Always Advocating Alan – Vacation Options, Credibility and My Weekly Column

| Opinion | 4 mins ago

by Alan Ferdman

It was time for the Ferdman family to get out of town for a little “rest & relaxation,” and we were ready to go. I have to chuckle about why I am talking in the past tense. I am writing this column before we leave and you will be reading it after we are back in town. So, even in advance, I will say we had a great time.
A week in Maui, along with gliding through the air on a zipline, snorkeling in clear water, attending a luau, sightseeing across the island, lounging by the pool and just kicking back at the hotel cabana: What could be better than that? But then, I thought, how am I going to handle my weekly Gazette column space? It would be a shame to leave it blank.

When I started writing for the Gazette, Doug told me I could skip a week now and then. But when I did it last time I left town, I was inundated with questions asking why my column was AWOL. To avoid all the drama this time, I would have to do something different, so I pondered my options. I could take a laptop with me and write the column in Hawaii. That might work, but if I take my laptop and start typing in the hotel room it will not be a real vacation. Hmm, next I thought, what about enlisting the aid of a “ghostwriter”? I could choose someone who would be in town and could write about current local issues. But then, I remembered just how unethical I thought it was when I found out our city councilmembers do not write the weekly columns which show up in our local publications with their names and pictures attached.

It all started when I noticed a previous city councilmember was absent from the councilmember column rotation in The Signal. I wondered why he didn’t he want to be included. As it turns out, he informed me, those weekly columns were not written by the councilmembers themselves. Instead, the articles were generated by the city staff public relations officer and published without councilmembers’ prior approval. When he requested the ability to approve and edit the columns prior to publication, the staff simply stopped writing for him and excluded him from the process altogether. By now, I’ll bet the majority of those reading this column know who the past councilmember and prior city public relations officer are.

Here in Santa Clarita, several individuals writing for local publications have been accused of using, and representing, other people’s words as their own, or plagiarism. Letters to the editor along with negative comments on Facebook came forth like a tidal wave, criticizing those authors. There were discussions about their lack of ethics and credibility, with many suggesting the individuals identified should not be allowed to publish articles in the future. Think about it. Why is plagiarism unacceptable, but allowing your name to be used as the author of something you did not write, or even read and approve prior to publication, not be considered just as bad? Both misrepresent and mislead the reader.

Allowing your name to be used in such an indiscriminate way is never a good idea. I recall a couple of election cycles ago, when a young gentleman’s campaign staff sent out an email for the candidate with the candidate’s name on it, creating a firestorm of accusations of collusion between him and another candidate. If the City of Santa Clarita Public Relations Office wants to create and publish information about what is going on in the city, they should put their own names on it, or get text approval by the councilmember who will be identified as the author, prior to publication. Even better would be the concept of having councilmembers write and publish material informing the public of their position on issues of interest to our valley.

Lastly, I have great concern about any person of authority who would allow material to be published in this manner. I am beginning to wonder how prevalent the situation is in City Hall. Is this method, of ghostwriting and indicating that another person wrote it, ethical? Aren’t our councilmembers concerned about what gets written and published under their names? Who sets policies for councilmember publications? Who is in charge and running the store? Shouldn’t the councilmembers set the ground rules? Well, there will be plenty of time to find out after my vacation and I intend to peruse the issue further.

For me, I am not going to step into the quagmire of misrepresenting who writes “Always Advocating Alan.” All the articles are written only by me. That is why I am at the keyboard, writing this column before my wife Pam and I leave on vacation, and you are reading it after we are back in town.

Even though this is sort of like writing a “Back to the Future” script, I will still say, in advance, we had a great time.

Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | August 11, 2017

I admit it, I’m a Baby-Boomer. And when I grew up, everything was sensible … or certainly seemed to be. Families were just, well … families. Dad, Mom, two-point-four kids, and maybe a dog or cat. Dad worked while Mom ruled the home & daily lives of the youngsters, and probably had to also feed the dog because the kids always forgot. Everyone just sort of expected to do better than their parents had done before them and America was the best darn country in the world.

I grew up a happy kid, blessed to be in a secure family and didn’t want for anything of worth.

Honesty was the best policy. If caught with your hand in the cookie jar, whether at home or in public life, there was a price to be paid. People worked to improve their lives, and in the movies the good guy always won (and got the girl) or at least died a heroic death (in which case he didn’t get the girl) while saving the world from utter destruction.

People didn’t reflexively turn to the teat of big government when their personal lives fell apart. The adults had been through that before. The parents of my generation had grown up during the decade that became known as the Great Depression (and not because it was great).

They sucked it up, hung together, tried harder – and got through. Not always pretty, but always real. It had logic. It worked. And there was an underlying but palpable faith in their futures. It was the natural order of things.

So what the heck happened? When did we (to mix metaphors) “jump the shark”? When did common sense become so uncommon? When did shared values become it takes a village to raise the next generation? And why does that latter phrase really frost me?

It may be that the term “village” begins to evoke uneasy feelings of governmental rules & regulations, versus natural common sense among neighbors. “Village” is, after all, just a word for a bunch of folks living near each other. But labeling it a village instead of, say, a neighborhood, formalizes it. And formality promotes structure, which creates habitual behaviors, which nurture formal rules to live by … which bring us to various forms of government.

City, county, state, federal, one-world … holy moly. It’s gotta stop! Why do we allow so many layers of bureaucracy telling us how to live?

I also think the term it takes a village is disturbing because it assumes the village knows what’s better for the kids than their own parents, a thought which is ludicrous on its face. There simply can’t be enough laws to tell people how to live, trying to construct a nation of well-balanced citizens. Sure, you could set out to create a march in lock-step citizenry made up of subjects of “the state” (sorry, village); but those citizens would be mere puppets for the dictator du jour.

Common sense; the rules of thumb of life, are a bottom-up sort of thing from the people, not top-down from above.

Don’t get me wrong. When a lot of folks live in close proximity, there needs to be some law and order. But not at the cost of humanity. Not at the expense of “love thy neighbor.”

The city of Santa Clarita was founded a mere 30 years ago, but if you attend a City Council meeting (or catch it on local access TV), you can tell from the terminology and mind-deadening procedural processes that to get even the simplest things accomplished there are layers of official ritual to wade through. It’s become a mini-Sacramento. They’re aping Washington D.C., and we all know how ineffective that swamp is, so deeply mired in bureaucracy and double-dealing having nothing to do with the will of the citizens.

Why, it’s enough to give politics a bad name!

People, families and neighborhoods work due to common sense born from life lessons learned. Can we demand less from our various levels of government? I believe not. Don’t let any level of government do your thinking for you … think for yourself.

Steve Cook, Canyon Country

Letters to the Ranter

| Opinion | August 10, 2017

Okay, so President Trump could halt funds for Obamacare subsidies. Or will Obamacare be allowed to completely fail after all of the insurance companies pull up stakes and exit the exchanges? If so, does that really mean the insurance companies pack up their toys and bawl their way back to the great insurance mommy in the sky? Or do the insurance companies miraculously begin offering perhaps new products to compensate for the loss of business from the Obamacare failure? 

I suspect the latter may be the case but I wouldn’t expect these “new” products to be cheap, at least not initially. The irony with my hypothetical is the proverbial 180 in the healthcare insurance sector. We would be back to the supply and demand approach of free market capitalism and devoid of other constraints as it should be. Perhaps this lesson, while unquestionably painful for a time, would be a very inexpensive lesson of the pitfalls of Socialized anything in the long run.

 I have benefitted from Obamacare so any opinion which one might construe regarding my questioning this issue can be considered reasonably unbiased. I might add that I would be open to regulation of the health insurance industry along the lines of what exists for the auto insurance industry so long as such regulation is limited to protecting policy holders from deception, price fixing, and fraud.


Columnist Robert Patrick Lewis was 100% factually correct.  Don’t think the misery that was inflicted on the Country of Venezuela by 2 consecutive America-Hating Socialists won’t happen here, in the United States.  If liberals successfully continue to unfairly bash President Trump, lowering his job approval ratings into the gutter, where they do not belong at all, we could wind up with another 2 American socialists, Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, lord forbid to turn our great Country into another Venezuela.  They, along with most Democrats today will give free healthcare and education (indoctrination of students) and bankrupt us as what happened in Venezuela.  And lord forbid what happens to any dissenting Americans.  Just look at what happened to Venezuela.



I’ve known Donald Trump for years, and I’m a huge Republican from Texas.  I hate it that so many people drank his koolaid and gave him a chance, as he never was the right guy for what you want to achieve.  Many of us knew what a snake Don is, so we aren’t surprised his Presidency has been an absolute worthless soap-opera disaster.  He isn’t making anything great, and he isn’t capable of it.  This whole thing has been a game to him, a conquest, a trophy to uphold his ego (hi own sister said that).  He gets everyone around him to pick fights with each other while he plays golf, he’s always been like that.  He is a master at “playing” people, as he sees us all as idiots and sheep to be herded, and you are falling for it.  He’ll be lucky to not be impeached and to stay out of jail.  He is only polling 40% with Republicans, which is really bad.  A word of advice:  take a neutral ground before you hurt your business.  You won’t make a positive impact spewing your minority views when the vast majority either never backed him or they turned off to him since he took office.  Open your mind and pay attention…..Trump has no reputable support, and source after source is exposing his failure and his malfeasance.  Even Fox News is bashing him now.  I know it isn’t what you want to hear, and I’d rather it be different, too, but it is what we have to deal with, and we are better off dealing with truth.  Just let it play out, or you will likely be seen as part of the problem.

I went to college with Rick Perry, and I briefly worked for his Presidential campaign when he asked me to, until he shot himself in the foot so much during the first ten days that all of us on his committee quit.  I wouldn’t put him in charge of any of the companies I own, and I kept him off the Board of Texas A&M’s athletic booster organization a few years ago.  I have ties to Jeff Sessions, he’s a spineless crook himself with behavior issues.  Tillerson I’ve worked with, he’s a really good man, though tough.  Gorsuch was a perfect choice with impeccable credentials, but Trump knows nothing about him, used to not be able to remember his name, and couldn’t tell you his wife’s name or his last judgeship (he was recommended by half of the RNC, so he isn’t even an accomplishment for Trump, especialy since we control Congress and pushed him through confirmation).  Kelly was my commanding officer when I was in the Corps years ago, and I would take a bullet for him.  Most of the rest of his cabinet are troubling people, though there are a couple of potential stars (DeVos is a glorified housewife at best), but they weren’t appointed to build and improve, they were appointed to marginalize their agencies so Trump could rule as King, which isn’t going to help our nation nearly as much as hurt it. 

