefighter paramedic Jim Bettencourt, and firefighter paramedic Gary Dellamalva. Engineer Terry Butler and firefighter Rich Ward were not in attendance.

“My story was not complete until I could thank you,” a teary Hermann said to the three first responders. “This was the highest priority, because 36 years had passed … and it’s so dear to my heart to be able to thank these men.”

Hermann’s story is her self-published memoir, “Because It Didn’t Kill Me,” where she talked about her experience emerging from a coma after being struck and found unresponsive, then suffering from a debilitating brain injury. As cathartic as it was authoring the book, Hermann wasn’t done until she completed this final chapter: meeting the men who saved her.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m just blown away that this meeting is actually happening.”

Because they spent years responding to calls, Hermann’s incident wasn’t at the forefront of their memories until last year, when they were contacted to meet her. It was different, however, for Gary Dellamalva.

“I remembered it vividly because I was new,” he said, stating several times that the seriousness of the accident left him assuming her prognosis was likely to be poor. “I didn’t know the outcome. I didn’t want to know.”

Hermann wrote the book after being denied disability, because the assumption was that if she had earned a master’s degree, she would not have a need for it. She believes there are a lot of misunderstandings about people with traumatic brain injuries.

“You may look normal on the outside, but you have a hidden injury inside that affects your life for the rest of your life,” she said.

But this week was for celebrating. Because although she already shared her story through the book, on Wednesday Christine Hermann got to share her gratitude.

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.”

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