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The Great Collusion Confusion Delusion

| Opinion | March 21, 2019

by Dale Paule

It’s been right there, under their noses all the time, while they’ve been wasting boatloads of time and tax-payer money using Robert Mueller as a Bloodhound; tracking rumor after rumor across political swamps around the world, hoping to find the slightest trace of a Russian footprint leading to that guy who works at, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC.

Two long years of it, with the stunning end result to date: zipity-doo-da!

But in spite of that, many still don’t believe it’s not there; they’re convinced it’s just around the next mango tree. If all you watched on TV was CNN, MSNBC, or most of the other mainstream echo chamber propaganda “news” networks, you’d probably think the same thing, too.

It was once the goal of American journalism to bore through the lies, deceit and cover-ups for the truth, then drag it out into the light for the public to see and judge for themselves.

Unfortunately, that concept is apparently no longer in vogue. It seems now to be a fad of the past, along with bell-bottom pants, Hula-Hoops and mood rings.

Today, many who enter “Journalist” as their occupation on their Tax form are simply megaphones for those who would lie and deceive the public for their own ends. Each night, these “journalists” look straight into the camera with a straight face, and with amazingly similar phrases “inform” the public about whatever version of the truth they’ve been handed by those who hide behind a curtain of anonymity!

Well now, every joke has its punch line, and the “collusion” joke that’s been played on us for the past two years has been a real doozy. But now, it’s our turn, because as it turns out, that guy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue actually has been colluding—a lot. Only it wasn’t with the “Usual Suspects,” the Russians.

“But, if it’s not the Russians, or some other foreign player, then who?” you might ask.

Brace yourself; here’s where that punch line comes in; It’s us, “We the People!”
Now, ain’t that a real knee-slapper?

Unless I’ve got the wrong slant on what “Collusion” means, I believe a rough translation would work out to something like, “working together with a person or group to achieve a common goal.”

It seems to me, and a lot of others, the guy has been “Colluding” all over the place with “We the People;” colluding to bring jobs and companies back home and allowing free enterprise to drive the economy, instead of a room-full of anonymous bureaucrats in Washington continuing to apply their failed academia-spawned theories. All most Americans really want is the chance to run their own lives and not have their path blocked by those who have “other plans” for their country.

It would be great if this were one of those old Hollywood, feel-good, happy ending kind of movies, where it ends with the hero saving the country and the screen is filled with throngs of happy, smiling faces standing in front of a giant American flag streaming in the wind with button-busting pride, complete with the National Anthem playing in the background as the screen fades to black.

Unfortunately, this ain’t that movie. And even if it were only a movie, we wouldn’t know how it’s going to end yet, because we’re only in the middle of it. And sadly, there are many who are trying hard to insure it doesn’t have a happy ending.

We’re just going to have to wait a while longer before we can find out whether it ends with the American flag streaming victoriously across the screen, or a plain white one.

Vindication for President Trump, Proof of Guilt for Obama & The DNC

| Opinion | March 21, 2019

On March 14, 2017, President Trump erupted with a series of tweets that accused Barack Obama of wiretapping him. Of course the press was quick to excoriate him for these claims, but slowly over the past two years we have seen evidence slowly released showing that these claims, as with most of President Trump’s, were absolutely accurate.

It’s funny that the media doesn’t spend too much time filling in the details of how they got it so wrong, nor the accurate timeline of Admiral Rogers (then head of the NSA) making a secret trip to Trump Tower, which was followed by then President-elect Trump moving his entire staff to one of his resorts until a proper sweep and de-bugging could be completed.

Also missing from the mainstream news was a report from the FISC court titled “The Improper Disclosure of Raw Intelligence about Americans to Unauthorized Individuals,” which outlines how Fusion GPS contractors without proper security clearance were accessing the NSA database to spy on the Trump campaign. This is completely open-source (but heavily redacted), yet the media doesn’t see this as “newsworthy.”

Either that or they just don’t want you to know about it because it doesn’t fit their narrative.

It’s clear these contractors simply pulled information on the wrong Michael Cohen for their spying, but that never comes up either.

Although obvious when one understands that the Dodgy Dossier is highly predicated on Cohen visiting Prague to pay hackers – something shown as false by his travel records, passports and people verifying he was in the USA when the dossier placed him in Prague – the media also doesn’t see this as “newsworthy.”

It’s either that, or they’re trying desperately to keep us from understanding just how complicit they are in this entire scandal.

They’re also not spending a whole lot of time on two enormous pieces of evidence which have recently been released, adding more proof that not only was the entire premise of the Russian Collusion investigation a complete farce, but that President Obama was running the operation.

If you haven’t read the released transcripts of testimony from Bruch Ohr (formerly of the DOJ) and Lisa Page (former FBI counsel and Peter Strozk mistress), you should. You won’t be seeing much about them from CNN or MSNBC, but thankfully Representative Doug Collins has released them to the public so that we can read & see for ourselves:

https://dougcollins.house.gov/page
Jeff Carlson received these leaked transcripts several months ago and wrote about them for the Epoch Times, but contrary to their actions after any anonymous leak was received by the mainstream media over the past few years, not much reporting outside of conservative outlets was done. Thanks to Representative Collins, we now know that not only were these leaked transcripts accurate, but they help paint a much clearer picture of the debacle that is SpyGate.

If you’ve been getting your news from the media (like most of the nation) your full understanding of the greatest political scandal in our nation’s history is likely very skewed and missing a significant amount of facts – and they want to keep it that way.

But, thanks to the army of citizen journalists who knew there was more to the issue than we were being told, a significant amount of information that the media doesn’t want to report on has been uncovered.

For example, did you know that Glenn Simpson (Fusion GPS founder) wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal in 2007 that outlined almost the exact story that we’ve been told happened in 2016? It bears an uncanny resemblance to what we were told was the Russian Collusion scandal, and features many of the same players – it was only the 2016 version that brought in President Trump.

You’ve heard of the infamous Trump Tower meeting – but did you know the meeting was set up by people in the Clinton political machine, and that some of those present really worked for Fusion GPS? Curiously, quite a few of these “incriminating” meetings that Democratic politicians have used for their “proof” were either set up by intelligence assets or Clinton donors, friends or co-conspirators.

Paul Manafort was just sentenced for a number of issues totally unrelated to his work with the Trump campaign – but did you know that Tony Podesta, brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, worked with the same people, in the same places, and also failed to register under FARA, yet for some reason didn’t meet the same investigation or prosecution as Manafort?

Did you know that Bob Mueller came under intense fire from Congress when he was head of the FBI for indicting people with unverified evidence, and was forced to create something called “The Woods Procedure” to ensure claims were verified before using them to go after someone – and that he did not follow the Woods Procedure in the Russian Collusion investigation?

Have you ever asked yourself – if every claim of an impeachable offense so far, for the past two years, has been proven an absolute hoax – how do Democrat politicians still make claims that they have more? Are we to believe they purposely put forward multiple hoaxes but held back the real evidence all of this time, destroying all of their credibility in the process?

Most Americans know that we’ve been at war in Afghanistan for over 18 years now, but many don’t know that we’ve been involved in war right here, on U.S. soil, for over two years since President Trump was elected. Obama’s administration and Clinton’s political operatives weaponized our intelligence agencies and the media to destroy a political opponent in the greatest scandal in our nation’s history, and have been fighting tooth-and-nail to unseat a duly-elected president.

But while the war in Afghanistan is fought with bombs and bullets, the war here at home is being fought with information. And thanks to technology, although the media is refusing to accurately report on this war, the truth is available to anyone who is willing to take the time to look for it.

Any conservative knows that our values are under attack, but most don’t understand that our very nation is, as well. (Did you know that every email from the Hillary private server was being BCC’d to China? It was buried in the OIG report but not reported by the media.)

So, if you are a conservative who loves your country and our way of life, it’s time for you to suit up. Inform yourself; watch the senate hearings to know what actually was said versus what the media tells you. Listen to Dan Bongino, who literally wrote the book on Spygate and has a podcast where he outlines the criminality every single day.

We are involved in a war in which many of us are not even fighting back. But the time has come to inform yourself, fight for your country and understand the level of attack that we are currently under.

Robert Patrick Lewis is a Green Beret OIF/OEF combat veteran with 10th SFG(A), CMO of Heroes Media Group, entrepreneur, MBA and award-winning author of Love Me When I’m Gone: The True Story of Life, Love and Loss for A Green Beret In Post-9/11 War , The Pact and The Pact Book II: Battle Hymn of the Republic. Follow him @RobertPLewis on Twitter or on his RobertPatrickLewisAuthor Facebook page.

Agenda 21, the Green New Deal and The Mob

| Opinion | March 21, 2019

By Betty Arenson

Recently, a commentary in the opinion section of another publication was printed on the topic of the Left’s Green New Deal. The author also made reference to the link between the GND and Agenda 21.

Irrespective of the author’s cited sources and information, along with her conclusions and opinions (it is an opinion page), the commentary, the newspaper’s editor and owners, the title of the weekly column and the GOP in general were irresponsibly and viciously attacked. The commentary’s content was accused of being “right-wing conspiracy theories.” It cannot be viewed because it’s been deleted from the website. Thank you, Mob.

There are two sides of opinions: the conservative American Policy Center has one view of Agenda 21, and the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center has another. One unit does not cancel out the other; one only has to look at what we are seeing in our own backyard these days.
Agenda 21 is a fact. Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development Goals are not conspiracy theories, but published UN sustainability objectives. With that, I also give you the following, and you can decide for yourselves.

The Mob’s hit piece against the article will be addressed later.

It is no surprise that not everyone has heard of Agenda 21, irrespective of the program being 27 years old. In short, it’s all about “sustainability.”

For example: seventeen goals are listed in Sustainable Development Goals, which can be found on the Sustainable Development Goals Wikipedia page. “Goal 5: Gender equality” states, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Sound familiar? There are plenty of sources that have written on the matter (easy Google search) and some will be cited here.

The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is the Local Government for Sustainability, i.e. “a global network of cities, towns and regions committed to building a sustainable future.” (Wikipedia)

Agenda 21 is a non-binding plan of the United Nations regarding “sustainable development.” It arose out of a meeting in Brazil in 1992 at the Earth Summit/UN Conference on Environment and Development. About 178 nations attended that summit. “It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels.” (Wikipedia).

According to an article published by the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) entitled “Agenda 21? What is Agenda 21?”: “Most people have never heard of Agenda 21. If they have heard of it, they likely believe it to be a vague United Nations program that will never see the light of day, or they believe it is imagined by conspiracy theorists. Yet, the principles contained in Agenda 21 are at the heart of many of our federal programs since the late 1990s. They reach every corner of the United States and impact millions of Americans who don’t even realize the document exists.”

“President George H. Bush, along with leaders from 177 other nations, signed onto this “non-binding” UN action plan that was purportedly designed to assist governments at the local, national and international level implement (sic) the principles of so-called “sustainable development.” The “21” in the name refers to the 21st Century.”

“… the following year when President Clinton quietly established the President’s Council on Sustainable Development (PCSD). The PCSD codified Agenda 21 into U.S. policy through a program called Sustainable America. Today, nearly all federal programs dealing with land management, education, environment and much more are linked to Agenda 21 through Sustainable America.”

“Because of grassroots pushback, the federal government today rarely uses the term Agenda 21 or Sustainable America anymore – especially with any program it is promoting (emphasis added). Instead, programs which administer Agenda 21’s sustainable development principles are given warm and fuzzy titles like the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, Partnership for Sustainable Communities, Obama’s Climate Action Plan and many more. Even the newest education fad, Common Core, is linked to Agenda 21, as are the new Next Generation Science Standards.
Another group called “Democrats against Agenda 21” is headed by Rosa Koire, who wrote, “UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development is the action plan implemented worldwide to inventory and control all land, all water, all minerals, all plants, all animals, all construction, all means of production, all energy, all education, all information, and all human beings in the world.  INVENTORY AND CONTROL.” (https://www.democratsagainstunagenda21.com/.)

