Left Across the Pond

| Opinion | 16 hours ago

by Angel Cruz

Earlier this month, something profound happened in politics — something we will have to study, and watch out for its aftershocks in days to come. If you think I am referring to the Comey hearings, well, I can’t fault you there, seeing how that has dominated media life in the U.S. But, beyond that noise, I am referring specifically to the United Kingdom’s snap election on June 8.

Just to give you a brief run down, the Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May requested a special election in order to reshuffle and gain an even larger majority for her party, the Tories. What took place no one could have conceived of happening a decade ago, or even a month ago. The Labour Party, with an avowed Democratic Socialist at the helm, surged in the polls, garnering more seats in parliament and knocking out the Conservative’s majority.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had proven wrong the assumption that major left policies cannot be popular today, all the while having a hostile press surrounding him. Corbyn ran on a platform of removing tuition costs, nationalizing rail transit, taxing the extremely wealthy, and further funding of the national health care. While not gaining a majority himself, he had embarrassed and put the Conservative Party on the defensive. We will have to wait and see what becomes of this hung Parliament, but things are looking bright for the left in Britain.

So, now we have to ask ourselves — can the same thing be done here in “the colonies?” Our immediate example here is Bernie Sanders, the wild-haired outsider of the Democratic Party. The parallels are obvious. Sanders and Corbyn both had huge youth voter turnout, media hostility and blackouts, and more importantly took on economic issues. Of course, we have to look past the Democratic Party rigging and hostility of Sanders in order to see an outline of the future. This UK election reignites the thought that if Bernie was allowed to be the democratic nominee, he would have mopped the floor with Trump.

If it comes down to a bold left agenda against the right’s slashing of benefits and services, then the right will lose. Jeremy Corbyn, just as Sanders did, ran on a platform of not only keeping benefits, but advancing them as well. While Sanders is certainly way further left than anything beforehand in American Politics, he is not as left as Jeremy Corbyn. Bernie, while reinvigorating the Democratic Party, was still curtailed back to the center on certain issues. He couldn’t go too far in criticizing the imperialist adventures abroad while totally disavowing Hillary and her history.

Corbyn didn’t have those hang-ups. He had the opportunity to dig down on his leftist ideals — and you know how it paid off. This fact has allowed us to remember that working class policies are popular and that the notion there is a drift toward the right is completely false. The idea that we have to compromise our wants and needs before we even enter the political arena does not hold water anymore. The results of the British election have cleared away the cynicism of the left’s floundering (it certainly has for me) and breathed in new life. We see vividly that it is possible to have a bold vision of the future and have massive support. It might seem strange to look over there while we are in this circus back home, but we have to. If not to learn, but to have hope, as well.


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

A High Schooler’s POV

| Opinion | 24 hours ago

by Analyn May 

Several weeks ago, I was surprised when my father informed me that I had received my first rebuttal in the paper. I must admit that it was … well, rather confusing and vague, but I DID catch the main gist of it — and to my pleasant surprise, that gist was enough to spark an idea for another column. So, before I begin I’d like to give a quick and genuine thank you to whoever decided to send in their thoughts on my column, as I was running out of material before you gave me a topic on which to speak my mind.

From my understanding, the person who sent in the rebuttal has two main issues with my articles. The first is that I lack respect, and the second is that I lack experience. Now, to the first issue, I must protest that I’ve done all I can to express my opinion in a respectful way. I write an opinion piece, meaning I give my opinion on certain issues. I am not obligated to show both sides of an issue equally, nor am I obligated to even discuss the opposing side at all. However, I believe a good opinion piece does address opposing viewpoints, so when there is an “other side” on anything I speak about, I try my best to give them credit and explain why I disagree with them. Furthermore, unless I’ve left it out of one of my columns by mistake (which is possible), I end literally every column with a reminder that everything I say is only my point of view. So, Mr. Tim (I would use your last name but you didn’t leave one), I believe I’ve taken the necessary steps to keep my columns respectful.

Now, about the second issue: it is perfectly true that I lack professional experience. I write a lot in my spare time, but I cannot claim to ever having taken a writing course beyond my English classes in school. However, I believe that there are two other facts that may not have been considered here. The first is that my age is partially (if not entirely) the reason that Mr. Sutton hired me. He didn’t care about my writing experience or lack thereof; he cared about how my experience as a teenager changes the way I view the world. And he knew perfectly well when hiring me that, as a teenager, I haven’t yet come across the chance to obtain professional experience.

This leads me to my second point, which I think is important to remember when hiring youth of any kind: This column is my professional experience. I once saw a joke on the internet saying, “Need job to get experience … need experience to get job.” In a country where the population is growing and the job opportunities are shrinking, as robots replace them, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for teens to obtain jobs, even if they’re trainable and have decent skill sets. In almost every career path, a paying job requires its applicants to have previous experience before they’re even looked at. Yet, how are its applicants supposed to have experience when they can’t get a job in that field? It’s an endless cycle, and a vicious one at that. I happen to be one of the lucky teens who has a job they enjoy, let alone a paying job at all. So, to whoever has an issue with my lack of experience: I understand your initial concern, but I urge you to think about the larger picture, and realize that Doug Sutton is generously helping the youth and fighting an ongoing problem in the process. By allowing me a job writing for his newspaper, he has broken the cycle I would otherwise be stuck in, and given me professional experience that I can put on my resume when I apply for writing jobs later in life.

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

*I would also like to take a quick moment to acknowledge all of the people who have given me positive feedback on my articles, both in person and online. I do lack experience and sometimes doubt my abilities because of that, so your kind words mean the world to me. I’ve had so many kind people encourage me in my writing, and it inspires me to keep working hard and pursuing my dreams. I truly thank you all!

**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: Time to Celebrate Our Safe City?

| Opinion | 24 hours ago

Last Friday, The Signal published an opinion piece by Anne Marie Whalley entitled “Wanted: honesty in governance.” I want to “shout out” how proud I am of Anne Marie, who regularly attends monthly Canyon Country Advisory Committee meetings, having penned an article about her desire for government officials to simply tell the truth when interacting with each other and the public. Anne Marie is a naturalized United States citizen who was born in France and immigrated to the U.S. some 26 years ago. Her article also makes me wonder if “naturalized citizens” are more sensitive to the failings of elected officials because of what they experienced in their home countries and what they expect the norm should be in the United States of America.

I absolutely agree with Anne Marie. We should not only expect, but demand, “transparency — not secret, backroom deals” from our governmental agencies. It seems like everyone I have spoken with recently is disappointed with how our national news is being reported. I, for one, take headlines from major news sources with a “grain of salt” and look to validate what has been reported with facts and real quotes. Unfortunately, issues of transparency and honesty sometimes transcend federal and state governmental agencies and extend right down to our own Santa Clarita City Council.

On June 13, 2017 our mayor, Cameron Smyth, reported that a company named Safewise has designated Santa Clarita one of this year’s 50 safest cities in California. He pointed out data from the Safewise list indicating that Santa Clarita is the safest city in California with a population of 200,000 or more. Mayor Smyth went on to compliment the staff and law enforcement for their efforts.

I remember when our City Council always celebrated being the second or third safest city in California. You may have noted that such a claim has not been made recently, so I took note of Mayor Smyth’s announcement and decided to check it out for myself.

Just to be fair, it should be understood that the FBI does not generate crime data. Individual cities report their own crime statistics and the FBI compiles the data into a report. On their website, the FBI goes further to state, we should not use this data for ranking city to city performance, but their advice frequently goes unnoticed and organizations continue to come out with their own analyses and rankings.

So, who is Safewise? Check them out on the internet. Safewise is a company who sells security systems and provides advice to their customers. Their “50 Safest Cities in California – 2017” is billed as a listing of the 50 Safest cities with populations over 10,000. They claim to have used the 2015 FBI crime reporting and population statistics. Their listing shows Santa Clarita as the 40th safest out of 50 cities.

Safewise’s website also tells us how they rate each city’s performance. While their formula is more complex than what we normally use, it does not take a mathematical genius to understand they are scaling the importance of property crimes to be one half the value of violent crimes, then dividing each by the population in thousands and summing the result. Maybe it does not take a genius if you remember high school math and pay attention to the order of operations.

Moving on to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting website, I found data for cities with a population over 100,000 dated 2016. The data is supplied online and can be downloaded in Excel, making analysis relatively simple.

In the past, Santa Clarita has evaluated our relative “safe city status” by simply using “total crimes divided by population.” Applying that criterion to the FBI data for cities over 100,000, Santa Clarita comes in ninth overall out of 69 cities and the third safest city with a population or 200,000 or more. Only the cities of Irvine and Glendale posting with a population of over 200,000, came out ahead of Santa Clarita.

But, if you apply Safewise’s scaled criteria, Santa Clarita is the sixth safest city, with a population greater than 100,000 in California. Due to the ratio of violent and property crime, Irvine stays in front of us, making Santa Clarita the second safest city in California with a population greater than 200,000. Why Irvine was not included in Safewise’s top 50 cities list is not clear. Since the FBI website’s latest data on cities with a population over 10,000 is dated 2014, Safewise may have used two-year-old information.

No matter if Santa Clarita is in first, second or third place, I think it is time to celebrate and compliment those individuals who work to keep Santa Clarita residents safe. In the future, we do not need Safewise or any other consultant to tell us our city’s position on the Safe City scale. All we need is to download the data from the FBI website, figure it out for ourselves, and report the results to the public.

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

Comey’s Conundrum

| Opinion | June 18, 2017

James Comey told Congress under oath that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s former deputy chief of staff, forwarded “hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop. (Even I winced at that statement believing it to be in error. Tens of thousands? Yes. Hundreds of thousands? NO!) He said it was an “incredibly painful” decision to go public with news that Clinton’s emails were found on Anthony Weiner’s computer. Mrs. Clinton claimed it was one of the reasons she lost the election, and that it wasn’t her fault!

The FBI then scrambled to cover for Comey by issuing the following statement in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee  – “A majority of the relevant emails reached Mr. Weiner’s computer via a backup system from Ms. Abedin’s phone, and that the action was not deliberate, as Mr. Comey implied” and “The bulk of the data found occurred as a result of a backup of personal electronic devices, with a small number a result of manual forwarding by Ms. Abedin to Mr. Weiner.”

 Comey also stated that Ms. Abedin had a “regular practice” of forwarding messages to Mr. Weiner for him to print out. He has since backed away from that comment as well.

