| Opinion | July 2, 2020

Open Letter to Santa Clarita Mayor Cameron Smyth and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Miranda
Mr. Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem:
According to a local newspaper report, I want to commend you for wanting to “make clear that the city denounces racism” but I also would want you to be aware and cautious of some of the radical things the formal Black Lives Matters organization believes and practices.

For instance, if you or your staff would spend just 90 seconds perusing the “What We Believe” section on the official Black Lives Matter (BLM) website (https://blacklivesmatter.com), I believe you will be astounded to learn that heterosexual men—particularly black fathers—are excluded from BLM’s supposedly inclusive movement. In a time when 69% of black children will never know a two-parent family, BLM is bizarrely anti-family. See these direct quotes from BLM’s website:

“We build a space that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered.

We dismantle the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” so that they can mother in private even as they participate in public justice work.

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking…”

While the term “black lives matter” is a statement of truth and worth, Black Lives Matter, as an organization, clearly has a radical social agenda that our city and its leaders should not be endorsing.

Let’s certainly affirm civil rights for all our citizens, denounce racism when it is found and support humane use-of-force reforms in police policies but please be cautious about gratuitously affirming the Black Lives Matter organization, whether personally or as voting members of the Santa Clarita City Council. There is just too much the public does not know about BLM’s leaders, practices and policies.

Thank you for all you both do for our city and citizens!
Gary Curtis, a Newhall resident

To all the mis-educated, non-reading, gossip monger minions of Christy Smith and all other “progressive” cultists, here is the last stanza I’ve written for your new Socialist National Anthem:

Ever forward, brave Leftist lemmings!
Defiling all from sea to sea,
Cutting off each rose from stemming,
Ever onwards – to the cliff of victory!
Richard Hood

This originally appeared as a comment on Doug’s Rant on our website but for an unknown reason kept being hidden so here it is :

Letter to the Ranter
Doug, you say you like healthy debate, hate one-way thinking and catchy metaphors that are just for show. Me too. I’ve read your column in its entirety and while I won’t attempt to address every point you make, here are a few responses. I am a 47 year-old white, female resident of Newhall. I moved here from Los Angeles (Frogtown) in 2013. I was raised in the rural midwest in a one-stoplight farming town surrounded by miles of corn and hog farms. My parents were Silent Generation. I grew up alongside rural, poor whites. My mother’s family is from rural Arkansas, my father’s family from rural Nebraska where he was raised on a farm, to become a farmer.

DOUG SAYS: “But, from what I’ve seen and heard, the mainstream media along with many on the left are taking the reality of this terrible situation and blowing it into the racial stratosphere. Four bad guys who happened to be cops did a really bad thing to an undeserving black man, but with all the hype, it’s being portrayed as a weekly occurrence across the land, and that just isn’t the case.”

• No one is saying all individuals who are police are bad. The “justice system”, which starts with the police, is a broken system that works against those who are black (and poor). No one is saying white people aren’t also victims of this system. But if this is such a problem for white people as well, why aren’t we doing something about it?

DOUG SAYS: “From my years on this earth interacting with black friends and law enforcement friends, and keeping close tabs on all news stories, I just don’t see any indication of law enforcement contributing to the systemic racism that is being screamed from the rooftops as a result of one man’s *death.“

• He was *murdered, and it’s not ‘just one man’. I haven’t seen it or experienced it either. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I haven’t walked through the world as a black person. Why should I refuse to listen to our fellow citizens, neighbors and community members who say “this is what it’s like for me, please hear me on this”?

DOUG SAYS: “Sure, there are bad things that happen to black people at the hands of white officers at times, but how prevalent is it really? There are statistics to back up the fact that it just isn’t.

• How bad does it need to be? How many deaths constitute a statistical insignificance in your opinion where lives are the statistics? Where do you set that bar? How many deaths until something needs to change? •

DOUG SAYS: “They think yelling, screaming and carrying signs will quickly save the day. But does it ever?”

• No one believes protesting is the solution to the problem. It is the impetus for change. And no one thinks this will happen quickly, however: “There is no power that can stop an idea whose time has come.”

DOUG SAYS: “No Justice No Peace,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Say Their Names,” and “I can’t Breathe.”  Okay, good metaphors. But how do they intend to really enact change for what they perceive the exact problem to be?”

• Columns like this, for one. Why do others have to change? How might YOU and I change, Doug? What do you intend to do to enact change except spending time re-treading your own already established, long-held ideas?

DOUG SAYS: “I’m not giving them a hard time for protesting. That is absolutely their right.  But I’d like the students to think about what exact change needs to happen to solve what exact problem?” 

• They HAVE thought about it. They HAVE said and ARE SAYING what the problem is. That’s why they’re protesting. They’re now asking YOU and I to think about it. Shoring up one’s old arguments and seeking new ways to reinforce one’s own already established viewpoints is not honestly ‹thinking about it› and, I speak for myself on that one as well.

DOUG SAYS: “The gentleman had many issues, none of which warrant the glory he is receiving in *death.”

• None of which warranted his *torturous, public murder. No one is glorifying his struggles. Because he is black, he is “bad person” for having had drugs in his system and having a criminal record. Had he been white, he would have been considered “troubled”.

DOUG SAYS: “In reality, the accolades he received resulted from him attempting to break the law at the wrong place and the wrong time.”

• It is not known that he intentionally passed a fake bill. Have you ever unknowingly passed a counterfeit $20? I probably have. And even if he did, it does not warrant his murder in the street in full public view by a police officer moments later. Nothing he did in his life justifies his murder. No human being deserves what happened to him.

DOUG SAYS: “Aside from that, he previously was jailed for armed robbery, breaking and entering a woman’s home, and pointing a gun at her while looking for drugs and money. Yet he’s being idolized by left leaners as great man because of the way he was killed?”

• Do you not believe human beings have complex, difficult lives where we are capable of doing bad AND good? Do you believe that when a person does something wrong, or commits a crime that they have no right to forgiveness, empathy, possibility of redemption or change? Do we simply throw that person away and say therefore it doesn›t matter that he was brutally murdered? Because he had drugs in his system? Because he›d committed crimes in the past? Did he therefore deserve this?

DOUG SAYS: “This past Wednesday, the House of Representatives hastily scheduled a hearing on police practices. The first person to testify as an expert witness was George Floyd’s brother. All networks had their cameras glued to the gentleman, even though he has no police experience other than what happened to his brother.”

• I am certain that George Floyd’s brother has much more experience with police beyond what happened to his brother, though I understand that’s not what you meant. Your point is that because he isn’t trained as a police officer or had inside experience with a police department or academic study of the justice system he has no right or informed view to speak about the murder of his brother by police? •

DOUG’S FRIEND SAYS: “If you don’t want to be treated like a stereotype, then don’t act like one. You demand respect. Respect is earned; it is not given based on the color of your skin. That would be racist.”

• I don’t hear anyone saying they demand respect because they are black. They deserve respect because they are human beings.

DOUG’S FRIEND SAYS: “I am tired of white people kowtowing to minorities to prove that they are not racist. You are or you aren’t, and your actions will show your true nature regardless of what you say.”

• Me too, and I couldn’t agree more.

DOUG SAYS: My hope is many of them will not turn to a fad of the month mentality lacking thoughtful, concrete problems and solutions. We see too much of that already every time we turn on the mainstream media.

• Me too. And I hope you include yourself in this statement as well.

More letters to the ranter:

My wife and I are long-time residents of  Santa Clarita and call this valley our home.  We have been loyal, dedicated readers of the Gazette over the last several years, and have (almost) always appreciated your perspective and the variety of opinions your contributors have provided. It has been good to see conservative, God-fearing people put thoughtful and sometimes wise perspectives into writing. 

This year and before no doubt have been very difficult and trying for you and the team, in several ways. For us, I’m in aerospace and combined with the delayed 737 Max (and other aircraft models) production and Covid-19 effects, my work future is not certain. And the current friend and family environment is turning into not so friendly any more. 

With this, we are trusting that you and your wife have success and fulfillment in the coming future with the retirement and move. Please seek the Word of God for direction in your life! We have to keep our focus not on man but on Jesus.

Gotta get a light dig in, though. You’ve done super well with the editing in every issue. But you may feel some blowback with this last issue – your subtitle reads “From the Publihers”. LOL Take care and God Bless. Ed

I want to say how bad I feel that you and the Gazette won’t be in my life as it has before for many years. ( I guess I am selfish in that way but still want to say THANKS to you and Mrs. Ranter ) I have shared your newspaper with friends who live far outside Santa Clarita and the papers closure will be felt far and wide. Quite awhile back, I was mentioning to Jim Horton that you are a hero of mine. He said he understood how I felt that way. Your method of writing, content, knowledge and especially your common sense have always impressed me and made me smile, page after page, issue after issue. I, along with a lot of people will miss you but hope to hear back from you in the near future.

Thank you for your support of our President and Congressman Garcia. You know a good man to respect and support as I believe I do as I respect and support you. Thank you for being you and Happy Retirement. Mike

How Obama Destroyed the GOP

| Opinion | July 2, 2020

by Joshua Heath
President Barack Obama famously declared he wanted to be a Ronald Reagan of the left, a transformative leader who permanently changed American society. While pundits can endlessly debate whether or not he achieved this on a policy level, there is no doubt Obama had a major impact on the state of our politics.

Before the Senator from Illinois took the White House, the GOP was a respectable institution, which managed to combine free-market policies with a healthy amount of outreach to minority communities. George W. Bush, for example, was a fervent supporter of immigration reform, closing the homeownership gap between blacks and whites and assisting the AIDS crisis in Africa. Which was a key reason why he managed to nail down over 40% of the Latino vote in the 2004 Presidential race.

With a few tweaks to this formula, it was clear the Republicans were going to be competitive for the long-term, even with our rapidly changing demographic trends. But after the inauguration of the first black president, everything changed.

More specifically, the right entered an age of racial resentment, dog whistles, and outright bigotry. The despicable birtherism lie–that Obama actually wasn’t even born in the United States–became the majority opinion of the Republican base. Fox News pundits like Glenn Beck and Newt Gingrich said he “hated white people,” was running a “gangster government” and declared him “the food stamps President.”