This is how Rosa Koire describes herself: “[I’ve] been a Democrat since I was registered to vote . . . I’m anti-war, I’m gay, I’m [a] feminist.”

“Google has over 300 million references to Agenda 21, yet it’s hard for most people to get the truth about Agenda 21 because of the truckloads of smoke and misinformation generated by government bureaucrats and the progressive media. This UN program is indeed real and it is an affront to our personal liberties. Agenda 21 is supposedly designed to make the world “sustainable” by limiting human activities that environmental extremists believe are harming the planet. That may sound fine to many people – until they understand what it means in practice. In order to protect the environment, Agenda 21 instructs governments to micromanage virtually all human activity – which the governments either severely restrict, or regulate to the point that such activity can be minimized.”

According to “Excerpt, UN Agenda 21” from Green-Agenda.com: “Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level.”

Now, let’s look at some of the text of the Green New Deal as hyped by Democrats with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez leading the way. This following bill can be retrieved from www.congress.gov:

Introduced in House (02/07/2019)
“This resolution calls for the creation of a Green New Deal with the goals of:

  • achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions;
  • establishing millions of high-wage jobs and ensuring economic security for all;
  • investing in infrastructure and industry;
  • securing clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all; and
  • promoting justice and equality.

The resolution calls for accomplishment of these goals through a 10-year national mobilization effort. The resolution also enumerates the goals and projects of the mobilization effort, including:

  • building smart power grids (i.e., power grids that enable customers to reduce their power use during peak demand periods);
  • upgrading all existing buildings and constructing new buildings to achieve maximum energy and water efficiency;
  • removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and agricultural sectors;
  • cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites;
  • ensuring businesspersons are free from unfair competition; and
  • providing higher education, high-quality health care, and affordable, safe, and adequate housing to all.”

The GND, in part calls for:

  • basically, any craft that spews any degree of nasty stuff will be banned from use. Ships, boats, yachts;
  • we will pay for every existing building structure to be “green” upgraded;
  • will expand high-speed rail (going to Hawaii and Europe should be fun … and challenging);
  • eliminate flatulent cows (then what animal?);
  • *I strongly suggest that flatulence will never match that which is coming out of Washington D.C.;
  • provide a guaranteed federal government job to all who cannot or “will not work”;
  • mandate universal “free” healthcare”;

Presently, we have government officials telling us that we:

  • cannot use plastic straw;
  • cannot purchase cups of soda over 16 oz.;
  • have gadgets on our utility meters giving “them” control of our resources;
  • have to use certain light bulbs;
  • have to buy/use certain toilets;
  • are now on notice that air travel in the not-so-far future will disappear;
  • are limited to what kind of vehicle to drive;
  • must have certain solar apparatuses on a new house roofs;

Are you getting picture? Now: The Mob.

Their Mob is the rabble that wreaks havoc when they cannot control everything and everyone. If they cannot change others to adopt their mindset or demands, they will use every cruel and malicious tactic possible to minimize or destroy “the enemy.” Intimidation, threats and if needed, violence, is theirs. Remember the dangerous acts against Tucker Carlson’s home and family or The Mob physically clawing at the doors of the Supreme Court?

In the case of the opinion page commentary, an outrageous website was used to maliciously broadcast garbage and cherry-pick info, attacking everything they could point at … everything that wasn’t them. Yes, the Keyboard Commando(s) went to work in fevered mode … intimidation and slime is the name of the game.

The lesson to be learned is DO NOT capitulate to The Mob; ceding one little millimeter results in their taking ten miles. They cannot be partnered with, trusted, satisfied or rationally dealt with. Surrendering, yielding or submitting to them in any way whatsoever is emboldening and they then tout cowardice. Second lesson to be learned: The Mob never gives in and they never give up, but that does not mean they have lasting strength, unless others give it to them. They are loud and appear forceful, but there’s no need to hand them anything.

We are in the United States of America. We get to read, share ideas and have opinions free of The Mob who intend to dominate our minds, thoughts, opinions, ideas and actions.

In the end, you can be your own person, or let someone else dictate your being. You have a choice.

Notes from an Extreme Centrist – ‘Why?’

| Opinion | March 21, 2019

Headline from the NYT, 3/15/2019:

Two New Zealand Mosques, a Hate-Filled Massacre Designed for Its Time

“I went to Friday afternoon prayers at my local mosque today. When one wakes up to overwhelming incomprehensible tragedy, you feel helpless and want to do something. The only thing I could think of was to go to the mosque and pray with my Muslim brothers and sisters, to share their pain, pray to the same G-d we also share and in a very small way reach out to them as best as I can. As they prayed to Allah and recited verses from the Quran, I silently recited the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. The imam’s sermon was all about love, about reaching out across religious and ethnic differences to Jews and Christians, to listen to each other with peace and understanding, to confront hate and evil with love and understanding. My goal was to be as inconspicuous as possible. My yarmulke is not that much different from the head coverings most of the men were wearing. Most wore street clothes much like mine. I took off my shoes and sat on the floor just like everyone else. Still, as the service ended, the imam recognized me from the podium as I had been there during happier times about 2 years ago with my friend Jamshed, and thanked me for coming. He recognized me as an observant Jew. And literally 1 day after rockets had flown between Israel and Gaza and 49 of their brothers and sisters had been massacred in a mosque just like this one, during Friday afternoon prayers half way around the world, over 100 Muslim men came up to me and individually embraced me, a Jew, thanking me for my small gesture. It was all I could do to hold back my tears.”

My question of “Why?” is NOT why horrors like this occur. We know why! My question is why do White Power Supremacists, from David Duke after Charlottesville to the shooter in New Zealand, see in Donald J. Trump – our president – a kindred spirit? Donald Trump is not responsible for Charlottesville or the massacre in New Zealand. I want to be very clear about that still.

On March 11, just four days prior to the massacre, Trump gave an interview to Breibart, the online right-wing propaganda site masquerading as news, where he said the following:

“I can tell you I have the support of the police, have the support of the military, have the support of the bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough – until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.”

What are we to make of this comment? Is he threatening violence in the streets if he doesn’t get his way with the wall or if he loses in 2020? Is this an appropriate threat for an American president to make to the American people?

During his campaign, he advocated for a Muslim ban. After Charlottesville, he declared there were good people on both sides. Less than 24 hours after the massacre in New Zealand, in response to a reporter’s question in the Oval Office during the Veto Signing Ceremony, he declared that White Power Supremacists and the violence they advocate and perpetrate are not serious problems in the United States.

My Trump-supporting friends can legitimately claim that the president’s words in all these cases are being grossly misinterpreted, that his intent and meaning carry no racist or poisonous purpose. That may be so; however, the David Dukes of the world and other White Power Supremacists all take comfort from these words. Why? The president of the United States, whether he likes it or not, is the spokesperson for the moral/ethical soul of all of us.

At times like these, he should never speak in a way where his words must be parsed to determine what he really means. They must be clear to everyone! It’s hard to interpret the words “Muslim Ban” as anything but racist! After the torchlight parade of Nazis screaming “Jews will not replace us” into the Charlottesville night, Charlottesville was no longer about Confederate monuments, at least for those Americans like me, who are the targets of Nazi hatred. It was only about Nazis marching in American streets. After the Charleston church, Pittsburgh synagogue and Christchurch, New Zealand massacres, White Power Supremacist hatred and violence are serious problems for everyone in America who isn’t white and Christian; and I pray even for the vast majority of American white Christians.

In Judaism, we hold leaders to a higher moral/ethical standard than the general population. Moses was denied entry into the Promised Land by HaShem because he struck a rock in anger in front of the Israelites! I honestly don’t know if Trump consciously carries favor with Nazis and White Pride Supremacists with his consistent equivocations. But it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that he consistently fails America when it matters most with his words. He should be ashamed of himself and every American who takes America’s ideals of tolerance and brotherhood seriously. Those of you who voted for him should loudly and proudly shame Donald J. Trump for this failure. It is inexcusable!

The Times, They are a-Changin’

| Opinion | March 21, 2019

Recently, I met for breakfast with a Home School Mom (HSM) who is also a school choice activist. As I suspected, being a responsible HSM requires energy, dedication, perseverance, wisdom and a willingness to innovate. In her case, she is also an agent for change in how we approach and fund education. She was accustomed to hard work and long hours. HSM came from a poor family and did not find her academic voice until she spent two years in community college. She eventually became a medical doctor, serving at County General Hospital. Like most students, she had amassed massive college debt and put in 70-80 hours a week to pay back her tuition.

The trigger for HSM to become an educator/administrator for her children was the advent of the controversial Common Core program being advocated by our school systems. This led to her studying Common Core, current educational practices and the curriculums being taught to our children. After doing approximately 100 hours of research, she concluded that the school system was just not working and that our children were being dumbed-down. After looking at high school textbooks and helping some of our two-year college students, that certainly was no surprise to me. She further came to believe that our school systems were a scam. She was convinced it was more about hustling money for schools to pay off pensions than about giving the students the tools they needed to be successful in life. She learned that California was two years behind the rest of the country in education. It was then that she decided to take her children out of school and take on the challenge of supervising her children’s education.

HSM told me that the masses are waking up, and we do not need the educational system as we have known it. She told me about Sage Oak, Inspire and Sky Mountain charter school systems that have programs to help home schoolers and provide accredited classes for children whose parents are taking responsibility for their education. It turns out there are many resources available for home schoolers.

In addition to accredited schools that can provide specific classes, the internet has many educational sites with free or inexpensive advanced classes. She cited many other examples of resources now available to parents who choose to have their children home schooled. Many two-year colleges offer free classes and books to High Schoolers who can do college level work. The possibilities are truly exciting. She talked of the advantages of designing a program that was consistent with the strengths and talents of the student. It is a far cry from the one-size (perhaps really three or so) fits-all method offered by the public-school systems. It also avoids the indoctrination designed to change social norms that have infiltrated California State approved textbooks. That subject alone easily fills a book.

Public-school students are being provided with age inappropriate state approved materials. The schools have fear mongered about climate change, leaving children in terror that they will be dead in 12 years. So much for schools having safe spaces. They are graduating without basic math, reading and writing skills to do college work. They are not taught the critical thinking necessary to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments fed to them.

HSM co-founded Highland Latin Academy, where parents of home schoolers taught classes in their own area of expertise, including hard science, economics, mathematics and biology. She taught finance and anatomy. She has recently come under attack by her local school system, which is why I have respected her anonymity. They claim that her group was not providing an adequate education, so she had her 14-year-old daughter equivalency tested. It turns out that she was already doing college level work. Three years ahead of the public schools!

HSM is convinced that our school systems are failing our students. She believes that the greatest source for progress and innovation is competition and the free market. That is why she has signed on to be the Home School Liaison for SchoolChoice2020.org. SchoolChoice2020.org is proposing a change in California law. Currently, all educational funding is going to local schools based on zip code. Under SchoolChoice2020, educational accounts would be created for individual students and would follow them to whichever accredited schools their parents choose to enroll them in. This means that low income families can send their children to the best schools available, public, charter, private or religious. As of this writing, the projected amount would be about $16,000 a year. Unspent funds would accumulate and any left over could be used for trade schools or college.

If you wish to contact HSM, learn more or help SchoolChoice2020.org. Use the contact information on their web site. Ask them about sponsoring an event in your home and providing a speaker.

Always Advocating Alan – Is Santa Clarita Led by Ants or Grasshoppers?

| Opinion | March 21, 2019

When you were a young child, did your parents read Aesop’s Fables to you? One of my favorites is “The Ant and the Grasshopper.” In this story, a hard-working Ant toils diligently to gather and save food for the winter. The Grasshopper, instead of doing the same, basks in the summer sun and enjoys the coolness of autumn without a care in the world. But, when winter came, the Grasshopper “found nothing but snow to eat. He got weaker and weaker until one day he couldn’t move at all. Several ants came by as he was lying in the snow. ‘One of their nests must be close by’ he thought. ‘The ants will give me food.’ But he was too weak to move and the ants didn’t know he was there.” Of course, the moral of this story is, “It is best to prepare for winter because winter always comes, and some winters may be worse than others. There is a time for work and a time for play, and you should save for a rainy day.”