I read your recent editorial at breakfast this morning.  My reaction was not “oh, good, a fine Republican”, and it wasn’t “well, I don’t exactly agree”.  My reaction was “this guy is so far off he is detached from reality”.  You will push people further from the Republican party with your methodology.

Just watch, a slew of much better Republicans will challenge Fake President Trump this next election cycle, and we will get a much better leader in the White House (though we may lose Congress in the meantime).  Don’t hurt yourself over a one-termer, pick a better fight by supporting the next guy.


Always Advocating Alan – Oh Where, Oh Where Did My Email Address Go?

| Opinion | August 10, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

Over the past couple of weeks, the legality and morality of organizations sharing their email lists has been raised in our local media. The issue came to the forefront when our local radio station, KHTS, requested that the Sand Canyon HOA share their email list with the station. The rationale was that Sand Canyon residents added to the “KHTS Alerts” list would be provided information related to natural disasters, fires, major traffic problems and other emergency situations.

When I heard about this, I was a little perplexed. Going to the KHTS website, I found that anyone can opt-in to KHTS’s Breaking News Alerts, as well as the KHTS Daily Brief, Restaurant Newsletter, SCV Buzz, Top Things To Do This Weekend in Santa Clarita, Home and Garden News, Hometown Recipes, Hometown Football, SCV Home Inside and Out, Healthy Living, Dodger Express and Peeples Place at KHTS.

Long ago, I signed up for the KHTS Daily Brief and find it very informative, which makes me wonder why the Sand Canyon HOA board of directors didn’t simply inform their members such KHTS services were available and provide them the link to opt-in if they so desired? Another possibility could have been to have a “trusted member” sign up and forward information to SCHOA members they feel is appropriate. Sharing their email list seems shortsighted and not in the best interest of their members, but the decision is their responsibility, so we will just have to wait and see how it all pans out.

With emails and email lists in our local news, the subject of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee’s email policy and application of the CAN-SPAM law came up at this month’s Canyon Country Advisory Committee Board of Directors meeting.

To start with, the CAN-SPAM Act became law on December 16, 2003, with the purpose of controlling the explosion of non-solicited pornographic and marketing emails. It established the first national standards for the sending of commercial bulk email and commercial singular directed email messages. CAN-SPAM requirements relate to “any electronic mail message where the primary purpose is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” The law prohibits the use of false or misleading header information and deceptive subject lines. Emails must identify the message as an ad, tell recipients where the sender is located and inform recipients how to opt out of receiving future emails. When opt-out requests are received they must be promptly honored.

But, here comes the rub. CAN-SPAM does not apply to non-commercial informational messages. You may have noticed, for example, “order confirmation” messages may not necessarily contain an opt-out method, because they are considered informational. CAN-SPAM also does not require you to opt-in to lists; therefore, if a list you are on is shared with another company, the recipient of the shared list does not need your permission to send you messages or to further share the list with other entities. It becomes your responsibility to opt-out of each and every instance where your email address is used.

It becomes obvious, once an organization shares their email list with another entity they lose all control over how the shared list will be used in the future. Managing the original list does not manage or change the shared lists. Opting out of the original list does not opt out all the other shared instances and will not prevent the proliferation of your email address’ future use.

This is where organizational ethics come into play. I believe, if you put your trust in an organization by providing your email address, it should be treated as personal information. Their organization should, and must, protect all its members’ personal information. By sharing an organization’s email address list, the act violates members’ trust and brings into question what other personal information will be shared.

As CEO of the Santa Clarita Community Council and Chair of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, I strongly oppose homeowners associations sharing their email lists. The use of email messages is a relatively low-cost communication tool and the commercial sharing and selling of email lists have become big business. Personal information, such as email addresses, provided to homeowners associations and community groups should never become part of this growing problem.

The Canyon Country Advisory Committee Board of Directors have long ago addressed this issue and established the policy of not sharing any of our members’ and friends’ personal information. No matter whether or not the law prohibits the sharing of an email list, the Canyon Country Advisory Committee considers sharing such information is divulging personal information, which is clearly in violation of our organization’s ethics and by-laws. We have never shared our email list or asked another organization to share their email list with us. We take great pride, however, in knowing there are other organizations who regularly choose to forward our meeting information to their members.

As an organization, the Canyon Country Advisory Committee provides the community with information about issues affecting the Santa Clarita Valley. Our correspondence is non-commercial and we do not offer any products or services for sale. To be sure our intent is clear, the following epilogue will be added to all future Canyon Country Advisory Committee emails.

“This message has been sent to you by the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, a division of the Santa Clarita Community Council, as a public service. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone you believe will benefit from the information contained herein.

It is our policy; The Canyon Country Advisory Committee email list is never shared with any other organization. Additions to our mail list, or opting out, can be achieved by replying to this email with your request.”

If you want to find out more about the Canyon Country Advisory Committee or decide to opt-in to the CCAC email list, email your request to CCACMembership@gmail.com.


Identity Theft Exists. Voter Fraud Does Not?

| Opinion | August 10, 2017

by Joe Messina

They keep telling us that voter fraud does not exist. I guess the memo never made it to the perpetrators (who are) doing this more and more. My hometown of Boston is known for its fresh fish, history, great food, and a very active underworld.

It seems like employees of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, known as the RMV (the equivalent to the Department of Motor Vehicles in other states) has found a way to make a little extra spending cash.
Six employees of the RMV were caught stealing identities and creating driver’s licenses for ILLEGAL aliens. That’s a constitutional legal term, not mine, so don’t get mad at me for using it. These employees were arrested and charged with aggravated identity theft. What is “aggravated identity theft” anyway? Did they irritate the identity when they stole it? It wasn’t a complicated process to get an illegal driver’s license. You simply gave the front man cash. An appointment was made to get your license. The clerk who was in on it “checked” your paperwork; you passed, and got a license.
Think about it like an official “fast food crime-to-go” mob-type setup. Now that you have an official STATE issued ID, you can register to vote, get food stamps, cash checks, and so much more.
To add insult to injury, it wasn’t the police who found it. Not the state police; though I can’t imagine they didn’t ever pull over someone with an illegal ID and question them. Not the Registry Police (yup, they have their own!) Not the Metropolitan Police. Yup, another protective service. No, it was someone from within the RMV. A real whistleblower. Unlike those treasonous people in communications at the White House.
The whistleblower brought this to their attention in October 2015 … TWO YEARS AGO!
An anonymous letter sent to the Massachusetts State Police in October 2015 stated that there were corrupt employees at the RMV. It detailed that they were supplying stolen identifications and driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. WHY did it take so long to investigate?
Massachusetts is very sympathetic to the illegal immigrant population and would be among the first to sign up for Illegal City status. Sorry, I meant to say, Sanctuary City status. The question is, how long BEFORE the 2015 letter had this been happening? And how many were issued?
It’s funny how no one disputes that identity theft happens. But many deny that voter fraud happens. Why? If someone would steal a person’s identity, what would keep them from illegally voting to support those who favor Sanctuary Cities and keeping illegals in the country?
The head of the California state Senate stated that his whole family was here illegally, that they stole their identities to get here and work here, because that’s what it takes to make it in America today. WOW! How is that OK?
And these are the same people who think they are all above the law.
Some of you will say this is a “one off” or not that common. Really? I wonder how many other Department of Motor Vehicles this is happening in around the country?
Let’s start in Broward County, where the person in charge of voter registration said that a large number of illegals and felons voted in the last election. An elected Democrat official! But voter ID is so small, not a big deal. And we don’t think about it, because voter ID and voter fraud are so hard to prove, and therefore hard to convict.
God bless the Democrat registrar (one of the few Dems willing to step up and do something) in Broward County who actually admitted they had felons and illegals who voted in the 2016 elections.
HELLO! Listen up … illegals and felons actually voted in our elections! Confirmed by the Democrat in Broward County that oversees elections!
Remember, we’re told it doesn’t happen. There is no proof that is has overturned or affected the vote outcome (like that whole Russian thing). Maybe not, but if a person’s vote was stolen and laws were broken, they should be prosecuted. You can’t pick and choose which laws you will stand by!
There are many puzzling issues, like Los Angeles County which has over 60,000 registered voters who are either dead or have moved out of state (my daughter being one of them).
In the Broward County midterm elections in 2014, the election audit showed that 103 percent of the people who were actually eligible to vote were registered. In 2016 it went to 106 percent. I wonder where those extras came from?
This goes on all over the place, so I am tired of people telling us voter fraud doesn’t take place or that these things aren’t happening. The elected officials in West Virginia reported they had 36,000, yes, 36,000 dead or illegals registered to vote. Not 360. Not 3.6. But 36,000!
This was finally dealt with when a new Republican county registrar was elected. The illegal registrations were purged from the state election rolls just 45 days after his election. Why so fast? He and others had been working on this for years and seen this as a problem for years. When he took office, he knew what he was looking for. He got the team together to make it happen. They’ve now eliminated the potential for 36,000 illegal votes to be cast. It’s about time!
Let’s say at least 20,000 people were going to have their votes stolen. I’ll cut some slack because the dead voters can’t complain about having their votes stolen. The reason more people aren’t being arrested or prosecuted is because it’s so hard to convict.
There are many cases now being reported out of Texas, Oregon, West Virginia, Chicago, Florida, and New York. We are finally seeing some movement to correct the situation.
The Washington Post says there may have been over 5 million illegal votes cast nationwide. A study on illegal voting by the online Electoral Studies Journal states that illegal voting was very high in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles. The study found that illegals may have cast up to 3,000,000 votes in the 2008 and 2010 elections.
I guess the Russians are giving the illegals a run for their money and the Democrats just don’t like it!
Maybe now that the GOP has over 30 full houses of legislatures and governor seats across the country the voter rolls may finally get cleaned up. The dead will be stripped of their rights to vote and the illegals will just give up and go home!
That’s right, I’m an optimist. And yes, I’m still waiting for the pony I asked Santa for in Christmas of 1974!

SCV Continues Beach Bus Service to Santa Monica – City Hopes Homeless Will ‘Get the Hint’

| Opinion | August 10, 2017


Although summer is coming to an end, there is still a chance to check out Santa Clarita’s very own Beach Bus Service – an inexpensive way for residents and transients to take a very long, quaint trip to someone else’s city.

Since June 3, there has been no need to wander the streets, because there isn’t a way to get to a place with more benches, public restrooms, and fun summer activities. So, what are you waiting for? Find some change, stroll on over to the bus station, and enjoy the trip!