Though Obama was a moderate reformer, with a policy vision firmly aligned with the global mainstream, conservatives portrayed his eight years as something verging on the apocalypse, the implementation of a foreign, dangerous agenda on America.

Such hyperbole signaled to dark elements of society that the GOP was a home for them, with tragic results. According to research from Michael Tesler, Professor of Political Science at the University of Irvine, racist whites expressed a 40% increase in support for Republicans after 2008, while the emerging demographic majority–African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and liberal whites–solidified its allegiance to the Democrats.

This transformation of the conservative movement away from Bush’s moderation and into something much darker, is a great milestone in our history. The GOP became a breeding ground for nefarious elements, making it easy for a buffoon like Donald Trump to take over the party.

That did not have to happen. When Obama entered office, the right could have approached him with respect and found common ground on key issues while opposing him where differences arose. They could have signaled to the country that Republicans stood for diversity and wouldn’t tolerate bigotry in any form. Such a measured approach would have left our politics in a much better, less divisive state.

The events that actually took place, however, are going to have long-lasting effects. Studies show that people form their partisan views based on the defining moments of their youth. Generations that experienced the trauma of the Great Depression, and the progressive government of FDR, proved to be much more liberal than those who came of age under Ronald Reagan.

The millennials grew up with the leadership of the first black president, a man who based his entire tenure around the goal of uniting America. They watched Republicans respond with racist contempt before nominating a sociopathic billionaire to take his place in the White House. Predictably their hatred for the GOP is intense and will make its influence felt at the ballot box for decades to come.

When the right went bonkers over Obama, they made a noose for their own necks and lost the future. Karma’s a pain in the rear, as the Buddha used to say. As sure as the sun rises, conservatives will feel the full weight of their foolishness, and rue the day they ever mistreated the gentle civil rights lawyer from Illinois.

‘So Long and Thanks for All the Fish’

| Opinion | July 2, 2020

In this, the last edition of the Santa Clarita Gazette, I ask: Are you angry and frustrated by the takeover of our government and its many institutions by leftists who support the anarchist protestors who silence opposition, curse the values of western civilization, loot and destroy private property, attack our citizens, our men in blue, remove and re-write our history?

The very idea of America, with our fundamental and unalienable rights, is under attack by the Marxists who have infiltrated BLM, government, and our institutions of education. They are supported by power-hungry elected officials. They are funded by those who seek the destruction of western civilization, such as George Soros, public employee unions, and useful idiots such as The Bank of America.

Dear readers, it is time to stop cursing the rain and raise the protective umbrella of freedom and liberty. No one can do it for you. It is up to you to take the actions that will bring restorative change. The system of government given to us was, and is, the best created in human history. It put into place the tools to eliminate our flaws while allowing the freedoms that encourage prosperity for all who choose to work for it. There is no utopian experiment that has ever come close. The dedication to the destruction of our system of government and its dumbing down of our people is deeply rooted in our education system and its institutions. Their unions dues are spent on campaign donations, creating a corrupt relationship with our elected.

Government schools have become centers of indoctrination and not education. Our children are being dumbed down. Reading and math scores are abysmal. Science is being taught as a religion and not as a process of understanding. Curriculum actively attacks parents, the family, and religion. Our real history and civics are not being taught. Check out the SeXXX Education policies and be appalled. Education alternatives that are free to teach real history and moral formation are under attack by the unions and their legislative cronies.

Simply stated, School Choice has become the civil rights issue of our time. The power over our children’s education must be taken away from the state and that freedom be given back to where it rightly belongs, the parents. That is the mission of The California School Choice Foundation. We will not take back liberty and freedom until we once again begin teaching Americanism to our rising generation. We must give all our children the tools to be self-sufficient and productive members of society. We must be compassionate without encouraging dependency. We must teach the civics process for making change when it is required. We can begin in California because of the initiative process. To have an “Education Freedom Act” be put on the ballot in 2022, we will need one million signatures on a formal petition. Here is how it might work.

Divide all annual Proposition 98 education funds equally among all K-12 students. The money would be deposited into individual “Education Savings Accounts.” That money (currently $12,500) could only be used to pay the tuition at the accredited public, charter, private, or parochial school of the parent’s choice. Unspent funds accumulate and upon graduation would be made available for university or vocational training. Home schoolers could easily accumulate $120,000 in their ESA. We have already seen in states that have some form of School Choice, increased performance in all schools due to the introduction of the free market to education.

Students in under-served neighborhoods will no longer need to be trapped in failing schools by their zip code.

Join me in this fight for all our futures. Show your support at our website, https://www.californiaschoolchoice.org.

With great sadness I say farewell to the Santa Clarita Gazette and its brave publisher Doug (The Rant) Sutton. As stated by the departing dolphins to the people of the soon to be destroyed Earth, “So long and thanks for all the fish.” (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”)

Civility and the Golden Rule

| Opinion | July 2, 2020

by Rob Werner

You are smart – maybe not the brightest star in the world, but not the dullest. You are a good person. You care about other’s health and welfare, the economy, environment, opportunities, fairness, and civil rights.

You are convinced your views are correct and should be followed for the world’s betterment.

Would you be surprised to discover most people, even those who differ, feel the same regarding their own thoughts. Does it bother you that peoples with unacceptable views call you names, slander and disrupt your causes?

Welcome to a world without civility. One where people have forgotten the Golden Rule.

The lack of political civility has always existed. We even had duels. Occasionally, political forces buried differences. We had Republican President Reagan working with Democrat Speaker O’Neill and Democrat President Bill Clinton working with Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich.

There is no civility between Pelosi and Trump. Trump in winning the Presidency rallied his base threatening to incarcerate corrupt Democrats. Democrats believed they could stop this. His election was a misstep, his removal necessary. Each think that they are doing what is right.

This is common nasty politics. We should not be swayed by political hype.

Recognize our country is dominated by good people with a variety of views. Bullying and discrimination are wrong. Science should not be restrained by personal beliefs.

Children often suffer from bullying. There is aggressive bullying that includes physical threats and violence to gain property or submission. There is social bullying to get others to conform to values, actions, and lifestyles. This includes sexual orientation and promiscuity. Often it is a subtle pressure to go along with the crowd. There is academic bullying perpetrated by educators punishing or ridiculing students failing to adopt prescribed beliefs.

Adults perpetuate bullying. We have people destroying property, blocking roads, burning buildings, all who want something belonging to another or demand that others conform to their views. We have people demanding money for causes which the bullied must support or risk attack. Social bullying continues with constant personal attacks. We have economic bullying threatening advertisers, contributors, and people’s employment.

Some people believe we are a racist country with White privilege, creating disparity of income, education, living standards and treatment. They recognize it is time we redress these injustices, provide preference in opportunity, and broaden financial support and welfare. Others see such advocates as promoters of perpetuation of a dependent, slave like culture. One based on broken families, failed assimilation, destructive cultural and moral principles. They see creation of more institutionalized discrimination, propagation of violence, racial hatred, and the antithesis of diversity.

People claim they believe in science. There is a dominant force that knows that others have refused to learn from science because of religious and political ideology. These naysayers fail to accept the fact of manmade global warming. They would be bound by the belief the world was flat but for irrefutable visible evidence. The naysayers respond that science has been distorted by political correctness, suppression of employment, research and thought counter to prevailing views. Had scientist been controlled by such restraints, they might still think the world is flat.

It is time we respect all people. We do not have to agree, but we cannot expect to learn if we call other people names, prevent the dissemination of other ideas, harass people out of employment and education and close our minds to different ideas. We need to promote mutual respect, open minds, and the Golden Rule.

Just Imagine!

| Opinion | July 2, 2020

Just imagine that faithful day 244 years ago. On that July Fourth, amid the Revolutionary War, our Declaration of Independence was drafted and ratified by the U.S. Second Continental Congress. The majority of the document is a recitation of grievances committed by the British Crown against the colonials. But at the start of the second paragraph comes a very inspiring and familiar phrase, one repeated over and over again by our country’s people and all other nations: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This declaration that all men [people] are created equal gives us an ideal we have sought since penned in this enduring document. These words unify us, cause us to be better people, communities, and a nation, even though we struggle daily to achieve them. They are the root of our national values and help define our country’s character.

I’ve written in a past column that the single most crucial factor to your success as a leader is your character. The flesh and bones of your character are the values you project. They represent the outward appearance of your character, the actions you take, and the philosophies you adhere to. Some values require disclosure to your team, others not, depending on your vision, mission, and relevance to them.

For example, every soldier in the Army learns seven core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. It doesn’t matter if you are an active-duty general, or National Guard private, everyone in the Army subscribes to the same seven values in accomplishing the mission. These values are disclosed immediately upon entering service, and if you violate one or more, you are subject to discipline. On the other hand, I have been a lifelong member of a political party. I believe in that party’s values. But while leading troops, I never disclosed my party affiliation, nor did I ask them to reveal theirs. These political values were not relevant to accomplishing my vision or the mission at hand, but they did and do define me.

In the business environment, the leader must disclose and reinforce the organizational or team values at every opportunity: all-hands meetings, leadership communications, performance reviews, customer interfaces, and partnership encounters. Why? Because it telegraphs internally and externally how every member of your organization intends on doing business. Just like the soldier deployed to Afghanistan who practices the seven Army core values, she’s in unison with every other reserve, National Guard, or active-duty soldier she interacts with of any rank.

We use the term “Points of Culture” to describe a business’ core values, and they explain how the entire team will behave. The points of culture answer four critical questions: What values are essential to the owner(s) of the business? What values are vital to the team? What values are necessary to the customer? What values are crucial to the company achieving its vision and mission? These points of culture, codified, published and acted on help define the character of the business. They unify the team and cause them to be better members, not only in their organization but the business community at large. Importantly, the points of culture also announce to customers the game rules for sales and follow-on services.

We’re part of this grand experiment called the American democracy, continually striving to uphold the values our Founding Fathers imagined 244 years ago. Values that set us apart from every other nation in this world. This Fourth of July celebration will be much more subdued than those of the past. The pandemic has rendered large gatherings unsafe, canceled local firework displays and parades, and curbed many backyard barbeques. We are in the most of unusual of times.