The City of Santa Clarita has their own version of Aesop’s “Ant and the Grasshopper” fable when they remind us, “Decisions made in good times are more important than the decisions made during bad times,” and we should “live below our means.” There is no doubt about it. The principle should not only apply to money, but to other resources we use, as well. For the past several drought years, the one resource in short supply was water. Happily, on March 14, 2019, NBC News reported, “California is officially free of drought after more than seven years, drought monitors said Thursday. The Golden State has experienced some form of drought for 376 consecutive weeks, the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, tweeted. It’s the first time the state has been free of drought since Dec. 20, 2011.” So, the question becomes, what good decisions will we make now? How will we save for the next drought period?

From my perspective, the only way to ease the burden during the next drought period is to use resources we already have available, but have not yet taken advantage of. The first of those resources is recycled water, created by our two Wastewater Treatment plants. The Valencia and Saugus plants produce approximately 20 million gallons a day and dump it straight into the river. What a shock when we learned on February 25, 2019 that “the Board of Directors (Laurene Weste and Marsha McLean) for the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District of Los Angeles County (SCV Sanitation District) approved a resolution to discontinue environmental studies related to using more recycled water and discharging less water to the Santa Clara River.” Even while a few paragraphs later stated, “The Sanitation District serves the wastewater management of the Santa Clarita Valley.”

Sanitation District management puts the blame on litigation initiated by the “Affordable Clean Water Alliance” as the primary motivator for taking this action, and to protect SCV ratepayers. When the chloride reduction program was first being sold to Santa Clarita’s residents, the only benefit was our ability to use recycled water. As explained in the EIR paragraph titled, “Support for Municipal Reuse of Recycled Water,” “The third project objective (is) to accommodate recycled water reuse opportunities. WRP discharges would not be lower than the minimum flow of 13 (million gallons a day) mgd,” meaning 7 million gallons of water a day would be immediately available, with the number increasing as additional clients are connected. Canceling the recycled water project objective shows we were deceived into supporting this project.

In Clarifications from the City of Santa Clarita pertaining to my column last week, Ms. Lujan stated, “the Sanitation District does not implement recycled water projects.” It would have been more accurate if she would have written, “the Sanitation District does not implement recycled water projects alone.” The way it works is the Sanitation District provides the raw materials of recycled water and then sells it to SCV Water, who sells it to the end user, which could be the City of Santa Clarita or a private entity. Looking at the SCV Sanitation District Chloride Compliance Facilities Plan and Environmental Impact Report published in October of 2013, the third Project Objective is stated as “Provide a wastewater treatment and effluent management program that accommodates recycled water reuse opportunities in the Santa Clarita Valley while protecting beneficial uses of the Santa Clara River.” This was necessary as a result of the Regional Quality Water Board (a group of appointed bureaucrats) fining the City of Santa Clarita $800,000 for pumping water out of the ground in the Shangri-La development and immediately discarding it in the river, because they claim that the water needs to be treated before doing so. To comply with their mandate, water currently being pumped from under Shangri-La, is put in the sewer system, treated in our Wastewater Treatment Plants and then discarded in the river. It is no easier if recycled water is used for irrigation, as permits obtained from this same group are also required.

For years we listened to CLWA management tell us recycled water was too expensive, primarily due to the initial cost of laying the pipes to get recycled water to where it is needed. Yet, more recently, I was highly encouraged by SCV Water management’s plan to implement some first steps in providing this necessary infrastructure. In addition, the city continues to plant “Purple Pipe,” designating it’s use for recycled water when providing landscaping improvements to the roadway medians. The plan is to connect to a source of recycled water when available. Realistically, Purple Pipes in the ground waiting for a source of recycled water provides no value.

SCV Water is not giving up and is exploring what they term “a Next Drop recycling strategy.” Ms. Lujan goes on to point out where some of those drops will come from by stating, “When completed, the new (Vista Canyon Ranch) Water Factory will produce up to 371,000 gallons a day.” Sound like big numbers? Not really. When compared to 20 million Gallons a Day, it represents less than 2 percent of what the Valencia and Saugus plants are currently producing, and less than 1 percent of the Valley’s total water consumption. Plus, the key operative is “When Completed,” translating to “When Available,” which is a term the Grasshopper would have favored.

To sum it up, the two SCV Sanitation District Water Treatment Plants are our valley’s only currently available source of recycled water. While the SCV Water Company is willing to start putting pipes in the ground to transport it to where it is needed, the Sanitation District, led by members of the Santa Clarita City Council, has decided to discontinue efforts to make this water available. While their decision might be in the best interest of the Sanitation District, it is not in the best interest of our valley’s residents.

Will Santa Clarita end up being an ant or a grasshopper? Will we decide to start using recycled water even when times are good, or will we just do nothing in good times and suffer when water availability is scarce? We need to ask those questions at the next city council meeting and find out what the answers might be.

Letters

| Opinion | March 21, 2019

I want to thank the Gazette for the recent article about my efforts to improve public governance by issuing cure and correct letters to local school districts (Hart, Saugus, College of the Canyons).

An important step in this effort was to make certain that the agendas for official meetings be easily accessible to the public in a timely manner. My recent action worked towards this goal by making sure that a prominent link existed on the district’s homepage which linked to the current board agenda. In all instances, the districts made changes to comply with the law.

The Brown Act (1953) with it’s numerous revisions is intended to “guarantee the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies”. It is sad that so few citizens take advantage of this right to learn about local government and affect accountability. This community needs more citizens to become involved and stay informed. I should not be a “lone watchdog”, and encourage others to join in the effort. Please feel free to contact me.

As important, we need a local media that is willing to report on items of importance that are actionable items on the agenda. Reporters are able to do extended investigations and ask questions of public officials that are frequently dismissed at public meetings. The Gazette and reporter Lee Barnathan have been exceptional with their coverage. I encourage other media outlets to “up their game” in this area.

I am frequently contacted by individuals who have issues and concerns that should be addressed by local public agencies. Learning the system and participating in the process is important if meaninful change is to take place. Let there be no misunderstanding, my efforts are purposed at making the system accessible for citizens who wish to participate, with the greater goal of holding local agencies and public officials accountable for their actions.

I am thankful to live in a country and state , which promotes public participation and engagement. There is an old admonition, “Think Global, Act Local”. This short phrase is a wise piece of advice, and one which Steve Petzold will continue to follow.

Steve Petzold
Santa Clarita, CA

Doug,
Your headline should have been titled, THANK YOU FOR KEEPING SANTA CLARITA SCHOOL BOARDS HONEST!
Steve Petzold and Alan Ferdman are two people who work harder for the people of Santa Clarita than anyone on The City Council, and most definitely anyone in the CITY! The misuse and misappropriations of funds in this City is appalling, and thank GOD for Citizens like these two men who bring things to the forefront to help the Citizens/residents of Santa Clarita.
I have had the privilege of working with Steve Petzold on Measure E, and you will not find a more fact driven, and hard working person trying to HELP the PEOPLE of Santa Clarita, than Steve Petzold. In no way does he try to steal or misappropriate their money. The City, and The City Council, turn the other way, dance around the questions asked, and continue to give more of OUR hard earned TAX MONEY to things that should be deemed unnecessary.
Elaine

 

Dear Doug,

Regarding your article on Steve Petzold “Menace or Misunderstood?”

Steve relishes in “stirring the pot” when it comes to local issues and government.

That’s OK with me. I don’t often (and in fact, rarely) agree with his politics but appreciate his outspokenness and advocacy. We need people like him. Let’s face it, it’s the people that stir the pot that actually help get things done and keeps government in check. And quite frankly, I’m glad he’s around. He’s doing it so I don’t have to!

-Stephen Daniels
Host of “The Talk of Santa Clarita” podcast and publisher of the SCV Proclaimer.

‘Stultus Est Sicut Stultus Facit’

| Opinion | March 14, 2019

The Head in the Sand Party has just announced its latest nomination for the obscure “Stultus Est Sicut Stultus Facit” (Stupid is as Stupid Does) Award. It’s rumored to have been suggested by the slogan’s creator, philosopher Forrest Gump, and endorsed by the Flat Earth Society. The winner is Superstition University, and its school of critical thinking and logic analysis, for the remarkable teaching and counsel it has given to the Congressional Committee’s questioning of Trump’s ex-fixer and attorney, Michael Cohen. An additional letter of commendation has been submitted for subpoenas issued by Rep. Nadler – which do not include reliable witnesses who were involved in, or created the dossier, that led to the investigation of President Trump. Where are the people who submitted the FISA warrant?

The investigating Demo(c)rats, who historically prided themselves on practicing and employing scientific methodology in their advocacies, have fallen victim to operant conditioning as described by behaviorist B.F. Skinner. His study of rats using his famous Skinner box may provide some illumination. An example of his experiments would be (while in the box) every time the rat turned to the left, it would be given a food pellet. In no time at all, the rat would be turning in circles to the left. When the rewards were withheld the turning behavior would shortly extinguish. Germane to this case is when the pellets were being given to the rats randomly. If by chance the rat was turning left when given the pellet, the subject might begin to turn in circles to the left. More commonly, the rats would begin to engage in bizarre repetitive behaviors in hopes of obtaining more of the coveted pellets.

This type of operant conditioning is known as random reinforcement. The rat would keep turning, as long as it occasionally gets the reward. The relevant factor is that when the rewards stopped altogether, they would continue the behavior, seemingly indefinitely, rather than stopping it quickly as in the example of always getting a reward for the desired behavior. Skinner suggested that this is how superstitions are established and seemingly never go away. Common examples are superstitions about walking under a ladder or seeing a black cat. Athletes are famous for their superstitious behavior, like not shaving during a winning streak, or not washing and changing their socks. Oh yes, and the Demo(c)rats’ obsession with investigating President Donald Trump which has gone on for more than two years with no credible evidence on Trump-Russian collusion presented to date.

The problem for the Democrats, and evidently several top officials in the FBI, was finding themselves in an extreme state of cognitive dissonance. There was no doubt in their minds that Hillary Clinton was going to win the Presidency, and that a boorish Washington and political outsider named Donald Trump did not have a chance of rising to the highest office in the land. After the electoral votes were counted, Donald Trump was declared our next president, while a devastated Hillary Clinton and her supporters were searching for who or what should be blamed. They became the Charlie Browns of politics. Remember his often-used line “How can we lose when we’re so sincere?”

Then the solution to this mental conflict came to them like a gift from the Gods. Donald Trump had to be in collusion with the Russians. It’s the only explanation. Members of the FBI began an investigation. The unsupported Clinton opposition research dossier was presented to the FISA courts to allow spying on American citizens associated with Trump. The slightest allegation presented without evidence became proof. Allegations alone reinforced the superstition that has dominated the thinking of Democrats. They engaged in the presumption of guilt by suspicion, supported by random unsupported hints of collusion. The superstition of Trump colluding with the Russians received one random reinforcement after another. Superstition has morphed into an act of faith. That faith has resulted in the rejection of any exculpatory witnesses or evidence. Questioning of Michael Cohen was restricted. They put faith in a witness who is a serial liar and unable to keep his stories straight. They pressured him to violate attorney-client privilege. Now they are moving to the politics of personal destruction by going after anyone associated with the President. The only winners will be the legions of attorneys. Cah-ching!

True scientific method and legal investigations, to have credibility, must approach things quite differently. They do not begin with a conclusion. They begin with an extensive look at the evidence. All the evidence. Some may support the hypothesis, others may not. In a legal case, the prosecution is required to give any exculpatory evidence they find to the defense. Turns out that the Demo(c)crats pre-interviewed Cohen for over 12 hours without allowing Republican participation. After looking at the data (evidence) you may then come up with the hypothesis. E.g. I think Michael Cohen is a liar. Then you test for it. E.g. Mr. Cohen testified under oath before Congress that he was not interested in having a position with the Trump administration.

You then find an interview where he stated that he was looking forward to having a position in the administration. Therefore, you can state that Michael Cohen is a liar. Typically, you then submit your hypothesis to peer review for confirmation. After testing for other examples that Michael Cohen is a liar and the hypothesis is confirmed, only then can you safely say that Mr. Cohen is a liar.

