We Do, Indeed, Need a Monster in the White House

| Opinion | 6 hours ago

It’s time once again for Washington wannabes to get out their resumes. There are a number of job openings in the Trump administration and, as the president reminded Americans a few weeks back, “Everyone wants to work in the White House.” That may well have been so in the past, but the attrition rate for staff and cabinet members of this president calls into question the veracity of his claim. Or any claim or statement he makes, for that matter.

It’s no secret that more people have vacated or been pushed out of their posts in the first year of this administration than in any other that preceded it.

The commander-in-chief continually appears to be steering the ship of state toward treacherous shoals. With every passing day and turn of the wheel, it looks as though he’s guiding a foundering ship of fools on an Odyssean journey through dire straits.

This president is no hero and has few triumphs of which to speak. When his administration is not behaving comically, it exhibits all the pathos of a Greek tragedy. Lies, deceit, gluttony, buffoonery, moral-deficiency, avarice, corruption, and more fester beneath the surface.

For the most experienced, most qualified, most honorable, and most principled men and women serving Donald J. Trump, there is little choice but to voluntarily abandon ship. Either that or be thrown overboard like former FBI Director James Comey or his former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Each year, a tremendous number of exceptionally bright, talented, selfless individuals enter public service. The jobs they fill can be thankless yet, at the same time, gratifying. Some are propelled by ambition. Others are more altruistic. Few are driven by money or the notion that demands are insignificant; none believe that whatever they do is merely “good enough for government work.” They, for the most part, feel that by working on behalf of the American people they are responding to a higher calling. They are not propelled by a desire to enter the nebulous world of an imaginary “Deep State.”

Right now, you can go online and search job sites like Indeed, Monster, and any number of others and find page-upon-page of listings for positions working for the federal government or in some government-related post. There are no listings – at least no obvious ones – for positions in the cabinet or the White House. That’s because those jobs are theoretically reserved only for “the best and the brightest” or for ruthless, politically savvy sharks; or for large campaign donors; or a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who might someday be able to help you with a little somethin’-somethin’.

Thus, we end up with an overly-ambitious EPA administrator who doesn’t believe in the science of climate change, or that clean water and air are benefits to everyone. A secretary of energy who thought his job was strictly about fossil fuels, even though overseeing our nuclear arsenal is one of the department’s primary functions. An “acting” head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who gives the middle-finger to any rule that protects consumers and regulates big banks and Wall Street.

A former secretary of Health and Human Services whose penchant for chartering private planes cost him his job. A secretary of Veterans Affairs who mixes too much pleasure with business while venturing abroad. An interior secretary who, when he was a Navy SEAL, was accused by Navy investigators of committing a years-long “pattern of travel fraud.”

Then there’s the secretary of state who got the heave-ho last week; not because he didn’t have sufficient government experience to do his job, but because he allegedly thinks the president is a moron.

We get wife-beaters and a borderline treasonous national security adviser. An attorney general who lies under oath. And a cabinet secretary who clearly thinks you need to be a brain surgeon to have a seat at the dining table while serving at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Then, there are the friends and family members of the president – and, perhaps, the president himself – who believe their government posts give them permission to plunder. The list, unfortunately, grows distressingly longer by the day.

Eighteenth Century philosopher Joseph de Maistre wrote, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” What this nation needs right now are government officials deserving of the positions they have been chosen to fill. Even if it means posting current openings on Indeed or Monster to find them. Who knows? We might get lucky and find someone brilliant. We couldn’t do any worse.

Letter and Correction

| Opinion | 7 hours ago

RE: Last Week’s Now and Then Column
by Linda Pedersen

I met Linda many years ago and remember her because she was handsome, cheerful and quite intelligent. After reading her comments about Winston Churchill and President Trump I now know she also has guts! Thanks Linda.

Bob Comer


Correction: The opinion piece last week entitled “A Good Day for Golf” misstated that RNC Deputy National Finance Chairman Elliot Broidy was a convicted felon. Though Mr. Broidy pleaded guilty to a felony charge of rewarding official misconduct in New York in 2009, he later cooperated with investigators. A New York state judge subsequently reduced Broidy’s felony conviction to a misdemeanor, and sentenced him to a conditional discharge, sparing him from serving jail time. The Gazette regrets the error.

Creativity Advocacy – Divine Drivel

| Opinion | 7 hours ago

When I worked with Bette Midler for a short stint in 2016, she affectionately called my Creativity exercises “drivel.” After all, she’s an industry veteran and a can-do professional. She is well aware that no one ever gets anywhere in entertainment without applying discipline. But sometimes the need for “drivel” surpasses work ethic, and even talent. I often implement brief exercises (like written reflection or drawing or lying down and groaning) as a way of getting in touch with the source of Creativity to bolster our craft. An intricate balance of “doing the work” and nurturing our inner world is necessary in any developing artist. I was joking with her when I told her that if I ever wrote a book on Creativity, I’d call it “drivel” in her honor.

Ms. Midler went on to win the Tony Award for “Hello Dolly” in 2017. In spite of her teasing me about my seemingly nonsensical and silly Creativity exercises, I honestly think that Bette Midler has her finger on the pulse of true Creativity. Perhaps she knew on some level that her success was already connected to the phenomenon of Creativity and didn’t need little tricks made up by me. Bette’s track record suggests that, once in a while, however inexplicable, the music industry collides with true Creativity, and vigorously impacts culture.

In the late ‘70s, it was Bette’s intuition that led her to lobby for “The Rose” as the title tune for the major motion picture, which eventually rose to No. 1 on “Billboard,” and she won a Grammy – over famous, trained vocalists and divas like Barbra Streisand. How could she know that society would be ripe for a poetic analysis of love? And one without a commercial hook? During the ‘80s, “Wind Beneath My Wings” peaked to the top slot of pop. How did a song that honored mentors, friends, parents, and leaders emerge smack dab in the middle of less substantial hits like the fluffy “Baby, Don’t Forget My Number” by Milli Vanilli and the frivolous “Wild Thing” by Tone Loc? How, then, in the ‘90s, did “From a Distance” reach No. 2? To society’s surprise, this song expanded the audience’s perspective to a bird’s-eye view of the collective, urging us to unite. None of these songs was a typical commercial love song, but each possessed deep meaning, ushering listeners into a profound human connection. We can assume Atlantic Label giants cared more about sales than connectivity, but what made folks flock to her concerts and deem her divine? Ms. M’s gold records not only climbed charts but, more importantly, carried relational correlations in our human experience. Knowingly or not, she brought these songs to the forefront of culture and passed them like batons to the rest of us. Not only have I repeatedly performed each song at weddings, funerals, retirement parties, church services and bars, I’ve also listened to countless others sing them. These experiences are the components that shape culture.

When the force of Creativity manifests in music, we are united, much like a ritual would do during ancient times. Living in Los Angeles, it’s easy to forget that before music became a business, it was a sacred calling. In the Bible era, the king would call David in to play his lyre and sing to him – there was no electronic music back then! Poets were history keepers and minstrels were revered. Music, in fact, is believed by anthropologists to be Homo sapiens’ original language. Before linguistics and the alphabet, grunting and vocalizing were all we had to commune with one another.

A trip down Musical Evolution Lane is just a reminder to stay connected with the function of music and the purpose of all human Creativity – connection. Intentionally reflecting on timeless songs that transform culture and that join us in a shared experience is, to me, a vital exercise. Some may think of these reflections as a waste of precious voice training minutes, but truly, these activities are the undergirding of our artistic endeavors. Music serves to hold us together as a species. Creativity exercises remind my soloists that they are not alone, that they are part of something greater. As a voice teacher, I straddle the great divide of commerce and Creativity daily, so I’m not scared off easily. Go ahead, call this exercise in reflection silly. Term it what you will. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, because the force of Creativity is at work, even when we deem it drivel.

Always Advocating Alan – Are We a Nation of Laws or Have We Become a Nation of Opinions?

| Opinion | 11 hours ago

Thinking back to when I was in Grammar School, I remember reciting the Pledge of Allegiance every day, the classrooms setting was permanently structured in neat rows, and how very politely we addressed our teachers. I attended school in New York, Florida and then started Junior High School here in California, noting little difference in the teaching methodology schools employed.

Today, while I watch the education being afforded my grandchildren, I notice in some instances where they are far advanced from what I was taught, while at the same time there are some things they are not given the opportunity to learn at all. Shop classes have either been discontinued or minimized to such an extent we have raised a generation of youth who do not know how to work with their hands, and suddenly there is a realization we do not have enough craftsman such as welders, machinists etc.

Classrooms no longer display a structured environment, and I wonder how today’s youth will fare when they enter the workforce, and they will not get away with doing whatever they want. It is a sad situation when our youth complete their basic education, without an awareness of how our government is designed to function. But what I am most distressed about, is our children are seemingly being taught, “what to think, as opposed to how to think.”

I realize, if as an adult, a person does not understand U.S. governmental concepts, as related to the separation of powers, states’ rights and how laws are enacted, it will be impossible for them to separate facts from talking points, preventing them from making good decisions. Certainly, I can see a government with too many laws being overly intrusive in our daily lives, thereby stifling creativity and personal success. On the other hand, a government which no longer follows the rule of law, will ultimately fail, and I do not want to see it happen in the USA.

I also acknowledge we are dealing with a human endeavor, and as long as people have been around, some get away with more than they should, because of political position, money or personal power. But today it seems, more and more of us think it is OK to use our personal beliefs, over and above our laws, what we have pledged to follow, our oath of office, or simply our moral obligations.