Nevertheless, these times don’t stop us from imagining what our founding fathers must have felt when they drafted and ratified the Declaration of Independence. Their righteous indignations captured in the declaration laid the foundation for our governing documents, our amended Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. We can build on that tradition by infusing our organizations with our points of culture that better the team members and the community at large. This is how you lead, think, plan and act. Happy Fourth of July!

Adios, Gazette

| Opinion | July 2, 2020

by Harry Parmenter

For me, The Gazette has been fun from the first time I found it furled up in the Friday Signal. I’ve always liked weekly newspapers, from the Pittsburgh Forum to the Boston Phoenix and Real Paper, the Village Voice to the L.A. Weekly. The Gazette differed from those urban outlets but still had good reads, funny features like Joke of the Week, Memes and, my favorite, Ugly Parking. Local voices writing about local issues, politics, of course, but random topics as well. Not to mention the great John Boston and the essential Doug’s Rant.

I met Doug at Yum Yum Donuts after a cold email asking if I could write about music and entertainment in the area. He not only welcomed the contributions but was (and is) an interesting guy to converse with, low-key yet opinionated, measured but passionate about our country and its many challenges. He is a patriot. We also crossed paths at The Canyon for a couple of shows, Robbie Krieger and Ted Nugent, if I’m not mistaken, and any guy who likes rock ‘n’ roll is alright in my book.

The news that Doug and his co-pilot in life, Jeannie, would be closing the paper and moving to Indiana with family didn’t shock, but it did sting, deeply. Not only have I enjoyed writing for the paper thanks to the opportunity Doug provided, but it’s become a publication I look forward to reading as much if not more than any other, and I see far more newspapers than the average person given my day job working in communications.
There’s just something about The Gazette that’s been like a good friend in Santa Clarita and especially Canyon Country, Doug and Jeannie’s home turf and that of the paper. I know critics dismissed it as a right-wing vent, a car wash rag, a waste of time. But I noticed these critics, who repeatedly reveal themselves for what they are–people who have fostered the toxic, politically correct, social media bile society we now live in—couldn’t help but READ the paper, READ Doug’s Rant and then squawk box it out with their manifold complaints.

This culminated in the Christy Smith boycott, which I, like many others, took personally. Doug and Jeannie saw their way through this crisis but the Kung Flu, as our fearless leader calls it, proved too much for The Gazette. All good things must come to an end, but this one hurts.
I won’t have that sense of anticipation when I stoop down to pick up the Friday Signal from my driveway, the anticipation of levity, good local information and unique voices from throughout the SCV that The Gazette brought to the table. I don’t know about you but the world just got a bit duller in my neck of the woods.

I thank you again, Doug, for the opportunity to write and contribute, and wish you and Jeannie well in your adventures in the Midwest. You have made a difference in the community and you will both be missed.

Adios, Gazette.

Listen to Harry Parmenter in The Funhouse Sundays at 5 on KHUG-FM in the SCV.

Doctor’s Diary – COVID-19/BLM : Perfecting programs that already exist

| Opinion | July 2, 2020

On one of my early morning runs as the community began to stir, I saw a law enforcement neighbor leaving for work, followed closely by family. Their four year old daughter clung to the uniformed pant leg crying “please don’t go to work” several times.

After reassurance, but still crying waving good-bye, the little girl exhausted said “come home soon, I don’t want you to die.”

Changes need to be made, and long ago many in law enforcement realized their role attempting to care for mental health problems, homelessness, and other social ills should not be placed in their realm. Los Angeles County has been aware of this also.

For several years, I have been involved in a program at College of the Canyons collaborating with the LA County Sheriff’s to remedy this problem. The Sheriff’s set up a task force educating officers to recognize social issues, and instead of law enforcement, a Mental Evaluation Team (MET) of social workers and counselors are utilized. (A “RAMP” team was developed beyond the MET team, but apparently teeters on funding.)

Programs already exist, but now let’s fund and perfect them, to protect citizens and law enforcement, including little girls.

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

The Big, Beautiful Unknown, in Honor of Doug and Jeannie’s new adventure!

| Opinion | July 2, 2020

by Jason Downs
“Life is a traveling to the edge of knowledge, then a leap taken.” ~ D. H. Lawrence

Having just graduated from NYU, I found myself back home in Maryland. It was 1997. My parents silently went about their routines, nervous for me; holding their breath. The summer air seemed to hold its breath as well. But for my part, I saw the future as a big, beautiful unknown.

Deliciously lazy summer days passed writing music, taking walks in the woods, and meditating on what destiny had in store. The humidity of the days gave way to dewy nights of dancing with beautiful women, tasting the sweat of their thighs, and ignoring the idea of anything lasting forever.

And sure, I was working a part-time job and putting out feelers for something bigger. But it was the decadence I indulged in day after day…the indulgence one can only partake in for a moment before the real world comes knocking that I knew was important, deep down. I knew I was living a stolen moment in time; a fleeting season. And yes, it was the bomb.

But by the time autumn rolled around none of my prospects had come to fruition. Friends and lovers were going back to school or starting their careers. I grew anxious. My walks took me deeper and deeper into the woods until one day, early October (October 6th, to precise), I kept walking even after the sun set behind the trees.

Nightfall was creeping in faster by then, so when I reached the banks of the Patapsco River it had turned surprisingly dark; especially because there was no moon. The sky was just a smattering of faint stars. The water in front of me pitch black. The trees lining both sides of the river were darker than shadows.

I felt compelled to strip down and feel my way into the water.

This may sound strange, but getting naked in the woods had become a favorite pastime of mine. Day or night, rain or shine. (And there was a particularly magical day on which a storm was still raging in the spot where I stood but the sun began to shine on my face, along with the millions of glistening raindrops still falling all around me…unforgettable.) These ‘rituals’ made me feel indescribably free; made me feel connected to the earth under my feet in a way that was carnal, visceral, and completely organic.

There was a field I would go to at night, just to think and stare up at the sky. I would also run across that field in the buff on a regular basis, howling. I highly recommend it. (I also recommend keeping your shoes on.)

Anyhow, this regular practice of mine had led me to the edge of the Patapsco, where I stood naked (no shoes) and contemplated the river. Fear of the black water, and a compulsion to face that fear, tugged at my feet in both directions.

Edging forward on the outcropping of boulders like a blind man, I came upon a steep drop. The water was only up to my shins where I stood but I could feel nothing beyond. No bottom beyond the edge.

Keep going, I told myself.

I crouched down, held on, and attempted to feel deeper with one foot.

Still no bottom.

Something inside told me I had to let go.

Pushing off from the edge, feeling like I was falling, my breath caught.

Kicking feet, shock of cold. Still no bottom. I couldn’t see what was below me. The darkness of the woods closed in around me. I was utterly alone. No one knew where I was. The river was taking me away. Some fisherman would find me downstream the next morning.

Finally, I steeled myself, forcing myself to lay back, allowing the river to hold me in its current.

So strong; so effortless.

I began to breathe deeply again, floating face up, overcome with the sense I was in very capable hands. The river was holding me. I didn’t need to do a single thing.

Looking up at the heavens, drifting, I suddenly became a part of the unknown; the above, the below, the beyond, the flow.

No longer fighting the unknown, no longer scrutinizing or judging it; just allowing myself to be held. Allowing the unknown to carry me.

This was the first moment in my life in which I felt a part of the universal flow.
I had never felt so small, or so powerful.

The next day I went back to New York and started playing my music for anyone who would listen.

Always Advocating Alan – It Is Sad When Good Things Come to an End

| Opinion | July 2, 2020

It was 2016, when after I had written a few articles published in the Gazette and the Canyon Country Magazine, Doug Sutton and I discussed the possibility of allowing me to write a weekly column for the Gazette. The ground rules were simple. I would be responsible for picking the subject, content, and opinion. The columns started out at 700 words, yet over time I stretched it to about 1,200 words per week. That was mutually acceptable because Doug was not paying me by the word. To be truthful, he was not paying me at all. So, our standing joke was my asking Doug to double my salary.

My first regular submission was published the first week of December 2016. Now, 186 weekly columns later, I want to share some of my observations about Doug and the Gazette. First and foremost, Doug is proud to be an American, and he is a man of his word. I know he did not agree with some of my columns, but he never asked me to edit the content, or refuse any one of them. While some of our residents have lamented over Doug’s Rants, I know of no case where Doug refused to print a reader’s submission. Letters to the editor were received in favor of Doug’s opinion, and some opposed it – but no matter pro or con, the Gazette printed them all.

Fortunately for us all, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution enables free speech and is one of the most important concepts in maintaining a free and open society. The continual exchange of ideas and beliefs is what forges our Republic forward, improves our lives, and moves to eliminate problems and issues which have plagued our communities in the past. Individuals who attempt to shut down the free exchange of respectful dialog by taking a person’s statements out of context, twisting their words, or attempting to falsely slander the other person, are not only hurting their own credibility, but reinforcing the ideas of those who disagree with them. All our elected officials take an oath of office, which includes their solemn promise to defend the US Constitution. Therefore, any individual running for office, or any individual who currently holds an elected office, who wants to deny a person, business, or organization their First Amendment rights, is violating their oath, and will have a very hard time getting my vote.

I also share the opinion the public has the right to “peacefully assemble” and let everyone know they hold a strong opinion on an issue. At the same time, that does not give anyone the right, to block traffic, physically assault another, deface or damage property, or serve as justification for looting.

Over the past few weeks, I have also heard a lot of negative impressions of how our country was founded and I ponder why so many people feel that way. Remember, the United States is just what it sounds like, a Union of States. When formed, the most controversial issue on the founders’ minds was slavery, with about half the states being free states, and the other half wanting slavery to continue. So, when judging the founders’ motives, and considering how they reached a compromise necessary to form our country, you need to put yourself back in the 1700s, and imagine walking a mile in their shoes.