So, I am going to give it a try.

After hearing years of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s press conferences, I suspect that Rep. Nancy Pelosi often lies. She recently stated that the freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar is not anti-Semitic. I have found many examples of Rep. Omar making statements that most Americans would consider anti-Semitic. Therefore, I conclude that Speaker Pelosi lies during her press conferences. I understand that other politicians may also lie. Saying that others do or do not does not add to or take away from my hypothesis. That said, I submit my hypothesis that Speaker Pelosi lies during her press conferences, out for peer review. Please send your responses to the “Head in the Sand Party” and remember “Stultus Est Sicut Stultus Facit.”

Have a nice day!

Creativity Advocacy – Creativity and ‘Marriage’

| Opinion | March 14, 2019

My significant other and I celebrated 34 years together on February 1. Jimmy and I began as childhood sweethearts, raised four kids and are now on our way into the dessert stage of this complex relationship—the union that many people call marriage, but we call life partnership.

Whenever we hear the Dire Straits song, “Why Worry,” we both choke up because this tune has played as the main soundtrack behind our many courses together. On one hand, time is what has managed to sift out much of the distasteful elements of our matrimony and, on the other hand, time has also managed to fortify us. It seems as though time itself is a staple, a component behind our longevity—which might seem redundant—the longer you stay together, the longer you stay together. Maybe that’s true. But how to actually do that is the tricky part. When I take a step back and respond to those familiar questions, “How do you do it? What’s the secret?” the answer tends to come through the filter of Creativity. (Shocker!)

At first glance, it would be easy to discount the Creativity that goes into a thriving relationship. Most of us are conditioned to acknowledge and recognize the Creative efforts behind sculptures, photography and screenplays. But when you boil it down, long-term relationships require just as much Creativity as The Marriage of Figaro or the Harry Potter series. But could the Creativity necessary for human interaction be a different type than the Creativity required for the Sistine Chapel?

I think not.

As a matter of fact, when architects sat down to plan out the infamous gothic stained-glass windows and vaulted ceilings to be covered in Michelangelo’s elaborate mural, they employed the same force necessary to manage a serious relationship. The fundamental elements of Creativity are innovation, transformation, and connection. Only the building skills needed to execute such an iconic architectural masterpiece are different than the communication skills required for a healthy, functional and more-often-than-not happy partnership.

When something new or novel is introduced into culture, especially if it is useful, it is endorsed as Creative. We see this with new medicines, new technology or an original series on HBO. How does this apply to a marriage or a relationship?

In order for relationships to thrive, we must invent new ways of dealing with old issues, even when starting over with a new partner seems a viable option—something that 60 percent of us do (which can be considered novel, too!). However, long-held patterns that are hard to break warrant new ways of thinking and new ways of being together. Building the Sistine Chapel actually sounds easier than revamping reactionary habits and re-negotiating emotional triggers but, nevertheless, can be done. This Creative juice is nothing new; it’s part of our humanity and always has been. Newness keeps a marriage from going stale and becoming useless.

Creative acts also transform culture, like Benjamin Franklin’s contribution of electricity changed society forever; or like Banksy’s graffiti art transforms mindsets that promote capitalism. In relationships, our Creative efforts transform not only our interpersonal communication but our feelings for one another. When one partner redirects his/her frustration and begins to brainstorm solutions instead of hurling accusations, it transforms the relationship by making a safe place to build trust and then cultivates warm feelings of affection (rather than promoting defensiveness). The transformation isn’t a one-time experience, but an ongoing cycle, like the seasons. Creativity is not stagnant in nature, nor in healthy partnerships. With all this transformation and change in a relationship, it can always be something new!

Finally, the crux of Creativity is connection. The function of all Creative acts is to connect us as a species. Music brings us together; beautiful structures are where we congregate; storytelling through literature and film helps us to relate to one another. Creative acts in relationships are no different. When we write the recipe for a fulfilling relationship, Creativity must be the main ingredient. How to execute that Creativity may differ with each couple, as in expectation, communication style, etc., but the end goal is an intimate companionship so robust that the disconnect in our personal lives doesn’t spill out into society. When we are more deeply connected to our life-partners, we have more to contribute to the collective because we spend less time and money mopping up and dividing up. Our healthy connections are what enable us to impact the world around us in a beneficial way. That’s how we can savor the song “Why Worry,” even if it’s been played and replayed since 1985.

Baby, I see this world has made you sad
Some people can be bad
The things they do, the things they say
But baby, I’ll wipe away those bitter tears
I’ll chase away those restless fears
And turn your blue skies into gray
Why worry now
Baby, when I get down I turn to you
And you make sense of what I do
And though it isn’t hard to say
Why worry
There should be laughter after pain
There should be sunshine after rain
These things have always been the same
So why worry now

Thanks for a Job Well Done

| Opinion | March 14, 2019

by Dale Paule

Like most Americans, I’ve always had a yen to visit other countries around the world. Not the usual kinds, though – the ones tourists flock to, bringing back gaudy souvenirs and photographs of themselves standing in front of some ancient castle or monument – but the other kind they call, “Third World Socialist countries.” You know, the ones where everyone (well, almost everyone) gets to share equally in the misery.

Take Venezuela, for instance, where civil war threatens to break out at any moment, and you’re aware that your very life is in constant danger.
To share that experience; the sights, sounds, and smells, and just to be among the throngs of starving masses, fighting each other just to stay alive. Oh, the thrill of it all!

I’ve long been hoping to take that trip someday. But now, thanks to the diligent, hard work and dedication of our “open minded” and “open border” promoting politicians, I won’t have to leave home to see and experience all those things for myself after all. Because in that, typical Yankee “can-do” and “nothing is impossible” spirit, they’ve managed to bring it all right here to a neighborhood near you; complete with all its sights, sounds, and smelly glory!

Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | March 14, 2019

Calling Out Katie Hill

Recently, Congresswoman Katie Hill – California Congressional District 25 – informed us that she is now advocating for Veterans apparently unaware that the VA Accountability Act was approved by Congress and President Donald Trump in June 2017. Also approved was the Veterans Choice Program. Our House of Representatives approved this VA Accountability Act with 365 votes to 55.

Our past Congressman Steve Knight, both an Army Veteran and an LAPD Veteran, approved the Act while Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi opposed. It is certainly worth noting that in early 2018, Knight was successful in instituting a pilot program enabling veterans to have access to local healthcare facilities avoiding long driving trips to various VA Centers. The local clinics and facilities will bill the VA directly. That was a huge step in improving healthcare services for our deserving veterans.

Katie Hill has stated her concern for our large number of veteran suicides; however she jumbled these very real and serious issues with an EPA report of chemicals in our water. Her KHTS Hometown Station news report dated March 7, 2019, stated that Veterans have a greater exposure to chemicals (PFAS) in our water than average American citizens. Katie clearly implied that PFAS’s contribute to Veteran illnesses and suicides.

I am calling balderdash on Katie Hill’s assertions.

Katie’s resume is extremely thin and the only known connection to veterans is simply that her dad and grandfather served in our military and, during her campaign for Congress, she touted her experience advocating for homeless people. Her website states: “Prior to being elected to Congress in 2018, Katie spent her career working on one of California’s most complex and persistent problems — homelessness.”

Just how has that worked out, Katie?

Katie, please back off on your veterans’ experiment as we’ve all seen your horrible track record.

For the record, I served in combat during 1967 in Vietnam’s treacherous and deadly Mekong Delta as a rifleman, point man, team leader, radio-telephone operator (RTO), and impromptu medic. During our worst day of combat my battalion lost 47 soldiers killed in action along with numerous wounded. As our unit’s historian, to my knowledge only one of our men who made it home alive committed suicide throughout these over fifty years. The vast majority of us who made it home alive promptly began pursuing our American dreams.

Regarding suicide by Vietnam Veterans, no one has determined its exact root cause but it’s my strong opinion that it’s likely a direct result of those Veterans understanding public opinion of the war deteriorated thanks to an unsupportive media. In turn, it was followed by weak knee politicians and the dismal and shameful treatment we were subjected to upon our return to America.

Lastly, its valuable to question today’s miserable societal penchant for embracing “victimhood”.

I believe America’s rise of the victimhood culture has been exacerbated by such phenomena as “Microaggression”, the “Me Too Movement”, etc.; all have quite frankly added to the manipulation of our younger generation of Veterans. This is disgraceful as our veterans are forced to face more than enough challenges serving our nation.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 47,173 American citizens committed suicide in 2017. The Veterans Administration has reported an average of 20.6 Veterans commit suicide daily, however that figure includes 3.8 active service personnel. It was reported that of the 20.6 veterans and service members who died by suicide, six had recently used VA health care services but the rate among those who didn’t receive VA care increased faster than those who did.

During the mid 1990’s President Clinton attempted to create a national healthcare program when he expanded VA health-services’ accessibility to cover all veterans. Prior, the services had been strictly available for “Veterans in need”. Additionally, the requirement to report your income and personal assets was dropped, which subsequently required constant funding increases to the VA.

As I advocate for our local Veterans and write their biographies, along with my constant association with my fellow Vietnam Veteran pals, I rarely receive complaints about the VA. In my wide circle of Veterans it’s believed that VA services have noticeably improved in recent years.

Bill Reynolds
Vietnam Veteran
Valencia, California

The Girl Scout Cookie Dilemma

| Opinion | March 14, 2019

by Harry Parmenter

It’s that time of year. Turn the clock ahead, keep an umbrella in the car and get ready for Girl Scout Cookies! Yes, adorable little girls in their adorable green vests selling adorable boxes of cookies outside Vons with adult supervision and a table full of every flavor known to woman (see what I did there? MeToo!): Shortbread, Lemonades, Caramel deLites and the perennial headliner: Thin Mints!

Each box is now up to five bucks a pop (Still a bargain! Not a hater!) and, of course, contains helpful nutrition details on the side, viz: “Sodium 95mg, Sugars 10g, Calories 150” for the “Thanks-A-Lot” (?) brand, courtesy of our good friends at the FDA. Don’t you just love going into some fast food joint for a guilty pleasure trip just to feel the rain on your parade of “Onion Rings 7500 calories from fat?” Government, always there with a handy hint like, why don’t you get your fat self out of here, Parmenter, and go eat some Kale?

Anyway, ‘tis the season when you can purchase an assortment of tasty GS cookies from a variety of public places, and from a variety of enterprising young citizens under four feet tall. By the way, in our current bilingual nation, GS Inc. might want to take a page from the NBA where, for example, the Denver Nuggets recently endured a shellacking from the Vadaresque GS (no affiliation) Warriors while wearing “Los Nuggets” jerseys. “Los Thin Mints;” you know you want some—with hot sauce!

The Ides of March mean, among other things, that every time you walk in or out of the supermarket a group of unspeakably cute little girls with their endearing, squealing voices entreat you or anyone else in the general vicinity with “Mister, would you like to buy some Girl Scout Cookies?” All while Mr. Mister, in my case, avoids eye contact and hopes they’re talking to somebody else because if they’re not, there are only three options: A) blow by them as if my need for Imodium A-D has reached DefCon 5, B) whip out the cell and pretend I am in the midst of a work crisis: “What’s a non-conforming gender?” or C) look the fair-haired eight year old in the eye and say, “Are you talkin’ to ME?” I realize the latter will result in a story on The Huffington Post in a minute and a huff, bisected with their typical converted pyramid of “journalism” (Hint: it used to be “inverted pyramid,” i.e. Who/What/When/Where/Why).

Inevitably I try to slip by unnoticed, but then remember I forgot the plastic bag stuffed in my back seat pocket for the few items I usually purchase, as the irksome ten cent state tax still rankles. When the tariff was initially levied, I did elicit a hearty guffaw from a cashier once when I noted, “Well, a dime bag was a completely different thing when I was a lad.”