Can we bring coolers and beach balls? OF COURSE. In fact, take everything with you: duffle bags, shopping carts – please, don’t leave anything behind. Grab your beach gear, friends, and personal belongings, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Because of fuel concerns, the transit service can only take half of the bus riders back to Santa Clarita. But don’t worry, once you are at the pier, the rest will take care of itself. Think of it as a relaxing, overnight, permanent vacation at one of Southern California’s best tourist locations, equipped with state-of-the-art shelters and a booming street performer economy.

Some people wonder why SCV doesn’t have a year round homeless shelter. But, with a rocking bus ride to an awesome city like Santa Monica, you should be thankful for what we have, instead of being ungrateful for what this town doesn’t have. What SCV does have, however, are a couple of rockin’ 40-passenger movie theatre carpet-laden buses and a mission.

We would never come right out and tell our hometown transients to leave the city — goodness no. We aren’t the Antelope Valley. All we are saying is, do you even really like it here? It’s not even the right aesthetic for you. The tattered look you are rocking is BoHo Chique, and we are so OhNo Bleaque. We wouldn’t want to ruin the thing you already have going on.

Anyways, all aboard before the summer season is over! It’s what’s best.


The City of Santa Clarita’s Inner Monologue

A Close Look at SB 634 – Water Merger

| Opinion | August 10, 2017

by Sally Cook

WATER is such a precious commodity, and SB 634, also known as the Water Merger Bill, in its present configuration, is set to place the water for the whole of the Santa Clarita Valley under the control of just a few folks at Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA), who have already demonstrated that they are willing to stretch the law a bit in buying up local retail water companies in order to gain control of the valley’s water supply!

This bill is “messy,” as it has been created through lengthy planning by a few people whose end purpose is to put into place a monopolistic water bureaucracy, currently by scooping up the Newhall Water District, without giving ratepayers a chance to vote on this issue, or even to know all of the details. In fact, every citizen of Santa Clarita and its environs should have a chance to vote this bill in or out! We need transparency!

CLWA purchased the Valencia Water Company from what once was Newhall Land and Farming; included in the fine print was an agreement to provide water for the Newhall Ranch development. That means the sparse water here in the valley is to be shared, in the future, with the residents of the planned 21,500 new homes.  Pretty sad, as we really don’t have sufficient water for the homes that we are occupying today.

Another thing about the Valencia Water Company, it is no longer under the control of ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY! This, because it is now “privately owned,” and provides some $800.000 or so annual profit to the CLWA. This profit (is) nicely provided by the ratepayers of Valencia Water Company (including me). In fact, shortly after the purchase of the Valencia Water Company, the rates went up some 15 percent.

And then there’s Water District 36, which is located within the boundaries of this new super district, but is not a part of it. Explain that!

Add to all of this, there are differences in the indebtedness of the various districts. At the latest look, these have not been taken under consideration. THERE MUST BE AN INDEPENDENT AUDIT!

You can easily see that this bill is not ready for approval, it needs to either go back to the drawing board with the slate wiped clean, enabling the process to begin again OR, better yet, just forget about the whole thing. We were getting along  pretty well before this idea popped up. Excepting the fact that Valencia Water needs to be placed under the auspices of a proper governmental agency; the current situation is not proper!

Remember, a NO vote ON SB 634 will help assure we have enough water in the future! A YES vote will benefit Newhall Ranch, not the water users currently living in this valley!

What We Can Learn From Venezuela

| Opinion | August 4, 2017

The terms “socialist” and “fascist” have seen a wide resurgence in use leading up to and since the last presidential election. And in concert with the current trajectory of our society, in many cases the usage was absolutely wrong. I saw a video on Facebook with someone claiming that the definition of fascist was recently changed in dictionaries to include the term “extreme right wing,” but a simple check online proved that to be fake news.

Socialism, however, is a very scary principle that many of our nation and her youth don’t have an accurate grasp of, but of late they have been easily misguided by wolves in sheep’s clothing to extol the virtues of a social and political philosophy they know little of.

Like many issues of politics or economics, socialism looks great on paper, and teenagers who have read about it in academia but never seen it in practice can fall for it pretty easily. But of the same respect, communism looks pretty good on paper until you look at Russia, North Korea or China to see how the plan truly plays out.

We had a democratic primary candidate in this last election who railed against capitalism and the 1 percent, sweeping the nation’s youth and impoverished with his message that the 1 percent was evil and stealing money from their pockets. But, of course, he ended up being a prime example for why socialism never works when he was photographed driving around in an Audi R8 supercar (MSRP $163,000) and reportedly purchasing a new vacation home for $600k after the election.

You see, the problem with socialism or communism comes down to one simple fact: humans are greedy. Especially humans with a desire for power.

While those attempting a coup of the government to instill socialism or communism plea to the common person and talk about how everyone would be equal under their new system of governance, they never include themselves or their friends. Socialism and communism are nothing more than a transfer of wealth and power to an elite few while the public suffers in poverty together.

And aside from Uncle Bernie, we have another excellent example taking place in Venezuela at the moment. While the mainstream media has been focused 24/7 on Russia, Venezuela is in an all out civil war between the people and the government. The people have been starving to death for quite some time and many civilians have been murdered by police and government actors for speaking up against the socialist/fascist regime.

President Maduro (President of Venezuela) recently “won” an election giving him pretty much unlimited power to hand-pick an assembly to rewrite their constitution. This week two of his major opposition leaders were jailed for claiming electoral fraud immediately after Maduro made a speech saying that his enemies would be jailed.

The basis of their claims of fraud, however, seems pretty simple: Maduro claims to have won by 8 million votes, but most counts put the entire votes cast at around 3 million. And to believe that the same public who are cheering IED’s killing Venezuelan police in the streets, who are slowly starving to death and being murdered for protesting, would vote for the sitting administration is basically insane.

In retaliation we’ve sanctioned Venezuela and frozen Maduro’s assets. But, as a member of OPEC and an oil-producing nation, they’ll find a way around the sanctions just like Iran, Iraq and any other oil-producer who’s had those sanctions has done.

Maduro and Venezuela are precisely what happens when the plague of socialism takes root, and unfortunately, there are more than a few actors in our own nation attempting to bring this disease here. Capitalism may not be perfect, but it doesn’t murder its own people for speaking out against tyrants.

So, the next time you hear a Starbucks barista, a professor who’s never worked outside of academia, a political candidate, or an MSNBC or CNN host talking about the glorious virtues of socialism or socialist policies, just remember what’s actually happening in Venezuela.

There are many dangerous people and ideas in this world, but the most dangerous ones always arrive as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And just like the big bad wolf, once you let them in it’s too late.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pack” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @ RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**


Always Advocating Alan: Coyotes and Bobcats and Bears – Oh My!

| Opinion | August 3, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

Over the past decade, as Santa Clarita has grown, we have been made witness to increasing coyote, bobcat and now, bear sightings on city streets. While many so-called experts tell us it is caused by development and loss of habitat, it should also be recognized that humans also create an urban environment for wildlife — particularly here in Santa Clarita, because we live in a desert. With human habitation comes more water, more food sources, and more places to hide. Under these conditions, some animal populations tend to increase.

Today, for example, there are many more opossums and raccoons living right in our neighborhoods than there were when I moved to the Santa Clarita Valley 50-some years ago. Plus, it is not only in our valley. I have a friend who lives close to power lines in Burbank. He told me that, while on his morning walks, he regularly sees coyotes drinking from running lawn sprinklers. So, when some individuals say we need to cut the animals some slack because they were here first, I need to remind them, many are here because we inadvertently provided them essentials they need to live.

Over the past several years, Santa Clarita news agencies and internet blogs have reported small animals attacked, killed and taken by coyotes, yet nothing has been done to mitigate the problem. Now, it is presumably a black bear issue. Let’s hope our local officials will recognize the problem and do something before we hear of a report where a child is attacked or a hiker killed.

Doing a little research on black bears, I found males can be up to 500 pounds and while black bears prefer forested areas, smaller populations will also be found in swamps and deserts. Black bears have virtually no natural predators, except for humans. So, the longer we go without addressing the issue the worse it will get.

Several years ago, I saw firsthand the unintended consequences caused by not controlling the population of predatory animals who have no natural process limiting their numbers. I was visiting friends in Oregon and the local powers had decided to stop the practice of limiting the cougar population by outlawing hunting of cougars with dogs at night. As you might imagine, the cougar population dramatically increased. The staple of their diet is deer, so as the cougar population increased, the deer population decreased. By the time I was there, the cougar problem had become so widespread that my friend, who had a cabin close to the wilderness areas, would not go out in his front yard without a sidearm for protection.

Oregon is an area closely tied to nature. A fair number of individuals hunt deer and elk in the fall to fill their freezer for the winter. While I believe trophy hunting for sport is unacceptable, hunting for food and eating what you kill is another story. Understanding where food comes from is something all us city dwellers should be made very much aware of.

I had never been on a deer or elk hunt and wanted to see one in action. So, I stayed in the hunting camp for a week. While there, I learned something totally unexpected. To start with, hunting is very heavily regulated. Your license, or tag, specifies where you can hunt, how many animals you can take, and almost all limit the kills to adult bucks (males). We joked that the deer must have read the rules, becaus, as soon as hunting season started, bucks went into hiding, but female deer (does) would be out in the open and even walk right up to our truck, as if to smile and say, “Hi, I know you can’t shoot me.” I realized animals have the aptitude to quickly learn when they are safe and when they are not.

So, if Santa Clarita residents think accepting and ignoring bears invading our residential areas is not a problem, they are dead wrong. By not taking action, they will be providing an open invitation to an even larger number of bears and other wildlife to visit our community.

To show the absurdity of the current “Fish and Game” philosophy, and the lack of attention given the problem by our city leaders, I considered these facts. If I want to take my 7-pound, white haired, tail-wagging, four-legged, female family member named “Baby,” who has teeth that can’t even pierce a grape ,for a walk, I am required by law to have her on a leash. We wouldn’t want her to go crazy and hurt someone. Yet, if while on my walk I come across a 400-pound black bear running loose on the street, I am supposed to be calm and feel safe because some idiot behind a keyboard wrote an article stating that 95 percent of the time the bear will not attack? If I end up as one of the other 5 percent, I’ll be sure to caution the bear that it is acting out of character, and if I survive I’ll be even more sure to look up the idiot who wrote the article.

In one of my college survey classes I was made aware of Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” and it made a lot of sense. Maslow’s model portrayed human needs from the most fundamental level at the bottom through the need for self-actualization at the top. Safety was described as a fundamental need, with only the need for air, food and shelter being of greater concern. While I understand and support protecting the environment by preserving animal species, such objectives cannot be put in front of protecting human life. Nothing is more important than maintaining the personal safety of our family, children, and four-legged family members.