I think about Thomas Jefferson, because of the personal dilemma he faced. At 24 years of age, Jefferson inherited a plantation from his father, staffed by slaves. It did not take him long to understand and “In 1779, as a practical solution to end the legal enslavement of humans, Jefferson supported gradual emancipation, training … rather than unconditional manumission (release from slavery), believing that releasing unprepared people with no place to go and no means to support themselves would only bring them misfortune. In 1784, Jefferson proposed federal legislation banning slavery in the New Territories of the North and South after 1800, which failed to pass Congress by one vote” (Wikipedia). These were radical progressive ideas of the time.Then in 1800, Thomas Jefferson was elected president and in “1806, Jefferson denounced the international slave trade and called for a law to make it a crime. He told Congress in his 1806 annual message, such a law was needed to ‘withdraw the citizens of the United States from all further participation in those violations of human rights … which the morality, the reputation, and the best interests of our country have long been eager to proscribe.’ Congress complied and on March 2, 1807, Jefferson signed the … law; it took effect 1 January 1808 and made it a federal crime to import or export slaves” (Wikipedia).

Consider his situation. Thomas Jefferson was born and lived in Virginia, which was a place, and at a time, where the practice of owning slaves was widely accepted. Yet, even though he owned a plantation, his views were of all men being created equal, which he followed up with action. I believe he was a visionary, ahead of his time, a patriot, and a humanitarian.

Ever since Jefferson’s time, the United States has been working to end prejudice and racism in the country. Over 650,000 soldiers died in the Civil War, and many, of all colors, died fighting for civil rights in the 1960s. But progress has been made, not just for one minority, but for all. Every now and then I am reminded of how far we have come. It was about five years ago, and I was up north visiting friends when I was asked if it was true, that I belong to a “particular organization.” I was very much aware of why the question was asked, because 50 years ago, I would not have been allowed to be a member on religious grounds. Finding a road to progress from where we are today requires a person to know how we got here. The study of history should not be tainted or altered by our world view today, but be factual, so that we can understand past issues, and allow us to move ahead without stumbling over the potholes of the past.

I find marking the demise of the Gazette a very sad event, as one more place to share ideas will no longer be available. Reading an article on-line today, I viewed a comment where an individual asked why signing the “Emancipation Proclamation” did not end racism in our country. I would answer back, laws make behaviors illegal and unacceptable, but they do not necessarily win the hearts and minds of the people. It is the sharing of thoughts, concepts, and ideas, in places like the Gazette, which will change minds and promote understanding and tolerance.

So, for now, I bid Doug, Jeannie and their Gazette, Godspeed. Hopefully the situation will change, and we will be witness to their printed words returning to our valley and our lives in the future.

Doctor’s Diary – Keeping Older Adults at Home

| Opinion | June 26, 2020

Statistically, older adults have a higher chance of dying from COVID-19. Out of fear, most seniors remain home in isolation. With recent lifting of some restrictions, and seeing many on TV ignore using masks, the older generation will not return to public life and be forced to avoid group interaction.

Prior to the pandemic, many elder seniors were already living in isolation with resultant depression and loneliness.

Please be aware of older neighbors in your community. A friendly hello or acknowledgment goes a long way. Plus, assisting them with shopping or errands can be helpful, and even a phone call once in a while will enliven their day.

Our senior center makes contact-phone calls, and are setting up creative ideas through technology arranging “table talk” conversations with friends. Check with your local senior center to see if you can help.

Older adults are now subject to different rules for sheer protection. Whether they be a relative or not (and remember, we are all related), open your heart and provide a caring voice to raise their spirit out of isolation.

Needless to say, wear a mask.

Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.

A Questionable Foundation – short fiction

| Opinion | June 25, 2020

by Jason Downs

I am older than I can remember. That is to say my age has been lost to me over the years. All I know, as far back as my memory can reach, is holding up this stone foundation, along with many others like me. Ever since I came of age, I’ve been standing here. This is my destiny, my inheritance, my birthright. This is my duty for which I was groomed. Only the strongest of us are tasked with holding up the stone foundation on which others will stand. This is what I was told. This is what I was taught. Only, it’s been so long, I’ve forgotten what it is I’m holding up. If forgotten what is resting upon the foundation. I’ve forgotten the meaning of my position. I long to know.

There were others, many others to either side of me, standing in the darkness of this trench, standing at the base of this foundation, under it, holding it up with all our might. We allow ourselves sleep in intervals, right down the line in turn. When the old man next to me, some ten yards away, is woken from his two hour respite, it is my turn to sit in the dust where I am positioned, where my feet are buried in the earth up to my shins from the weight of my burden over the years, and shut my eyes for the allotted two hours time. And then it becomes time for the man on my other side to rest, and so on. My rest comes every other day.

I should say, it used to come every other day. I can no longer remember my last respite.

Some time ago, the old men to either side of me began to fall. They were not resting. They could no longer stand. They could no longer bear their burden. They were left, half buried already, to return to the earth. More and more the burden fell to those who remained. The intervals of rest became fewer and farther between. My knees have begun to shake. My back has begun to break.
There are children, and there have been many over the years, who pass through once a day with food, water, and container. They do not look at us or speak to us, as though we were part of the foundation; part stone. I believe they are right. They give us drink. They lift spoons of food to my mouth while I continue to bear the weight of the stone above and behind me. My body has conformed to its shape, the stone, my feet like roots in the ground. They place the container below me so I may release the fluids and solids back again. Then the child carries these things away. They are small enough to move through the trench without crouching. But the children stopped coming through long ago. I wonder what happened to them. I wonder if they are the ones for which we hold up this foundation. I long to know.

The days can be accounted for by the dim glow through hairline cracks above me. I have a vague memory of intervals of lightness and darkness signifying days. Sometimes I wonder where the glow comes from. My imagination does not exist beyond the darkness of this trench, but the glow does allow for me to see rather far down the stone corridor to my left and right…where there are fewer and fewer men to be counted. If any. I can see no one, even during the periods of lightness. I wonder if I am the last to stand, upholding the foundations of whatever is above the stone.

Suddenly, I feel a rumble in the distance to my right. A crash that reverberates in the soles of my feet, planted in the earth. This is followed by a similar quake to my left.

In the distance, far down the trench, I see a glow, similar to the ones in the cracks of stone above me, but much brighter.

Then to my right, another crash, closer this time. The weight I’m holding up becomes lighter, although harder to hold on to. Everything is shaking.

More rumbles and crashes on both sides, and dust, and blinking, until I feel the stone above me, the stone I’ve been holding for all of memory starts to crumble and turn to rubble and dust above me. It slips through my fingers and slides down my broken body. It clings to my long hair and gets stuck in my beard. It breaks away to reveal a painful brightness all around me. I squeeze my eyes shut. I close them hard against the pain of the glow consuming me.

There is no longer stone above me. There is no longer any burden to bear up. I cannot understand the sensation. The air is violently free and open around me. I choke on the purity of the air entering my lungs. I spit dust and debris. I am buried up to my chest now, unable to move at all. But the stinging brightness is hardest to bear. Tears begin to stream from my eyes from the stinging light.

More time passes as I breathe and squint. There is a hum all around me, sounds I cannot understand or make out, coming closer. The noise becomes thunderous as I dare to open my eyes a fraction. Dust is still swirling, but I can make out shapes of color. Colors so bright and vibrant and varied more tears come to my eyes. It’s been so long since I’ve seen color I’d forgotten to even think of them. How blindingly beautiful they are.

The shapes of people come into focus; people of all colors and sizes, young and old. They are shouting, and singing. They are dancing and brandishing large hammers and shovels raised over their heads. They are making a joyous and triumphant sound. As they come closer, the dust begins to settle and I see all around me the remains of a great wall. As far as my dim eyes can see to the left and right of me, a once great wall has been knocked down, crumbled, decaying…all at the hands of these people.

As they approach the spot in which I am buried, those people who can see me go silent. They gather around me. A large crowd of silent, vibrant people now surround me. I have no idea what is going to happen next but what has happened thus far is so profound I may not care.

They stare down at me with eyes of all shapes and colors; eyes filled with pity and compassion. I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes. The muscles in my mouth know not how to form a word. I try again, and slowly, a sound begins to build in my throat for the first time since I can remember. It is a dry and painful sound, even for my own ears, but a sound nonetheless.

A young girl steps forward from the crowd. Her eyes lock with mine. They are a golden brown that matches her skin. There are baubles in her hair. Her robes are of a bright red and purple. She comes toward me and begins to remove the stones around my body. More people join her. Stone by stone I am freed from the ground. And then, when they see that my feet are implanted in the earth, they wrap arms around me and hoist me up. They carry me across the remains of the fallen wall. They place me gently on the ground, looking at me with expectant eyes.

A man leans down and offers me his hand. He, along with others, men, women and children, help me to my feet. The sea of people around us have already continued over the fallen wall and taken their songs and dances onward. My body breaks all over again as it is born upward. I’ve never stood upright. I never knew I’d never stood upright until this moment. As painful as it is, I take my first steps with the help of those around me. The pain is nothing compared to the power and the energy around me, filling me.

Without a notion of what is ahead, I walk, cradled in the arms of this mysterious multitude. I walk with a song in my ear and dance in my heart, knowing that whatever awaits in the distance will be ours.

Why Most People are Scared of Bankruptcy

| Opinion | June 25, 2020

by Ray Bulaon, Attorney
The word “bankruptcy” is packed with all sorts of negative emotional triggers.

It sounds bad — even dirty. It’s embarrassing. (What if people find out?!) People paint ugly pictures of what their lives will look like post-bankruptcy.

But it’s not true.

Bankruptcy is an opportunity to close one chapter of your life and open a new chapter — a better chapter. In this new chapter of your life, you get to make choices without the constant pressure of creditors breathing down your back. Your days will feel easier, your responsibilities more manageable, and your choices more abundant. How’s that for a change?

To make the most of this new chapter, though, you have to face your fears. What I mean by “facing your fears” is this: Instead of worrying about how your bankruptcy will impact your life, make a plan so that you are in control. Intentionally set a course of action to make sure that your bankruptcy does not negatively impact your life.

What does “facing your fears” look like? Below are some practical suggestions that might help.