So I collect my purchases and approach the exit with a looming sense of trepidation and guilt. I run the traps of self-loathing in seconds: are you really going to walk on by and crush the dreams of these little girls bouncing around in the cold after dark with their moms, whose piercing stares will subconsciously memorize my mug for future reference? (Six months later I’ll be at some random gathering and some woman will give me the skunk eye and, when introduced, say to herself, “Yeah, there’s that skin flint who wouldn’t buy a lousy box of S’Mores from poor little Ashley.”) Won’t you give the kid a fiver for something, anything, even if you never crack open the box? You, the dumbass who blew five Benjamins on the impotent Rams to beat New England in the Super Bowl? You, who dress like a refugee from a holiday in Cambodia? You, who just took five twenties out of the ATM?

The sliding doors part and an enchanted cry to buy is heard again, this time clearly directed at me. Telling them my wife already bought 38 boxes in the last two weeks which will sit in the garage freezer until next year, when they will be tossed or given away before the ritual repeats itself, isn’t an option. Begging off with the been there/done that excuse works with adults, but doesn’t cut it as those plaintive eyes look deep into my troubled soul, their faces brimming with goodness, excitement and innocence, pure, beauteous innocence; untarnished by the inevitable soul-crushing struggles and setbacks of maturity.

The snappy brown vest, the important troop number patch, the merit badges of achievement rewarded and embryonic egos enhanced … am I going to be the scoundrel who bursts that balloon of hope, expectation and naïveté? I can … not, at least this time. This time I will press a twenty dollar bill into the palm of tonight’s little miss sunshine, and tell her to put it toward the cause and keep the cookies. Not because I don’t like them (B+ overall, and btw, this year I didn’t see the ones I do enjoy, the tropical Samoas; put the lime in the coconut, and eat ‘em all up), but it’s those calories from fat, don’t cha know.

Forking over the real green deal elicits a sweet young face exploding with gratitude, contagiously spreading to the other scouts, warming the cockles (whatever THEY are) of my cynical, a-fib heart. The girls jump up and down, teaming up as they put the bill into the till, making my day.

There’s a spring in my step not caused by ligament damage as I walk to the car, having successfully shelved my inner Scrooge. An affirmation, Norman Mailer once said, is the greatest achievement of art. And doing it outside the supermarket doesn’t hurt, either.

Thanks-a-lot girls! See you next year!

Clarification from the City of Santa Clarita to Alan Ferdman’s Column

| Opinion | March 14, 2019

by Carrie Lujan, City Communications Director

Purple Pipe is the standard American Public Works Association color designated for recycled water. The City of Santa Clarita has and continues to install Purple Pipe within all median projects so these landscaping improvements are capable of utilizing recycled water when it becomes available.

Vista Canyon did not create its own Sanitation District but rather annexed into the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District.

In fact, it was the Santa Clarita City Council that strongly encouraged and ultimately conditioned the developer to fund and construct the future City-owned and operated Water Recycling Factory as a requirement for approving the Vista Canyon project in 2011.

When completed, the new Water Recycling Factory will produce up to 371,000 gallons per day (equivalent to 415.5 acre-feet per year) of disinfected recycled water. This water will be provided to SCV Water to be used for irrigation and other non-potable uses.

In addition to irrigating landscaped areas within the Vista Canyon project, the City intends to enter into an agreement with SCV Water to sell the water. SCV Water is extending its recycled water infrastructure into Fair Oaks Ranch to provide recycled water for areas such as medians, slopes and parks.

Response from SCV Water:

Mr. Ferdman discusses the local response during the last drought period and states the only solution offered was to “conserve and use less water.” In fact, the conservation measures during the last drought were State-mandated and the targets assigned did not take into account the actual condition of the local water supply in the Santa Clarita Valley. SCV Water does note and reminds residents that while we certainly have enough water to meet current and future projected demands, there is never enough to waste.

Response from the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County:

The Sanitation District does not implement recycled water projects. The District’s authority ends at producing recycled water. Both the City and the Sanitation District are prevented by state duplication of service laws from implementing recycled water projects.

A recent Sanitation District resolution involved the discontinuation of a Sanitation District-only study towards more recycled water use. The Sanitation District is still committed to more water recycling and instead will support the efforts of the SCV Water Agency to complete a regional evaluation of water resources, which will lead to better solutions.

The Sanitation District’s actions relate to the discontinuation of the new Environmental Impact Report (EIR) studies that had been in progress since 2016, in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. There has not been any new recycled water EIR published, and thus there have not been any legal challenges to it.

The Chloride Compliance Project will not make any more recycled water available for irrigation. The project is, however, the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible solution to meeting the State-mandated chloride limit for the Santa Clarita Valley.

Always Advocating Alan – Whiskey is for Drinking and Water is for Fighting Over

| Opinion | March 14, 2019

Can you count the number of western movies you have watched where the plot centered on water rights? Typically, where the rights were owned by an honest, hard-working farming family, which were being threatened by an evil cattle baron? Some attribute the quote about whiskey and water to Mark Twain, but no matter if he was the originator or not, those words remind us how important water is to the southwestern part of our country.

For Santa Clarita, it seems there is always either too little or too much water. Take a trip back to the late 1960s, when enough rain fell from the sky for our river (at that time called “the wash”) to be filled all the way to the top and from side to side. The bridge across Soledad Canyon at Camp Plenty was washed away, and the bridge on Sierra Highway just south of Soledad sunk a couple of feet. Another time was brought to light in “This Week in History 1983” in Wednesday’s Signal, when a rainstorm took out a section of Soledad Canyon Road. And, for the last few days, we have read about the problems that water from heaven may create, specifically for the homeowners in American Beauty and the Trestles. Sometimes, too much water is as much a problem as it is a blessing.

Over the years, as weather patterns changed and local rainfall became sparser, we were still in good shape because the State Water Project made up for what nature was not providing. The aqueduct was bringing all the water we needed from the northern part of California. Then, in May of 1996, the hammer fell when the pumping of fresh water south through the Delta was reduced and limited, due to environmentalists noting an increased number of Delta Smelt being trapped in the pumps. As a result of reduced water supply, farmland in the central part of California was greatly impacted. One only had to drive up the I-5 to see many signs reminding us “Crops grow where water flows.”

By now, over 20 years later, you would expect our state government would have found a solution to this problem. While there has been talk of building a “Peripheral Canal” or “Supply Tunnels” under the delta, nothing has happened. The California State Water Project has not added a new reservoir since the 1970s. Aquifers in the central part of our state have been over-pumped to the point where ground levels have reported to be sinking. All the while, thousands of gallons of water north of the delta are being discarded in the ocean because there is no place to store it or move it south to where it is needed. Locally, we have not done much better. During our last drought period, the only solution offered was for residents to “conserve and use less water.” At the same time, our water companies and city officials continued to approve additional development.

All this went on while we have additional water resources which are only marginally being taken advantage of. A few years ago, when the SCV Sanitation District was trying to sell our community on the need to desalinate our wastewater, we were informed the Santa Clarita Valley uses 20 million gallons a day inside our homes and 40 million gallons of water per day for landscaping. Water from inside our homes flows to one of the two Sanitation District Water Reclamation Plants, and treated water is currently discharged into the river, with a small percentage siphoned off to irrigate a Golf Course in Valencia. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that if we were to use our total Water Reclamation Plants output for irrigation, it would reduce our valley’s water consumption by 30 percent. Unfortunately, a portion of the Waste Water Treatment Plant output is required by state regulators to be discharged in the river, in order to maintain protected species habitats. Determining the amount which can be recycled was a most important aspect for the SCV Sanitation District Environmental Impact Report to ascertain. No matter if the amount available is 7, 10, or 13 million gallons a day, it would be a significant impact.

Yet, on February 27, 2019, The Signal reported that the Sanitation District “would not be pursuing recycled-water plans and, specifically, would not be preparing the environmental studies needed to make them happen.” Grace Robinson Hyde, the chief engineer and general manager of the SCV Sanitation District stated litigation which had “delayed compliance with the state-mandated chloride limit by two years and cost ratepayers an additional $5 million … To be very clear, all of the legal and resulting costs incurred to date, as well as those potentially incurred in (the) future, have been and will be borne by the ratepayers.”

Someone needs to remind Ms. Hyde that the Sanitation District creates no funds of their own. Every cost is born by the ratepayers, including the cost of not using recycled water. The District probably could have avoided the legal challenge to the Water Recycling EIR if the Sanitation District had not attempted to use outdated portions of the previous EIR instead of conducting a new study.

Plus, on February 18, 2019, the Orange County Register published an article that included a listing of LA County’s Wealthiest Special Districts. The SCV Sanitation District made the list, as it was reported to have $111.4 million in cash and investments, take in $43.6 million per year and spend $31.4 million per year. These are some of the reasons I find the SCV Sanitation District Board’s decision to discontinue the Water Recycling EIR unbelievable. The only part of the current SCV Sanitation District’s Chloride Reduction project (costing our ratepayers over $90 million) which would benefit those who will be paying the bill, is the ability to use recycled water for irrigation. How could this happen, when the majority of that board also sits on the Santa Clarita City Council? That is the question of the day.

For the last several years, the public has been told about the City of Santa Clarita’s Plan to install “purple pipe,” designating recycled water for all median landscaping. But purple pipe is of no value if it is not connected to recycled water. Since the predominant potential source of recycled water in the Santa Clarita Valley is the output of our Waste Water Treatment Plants, and that water cannot be used, where is the city planning to acquire recycled water to fill all those purple pipes? In addition, SCV Water announced plans to implement the first series of pipelines to transport recycled water to areas like parks and schools. Looks like those pipes will remain empty as well.

In a smart move, two major SCV developments currently in process, (Vista Canyon Ranch and Newhall Ranch) are forming their own Sanitation Districts and planning to use the output of their Treatment Plants for irrigation within their developments.

There is one last bit of sunshine in this discussion, which is storm water. State and local governments spend a great deal of time and your money to keep pollution out of storm water, but very little is done to capture it for our use. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Conservation and Local Resources Committee provided a presentation on the subject of “Storm water Capture and Flows to the Ocean” on January 9, 2018. In it they estimated 7 percent of rainfall, or 457,000 acre-feet per year, goes uncaptured and flows to the ocean within their service area alone. Now water types love to use acre-feet as a measurement. Since 99 percent of the population has no clue what an acre-foot is, it makes the discussion sound so technical. So, let me translate for you. 1 acre-foot = 325,853 gallons, which makes 457,000 acre-feet equal to 147.9 billion gallons. Big numbers. Santa Clarita uses 60 million gallons a day, which is 21.9 billion gallons per year. These numbers show that every year’s worth of storm water which goes uncaptured is enough to provide Santa Clarita with water for 6.8 years.

Therefore, the next time you hear politicians tell you to take shorter showers because there is not enough water, remind them the problem was caused by these same elected officials not being proactive in using recycled water, stormwater capture and local storage. While it is true, all these solutions have a cost to implement and cannot happen immediately, if we stand back and continue to do nothing, water shortages will only get worse.

It seems all this turmoil was foretold by Mark Twain, as he sat in an old western saloon drinking whiskey and thinking about the next fight over water.

Notes from an Extreme Centrist: Why Don’t Our Politics Reflect What Americans are Really Like?

| Opinion | March 14, 2019

Steven Baron wrote a 900-word opinion piece in last week’s Gazette rebutting my column of the previous week. He attempted to rip my arguments apart piece by piece. For the record, I think Donald J. Trump is a despicable human being and his presidency is a national disaster. Baron is an ardent Trump supporter. Despite that, Steven Baron is one my best friends in California. I literally love the man, not like Trump “loves” Kim. I really love Steve. More than that, I deeply respect and trust him. I am confident he feels the same way about me.

Since we met in synagogue several years ago, we have been debating each other politically and have been fast friends. In the years we have known each other, despite our political differences, not a single angry word has passed between us and we see each other and break bread together at least two times a week in synagogue. That is what America is really like, or at least the America Steve and I live in.

Once upon a time, our politics were more like that and less of the take-no-prisoners blood sport it has become. In the ‘80s, political rivals Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neal were friends who enjoyed each other’s company. About 20 years earlier, LBJ introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but Everett Dirksen got it passed. Think about that for a minute. A Democratic president and the top Republican in Congress worked together to forever change America for the better! Where have we gone wrong?