The July 28 Signal editorial tells us, “Obviously, keep your children and small pets inside, especially at night. Bears aren’t likely to want to eat a dog … but an irritated bear could take a swat at a dog, injuring it.”

Great advice, as long as “the inmates are running the asylum.” But, why shouldn’t you be able to enjoy your backyard in the evening? Why should bears have more rights than humans? When the pendulum starts to swing in the direction of protecting humans, instead of bears, coyotes and bobcats, we will all be able to sigh a breath of relief and return to a sensible lifestyle.


**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Lean Left: To Your Health!

| Opinion | July 28, 2017

by Blair Bess

We just made America great again, folks. We did so by destroying the only healthcare program that made quality medical care affordable for everyone in America. Yes, everyone.

If those who support this administration and the alleged Republican “leadership” in Washington think this is the first of their party’s solutions among many to come, wait and see what’s in store. The “final solution” will be the death of real affordable healthcare and millions of people who will be affected by its repeal.

Pushing and shoving a bill that NO ONE other than Republican “leadership” read thoroughly is a disaster. But those myopic enough to believe that healthcare will be better and cheaper and available to all will be sickened – literally sickened – when reality sinks in. In relative terms, it will be a very short time before the former middle class (yes, former middle class) gets to experience the lovely benefits of this bill.

If you are an aging citizen of Santa Clarita or, perhaps, just a Baby Boomer, you are going to be very unhappy in another 10 or so years when the Medicare program in which you have invested a large portion of your hard-earned income will barely cover basic care.

Patients with terminal illnesses, it’s time to make “pre-need” arrangements for your early demise. Those of you with pre-existing conditions, good luck to you. Insurance coverage will be available to you. Just sell all your possessions so you can afford it. For two or three years. Maybe.

Hey, newlyweds, planning on starting a family? Better save up the tens of thousands of dollars you’ll have to pay for prenatal care, maternity car, pediatric care, and overall women’s healthcare. And God forbid you have a newborn who ends up in a neonatal intensive care unit. Or a child who has special needs that require complex and expensive treatment or medications.

And if you think the empty promises to allocate funds for opioid addiction are going to help, don’t count on it. There’s no way in hell enough tax dollars will be carved out for that. You’d have to be stoned to believe it. OxyContin or OxyCodone doesn’t come cheap. But heroin does. In fact, it’s way more affordable than affordable healthcare or a pint bottle of Jack Daniel’s. There’s no hope for you either, alcoholics; treatment might not be readily available if you choose to go on the wagon.

Don’t worry, though, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have just the right “fix” in their healthcare plan. But wait, is there really a plan? Congressman Steve Knight thinks so. After telling a Lancaster Town Hall meeting last March that he wouldn’t vote for a “plan” if his “leadership” tried to slam one through the House, he voted for the “plan” his “leadership” slammed through the House.

Shame on you, soon-to-be-former Representative Steve Knight. Better run off to see Karl Rove, the guru of the Republican right, for more money. Oh? Didn’t you hear? Karl Rove and others who live thousands of miles away just bundled hundreds of thousands of dollars together to help fund your Congressman’s bid for re-election next year. And there’s very likely more to be headed his way. Much of that money is coming from Rove’s and various other Political Action Committees; his PAC, for those of you familiar with the acronym. You know, those PACs that are filled with the swamp dwellers your president promised to drain out of the Washington wetlands.

How about people working in the service industries? You know, the ones who are scooping up fries at McDonald’s, filling up taco shells at Taco Bell, the ones who clean your offices, do your nails, pump your gas, and do whatever you in the former middle class don’t want to do. MediCal ain’t exactly gonna to be what it used to be. So, they’re out of luck. But, whatever, they’re poor. Who cares?

Oh, that’s right. We can save the money we’d spend on health insurance by not having to buy it. Too bad that when the day comes that you may want or need to buy it, you won’t have the financial means to do so. There’s another problem here: We need as many insured people in the system as possible to fund the health insurance industry and keep it going.

Prescription drug costs? You think they’re out of control now? Hah! Give it a few years. People will be selling their souls for a vial of insulin. Generics? Even they’ll cost an arm and a leg (arms and legs are a whole other story). This administration does not have your back (or neck); they’re in the process of keeping cheap generic drugs produced in places like India from ever entering the American market. Why? Not to keep jobs here and make America great again, but to ensure that emerging nations don’t cut into the profits of pharmaceutical companies here at home, who also happen to have their medications produced offshore in emerging nations. Uh. That makes sense.

The Emergency Medical and Treatment Labor Act (EMTLA), passed in 1986, is a good example of how saving money is a fallacy. Under the EMTLA, public and private hospitals are prohibited by law from denying a patient care in an emergency. It explicitly forbids the denial of care to indigent or uninsured patients based on a lack of ability to pay. Once you’re stable, that’s a whole other story. As long as you’re out the door, follow-up care doesn’t come into play, nor does routine care or treatment.

Private hospitals are businesses and they don’t like getting stiffed — even by folks without money. But there are plenty of excuses, like “Congress took away my ability to get affordable health coverage!” Sure, they can come after you, but you can’t get blood from a stone no matter how much you’ve been given during a transfusion. Public hospitals? That could work. You may not like going to County, but beggars can’t be choosers. Plus, public hospitals absolutely cannot turn you away or suspend care because you’re unable to pay. Know why? Because we the people own public hospitals (and their debt). So, who pays when someone who can’t pay doesn’t? We do. All of us. Through increased costs, charges and fees, tax assessments, and increased medical premiums.

While we may not be talking about a zero-sum gain, the brilliant minds of the Republican “leadership” probably haven’t given any of this too much thought. Because it interferes with their steadfast desire to shred to pieces the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and further enrich the top one percent of America with hundreds of millions in tax breaks. If they were truly thoughtful, they’d be thinking at this very moment of the 32 million people they’ve screwed out of good, affordable healthcare and put at risk — physically and economically.

The ACA wasn’t perfect. What is? But it was the best we had. You don’t break the china just because you’ve chipped a cup.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

The Effectiveness of ‘You’re Fired’

| Opinion | July 28, 2017

Anyone who has spent time at any Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility, large military unit or governmental office knows the greatest weakness of government: the near impossibility of firing sub-par workers. It is finally one of the issues being brought up in an attempt to overhaul the VA, but most other governmental agencies have yet to follow suit.

I want to add here that I’m not saying ALL government employees, VA personnel or DoD civilian contractors are sub-par workers. I have met quite a few whose tireless dedication to their job and the people they support is a beacon of hope for the rest of the organization. But the other ones drag them down like a rock shackled to your ankle by the mafia before you’re thrown into a lake.

They’re easy to see, and they’re everywhere — civilian employees in military or government whose objectives seem only to do just enough to not get fired. Unfortunately, they’ve usually been there for quite some time, are extremely jaded and act as if the people they are paid to serve are nothing more than a nuisance. It happens in all forms and levels of government, and these people put a black eye on both the performance of and respect for government.

These people are able to stick around until (a very cushy) retirement for two main reasons: Firstly, because of the way government agencies are structured, they are next to impossible to fire unless a manager is willing to spend an inordinate amount of time documenting their issues. Secondly, in conjunction with the first, most government leaders don’t care because their paycheck comes from Other People’s Money (OPM). Governmental leaders have no real incentive to drive efficiencies in their spending, so they don’t put very much effort into it.

Now let’s take the private sector. I’ve learned in the last three business law classes of a top MBA program focusing on hiring & firing practices how to keep yourself out of trouble as a business leader. Even though millions and millions of dollars are awarded in wrongful termination and unfair hiring practices suits against the private sector every year, it’s still much easier to prune an organization of employees who just aren’t a good fit for the firm and to create policies to keep out those who won’t drive your business forward.

Businesses have spent a lot of time working on these practices because, opposite from government, it is their money that is being spent on every paycheck, and leaders of any good organization are highly incentivized to ensure the operation is running efficiently.

We finally have a commander-in-chief who views the American people’s money with the reverence that it deserves, rather than the flippant, careless and reckless spending we’ve seen over the past eight years.

And along with that reverence for our hard-earned money comes the same frame of thought from the public sector regarding it: If a person is drawing a paycheck in the Trump organization, but isn’t a good fit, they are promptly shown the door. Conservatives understand this, as Conservatives seem to understand and have a greater reverence for business and efficiencies than our colleagues on the left. But, of course, the only thing they and the mainstream media put focus on is the shakeup going on in the current administration.

Jeff Sessions is a wise and experienced man, but he just wasn’t a good fit. That doesn’t mean that he is sub-par, by any means. It just means that he wasn’t a good fit for the direction that the current CEO (president) saw for the company (country) moving forward. This is standard practice in business, but once again the left has shown they have absolutely no understanding of efficient business practices.

For the first time in a long time our country is moving towards efficiency and has a president who cares about where our money goes. Don’t let the media fool you into thinking these shake ups in the administration are a sign of weakness. Rather, understand they are a sign of strength, leadership and understanding of efficient practices.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

The Weight of the Media’s Choices

| Opinion | July 27, 2017

by Betty Arenson

The palpable hate in politics today is the worst many have ever seen. The reactions and depths of emotions far exceed any definition of loathing; it’s unadulterated hate. In my opinion, hate is an energy-sucking waste of time, but each to his own, because clearly, plenty of it exists.

Those who really like President Donald Trump will stand by him no matter what. Those who hate him will keep it up, irrespective of anything he does, constructive and positive or not. Those in the middle, and that’s a big territory, will continue to watch, and if they are prudent, they’ll sift out fact from fiction.

Trump is battered because he often responds to negative press. He has called out “fake news.”

For a citizenry that claims to demand transparency, well, they have it in this president. What he is thinking is usually pretty obvious. Some like that, some don’t.

Trump was identified, even by himself, as “not-a-politician.” That was no secret and it is much of the reason he was elected. Yet, when he doesn’t act like a politician people waste time to point it out. Yes, he’s brash, but everyone has their style and he is neither apologizing nor backing off it. That’s just the way it is; for better or worse, depends on the observer.

It would be beneficial for the sake of the country if people could take a breath and look at the whole picture with a lot less emotion and visceral reaction.

Trump is called, well, everything, publicly, no matter how crass. As an aside, I do not care what he said 22 years ago in a private conversation when he was unknowingly audiotaped. His words were nearly a quarter of a century old and were not of the campaign or of his presidency. The people throwing stones at Trump for saying something uncouth over two decades ago in a private conversation better check their house’s stucco walls, because they just turned to glass.

Trump will be criticized irrespective of what he does.

President George W. Bush was relentlessly criticized for being a dope and a dummy. Bush has degrees from Yale and Harvard and piloted military jets. George Bush remained a gentleman who never responded negatively to the injustice and he left the office with a big “D” stamped on his forehead.
That evinces: Fight back or not, you’ll be disparaged.