Number 1: Start by making a list of all the things you are worried about with respect to your bankruptcy. This is important because it gives you the power to begin taking action steps to mitigate this fear. If the fear exists in your mind, but you have not put it to paper, you will continue ruminating about all of the what-ifs. This will cause your feelings of fear to intensify.

Instead, make a simple list of your fears. This list might include things like:

I am worried that my friends and my family will find out.
I am worried that my boss will find out.
I am worried that I will not qualify for loans or credit cards.
I am worried about my credit score.
I am worried that I will be unable to get a job.

Number Two: Now, for each item on the list, make a list of all the things that are within your control that you can do to manage your fears.

OK, so for instance, let’s say that you are worried that your friends and your family will find out (which is highly unlikely). What are the things that are within your control that you can do to manage your fears?

You might decide that you will feel better if you tell them directly about your bankruptcy. If this is your decision, you can then go about deciding when and how you will tell them. (Frankly, it’s none of their business and no one completely understands what it’s like to be in your situation unless they were in your shoes. But, I get it. Whether your fears are reasonable or not, they’re real to YOU, and unless they are addressed, they can be paralyzing to the point that they stop you from taking action and moving forward with your life.)

On the other hand, you might decide that because friends and family members are unlikely to find out about your bankruptcy, you will refrain from telling them – but, instead, create a plan for how you wish to discuss it if, let’s say, it ever comes up in a conversation.

There is no right or wrong answer here, and you may find my example simplistic. But the only point I’m making is that you have to face your fears and determine what you can do that is within your control to address them. Having a plan will put many of your fears to rest.
What are some of the other things you can do to face your fears? If you are worried about the impact the bankruptcy will have on your credit score, you can learn everything you can about credit-scoring, budgeting, and managing finances so that you feel empowered to make strong financial choices and build a better future for yourself and your family. You can talk to your bankruptcy attorney and ask for tips and advice. You can read books, take courses, or go online and search for free information.

The truth is: People file for bankruptcy all the time, and they go on to live lives that are filled with happiness, laughter, and financial security. Your bankruptcy will not be a negative force if you make a proactive decision to face your fears and recover through bankruptcy. If you decide right here and now that your bankruptcy is going to be a positive force, then it will be! If you have not read my book, “What You Need to Know Before Filing Bankruptcy,” you can download it free of charge at www.beforefilingbk.com.

Ray Bulaon is a bankruptcy attorney in Valencia who has successfully helped more than 5,000 clients in getting out of debt. For a free consultation, call 866-477-7772 or 661-775-4880.

Remember the Gazette

| Opinion | June 25, 2020

by Dale Paule

I received word from Doug Sutton this morning with the truly bad news about the Gazette closing. I’ve only been a contributor to the Gazette for a year, but it’s been a very pleasant, and truly gratifying experience.

Like most people who have been around for a few decades, I enjoy voicing my opinions and thoughts. Some do it in a park while they feed and lecture pigeons.

Others set up office in a local saloon and drive fellow patrons and bartenders to further drink with their unending speeches. There are even a few who sit at home alone and deliver their wisdom to an equally lonely dog or cat.

But, for a few of us who have been lucky enough to find a legitimate, and honest avenue to spout our “treasures of wisdom,” the Gazette was the ultimate gift.

I’ve never been refused a submission because of content, or had to “modify” any of my points of view to conform to the opinions of others.
But sadly, Doug Sutton has been forced, through circumstances beyond his control, to close the Gazette due to loss of ad revenue resulting from the disastrous virus-related shutdown of local business.

The Gazette was no “New York Times” or “Washington Post” for sure, and thank God for that. Because, unlike those pretenders of journalism, the Gazette is an integral part of what America stands for by allowing “unedited” free speech to be read, and not only those “selected” to match the publisher’s point of view, as most of the so-called “newspapers” do. Some of the opinions in the Gazette contrasted drastically with mine; but there they were, side by side, for the readers to decide which one they agree with.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the Gazette isn’t all that much different in either content or ideals, as those of another fellow who was associated the newspaper business. He was from my home state, Missouri, and his name was Twain; maybe you’ve heard of him.

“They will both be remembered.”

Always Advocating Alan – Do You Believe in Science?

| Opinion | June 25, 2020

The reason I ask if you believe in science at the start of this column is because today, there are many individuals who say one thing, but when questioned, tell us it really means something else. Then there are others who believe they can disagree with anyone’s opinion and gain the high ground by simply saying, “You must not believe in science,” by name calling or throwing out insults.

So, what is science anyway? Science Made Simple tell us, “Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. Less formally, the word ‘science’ often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it.”

Science Made Simple goes on to further reveal the purpose of science as “to produce useful models of reality. Most scientific investigations use some form of the scientific method.”

While some of you may think only scientists build useful models based on investigations, observations, and a complex scientific method, it is something we all do regularly. Let’s suppose you live in the Santa Clarita Valley and work in Los Angeles. You recognize the need to get to work on time every day in order to keep your job. On your first day of employment, you select a method of transportation to get you there, a route, and an estimate of the amount of time necessary to travel the distance using the route and method of transportation you selected. Plus, since it is your first day, you probably added a little extra time as a safety margin. To that I say, congratulations. You just built your first model.

When you arrived at work, you checked your watch and made your first scientific observation. You noted if you were early, late, or right on time, and unless you were completely satisfied with the time you arrive, you adjusted your model by changing one of the attributes. You could leave earlier or later, use a different method of transportation, or change your route. In scientific terminology, you are refining your model. As time goes by, you would continue to make additional observations and perhaps find it necessary to add some additional model criteria. You might account for traffic density changes when school is in session, or if you are working the day before a 3-day holiday weekend. You might need to add some additional time or consider the impact if you are traveling to work on a national holiday. Each of the new criteria adds a level of complexity to your model. You added them because they are necessary for you to make accurate future predictions as the situation changes.

Models are very rarely simple, and results change over time. Plus, as we learned, they do so for varying reasons. Even using the example of modeling your time to get to work, results will need to be validated and updated regularly as traffic density changes, road conditions may require you to alter a portion of your route, and the scheduling of other unrelated activities impacting your trip to work may become apparent over time. You would never consider asking an expert how long it was going to take to get to work, and then not validate if the information you received was accurate, or continue to use the information as is if you were ending up late, or way to early, every day. Your model’s accuracy is important if you are to be successful.

Figure 1

Well, there is not much difference if you were building a model to guide the public through the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, the so-called experts “guessed” what the impact would be, and they did so by reflecting on prior experience. They decided to use a “bell curve” to model the virus’ transmission, because most human endeavors follow such a pattern, and they all took a probability and statistics course in college. Their initial estimate indicated the number of patients who would be infected with the COVID-19 virus would be so large, the existing U.S. health care capability would be overwhelmed. To combat this potential issue, they came up with a home quarantine philosophy, which they said would “flatten the curve” (see Figure 1). They gave the impression their method would reduce the “area under the curve,” meaning there would be fewer U.S. citizens succumbing to this new pandemic.

But, that was never the objective. On March 19, 2020, Life Science published an article entitled, “What is ‘flattening the curve,’ and will it work?” The text went on to explain, “Many hundreds of thousands of infections will happen — but they don’t all have to happen at once. Flattening the curve refers to community isolation measures that keep the daily number of disease cases at a manageable level for medical providers.” (See Figure 2). Therefore, “Flatten the Curve” is a misnomer and it should have been called “Reshaping the Curve.” It was never intended to keep you from being infected. It simply attempted to delay when you would suffer an infection and stretch the amount of time the pandemic would be an issue. The medical experts were not trying to prevent the public from suffering; they wanted to ensure their facilities would not be overwhelmed. Plus, they did not consider problems associated with the increased length of time the public would be suffering in isolation.

Fortunately for us all, those same medical experts grossly overestimated, the number of people who would become infected, the number who would require hospitalization, and the number of resulting deaths over time. Emergency medical facilities provided by the federal government went mostly unused, and the availability of local facilities remained adequate to handle the outbreak. But sadly, they never updated the models which were presented to the public. Therefore, if you believe in science, you recognize you have not been given a true representation of what transpired, or enough data for you to base an informed opinion.

figure 2

Currently, the country is trying to reopen and regain a sense of normalcy. I would very much like to understand the results, the level of risk, and the consequences of today’s civic planning. Yet, all I hear and read about are counts representing the number of positive cases revealed by testing each day, and a cumulative count of the number of cases discovered in each area. Just yesterday, I read the headline, “Florida Continues to See Coronavirus Spike.” The author went on to identify 4,049 new positive cases were reported on Saturday, for a grand total of 94,000 cases. While the information does not sound good, what does it mean? Without knowing if the new cases were obtained from a representative sample of the Florida population, or if they were individuals tested for the first time, or how many of those included requested testing because they were experiencing symptoms, or even how large the sample size was, makes this daily reporting almost meaningless. This is because there is insufficient information to normalize the data per day, or to understand the potential Florida population percentage which will be effected. Therefore, there is insufficient data to generate an accurate model.

Lately, the best information on infection rates came from California’s Governor Newsom, when last week he reported on live TV. The Governor informed us 90,000 California COVID-19 tests had been performed the previous day, with 4.2% of the results showing positive, and 15% of the individuals testing positive requiring hospitalization. Calculate it yourself. If this sample is representative of the California population, our hospitalization rate is 0.6%. If the public was given that kind of information daily, we could build a superficial model and attempt to show how California was handling our rush to normalcy.

So, when I read articles where Dr. Fauci opines about the American public not accepting science, and then goes on without including any scientific data in the article, he needs to recognize he has lost the public’s trust by not providing information needed to make his assertions credible. Then, as the public remembers his inconsistency over time, it falls on him to explain why he now is espousing different suggestions. Plus, those of you who say “I believe in science,” but have not done the homework to back up your assertions, I say your credibility is right in line with Dr. Fauci.

Like most of our residents, I have had enough self-isolation to last a lifetime, and I am hoping we will be able to shortly return to normal. At the same time, I do believe in science, and understand we have not been provided enough information to have a scientific opinion on what the future will bring. So, if I am left with having to form an emotional opinion, I say let’s go for it and open our society as soon as possible.