For example, the Constitution’s separation of powers, gives the president authority over the Executive Branch of government, and as such, he is responsible to implement legislation passed by Congress. I find it curious, a president would exceed his authority and write an executive order instructing his enforcement team to ignore federal law, and the legislative branch would just sit quietly and do nothing. Then, when the next president attempts to rescind the order, and follow the law, the legislative legal eagles block him, not because he did not have the legal authority to do so, but because they perceive he did it for a reason not of their choosing. Look, I believe we should never hold children accountable for the sins of their parents, and I do not understand why there is not a statute of limitations on the crime of entering the country illegally. But it is just my opinion and is no more valid than the rationale the judicial branch used to block the president’s action.

How about the fact elected officials take an oath of office, which in most cases includes a pledge to uphold the U.S. Constitution. In some cases, they also pledge to defend the U.S. Constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic. Then on what legal basis, do state and city elected officials, have the right to ignore federal immigration law, and use taxpayer funds to forward their personal agenda? If they disagree with current laws, our elected officials should work to change them in a way which does not violate their oath of office.

Lastly, I’m sure we are all aware murder is illegal. Medical doctors take a Hippocratic Oath written and approved by the medical school they attended, where they pledge to follow certain medical ethics. While in lay terms, we normally associate the oath with the phrase “Do no harm,” the phrase does not appear in most of the schools’ approved texts. Yet, if a physician prescribes to the concept of doing no harm, I question how they could bring themselves to kill an almost fully developed infant in the womb, weeks or days before birth. If they were to use the same procedure after birth, it would be considered murder. I am fully aware of “Roe v. Wade” and when asked if I am “Pro-Choice or Pro-Life” I would answer “yes” because the difference between my opinion and the most ardent Abortion or Anti-Abortion advocate is, “the point in time where choice ends and responsibility begins.”

I profess it is long past time we step back from insisting our opinion is always valid and must be blindly followed. That is not to say we should discontinue using what we think is right to obtain a consensus and implement change. If we were to use history as an example, we would find the United States of America has become more tolerant and inclusive over time. Every step forward has been driven by individuals who have convinced our population at large, taking another step was the right thing to do. That is the American way of enacting change, and we should never abandon it.

On Government Spending Decisions

| Opinion | 12 hours ago

By Stephen Smith

For years we have been told by the socialist/progressive ruling elites that they and bureaucrats with special expertise can make better decisions on how to spend the fruits of the peoples’ labor rather than those who did the work to raise, nurture and harvest those fruits. The governmental bureaucrat decision-making process by its very nature will be counterproductive to the best interest of the taxpayer. There are many reasons. We live in a very diverse country. Environmentally, economically and sociologically we are so different that a one size fits all big government solution just cannot be effective everywhere and will tend to give advantage to one person while hurting another. Adapting to changes in condition becomes inherently nearly impossible to achieve. Flexibility is one reason why spending decisions made locally or by the individual will always be superior. Another factor is basic human nature in the decision-making process. The examples below demonstrate the normal process when one has skin in the game versus using other people’ money. The third factor is the nature of bureaucracies to over complicate procedures.

The example below was not my idea, however when I first heard it, for me it rang true. This example works whether you are buying a television or building a high-speed rail in the Central Valley which, despite all the protections we voted for, has grown out of control and seems to have a life of its own.

The question is, how do you decide on what quality to purchase and how much are you willing to pay based on whose money you are spending and who is the goods or service for?

#1 Using your own money and the product is for you. Your decision is most likely to be based on a combination of which product, price and quality provides the very best value. You will work hard to make sure you get your money’s worth. After all, it is for you and it is your money.

#2. Using your own money and the product is for someone you know or love. You will be still value-driven, however you will likely pick a product that is nice but that will be of less quality, not last as long and you will spend less money. You will be careful because you will be directly answering to the end user.

#3 Using your own money and the product is for a stranger. You will spend the least amount of money for a poor-quality product. Junk, bad value. Not likely to last or work. Think “Here you are Charlie Brown.” Why would you really care about quality, you will never have to deal with them directly.

#4 Using someone else’s money and the product is for you. You will buy the best quality you can find, price is no object. Product is better than you need, tremendous waste regarding the cost. Good product, questionable value. “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler.” Let the good times roll!

#5 Using someone else’s money and the product is for someone you know or love. You will buy the best quality you can find, price is no object. Product is better than you need, tremendous waste regarding the cost. Good product, questionable value. Those good times are still rolling, that is, until you run out of other people’s money.

#6 Using someone else’s money and the product is for a stranger. Well, who cares anyway. Got to spend it to keep your job. Product often overpriced. Think of $1,000 hammers and toilet seats purchased by the GSA. Certainly, Jerry Brown’s high-speed rail is looking like an example of this. Full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes, I know better what’s best and I do not care about the cost or what you want. (Classic expert bureaucrat’s decision process.)

As you can see by these examples, human nature dictates that unless it is your own money and the product is for you or someone you love, purchasing decisions are likely to be wasteful. Bureaucrats routinely make the wasteful decisions with no or little consequence. One of the most common examples is almost any purchase made by the military or government services administration. Someone gets paid to write a very comprehensive description of, say, a screwdriver. The length of the shaft, exact geometry and size of the blade and the size and shape of the grip will be carefully described. A vendor will bid on the product. They must custom build the tool to match specifications, making the cost astronomical. You with your money would simply go to the hardware store, see a screwdriver on the shelf for only $3.50 that will do the job and buy it. It certainly would be nice if common sense was more common.

All is not without hope. People of exceptional character and integrity can overcome these natural tendencies. They need to be pragmatic rather than agenda driven. There was a time when this was an accepted focus in our schools and universities. Not so much now. Primary season is approaching once again. As you make decisions as to which candidate to vote for, please find out if they have a history or intend to spend your money like it is their own. What kind of skin in the game do they have? Do they make charitable contributions, or do they advocate government bureaucrats making those decisions for us? Real liberty does come with a price and requires elected officials to be of high character and responsibility.

Treat Life as One Big Audition

| Opinion | March 16, 2018

by Rene Urbanovich

past week was probably the most chaotic seven days of my 30-year stint as a voice teacher. Auditions popped up everywhere—Simi Valley’s Cultural Arts’ “Next To Normal,” Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen,” Escape Theatre’s “Oliver,” Canyon Theatre Guild’s “In the Heights,” COC’s “Little Shop,” several straggling college acceptance auditions and even, for God’s sake, “The Voice.” I was up to my ears in a myriad of 16-bar cuts of songs that screamed, “Look at me! I can do this!” Between drilling the notes, pep-talking for nerves, setting up tripods, memorizing lyrics, rehearsing lines, and let’s not forget nagging to “smile-smile-smile,” I’m surprised I’m still standing.

I’m not competitive by nature, but the audition process brings out my inner football coach screeching from the sidelines. It may appear that the goal is for my student to beat out the next guy, but winning is not what I’m after. If you ask me, Creativity and competition are bitter bedfellows. What gets me exhilarated about auditioning is that it presents the perfect opportunity for students to pull together their hard work and skill and prove to themselves what they’re made of. Auditions create a crisis situation for performers, which throws them into a learning mode money can’t buy!

Crisis and Creativity go hand in hand. The force of Creativity brings about transformation – not just in culture (as we see how Bill Gates’ Creative energies have revamped life as we know it) – but also on an individual level. Creative acts challenge our view of ourselves and can literally change the landscape of our brains. When we audition for a role, we are taking a risk – a risk of rejection. It’s scary. But neuroscience shows us that our brains feed on risk because new and risky experiences instigate problem solving. When we are in danger, adrenaline triggers our “fight, flight, or freeze” response, which affects our blood sugars, our heart rate and makes our palms sweaty. It’s a little ironic that while we may feel paralyzed by adrenaline, it’s actually a life-saving hormone when our survival is at stake due to asthma, croup or overdose. Becoming a limp noodle at the sight of the casting director may feel counterproductive to our immediate goal of landing a role, but these Creative experiences are what make us grow.

According to Dr. Lawrence C. Katz, our brains are evolutionarily primed to seek out and respond to what is unexpected or novel. Overcoming our fear transforms our self-perception, which ultimately builds up confidence. The famous Chinese adage “crisis = opportunity” more specifically translates as “a critical point where things change.” The force of Creativity is transformative. We don’t need a dusty stage and footlights to engage with it. So, even if you’re not a singer out for a role in a musical, there’s something for everyone when it comes to auditioning. Most of us design our lives in such a way that we don’t have to endure such heightened nerves brought on by the almighty try-outs once we pass a certain age. We might want to reconsider, though. We might want to “try-out” new activities, challenge ourselves in social scenarios, take up a new sport or walk to the grocery store – anything novel or new. The neurotrophins in our brains will thank us, and so will our hearts, once we reflect on our inner growth. And we’re not limited to 16 bars, either. We have our whole lives.


A Good Day for Golf

| Opinion | March 15, 2018

Nobody really likes it when the president comes to town. It doesn’t matter which party he represents. A presidential visit can be mind-numbing. Traffic snarls are inevitable. Massive amounts of money, manpower, and logistical coordination are involved. Freeway frustration levels elevate road rage levels to new heights.

While direct consequences of President Trump’s recent visit to La-La-Land were not in evidence in the Santa Clarita Valley, there was a trickle-down effect. Though not as positive as the economic trickle-down effect Republican tax policies are supposed to be.

If you had a flight to catch at LAX, a job to get to, were planning on spending a rainy day at the beach, shopping on the Westside of L.A. or just trying to make it home for your kid’s basketball game or dinner with the family, Tuesday wasn’t a good day; nor were parts of Wednesday.

All of this came about as a result of the president’s visit to the Southland. Why he came is somewhat unclear. President Trump, as a rule, despises California and Californians. No previous president since Eisenhower took so long in getting here after being elected. And Eisenhower had reason to come. His vice president lived here. And he liked golf. Golf was clearly not on President Trump’s schedule. For a change. Although, if the president did manage to find time to play the back nine, we’d never know about it. His staff would have made sure of that.

No. The president wasn’t in town because he likes us so much. He was here for two of his favorite things: photo ops and money. There’s nothing President Trump loves more than broad symbolic gestures (other than money) like standing before slabs of concrete in Otay Mesa.