Fake News is being repeatedly proven, irrespective of the MSM trying to brush it off of their collective shoulders. How many times does CNN have to be caught in their out-and-out lies?

Last week it was the Washington Post publishing that Trump had a secret hour-long meeting with Putin. The facts are that it was a dinner with the heads of multiple countries and their spouses where Trump simply had an OPEN, maybe 15-minute conversation with Putin, who happened to be sitting with Mrs. Trump.

There was absolutely nothing nefarious about it. Undeniably, had Trump avoided speaking with all of those present, he would have been called arrogant and unfriendly to foreign nations.

It is a fact that President Obama never experienced the vindictiveness and malice of the MSM. This was a president who openly and repeatedly lied to Americans about the truth of Obamacare and its mandated health policies. Yes, a lie of huge consequences, as healthcare affects over one-sixth of the American economy. While Bush and Trump were vilified, anyone who dared cite Obama’s transgressions was met spontaneously with the default position of “racism” label. Because President Obama is a man of color, it was his breastplate.

Whether you hold hate or fondness for President Trump, putting the passions aside, do you really think the media is fair and prudent? Is the picture of the results of the vivid comparisons really okay with you?

Those without an agenda can answer that question honestly.
**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

A High Schooler’s POV

| Opinion | July 27, 2017

by Analyn May

Although the fad seems to have died down a bit, it wasn’t too long ago that dystopian stories were all the rage — specifically, dystopian YA novels that focused on teenage girl protagonists who were usually stuck in a love triangle. You know the ones I’m talking about.

Regardless of whether or not you enjoyed the trend, it struck an interesting chord with me. As a Generation Z kid, I’m currently growing up in a world largely run by technology, and this isn’t a new fact to anyone. Automatic doors, social media, Netflix, and credit card apps are all everyday aspects of my life. So are cyberbullying, online scams, phone addiction, and accidentally deleted documents. I’ve seen plenty of articles arguing for techno-this or cyber-that, and even more arguing against these things. Personally, I’ve been trying to figure out my stance on the issue: I know that I take a lot of my modern comforts for granted, and that I probably wouldn’t last very long without any technology at all (have I mentioned my love for cartoons?). But I also know that a future like those in the dystopian novels I’ve read is very possible — and becoming more realistic every day. With regular privacy break-ins, identity theft, online scams, and the possible hacking of our very election system, technology seems … scary. So, what’s the solution?

Well, it’s one that happens to be a throw-back to the “good old days” of America: independence. Yes, there’s a lot of harm that happens via the internet or other technological device. There’s also a lot of good that comes from technology, like I’ve pointed out in my previous articles. But that’s not really the point. The dystopian books, shows, or movies about machinery getting out of control, or AI taking over the world, all focus on one thing: the common person’s inability to live without all their fancy technology. In other words, the danger doesn’t come from our technology becoming too smart, but rather from us — humans — becoming less smart because we rely on it. Even without a smartphone to tell me the time, I know how to read a clock. Furthermore, without a clock to guide me, I can still tell by the position of the sun the approximate time of day: whether it’s morning, noon, evening, or night. And other humans can do the same, which is why, if all clocks suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth, we would be able to get society back in working order again (though there may still be confusion to overcome.)

Therefore, my stance on the advancement of technology is this: Progress and convenient utilities are great, and we shouldn’t shun them purely out of fear that the world will turn into a futuristic dystopia. But, we should also take steps to ensure that we could function on our own, should technology and cybernetics become unreliable one day. (For the record, I don’t believe that AI will rise against us, but I do believe that a nationwide power outage would cause an unhealthy number of problems.) For instance, many people are unable to read a map or check a dictionary to check the spelling of a word. My point is, just because you invent a self-driving car doesn’t mean people should stop learning how to drive.

Of course, that’s just my POV. Until next time, this is Analyn May, signing off.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Always Advocating Alan: Truth, Integrity and the American Way

| Opinion | July 27, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

About a week ago, Mr. Jonathan Kraut, another friend of mine, put pen to paper for the Mighty Signal. Jonathan is a great guy. His efforts promoting the Interfaith Council, along with religious, racial and ethnic tolerance, are exemplary.

In his last column, he wrote about the need for honesty and integrity in government. When he used traffic lights as an example, he also included the need for consistency. Jonathan went on to question why “our society unfortunately accepts, and even expects, those elected to deceive, misrepresent and dismiss the truth.” I started reading his article and thinking about all the times I have wondered the same thing. But then, halfway down the page Jonathan seemed to go off in another direction, and turned this important discussion into a rant about the current federal administration.

So, if I had Jonathan right in front of me, I would ask, “Do you really believe those you mentioned are the only ones who do not provide the public with the truth?” For example, I remember the previous administration telling us that, if passed, the Affordable Care Act “will drive down the cost of health care” and “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor,” but “we will have to pass this bill to find out what is in it.”

Then, after a power shift occurred in Washington, D.C., we were told, “We will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act,” knowing full well it is almost impossible to “un-ring the bell” and take away an entitlement from millions of constituents, once you have given out a freebie. No matter if I turn my head all the way left or right, I feel as if I am being fed an untruthful tale.

Plus, it does not stop there. We just need to look at California state governance. Weren’t we sold a bill of goods about building a 200 mph-plus bullet train in 2008, connecting San Francisco with Los Angeles, at a cost of $40 billion? The latest business plan is now projecting the cost at $68 billion, down from a high of $98 billion projected several years ago. Does anyone really believe that, if the bullet train is built, it will come in at the planned cost?

But enough of the state’s red ink, let’s talk about integrity at Santa Clarita City Hall. How many times have we heard the city has established an Open Space Preservation District to buy and preserve open space “in perpetuity,” and watched the City Council vote to rezone pieces of open space to a business park? Isn’t it inconsistent to regularly hear about our councilmember’s role in fighting against the Elsmere Canyon Landfill, when the same councilmembers did not take a stand against the Chiquita Landfill expansion?

Taking a deep breath, I also realize our elected officials, at all levels, have made some very good decisions and have provided us with worthwhile services. It comes down to the fact that, no matter who is in office, each one of us is not going to agree with every decision our elected representatives make. But in November, we as a group will be charged with the responsibility to determine who is the most honest and qualified person to make legislative decisions for us. We will make a difference if we carefully evaluate each one of the candidates on the ballot. We should look at the challengers’ experiences and positions on past issues, and we also need to look at incumbents’ voting records, along with positions they have taken along the way.

From my perspective, the most challenging problem facing us today is the lack of civil discussion relating to important issues. There is a segment of our society who feels that going out on the street and shouting talking points will somehow get people on their side. There are others who believe they are right, and nothing anyone can say will change their minds. But if they want to be successful, they need to come to the realization that nothing could be further from the truth.

A good example was demonstrated at the last presidential election. The polls were dead wrong. Pollsters argued and put out many theories about why their prognostications did not pan out. Perhaps it was just caused by normal people, holding their opinions to their chests, because they did not want to get insulted and yelled at. The truth is, you will never find out what is really happening until you are willing to accept the perspectives of others, without shooting the messenger. It is also imperative you listen to those who, you believe, have opposite views, because you may learn something new, come to modify your position, or find out you are not that far apart.

Unfortunately, even in non-partisan races, such as city council and school board, we have become divided by party. Some of us cannot see the “forest for the trees.” Here in the Santa Clarita Valley, our registered voters are almost divided in thirds. Republicans have the edge, followed by Democrats and then Independents. I’m estimating about two-thirds of registered party members will only vote for a member of their party. That leaves the remaining voters with the ability to decide who will end up in office.

I’m hoping our community members start to listen to each other. I always use the Canyon Country Advisory Committee Board of Directors as an example. I am proud to say our board is made up of Democrats, Republicans and Independents. We all get along because when we discuss sensitive topics, we talk about the issue and do not throw insults at each another. In the end, we do not expect to all agree, but realize we will all end up better informed. If we can make that approach the norm in our city, if we do our due-diligence, if we engage each other rationally, and if we make informed decisions, we will end up with better results.

As voters, it is our responsibility to demand truth, integrity and consistency from our elected officials. In the City of Santa Clarita, every citizen gets three minutes at city council meetings to express their views on city-related matters. Whenever you feel something is going afoul, or going very well, I hope to see you at the podium making our community aware of your opinion.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Always Advocating Alan

| Opinion | July 21, 2017

We All Have Real Friends and Fair Weather Friends

by Alan Ferdman

“Boy oh boy,” does time ever fly. It has now been over seven months since I agreed to write a weekly column for the Gazette. When I first started, I thought, 1,000 words every week? What will I write about? But Santa Clarita never ceases to amaze me, with new issues popping up all the time and older ones lingering on. In the past, I have wondered why all these issues go unnoticed. Why doesn’t anyone investigate and write about them? But now, the Gazette has given me the opportunity to make a difference and I intend to go “full steam ahead.”

So, when I sat down at the keyboard this week I started listing all the possibilities. Should I write about Stevenson Ranch and why bears are given more rights than people? Or possibly I could write about the City Council’s changes to the Manufactured Home Rent Adjustment Ordinance and provide information as to why the changes will not provide a workable solution. I could ask why the City of Santa Clarita seems to only react to issues of public safety when a tragedy occurs. Or should I comment on Steve Lunetta’s Saturday column on health care and share why I have remained a happy Kaiser member for over 60 years? Should I follow up on the actions which were supposed to be taken as a result of the city’s half million-dollar embezzlement, or should I question why the city is dragging their feet on approving construction of the Fallen Solders Memorial in Veterans Plaza?

Wow! There are a lot of issues out there, and sometime in the future I will probably address them all. But this week, Doug’s last rant caused me to decide on addressing issues associated with friendship, credibility and honesty.

I considered Doug Sutton a friend long before I started writing for the Gazette. I’ve enjoyed the many times we participated in group discussions on Friday nights and shared our respective points of view. The good thing about having a real friend is being able to express different opinions without initiating personal conflict. If a person is open and objective, they will sometimes recognize the other person’s point of view and benefit from the discussion. Other times, they may just, without saying, agree to disagree and continue to be friends. A real friend helps the other person grow. At times, it requires telling a friend something they may not want to hear. Yet, good friends trust each other enough to understand the comments were made with the best of intentions. When Doug suggested I could write a weekly column for the Gazette we discussed ground rules. We agreed on what kind of subject matter I would be writing about and he agreed not to edit my column. To date, it has gone according to plan, but I know if Doug perceives a problem exists with my column he will, as a friend, let me know.