Liberating Santa Clarita

| Opinion | June 25, 2020

by Rob Werner

Santa Clarita became a city in 1987. Prior to that, the community failed in attempts to become a separate county from Los Angeles.

When Santa Clarita was an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County, it was much smaller than its current 213,231 population. Its concerns had very little impact on the county. Its voice was drowned out by the county’s ever-growing demand for a greater tax base. Had we failed to become our own city; we would have been destined to look like Van Nuys.

The creation of our city led to massive changes in the services and development of Santa Clarita. We got smart long-term planning that included more realistic street developments, setbacks, parking spaces, larger streets lined with green space. We ultimately got more parks, bike paths and green space around our city. Even within a short time, many of the improvements were obvious.

Our city is still part of Los Angeles County. While we could develop our own separate police department, we pay for the county sheriff. We have the county fire department, county courts, judges, and district attorneys.

The County Supervisor who represents us also represents the San Gabriel and Antelope Valleys. When the pandemic hit, the spokesperson for the county was not a medical doctor, but a doctor of sociology. The county has been steadily moving toward an ideology dominating many urban areas where action is drowned in bureaucratic processes, police are handcuffed, laws not enforced, prisoners released, fire departments forced to waste resources and property rights trampled.

Just after we began reopening our economy after the Coronavirus, the county declared a 6 p.m. curfew in response to the rallying call, “Black Lives Matter,” riots in urban cities and calls for demonstrations. Our city leaders, apparently suffering urban dementia went along with expanding the close of businesses so that even takeout restaurants were forced to close.

Santa Clarita is no longer a small town. There are signs of bureaucratic creep and decisions driven by what generates the most tax dollars. Despite this, most of our population retains its small-town values. We support law enforcement and want our police to defend us and our property against rioters and looters. We want the laws enforced, violators prosecuted and punished.

If we managed our own fire department, we probably would not require them to send firetrucks on ambulance and paramedic calls. If we had our own district attorney and elected our own judges, we would have a better deterrent to criminal offenses. We would not let people steal hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars or destroy property of that value and get away with it or be punished by such a light sentence that sends the message, “crime pays.”

Probably the best way to get needed reform is to create our own county. To achieve success, we need to gain support from other communities in the county. This might include having the breakoff county include other like-minded communities or having a reorganization of the county into several counties – perhaps one for each current district.

Even without being our own county, it is time that we liberate ourselves from county mismanagement, poor judgement, and inadequate service. We must stop contracting with the county for the sheriff, fire department and district attorney services. The people providing these services need to lshare our values and our goals.

Failure to take action to liberate us from county domination will result is the surrender of our values and the desecration of our community.

Ten to the Fifth Power

| Opinion | June 25, 2020

It’s hard to imagine, but three weeks ago we passed it … 10 to the fifth power. Over 120,000 of our countrymen have perished attributed to the coronavirus. That’s a significant number. And there is more death to come. Many models have our country approaching 200,000 by the fall.

Nevertheless, we’re opening businesses, we’re staging protests, we’re attending political rallies, and likely many of us will go to Fourth of July events, some in a mask, and some without. Hard to imagine that this very day, our world, let alone nation, is experiencing three major events, impacting the lives of billions of human beings: the novel coronavirus pandemic, protests against social injustice, and global economic contraction. The universal tumult is historic.

But even harder to imagine is how the victims of the coronavirus died—many intubated, connected to respirators and monitors, semi-conscious among other infected intensive care unit patients. The decline is often rapid. The grief-nurse, covered from top to bottom in protective garments, face mask, and shield, arrives to comfort the dying and offers to facetime family members or friends. Expressions of love and images of tears, trembling lips, and shaking bodies flow across the internet, saying goodbyes. The grief-nurse is the proxy loved-one acting as consoler to the victim as well as to family and friends. Truly a hero, often unrecognized, and sometimes forgotten. During times like this, leaders must emote empathy and express gratitude.

Leading is the act of inspiring a person to perform beyond their perceived means to achieve specific goals, stretching his or her level of competence and increasing their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Leaders assess strengths and weaknesses, find the right motivational buttons to press, and instill a sense of purpose in achieving team goals by terminating bad actors, admonishing underperformers, retraining poor and mediocre players, and commending and encouraging over performers. Leaders see things as they are and what they can become. Their frank and critical discourse, tempered by empathy, demanding excellence when facing mediocrity, is what their teams deserve.

Empathy … understanding, being aware of and sensitive to others’ feelings, thoughts, and experiences … is one of the five components of emotional intelligence. The other four are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and social skills. Empathy demonstrates your willingness to take on some burden of pain and suffering of those you lead. It connects you to your followers. I’ve witnessed the very best leaders, steely-eyed, determined warriors, leading men and women in battle vanquishing the enemy. Every one of them understood the importance of emoting empathy and expressing gratitude, not contrived, but genuine in response to those who merited it. More than ever, we need leaders who emote empathy.

Hand in glove with emoting empathy is expressing gratitude. Just as empathy connects leaders to followers, gratitude connects followers to leaders. Gratitude is one of the single most important acts you can display that will change a negative to a positive. When leaders express gratitude, people genuinely feel appreciated for their contributions, results, and actions, and are more apt to give their best, thus achieving higher levels of performance. Whether you are engaging a prickly customer, a recalcitrant employee, or a demanding corporate staff representative, you can quickly disarm them with your sincere expression of gratitude for the gifts they brought—gifts meaning something expected or unexpected, of value.

These worldwide events, the pandemic, protests, and the economic downturn, have rocked our country. The death toll is shocking, family and friends are grieving, and many members of our community are suffering. The inconceivable pandemic losses, likely 200,000, will amount to more Americans dead in six months than those who perished in all the wars leading up to World War II. A staggering number. The heroes are docs and nurses on the front-line in hospitals saving lives and consoling the dying and the families of the dead. They stepped into the arena, putting themselves at risk, and are performing extraordinary acts of humanity, often unrecognized, and sometimes forgotten. If you are a leader at any level, now is the time to step up, emote empathy to the aggrieved, and express gratitude to our heroes. This is how you Lead, Think, Plan, and Act your way through these tumultuous times. Now, let’s get after it!

Prayer and Praise Fest 2020?

| Opinion | June 25, 2020

Communists always insist on denouncing those not radical enough. Then comes self-denunciations. In the home of the free and the brave, some have started denouncing themselves for secular sins, but not spiritual ones.

These apologies appear to be counterfeit repentance. True repentance is a heart conviction – resulting in spiritual repentance from within, not a man-coerced counterfeit, where people feel forced to renounce their supposed lack of political radicalism. The greatest, saintliest people in history were still people, and therefore flawed. The greatest life sustaining doctors are flawed, and you may not agree with their politics, but does that mean you would refuse their services, or get them fired?

People who apologize for sharing their righteous beliefs, even for their career’s sake, should recall Franklin who said, “Those who give up their liberty for a little safety deserve neither.” Put another way, they aren’t qualified to call themselves Americans. By birth, by current man-made law, they’re legal American citizens. That doesn’t make them spiritual brothers with those who gave their lives for our liberties. Some “Americans” can betray these sacrifices and everything that their forefathers paid for in blood, without having earned any of it.

There is good news. As “The Saint in Complete Armour,” (1655) points out, the Lord will not allow our enemy to win, as He is way ahead on every move. The author points out that mankind’s enemy draws the deceived on to the field with false reports and keeps them there with lies and subterfuge. He also reminds us that the weakness of God is stronger than all the power of hell. There is also bad news: Hundreds of millions have died, while we have ignored our spiritual authority. We are continually at war spiritually. All that is necessary for evil to succeed, is for believers to do nothing. The fight for human liberty, and spiritual liberty through Christ, has to be re-explained generationally.

Intercessory prayer, recounted in “Rees Howells, Intercessor,” describes how his Bible College prayed during WWII, led by the Holy Spirit at critical times – during battles crucial in defeating the Nazis. It was obvious at the time that these battles should never have been won by the Allies.

Some examples: During Dunkirk, which could well have wiped out the British army, Rees wrote, “From a worldly standpoint there is no hope of victory; but God has said it,” and, “We state in the plainest terms: The enemy will not invade Christian England.” The seas calmed for the rescuing flotilla, bringing home the trapped Brits.

During the Battle of Britain, with Britain having no air reserves, the Luftwaffe turned for home, just when victory was in their grasp. Britain’s Air Chief Marshal wrote, “At the end of the battle one had the sort of feeling that there had been some special Divine intervention to alter some consequence of events…”

The college prayed Germany would foolishly invade Russia, but that Moscow would not fall. They did invade, and Germany could have easily taken Moscow, but didn’t.

There are other stories from North Africa, Stalingrad, and Italy where prayer breakthrough was felt at the exact minute, as they later learned, the Germans had stopped firing, for no apparent reason. For D-Day, Governor Dewey called the entire state of New York (!) to prayer. Four thousand Allied battleships, eleven thousand planes, and not one enemy u-boat, plane or ship was encountered in the German patrolled channel.

Maybe local congregations can agree to come together, maybe in a park, for a “concert of praise and prayer” to ask for protection of our God-given freedoms – for our city, state and country. We keep saying we’re a family, but never have a family reunion. We keep saying we are one body, but never fellowship or work together. If you agree it’s a good time to correct these mistakes, please share this with your pastor.

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad!

| Opinion | June 25, 2020

Freedom of speech is the most precious legacy given to us by our founders. When conflicting ideas come into contact, ideally a crucible is formed that encourages the employing of evidence and logic to refine thinking and hone arguments. Through this refiner’s fire, differences are tempered and agreements can be forged.

I have been appalled by commentators and politicians praising the protestors for exercising their freedom of speech. It is an expression of raw emotion that refuses to engage in rational thought. With the constant repetition of mantras and slogans, it is more reflective of the sheep Animal Farm bleating, “Four legs good, two legs bad!” under the direction of the pigs with their attack dog enforcers.