LBJ’s Vietnam and Nixon’s Watergate made many Americans, if not most, into political cynics who distrust government. I’ve always thought that had Robert F. Kennedy lived to become president, everything since then would have been different. We would have left Vietnam before the worst domestic conflicts concerning the war had occurred. There would have been no Watergate. RFK was the last national politician who could give the same exact speech on the same day to black working class Roxbury and white ethnic working class South Boston crowds, getting enthusiastic ovations from both groups. Ronald Reagan restored some of that with his Morning in America politics, but with Talk Confrontation Radio, Newt No Compromise Gingrich and Slick Will, the dye was cast and it has only gotten worse, climaxing in the most divisive president since the Civil War in Donald Trump.

It didn’t have to be this way. Trump essentially won the election on his signature issues, immigration and unfair trade relationships – both of which bleed away secure American blue-collar high-wage jobs. He won the immigration debate with the American people. The reason the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2013 failed to become law is that no one trusted the Democrats to secure the border. Everyone trusts Trump to secure the border. After winning the election, he was in a perfect place to finally resolve the immigration issue by securing the border and using the Senate bill as a starting point for dealing with the issue in an equitable, fair and sensible way, and with the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants who have been living here for years. He could have chosen to unite the nation and resolve a simmering issue. If nothing else, Trump has proven how he can command the congressional GOP to fall in line and slavishly follow his lead. The Democrats would have jumped at the chance to give Trump his wall in return for something resembling that 2013 Senate bill. Instead, he chose to demagogue the issue because he calculated it works better for him politically as a highly charged wedge issue than would a solution. Don’t get me wrong; the Democrats have consistently made the same craven calculation. So, an issue that reasonable sensible people can solve remains an open wound in the nation. And the exact same dynamic drives several of the most contentious issues dividing Americans. Trust me, if Steve and I were locked in a room with a few technocrats who know the technical esotericism of the issue, we would solve the whole thing in a day or two. Why? Because we respect each other and have no ulterior motives other than doing what is right for America. We listen to each other and we are open to reasonable compromise.

Our current political process, especially the presidential contest, works in a way that exacerbates conflict and undermines solutions. Winning the primaries demands extreme uncompromising positions from the candidates. If the nominee moderates his/her positions during the general election campaign, he/she risks the hypocrite flip-flopper tag. What can be done to break this self-destructive cycle? In Donald Trump, we have a president that a third of the nation hates, a third loves and a third distrusts, but that middle third is also very suspicious of Democrats, mostly for very good reasons. The Democrats who vote in the primaries must vote for a moderate. They must center their main campaign themes on unifying America, character, honesty and a willingness to compromise to resolve issues. They also must nominate a candidate with the record and credibility that the middle third of America can believe. Right now, with Sherrod Brown out of the race, unless Biden announces, that looks like Klobuchar. Personally, I’m fantasizing a Democratic dream team ticket of Biden/Klobuchar. I once fantasized registering as a Republican to vote for Kasich in the GOP primary, but that’s not going to happen. The GOP is the party of Trump. As an extreme centrist, I’ll remain a registered Democrat and hope for the best.

Iran’s Obsession with the Jews and Israel

| Opinion | March 14, 2019

by Gary Curtis

Every week in Iran and many other Muslim-majority entities, after the religion’s “Friday Prayers,” Islamic imams vigorously denounce the United States of America to be “Big Satan” and Israel as “Little Satan.” Then, their congregants spill into the streets shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

Depending on the current events, they may light our countries’ flags on fire. Other times they may hand out candies in celebration of some terrorist activity or deadly mayhem directed toward these key democracies.

These weekly, imam-instigated demonstrations are more than some religious “pep rallies.” Iran’s modern threats to destroy the nation and people of Israel are part of a decades-old, Islamic, war-of-attrition, going back to shortly after the end of WWI and the defeat of the 400-year-old, Islamic Ottoman Empire.

Iran is 1,000 miles from Israel, but it has baited and bribed terrorist regimes and organizations in three border countries and territories surrounding Israel (Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza) to constantly threaten or initiate military and terrorist activity against the one Jewish-majority state in the world.

The Islamic Republic of Iran (known popularly as Persia, until 1935) supports its sect of Islam’s expansionist vision for a revived Islamic Calipha in the Middle East. In addition, Turkey has its own brand of evil expectation of worldwide, Islamic domination.

Iran’s incessant obsession with Jews and the Jewish state is rooted in the context of a historical event which occurred more than 2,500 years ago when the Persian Empire ruled the majority of the known world.

The story is primarily a spiritual conflict found in the Old Testament book of Esther. It details the miraculous account of a beautiful Jewish maiden who would become a queen from the harem of a powerful Persian king. The nemesis in the story is a wicked and arrogant prime minister who sought to murder all the Jews living in captivity throughout his vast Medio-Persian Empire.

Purim is the holiday marking the Jewish people’s deliverance from that royal death decree, around the fourth century BCE, as told in the Old Testament book of Esther (6:1-7:10). Purim, this year (2019), begins at sundown on Thursday, March 21, and continues through the daylight hours of Friday, March 22.

Current world events seem to be moving us quickly toward the end-times judgments and the return of Jesus Christ. He will come to destroy the enemy armies of the Antichrist (Rev. 19:11-21) and to ultimately cast the “satanic trinity” (the devil, the Antichrist-beast and his false prophet) into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:7-10, 13-15).

Revelation 13:1-3 and 17:7-13 are two key prophetic passages which give us crucial information as to the multi-national make-up of a final world empire over which the Antichrist will rule. Interestingly, many of the same nations which persecuted the Jews throughout history will unite in the formation of a larger federated empire.

Many contemporary biblical scholars believe that modern Iran (ancient Persia, in the time of Queen Esther) will be one of the ten-horned, end-time nations mentioned in Rev. 13:1. These will unite to form a “final beast empire” (possibly a revived Islamic Caliphate) under the leadership of the Antichrist (Daniel 11:36-45). But they will be defeated by the angelic armies of Jesus Christ, who is the Lord over all lords and King over all kings (Rev. 17:14).

Meanwhile, let us be alert to the ominous actions of Israel’s enemies in the Middle East and the growing anti-Semitism throughout western nations, including our own. In particular, let us watch, with prophetic concern, the nation of Iran.

Notes from an Extreme Centrist – Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!

| Opinion | March 8, 2019

Congressmen Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan of the so-called Freedom Coalition, famously or infamously (depending on your POV) filed a criminal referral with the DOJ against Michael Cohen, accusing him of perjury before the House Oversight Committee.

Strangely, it had nothing to do with Cohen’s describing the president as a racist, liar or conman. Perhaps it was Cohen’s suggestion that Trump was guilty of a criminal conspiracy while president to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels? Or, that he was guilty of bank fraud by knowingly inflating his net worth to Deutche Bank to obtain a 1 billion dollar loan? Or lying about actively pursuing a deal to build a Moscow Trump Tower during the campaign? Or stiffing small businessmen 500 times out of money he owed them? Nope! It was none of those things. They accused Cohen of lying about his own ambition, or lack of same, for a job in the Trump White House. Uhhh… Compared to this other stuff, who cares?

What’s notable about this is that their criminal referral exactly reflects the strategy employed by every GOP member of the committee. Not a single GOP questioner either defended the charges against the president, or attempted to debunk any of Cohen’s substantive accusations against Trump. Their lone attack against Cohen’s testimony was that Cohen is a liar. Well, that’s not news. The obvious weakness of that strategy is that Trump is the Liar-in-Chief! If Cohen can’t be trusted because he is an admitted liar in the service of Donald J. Trump, how does that help the president who makes Cohen look like the most honest man in the Trump organization? Moreover, whom do they expect to get testimony from? Finding a close associate of Donald Trump who hasn’t pled guilty to a felony, isn’t under indictment or an immunity deal or isn’t the subject of a criminal investigation is like finding a virgin in a house of ill repute.

The irony of all this is that 24 hours hadn’t elapsed before Trump himself and the latest Trump White House scandal completely sabotaged the GOP congressional narrative. Jordan, Meadows, and others all hung their hats on the argument that if you lie once, nothing you say can be trusted. Cohen is a convicted liar, so nothing he alleges should be taken seriously. Trump himself undermined that argument from the summit podium in Vietnam as he declared Cohen’s honesty regarding collusion with Russia. Cohen, according to Trump, testified that there was no collusion and that part of his testimony can be trusted. Of course, that isn’t what Cohen actually said. Then, less than a day transpired before it was absolutely and irrefutably documented that Trump, Ivanka and Jared Kushner’s attorney all lied on TV about how Jared received his Top Secret security clearance over the objections of the FBI, CIA, Chief of Staff Kelly and White House Counsel McGhan. Compared to Trump and his family, Cohen’s credibility and trustworthiness in the committee appears stellar, which I admit isn’t saying much.

The common wisdom is that we didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know as a result of Cohen’s public testimony, but I disagree. One thing we learned is that the Mueller investigation is almost certainly the sideshow. Cohen produced enough documents and names of potential witnesses to keep several congressional committees and federal and state prosecutors very busy for years. I literally can’t wait to hear from Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s long-time CFO who appears to have had a hand in every dollar coming in or going out in Trump World. We heard first-hand from the most inside man in the organization (whose name isn’t Trump) just how amoral and corrupt the everyday business culture of the Trump organization is and always has been.

But we also learned something else. We learned how the corrosion of public morality, ethics and trust works. For two years, the congressional GOP has turned a blind eye to Donald Trump’s daily lies, bullying tweet-storms and destruction of the norms and guardrails that have governed presidential behavior until now. They have silently watched our president wage rhetorical war against our/his own intelligence community, DOJ, the press, his former employees and even members of his own party who have the temerity and integrity to criticize him. They hitched their own political ambitions to the Trump train, knowing exactly what this president is all about.

Jordan, Meadows and their GOP colleagues who once stood for fiscal responsibility, and literally screamed bloody murder about Obama-era executive overreach, are now silent in the face of the biggest deficits in the history of the republic – all accrued during a period of economic growth, and defend what they know is a fictitious national emergency. They have sacrificed even the appearance of values and political integrity in a Faustian bargain with Donald J. Trump. And the real tragedy is that they seem totally unaware of the bargain they have made or the cost of that bargain, and it’s not a pretty sight! If the clock isn’t ticking on the Trump presidency, the road back to normalcy will be very long, indeed.

Which Inner Voice Are You Listening To?

| Opinion | March 7, 2019

Robert Kennedy once said, “There is a Chinese curse which says, ‘May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not, we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty.”

Although there is no evidence in Chinese literature of this frequently quoted curse, the intent of the message has never been more relevant. The never-ending attempts to discredit the president, the critical meetings with the presidents of North Korea and China, new calls to overturn the principles behind our Constitution and replace it with the tyranny of socialism, the fear-mongering over climate change, fundamental conflicts with nations that aspire to dominate individuals through the application of Marxism, economic collapses of totalitarian and socialist countries and all types of human suffering including the lack of medical care and starvation have proven to be an effective distraction from the greatest evil that our leftist-progressives friends are attempting to force on the American people.

Much of the wisdom found in our Judeo-Christian heritage is not dogma. Instead, it is the result of centuries of observation of what our founders would refer to as natural law put in place by our Creator. The famous 10 Commandments (now removed from the public square by misguided courts) is a call for us to be focused on goodness. Who can argue with the definitive statement of “Do Not Murder”? It is the ultimate direction on how to best live in a civil society.

In Isaiah 24:5, the Torah states, “The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted God’s instructions, violated his laws, and broken his everlasting covenant.” If that observation of Natural Law is correct, the net result of ignoring the Commandment of “Do Not Murder” would result in harm to the very land that we live in. Another way of looking at it might be that it is not just the victims of murder who suffer, all people living in the land that tolerate murder will suffer as well. That is what I call a moral imperative. As an aside, I ask you take note that it is not about what tools were used or how the murder was committed. It is the act of murder itself.