Unfortunately, in business and politics particularly, you will amass what I call “fair weather friends.” These are individuals who become your new-found friend when they believe it will benefit them. All you need to do is win the lotto or be able to do something others want to experience their attempts to attach themselves to you. When a “fair weather friend” turns, and either verbally attacks you personally or simply disappears from your life, they prove never to have been a real friend in the first place.

John Musella is the president the Musella Group, a public relations company. In such a capacity, his allegiance is to whoever pays him. But, to give him “the benefit of the doubt” I fired up my computer and listened to Stephen Daniels interview him in a “Voice of Santa Clarita” podcast. I have had my own personal interaction with John and I realized nothing has changed. When the interview turned to discussing the Chamber of Commerce, John started by vilifying those who questioned issues relating to the Hispanic Chamber merger. I found it humorous, however, when John, a paid company mouthpiece, lamented about the Gazette having a paid reporter. Nevertheless, he went on to talk about how there was no wrongdoing, other than the Chamber not filing the appropriate tax documents. When asked why he did not simply end the discussion by making the appropriate information public, he responded by stating he did not what to waste his or the Chamber’s staff time. He suggested the information would eventually be online and made a public record about one year after the Chamber CPA submits the necessary IRS documents. Unfortunately, a philosophy of avoiding problems, hoping the community loses interest, rather than providing a solution, is fairly prevalent in Santa Clarita.

Doug, I would not worry about your perceived loss of a “fair weather” friendship. You have the support of your readers. We are confident you are looking at the Chamber issue honestly as a news story, and we urge you to continue pursuing it until the Gazette is able to print a final chapter.

If the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce is to be perceived as a credible organization it is not in their best interest to let this issue hang over them. The fact that City of Santa Clarita taxpayers are propping up the Chamber of Commerce with a yearly $40,000 subsidy and one year of free rent, said to be worth an additional $25,000, makes it even more imperative that Chamber finances be maintained in a manner beyond reproach. I wonder why the Chamber members themselves, including our City Council members, are not pressing for Chamber management to come forth and put an end to this controversy. They are the ones who pay the Chamber to represent them. Is the current style of representation what the members want or deserve? We will just have to wait to find out.

But, I know one thing for sure, if it was me and I had the documentation to prove no wrongdoing, I would be holding it up for all to see. Wouldn’t you do the same?

An Update on Baby

I would like to thank all who asked how Baby is doing. The stitches are out, and she is no longer wearing her fashionable cone-shaped collar. Baby was then able to get a bath and haircut provided by gentle hands at Chris’ Clippery. It appears the surgery was successful; Baby’s rehab continues and she is using all four feet and more.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

The Disruption Machine Goes to Washington

| Opinion | July 21, 2017

“Drain the swamp” was, of all of Donald Trump’s rallying cries over his campaign, by far my favorite. I think I’ve made it pretty clear how I feel about politicians, lobbyists, special interests and what our political system has become, and this cry was just what I was waiting for.

I’ve seen several articles since Trump’s inauguration claiming that his promise was a lie, given that he’s been in office a whole seven months and hasn’t completely changed the Washington status quo yet. And while I understand that to expect that kind of change to happen so rapidly is insane and misguided, I have to admit that a part of me wished he would have taken out the trash on day one.

Given the meteoric rise of Netflix stock this week after their earnings report (up $21.90 a share on Tuesday alone) I got to thinking. In the new century we’ve seen a relatively new type of company take the business world by storm: the disruptors.

Apple disrupted the way we view cell phones, Google disrupted the way we gather information, Netflix disrupted the way we view our entertainment, Amazon disrupted the way we shop, Uber disrupted the way we view transportation, AirBnB disrupted the way we view lodging, and now Trump is disrupting the way we view politics, the political elite, the establishment and our right to voice that we “deplorables” don’t see the world through the same politically correct and ultra-liberal lens that the left has been forcing us to use.

And each of these disruptors have had the same response from the greater public, media and status quo from the first day that they announced their intentions. Every industry, country, class and company has its “old guard” or established elite that has made a lot of money by doing things in the old way. And they will fight tooth and nail to hold on to their inefficient ways as long as possible.

Apple has been hit with lawsuits from every angle and is keeping an estimated $200 billion overseas to protect it from the harsh corporate taxation policies of the U.S. Google is currently being sued by the EU for being too good at harnessing and using big data, because its competitors still haven’t figured it out. Amazon has been sued by antitrust regulators for their market domination by way of cutting unnecessary excess. Uber has been sued by both cities and unions because people are sick of rude taxi drivers and they finally offered the paying public an alternative. AirBnB has also been sued by cities and hotel-backed special interest groups for offering an alternative to inflated hotel pricing and giving people with extra room an additional revenue stream.

Trump, being a disruptor in his own sense, is, of course, subject to the same fate. Everyone who is still crying that the exquisitely corrupt epitome of dirty politicians, Hillary Clinton, lost to Trump is jumping on the train to file a lawsuit, write a blog or article or protest his disruption of our terribly broken political system. If you have stopped to wonder at any time over the last few months why so many are fighting so absolutely hard to stop any progress he can make or jump on the blame train anytime he has a minor setback, all you have to do is look at his colleagues in disruption to understand why they are grasping so desperately at straws to stop his momentum.

The old guard is afraid. The writing of their fate is on the wall, and the word is finally out that America is sick of their nonsense. Disruption is painful, it is ugly, but it is also the only way that we make progress from the old to the new, from inefficient and broken systems to a better alternative.

Disruption is the epicenter where business, technology, economics, life, and now politics, all converge. The world is changing under the left’s feet and they are afraid, as they very well should be. The days of lifetime politicians forming dynasties and becoming wealthy through public service with the ability to hide their corrupt ways are coming to an end.

The plug has been opened, and the swamp is beginning to drain. Like any of the other disruptors, the beginning is painful and slower than many wish it to be. But once the drain is opened and the disruption has started, there is no going back to the old ways.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A) and is an award-winning author of “The Pact” and “Love Me When I’m Gone: the true story of life, love and loss for a Green Beret in post-9/11 war.” Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**.


What’s Included With Your College Degree These Days

| Opinion | July 20, 2017

By Joe Messina

Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. That’s $600 billion more than all the U.S. credit card debt combined! The average student loan debt is over $40k per student and is carried by less than 45 million students. I am not advocating for free college, but I am questioning it and saying maybe we need to rethink how we do education.

You’re sending your children (yes, I said children) to higher education institutions to be taught something. I just don’t know what, exactly.

Have you seen the issues your children are exposed to and the classes you can help your kids purchase with your hard-earned money and our hard-earned tax dollars? You might be surprised at how prevalent these are. They aren’t just an anomaly.

The New York University Librarian says she has hit her “race fatigue” limit while being in the presence of “white people.”

Some want to create safe spaces to fight privilege at their universities. Sounds like a great environment for your kids, right?

Then there is Harvard University who wants to expel students who join “single gender” social clubs, fraternities, sororities, and others. Yup, the university has proposed completely eliminating all these and their “pernicious influence” on the students! How about they stick to teaching the core competencies?

A university professor wrote that citations in scholarly articles contribute to “white heteromasculinity,” especially if they question research by women and people of color! What happened to accepting good research from “researchers.” Not black researchers. Not women researchers. Not black women researchers. And not black female lesbian researchers. Just researchers! The college where you spend your hard-earned dollars claims that by citing white men before others, you show your privilege. Is that even a class?

A quote often attributed to Jefferson (but disputed) states, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” If you really want to see what our well-educated kids are learning, go to YouTube and check out the interviews that Mark Dice and others like him do. He asks young and middle-aged people simple questions about American history, politics, and current events. Be forewarned … you will need a barf bag and tissues!

California State University will now be teaching Shakespeare through a social justice lens. Why? Because we need to see life through a more diverse lens to see how white privilege has influenced society over the years. How about just teaching the GREAT works and meanings of Shakespeare? Seriously!

Harvard will also be deleting the reference to Puritans from their alma mater. Why, you ask? Because it’s not diverse or inclusive enough. The institution receives all that money each year and the only thing they can think of doing is to get rid of the reference of the school’s early history and what their founding fathers were.

A professor at Fairfield University has introduced a class on “The problem with Whiteness.” Seriously. A class that promotes telling you and your child that because you’re white you are the problem. But they have no problem accepting your white, ill-gotten money!

You’re spending BIG money for these Left Loons to indoctrinate your children this ridiculousness.

Why do you do it? You need to check the school’s history and what they are teaching before you send your kids there. I know some of you have said every child should have a college experience. Does that include being tens of thousands in debt and still not knowing when the U.S. won independence from China back in 1964? (Yes, that was a real answer from a college student to a question about Independence Day!) Or that we weren’t in the Revolutionary War? Or even that we have over 700 senators? What are you paying for?

To rub salt in the wound, nearly every high school counselor pushes you and your kids toward college. And many make you feel bad if you don’t help your child accumulate mountains of debt and support them in their endeavor to pile debt on.

In 2015 only 14 percent of college students were able to find work in their fields, which means only 14 percent of graduates could pay their college debt. Some 50-75 percent of graduates find work, but outside their fields, so they end up paying for services rendered that they can’t use! And they are pushed, poked, and prodded into believing this is the normal thing to do. Well, it’s not.

You should be encouraging your kids toward jobs they are passionate about. And if that involves getting a college degree, make sure the field has real industries, and the college has real studies. And equally as important, make sure the college is more interested in turning out students that are top in their field, not top in social justice theory!
Help your kids succeed!

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Beyond the Russian Narrative

| Opinion | July 20, 2017

by Angel Cruz 

If you dare turn your channel to the news you will be drowned in Russian collusion stories, so much so, that you will believe this is totally unprecedented. It isn’t, but these stories — beyond their dramatic flair — have had an interesting effect on our discourse. Liberals have taken a strange turn, at least those who have been consumed by these “revelations,” and Trump and Putin have been transformed as the vanguards for fascism. There are truths and reasons to be against the Russian Government, but we have to first examine media’s role in drumming up hysteria.

The main line of thought in this interference is that the Russian intelligence agencies have hacked the DNC and, therefore, changed the outcome in Donald Trump’s favor. (Let me remind you that any evidence of specific Russian agents is still circular.) What came from this leak were Hillary and the DNC colluding to snuff Bernie Sanders’ campaign bid through the media and favoring Clinton from the start. I reason that if those leaks did not come to light nothing would have changed. Hillary would have still lost because of her strategy of aiming toward the center, which would/did not engage the mass of people. This singular moment has obsessed the Clinton supporters and media who cannot fathom how a buffoon beat a polished, distinguished, and experienced candidate (their words, not mine). It must have been a Machiavellian foreign agent who tipped the scales to a more favorable candidate and to undermine the U.S. on the world stage.