I am sure that most of those who march with and support the BLM movement come to it with honest compassion and caring. The problem is, just as in our shrines of education, the mainstream media and some of our elected officials, the movement has been co-opted by those who hate America, the values of western civilization and our republican form of government. They are Marxists and Anarchists. They are well-funded and organized. Just look at the pre-placement of bricks and incendiaries. Looting was directed and organized. Violent actors were recruited, directed and trained. They call for destruction but offer no solutions. They engage in cities where leadership is feckless. Like Robespierre, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Che, and protestors on our college campuses, the leftists actively silence all opposition. Historically in France, China, Russia, Cambodia, and Cuba – even unto the death of 100 million citizens.

The Marxist leadership in the current protests are now encouraging a purge that looks like Mao’s 10-year reign of terror referred to as the “Cultural Revolution.” Historical buildings, symbols, artifacts and writings were destroyed in search of the ultimate political correctness. The learned were sent to work camps to be re-educated into the bosom of the Communist Party. We are witnessing the re-writing of history, the toppling of historical statues, the purging of great literature, and the silencing of conservative voices on campus and social media. Free speech is under attack by the protestors. They are not an expression of it.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

We seem to be trapped in “Opposite World.” In the case of Mr. George Floyd, the bad police officers were quickly arrested and charged, yet the state was accused of systemic racism. In the case in Georgia, the gentleman struggled and attacked the police officers while resisting arrest, stole their taser, ran, turned, and fired the weapon at the police,  striking an officer and one officer returned fire. Two weeks prior, the DA declared that a taser was a lethal weapon. He then charged the policeman with first degree murder because he “saw no threat to the officers.”

“Opposite World.”

It is time for “We the People” to stand up to the dangers of “Opposite World” and a philosophy that advocates subservience to the state. We need to give our under-served the education that will inspire them in the values of western civilization and the skills required to be self-supporting productive members of society. That can only occur by innovation provided by introducing the crucible of free market principles to education.

Empowering parents to choose the education path for their children is the civil rights issue of our time. Let us march and cry “Black Minds Matter.” In fact, “All Minds Matter.”

The revolution is about rediscovering what we have lost.

Learn more about the revolution at The California School Choice Foundation by visiting https://www.californiaschoolchoice.org/.

Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | June 24, 2020

Last weekend I happened upon an editorial published June 20th in one of our local newspapers that was written by a regular opinion columnist. Out of the clear blue this fellow chose to denigrate our Santa Clarita City Council Members, and in particular Councilman Bob Kellar, over a pro America statement he made over ten years ago. It’s mystifying how that malicious opinion column passed muster.

The opinion writer included Bob Kellar’s statement from January 2010

In that 10 year old speech, Kellar recounted how he had previously quoted Teddy Roosevelt at a council meeting, advocating for “one flag, one language.”  He then said, “You know, the only thing I heard back from a couple of people? ‘Bob, you sound like a racist.’ I said, ‘That’s good. If that’s what you think I am, because I happen to believe in America, I’m a proud racist. You’re darn right I am.’”

Be advised that Kellar’s statement was purely about illegal immigration and had nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. Having known Bob Kellar for at least fifteen years, I can tell you that there is no doubt that he is a proud and patriotic American.

Kellar served in the U.S. Army becoming a Green Beret which few soldiers accomplish. As his Army discharge approached Kellar’s mother informed him by letter with a newspaper clipping that one of his high school friends who had joined the Los Angeles Police Department was killed in the line of duty. This tragic incident motivated Kellar, who had contemplated re-enlisting in the Army, into becoming an LAPD officer as soon as possible. Kellar served twenty five years in LAPD moving into miscellaneous higher positions of responsibility. He also participated in numerous dangerous actions such as the Rodney King riot and SLA Shootout.

After LAPD, Kellar started his own private business and began a 20-year stint in serving our community on Santa Clarita’s City Council including four terms as our mayor. He said months ago he would not be seeking reelection. However, he can certainly do so with a clear conscience that he has never shirked his personal or professional responsibility in his service. He tackled tough subjects that others dodged.

A major event occurred in April 2002 that was very personal to Kellar that happened as a result of a violent illegal immigrant.

Bob Kellar proudly mentored his good friends John and Barbara March’s son David into achieving his dream to become a Deputy Sheriff. The day before Deputy Sheriff David March was to transfer to SCV to work; he was ambushed and murdered by an illegal alien. Naturally the March parents were devastated as was Bob Kellar. David’s killer was a drug running, three-time deported illegal alien who immediately fled to hide in Mexico. After great efforts the murderer was finally extradited back to U.S. soil where he’s currently serving life in prison. Kellar has stringently opposed illegal immigration ever since that horrific tragedy.

Considering that his final term on the council is ending in a few months I wonder why this know-it-all opinion writer was compelled to hassle Kellar and his fellow council members. Clearly, the opinion writer was highly disappointed that city council did not demand Kellar’s resignation.

It must be exposed that the primary purpose of this issue resurfacing after ten years is due to local far left wingers angling to implement their misguided fantasy converting The City of Santa Clarita into another mismanaged Democrat city including the election of their kind onto city council in our November election this fall.

The good news is that the retiring Kellar has endorsed the very qualified and brilliant candidate Jason Gibbs. Of course that nomination caused local left wingers to launch their negative campaign against Kellar, City Council and Gibbs.

To the newspaper opinion columnist, you should try doing your homework in full and you should be ashamed of yourself!

Bill Reynolds – Valencia Resident & Vietnam Veteran

Notes from an Extreme Centrist – Defund the Police? Really? Well, Maybe.

| Opinion | June 18, 2020

The slogan itself is jarring.  No one in their right mind would suggest eliminating policing.  After all, public safety is the bedrock of civil society.  So, what are we talking about when we consider “defunding” the police?

Without going into the history or reasons why it has happened, the fact is that in the second half of the last century, America has essentially criminalized mental illness, drug addiction and homelessness.  America’s prisons have become the largest warehouse for institutionalizing folks suffering from mental illness and/or drug addiction in the world; in fact, in all of human history.

Who gets called when a homeless person is picking through your garbage or sleeping in the doorway of your shop?  The police!  By closing down most state-run mental health facilities a generation ago and treating addiction as a crime rather than a public health issue both of these diseases’ first responders are cops!  Once upon a time, the average budget for housing was approximately 25% – 30% of your monthly income.  Now, in most major American urban communities, it averages 50% or more!  When I was I kid in NYC in the ‘50s, homelessness was primarily a skid-row problem on the Bowery. Now, most of us can’t afford to live on the Bowery and our homeless population has exploded.

Instead of responding to these social problems with a robust public health/mental health/housing infrastructure, instead of treating the victims’ maladies, we have chosen as a society to treat how these issues impact those of us who don’t suffer.  We have delegated what should be a social services responsibility to our criminal justice system and police officers have become the front-line workers/responders. Since all these problems impact poor folks and minority communities to a much larger degree than affluent white communities, we have essentially criminalized poverty!

We all know it is cheaper and better for society and the individual to treat an addict than to jail him.  We all know it is cheaper and better for society and the individual to treat the mentally ill than to jail them.  We all know that homelessness creates a cascade of other problems at great cost to the taxpayer, that a solution to unaffordable urban housing is better and cheaper in the long-run than the reactive response that has become the norm.

Defunding the police is an unfortunate slogan and a misleading one.  Reallocating resources and restructuring our criminal justice system, so that social problems aren’t routinely criminalized and cops can focus on crimes against life and property is what we are really advocating.  It seems to me that this will be better for everyone, especially the police.

The bottom line is that we all know social workers make lousy cops.  Isn’t time to acknowledge that cops make lousy social workers?

Cowards, Killers and Commies

| Opinion | June 18, 2020

by Dale Paule

There are three things that are just part of the “Human Condition.” They may look and sound different at times, but they all end up with the same result; and none of it good for anything or anybody.

The Coward is simply someone too weak to fight; always seeking compromise instead of fighting for the right things. They do so to keep from offending any who may not vote for or hire them if they were to hold a different point of view.

The Killer, too often, ends up as a martyr for some cause—“I had to do it, to advance the cause! Or perhaps, through a painful bending and twisting of facts, claim to be a “Victim of injustice!” and end up forever immortalized on the back of sweatshirts.

And the Commie: “what a queer web we weave, when we seek to deceive,” sums them up very nicely. The last thing in the world they want is to be seen as they actually are. That’s why, over their long history of fatally infecting countries and people with lies and promises of offering a perfect world of “equality,” they’ve gone by many different names and fronts, but they began in 1917 using the title, “Communist,” as they overthrew the centuries old Russian Empire. It worked like a charm; so what if it took a few thousand lives here and there to teach the poor souls the meaning of “equality!” What could be fairer than that, I ask?

Once the reality of having lost the freedom to improve one’s self finally hits, and is quickly replaced by strict limitations of movement and thought, it’s too late to try to change it back: and live to tell the tale, that is! It’s a case of, “Some are more equal than others,” to borrow a phrase from George Orwell

So, “what’s all this ‘ancient history’ stuff got to do with the U.S. of A in 2020,” you ask?

Anyone who would ask that is either not paying attention to what’s going on in the major cities in America, and/or is probably a recent graduate of a major university.

What we’re watching take place around us right now, is the result of decades of the same, slow, very successful process of taking control of the most important and vulnerable segment of our society; our schools and universities.

“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree,” as they say, and in it, lies a major reason we’re facing the crisis now, in June of 2020, and is a result of at least half a century of obvious signs of it, right in front of our faces, beginning in the late 1960’s with the emergence of subversive groups like, “Weather Underground,” “Symbionese Liberation Army,” and the “Black Panthers.” It’s the same “Communist” philosophy and methods, and same old tried and true “Divide and Conquer” song; only the perpetrator’s name changes from time to time. Currently, “Progressives” seems to be the most popular; but it doesn’t matter whether you dance to it, or just hum it, it all comes down to dividing the population between rich vs. poor, or black vs. white, with the result of half the country distrusting and hating the other half. All the while these “Progressives” seek ever higher positions in public office by promising to defend those being attacked, without ever defining just who’s attacking who!

Enter another old saying: “It’s possible for anyone in America to become president!” Ain’t it the truth!