In the FBI letter it clarified comments made by Mr. Comey stating that “hundreds of thousands of emails had been manually transferred by Ms. Abedin” were actually only two email chains containing classified information to Mr. Weiner’s account.

Boy he sure was “misinformed” on the investigation he was overseeing! Gee Wally! Didn’t Comey say all was well with the FBI? No moral issues or concerns about leadership, right?

The Daily Mail and at least one source close to Comey said his decision to revive the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified material and her email server came after he “could no longer resist mounting pressure by mutinous agents in the FBI,” including some of his top deputies who “felt that he betrayed them and brought disgrace on the bureau by letting Hillary off with a slap on the wrist.”

 According to ZeroHedge:

“‘The atmosphere at the FBI has been toxic ever since Jim announced last July that he wouldn’t recommend an indictment against Hillary,’ said the source, a close friend who has known Comey for nearly two decades, shares family outings with him, and accompanies him to Catholic mass every week.” (TRS has confirmed this with both a retired FBI agent and an FBI contractor.)

“Some people, including department heads, stopped talking to Jim, and even ignored his greetings when they passed him in the hall.”

 “According to the source, Comey fretted over the problem for months and discussed it at great length with his wife, Patrice.”

 “He told his wife that he was depressed by the stack of resignation letters piling up on his desk from disaffected agents. The letters reminded him every day that morale in the FBI had hit rock bottom.”

 “‘The people he trusts the most have been the angriest at him,’ the source continued. ‘And that includes his wife, Pat. She kept urging him to admit that he had been wrong when he refused to press charges against the former secretary of state.’”

 Comey sent a memo to FBI employees attempting to explain why the FBI let Clinton walk, and why it published the notes from its investigation just before a long holiday weekend. According to Kevin Hart, publisher of The Horn News:

“In his memo, first reported by CNN, Comey tried to claim that the decision to not prosecute Clinton was not political, nor a close call. He also said the late-Friday document dump occurred because it was simply the first day the materials were available.”

 “The memo comes after Comey reportedly received heat from former FBI agents who said the decision to recommend criminal charges against Clinton should have been a slam dunk. Politicians ranging from former Texas Governor Rick Perry to House Speaker Paul Ryan have openly questioned whether Comey was influenced by political pressure.”

 Meanwhile, Democrat leadership praised Comey for his honesty. FORMER director of the FBI, James Comey seems to be in a truth death spiral!

To further the case against Comey lying under oath, The Daily Caller published transcripts that no official has yet claimed were false. They clearly show how upset agents were and how they didn’t understand why some of the procedures were NOT adhered to. In the transcript one agent states: “This is a textbook case where a grand jury should have convened, but was not. That is appalling.” And an FBI special agent who has worked public corruption and criminal cases said of the decision, “We talk about it in the office and don’t know how Comey can keep going.”

 Doesn’t sound like anyone is upset here?

“We didn’t search their (Clinton’s) house. We always search the house. The search should not just have been for private electronics, which contained classified material, but even for printouts of such material,” he said. “There should have been a complete search of their residence.”

 In these instances the FBI didn’t take ANY items from the home. No electronics. No nothing. Really? When was the last time you saw the FBI search a home and come out with nothing? When? I’ve seen them take burnt electronic items out of a home that has been set on fire!

Why were so many protocols and procedures ignored in the Clinton case? Why has Comey had to clean up his testimonies so many times after the hearings? Why was it when he felt bad about what he thought Trump said he took action to spark an investigation against Trump, yet when he was pushed by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to change the verbiage of an ongoing investigation to match the verbiage of a presidential campaign, he felt sick over it, but he did nothing? He felt the need to run down and write notes from his conversation with Trump, but not with Hillary or even Loretta Lynch. Does this make sense to anyone? Are you really going to try to tell us that Comey doesn’t have an integrity or honesty issue? Are you going to try to tell us that Comey hasn’t acted out of self-preservation or political reasons? Spare me! Comey is the biggest black eye on the FBI since J. Edgar Hoover.

On a positive note, Comey has now regained his sainthood status with the Democrats.

 Long Live Nancy Pelosi!

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








Pete’s Peeves

| Opinion | June 17, 2017

I have always considered myself a fairly well-balanced and tolerant person. After all, I was part of the hippie generation where everything was about peace and love and accepting each other’s differences. Also, I was taught to rise above challenging moments in life and to always “turn the other cheek.” But that was then and this is now.

I don’t know what happens to a man when he enters his 60s, but suddenly, the least little thing can “set me off” and make a chill go up my spine. Maybe it’s because I see people in my age range dropping dead all around me, that I have become more aware of my own mortality. Suddenly, every minute of my life is more precious, and the last thing I want to do is waste it standing in line or listening to someone’s lame excuses.

So, with that said, I now present “Pete’s Peeves,” a venting of those day-to-day occurrences that make me go berserk!!

Peeve 1. OK, maybe it’s my fault for starting a family so late in life. My brain and nervous system just can’t deal with the tempo of my two teenage daughters. As much as I love them, some things they do just bring me to the edge, like dumping their backpacks, lunch bags and coats right at the front door when they walk in the house. I get it — they’re tired of lugging the contents of a school locker on their backs all day; but, at least leave room for me to open the door and enter the house without stumbling and climbing over a mountain of debris.

Peeve 2. I don’t know what’s going on, but every time I go to back out of a parking space, there is always someone right behind me. I guess you’d say one of my peeves is my inability to see what I’m looking at. I can look and check and look some more, but still, I end up nearly running some poor soul over every time I back up. I swear, sometimes I think the “Big Guy” upstairs is messing with me on purpose. So, now I have to practically turn 180 degrees around and get a clear view of the area behind me. Then, quickly turn back and check all my side mirrors, and then turn around one more time to make absolutely sure I won’t have to hear any more people yelling, “Hey, watch where the “F” you’re going, Jerk!!”

Peeve 3. My home is located on a beautiful corner lot with a large front lawn. But, over the past years, more and more people have started to use my lawn like it’s the neighborhood park. And, as luck would have it, I have a big yellow fire hydrant and a large tree that every dog in the neighborhood can’t resist. But, there is one guy who walks his dog every morning, and it’s really starting to make me blow my top.

Every day at 6:30 a.m., he walks his mangy looking dog past my house dragging its own leash on the ground.  Then he lets the dog run on my yard and spin its leash around and around in circles like it was chasing its own tail. Meanwhile, my dog is in the house barking her head off and waking the whole family.

So, I finally had the chance to look at the guy as his dog did its crazy spinning thing and made sure that the look on my face clearly expressed my disapproval. But, he just smiled back as if I should be pleased with the free entertainment his dog was giving me. So, what really peeves me is that, now, I will have to put some big, ugly “No Trespassing” and “Curb Your Dog” signs on my beautiful lawn, knowing all the time that it will do absolutely no good because …

dogs can’t read!

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




| Opinion | June 16, 2017

by T. Katz

Q: My young son did something morally questionable and one of our relatives called him “a failure” and doesn’t want to speak to him anymore. I feel terrible, but I don’t think the situation is hopeless. Any advice?

A: Let them both know, with a firm voice: A fall is not failure. Too many times I’ve seen the gut reaction of people who go straight to relationship devastation and ruin, with no hope of rebuilding. For your own well-being, you have to consider what kind of filter the individual is viewing the world through. It may be your relative’s own past experiences that left his/her psyche in tatters, leading that person to see everything as shredded and worthless. While you might not change someone else’s mindset, you can speak to your relative about character growth. While there are four stages of human development and growth, perhaps you could appeal to the pragmatist’s soul and speak of your son like a business, where you have to be flexible and adapt in order to be successful. Here are the five stages of business growth:

Seed and Development. Before a business is really a business, it’s the gleam in someone’s eye and there are ideals about what the ultimate result will be. Expectations are high and sometimes not completely realistic. You gather all the info you can from every source.

Startup. This is the stage of taking risks. Mistakes will be made. By everyone. Patience and adaptability are key as tweaks and changes must be made. Fall down, get up and keep moving forward. You’ve made an investment. See it through.

Growth and Establishment. You’re chugging along and results are coming in, both good and bad. Growing pains are inevitable for everyone involved, but you power through and keep your eye on the prize, even with missteps. If you see potential, things will likely improve.

Expansion. Ever blow up a balloon to its full potential and hear the squeaks and uncomfortable sounds of straining? Yeah, expansion is like that. Even for the brain, heart and soul. Continued guidance, planning and management must still be in play during this challenging phase.

Maturity and Possible Exit. It usually takes years for a successful business to reach a place where it continues along under its own steam. You look back at how difficult it was, but it was all worth it. The late nights. The heartburn. The heartache. You did good.

American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey said, “The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become better.” Your son is going through not only the stages of human growth and development, he’s your business (ß please repeat that to yourself) and you’re helping move to become better and, ultimately, successful. So, no matter what your relative thinks – you continue on with your business and if those who view your efforts cannot accept and appreciate that, you have my permission to tell them to mind their own.

Elected Children in $5,000 Suits

| Opinion | June 16, 2017

I love being a dad. A father is something that most post-pubescent males are biologically equipped to become with minimal effort, and unfortunately, sometimes minimal post-activity upkeep. But being a dad takes work, and of all the things I’ve done, it is the most revered title I’ve ever earned.

Being a good dad means teaching your little ones life lessons, and as I tell my kids, my job is to “teach them the lessons to help them grow up to be good humans.” But every day that I watch the news it seems we have several hundred people in Washington, elected by a public that doesn’t appear to be paying much attention, whose parents dropped the ball entirely when teaching those lessons.

I’ve been keeping a keen eye on the current healthcare debacle, with Conservatives attempting to deconstruct the plan known as Obamacare, which was sold as a way to put America on track with the rest of the world, in terms of healthcare for everyone, but fell drastically short and became more of a vehicle to fleece small businesses and make insurance companies (and their highly paid lobbyists) a lot of money. I’ve been watching the back and forth between some politicians who have vowed for years to dismantle Obamacare at all costs and others who deliberately misinformed the public to get it passed in the first place. It has a lot of similarities to the lessons I’ve been working to teach my kids, and makes me worry about the future of our great nation if these squabbling children can’t play nice.

Nancy “you have to pass it to see what’s in it” Pelosi has sent a shot across the bow to the GOP by saying their rush to get it passed shows that Republicans are “terrified about its potential effects.”