Watching the president inspect various prototypes of his wall (the one Mexico is paying for) was like watching a man shopping for his own tombstone. Then again, he was probably digging his own grave politically by further alienating (emphasis on alien) the majority of California’s voters.

No matter. Next stop: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where the president gave a large gathering of U.S. Marines assurances that if it wasn’t for him, President Donald J. Trump, we would not be going to Mars. Guess the president, in his own inimical fashion, found some loose connection between “Air Station” and “Outer Space.”

The response from those brave men and women was effusive. Then again, he’s the president. How were they supposed to respond? They have a duty to obey their Commander-in-Chief and “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Just like President Trump.

Onward and upward to L.A. Let’s get this party started! Because President Trump loves a good party. Especially since he had to miss his own at Mar-A-Lago back in January. Oh, those pesky pols in Congress. Darn them and their government shutdown. No party-poopers were going to mess up his plans this time.

After wheels-down on Air Force One, President Trump and his entourage made mincemeat of the rain-washed 405 Freeway and nearby surface streets just in time to make it to a $250,000-a-plate Republican fundraiser in Beverly Hills. It was hosted by Mitt Romney’s niece, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel (whose maiden name the president allegedly insisted she refrain from using) and Republican Party deputy National Finance chairman, Elliot Broidy.

According to multiple media outlets, Broidy has recently come under the watchful gaze of Special Counsel Robert Mueller for potentially having played a peripheral role in coordinating secret meetings between representatives from the United Arab Emirates and the Trump transition team.

The president loves Beverly Hills. In fact, he really loves the bungalows at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Just ask adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal, who have both accused President Trump of carrying on extramarital affairs with them. Apparently, they say the hotel was a favorite place for their assignations with him. As the president once told Travel & Leisure magazine, “The hotel has everything I could possibly need.” Like extra towels.

President Trump denies cheating on Melania. Then again, he also said he liked former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who he fired by tweet early on Tuesday while winging west to Cali. Thankfully, the president arrived safely and with his baggage (ALL of his baggage) in tow.

When you’re president, you don’t have to worry about losing your luggage … or having your dog relegated to an airtight overhead bin, like you do when flying the friendly skies of United. Good thing. Because the president had to fire his personal aide and “bodyman” John McEntee before leaving Washington. He usually carried the president’s garment bag.

McEntee is being investigated by the Secret Service (not the Presidential Protective Division, one hopes) for serious financial crimes. This was very sad for the president. He and McEntee go back many years and the aide’s firing has drawn attention away from the possibly serious financial crimes being committed by friends, family, other aides and, perhaps, the president himself. The president does not like it when he’s not the center of the universe.

This Republican administration’s distaste for our humble home is not limited to the president alone. Lest we forget, Attorney General Jeff Sessions flew out to Sacramento just last week to file a lawsuit in federal court against the State of California. Then again, State Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley, the former head of the State Assembly’s Republican caucus, said the Republican Party in California is “in a death spiral.”

According to published reports, only one-in-four registered voters in California are Republicans. Which may surprise many of those who read the Gazette.

So, why has the president finally deigned to come to our unbearable state? Because President Trump notoriously follows the money. Just ask Vladimir Putin and the Jolly-Olly-Oligarchs who make up his (and possibly the president’s) social circle. Not that President Trump needs money. Oh, no. As he said, in 2015, during his presidential campaign, “I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m not using lobbyists; I’m not using donors. I’m really rich.”

Guess all those funds that were raised a few nights ago were for the little people of the Republican Party. The candidates who may find themselves gasping on life support, come November. They’re the ones who really need the president’s help. Just like Roy Moore, in Alabama, and Rick Saccone, in Pennsylvania, did. The president’s presence sure helped their campaigns.

Oh, well. There’s a nice tailwind today. The rain clouds are now headed east with President Trump. The skies are clear. The sun is once again shining over the Santa Clarita Valley. All’s well in Awesometown. Too bad the president has to miss it … it’s gonna be a great day for golf.

Amphitheater Survey

| Opinion | March 15, 2018

Recently, the City of Santa Clarita paid $60,000 to conduct a study as to where we might put an outdoor amphitheater in our growing town. The city is very interested in the input of locals, so they have put together a survey to gauge public opinion. It is important to be honest and open, so fill out the following survey to the best of your ability.

Which of the following is the most important demographic?
Fans of Jimmy Buffet
Fans of Jimmy Buffet cover bands
AARP members who get down to “Margaritaville”

Which accommodations are the most appealing to you?
A) Hearing aid charging station
B) “No Skateboarding” signage
C) 9 o’clock curfew

What do you not want to see at the venue?
A) Culture
B) Hip-Hop dancing
C) Sagging jeans

Welcome to the free response section of the survey. For convenience, you can choose from the following responses:
• Wow, an amphitheater? I can’t believe this city hasn’t thought of it before! Sign me up.
• Hmm … I’m not sure if it’s a good use of resources and funding. Wait, Jimmy Buffet, you say?
• We need more arts in this town. Something … wild. Oooo, how about an orchestra pit?

We’re really, really glad you see it our way. We apologize for how thorough the survey is, but that’s just the nature of the beast. Please pass it on!

Satire – in case you didn’t already figure that out…

Need for Student Loan Reform

| Opinion | March 15, 2018

by Hale Antico

A long time ago, in the days of Charles Dickens and chimney sweeps, people were jailed until they satisfied their debts. These debtors’ prisons resulted in a catch-22. You couldn’t get out of jail until you paid your debts, and you couldn’t earn money to pay your debts until you got out of jail. There’s now a new, modern “debtors’ prison,” which raises the need for student loan reform.

The New York Times recently wrote of a new program to enforce repayment. If someone falls behind on their student loan payments, they can lose their professional license and their job. Example: States could pull the license of a general contractor behind on student loan debt. Without income, this guarantees only one thing: He can’t pay his student loans.

Student Loans are the Problem, Not Debtors
Student loans are the second highest kind of household debt, after mortgages. There are a lot of reasons for this. Firstly, the federal government subsidizes the “Big School” industry, encouraging high tuition costs by guaranteeing them with programs like Direct Loans. If payments aren’t made, Uncle Sam can seize a tax refund, bank accounts, garnish wages, and seize other assets. And bankruptcy court can’t help, as education debt can’t go away in a bankruptcy.

College Industry is Expensive, Churning Out Poor Product Overpriced
Because tuition costs are subsidized, why should schools compete? Let’s face it, if you knew you could sell a glass of lemonade for $1,000 by getting people to go into hock for it, why would you ever settle for only 25 cents a glass?

Colleges are one of the few businesses not encouraged to compete to be the most affordable. According to Marketwatch.com, the average student leaves school owing almost $40,000. And more than 70 percent of graduates leave college with debt, starting their new career with a burden on their backs. Americans owe $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, over 2.5 times more than a decade ago.

More Competition for Jobs
As more are told to go to college, standards for getting into college are getting lower, says an article in USA Today. Students are sold a bill of goods and pot of gold on the other side of graduation. As a result, more people are getting into college, causing more job competition after graduation, says an article in Newsweek.

The Student Loan Bubble
This creates a student loan bubble, or student loan crisis. More graduates are in the job market, leading to stiff competition from other college graduates. Some settle for lower-paying jobs, which means more individuals are unable to pay for their student loans.

Universities win, because they can charge whatever they want. The government wins because the graduate can’t ever escape from its debt.

Most incoming students aren’t comparing costs. They look more at school prestige, or maybe its sports programs. They think they win. Until they graduate. Then they realize that they often can’t find a good-paying job easily. Or the job they could find pays much less than needed.

Faced with a choice between paying student loans or rent and food, graduates choose the budget basics. The student loans get let go.

School Debt Reform
We need student loan reform. A solution is to cut payments for the student loans, and future tuition costs. Another idea is to get the government out of student loan business. Why is it even there in the first place? Or bring the wayward sheep back into the fold by increasing forgiveness programs that waive interest and penalties so the trapped graduate has a way out.

We Need Bankruptcy Reform on Student Loan Debt
Also, student loan reform of the bankruptcy code is needed. Student debt reform is needed so that more can discharge (get rid of) school debt in bankruptcy. The process of bankruptcy isn’t helping if the second largest form of debt is untouched. Lower the bar, so if graduates aren’t earning average income a decade later, the schools don’t get paid. Imagine what that would do to admission rates.

License-Pulling Makes Repayment Less Likely, Not More
Government should be making changes to help defaulting graduates pay their student loans. It shouldn’t cut the source of income. We’re through the looking glass: If you don’t pay your bills we’ll take away your job so you can’t pay your bills. If we punish people who default on student loans, it only ensures the jobless graduate makes less money. It makes it more likely they’re dependent on government programs. Finally, it puts defaulting graduates in a modern debtors’ prison that says they’ll get their license to earn money back as soon as they give enough money to pay their debt.

Hale Antico is a local lawyer specializing in consumer debt, and over the past 15 years has helped thousands of Santa Clarita residents get a fresh start. Visit www.scvbankruptcy.com for more information or call 252-9900 to arrange a consultation.

Always Advocating Alan – Progress Sometimes Pulls Us Backwards

| Opinion | March 15, 2018

One important advantage of living on planet earth for a long time, is the insight gained by watching events unfold and learning from what happened next. Our country’s founders gave us a Constitution providing a framework of ideals, which have existed relatively unchanged for over 200 years. It provided for a democratic form of government, but not a pure democracy, so as to protect minorities from being jerked “to and fro” by having laws changed by a simple majority vote. We have a republic, comprised of a union of states which contains elements of many forms of governance, existing together all at the same time.

Yet, things do change. While the Pledge of Allegiance was originally written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, and adopted by congress as the Pledge in 1942, the year I was born, “Under God” was not added until Flag Day in 1954. Even though I learned the original pledge in grammar school, the under-god addition seems very comfortable. When I hear someone advocate to change it back, I just shake my head and wonder why some individuals think change, for change sake, has any real meaning.