The idea of having a “right to life” is far more than a slogan used by people advocating against abortion. It is embedded in the very core of our nation’s DNA. From the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men 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. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Think about it for a moment. The purpose of the government of the United States of America is to protect our Creator-given right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. From the very beginning, our country was focused on goodness.

There is a dark and evil idea among leftists that puts itself in opposition to human existence. In the last two weeks I have seen it evidenced in social media by a woman in political leadership, by nearly half of the U.S. Senate and in an Academy Award nominated popular motion picture. It frightens me, and I hope for all Americans sake that Isaiah 24:5 is wrong.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a recent social media posting said that “And it does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question, you know, ‘Is it okay to still have children?’” Clearly this suggests that we need to reduce the numbers of human beings and a clear justification for abortion. In China when the state limited the number of children to one per couple, culturally having a strong bias towards having boy babies, parents often choose to drown female babies after birth. It has been a common message by extreme environmentalists that we need major reductions in the human population. By any means? The other problem with this ill-conceived idea is being faced by China now. There are not enough new people coming into the work force to help provide and care for the elderly. Talk about throwing Grandma of the cliff. Expect an advocacy for age-based Euthanasia as a bi-product to preserve Medicare for all. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, you will not be young forever.

Democrats recently blocked a vote in the U.S. Senate that would require Doctors to treat botched abortions born alive, rather than their terminating the life of the newborn. There is a word for it. It is called infanticide, the murder of infants. Do you really wish that the same people who voted to allow infanticide will be allocating your healthcare when you are elderly, should they have their way with Medicare for All? Appalling! Of course, the Democrat vote was highly applauded by Planned Parenthood whose founder was Margaret Sanger. Ms. Sanger admired the Eugenics efforts of Adolph Hitler. When I checked out the quotation sites for Margaret Sanger, they all had hearts and flowers types of statements and not one that reflected the evil which resided in that woman.

I just watched Marvels Infinity Wars. The plot revolves around a powerful being seeking a crystal that would give him the power to eliminate half of all humanoid life in the Galaxy. His justification is that the people would be happier with full bellies if half of them were killed, putting less stress on the environment. He further justified his desire by stating that people would be eliminated equally, rich and poor alike. Marvels Super Heroes united to fight him. The holder of the stone on earth was Dr. Strange. The battle was fierce, and many lives were lost in the battle. In the end, as his fellow Super Heroes looked incredulously at him, Dr. Strange gave the powerful being the crystal and said, “It is for the best.” Soon afterwards, 50 percent of all people in the Galaxy turned to dust. The end. The movie endorsed the idea of randomly murdering half of all people for the sake of the environment. This plot twist was not designed for the sake of scaring the audience. It was presented in a very matter-of-fact manner. Remember, “It’s for the best.” I have yet to hear a statement of disgust.

How is it possible that our society has become so obsessed with endorsing something so profoundly evil? How is it that the murder of human beings is being viewed as a virtue? How did we come to have this level of depravity? Please read “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. Then ask yourself, which inner voice you are listening to? The one that wants us to be good, or Screwtape’s?

A Rebuttal to Ronnie

| Opinion | March 7, 2019

By Steven Baron
In last week’s issue (Gazette 1068) Ronnie Nathan made multiple claims about President Trump and his presidency. This article will refute each claim.

Mr. Nathan stated, “There has simply never been such a prolific liar in the White House in the history of the Republic.” Let’s examine two of these alleged lies. The website PolitiFact lists 225 lies attributed to Trump. Two of these so-called “lies” include the following examples: On April 16, 2016, Trump said that professional football coach Rex Ryan “won championships in New York.” On October 11, 2016, Mr. Trump incorrectly identified a Newsweek journalist who claimed that the Benghazi attack was “almost certainly preventable.”

Merriam Webster defines the word “lie” as “an untrue statement with intent to deceive,” and the word “misspeak” as “expressing oneself insufficiently clearly or accurately.” These are two examples of Trump misspeak that the media incorrectly define as “lies.” Does anyone believe that Mr. Trump purposely misrepresented on these two occasions?

The media routinely classifies Trump misspeaks as lies. During a campaign stop in 2008, candidate Barack Obama said he had “visited 57 states.” The mainstream media did not castigate Mr. Obama for this verbal blunder. What if Donald Trump had said the same thing during the 2016 campaign? The media would have jumped on that statement as proof that Mr. Trump is an ignoramus.

Of interest, PolitiFact lists 61 Obama lies, but not Obama’s infamous statement, “You can keep your insurance plan, and your doctor too.” Notwithstanding that Mr. Trump may have truly lied, and not misspoke on occasion, can you recall any lie that Trump has uttered that has had such a profound negative effect on the American populace? The point is clear: Mr. Trump often misspeaks, and the media routinely classifies Trump’s misspeaks as lies. Since the populace routinely gives credence to the media, the notion that Trump is a habitual liar has proliferated.

Mr. Nathan asserts that the Trump presidency is a disaster. What about these administration accomplishments?

*Confronting China by demanding trade reciprocity, and an end to industrial theft.

*Election of two constitutionalist judges to SCOTUS.

*Tax cuts leading to economic prosperity.

*Eliminating burdensome rules and regulations allowing businesses to thrive.

*Ending the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.

*Entering dialogue with North Korea to hopefully lead to their nuclear disarmament.

*Destroying the ISIS caliphate.

*Increasing jobs for all Americans.

*Defending national security by insisting that a wall be built along our southern border.

Mr. Nathan asserts that President Trump normalizes, flaunts and expresses no shame for what Nathan claims are “questionable campaign tactics,” a foreign policy based on selfish personal interests, and paying hush-money to prostitutes. Has the paradox escaped Mr. Nathan as to why Mr. Trump would pay hush money if he normalizes and flaunts his indiscretions?

In regards to Mr. Trump’s extramarital liaisons, he is in company with three former presidents, including Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Bill Clinton – all known White House philanderers. Mr. Trump’s indiscretions occurred long before his presidency. I do not condone his behavior, but have little interest in what Mr. Trump did years ago before his election.

Mr. Nathan believes that Mr. Trump undermines the moral authority of the presidency, and that Trump has convinced his constituency that his behavior is inconsequential, and that he has destroyed the moral compass of America. The term “moral authority of the presidency” is MEANINGLESS. Where in the Constitution is the president bestowed “moral authority”? What defines “moral authority”? The moral compass of America has been destroyed since the 1960s when the “don’t trust anyone over 30” crowd, to America’s everlasting regret, came into prominence.

Mr. Nathan diatribes against Trump supporters, accusing them of blindly supporting Trump’s foreign policy of “crass self-interest” and acquiescing to Trump’s lies. The implication of Nathan’s remarks is that Trump supporters are a homogeneous, blindly loyal, almost cult-like group. To quote Mr. Nathan, “…that America stands for nothing other than what Donald Trump tells them it stands for.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Trump supporters think for themselves. Within the conservative enclave, there is a diversity of opinions on virtually every issue.

Mr. Nathan is perplexed why Evangelical Christians, and by extension, religious Catholics and Jews, support Donald Trump. The answer is not difficult to comprehend. During the 2016 presidential election, we had a choice between two candidates whose personal characters were highly suspect. The slogans attributed to Mr. Trump (“Let’s Make America Great Again”) and his campaign promises (“We’re going to cut taxes and end Obamacare”) appealed to more of the electorate in key electoral states than the specter of an Obama-like presidency under Hillary. Trump supporters are under no illusion that Mr. Trump is a saint. We realize that there is no moral perfection in our political candidates. We vote for imperfect individuals whose ideas and visions for America most closely align with our ideas and values. In other words, we vote with reality in mind.

Mr. Nathan poses the following questions: “Will America survive Donald Trump?” I’m betting on it, just as I am betting that the earth will still be habitable in 12 years. “Will America discover its moral compass as a society and culture?” Yes, when the country adopts Judeo-Christian values. In contrast, Mr. Nathan believes that a moral revival “will likely depend on the character, charisma, and competency of our next president.” Many of us thought that would occur in 2009 upon the election of Barack Obama. How did that work out?

My advice to wishful thinkers: Be careful what you wish for!

Always Advocating Alan – Why Special Benefit Assessment Districts Are So Important To Your Future

| Opinion | March 7, 2019

If you think your property tax bill is too high now, there was a time in California when property tax increases were out of control.

A story highlighting this issue was written by Joel Fox in 2015 for the California Political Review, which stated, “Let me take you back to 1966 to Newhall, California right here in Los Angeles County, to an item that appeared in the local Newhall Signal newspaper. It came with a picture of an elderly couple standing before their house. It would not be unkind to call it a shack. The house was assessed for taxes at the property’s highest and best use, a standard used by assessors at the time. Since an apartment building had been built close by, this elderly couple’s home was assessed as if an apartment building was built there. The couple’s tax bill, in 1966 dollars, was $1800 a year. Their total income was $1900 a year.” But, “the situation got worse. What happened was property values were increasing dramatically in the 1970s—kind of like now. Property taxes are a function of the tax rate and the value of the property. If the tax rates were not adjusted but the property value increased, taxes zoomed up.”

The problem gave birth to Proposition 13, which was approved on June 6, 1978 by California voters. “It capped the property tax rate, allowed a limited increase for inflation, reassessments on sale of property, and required a supermajority vote in the legislature for state taxes and a vote of the people on local tax increases.” In addition, Proposition 13 went on to limit “ad valorem tax” to 1 percent of the property’s assessed value, returned property tax assessments to their 1976 value, and limited assessed value inflation to a maximum of 2 percent per year.

While Proposition 13 gave homeowners welcomed tax relief, it also created big challenges for local municipalities to gain new revenues to fund services they provide. The answer came on November 5, 1996 when voters approved Proposition 218, “The Right to Vote on Taxes Act.” This bill included “additional requirements for special benefit assessments on real property as well as numerous requirements for property-related fees and charges, such as utility fees imposed by local governments which are no longer allowed to exceed the cost of providing the utility service.”

I am a great proponent of Proposition 218 Special Benefit Districts, as it is a way to finance local services and improvements which the community needs. Why am I so supportive? Because Proposition 218 districts are required to use revenue generated, within the specified district boundaries, for the purposes established when the district is created by a vote of the affected property owners who will be paying the bill. In addition, fees established may not exceed the cost of the service or improvement. Such a structure and restrictions were enacted to prevent funds from being raided for other purposes. Plus, it puts local municipalities in a position of having to sell services similar to a private venture.

But, with any legislation aimed to fix a problem, there comes a dark side. Unfortunately, Proposition 218 allows “Protest Elections” where 50 percent of the eligible property weighted votes, + 1 opposing vote must be cast, in order to prevent an assessment from being levied. Next, ballots are weighted and counted by a property’s assessed value and use. Developers are allowed to vote with the weight of entitled, but not yet build developments, even though they will not be charged until each section of their development is completed. There is also the issue of developers using “Special Benefit Districts” as a substitute for “Mello-Roos Districts,” which have become unpopular and detrimental to selling property. In this case, a Developer will approach a municipality to form a “Special Benefit District” within the boundaries of their development. Since they own the entire property, they will be the only voter, which assures passage.

Currently, we are also reading about municipalities pushing the envelope of what may be included in, and paid for, by “Special Benefit Districts.” So, this is what makes Special Benefit Assessment Districts so important to the well-being of our residents. Very often, additions are small and incremental, not rising to the level to garner public outrage. But, in each case, they result in small additions to your property tax bills and cumulatively they make a substantial difference. California in general, and Santa Clarita more specifically, have become expensive places to live. Younger family breadwinners in increasing numbers have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, while seniors, living on meager pensions or social security are being priced out of their homes. While Special Benefit Districts may not be the major cause of heartache or homelessness in our valley, they do contribute to escalating housing costs and are a process which should be transparent and clearly represented, in order to provide the residents an opportunity to challenge fees and services they do not feel are needed.