“They have this vote tattooed on them. This is a scar that they will carry,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference. She was counting on her voting base to forget her childish actions in pushing the original Obamacare, or at the very least, not be paying attention to the garbage coming out of her mouth.

I’m not saying that Conservatives are squeaky clean in this either. To establish a directive to dismantle the hallmark plan of a previous administration at all costs rather than try to fix it isn’t quite exemplary behavior in itself, and is akin to a child with a broken toy insisting their sibling’s toy be broken as well to “make it fair.” But to get upset and publicly discredit someone for pulling the same, exact, childish antics you pulled in the not-so-distant past is a clear example of behavior I’m trying to discourage in my children.

And the squabbling has spread beyond the children in Washington to their media representatives, as well. Listening to a segment with NPR host Warren Olny yesterday with guests from The Center for American Progress, The Kaiser Foundation, Politico and The Washington Examiner sounded alarmingly similar to arguments I hear between my seven- and four-year-olds.

Name calling, he-said-she-said, “but you said” and a plethora of childish activities have erupted in our political landscape, where it’s no longer popular to be civil, listen to what the other side has to say and form your response based on their point of view in civil discourse. Listening to politicians and the media argue over semantics and devolve to name-calling has, unfortunately, become a part of reality in our great nation, and I hope that my children can grow up to be better than that.

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.**








Always Advocating Alan

| Opinion | June 16, 2017

City Council Elections, Appointments and the Future

by Alan Ferdman

Santa Clarita became an official entity on Nov. 3, 1987, when voters cast their ballots and determined our city would be formed. Those same voters also decided to be represented by a city council elected “at large.” There were 26 candidates in the race, and voters selected Buck McKeon, Jan Heidt, Jo Anne Darcy, Carl Boyer and Dennis Koontz to be the first Santa Clarita City Council.

From the date of Santa Clarita’s formation to the present day, our City Council membership has been determined by a vote of the people, with two recent exceptions. In both cases, a sitting councilmember had been elected to a state office and, therefore, resigned prior to completing their term. In both cases, the remaining City Council members made the decision to appoint a replacement member, rather than holding a special election.

By California Government Code, using an appointment process rather than holding a special election is perfectly acceptable; however, controversy has accompanied both appointment processes.

Before you read any further, please take note. My intent is not to open a dialogue about who was selected. Instead, I will be sharing my opinion about the process of “how replacement city council members are selected.” I stayed away from this subject until now, because, having been a City Council election candidate who has not scored enough support to obtain a seat, I did not want to sound as if I am making excuses. I firmly believe in accepting the will of the people and continue doing my best to work with those individuals chosen by the electorate to represent our city. At the same time, participating as a City Council candidate has given me insight into the personal commitment required to be the center of a council campaign.

During the 2016 Santa Clarita City Council election process, 11 candidates stepped forward and declared their commitment and desire to serve by filing their nomination paperwork with the city clerk’s office by August 12, 2016, approximately three months before the election. Included was a form where each candidate had obtained between 20-30 signatures of registered city voters supporting their candidacy. Candidates who wished to have a personal statement included on the ballot had to bring along $1,700, or to add another language, add another $1,700.

Some of the campaigns started a year prior to the election. If a candidate intended to raise money, forms were filed with the State of California to obtain a Campaign ID and there was periodic reporting of campaign donations and expenditures. Many of the candidates procured signs, buttons and other campaign materials to be distributed to supporters and used for handouts. You also probably noticed the ads placed in local papers and on social media. Candidates participated in numerous forums and made lots of personal appearances and, oh yes, if a candidate could afford it, there are those colorful mailers you received. When you add political action committee efforts to the candidates’ own campaign resources, some spent more than $100,000 on their campaigns.

In short, running for the Santa Clarita City Council requires a very strong commitment of time, resources and personal resolve by all serious candidates. Just like any state or federal election, candidates can expect to be fully vetted, where issues in their personal lives are made public and heavily scrutinized. With these things in mind, the most important concept to remember is that the decision rests with the will of the people and each voter gets one vote.

So, when Dante Acosta resigned after being elected to the state Legislature, the remaining four City Council members had a decision to make. They could call for a special election. They could choose the candidate with the next highest vote count from the previous election. Or they could make an appointment using some other criteria. They chose to use the same city process currently used to select city commissioners. Anyone could apply by providing a resume and two letters of recommendation. There is nothing legally improper about their decision, because the California Election Code allows for an appointment process to be used and does not define a specific appointment methodology. The stage was now set for the four City Council members to each represent the equivalent of approximately 25,000 votes, or one-quarter of the registered Santa Clarita voters.

When 50 Santa Clarita residents stepped forward and applied, including many who had been candidates in the previous election, their decision was, in my opinion, just the wrong road to take. While the four sitting council members praised all those willing to step forward and serve, how does a resume and two letters of recommendation become equivalent, or superior even, to the commitment and effort shown by the 11 candidates who had just gone through the current election cycle? The appointment process consciously enabled the council to select an individual without regard to the feelings of the city’s residents.

If I had made the decision, I would have selected the person with the next highest election votes — Mr. Boydston. Not because I like him, but because I believe that decision would most closely reflect the will of the people and was, therefore, the right thing to do.

As the appointment process had no real selection criteria, interviews or vetting, I am convinced it educated the 50 applicants about how our City Council operates. We are the third largest city, by population, in Los Angeles County and our governmental processes need to grow up to a level that supports our current stature. It is time for change. It is time we take Santa Clarita decisions out of the hands of a few privileged individuals.

This election and appointment cycle has cemented my position relative to establishing districts and town councils in Santa Clarita, therefore bringing government closer to the citizens it serves. It was the concept which sold our community on establishing the City of Santa Clarita in the first place, and it should be the concept we use to make our leaders even more responsive to our residents. In the meantime, I urge you to encourage change by working diligently with our five “at large” council members, because currently they are the only government body in town.

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

Which GOP Mistake Are You?: A Horoscope

| Opinion | June 15, 2017

Most people have heard of horoscopes and astrology — but, did you know that the month you were born connects your future, and your personality, to a disastrous GOP malfunction?

Sean Spicer Holocaust Whoopsie (January-February)

You constantly get stuck with the task of getting your friends out of trouble. You always get the brunt of things, and sometimes, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. Girl, spend more time figuring yourself out, because you are a huge mess. A visit to a library or commemorative museum  is in your future.

James Comey Getting the Boot (March-May)

You stick with what you believe, even if nobody else does, or if it is bad timing. And girl, you sure know about that bad timing. You tend to not let things go, but I guess you pay the price! It might be a good idea to turn off the TV and take more walks this month.            

Michael Flynn Investigation (June-July)

You are a social butterfly. But, sometimes this can get you into trouble. People go to you for advice — but loyalty? Guess again, girl! You go from friend to friend, and now no one can trust you. Sure, your BFF will back you up, but good luck getting help from anyone else. Cherish the last days of your job this month.

WikiLeaks Russian Scandal (August-October)

You can’t seem to get enough of other people’s drama. You are a gossip queen! But when it comes to your own drama — girl, get a handle on yourself. Life for you isn’t going so hot, so get yourself together or you will have some explaining to do. This is a great month to stay indoors.

Donald Trump (November-December)

You are the boss of all of your friends, and you always dish it. But girl, if you think you can take it, guess again. Your sensitivity is bringing everyone else down, and that sucks, especially when you make a name for yourself for calling everyone else out. Don’t think for a second that your clique doesn’t notice that kind of stuff. Ouch! This month is the time to count your chips and cash out on any investments you probably have.

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

Local, Tax-Paying Voters, Pay Attention!

| Opinion | June 9, 2017

by Betty Arenson

Recently I wrote a commentary entitled “When Will Tax-Paying Voters Learn?” wherein I cited the insanity of the reckless, insatiable appetites of California’s liberal-dominated legislature. I identified just a few instances where the politicians openly lie to voters with too many among us falling for the feel-good “quippy” titles and doing no research into the meat before votes are cast. Realization hits when our wallets are bare. Worse, the liars are re-elected; “re-elected” being the operative word.

Here are a few:
Jerry Brown’s Bullet Train to Nowhere: the $33 billion-lie.

Measure H: the L.A. County sales tax increase that already has collection issues and will NOT disappear in 10 years, while the homeless will still be homeless.

Proposition 56: The $2-per-pack cigarette tax passed in November 2016 premised on paying Medi-Cal doctors more for treating nearly 14 million enrollees, including 183,000 illegal immigrant children (*L.A. Times). Governor Jerry Brown now refuses to allocate the money for the doctors with the focus on getting more enrollees with increased benefits.

SB 1 Transportation Funding: Fix the roads. Governor Brown broke his promise to take any new taxes to voters. He and his band of bandits unilaterally increased our gasoline tax by 12 cents per gallon and vehicle registration fees that will cost every legally registered car owner from $25 to $125 more per year; more money you will not have.

Reading the text will tell you that the funds will create more bureaucracy, involve job training and employment of “formerly incarcerated individuals,” storm water capture, $2 million to the California University system, etc.

SB 562: Healthy California (HC) Act passed May 31 by the certifiable Brown’s (Senate) bandits.

SB562 is a “comprehensive universal single-payer health care coverage program” that provides “universal health coverage for every Californian based on his or her ability to pay and funded by broad-based revenue.”
It’s important to note that HC “provides” and “offers” a healthcare plan; it does not mandate people be on it.

Tax-paying voters: the text is must-read.

“(Obamacare) … still leaves many Californians without coverage or with inadequate coverage”

HC creates a new: 1. Healthy Care program (department); 2. Nine-member board (all appointees by the governor, Senate Committee on Rules, and speaker of the Assembly); 3. Special committee (appointees) to advise the board and 4. Healthy Care Trust Fund in the state treasury.

HC will “require the board to seek all necessary waivers, approvals, and agreements to allow various existing federal health care payments to be paid to the Healthy California program, which would then assume responsibility for all benefits and services previously paid for with those funds.”

All of the monies the federal government now pays for Medi-Cal, Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare, Obamacare “and any other federal programs … federal funds … and other subsidies that would otherwise be paid” to the state “will be paid by the federal government to the state of “California and deposited in the Healthy California Trust Fund.”
Section 1 (4): “Those programs would be replaced and merged into the HC program, which will operate as a true single-payer program.”