Unfortunately, we have had times in our country’s history when progress has brought upheaval and pain. Take the 18th amendment ratified in 1919. Alcohol prohibition was probably passed with the best of intentions. But prohibition was not supported by a large segment of our population. Its enactment led to building large criminal organizations, broken lives and serious injury to those who purchased spirits with glycol added. The problematic consequences became so bad, in 1933 the 21st amendment was ratified, repealing the 18th amendment.

One would have thought our country’s leaders would have learned from such an experience. Instead today, we have a war on drugs, which has again created large criminal organizations, resulting in large numbers of incarcerated citizens, plus many overdoses and deaths. Doesn’t it look like we are going down the same road again? To be clear, I do not use illegal drugs or support their sale or use. But if we are going to solve this problem, we will need to take a different fork in the road. Maybe, we can discuss more about this in a future column.

Then came the 26th amendment, ratified in 1971, the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18. It all started during World War II when the minimum draft age was lowered to 18. “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote” became a common slogan and in 1943 Georgia was the first state to lower its voting age from 21 to 18. In 1954 President Eisenhower’s State of the Union address included, “For years our citizens between the ages of 18 and 21 have, in time of peril, been summoned to fight for America. They should participate in the political process that produces this fateful summons.”

So now, as the country’s politicians attempt to find a scapegoat for the Florida Shooting, are we going to take a step back and declare all 18-year-old citizens no longer an adult by restricting their rights. What ever happened to those “common sense” gun laws. We almost unanimously support background checks, a reasonable waiting period and a ban on “bump stocks.” If implemented properly, a background check would have prevented the Florida Shooter from obtaining his firearm, but due to the ineptness of the FBI, local Florida law enforcement and the school itself, the shooter was never held accountable for his actions and therefore was able to purchase the firearm legally. No common-sense gun law is going to prevent similar tragedies unless those who are charged with enforcing those laws, do what we pay them for. I am dismayed there is no outrage against those individuals and organizations who failed us so badly.

Then this past Saturday, we were witness to it happening again. This time it was Albert Wong, 36, who entered the Pathway House Center with a rifle and killed three people who treat veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder. He was in treatment at that facility for PTSD and was kicked out of the program for “undisclosed reasons.” Here again his condition was known to both the professionals at the center and his spouse, but no-one put the word out to the proper authorities. This tragedy occurred, even though the situation happened in California where laws exist to; (1) confine and treat persons who are a threat to themselves or others and (2) remove firearms from their possession.

As a nation we can continue to blame the symptom and cry out for more laws. We can even “back up” and repeal the 26th amendment like we did the 18th. Even if we did all that, these violent tragedies will continue to unfold until we start holding our public servants, school officials and health care professionals accountable to fulfill their responsibilities, every day, both efficiently and completely. They need to be continually reminded of the severity of failing the public and thereby allowing the potential for more needless deaths to occur.


| Opinion | March 15, 2018

Doug and Alan – Let me first say I thoroughly enjoy reading your rants and your columns, respectively.

So now after Parkland there is a hew-and-cry for gunlocks and gun-safes, and background checks and, and, and…  Criminals don’t care about the background checks, or safety training or about gunlocks or about much else law-wise. That’s why they are called criminals. And the person who murdered the students wasn’t, prior to then, a criminal. Would a background check actually have filtered him out?

Why is there such a cry about guns, but not about cars? We consider the drunk driver to be the culprit in a fatal accident, but not his vehicle. There are ignition safety devices for chronic DUI offenders, why don’t our esteemed and oh-so-wise-and-benevolent state legislators require them on all vehicles (including aircraft)? Surely that would decrease the number of DUI incidents? Reduction to the absurd. Just kidding.
To Doug’s point regarding fatherless troublemakers, I am reminded of the prison chaplain who arranged a donation of Mother’s Day cards from Hallmark for the inmates, that were extremely popular. Thinking that the same thing should be done for Father’s Day, he was surprised when there were virtually no takers. While this is in no way a scientific sampling, it illustrates something well-known in the criminal psychology literature: a two-parent household is far better than a fatherless household.

As to Alan’s essay on street parking, I recall back in the seventies when the Equity Waiver theatre world was exploding and how LA City in their permitting required a certain amount of off-street parking be provided, based on theatre capacity. As one city official told us: “streets are for traffic, not parking.” Now our city council wants to run Dockweiler through to Railroad Avenue? Why? It’s not a freeway exit. If you want more cross-valley access, I would STRONGLY encourage connecting Via Princessa. This would ease some of the traffic now on Railroad, Soledad AND Sierra Highway. Surely it wouldn’t cost as much as the Laemmle Theatres give-away and parking structure?

As to what developers are allowed to do, I would like to see a simple requirement for mandated off-street parking for all future development  In my neighborhood of Rainbow Glen, there is woefully inadequate ON-street parking, let alone off-street. This could have been solved by implementing a formula for off-street parking: two spaces for the first bedroom, and one additional space per each bedroom after the first. Apply this across all development: apartments, condo/townhouse, and single-family. This would have solved the problem in my area in Canyon Country.

There was also a recent story about how traffic enforcement had reduced accidents. Well. I submit to you that traffic enforcement caused a speed reduction, and that is what reduced the number of accidents. In my residential area the traffic speeds are 45 and 35 mph. and near-by Soledad is 50mph. I would ask the council to shave 5 mph off those limits as a simple and cost-effective way to reduce accidents.

Oh and while I’m on my soapbox, how about some noise abatement? Why do these people on their crotch-rockets think it’s necessary to go from zero to 50 mph in a nano-second when the light changes? I invite anyone with a decibel meter to spend an evening or morning at Soledad and Rainbow Glen and check the readings. And maybe do some revenue-enhancement by the sheriff’s department? Just sayin’.


Bob Googooian
Canyon Country resident.


| Opinion | March 11, 2018

Letter sent to the LA Times

The drop program you have been reporting is a disgrace to taxpayers. While its intentions appeared honorable it has been proven since that it is a FAILED program and should be discontinued. Further, all claims by recipients should be investigated and those that prove to be less than honest be prosecuted and moneys returned to the City.

Mayor Garcetti and the LA City Council, February 2016, failed (to) listen to nor investigate reported problems with the program. In my view they did not protect the citizens nor taxpayers of Los Angeles. Even with knowledge of other cities discontinuing, investigating fraud nor modifying their own DROP programs. It is less than believable that the Council Members votes were not influenced with Union contributions to their campaign funds.

Last, our Police and Firemen do protect and serve the citizens of LA and they too should be outraged that their colleagues defrauded the city. The article also noted that the average Fireman’s salary was $174,500, plus benefits and almost a 100% retirement income. That is $9,074 a week income plus benefits. Certainly, well compensated for their work. An awful (price) the taxpayers have to pay plus being swindled by corrupt individuals of DROP with their elected representatives sworn to protect its citizens. The City must act now.

David Veal, Santa Clarita


Response to letter from Tyler Grasson in last week’s Gazette

Dear Tyler,

I am not familiar with current school curriculum, but it seems like some of American History may have been negleted.

The so called “Greatest Generation” inherited “a screwed up world” (as you put it), that being something called World War I and the Great Depression. The Greatest Generation pulled America out of its darkest hour of that time but left a legacy to the Baby Boomers – remnants of World War II, the Korean Conflict and the war in Vietnam. Today, most European countries remain among our strongest allies, although tensions in Korea still exist, fighting has since been quelled in that region, and relations have since been restored with Vietnam. Baby Boomers have also landed man on the moon, dismantled the Berlin Wall ending the Cold War, and were instrumental in the collapse of the Soviet Union and their ballistic [nuclear] missile submarine fleet among other things.

Probably most important of all for you however, is the Baby Boomer invention of digital electronics, the software which allows the development of “apps”, and the Internet (originally rolled out as ARPAnet in 1967). Oh, this is important because without these you wouldn’t have that Smartphone which could actually be used to brush up on that history I mentioned a moment ago.

Now, I will offer you a piece of advice passed down to me (a Baby Boomer) from a member of the Greatest Generation: “Criticism without construction amounts to nothing more than hypocrisy.”

Unfortunately, I will not be around to witness the legacy you leave Gen Alpha.

Love and Respect
“Castaic Dave” Steffy


Response to an Opinion article on February 8 entitled “Sedition” by Stephen Smith

The analysis fortunately is way off.
The author leaves out – somehow – that you have to oppose Federal law by Force. Meaning that you physically assaulted or prevented the Federal government from doing its job, or you attempted to overthrow the Federal gov by force. California has not physically attacked or even touched any Federal official – so this law does not apply.
Massive misreading of the law.

“If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by FORCE the Government of the United States, or to levy WAR against them, or to oppose by FORCE the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by FORCE to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

For more facts:
Or go to Yes California.org or Yes California Facebook

Marcos Ruiz Evans
President Yes California
Calexit Campaign

Soulful Sunday Brunch at The Canyon

| Opinion | March 10, 2018


In the months since The Canyon Santa Clarita opened at Westfield Town Center, most of the valley has gotten the memo: There’s a new concert venue in town where you can order dinner and drinks while you listen to live concerts by professional bands.

What residents may not know is that there’s also a Soulful Sunday Brunch. Last week’s live music was top quality jazz with a lead singer who grew up in Santa Clarita, so she exuded the comfort of someone crooning among old friends. The velvety sounds of Natalie Mendoza and the Fabus Four filled the room with the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Blue Sky” and familiar tunes like Sinatra’s “I’ll Never Smile Again.” The four-piece band, with guitar, percussion, bass and sax, are in high demand, performing ‘40s classics all over Southern California. Mendoza and the Fabus Four hasve teamed up for concerts at Cicada in downtown L.A., the Wiltern Theatre, and many other landmarks.