While we’ve grown accustomed to a life of relative comfort, we’ve continued committing the unforgivable sin of being complacent, taking for granted our security from insurgence. We should have remembered December 7, 1941: it might have helped, but too many have forgotten, and we just waddled through decade after decade, leaving all that “Political stuff to the pros,” while we enjoyed what little security we had left, bought and paid for, thanks to those who now sleep forever under little white markers in our military cemeteries, paid for with their lives.

Oh well, there’ll always be tomorrow, right?

Finding Hope When Facing Bankruptcy

| Opinion | June 18, 2020

by Ray Bulaon

A lot of people end up filing bankruptcy when they get to the point of feeling hopeless about their financial problems. Despite what others may think, there is no shame in needing a second chance to secure your financial future. Bad things can happen to good people, as the saying goes. Sometimes, people simply make poor financial decisions, and the result is that they find themselves stuck in a financial morass.

The purpose of the bankruptcy laws is to legally give people that second chance that they badly need to put their debt problems behind them once and for all. Anyone who has fallen behind in debt payments understands the stress of dealing with relentless bill collectors who simply will not stop until they get their money. These are the professionals hired by the creditors who threaten and make you feel like a criminal. They spend all their time sending collection notices, making collection calls, filing lawsuits, and garnishing debtors’ wages. When these types of collection tactics accelerate, the misery they create can be devastating. This impacts not only your finances, but it can also affect your work and your relationships.

So, for many people, the decision to file bankruptcy is initially one of desperation. But once you understand the legal process and realize that things aren’t really as bad as you thought, the first glimmer of hope is felt. Once the bankruptcy case is filed and all creditors are notified, the hope takes hold and the feeling becomes one of immediate relief. With the filing comes an instant cessation of all collection efforts enabling you to finally breathe and live a normal life again. If overwhelming debt problems are keeping you up at night, this is exactly what you need, isn’t it?

If you see yourself in this scenario, then it is time to consult with a bankruptcy attorney who understands the complexities of the law and advise you on how you can protect everything you’ve worked so hard for, while getting out of debt in the shortest time possible.

Remember that bankruptcy is for honest people who have made honest mistakes. Life’s not perfect and neither are you. In a lot of situations, the debt is the result of unforeseen circumstances. If bankruptcy is in fact the best solution for your situation, the first thing you will discover is that hope can be restored in your life. Everyone deserves a second chance in life!

(None of the information herein is intended to give legal advice for any specific situation. Ray is currently offering free phone consultations to discuss your personal situation. Reach his Valencia office (RJB Law) at 866-477-7772 or (661) 775-4880. Website: www.familyfinancelawyer.com)

The Unworthy Few

| Opinion | June 18, 2020

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” (From Lincoln’s second inaugural address.)

We are again engaged in a civil war. The obscenity of a murder committed by a police officer has driven people to the streets despite justice following its proper course. The organizers and rabble rousers are hell bent on bringing down the country that saw 618,212 men give up their last full measure over freeing the slaves. The anarchist protestors are tearing down monuments of men who worked and died for abolition. These protestors are not “The Sons of Liberty,” they are the “Sons of Chaos.” They have appropriated the rituals of religions as they prostrate themselves on the ground, raise their arms to heaven, chant, and engage in foot washing in the worship of an evil philosophy, that historically has permanently silenced those who dare to disagree in pools of blood.

These protestors are the product of our failed education system that does not honestly teach American civics, free market capitalism, values, and Western Civilization. Instead they have been indoctrinated to leftist ideals and due to the plague of common core cannot read, write, or do math. A fair reading of history is nowhere to be found. Science has also become a religion rather than a process of inquiry. We have failed to teach and inspire our rising generations as to the unlimited possibilities available in America. There are millions of success stories that are not taught. Life is always about overcoming challenges.

Despite many violations of policies and citizens’ rights, the very few rogue cops are rarely fired or prosecuted. Most police officers are good people who are involved with and care about the communities they serve. They did not become police officers for a paycheck. They have dedicated their lives to service and the safety of their communities. Police officers that fairly represent a cross section of the people they serve are under attack because of the unforgiveable few.

The question becomes, why are bad teachers, horrible curriculum, and rogue cops tolerated? It is not because of institutional racism. (Oops, I put my foot into it now. I violated a belief system.) It is because these institutions protect their unworthy personal because of contracts negotiated by the unions with government that are sanctioned and approved by our elected representatives. The murderer of George Floyd had committed 18 violations and kept his jobs. There are rooms in New York where teachers sit and read, play on their iPhone, get a full salary while not doing any work. Their union protects them.

The unions send millions of dollars to the campaigns of our leftists elected with the understanding that they will support laws that establishes policies that make it nearly impossible to fire a police officer or a teacher. Yes, there are failings in training and execution. We do need to do a better job. It is the unholy influence of public employee unions on public policy that is the source of much of the evil that we are experiencing. Next election, examine which candidates have gotten the most campaign contributions from the teacher and police unions, and “Remember in November.”

Always Advocating Alan – Should We Defund or Defend the Police?

| Opinion | June 18, 2020

As demonstrations play out across the country and the participants’ ever-changing message gets harder to justify, today’s anarchists have espoused their latest chant, “Defund the Police.” Yet, while city councilmembers in Minneapolis call for completely disbanding their police department, other voices around the country realize that the total elimination of local policing is not being well received by their constituents, so they soften the message with other less radical objectives.

Just last week, when I commented about how unrealistic it is to eliminate the police force, an individual responded by telling me that I did not understand the message and included a representation of “Campaign Zero.” You may have also seen it in the June 10 edition of the Signal (page 2), with the first objective being, “Ending Broken Window Policing.” Looking the concept up, I found the definition to be “a criminological theory that states that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes. The theory suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, public drinking, and fare evasion help to create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes.”

Looking at where the country is headed today, “Broken Window Policing” sounds pretty good to me. That is, unless you favor vandalism, graffiti, and public intoxication, morphing into burning, looting and burglary. It makes sense because we are watching this type of criminal escalation unfold right before our eyes.

Just last Saturday, I rode through a part of Hollywood, which I had not visited for quite some time, and what I saw was very discouraging. At least half of the stores were encased in plywood covered in graffiti. Homeless encampments, surrounded by trash, were under freeway overpasses and in areas where construction is in process. The area looked far from the glamorous Hollywood I remember. This is a result of the “almost peaceful demonstrations” we have been watching, the decriminalization of unreasonable behavior, and governmental changes which prevent adequate law enforcement to take place. We need to be “very careful what we wish for,” or Hollywood-style happiness may be coming to Santa Clarita.

But shortly after came postings about the “8 Can’t Wait” reforms the Los Angeles County Supervisors were considering. While we all want a more effective and safer way of providing law enforcement, I hope the supervisors scrupulously consider the implications of what they may decide to implement. The changes need to be realistic, and not be just a politically correct way of pandering to appear sympathetic. Because the worst scenario, which could happen, is the changes cause a mass exodus of law enforcement professionals with anarchy resulting on our streets.

I believe the vast majority of Santa Clarita residents are not in favor of the police using excessive force. The horrific events causing Mr. Floyd’s death is an example of what should never happen. Yet at the same time, we need to understand law enforcement officers are people, too. They are as concerned with their safety as you are about yours. I know a lot of you in Facebook Land will not like hearing this, but there are times when we share an amount of the blame.

I also realize, I will never know what it is like to be pulled over for “Driving While Black,” yet at the same time I remember in the late ‘50s when LAPD used to regularly pull my friends and I over for “Driving While Young.” Those stops were normally justified by an officer telling us we matched the description of someone they were looking for. Then, we were typically patted down for weapons, our vehicles were searched, and when nothing was found, we were subsequently released. OK, it may be because hot rods with loud exhausts and car club plaques were in style. It was my time wrenching on Flathead Fords, getting parts at Hot Rod Henry’s, all with a goal of cruising Toluca Lake Bob’s, and another Sunday trip to the San Fernando Drag Strip. We may have been young and impetuous, but we learned how to act when interfacing with the cops in order to keep from getting hurt.

I still recall those incidents, so if you see a set of red lights behind you, please heed my advice. Start by slowing down and looking for a place to pull over. To be sure the officer behind you knows your intentions, put on your right turn signal. When you have stopped, roll down the driver and passenger side window, and if it is at night, turn on your dome light. Place your hands on the top half or your steering wheel, and if you have any passengers, tell them to make their hands visible as well. Then wait for the officer to approach you. Keep in mind; the officer does not know you or what your intentions are, so be polite and very businesslike. This is not the time for smart or comical comments. If you are asked for something, such as your license and registration, and the items must be retrieved from your pocket or glove box, explain what you are going to do and ask if it is OK for you to proceed. Normally, behaving that way is all it takes to allow for you to leave the scene without injury. Unfortunately, Officer Chauvin in Minneapolis was an example of a bad cop gone wild, yet the situation is also a vivid reminder that once an altercation with the police starts, you lose all control of the situation. So, if you have not counseled your children or grandchildren on this issue, it would be a good idea to do so. We want them all to stay safe.

While casual conversations with SCV law enforcement officers occur regularly at some of the monthly meetings I attend, my last two official interactions gave me an even greater appreciation for their service. It was in September of 2013, at about 11:00 in the evening. My wife had experienced a respiratory arrest and Station 107 paramedics were wheeling her to the ambulance, when I looked up and spotted two Sheriff’s cars waiting to help get us to Henry Mayo as fast as possible. With red lights and sirens blaring, the two officers broke traffic for us. Fortunately, my story ended well, in part because of the two officers’ involvement. Then in mid-march of this year, my 99-year-young mother left for heaven. Waiting patiently when I arrived was Officer Hernandez, who reverently reminded me of what needed to be done, and who’s duty it was to provide security for Mom until she was picked up for travel to her final resting place by the mortuary.

Police responsibilities go far beyond arresting perpetrators and giving out traffic tickets. Just like any other professions, if there are some who do not have the aptitude for the job, they should be weeded out. But, for the overwhelming majority of officers who keep us safe every day, they have the community’s support. Because we need them, a peaceful society wants them, and we should all defend those officers who are on the job each day with the best interest of the community foremost on their mind.

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Doug’s Rant – Video Edition

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