Section 1 (6): “Programs Medi-Cal and Medicare included will be covered by the HC; i.e., the State of California will be taking over Medicare with the multiple sources of funding be(ing) pooled with other HC program funds…”

Section 1 (6) (c) This act does not create any employment benefit, nor does it require, prohibit, or limit the providing of any employment benefit.

*this is the “out” for the all-knowing bandits to be able to keep their great coverage, while small business, Medicare people, etc. are under their control.

Be aware: The fiscally failed California will run your Medicare program. Section 1 (6)(c) seems to indicate those with coverage through employment “may” be able to keep their plans, but watch out for the cost. You’ll be paying your monthly premiums plus the needed taxes to pay for this farce.

Most of all, do NOT forget the Obamacare line: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” Obama said it 37 times in a 2009 speech to the American Medical Association. PolitiFact called it the “Lie of the Year” in 2013.

California’s present annual budget is about $180 billion (not including non-funded liabilities/public pensions). The bandit’s price tag for the HC is another $400 billion each year; which means it’ll be $750 billion … per year!

Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), main author of the bill, admits: “There is no funding mechanism within this bill because we want to further study and ensure that this becomes a program that is viable.”
What? How in a sane world can a bill/program be “ensured” to survive if there is absolutely no money machinery in place coinciding with a realistic, practical plan?

Lara echo’s Nancy Pelosi’s Obamacare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

One analysis is to increase the state’s payroll tax (total of four tax sources) by 15 percent, affecting both employees and employers. That’s an incredible “under-fund” at the get-go.

Will your employer stay in California? Will you?

New York’s recent single-payer proposal requires doubling, up to quadrupling their state taxes.

Blue-state Colorado voters rejected the single-payer by 79 percent.

We didn’t need the recent California Association of Health Underwriters poll to confirm most Californians cannot afford a quadruple payroll tax.

Seventy-five percent of those polled objected to a (mere) $179 billion-per-year new health care program. Surely 100 percent would object to the actual projected $400 billion cost.

The masses will see this as “free” and will advocate for it, irrespective of “…his or her ability to pay…”.

“Free” is always expensive. Read the text.

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

When a Stiff Upper Lip Doesn’t Cut It

| Opinion | June 9, 2017

By now we’ve all heard of the latest tragedy in the war against terrorism and cowardly, lone wolf Jihadis who attack Western populaces at random in a feeble attempt to disrupt our way of life.

There are a lot of talking points crowding the mainstream news airwaves, radio and social media, but I feel there is one extremely important point that isn’t being made enough: A stiff upper lip doesn’t cut it.

We had a wave of shootings here at home over the last few years and it seemed like the left and mainstream media had an “in case of tragedy break glass” scenario to turn Newton, Columbine, San Bernardino and Orlando into an anti-second amendment conference. But for those of us who believe that the greatest defense is a good offense, it falls on deaf ears.

Liberals around the world would have you believe that since we have law enforcement in all of the civilized societies, personal security and being armed isn’t necessary. And they believe that in any emergency situation the police will appear immediately on site before you or your loved ones are harmed and will save the day.

There are a lot of memes on social media that point out the lunacy of this situation with another: Even though every municipality has a fire department, we all keep a fire extinguisher close at hand in case of emergency.

The London attack has shown the absolute necessity of applying that logic to the very real threat of a crazy wannabe Jihadi rampaging a place that we work, eat, congregate or go have a pint. And hearing the reports of unarmed London police running AWAY from the attackers just solidifies the real need of citizens to act like adults and not leave the safety of their families to those who are more concerned with going home to their own families than protecting yours.

The media is making heroes out of people who threw chairs or pint glasses at the attackers, yet remain remarkably silent when armed robbers try to hold up a bank or grocery store and an armed civilian takes them out before they can do any damage. The media and the left would have you believe that “criminals are people too” and that it’s not our right or our job to keep ourselves and loved ones safe, especially if it means killing someone who is trying to harm or kill them.

I have to say that is the one argument that I unequivocally disagree with more than any other idea on the planet. I’m open to suggestions on just about any other point — political, environmental, fiscal or anything else — but this is one point I cannot put even the least amount of credit to.

As a father, I believe it is my job to keep my children safe from harm, whenever I can. As a veteran, I believe it is my duty to keep my country safe from harm, whenever I can. And as a citizen of the United States of America I feel that it is my duty to keep my countrymen safe, whenever I can.

While the stiff upper lip may be enough for our British brethren across the pond to deal with these type of situations, nothing short of cold, hard lead and American tenacity will suffice for me.

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

The Two Martin Luther Kings

| Opinion | June 8, 2017

by Joshua Heath

Nearly 50 years have passed since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Though beloved today, at the time of his murder King was utterly despised by broad swaths of the American public.

The last Gallup poll taken before he died showed only 32 percent of the country approved of him. By comparison, Donald Trump’s current approval rating is 7 points higher. The reason King was so hated is simple: he was a true radical, demanding fundamental change to America’s social, economic and political order.

Having led the fight to end Jim Crow, King was then advocating for an end to economic oppression for all Americans. That meant arguing for visionary proposals like a guaranteed income, reparations for the black community, and concerted action to end poverty. He had become a self-avowed democratic socialist, in the vein of Senator Bernie Sanders.
He also became a fierce critic of the Vietnam War, a stance that earned him the scorn of President Lyndon Johnson and his allies. Calling America “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world,” he demanded an end to the war and a renewed focus on poverty and nation-building at home. These arguments required tremendous political courage on his part, but he made them anyway.

But as soon as King took his last breath, our society forgot about his core beliefs. We disregarded his revolutionary demands for justice and his socialist orientation. In their place, we built a new King, a sanitized King, a harmless preacher of brotherhood and love.

For example, conservatives often misrepresent his “I have a Dream Speech.” Pointing to his call for seeing individuals by the “content of their character” and not the color of their skin, the right uses this as evidence to argue against talking about race.
King would never have endorsed this interpretation of his words. He demanded that society focus on an individual’s character because he wanted to see an end to racism. Never did he advocate for an end to talking about race. He clearly understood how much harm African Americans endured throughout U.S. history and that our society would need to focus on race for some time until they received justice.

And our culture as a whole disregards his economic arguments. Throughout public school, my teachers often delivered lessons on King and the Civil Rights Movement. Not once did they ever mention his desire to end poverty and deliver reparations to the black community. It is truly disgraceful.

This country already murdered Dr. King in the flesh. When we misrepresent and slander his legacy, we do the same to his spirit. It is time to remake our perception of this great man and embrace who he really was.
As a first step in achieving this, we must rethink Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the national holiday dedicated to him. Currently, students get the day off from school on this occasion. While I’m sure kids enjoy this very much, they should have to attend school and spend the day learning about King’s life and true legacy.

They must absorb King’s wisdom and his radical vision to remake America into a nation guided by compassion and love. Enough with this fake, mythical King who supposedly spent his life holding hands with white folks singing “Kumbaya.”

There is nothing we can do to bring Dr. King back to life. His mortal presence has left this earth. But by resurrecting his true spirit, we can bring back his soul and ensure that he did not live in vain. A man as beautiful as he was deserves nothing less.

**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 | June 8, 2017

High School Graduation and The Future

by Alan Ferdman 

This year, the Ferdman family cycle of life continues as we celebrated my first granddaughter graduating from Saugus High School. With straight A’s in her senior year and a high GPA, we are very proud of her and anxious to hear where she plans to go from here. From my past experience — with her father and his older brother — I fully realize that any advice I provide has to be of a general nature, something which will be helpful to her in making a good decision.

Since she is halfway between the teen years, when all parents become incredibly stupid, and her 20s, when adults regain their senses, I am not sure how much of the advice I provided will stick, but I still tried. She is college-bound, so I tried to explain how important it is to read the college catalog, double verify any advice school counselors provide, and not to be distraught if a 101-survey class gives her new ideas about what to pursue for a major. I reminded her to carefully consider the major she selects. Hopefully, the path she takes will enable her to have a rewarding career and financially stable life.

But most importantly, take what the experts predict about the future with a “grain of salt.” They have been wrong many times before and they will be wrong many times in the future. Why? Because they have no comprehension of what the future will actually bring. As an example, experts were telling us in the 1970s the world was headed for a new ice age. Today, those same experts are telling us the world is heating up, and with the earth’s poles melting, we will all need water wings to survive. I even remember those popular science magazines from the 1950s telling us the world will control the weather by putting giant sun screens in space to control the amount of sunlight getting to our planet. Yet, the worst of today’s predictions is related to robotics and technology putting us all out of work. They talk about it as if the concept of technology changing the way we live and work is something new.

What I can tell my granddaughter is you can be sure over your lifetime the world and your work environment will be constantly changing. If you take up an occupation related to technology of any kind, you are embarking on a career which will require lifelong learning and accepting continual change in the way you carry out your day-to-day tasks. You will need to be imaginative and creative, because what was good enough yesterday will not be acceptable tomorrow, and if you are like me, you will love it.

My advice about change comes from my 46-year career in aerospace. Hiring into a major aerospace company in the early 1960s was exciting. There were rooms filled with drafting tables, a very large machine shop, long assembly and test benches, a secretary to type memos and answer phones for each work group, and every area had a department artist to make up presentation charts. The company was growing quickly, continual new construction was taking place all around us and we joked, “If you have not been in an area of the building for a few days, you had better watch where you were going, because you may walk into a new wall that was not there the last time you passed through.”

I mentioned those specific items because technology changed the way work activities were accomplished. Today, computer-aided design replaced drafting tables; pick and place equipment, flow solder machines and automated test equipment are used to build and test electronic assemblies; solid modeling allows parts to be prototyped without having to use the machine shop; engineers use computers rather than pencils to write memos; and software like PowerPoint negated the need for a department artist.

Plus, there were drastic changes in the products we designed and built. When I first started, computations were accomplished with rotating mechanical devices, our products were assembled by watch makers, and in some cases the equipment was so large it was incorporated as a part of the airframe. All that changed with the incorporation of digital computers, integrated circuitry, programmable devices and software.

If you are employed in a highly technical field, you can expect to work with products and tools you never were introduced to in school. Just before going to work in aerospace, I completed a two-year course in electronics technology, which today would be considered an AA. Besides basic electronics theory, we spent the majority of the time studying vacuum tube applications. Going out into the industry, I never saw a vacuum tube in any product we produced. Vacuum tubes were obsolete. They required too much space, ran too hot, used too much power and provided too little functionality. I learned early that if I intend to be successful I had better look around, find out what technology I need to know and find a way to come up to speed on my own. Fortunately for me, when I saw digital computers and software starting to be incorporated in our products, I jumped in with both feet and built my career around computer science applications.