The brunch was also classic – Belgian waffles, custom omelets, a buffet with everything from ribs and sausage to biscuits and gravy. It was everything you expect from a Sterling Venue Ventures restaurant. The personnel are young, attractive men and women and your seating choices include floor level tables, booths that sit above the dance floor, and couch combos. You can end up with another layer of nostalgia if you’ve been to one of the other venues owned by Sterling: The Saban in Beverly Hills, The Canyon Club in Agoura, The Rose in Pasadena or The Libbey Bowl in Ojai.

As similar as the feel is to Agoura’s Canyon Club, the advantage at The Canyon Santa Clarita is that it’s the most recently opened venue. The floors, tables and décor have the same simple charm, but with the obvious advantage that everything’s brand new.

But don’t worry – the music can still take you back. Natalie Mendoza and the band will entertain at Soulful Sunday Brunch again on March 18, April 8 & 22, and the Brandon Ragan Project will be playing March 11 & 25, April 1, 15 & 29.

The Canyon is located at 24201 Valencia Blvd. in the Westfield Town Center Mall. Visit WhereMusicMeetstheSoul.com for reservations.

Political Labeling Made Easy

| Opinion | March 9, 2018

By Stephen Smith

Everyone seems to be obsessed with labeling everyone and everything. It is the one quick fix statement that eliminates empathy, an exchange of ideas, reason and any need for any further argument. I have two favorite pet peeves. My first is calling someone an extreme right-wing conservative. Since the word conservative means having traditional values and being resistant to change, do you think that the accuser meant that they were extremely resistant to change and had strong traditional values. Shame on them. What really offends me is progressives calling George Bush or Donald Trump a fascist or Hitler. First, neither have butchered millions like the fascist and Communists did, or represent a political philosophy that has far more in common with the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democrat Party than our founders’ vision of limited government.

With apologies to Mort Sahl, let me offer you a philosophical tool to better understand where I am coming from. Way back in the dark ages when I went to UCLA and the university’s Communist Professor Angela Davis and the Black Power movement were dominating the news, I was taught that political systems could be described on a sliding scale with the Communists on the far left, the United States in the middle and the Nazis and fascists, occupying the far right. Those who professed this model were highly influenced by Marxist thinking. In 1973 I was touring Dictator Josip Broz Tito’s Communist Yugoslavia. There I witnessed protestors who carried signs proclaiming, “Death to Fascism.” Far left backed Black Lives Matters and Occupy Wall Street protestors have pretty much done the same. Communists have always viewed “Fascist” as their opposite and their greatest enemy, even over American style free market capitalism.

Our founders had a very different view of the political system model. Theirs put Communists and Nazis on equal footings. I have come to agree with them. So now is the time for you to use your best arts and crafts skills and see the political spectrum as they did.

Lay down a letter-sized paper horizontally. One-third from the top draw a horizontal line from left to right leaving an inch or two at the margins. Place a short vertical line equally bisecting the horizontal exactly at the halfway point. Place two more vertical lines in the same manner one-fourth of the way from the left and the other one-fourth from the right.

In the same manner but just a little lower, above the one-fourth vertical left now, for those who love “labeling,” this is the time. Two inches above the line on the far left, print in easily read characters “TOTALITARIAN” and on the far right “ANARACHY” (sic). Above the one-fourth vertical line on the left print “TYRANNY” and above the one-fourth vertical right “LIBERTY.”

In smaller print below TYRANNY print “Serfdom” and under LIBERTY print “Freedom.”

Below the horizonal line on the far-left print in a column justified left, one line at a time, print, “True Far Left, Monarchy, Communism, Fascism, Socialism and Statist.” In the same manner on the far right justified right print “True Far Right, No Government, Lais sez-faire, Buyer beware, Total Freedom, Chaos.”
Now, below the horizontal line, dead center print “PRINCIPLES.”

You may now start compiling (a) list of core principles of the progressive left below the horizontal line left of center marker and the same for Constitutional Republicans placed right of the center marker.

Some suggestions:

Left. The population is viewed as the collective. They all are classified into various sub-groups, usually based on race, class and gender and are further divided into the oppressed and the oppressors. Independence is discouraged and reliance on the state is encouraged. Obedience is required. Good character is not relevant.

Right. Motto “e pluribus unum,” out of many one. Self-reliance, Liberty, Freedom and independence are the goals. Being of good character is required for this system of limited government to be successful.

Left. State manages, directs or owns means of production. Success is determined by political considerations.

Right. Free market capitalism. Success is determined by how well you provide your customers what they want. Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

Left. Wealth is finite and cannot be created. Must be redistributed to achieve social justice.

Right. Wealth can be created by adding value through your enterprise. You should be able to keep what you earn and pursue happiness.

Left. Social Justice. Egalitarian. Equal results guaranteed through redistributive change. All citizens are equal; however, some comrades are more equal than others (ruling elite).

Right. Equal Justice for all under the law. We are all created equal, however results will vary depending on talent, knowledge, work and good fortune.

Left. Rights are what the government must do for its citizens and are a gift from the state, subject to change at the whim of the leadership. Achieved through powerful central government.

Right.  Rights are about what the government may not do to its citizens. Our rights are given to us by our Creator and not subject to change by the state. Achieved through limited government.

Now have some fun figuring out where we are now on this scale. Our founder’s ideal was having just enough government to avoid Anarchy, but weak enough to ensure Liberty. I would put their ideal about one-fourth from the far right. I would put Bernie Sanders’ form of socialism about one-fourth from the far left. The question is, where do you think we are headed towards? Liberty or Tyranny. (Hint, I would put today’s Republican Party to the left of JFK.) Good Luck.

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

Billy Graham’s Solution to Guns – Hands Up!

| Opinion | March 9, 2018

By Richard Hood

Billy Graham never claimed to be perfect, but he had the perfect solution to many of our nation’s ills, and he got to the root of the viral infection rather than suggesting ineffective Band-Aids.

Do we really think a young psychopath off his meds, who perjures himself on Federal documents so as to purchase a weapon to deliberately and mercilessly murder friends and strangers, is prone to start obeying new gun laws? It’s interesting how many school shooters are middle class Caucasian males. Are other groups not drugging their kids, or are they just making sure their kids don’t go off their meds?

If we aren’t prepared to obey simple but even higher laws like God’s (“treat others as you would like to be treated”) why would we expect others, especially those fascinated by mass murder to do so? If we ourselves have rejected multiple “come to Jesus” invitations, because we refuse to surrender our own fallen nature to be transformed into what was planned for us before creation, should we expect something better from the selfish rebellion of the evil shooters? It’s a universal human condition demonstrably unsolvable by human law. If we aren’t willing to obey the higher laws we already have, we too own a share in the morally polluted air our society currently breathes.

It’s been half-jokingly said that when seconds count, the police take just minutes to arrive – just in time to start writing the report. It’s also been said that the guns they carry are to protect themselves, not us. So why does the government which admits it can’t protect us, refuse to allow us to protect ourselves and keep our families from being slaughtered in some theater? Where is the outrage about that outrage? Why has our military personnel been allowed to suffer the agonies of killing and being killed in the name of supporting our liberties, when our basic right to life is denied?

I can think of one county that deliberately drags its feet in order to deny citizens a concealed carry permit that the court ruled was a citizen’s right. And we wonder why psychos don’t obey laws when the law is ignored by our own sheriffs. They swore an oath to defend the Constitution but apparently that’s only when they want to, which is when it benefits them, rather than those they’ve sworn to serve and protect. Some sheriffs recently did allow citizens to conceal carry, but only those citizens that contributed large sums to their campaign. Isn’t that stealing our rights and then selling them back to us? Is that protecting the Constitution?

We will become an increasingly secular society, with less reason to follow the golden rule, let alone any other morality, or we will listen to Graham’s admonishments to return to the Judeo-Christian value system which made this unique nation possible. Our republic is a great experiment, but as Benjamin Franklin warned, we only have a republic, if we can keep it. Have we kept it? In a republic, our elected representatives, whether sheriffs, county supervisors, or senators (who also swore oaths to uphold the Constitution) are supposed to represent us, not represent the lobbyists that contribute to their campaigns, or we only have a pretend republic with (at best) pretend representatives. Franklin also warned against trading liberties for safety, predicting the resultant loss of both.

We are too lazy to recall these immoral liars, in fact we often re-elect these same oath breakers. We have surrendered our responsibilities of self-government both personally and societally, and have traded our rights, preferring convenience. Things won’t get better if we don’t want to get better ourselves. We can’t have a healthy body politic if that body’s cells are rogue or malignant.

As for new laws, why not make it illegal for lightening (sic) to strike? Lightening (sic) kills more people than mass shooters. But I understand, people “feel” they have to do “something.” It’s just always the lazy, “somebody else do something to protect me” that the frightened demand. Why not fight to make ourselves safer and stop being such wimps? Why not fight to make our country more free, and fight our own nature so as to become more moral, more accountable to God? That’s it – we don’t want to be accountable, which is why we won’t submit our will to anything that demands a moral lifestyle, yet we expect, even demand, that others treat us according to the same golden rule we refuse others. Adolescent is too kind a word, as is juvenile. Maybe infantile. Definitely rebellious, as in sinful.

If we are lefties, we may want to “transform” this country as Obama said, but not realize that the country is made of individuals. Are we willing to be transformed individually? If not, let’s stop asking others to transform an entire country. If we are willing, into whose image will we be transformed? Can we think of anyone better than Jesus to become like? If we are on the right, we may feel government isn’t the solution, but rather as Reagan said, the problem. We may feel it can’t transform itself or anything else for the good. Both sides need to see that transformation is necessary for our survival, and agree that it’s a supernatural occurrence that requires acknowledging being a fallen creature with a redeeming creator waiting, and expecting. Waiting for us to allow His changing us. We’ve had two Great Awakenings so far in our history. We need a third.