Of course, much more has come to light about Trump and his ties with Russian business oligarchs through his cohorts and family. It doesn’t surprise me that there are shady business dealings with the president’s personnel, but to say this is a master plan to overthrow democracy in the U.S. is absurd. To make Trump out to be a mastermind (or puppet to one) is completely contradictory with the banal nature of everything we’ve witnessed. All these revelations show me how incompetent the whole Trump administration is, with how it marries business with foreign affairs. It’s not the media that is uncovering these actions, but the own slip-ups of these so-called conspirators. The fact of the matter is that the U.S. is no stranger in confronting dictators, oligarchs, and thugs in dealing with business and/or power. It’s funny to see the media lose their minds over suspected foreign intervention in our democracy. Where is this flurry of activity when our government does the same in other countries?

What I hate most about this coverage is how it mixes real gripes of the Russian government in order to sell a narrative that hasn’t been completely corroborated. It has become completely incessant that every news outlet reports on this over any factual reporting. The media has become so entrenched in this narrative that nothing else matters. It feeds into the fantasy that the media is, and can be, a source of political change instead of an echo chamber for elites and their views. Russia is an oligarchical country with vast, undemocratic branches with imperial visions, but that doesn’t absolve our government.

If we find out tomorrow that it is all true — what then? We impeach Trump and then we have Mike Pence as president? I don’t want to imagine how awful that could be. And I promise you, our democracy would still be under attack after that day. There would still be war profiteering, government surveillance, and wealthy elites disseminating their views. Before we hunt foreign intervention we should look for domestic intervention in democracy.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Lean Left: Better Read Than Dead

| Opinion | July 20, 2017

by Blair Bess

Read any good bills lately? Let’s look at two that made the Congressional Bestseller List – at least for the Republican leadership. There was HR 1628, otherwise known as the “American Healthcare Act of 2017,” written by Paul Ryan. Or, there’s the latest bestseller, “The Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017,” by Mitch McConnell. Unfortunately, neither of them had any pictures. And they’ve just lost their spot on the president’s reading list.

Ever wonder if Congressman Steve Knight read either of these two tomes cover-to-cover? He probably didn’t. But in all fairness, neither did the clear majority of his colleagues on either side of the aisle. There wasn’t enough caffeine in the world to keep their lids open long enough to do so. I know. I downloaded both bills onto my laptop a few nights ago and, after settling in for a good read, found myself bleary-eyed by page 28 of the House Bill. I had to speed scroll through the Senate’s Reconciliation Bill. I didn’t get far enough to discover if browsing through these bills qualified me for life-support coverage. Or a free subscription to Kindle Unlimited.

Reading either of these Bills in toto or any combination thereof would be the equivalent of consuming every volume of “The Game of Thrones”; “Lord of the Rings”; and the “Harry Potter” series all in one sitting. But way more fun. Because, hey, with these two bills you could never be sure what was fact and what was fantasy. They were just that good!

I’m going to make it easy for those of you just chomping at the bit to find out about all the goodies that were in store for the American people should a “reconciled” version of HR 1628 ever pass both Houses of Congress. If you want to read two texts on ancient history, they’re still available online. But first, I want to be sure we all understand the true meaning of “reconciliation.”

“Reconciliation” is when two people in a bad relationship split up because they know things aren’t going to work out well in the long-run but, hey, just for the hell of it, they get back together one more time to try and make things work out happily-ever-after before they recognize, once and for all, that they really do hate each other’s guts. That’s “reconciliation.”

Okay. Ready to read some fun stuff? For “The American Healthcare Act,” the link is https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-115hr1628rh/pdf/BILLS-115hr1628rh.pdf. The discussion draft of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act” can be found at https://www.budget.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SENATEHEALTHCARE.pdf.

So many assurances and promises were made to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with something so much better, you’d think House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were talking about one of those miracle cures that used to be pitched by old time carnival barkers. You know, the kind that will fix everything that ails you with no side effects whatsoever. Then again, President Trump – King of the Hucksters – had said that the House Bill, which he signed, was “great.” A few short weeks later, he said it was “mean.” He was hoping the reconciled Senate plan was going to be “beautiful.” And we all know our president knows a thing or two about beauty.

We also know that once the president makes a decision or says he’s going to do something or passes a judgment or voices an opinion he stands by it. We know these “truths” to be self-evident. So, whatever health plan eventually made it to his desk, he’d love it bigly and sign it into law. He said. Last week. But now that the reconciled bill, which he’d expectantly hoped someone on his staff would read once they took delivery, is dead before arrival. He’s pointing fingers at Paul and Mitch saying he had nothing to do with it and it was all their fault. Well … they were the writers after all.

Ding-dong the bill is dead. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reviewed it and gave it a horrendous score, clearly stating that by 2026, a total of 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance. Not all of them would have been Medicaid or Medi-Cal recipients. Some could have been like you and me. That fact didn’t send the two novelists back to re-write. They needed more convincing in order to pull out their pens.

Just a few days ago, after reviewing an amendment by Senator Ted Cruz that created a two-tier health insurance system, the CEOs of Blue Cross Blue Shield and American Health Insurance Plans issued a joint statement saying that the bill “is simply unworkable in any form and would undermine protections for those with pre-existing medical conditions, increase premiums and lead to widespread terminations in coverage for people currently enrolled in the individual market.”

Mr. Cruz’s solution to get a bill passed would, according to the insurance companies’ statement, “create two systems of insurance for healthy and sick people.” The provision would allow insurers to provide cheap plans that skirt ACA requirements, like protecting against preexisting conditions if they offer more expensive plans that don’t. Huh? What did that mean?

It meant that healthcare would be affordable for those who can afford it and are healthy, while those who couldn’t afford it, were low-income, or seniors (or a combination of all three) wouldn’t be able to purchase health insurance, and those on Medicaid and Medi-Cal would experience a diminishment of their current benefits.

For the young and/or healthy, or those disinterested people who’d rather have a boat or an RV, no worries. The government wasn’t going to tax you for not having coverage like the “imploding disaster” Obamacare mandates. Nobody would “force” you to buy health insurance if you didn’t feel like it. But what would have happened if you got into a serious accident and needed surgery stat, or woke up feeling lousy one morning and that lousy feeling didn’t go away until you went to the doctor months later?

Imagine those lousy feelings were actually early symptoms of cancer or a blood disease or a tumor. The list of unpleasant medical maladies could go on and on, but you’d be too tired to read it; much as your elected officials were too tired to painstakingly pore over either of the bills currently before them.

You’d be tired because you were sick and you may — if you were lucky — be getting regular medical treatments that would wear you down. Treatments you couldn’t afford because you didn’t have health insurance; that may have gotten you into debt, caused you to remortgage or lose your home, seek help from grudging friends, families, churches, or social service organizations; for a condition that will now be considered “preexisting.”

But no matter. After factoids trickled out, the uproar expressed by the majority of the American public over some of the fun facts contained in these bills was enough to send those most literate scribes in Washington back to their desks to hammer away at their next draft. Not too great, given they are now threatening to burn up all of their handiwork and wait two more years to figure out what their next chapter will be.

If all of this is confusing you, read the bills. If you do, you’ll see why they sucked. Better yet, call Congressman Steve Knight and ask him to do it for you. That’s what we’re paying him for. Call his office and demand he read those bills cover-to-cover. If he already started, I’m guessing he still hasn’t reached the thrilling conclusion. Oh, and tell Representative Knight to take notes so he can give us an in-depth explanation as to why Congress should repeal, now that they can’t repeal and replace, the ACA at his next Town Hall Meeting. If he has a next Town Hall Meeting.

If Steve Knight hasn’t read either of the bills by now; the whole of both bills, and nothing but the bills, the Government Printing Office will be happy to send him the graphic novel version of the CBO Report. That one does have pictures. And they’re not pretty.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Et Tu, Financial Media?

| Opinion | July 15, 2017

I’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on my portfolio and the greater investing environment lately. Some say that it’s a bull market, some say that it’s a bear market rally, but whoever is correct it is a good time to make some money if you’re paying attention.

Although I’m normally pretty cheap (a product of being raised by multiple generations of military men who literally bled for their money), financial advice is one place that I don’t skimp. I buy advice from several pay-to-play analysts, but also subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (only because I get a student discount while working on my MBA) and read that along with Yahoo Finance every morning before the market opens.

I also listen to NPR on the way to the gym, as I am what is called a macro investor; I take in information from all sectors around the globe to help me form my perspective about where the market is going, and what ripples throughout the world will have certain effects on investments that I can capitalize on. Long story short, I spend a lot of time with my nose in all sorts of financial news outlets.

What has really surprised me is that, even though you would imagine their demographic to skew much more conservative (as we love and work hard for our money, while Democrats only see it as a tool of the oppressor), the financial media is just as anti-Trump as the rest of them. And I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed watching them put their feet in their mouth on a pretty constant basis.

Unlike the rest of them, the financial media (pre-Trump) strayed away from the “race to be first” in the reporting game. Pre-Trump, they seemed to understand that when people use your advice to invest their life savings, you should probably focus more on being right than being first.

But post-Trump, they have abandoned that philosophy and decided that the moment any negative news comes out regarding Trump that can be correlated with a drop in the market, no matter how loosely, they have to jump on it. And if you’ve paid much attention to the markets since his election, you know they’ve been wrong every time so far. Every single time.

It’s to the point now where I’ve begun counting down the minutes until they have to print a retraction, as it always has to come within the same day. I get alerts to my phone from both the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo Finance, and an example alert from this week was “stocks fall after Trump Jr. release of Russia emails regarding Clinton info.” Of course, the headline by the end of the day was “stocks rebound after Trump Jr. emails,” as the market ended up in a rally at the end of the day.

On Wednesday, Yahoo Finance had an article titled “They voted for Trump and regret it.” Guess what, Yahoo Finance? I regret that I came to your site looking for financial information and found this. It’s no wonder your company went up for fire sale if you can’t even remember which page you’re publishing content for.

The market is its own living, breathing organism that has been scrutinized by some of the smartest people on the planet since its inception. While politics do have effects on the market, this rush to blame any drop on Trump is not only ridiculous, but also showing just how hard the media, in all its forms, is still trying to tie anything negative to him that it can.

Trading and investing are about numbers and metrics, not emotions. As Warren Buffett says, “You may have emotions about a stock, but the stock has zero feelings for you.” Stop trying to bring your bias and anti-Trump whining into finance.