Today, I believe the so-called “experts” who predict our future will be taken over by machines are being overly impressed by science fiction. While it is true, the complexity of technological advances are coming at us at an ever-increasing rate, they still require human intellect and effort to design, build and maintain them. How we accomplish productive work has been, and will be, changing in the future. It is the challenge for all those who enter a high-tech career to keep up with those changes so as to keep their career on track.

In conclusion, my granddaughter is smart and I am sure she will do very well. I am also glad she is thinking about a degree and career in biology. It is an expertise her “Grampy” knows little about, so specific advice need not be forthcoming. Just kidding about the advice part.

**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 – Santa Clarita City Council: Business as Usual?

| Opinion | June 1, 2017

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about the May 9th meeting, where I witnessed the Santa Clarita City Council at its finest. Watching all five of our council members openly and exhaustively discuss an item on the agenda was inspirational, and I had hoped it represented a new norm.

But then came the May 23rd City Council meeting agenda and it was back to business as usual. The agenda contained 13 items on the Consent Calendar, seven of them seemingly a routine procedure to adjust rates for the current annual levy. No one would be the wiser, unless they had time to read and analyze all the staff reports and all the backup documentation within the three working days provided. Not revealing an agenda item’s actual intent, either by omission or not discussing it, is a way to withhold what is really going on from the public and hiding the truth in plain sight.

To be honest, this city council agenda had so many items attached, I would have missed it also, if not for Agenda item 15. This item caught my eye and ended up leading me back to the Consent Calendar. Agenda Item 15 is listed under “new business” and talks about “provide(ing) background information on the proposed approval of a Purchase and Sale Agreement with Southern California Edison … of Santa Clarita’s streetlight system consisting of 16,125 poles.”

Initially when I read this item, I thought, “Why would anyone want to spend $10,000,000 to buy streetlights we already have?” Peeling an onion layer, I read the staff report, which cemented my negative feelings when it read: “The purchase and conversion to (LED) technology will result in an annual operational savings” and “Funding to support the debt service will be derived from realized operational savings.” As the savings did not appear to cover the debt service, it did not make sense to spend more money to buy the streetlights than we would save over 30 years. Therefore, when I went to the city council meeting, I put in a speaker card to voice my opposition.

But, before the meeting started, a city staff member took note of my speaker card, approached me, and asked about my concern. When I related to him what I had read, he informed me the operational savings represented in the staff report was the amount saved after all expenses, including acquisition cost and debt service, had been accounted for. As they said in the “Wizard of Oz,” that is “a horse of a different color.” Saving $22,000,000 over 30 years, all of a sudden, became a good deal.

Yet, after the meeting, something still did not seem right, as my “trust, but verify” mindset kicked in. Right after my public comment, staff provided a presentation on the proposed streetlight purchase. Their numbers showed the current SCE charges over 30 years as $74,760,000, while the Agenda Staff Report indicated the “status quo” cost is $109,000,000. A $30,000,000 difference is not close enough — even for government work.

Using the staff’s presentation numbers, the projected cost of operation would decrease to $36,270,00 over 30 years. Adding acquisition cost and debt service ($30 million) to the operational cost reduces the savings to $8,490,000 — a far cry from the $22,463,211, over 30 years, as stated in the Agenda 15 Staff Report.

I felt like I just went three rounds with a used car salesperson. But, it gets even better. When I went to last year’s Streetlight Maintenance District Engineers Report 2016/17 I found that Edison owns 17,843 streetlights in Santa Clarita and the city already owns an additional 989. So, why aren’t we buying all of the SCE owned streetlights? Does the new proposal also include updating the 989 streetlights the city already owns to LEDs? Who knows?

Agenda Item 15 also includes a statement: “Any damage to the conduits or interruption of electrical service to the streetlights that occur below (a) streetlight pole’s access cover remains the responsibility of SCE.” Is the city now also leasing the wiring?

The kicker here is the Lighting Maintenance District is currently operating at a $1,002,442-per-year deficit, which is helped along by the city charging $380,000 per year to administer this $3.5 million-dollar account. With the current Lighting Maintenance District revenue stream of $2,487,971 per year, the district could fund the staff presentation proposal, but could not fund the cost numbers quoted in the Agenda Staff Report.
Revisiting the Purchase and Sale Agreement from Agenda Item 15 shows “SCE currently owns … 17,187 LS-1 electric streetlights … in the City of Santa Clarita.” Notice the numbers keep changing, making it difficult to have faith in the validity of what we are being told.

The bottom line is, the current streetlight revenue, proposed cost and proposed savings numbers are not consistent between city documents, and therefore, highly suspect. Once this goes through, you and I will be the ones to pay the bill. We need to be smart consumers — personally and collectively.

This makes my head hurt. Are you frustrated yet? Well, hang in there just a little longer. Remember when I said this agenda item led me back to the Consent Calendar? I revisited the May 23rd City Council Agenda item 10, 11 and 12, which all state, “This required procedural matter orders, approves and sets the Public Hearing for the annual levy of Zones XXX within the Landscape and Lighting District.” That statement is very deceptive. Why? Because last year the Landscape and Lighting District did not exist. It does not exist today. They were two separate districts, and this item takes the 20-page Lighting Maintenance District Engineers Report and blows it up to 46 pages of “city speak.” At the last City Council meeting, not one word was heard about the districts being combined, and if it would require a vote of “special benefit” property owners, per Proposition 218, to push it through in a heartbeat, the public hearing will take place at the next City Council meeting on June 13. We need to understand why this action is being taken and we will only get one chance to find out. I hope you join me in asking for answers.

We may not be Mayberry, but Santa Clarita deserves information coming from City Hall to be consistent and truthful. In addition, Santa Clarita deserves council members who diligently review what staff is proposing, and are ready to discuss and take action on each issue, in public, just like they did at the May 9th City Council meeting. “Doing the right thing” should not be an oddity; it should happen regularly, at every meeting. It is up to the public to demand “doing the right thing” be the norm at City Council meetings and, if necessary, make adjustments using the ballot box.

Trump’s Brilliance

| Opinion | May 26, 2017

by Joshua Heath

Since Ronald Reagan, Republicans have styled themselves as the party of the middle class and the affluent. Their rhetoric paints these demographics as the hard-working, “true” Americans, while the poor, by contrast, receive stern criticism. Low-income folks have no one to blame but themselves, according to Republicans; they are simply too lazy and morally corrupt to do better in life.

For many Americans, these arguments made the GOP appear mean-spirited and cruel. In turn, they went and elected Barack Obama twice as president — a man who bases his politics on a sense of compassion for all.

However, during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump up-ended this status quo. He didn’t utter a single word against the poor. Instead, he styled himself as their champion and the champion of “forgotten men and women” everywhere. Working families, average Americans, those who have dropped out of the middle class — Trump promised to fight for each of these groups.

He said he would wage war against the political elites who engineered the trade deals and immigration policies that had cost them their jobs. If he was elected president, their station in life would rise. They would reclaim the American dream.

This was an incredible shift from typical conservative thinking. Effectively, Trump campaigned like a democrat. He focused on uplifting ordinary Americans — the waitress, the school teacher, the bus driver — instead of helping the wealthy. But instead of offering them more government benefits, he offered them conservative policy that he claimed would create jobs, raise their incomes, and reduce their healthcare bills.

In essence, Trump innovatively campaigned with the idealism of a Democrat, but offered conservative ideas. To his supporters, he is as iconic a figure as Franklin Delano Roosevelt is for liberals, except instead of waging war on the “economic royalists” as FDR did, Trump has promised to fight the political elites.

Most Democrats have not yet picked up on Trump’s genius. They still see him as an orange buffoon, but this thinking will only harm them. In order to successfully counter Trump, liberals must first see him for what he is: a shrewd, brilliant politician who knows exactly what he is doing.

Then Democrats must advocate as forcefully for working families as Trump does but, of course, offer progressive policies instead. If they ever hope to reclaim power, they must defeat Trump in a war of ideas. Underestimating him and making fun of him only works in his favor. Average Americans, faced with a choice between supporting their “champion” and a political party dedicated to deriding him, will choose Trump every time.

Americans Shafted by Budget

| Opinion | May 26, 2017

by Angel Cruz

The White House last week unveiled one of the most aggressive fiscal budgets in modern U.S. history — a vicious program designed to cut taxes on the wealthy and to utterly destroy social welfare programs. It is not enough that many Americans sludge through this recessive economy and those at the very bottom have the last safety net cut from beneath them.

This is a program that has been years in the making. Ever since the pitched battles in the 20th century for labor rights and social programs, the rich have always resented those who begged for more than scraps. Trump and the Republicans, among the most unapologetic defenders of brutal capitalism, have become emboldened since gaining power to not only halt progress, but to reverse it completely. The Democrats over the years have only asked for meager gains for the well-being of the public. Meanwhile, the Conservatives have the freedom of not having to play with niceties. They can say in your face that if you can’t afford it, well, tough break — guess you are not working hard enough, not “competing” enough to even scrape by.

The logic that honest Conservatives will admit to is that Capitalism is “survival of the fittest” — fittest in the sense that those who are born with capital in hand deserve to live, and let the poor be damned. The massive cuts to Medicaid and ACA are such an abomination that people are becoming furious, because they see that it is not a choice to choose insurances but to choose starvation or medical bankruptcy. This is wildly unpopular and the Republicans know it, as they shirk & hide away from town hall meetings. This is the logic of the defenders of unbridled Capitalism, that they (the Republicans) must enact these programs, while risking their employment, come 2018. It is ridiculous to see their logic, that cutting Medicaid, one of the most beneficial (75 million Americans relying on it) and popular programs, has to be done so that those that survive on it can have the freedom of not relying on their government. The idea of needing the government to survive is disgusting to them, as they say with no hint of irony that they will never need it.