Yes, the solution doesn’t lie in others, it begins with you and me, whether it’s the gun solution or any other problem. Yes, Billy Graham was spot on. We need to come to Jesus figuratively and literally, collectively and personally. And we need to bring others with us. We can stop making excuses and fulfill the simple law of love – love for God and our neighbor, or we can stay a part of the problem we decry, and keep electing the character-challenged, then demanding they solve the problems the roots of which lie in ourselves.

Richard Hood is a retired teacher who successfully denied his teacher union’s using his dues to war against family values. Instead, his dues went to evangelical and pro-life ministries of his own choosing.

Bullseye! Sessions Sets His Sights on Bear

| Opinion | March 8, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is out for bear. California Bear. Many believe the AG’s lawsuit over sanctuary cities in the state is one more politically-motivated attempt to prolong his life in office.

Sen. Kamala Harris responded to the lawsuit by saying, “The attorney general is playing politics with an important issue and has put a target on California’s back.”

The senator is not entirely correct. While politics does come into play, AG Sessions has a philosophy. He has an ideology. He has long been anti-immigrant, especially when it comes to those whose color does not match his own. AG Sessions’ lawsuit is just the latest evidence of his perspective on immigration.

Unlike the attorney general, the president has no philosophy, no ideology, and he’s decidedly anti-immigrant when it suits his needs and when the immigrants in question are brown. Donald J. Trump had no problem employing undocumented workers on his construction sites in the early 1980s. Perhaps because they were white workers from former Soviet Bloc countries.

Sessions is different. Despite lying to his former colleagues in Congress about his meetings with Russian diplomats and oligarchs, AG Sessions believes in the rule of law and, in the case of the investigation into Russian meddling, demonstrated some degree of propriety when he recused himself from directly overseeing it.
Attorney General Sessions believes that what Gov. Jerry Brown, the State Legislature, State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and many other government officials throughout the country are doing is in violation of federal laws that supersede those passed at the state and local level. He believes this, both as the nation’s top law enforcement official and he believes this ideologically.

Frankly, the attorney general is doing his job, just as state AG Becerra, in defending California’s sanctuary law, believes he is doing his. It will be up to a Federal District Court (and, likely, Federal Appellate Courts and the Supreme Court itself) to determine which party will prevail.

This lawsuit is not, however, solely about the law. We cannot ignore the fact that California’s demographics are a factor in the filing, and that exerting political muscle is also part of a much broader message. While six states, the District of Columbia, and over 170 cities and counties nationwide have passed sanctuary laws, AG Sessions has chosen to launch his first salvo against California. The state is the largest, most prominent choice.

California has the largest undocumented immigrant population in the country. Most importantly, it is a solidly blue state, with the governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature long in control of the Democrats. There is no risk for the Trump administration to target California first.

Republicans, as a rule, and even more so, Donald J. Trump want to punish those living here, Republican constituents (and there are quite a number of them) be damned. In the administration’s war on immigration, fellow Republicans are merely collateral damage.

The president’s core supporters do not like Californians and, by and large, are anti-immigrant. Neither Trump nor Sessions have anything to lose by poking the Bear. Especially Sessions. It’s an opportunity to, once again, curry favor with the president and prove his loyalty; a trait the president values above all else.

In addressing the California Peace Officers Association, in Sacramento, AG Sessions singled out the Mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, who recently announced publicly that federal immigration authorities would be conducting raids in her city.

In prepared remarks released by the Department of Justice, Sessions said, “How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote your radical open borders agenda.” Yet, an overwhelming number of law enforcement officials throughout the country – in both red and blue states – are opposed to a government crackdown on sanctuary cities and states.

Following the DOJ’s filing, Sen. Kamala Harris told reporters, “The DOJ has limited resources and it would be a much better use of those resources to focus on issues that really impact the public safety and well-being of the American public, including in California and including local law enforcement in California.”

That sentiment is echoed by top local law enforcement officials. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck was an early supporter of sanctuary cities, saying the bill would foster trust among immigrant communities; and, while initially opposed, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell now stands behind the sanctuary law.

What’s most problematic about AG Sessions’ lawsuit, and any further actions he may take in other jurisdictions, is that it does not truly address the key issue at hand: immigration reform. He, alone, is not at fault. Intransigent leadership in Washington and an administration willing to placate a small minority of Americans through the institution of flawed legislation is a far greater issue.

Blanket deportation, ignoring the plight of DACA recipients, and separation of immigrant parents from their U.S.-born children is not the solution. Comprehensive reform of our immigration laws is paramount. This may include some form of amnesty for those already here, extension of DACA, and creating pathways to citizenship in exchange for more restrictive immigration legislation downstream.

There are no simple solutions to immigration issues and there will inevitably be pushback from both sides in trying to resolve them. One thing is certain, angering the Bear by hauling it into court may make things further unbearable for Attorney General Sessions and President Trump.

Always Advocating Alan: Dockweiler, When a Road is NOT a Road

| Opinion | March 8, 2018

Traffic is probably the number one issue in Santa Clarita today. It manifested itself by our city allowing development, without providing sufficient infrastructure to support the increased traffic flow. What makes it even worse is, City of Santa Clarita codes allow each new development to be under-parked (not having sufficient parking spaces to accommodate its residents), thereby also creating city streets and adjacent neighborhoods packed with parked cars. If the situation was not bad enough, our City Council created a public transportation system, which in many cases, has buses stopping in high flow traffic lanes further restricting traffic flow.

Even the “Cross Valley Connector” (Newhall Ranch Road) which was opened with a fanfare and speeches telling us of a new way to cross our valley, has currently become developed to such an extent, traffic regularly sits idly in long lines waiting for left turn arrows to move cars out of the way, so other traffic can flow freely. For now, additional major road construction in Santa Clarita is at a standstill. We have been waiting a very long time for the two halves of Via Princessa to be merged by construction through Bermite property, and it looks like we will be waiting for many years to come.
I’m betting all our long-term residents remember a time when traffic congestion was not an issue. Yet, while our city politicians brag we are the third largest city in Los Angeles County by population, they do not seem to have much of an answer for the problems it has created. Just like any other municipality, our city is comprised of many categories of streets and roads. There are residential streets, collector streets, arterial roads and highways. As you might imagine, each type of street and road has a different intended purpose, and whenever those purposes are ignored to improve traffic flow, a major resident uprising has occurred. It is easy to understand why residents who live on a quiet residential street do not want to see changes which bring high traffic flow in front of their home.

For example, there was the situation at Benz Road. City planners linked Bouquet Canyon with Copper Hill via David Way. With a traffic signal to allow left turns, traffic was supposed to turn onto David Way, make a left turn on Copper Hill. Next, drivers would immediately be subjected to a 4-way stop at Katherine before being allowed to progress. It was inconvenient and frustrating. To resolve the issue, then Councilmember Ferry told the community “a road is a road” and we need to use any road at our disposal to improve traffic flow. Our city council voted to open Benz Road to Copper Hill, and this quiet residential street became a primary “cut through” traffic path in avoidance of David Way. Only after residents complained vigorously for a very long time, were stop signs and speed cushions installed to help mitigate the problem.

While the situation at Benz Road is one example, there also have been others. Affected residents are always told, what we (the city) did was planned all along and you should have been aware of it. Even if it was true, city planners, and the County before them, should not have allowed a developer to build a residential street, when they planned to use it later for another purpose.

Today, Placerita Canyon and Dockweiler Drive residents are faced with a city proposal to construct an extension of Dockweiler Drive to Railroad Avenue. A Public Hearing was opened at the February 27 City Council Meeting. The staff report indicated the project was part of the General Plan, was identified as a Santa Clarita key transportation project, and the Joint Highway Plan designates Dockweiler Drive as a “Secondary Highway.” They have got to be kidding. Where is the Primary Highway going in the same direction? Area residents came out to the hearing and seemed to speak with one voice. They advocated for the extension, if built, to be connected to Market Street, to avoid increased traffic on their residential access routes.

So, here is the major rub and why the city is pushing the issue. Connecting Dockweiler Drive to Market Street instead of 13th Street eliminates the road crossing Councilmember Weste’s property and thereby does not provide and increase her property’s value. (Councilmember Weste did recuse herself and was not part of the discussion). Reading the Staff Report showed, parking on Dockweiler needed by the current residents will initially remain, but could be eliminated when proposed development causes traffic flow to reach a certain level. Then, where will the current residents park? Will they also be just told, they should have known? Lastly, the project will be constructed with Proposition C Grant funding and therefore lower the financial commitment needed of future development.

Fortunately, the decision on how to proceed has not been finalized. If you want to express your opinion or are just interested in how this project turns out, the Public Hearing will be continued at the April 10 City Council Meeting. Remember to watch this issue closely because, what happens anywhere in our city is an indicator of how your neighborhood could be impacted in the future.

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

California Outlaws Rocks

| Opinion | March 2, 2018

by Thomas Jefferson X

In a vote along party lines, the California assembly has made California the first state in the nation to outlaw rocks. At the much-publicized signing ceremony Governor Jerry Brown was quoted as saying, “Ever since the mythical days of Adam and Eve, rocks have been a scourge to civilized societies. As the story is told, Adam and Eve had two children, Cain and Abel. One picked up a rock, struck his brother in the head and killed him. This was the first recorded murder in history. Had it not been for that rock, the two brothers could have lived in peace. They could have rationally discussed their differences. But that was not the case.”

This legislation follows last year’s Senate Bill 413, which requires a criminal FBI background check and a permit for the purchase of a hammer along with verified evidence as to the need for the hammer. This was of course due to the fact that more murders are committed with the use of a hammer rather than by rifle according to FBI statistics. The Democratic-controlled leadership tried to outright outlaw hammers in the state of California, but the construction lobby was too powerful to contend with.