The people who voted for and support Trump are those who worked for and care about their money, and he’s doing a bang-up job taking care of our money so far by reducing government and a stock market that’s off the charts. Leave the anti-Trump guesses and ramblings to the op-ed pages where they belong, not in the finance section.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Pete’s Vacation Peeves

| Opinion | July 15, 2017

Summer at last. The kids are out of school and time for a long overdue vacation. Suitcases packed, we were ready for an exciting trip back east to New York City and my hometown of Boston. All in all, the trip went great, but I don’t think anyone goes on vacation without at least one experience that gets them peeved.

Vacation Peeve 1. Finally, after weeks of planning, we were on the plane to New York City. So, I put on the headphones and settled in for what should have been an enjoyable and uneventful flight. Hours passed and I decided to use the lavatory one more time before we landed. But, just as I locked the door, the plane hit terrible turbulence and started to bounce and sway back and forth. Hanging on for dear life with one hand, I tried to keep my balance while finishing my business, and then carefully stumbled back to my seat, trying not to fall into anyone’s lap on the way.

I did my best to keep calm, but the pilot was powering his way through the turbulence so fast and descending so quickly that the plane was shaking like a washing machine in spin cycle with an uneven load. Barf bag in hand, I felt like I could lose my lunch at any minute and was moaning so loud that the passenger to my right was doing all she could to get as far away from me as possible. Meanwhile, my wife was on my left, fanning me with the in-flight instruction book as I prayed to GOD to make the turbulence stop. (I just hope HE doesn’t hold me to the promises I made.)

Finally, we landed! As my family and fellow passengers slowly recovered from the flight from hell, I put away my unused barf bag and took a sigh of relief. Then I saw him. A cocky, young pilot coming out of the cockpit with a big smile on his face. Proud that he had gotten us in 20 minutes early, he jauntily exited the plane, totally unaware of the sick passengers he was leaving behind. Was I peeved? You Bet! But I was more relieved that I hadn’t heaved and lost my lunch somewhere over New Jersey.

Vacation Peeve 2. I Love Pizza! So, while my family was in New York City, one of the highlights was to treat the kids to some authentic New York Pizza. I searched reviews for the best pizza in town and found a popular pizzeria on 44th Street.

My mouth was watering as we stood in the long line to get in. Then there was the 20-minute wait to be seated, but it was all going to be worth it because we were going to eat some amazing, authentic New York pizza.

We ordered and finally the waiter brought us the pizza. Hmm. It looked a little thin but I didn’t let that bother me. Then I took a bite and it tasted like burned toast with sauce and cheese on it. I turned it over and the bottom was all black and charred. I called the waiter over and complained, but he explained that all their pizzas come out of the brick oven that way. So, my wife and kids did their best to eat around the burned parts but, needless to say, I was really disappointed and a little peeved.

Days later, we were in downtown Boston looking for somewhere to get lunch when we noticed this little pizza shop called “New York Pizza.” I figured if a Boston pizza shop has the nerve to call itself New York Pizza, it was worth a try. We went inside, ordered and out came this gigantic, delicious pizza with cheese dripping off of every slice. The best pizza I ever ate. So, I finally got my authentic New York pizza, but I had to go to Boston to get it.
Vacation Peeve 3. Like most parents, I freak out when I don’t know where my kids are. It has been an adjustment dealing with my two young teenage girls and their need for independence. Usually, I can manage my anxiety when they suddenly go off by themselves or decide to ignore my text messages. But, it was the last day in New York City before checking out of the hotel room that really got me peeved.

We had just finished our complimentary breakfast on the lower level of the hotel, when the kids decided they would go on ahead to get us an elevator to go back to our room. Well, my youngest, 14-year-old daughter suddenly disappeared, and the oldest was wandering around trying to find her. Was she in the restroom? Was she in the elevator? “Maybe she is in the lobby!” I said. So, we rushed up the flight of stairs to the lobby, but she was nowhere to be found.

I was frantically texting her, when my oldest daughter, unable to get an elevator at the lobby, decided to go up eight flights of stairs to our room to see if her sister was there. Great, now I have two kids wandering somewhere around the hotel. Meanwhile, my wife was still in the cafeteria grabbing some free muffins to take with us, just in case the kids got hungry later.

After another few minutes of texting and calling everyone in the family with no response, my youngest finally replies, “I’m in the room. Where else would I be?” Meanwhile, my other daughter decided to catch the elevator at the third floor, and we all eventually met up back in the room, safe and sound. So, all was well … except for the poor people in the room next to us who were probably awakened by the sound of me yelling at the top of my lungs, “Don’t you ever do that again!”

Lean to the Left: ‘Fake News’

| Opinion | July 14, 2017

by Blair Bess

Ladies and gentlemen, let’s be very clear: Donald J. Trump is President of the United States of America. He won the electoral vote by a substantial margin. He did not win the popular vote. Does anyone, other than Mr. Trump, really care? He’s the president. I accept that. He is no less legitimate to me because Hillary Clinton had 3,000,000 more popular votes than he, just as George W. Bush was no less legitimate because he received roughly 540,000 popular votes less than his Democrat opponent Al Gore. Doesn’t matter how you get to the White House, so long as you get there.

Here’s something else I accept: the Russian government hacked our election. This is not “fake news,” despite the rants and raves emanating from the White House. Why should we believe this? Because the Russians are not now, nor have they ever been, our friends and compadres. While we were, for a brief point in time, allies and partners of necessity in confronting Nazi Germany during World War II, the Russian government – let me say it again – have never been our friends.

In the wake of our temporary alliance, we spent the better part of 40 years embroiled in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, Russia’s de facto predecessor. Ultimately, they brought us to the brink of Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is the same adversary that disregarded national boundaries in its aggressive seizure of territory in Eastern Europe throughout the post-WWII era. The same government that erected a barrier against democracy, in Berlin, which stood for nearly 30 years; the one that caused President Ronald Reagan to excoriate, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” The government that imprisoned anyone who opposed, or spoke out against it, with sentences to a life of hard labor, and often death in its gulags, if not death outright. The same government that invaded Afghanistan in the ‘80s. The successor government, Russia, that in the last decade made power grabs in Armenia and Ukraine. The same Russian leadership that sat idly by or actively participated in, depending upon who you believe, the gassing of innocent men, women, and children in Syria. And, yes, the same Russian government that invaded us here in the United States.

It’s time for President Trump to get on board with the military and intelligence professionals who provide him with real, substantive information rather than listen to a close, insular circle that includes family members and sycophants who will not tell him the truth, provide him with a reality check, either out of fear that they’ll cause him dismay or lose their job or because they have their own personal agendas to promote. This is for real. It is not a drill. The Russians have gained access to and possess not only voter information, but personal, perhaps more valuable, information including Social Security numbers, where you live, your address, your height, your weight, the color of your eyes and hair, whether you’ve opted to be an organ donor, whatever. Seems innocuous enough, but not really. Anything we hold near and dear is fair game for those who seek to take us down. And take us down they can. Hacking an election is one thing. Hacking our infrastructure, the systems that control our national defense, access to our bank accounts, health records, etc. is a whole other ballgame. They can do it to us and we, I daresay, can do it to them as well. Cyberwarfare is the Mutually Assured Destruction doctrine of the 21st Century.

To deny is to be complicit. And this is what our Commander-in-Chief has chosen to do: deny and wallow in complacency because it is counterintuitive to whatever narcissistic slight he experiences from day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute as evidenced by his constant barrage of tweets. That, or because he, his family, and/or his close associates have some very nasty secrets to hide as documented by news reports in the last few days.

Some of us may not have voted for you, Mr. President, some of us may not like you. But you are, though, for how long we don’t know, the leader of the Free World. The leader of the American people. So, lead. It is your mandate to do so.

If you do not stop the madness now, it will come back to haunt you and us a thousand-fold. You may have won the last election, but what if Vladimir Putin grows tired of you? What if Mr. Putin decides to pull the plug on your Presidency in 2020 and attack our electoral process yet again? Will you cry foul then? Will you resuscitate your chant that “the system is rigged?” Will you graciously accept defeat? Or will you then, and only then, condescend to the intelligence officials who attempt to brief you every day and choose that moment in the future to wake up to the reality of today: that the Russians have hacked us, cyber-attacked us, and are in control?

This is not “fake news,” Mr. President. If you cannot trust those who mean to serve you well and have both your best interests and the interests of our country at heart – soldiers, spies, civil servants, and those who voted for you and supported you – how can you be trusted? Get over yourself. Get real. Get out of bed with those who mean We the American People, and you, harm.

**The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

Santa Clarita’s 30th Anniversary (Safe) Scavenger Hunt

| Opinion | July 13, 2017

It’s hard to believe that this year our beloved Santa Clarita is celebrating 30 years of cityhood. That’s 30 years of ribbon cuttings, parades, and memories – above all, it’s 30 years of being ranked among the safest cities in the U.S.

But, with all this talk about the recent surge in overdoses and crime in our town, we want to reassure the public that Awesometown is still the place where you can let your children hang outside of gas stations with friends. So, enjoy a kid-friendly scavenger hunt in finding “Sammy Clarita” (our city’s new mascot). You can find him at the following places – you know, to show you that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Jack in the Box in Canyon Country

Sammy Clarita loves hiding out at Jack in the Box. It’s the place where locals frequently grub, and there hasn’t been a stabbing there since 2008. Feel free to loiter and search high and low for Sammy around the Jack in the Box perimeter. But please, do not look for Sammy by the dumpsters past 8 p.m., because … Sammy needs his sleep.

Jake’s Way

Sammy Clarita is a horse, so he loves horsing around apartment complexes! Don’t be afraid to scour below stairways and between alleys to find Sammy – those shootings were so long ago. Once you find him, you can keep him. Just make sure you take a photo with him and tag the City of Santa Clarita on instagram, so we know you are safe (from having too much fun!).

Begonias Lane Park

Do you enjoy basketball? So does Sammy. In fact, he loves shooting hoops so much, that we have hidden him at Begonias Park two days in a row! Just make sure you don’t cross the pretty yellow tape to look for him, or you might have to meet one of Santa Clarita’s very own sheriffs! And, if you are lucky, they might give you a free ride downtown. Make sure and let them know you are searching for Sammy, or you might just be considered a suspect.

Liquor Stores

Sammy is a huge fan of late night snacks. You can catch him purchasing oats and hay at one of Santa Clarita’s many liquor stores. Sammy can only be at one place at one time, so you might want to start looking at around dusk if you want to find Sammy by 5 a.m. If you need any hints, just post an ad on craigslist asking if anyone has seen him – with a parent’s permission, of course. If your internet connection is fast, you will be snuggling with Sammy before you know it!

Have fun out there. We know that Sammy sure is!

**This is a satire. The Views and Opinions expressed in these columns are those of the writer, not necessarily those of SCV Publications/Santa Clarita Gazette.**

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