It is amazing to see beyond the absolute gutting of the welfare state that there will also be an increase in military spending. Beyond the horrors of an even larger military industrial complex, endless warfare throughout some of the most impoverished nations. You just know that none of that money will be earmarked for the social programs for the soldiers who give life and limb for our country. I can’t really see this version of the budget passing at all, but to see just how naked and ugly the Conservative vision is, is enough to make one reel. The rich and their apologia hold no love for those that struggle. They cannot even fathom the concept of living paycheck-to-paycheck, where if they were hit with a medical bill they would have to fear bankruptcy. Why even entertain the idea of reading their justifications when you know they are nothing like you. These divisions are real, the middle class is gone, and now there are only two — those who have and those who don’t. It’s grim, but I do hold the belief in facing up to it, because that is the first step in change.

A High Schooler’s POV

| Opinion | May 25, 2017

by Analyn May

A few days ago, I was pondering topics for an article, and for a while I was considering “the dangers of the internet.” Unfortunately, that particular topic has been written about so many times, I hardly had anything new to add. The internet is a scary place, and nobody can deny it. There are so many scammers and ill-intentioned people lurking about, and with the internet as a mask, it’s hard to tell who’s wearing a facade. However, I think there’s a silver lining, and it’s not the “wealth of information” argument I usually hear when people defend the internet. Actually, what I find most appealing about the World Wide Web is the same thing that makes it so terrifying. Allow me to explain.

As I’m typing this article, next to me is a copy of “Pride and Prejudice” for school (although I won’t deny loving the book). As one might suppose by the title, one of the main themes of the book is prejudice: the act of judging someone’s character before knowing their story and intentions. Basically, it’s a fancy word for stereotyping. I’ve already addressed stereotyping, so why bring it up again? Well, that’s where the internet comes into the mix. I’m not saying people on the internet are safe from prejudice: Cyberbullying proves that it happens everywhere. However, on the internet, people can only be bullied for information they choose to reveal about themselves — that is, if they are open about their race, beliefs, etc. But, as I stated before, the internet is a mask. That means two things: One, people can conceal information they wish to keep private, and two, even the information they do reveal feels a lot less relevant. I can tell you in this article that I am blonde. You can even see my blonde hair in my headshot. But you’re reading my words, as opposed to looking at my face; that is, you aren’t focused on the fact that I’m blonde. You may know my age, my gender, and the color of my hair, but when you’re staring at a newspaper page, all those things suddenly seem … irrelevant.

This is the internet’s best feature: the ability to let people communicate with as little prejudice as possible. On the web, people can become friends without first having to consciously get rid of preconceived notions — age, race, gender and appearance all disappear, for the most part. All you think about is personality, beliefs, and shared interests — all the things that really matter in a relationship. Of course, those things can be faked, which is why it’s easy to deceive someone online, but deception has been around far longer than the internet, as have scammers and thieves.

So, why do I tell you all of this? Well, first off, I want to point out the silver lining of internet communication, which many adults overlook. And more importantly, I would like to see us start applying the good parts of the internet to real life. There’s a lot of push right now to not judge first appearances, which is good, but we’re not done yet. There’s been some improvement in our society as far as removing assumptions based on race and appearance (clothes/hair/body type). That’s a good start. But there are many more preconceptions we need to eliminate. One of these is age: Old does not always mean wise, and young does not always mean foolish. Also, old does not always mean traditional, and young does not always mean rebellious. You get my point. We’re making progress, but we have a long way to go to remove prejudice from our community. Just remember there’s more to a person than what’s on the surface, and often, it’s when someone wears a mask that you can see them most clearly.

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

Always Advocating Alan – I Love a Parade

| Opinion | May 25, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

Everyone loves a Parade. With spectators smiling and waving at the floats, bands and sights to be seen, everyone has a good time. It seems like a time to step back and relax, to forget our daily stress, because today everyone standing next to you is your friend.

So, to share a little known fact about what I do besides go to city council meetings, I am coming out and letting it be known — I am Shriner. As a member of Old West Masonic Lodge in Newhall and the Al Malaikah Shrine in Los Angeles, I was given the ability and honor to ride in parades with the Al Malaikah Motor Patrol.

An added plus is that it is very relaxing for me. Where else can I get away with riding right through red lights, driving on the wrong side of the street, making u-turns in every intersection and parking in no-parking zones, all while waving and smiling at local residents and law enforcement? Oh, I know, you probably favor watching the Shrine Clubs, who come out with grown men decked out in their Fezzes, franticly driving helter-skelter in their custom go-carts. But when Shriners come out in force, it starts with a color guard, shrine officers riding in shiny convertibles, followed by the guard in uniform with their chrome swords, then possibly stagecraft with their locomotive, followed by the clowns dressed to fit the part with red rubber noses. Then comes the coppers with their paddy wagon and, of course, the motor patrol on motorcycles. What a pleasure it is to stop by a young boy or girl who seems ambivalent about the event, and see his or her face light up when they get a special hello. It is a constant reminder for Shriners about participating in a parade. We are not there for ourselves; we are there to raise awareness and promote the 20-plus Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Last Saturday, I rode in the Fillmore Parade with the Shriners for the first time. Even with a population of just 20,000, Fillmore put on a parade that would make any big city proud. The parade traveled down Central Ave. for about three hours and was filled with marching bands, fire trucks and police cruisers, including community groups such as the Voltage Cheer, Love 2 Dance and many more. Everyone was welcoming and friendly. This is an event I will be at next year, no matter if I ride in the parade again or just watch from the sidelines.

The Al Malaikah Motor Patrol participates in several community parades throughout the year, starting on President’s Day weekend at the annual Whiskey Flat Days in Kernville. The event kicks off with the parade on Saturday and includes a humongous mixture of craft booths and food stands. It is truly a family event, and normally full of local and visiting parade-goers. After that, it’s the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ventura. Sponsored by the Ventura Elks Lodge #1430, the parade starts on East Main Street at 10 a.m. in front of the San Buenaventura Mission, ending at the corner of North Chestnut Street and East Main Street. Space is limited and up to 100 entrants participate each year.
Not to be outdone, the Santa Maria Elks Lodge #1538 puts on a parade and rodeo. Visit Santa Maria in June and you get to see a parade with over 200 entries, including marching bands, majorettes, color guards and floats. The Santa Maria Elks Rodeo is a 3-4 day event founded in 1948.

And who would want to miss the San Luis Obispo Pioneer Day Parade in October. Local heritage and tradition comes alive during the annual event, with many antique steam-powered and gas-powered tractors and other farm machinery. I like this event so much I have been known to leave Santa Clarita at 4 a.m. on my Harley just to be there at staging time. But next time I try that stunt in October, I am bringing hand warmers.

When I show my support for these community day events and parades, please understand I also heartily support our Santa Clarita Fourth of July Parade. Honoring the founding of our great country and those individuals who chose to protect it by serving in the United States Armed Services is something we should remind ourselves to do every day. Coming out on the Fourth of July to publicly show our love for this country is something we should all be willing and proud to do.

At the same time, special area events and parades give local residents a sense of community. Whenever I attend a community parade, it reminds me of a time when our valley had Frontier Days. When it went away at the end of 1997, it left a void in our community, which has not been filled to this day. Here is hoping a Santa Clarita civic organization takes up the Frontier Days banner again. It will make Santa Clarita feel a little more like Mayberry, and I am sure Sheriff Andy Taylor and Aunt Bea would approve.

In the meantime, I am going to continue riding in parades with the Shriners, because raising awareness and supporting Shriners Hospitals for Children is important to a lot of families. Last December, just before Christmas, the Encino Shrine Club sponsored their second annual Toy Ride ending at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Los Angeles. This facility is a pediatric specialty hospital for orthopedic conditions, hand disorders, burn scars, and cleft and lip palate conditions. Shriners Hospitals for Children provides care to children under 18, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.

For me, a most meaningful part of this event was meeting Shriners Hospitals spokesperson, Alex. You know him from watching television commercials. He is the wheelchair-bound young man who always smiles and tells you about the adorable blanket you will receive when you contribute. I want you to know he is a very polite and modest young man with a very special, supportive family. He makes me smile every time I see him on television and reinforces my resolve to continue supporting this very worthy cause.

The Highly Regular Process of Sharing Classified Intelligence

| Opinion | May 25, 2017

Being taken out of the fight and moved to administrative work in the unit’s offices or sent back to Ft. Bragg to train new Green Berets is one of the most de-motivating things that can happen to a Special Forces soldier. All Special Operations follow this same process, as the best way to teach the new guys is to use the direct experience that the old guys have gained in the field.

I had to do my admin time on the tail end of my first Afghanistan deployment. Although I was miserable, as a man who had joined the military post-September 11th and gone to Special Forces just for the Afghan War, it was time well spent.

After earning my Purple Heart (or what some Green Berets call the “Taliban Marksmanship Badge”) in a firefight in Afghanistan, I was sidelined to go to the “B-team,” which is the admin unit within a Special Forces company who helps teams coordinate logistics, get teams what they need and ensure all are working towards the same ultimate objective by viewing all of their intelligence gathering and operations from a macro level.

During my time in Kabul I learned a lifetime worth of intelligence techniques and reporting, not only from our soldiers but also from many of our allies. And while this may seem highly controversial to someone without that experience or to a dim-witted journalist looking for any reason to cry about Trump, it’s actually a very regular occurrence that happens between nations fighting a common enemy (like ISIS).

As a Green Beret Staff Sergeant, I was allowed to sit in and listen to representatives from each of the “Five Eyes” nations, which were close NATO allies in the fight against terrorism. Our focus was on the battlefield and came from the understanding that “a rising tide lifts all ships” and that by helping each other and sharing intelligence it would ultimately help all of us defeat our common enemies, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

I’m not going to cover what we discussed, but will say that a few dozen people would meet weekly to go over any intelligence they may have gained that would help in defeating the enemy. This is a regular occurrence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and other battlefields around the globe.

The sharing of information and techniques is so prevalent amongst intelligence organizations and Special Operations that Special Forces units would routinely travel to, and live with, other nations for weeks at a time to learn each other’s techniques. And while the media would love you to fall for their bait and believe that we’ve been hardened enemies with Russia since the Cold War, my former unit had an exchange with mother Russia and their Special Forces units.

There is a bit of “honor among thieves” in between the respective nations’ intelligence agencies, and all but a few, like Iran and North Korea, share intelligence when they have a common enemy. Of course, things are compartmentalized and there is a level of things which are not shared, but there is a significant amount of sharing the media currently doesn’t want you to know exists.

To make such a big deal from a regular occurrence, while yet again citing “unnamed sources” is just another instance of the Left and the mainstream media trying desperately to fan the flames of a fire that doesn’t exist.

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.