The new legislation does not outlaw all rocks, only the ones that can be held with the human hand. The legislation reads, “any rock or rock-like substance, composed of natural or man-made substances including but not limited to minerals or mineraloids of granite, quartz, feldspar, biotite, magnesium, iron, silicon dioxide, potassium, calcium, molten rock, clay silt, sand, dirt, mud, gold, silver, water, ice, or any other substance forming a hard surface, consisting of a mass density of 1 g/cm3 or greater, with a diameter ranging between 1.2214 inches to 32.8445 in diameter.”

Any rocks smaller than 1.2214 inches in diameter, commonly known as gravel, will still be legal in California. However, any attempt to adhere quantities of these smaller rocks together with the intent to create a larger rock are strictly prohibited by this new legislation. Rocks larger than 32.8445 inches in diameter, commonly known as boulders, are still legal as well. Any attempt to crush or break off a piece of these larger rocks with the intent to create a smaller rock is illegal and is punishable with up to five years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine.

Governor Brown estimates creating two-thousand six-hundred new government jobs to remove the estimated 60,841,000,000 tons of rocks from the state over the next thirty years at a cost of $212.8 billion. California is still in negotiations with neighboring states as to where exactly the 60.8 billion tons of rocks will go. Negotiations stalled when neighboring states demanded payment for accepting the unwanted rocks. President Trump offered to take all the unwanted rocks to be mixed with concrete and steel to create a massive impenetrable border wall along the southern U.S. border. The offer was quickly declined by the Governor.

And this is Satire, FYI


| Opinion | March 1, 2018

The article in the Gazette about Planned Parenthood is as misleading as the abortion provider’s name.  Planned Parenthood doesn’t help plan for parenthood, it helps to avoid it.  Their main business is abortion.  Sure, they claim to be devoted to women’s health, but what they really are devoted to is providing as many abortions as possible.  The deception is in saying that they are about preserving life, when in fact they are about ending it.  And management employees of this despicable organization have been caught in the act of selling body parts of aborted babies.

Planned Parenthood performs more abortions than anyone else in America.  According to Prager U and Live Action pro-life advocates, Planned Parenthood aborts 321,000 babies every year, 880 every day — that›s about one-third of all abortions in the country.

They claim to be about women’s health?  Let›s see….they perform less than 2% of all cancer screenings, less than 2 % of all breast exams, but 33% of all abortions.  Yes, they do provide ultrasound services, but only for their own use in facilitating the abortion procedure.  God forbid they would let the expectant mother see an image of her baby in the womb sucking its thumb and moving its body around.

Feminists constantly demonstrate and parade around demanding women’s rights and free abortions, but they fail to realize that half of the babies that are not allowed to be born are indeed female.

The worst part about the deception, which by the way the Gazette article fails to mention, is that our federal government gives Planned Parenthood over 500 million of our taxpayer dollars every year!  Why?  When polls show time and again that Americans oppose using taxpayer money to pay for abortions, why does it continue?  Theoretically, it is illegal to use federal funds for abortions, and Planned Parenthood claims to use the money for their other “services”; however that is just more of the deception since abortion is their primary function.

The late congressman Henry Hyde, a great pro-life leader, made the following profound statement to encourage those in the pro-life movement:

“When the time comes as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought…you have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God, and a terror will rip through your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there will be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him because he loved us,’ and God will look at you and say not, ‘did you Succeed?’ but ‘Did you try?’”

Jim Blumel


In Lee Barnathan’s recent article, he quoted Rep. Knight’s office as saying that the Congressman opposes taxpayer funding for abortions. Barnathan failed to mention that Title X funding from the Federal government is for family planning services only, such as birth control, and Planned Parenthood is already barred from using any of that funding for abortions. When birth control is easily accessible to the entire population, less abortions happen. People who truly want to prevent abortions will support family planning services. Kudos to Germain for caring that people in Santa Clarita seem to have nowhere to go to seek assistance in preventing unwanted pregnancies. I hope his efforts produce some sort of positive result.


Good evening, I am a frequent reader of the Gazette, and I have noticed that you publish letters given to you from other readers. It would be awesome if you could put this one in. Thank you!

Dear Baby Boomers:

You had your chance to screw the world up – and you did a darn good job. We are overweight, overpopulated, and at war with everyone on the planet. The opioid crisis is out of control, the national debt is expanding, and kids are terrified to go to school because someone might bring a gun. On top of that, you all have the audacity to blame it on the newest generation, who are barely old enough to vote. Here’s an idea: Since you all have done such a bang-up job raising the people you complain about the most, why don’t you give us a chance to fix things? Clearly, your way of handling the world has been disastrous, and whatever status quo you are clenching onto has proven to be extremely ineffective. If you want to argue that the decline of the United States is because of a lost sense of morality, look in the mirror. The same generation preaching morality plummeted the U.S. into senseless, murderous wars, while at home you battled to separate immigrants from their families.

So, the next time you decide to blame the younger generation for screwing everything up, remember that you’ve spent an entire lifetime crafting our country into the mess it is now.

Tyler Grasson

Phones Don’t Kill People, People Kill People

| Opinion | March 1, 2018

Emotionally-charged responses to the recent shootings in Parkland, Florida have demonstrated how polarized Americans are over 2nd Amendment rights and gun control. Emails have poured in from people on both sides of the issue.

One, from a reader who’s in staunch support of the 2nd Amendment, included a link to an article that noted “the number of teens who are dying or being injured as a result of texting while driving has skyrocketed as mobile device technology has advanced.”

While trying to remain sensitive to the pain and anguish experienced by survivors of mass murders by gun, this gentleman raised an interesting point. The subject is worth looking at because there are some correlations.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that legislators in 47 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have passed laws that prohibit texting while driving. Thirty-eight states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice and teen drivers. Fifteen states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have an outright ban on any hand-held cell phone use while driving.

Despite having laws in place, however, many people aren’t regularly abiding by them and a concerted effort to enforce these laws is not being made.

Raising this issue in the aftermath of Parkland is appropriate for one reason. While many of us are quick to advocate legislation that would make certain weapons illegal and restrictions regulating the legal purchase of all firearms be instituted, we tend to overlook seemingly benign things that, potentially, are equally as lethal. A wireless device being one of them.

Those who believe that few, if any, restrictions should be placed on gun ownership cling to the mantra that “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” To an extent, they’re right. Most gun owners abide by the law and have a respect for weapons, yet readily accessible gun ownership can lead to weapons ending up in the hands of the wrong people. Existing laws do little to prevent that from happening. Nor do they ban possession of weapons that have no place on our streets.

Most cell phone users also obey the law. Yet, distracted driving, including cell phone usage and texting among teens (and adults), is often a factor in automobile accidents resulting in serious injury and death. Despite being readily available, cell phones in and of themselves don’t cause these accidents. People do. Ordinary people, not just bad ones. Good, honest people with wireless devices in hand at the time of a collision. Current laws do little to prevent that from happening.

Over a hundred people a day die in car accidents. About 2,000 per year are children under 16. Death can come in the blink of an eye, just as it does in school shootings.

What good are rules if scofflaws aren’t being compelled to obey them? If you are the parent, child, friend, spouse or other family member of someone who has died violently, it doesn’t matter whether your loss stems from the actions of a person holding a gun or a wireless device in their hand at the time they were killed. Your loved one is gone. Because someone with access to a perfectly legal object has abused the privilege of possessing it.

Cell phone makers like Apple, Samsung, and most other major brands have technology that can completely cut off access to incoming texts and prevent texts from being made while a phone is in motion. These companies, along with carriers like AT&T and Verizon, caution against texting while operating a vehicle and offer drivers the means to manually shut down access to texts while on the road.
According to an article in The New York Times, lawyers in a texting-related wrongful death suit in Texas unearthed a patent application made by Apple a decade ago for technology that would “lock out” a driver’s phone by using sensors to determine if the phone was moving and in use by the driver. That patent was granted in 2014.

Neither Apple nor any other company has deployed technology that makes a driver’s decision for him or her. Doing so might create a maelstrom of emotion over attempts by big business or government to impinge upon some vague constitutional right or personal freedom.

The Times article noted that Deborah Hersman, the former chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said, “We’re so afraid to tell people what they should do that you can kind of get away with murder.”

Which, despite current gun regulations, is what some – emphasis on some – in possession of firearms do. And what some – emphasis on some – in possession of wireless devices do.

There is no quick fix regarding the issues of death by text or death by gun. Intelligent, yet rarely-enforced laws have been an ineffective solution. Fully-compliant gun and cell phone owners exist, yet a significant number of gun owners choose to modify their weapons. Just as many wireless users would “jailbreak” their devices to circumvent restrictions that limit texting or calling.

It’s time manufacturers of guns and cellular devices, gun owners and cell users, retailers, elected officials and law enforcement put their heads together for the sake of our kids, for the sake of all of us to figure things out in both instances in a reasonable, respectful manner. Something to think about, but easier said than done.

Id Est De Hominis (It Is About the Man)

| Opinion | March 1, 2018

by Stephen Smith

The tragic events in Florida have triggered immediate and intense reactions. I began writing what you see below before I realized that my feelings were still too raw to make a convincing argument for what I know to be true.

While watching the media, politicians and public reactions to the vile event in Florida, I have become concerned that we have misplaced our moral outrage. Remember that Nikolas Cruz is the murderer. Nikolas Cruz deserves (our) public scorn. Nikolas Cruz is the one who could have prevented mass murder. Nikolas Cruz is the exemplar of evil in our world. The rifle was the tool he used. Without it he would have found another way to realize his sick destiny. Many will not mention his name and focus only his methodology. If we decide to ban AR-15’s and consider the job done while not focusing on the murderer, we are doomed to play out this nightmare again and again. We must remember Nikolas Cruz just as the Jewish people remember Adolf Hitler by crying out to the world “Never Again.” That plaintive lament is not about the methods Hitler used but for the horror he authorized.