Afternoon T

| Opinion | May 20, 2017

by T-Katz

Q: I’m finding it hard to make everybody happy. I don’t know how and I’m fried.

A: Fried?! Do you cook? Then imagine owning a small, wonderfully equipped restaurant, with no menu. People just order whatever sounds good to them. You’re left scrambling (frying, poaching, steaming) like mad, knowing there’s no way to whip (beat, whisk, froth) up everything to make everybody happy. Your Yelp reviews are a mess and so are you. Now what? For starters (appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, aperitifs), shutter the doors of this boutique bistro in your brain. That ain’t no way to run a business. It’s certainly no way to run your life.

I want you to read this aloud: “You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time.” Just reading it is exhausting. Trying to serve up the last bit of that mouthful is even worse.

Attempting to please everyone with a menu of 1001 choices usually means fast, fluffy and not terribly satisfying or healthy. Darling, from here on out, you think of yourself as a fine Michelin-rated restaurant with a specialized menu.

Now, to properly plan any menu you must write it all out and then add or subtract items to make it the best it can be. So, sit down and start writing (single words and sentences) what you feel describes who you are down to your core

(pit, seeds and all). Not who you think you should be or what you think other people think you should be. Oh, and please be honest with yourself about who you truly are. [A bacon bit might dream of being a succulent holiday ham, but it’s not. You wouldn’t serve that on a platter for company.] This page of words doesn’t have to be neat or in order. You throw those ingredients all over the page! After all, that’s often how things float around in our brain. Once you see what’s in your mental pantry, it becomes easier to seriously get cookin’.

Next, circle words of the highest quality (e.g. honorable, kind, compassionate) and cross out the not-so-tasty traits (e.g. anxious, fearful, inflexible). You wouldn’t make a delicious bouillabaisse with bad seafood, so focus on the best of what you see in you.

Lastly, make peace with the fact that some folks prefer neither bouillabaisse nor cioppino, and that’s okay. The bottom line is to take the finest ingredients of your character to ultimately make for a more delicious you. Then, you can be of better service to those who fully appreciate you.

The Michelin guide gives stars to rate fine dining establishments. One star signifies “a very good restaurant.” Two stars is “worth a detour” and three stars is “…vaut le voyage!” Trust me, when you work and confidently present your finest, it’s worth the journey. Yours and those you serve.
xo – t.

The City Council Awakens

| Opinion | May 19, 2017

by Alan Ferdman 

If you intend to stay up on decisions that will shape the future of Santa Clarita, you need to visit, or at least watch, our City Council meetings. Also, if you have been reading my columns, you’re aware of my strong belief that “government is at its finest when the people’s business is accomplished in public.” Too many times, important issues are placed on the City Council “Consent Calendar,” meaning they will be passed by one council vote and not even mentioned, unless an item is pulled for a separate discussion. Too many times, members of the public ask questions or comment on an issue, without an answer being subsequently provided by city staff or our council members.

Yet, at the May 9, 2017 City Council meeting, during review of Agenda item 13 (proposed changes to the manufactured home park rent adjustment procedures), we witnessed government and public interaction accomplished in a way our country’s founders wanted it to take place. It was not because some monumental decision was made. It was a review of a city staff proposal, commented on by the public and thoroughly discussed by each council member. In the end, staff was directed to study the issue further and take into consideration comments provided by the public and our council members.

Coming up with an acceptable change proposal will not be a simple task. If you have not been following this issue, allow me to tell you “the short story” and therefore bring you up to date. In 1991, the Santa Clarita City Council passed Santa Clarita Municipal Code 6.02. The purpose was to “protect manufactured home park residents from excessive space rent increases, while at the same time allowing park owners to receive a fair rate of return on their investment.” One key element of this ordinance was allowing space rent to increase per the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or a minimum of 3 percent.

Fast forward to 2014 and park residents were feeling the 3 percent minimum increase was unfair. The economy had tanked and the CPI had stayed below 3 percent for a fair amount of time. Two manufactured park residents, Mr. Doug Fraser and Mr. Ray Henry, became the residents’ spokespersons and brought the issue to the City Council, meeting after meeting, until the council acted.

So, in June of 2015 a revision to the Manufactured Home Rent Panel Adjustment Procedure was brought before the City Council and approved. This ordinance revision still allowed space rent to increase per the CPI, but the minimum increase was reduced to 0 percent. In addition, there were two other major changes, which did not receive the same amount of attention. Provisions were deleted requiring park owners to reduce rents when park services were eliminated, and a requirement for park management to obtain resident consensus when the cost of capital improvement projects were to be added to residents’ space rent.

These changes caused park owners to rethink how to manage park finances. Some parks had not been raising rents by 3 percent, even though it was allowed. Some said they used the 3 percent increases to fund capital improvements rather than identifying them separately. But, it was all about to change.

As you might imagine, 2016 rent increases using the new rules brought a surge of rent protests. Park owners used creative ordinance interpretations and sent lawyers to the panel hearings to further confuse the issues. City staff did not fulfill their responsibilities, per the ordinance, to determine if a rent appeal should be heard. Plus, at one hearing, which I attended, the park owner’s lawyer turned a public hearing into a kangaroo court. After those meetings, city management was asked to take notice and action. Ordinance changes were promised, but were not brought forth in time for the 2017 rent increases and subsequent panel hearings. This time it was the park residents who brought up “letter of the law” issues. Everyone seemed to agree, the rent adjustment process was not working well.

On April 3-4, city staff presented a proposed ordinance change to the public. Key elements included changes to the definition of residents, which would make it even harder (if not impossible) for residents to raise an appeal, as well as a procedural change from having rent appeals heard by an elected panel to now having appeals heard by a hearing officer, who is selected by city staff. There were a lot of community comments, some in favor, but many opposed.

On April 25, an identical proposal was presented to the City Council Development Committee. Comments and suggestions made at the community presentations had been overlooked. Here again, the community commented and offered suggestions. The meeting ended, without one word from either council member present.

At the May 9 City Council meeting, staff presented essentially the same proposal in a different form, thereby disregarding public comments one more time. Yet again, the community rose and provided comments, suggestions and information relating to the safeguards eliminated in 2015.

But this time, the council members listened and offered their opinions. Some feedback included Councilmember Miranda, who told of his passion to be the voice of those who have not been listened to. Councilmember McLean offered her concern about the lack of a requirement, in the current ordinance, for residents to be compensated for reductions in park services. Mayor Pro-Tem Weste related areas she thought residents were being overcharged and told our city attorney that if state law is a problem we should contact our state legislators. Councilmember Kellar indicated, “We are not there yet”; “we have got to do a better job”; and Mayor Smyth expressed his belief it is possible to “take your (residents’) ideas and put them in an ordinance that will work for you (the residents).”

Changing the Manufactured Home Rent Adjustment Procedure Ordinance will not be simple or easy. It needs to address a methodology which is fair to both residents and park owners. Obviously, if rents are too high, residents will not be able to remain living there or even have the ability to sell their homes. But if rents are not realistic, manufactured home parks will become dilapidated and eventually close. The ball is now in our City Council’s court. Let’s hope the City Council has truly “awakened” and will continue to address this, and many other issues, in a public forum.

If you wish to watch this discussion firsthand, go to the city website, under City Council Agendas, then City Council Meeting May 9, 2017, where the video is available, and scroll to Agenda Item 13. Even though this was the first of a series of discussions on the topic, I’m sure you will agree it was a city council meeting which will make you proud you live in Santa Clarita.

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

Sicilian Mafia has Nothing on the Dems!

| Opinion | May 19, 2017

by Joe Messina

The days, and soon to be weeks, after FBI Director James Comey’s firing have really turned up the heat on the Democrats. Some of you have that confused dog look on your face right about now. I say that because up until November 8, 2016 the Dems were the American Psychiatric Association’s poster child for the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome.

The so-called “tampering” in the recent presidential election showed emails released by the “Russian” WikiLeaks (according to Mrs. Clinton) disclosing in unfiltered detail how Democrats really felt about their rank and file constituents, those average working Americans. They made fun of Mexicans, blacks, and Jews. We saw firsthand in those emails that, from day one, they had no intention of allowing Bernie Sanders to ever win. They made sure he didn’t get the nomination. Yes, the DNC!

We saw firsthand, after being told that questions were never given to candidates in advance of a debate, that, in fact, they had been passed off by the DNC to Mrs. Clinton to give her a leg up. And when Donna Brazile, the Interim Chair for the DNC, was asked if that had happened, she emphatically stated that it did not. For added emphasis she said, “As a black Christian woman…” Yup. Every one of the labels that we are never, ever allowed to question. She pulled the race, religion, and woman card all in one breath! But, to my Christian sister, the Bible says the lie will tell on you! And it did. She later had to apologize and recant those words, admitting she gave the questions to Mrs. Clinton in time to prepare for the debate.

Are you following? Lying, cheating, cover up, speaking ill of races, ethnicities, and females. Working against one of their own while insisting that it wasn’t happening. All these issues and who on the Left was outraged? No one. The one in the DNC caught coordinating it all, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, was actually promoted to an organization that could use her skills, Hillary Clinton’s campaign! And, she’s still a sitting congresswoman.

Yet, with all this evidence and proof we are told there is nothing to see here. Move along! No one’s feet were held to the fire and simply put, if there was no action taken against these people, then the Democrat Party, the Clintons, the Obamas, Senator Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the Democrat leadership are all complicit in those vile acts.

This same group called many, many, many times for the ouster of FBI Director Comey, stating he was untrustworthy, incompetent, and that he compromised the department and our national security. Many of those same Democrats called for his immediate removal. Congresswoman Maxine Watters stated this week that if Hillary were president then the firing would have been OK. But since it was Trump, it had to be a cover up because, as we all know, the Clintons are stellar Americans with an impeccable record of service, TO THEMSELVES!

Dems are just sure that Comey was getting closer to getting some dirt on Trump, as was evidenced by him asking for more money for the investigation. WRONG! According to Acting Director McCabe, they needed no more resources. They have over 160 agents working the case! He was then asked if the firing would hamper the investigation, stop it, or slow it down. His answer again was, “NO!” Do the Dems really believe that the only guy who could handle this was Comey? With all of those capable agents, the only one who could keep it together was Comey? Do they really believe that we need an “incompetent” leader at the helm of the FBI? Their words, not mine. That’s one of the words they used to describe him. Why would we trust Democrats with our security when they are so willing to allow someone they don’t trust at the helm? Someone who had to come back time after time to correct his testimony. How much dope are they smoking in D.C.?