Our nation is shedding tears and embracing the victims of the tragic events perpetrated by a 19-year-old troubled being in Parkland Florida. When confronted with a man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man, we often have knee jerk reactions and seek something to blame. It is difficult to face the fact that there is real evil and that the world is not fundamentally safe.

After watching the very touching meeting that President Trump had with family, friends and others who had experienced similar horror in their lives, I realized that what I wrote next was no more than a rant, that it would not create insights or lead to real solutions. No matter how convincing I may be arguing for the creator given right of self-defense and personal responsibility for one’s action, those calling the NRA (murderers) and seeking total gun bans will have deaf ears. My solutions are centered around protecting our rights, freedom and liberty. Their solutions call for taking away liberties and transferring more power to the state.

That said, it is time to focus on why we are raising people who have become so self-centered and full of rage that they no longer value the lives of their fellow man. How do we begin focusing on goodness? What has changed that people now choose these violent acts? What is it that we are missing?

On Thursday after the shooting, President Trump made the most profound statement I have heard on the real solution. “We must also work together to create a culture in our country that embraces the dignity of life, that creates deep and meaningful human connections and that turns classmates and colleagues into friends and neighbors.”

Many of the institutions that normally have addressed moral formation are just not viewed as being important anymore. Single parent families or those with both parents working have left many children for long periods without the supervision. Church attendance has been declining. Organizations such as the Boy Scouts which provided strong adult role models, programs featuring community service and personal development have fallen out of favor. Nikolas Cruz drew the short straw on all of these. That leaves our educational system the only place left to inculcate values, character and socialization skills.

Historically our view towards education was very different than it is today. Most of our universities were founded by religious organizations with a focus on helping to create people of good character and who are dedicated to serving their communities. For over 150 years the famous McGuffey Reader was used as a primary textbook in our K-8 public schools. While teaching reading comprehension, spelling and grammar, McGuffey used stories drawn from life and the Bible to teach good character and morality. The Ten Commandments were on display in the classroom, the public squares and our courtrooms. In the 1960s that all changed with our courts ordering that the best instructions on how to live in a civil society to be removed. That included not only ending the McGuffey Reader but ended reference to religion in all textbooks and sadly in the performance of religious musical literature. Our common history was stolen from us along with any teachings of character and morality. Think about it, posting a document that says “Do Not Murder” or “Do Not Steal” is now viewed as a Constitutional violation. The performance of the greatest uplifting choral literature ever composed is now considered abuse of the Establishment Clause. With apologies to our Marxist inspired judges, these past rulings need to be overturned. The viewpoints in many of our textbooks now reflect a thinking more consistent with the Marx/Engels dialectic and not Judeo/Christian western civilizations values.

Good reader, if you have gotten this far, I understand there are many things we can do to better protect our children. Many legal tweaks being discussed will be very helpful. Certainly there were many failures by Law Enforcement that need correction. There are many good programs that teach anger management and socialization skills. They need to be put into practice. I believe that there is none more important than those that will address the human heart and support raising children of good character and compassion. Please write this paper and submit your ideas on how we may do so. God give us strength and wisdom.

The Church

| Opinion | March 1, 2018

by Richard Hood

We are told to remember the widows and orphans. We are told to remember those in prison “as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Yes, these are from the New Testament, and no, it has nothing to do with our “gifting” or “ministry.” Most believers aren’t doing it, and most “churches” aren’t either. I used the last quotation marks because, while everyone knows the church is made up of the believers and not the buildings, we have surrendered our responsibility and authority to these “churches.” No wonder the flock are leaving the “churches” in droves. Where are we headed? Vehicles are for getting some place. If the vehicle we’re in has a flat, we can stay in the car, find another vehicle, or start walking.

Richard Wurmbrand was a Jew who became a Christian pastor, witnessing first to the German invaders and then to the Soviet invaders in Romania. For this he was imprisoned and tortured for 14 years, by the God-hating communists. People had trouble believing that communists would be so cruel, until Wurmbrand was ransomed and testified before Congress, taking off his shirt to show his deep torture wounds. He started a ministry here that serves the persecuted Christian church worldwide, largely in Muslim and some communist countries. His ministry pays for orphanages, medical treatments, safe houses, Bibles, ministry tools, and job training for widows who have had their spouses torn away from them for being Christians, and have no other way of saving their families. They also ask us to write letters to prisoners and petition those governments – and they make doing so easy on their Voice of the Martyrs websites, persecution.com and prisoneralert.com.

Once a year there is a Sunday designated as the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church – a church larger than the American church, and so much needier. I’ve reminded my “church” about it more than once, offering free DVDs and other materials. Nothing happened, nothing was mentioned, even for just that one day a year.

Tortured For Christ is a movie about Richard Wurmbrand that is showing at Edwards Town Center for one night only, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. I wrote 15 churches in Santa Clarita about it, and told them they could even show it at their churches. Not one response. I told churches I would pay for tickets for their youth and young adult groups. Not one reply. I called my own church and left phone messages for the pastors saying to just let me know how many tickets – I’d take care of it. Sadly, you guessed right.

Aside from the unprofessionalism, it makes me wonder why they ask us to sacrificially give towards a new building fund for bigger offices not to return calls and emails from. What’s the point of having a materially wealthy church if you don’t use those resources to help your own family in need? There’s no excuse for knowing the scriptures that you state are the very word of God and then, deliberately, ignoring them.

Christians are the church, and giving our authority and responsibility to a church bureaucracy or its staff is unworthy of our calling, and unworthy of our fellow believers around the world – the Church Universal – who lack the financial and material resources which we are accountable for, let alone our leisure time.

Let’s stop waiting for the “churches” to fix their flat and start walking the walk of the church we were instructed to be. Let’s give both prayerful and material relief and support to our family who suffers, and who risk all for our faith.

Richard Hood is a retired public school teacher.

Always Advocating Alan – The Florida Shooting vs. Personal Responsibility, Integrity and Self-Reliance

| Opinion | March 1, 2018

It has been about 2 weeks since Nikolas Cruz entered South Broward High School and killed 17 innocent souls. While I had written a commentary about this incident in last week’s Gazette, I just could not quell my interest in what happened and continued to question what we could do to prevent similar incidents in the future. I spent all my free time last week researching what happened and attempted to uncover as many proposed solutions as might be available. In a way it is personal. I have grandchildren in public school and I want them and every other child to be safe.

What I found, for the most part, was more of the same dialog as almost every other tragedy. It seems as a society, our nation has cast aside personal responsibility, integrity and self-reliance. We seem to be afraid of holding individuals accountable for not doing the job we hired them for. We appear to think “we are special” and “it is not our fault.” Instead we blame things which we know cannot fight back, so the political community blames movies, video games, the internet, mental illness, guns, or the NRA.

Yet, when we review what transpired before and during the shooting, we find a massive failure of federal and local law enforcement and school administration personnel to do their jobs. Every day some new piece of the puzzle is revealed, which makes the picture worse. There was no shortage of incompetent behavior to go around. Starting with the FBI who did not follow up on information provided by the public about Cruz, to a local sheriff department who visited his home 39 times and took no action, to a school situation where the resource officer wanted to arrest Cruz and a school official talked him out of it. All these incidents should have put a marker on Cruz’s record which would have caused him to fail a background check, preventing him from buying a firearm in the first place. Next, came Broward High School’s failure to protect their students by having them hunker down behind doors which the shooter shot right through, a security system which was so poorly thought out it was disabled by the school’s own Fire Alarm, security fencing around the perimeter which was just a 5 foot high chain link fence, and lastly a video camera system the staff did not know how to operate, so when law enforcement finally arrived they were shown a 20 minute old recording instead of a live feed. But law enforcement did no better, with 4 Deputies just hiding behind cars with their guns drawn, listening to the gunfire, while students and faculty were being murdered.

Thankfully, The Signal has been reporting on a bright spot for Santa Clarita. It is our local sheriff department’s activities to investigate school violence threats and immediately taking appropriate action. I have confidence in Sheriff Captain Lewis and his team to do the right thing. I can’t even imagine him holding a press conference and making excuses like Florida Captain Israel did. From my point of view, each and every one of those public servants who failed to fulfill the obligations and duties of their office, thereby enabling the death of 17 innocent souls, should be singled out for public reprimand and disciplinary action.

Now the question which needs to be answered is, how to prevent this type of incident from happening in the future. Fortunately for California residents, we currently have a couple of tools to work with. First, Section 5150 of the California Welfare and Institutions Code authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to confine a person suspected to be a danger to themselves, or to others. Then comes the Gun Violence Restraining Order Law which allows families, household members, and law enforcement officers to petition a court to remove a person’s access to guns if they pose an imminent danger to self or others. How about adding to those a Federal Law requiring health care professionals to report individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others to the National Background Check Database?

Lastly is, how to protect our children in time of crisis? I keep coming back to the fact, the only adults close enough to help at the onset of violence are the teachers. Do we allow them to be armed? Some are against this concept for a multitude of reasons, but it was a reality in Florida, when 2 teachers rushed to the shooting and tried to impact the carnage. Unfortunately, they died in the process. There may have been a different outcome, if they were armed. As always, since what to do locally will be controversial, perhaps we should gather together law enforcement, mental health, and school professionals, along with community members to come to a final agreement on action to be taken.

In the meantime, please consider this final thought. I sincerely hope and pray you are never caught in an active shooter situation, but if you are, you will quickly realize, “you are not special.” You are just another human being, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Plus, if you are responsible for a group of individuals, no matter if they are children or not, you will get very nervous knowing the decision you make for the group to run, hide or stay in place, may cost you and some of them their lives, because what happens next is completely beyond your control. Lastly, if you happen to run into the shooter, or the shooter comes across you, and you are staring death in the face, the last thing you will be thinking is, why don’t I have a way to protect myself?

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Doug’s Rant – Video Edition

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