Yes, these same Democrats without one shred of evidence want you to believe that Mr. Trump and his team is in the pocket of Vladimir Putin and the Russian government to somehow give Russia the upper hand in American politics. That somehow all this Russian activity started when Trump decided to run for office. They are outraged that Mr. Trump mentioned while he was campaigning that if the Russians hacked Hillary’s email server they should release every document they got. How dare he ask them to get involved!

Yet many of you didn’t know, or forgot, that Mr. Ted Kennedy asked the Russians to get involved in his run for President. And he was to supply them with intel on his opponent, they would release it, and then he would reward them later for a job well done! Dems were good with that.

We are all fixated on Comey and the Healthcare bill and whether or not Trump really got two scoops of ice cream to everyone else’s one (yes, that’s a real story CNN covered). But the real story is how dangerous the Democrat leadership has become. How anti-American they have become. Even old-time rank-and-file voters are concerned with how far Left the Party is going and has already gone. Democrats keep the rank-and-file fooled as a good sleight of hand magician keeps his audience fooled.

The most dangerous pilot you can fly with is one who believes he never makes mistakes and believes he knows more than pretty much anyone else. I have had my helicopter pilot’s license for nearly 30 years. And I have seen too many pilots gone too early because of how “smart” they were. Democrat leadership believes they know more than anyone else. They believe they know more than their rank-and-file. Even when polls, their own polls, show the people don’t want it, they vote for it anyway.

Dems have become dangerous because so many blindly follow a leadership that wants more and more power at any cost. They want to be in total control, at any cost. It’s not equality they want, it’s control!

Democrat leadership are the real bullies who tell their fellow electeds, “Do what we say or you’ll end up with all the ‘crappy’ committees and assignments!” or “Vote this way or you won’t get any help in the next election!” Does it happen on both sides? Yes. But the level of thuggery by which the Democrat leadership does it can only be topped by the Sicilian Mafia itself!

Democrats have used the same mantras for years. … Republicans hate women, children, clean air, clean water, immigrants, sick people, old people, the Earth, pot smokers, poor people, and anyone in the LGBTQ community. WOW! We are a busy lot of haters, aren’t we? And they are just a bunch of fear-mongering bullies who think they can scare you into voting for them. They are the Big Tent Party? Not so much! Only if you are on the inside. Only if you fall in line with their way of thinking. Like a big gumbo, only they got all the ingredients wrong.

Since Trump has been elected, no blacks have been put back in chains (Joe Biden’s claim), women have not had their right to vote or to have abortions taken away, minorities still have the right to vote, schools are still teaching all children, and Al Sharpton and the other MSNBC hosts are still out of jail, even though they owe millions of dollars in back taxes.

This is both scary and depressing. … Democrats believe Republicans are ALWAYS wrong and Dems are ALWAYS right. And that makes them very, very dangerous!

Long Live Nancy Pelosi!

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


The Democrats Who Cried Wolf

| Opinion | May 18, 2017

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” – Rahm Emanuel

This infamous quote from Rahm Emanuel after Obama’s first winning election was originally stated at a Wall Street Journal panel discussing the 2007-2008 financial crisis and the opportunities it presented for the administration to take on an agenda they would not have been able to previously, without the crisis.

It has been misquoted multiple times and taken out of context, but that isn’t what has me worried. What has me worried is that it seems the entire Democratic party has taken this as their mantra, and what originally was an opportunity to do some good has become the veritable “Democrat who cried wolf” with the Trump administration.

It seems every day I’ve seen or heard a politician (from both sides of the aisle) on a major media outlet whining, crying and pointing like a petulant child that bad man Trump is doing something that hurts their feelings or is not politically correct. As an active investor, I’ve rather enjoyed the clueless politicians talking about how his policies would wreck the economy followed by the market growing exponentially!

But the latest one that really struck a nerve and hit close to home as being just too far of a stretch to let pass, which may seem rather innocuous to most (compared to some of the other far-fetched claims we’ve seen) is regarding Jared Kushner’s sister addressing a ballroom of wealthy Chinese investors in Beijing.

To start with, the idea that this “story” involves a White House Senior Advisor’s sister should be the first red flag that this is more childish high school drama than actual story worth any oxygen, but hey, that’s the world we’re in now.

The reason this hits so close to home is that I, having a Taiwanese-born ex-wife who has a successful entrepreneur father, know that the policy in question has been around for a long time. The Kushner family is far from the first to make this kind of pitch to wealthy Chinese, Saudi, Indian or Russian families who want their kids to grow up in the United States.

The EB-5 visa was created in 1990 to stimulate the economy by job creation and as a tool to bring wealthy investors to our shores. The program was further developed in 1992 with Congress’ Immigrant Investor Program, which sets aside 10,000 of these visas every year for wealthy immigrants who put money in particular types of approved investments.

The main pushback from this program is that it “unfairly” gives access to the wealthy investors who want to get to our nation, while pushing the normal Joe to the back of the line. But if you haven’t figured out that’s how the world works yet, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

The State of California (with large input from Silicon Valley) tried to pass their own modest version of this several years ago in an attempt to ensure we approve more visas for highly educated foreigners, mostly educated here in the U.S., to go work for some of the powerhouses in the tech sectors that America doesn’t have enough programmers, coders and computer science engineers to fill.

And, of course, California shot it down. God forbid we push an uneducated person who will live on entitlements behind an MIT-educated Ph.D. who can add value (and tax revenue) to our economy.

I’ve personally seen this EB-5 visa pitched to a wealthy Chinese businessman who has three daughters and was frantically looking for any way to get his kids out of China. I’ve seen it pushed to a Taiwanese pop star and his wife who fell in love with America and were looking for any way to stay beyond their visa. And I’ve seen it pushed to an Indian entrepreneur who wanted his kids to grow up with the American way of life.

But even though the EB-5 has been around for over two decades, and even though it’s been pushed to people for the most marginal of benefits to our economy (the reason for which it was created), because a distant relation to the Trump administration is pushing it, the Democrats want to point and yell and jump up and down while crying wolf.

Where it gets truly awe-inspiring is the unstated assumptions to be taken from this false-outrage that we’re seeing from the Left: that it is perfectly OK for Bill and Hillary Clinton to profit upwards of $240 million purely from public service, but anyone tied to a conservative president isn’t allowed to run a business that profits by means other than Clinton corruption.

This just goes to show how polarized our views of this great land are: to a Conservative, America is the land of opportunity, but to a Democrat it’s the land of entitlements … as long as someone else is paying for it.

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


Of Drinks and Teen Butts

| Opinion | May 12, 2017

by Joshua Heath

It all took place a couple weeks ago, late at night, as I was finishing an essay for school. While taking a study break, I came across a Facebook post that irritated me to no end. On the Santa Clarita Community page Chelsea Jackmond-Ellis, a local resident, authored these immortal words:

“If your kid was at Aldi tonight [a local supermarket], scrawny little guy in a black shirt about 13 with two friends he needs a serious butt kicking! Yelled out ‘f*ck’ really loud for no reason. Then decided to yell out ‘why are there no drinks in this store to shove up my a**’”

Immediately, folks chimed in supporting Jackmond-Ellis. One said the boy should be taken to the local prison to commiserate with some felons. Another argued he was on the path to becoming a low-life. All in all, the comment section turned into an orgy of pointless moralizing directed at a teen who committed the grave sin of telling a joke.

For my money, if I saw the fella wonder about which drink to shove up his butt, I would have first laughed uproariously and then handed him a Pepsi in protest of that awful Kendall Jenner commercial.

But in all seriousness, this episode was another example of a real problem in society: this country has it all wrong when it comes to young people. We judge and shame them, when what they really need is kindness, constructive criticism, and an empathetic ear.

For the record, I am not pro-shoving drinks up your butt. Neither do I believe that it is something to joke about (there are far better butt jokes one can make use of at 13, like just straight-up farting).

But I also don’t believe in responding to a kid’s crude joke with such stern, nasty rhetoric. For in the final analysis — and this is important — kids have the right to be wrong. They have the right to be stupid. That’s what growing up is all about.

The right thing for Jackmond-Ellis to do would have been to take the kid aside and say something like, “Hi, sweetie. I know you’re with your friends having a good time, but could you please not speak that way in the store? It is offensive.”

Instead, she puts him on blast over Facebook. No bueno.

Now, I should probably reveal my personal stake in this. I am just a few years past my own teenage years, and back then I would have been just like that kid. That’s why Jackmond-Ellis’ post irked me so much.

I wouldn’t have joked about shoving a drink up my glutes, but I delighted in crude humor. Those years were tough. I was bullied a lot, and being a wiseass was a release.

One of my greatest hits from that period included:

“Ms. Banks, I need to go the bathroom. I’m feeling a WMD about to burst out of me.”

Another time, after I got into a fight with a peer, the principal had us try and find common ground and make up: “Well, Kyle, I like the Dodgers; you like the Dodgers. We’re both into video games, and we’re both white, eh? White power?!”

Then, a few years later, my English teacher made me do stand-up in front of the class: “Okay, pick up and turn to page 52 of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’ Now tell me, what was the theme of this section, as Anne stands her first night in the concentration camp? Anyone? Anyone? No one read the book? Did you bastards SparkNote the holocaust?”

And on the last day of school, he made me do more, but this time I was to give compliments to my fellow classmates:

“Oh, Britney, you’ve done well pitching for the high school team. You are a master with soft balls.”
It was crude and immature, but it was harmless, innocent fun — emotional medicine for getting through the day. And I didn’t end up a low-life either. I finish this column from the UCLA library as a senior here, currently with high honors.

So my message to the 13-year-old comic who started all the controversy is simple. Kid, joking about shoving a drink up your rear is a little weird, let’s be honest. Tone it down a bit. You want to make people laugh, that’s true, but you also want to get dates.

At the same time, I will say, as a fellow wiseass, joking about butts is a good subject; just don’t get into what you want to shove up there. I, personally, like to joke about my lack of one.

Life’s a learning process, and at 13, you still have a lot more growing to do. Take pride in that fact, keep making people laugh, and drown out those who will shame you for being a flower in bloom.

That doesn’t mean don’t accept criticism, but only listen to the folks who speak to you with compassion, wisdom, and true empathy. You and every other child on God’s green earth deserve nothing less.

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