Those are the specific reasons I have been following the “Landscape and Streetlight Special Benefit District” issue closely and have been asking so many questions. Last week, city staff provided the answers to my query initiated 10 weeks ago, and published them in the Gazette across from my column. (Staff response is also available on the Gazette website). Although I may not agree with all the information provided, I appreciate having finally received a response. Since they have been provided in writing, there is a reduced possibility of misinterpretation, or confusion, over the city’s position. For now, I’ll leave it to you, the reader, to determine if the answers are timely and acceptable.

But let’s not forget this issue, because around May each year, all Special Benefit Assessment District “Maximum Assessment” amounts and “Actual Assessment” fees, which is what will appear on your Property Tax Bill, will be brought before the city council for approval.

At that time, there will be an opportunity for another careful look.

Dick and Jane Have Come A Long Way

| Opinion | March 7, 2019

by Dale Paule

I came across an old book the other day that I had when I was in fourth grade called, “Dick and Jane.”

It was used in elementary schools to teach young children both the basics of learning to read, and equally important, basic family values.

I’m sure some of you older folks remember it. The book featured a typical American family, starting with Father, the family’s breadwinner, followed by Mother, who baked the bread, and finally, their two average, wholesome pre-teen children, Dick, and his kid sister, Jane. They helped eat the bread.

Oh, yes, can’t forget old Spot, the family dog who seemed to always be running about with Dick and Jane, wagging his tail, and giving out with a happy “Woof” to show that he too was a part of their happy family.

As strange as it may seem to some these days, that’s how it was.

The family worked together, played together, and laughed together; but most important of all, they stayed together.

We’ve come an awful long way since that book and it’s depiction of what a then average family was about, and it got me to wondering what the picture of a typical American family of today might look like; or perhaps only as some would like to think it should.

Let’s take a shot at it.

Father would likely no longer be allowed to hold such a sexist role as, “Head of the Family.” The new society wouldn’t allow it! Instead, perhaps he might be a professor at one of the more “Open minded” universities, teaching “Groupthink-101.”

And Mother; well, once she found how she’d been taken advantage of all those years, she up and joined a group of like-minded and enlightened mothers who celebrated their new-found freedom by launching a “Protest du jour” on anything opposing their viewpoint. “You name it, we’ll blame it,” is their motto.

Poor Dick, on the other hand, is totally confused by the whole thing, and spends his day in pajamas in his “safe space,” sending out blogs from his computer, threatening boycotts against organizations which don’t conform to his idea of being “inclusive,” or some other grown-up word he’s heard recently and grown fond of using.

Then there’s Jane, the formally cute, freckle-faced kid sister, who has become a snip off the old Mother’s locks, and is in total rebellion against “genderization.” She spends her days attempting to shed herself of any resemblance to either gender.

And finally, what of old Spot? How has time and circumstance affected him? You’ll be happy to know that in spite of all the changes around him, he’s still pretty much the same running about, tail wagging old Spot.

Come to think of it, there is one thing different about him, though. He just doesn’t give a “Woof” anymore.

Gullible’s Travels Starring President Trump

| Opinion | March 7, 2019

If there’s a sucker born every minute, our commander-in-chief is clearly the man of the hour.

What’s fascinating about this president is how an expert con man (as he is) can so easily be conned.

In nearly every foray abroad, President Trump has exhibited either gullibility, complicity or a deliberate willingness to accept at face value the word of foreign dictators and autocrats. Of course, he does this while choosing to ignore the intelligence and counsel provided by his own expert advisers.

Trump has proven, once again, that he is a world-class chump.

After making a 14,000-mile trip to Vietnam and back for his much-heralded second round of “Deal or No Deal” with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un, the president returned empty-handed. Save one thing: Kim’s assurances that he had absolutely nothing to do with the death of 22-year-old Otto Warmbier, the Ohio college student taken hostage and murdered by the Kim regime. While Kim may not have actively participated in the torture that led to Warmbier’s neurological injuries, subsequent coma and eventual death, nothing of any magnitude takes place in North Korea without his express knowledge or approval.

The 2016 arrest and incarceration of a foreign national – especially one holding American citizenship – would have certainly been brought to Kim’s attention. Warmbier was a bargaining chip for Kim then and remains so even after he has been laid to rest.

When questioned by a reporter as to whether he’d discussed Warmbier’s treatment during his meetings with Kim, the president said the dictator told him that “he didn’t know about it and I will take him at his word.”

On yet another of Gullible’s Travels to Vietnam (for the 2017 APEC summit), Trump was asked whether he and Vladimir Putin had discussed Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Trump told reporters, “[Putin said] I didn’t do that. I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

Maybe it’s something in the air in Vietnam or, perhaps, just jet lag that makes the president so susceptible to digesting disinformation when it’s being spoon-fed to him by foreign strongmen. Whatever the case, Trump’s reaction is a variation on a theme: “I will take him at his word”; “I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”

When asked last fall whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a hand in the execution of columnist Jamal Khashoggi of The Washington Post, the president said the prince told him he didn’t. Of the Saudis, Trump added, “I want to believe them. I really want to believe them.”

What the president really believes is that if he repeats the same refrain over and over, his dreams will come true. Some psychologists call this “magical thinking.” Others call it delusional. There is nothing magical about cold-blooded murder. There is something pathetic, how-ever, about a president who is quick to accept the assurances of world-class criminals.

Not so the family of Warmbier. When their son returned home shortly before his death last June, they expressed gratitude to President Trump’s administration for the “quiet diplomacy” that led to their son’s release. Gratitude, however, has its limits.

In response to the president’s assertion that the North Korean dictator was telling the truth when he said he had nothing to do with Warmbier’s murder, the young man’s family is-sued a statement that read, “Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son. No excuses or lavish praise can change that.”

This president obsessively fixates on the media, branding them purveyors of “fake news” even when what’s reported is credibly sourced and documented. He ignores the findings of his hand-picked team of intelligence professionals. He bends truth and reality to suit his will. Yet, when it comes to leaders of enemy states and authoritarian regimes, he readily accepts and embraces outright lies and disinformation, allowing them to play him for a fool. Trump does so not just at his peril, but ours as well.

That is not only inexcusable. It’s dangerous.

Copyright 2019 Blair Bess distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.Blair Bess is an award-winning journalist and columnist. He can be reached at bbess@soaggragated.com.

Thinking About Daylight Saving Time

| Opinion | March 7, 2019

by William Tozzi

The time will be upon us again
when we’re told to adjust timepieces.
Does the hour spring back or ahead?
I can’t seem recall the thesis.

When I switch to Daylight Saving Time
I’ll see the sun set an hour later.
But, I’ll see it rise an hour later, too.
So my daylight won’t be any greater.

It’s like moving to the next time zone.
My biological clock gets mixed-up.
It might take a little while
until my sleep-cycle gets fixed-up.

I’ll have no idea what time it is.
High noon occurs at One O’clock.
And my little dog would be perturbed
due to the new time for his walk.

So this spring I won’t be making
the required temporal change.
I’ll be leaving my clocks as they are,
which you might think is kind of strange.

In the fall when we’re all directed
to move the hands and digits back.
I’ll just relax and won’t have to fret
since my clocks will be exact.

Do we really need Daylight Saving Time?
Why can’t we do like Arizona?
In the spring and in the fall,
we should leave the time alona.

Copyright 2019, William Tozzi, Golden Pen Writers Guild, Santa Clarita, CA

Always Advocating Alan – While Your Perceptions May Be Your Reality, Are Your Perceptions Accurate?

| Opinion | February 28, 2019

Being a senior, every now and then I sit back and think about all the good times I have been afforded over my lifetime. I have truly been blessed, being married to my wife Pam for almost 56 years, and having two great sons and five beautiful grandchildren. Both my wife and I have been employed by companies which truly cared about their employees and helped both of us advance in our chosen careers. Now, being comfortable in retirement, I have reached the conclusion that the best age to be is the age you currently are. Every age has advantages and challenges, considering how we and the world change over time. If I were to discuss today’s challenges, which I feel are less than pleasant, I would talk about becoming aware of all my family and friends who pass on and are no longer with us.

Just last week, I received an email telling of Mr. Herb Abrams leaving this world while on a trip to Florida. Herb was approximately 20 years my senior, and we met shortly after the beginning of my employment at Litton Guidance. He was the Vice-President of Product Assurance and I worked for him, off and on, for almost 40 years. He was intelligent, fair, and caring. He was a person I was proud and happy to work for, and I learned a great deal just by my interaction with him.

I vividly remember that whenever a meeting was not going the way he felt was appropriate, he would pause for a moment, remove his glasses, bow his head, and rake his hands through his hair. Then after a moment of silence, he would sit up straight and provide his assessment of the issue. During one of the first times I was present to witness his signature method of showing concern, he rose to remind us, “a person’s perception is their reality.” When I gave him a questioning look, he went on to tell me, “You cannot change a person’s perception with words alone. You must lay out indisputable facts and exhibit a behavior which will allow an individual to discover the truth themselves.” His advice and coaching that day left an indelible impression on my career and life-long attitude in dealing with others. Unfortunately, the last time I saw Herb, he did not recognize me, as his mind was no longer sharp. I tried a little levity by saying, “Herb, it’s me, your favorite employee.” To which he asked, “I was a good boss, wasn’t I?” I responded, “Yes Herb, you were the greatest.”

It was some 20 work years later when Herb’s words helped me gain far better insight into how even unintended behaviors might cause a lasting perceived conflict. By this time, I was a Department Manager and was sitting in for my director who was out of town, when the phone rang. It was Herb’s secretary, who told me Herb was out of town, at a customer’s facility, and wanted to know if I could attend a meeting for him. She went on to tell me the time and place, and that all senior staff members had been invited to attend. But when I asked about the subject, the answer came back, “I do not know.” Well, no problem, I replied, I’ll handle it.

I thought about the meeting and decided to arrive a few minutes early. Hopefully, there would be someone there who could clue me in on the subject matter. All was going according to plan when I arrived at the appointed conference room and started in the door. As I looked in, I could see three people had already arrived. As a long-term employee, I knew each of them, what they did, and the departments where they worked. As none of them were in management, I was concerned the meeting may have been moved. I’ll admit, not knowing the subject, I was embarrassed to ask questions. I thought about pulling my head out of the doorway and going down the hall to ask Herb’s secretary if I was in the right place, when I heard, “Hi Al, glad you could join us.” I sat down next to those already there, engaged in small talk and waited for the room to fill.

I found out was I had been invited to attend a “Cultural Diversity Seminar.” The three employees, who were already there, were the guests of honor. They were going to present their impressions of what it was like to be black and work at our company. The first young lady got up in front of the room and stated, “If I am alone, I will never go to a meeting early.” After a moment of silence for the audience to take in her statement, she went on to say, “If I arrive at a meeting early and I am the only person in the room, other attendees would stick their head in the door, and when they see only me in attendance, would leave and not return until later.” She was convinced that the reason they left was “because she was black,” and nothing anyone subsequently said convinced her otherwise. I remember feeling great admiration for this young lady, who displayed enough inner strength to share her feelings with our senior management team. It was a gamble, as she had no idea how her comments would be taken, or what might happen after the meeting concluded. It was one of those times where nothing risked equals nothing gained.

I personally was taken aback, as I almost did that very same thing. But not because she was black. First, a lack of knowing the subject matter made me hesitant to ask questions. As a Department Manager who spent many parts of a day running from meeting to meeting, it was not unusual to get to the next gathering, observe the meeting was not ready to start, and leave to get some coffee, make a quick phone call, or take a trip to the rest room. I now realized that my behavior might be interpreted by some individuals as a personal affront. If she felt that way because of her race, what about individuals of other heritages? Could some feel disrespected just because of their job function or position within the company hierarchy?

I quickly inwardly vowed to never do that again, but I also did not think that would be enough. In my department, I held weekly staff meetings with all my employees. It was an opportune time to share what I learned and ask everyone to be sensitive to the feelings of others. All I asked was for my guys to say something if they needed to leave for a short time and accomplish anything prior to the start of a meeting. The purpose was simply to ensure any individual remaining did not get the impression they were leaving because of them. I also put the subject in my reminder file to be discussed periodically.

Today, it seems a lot of people are spending a great deal of effort looking for examples of discrimination. I fully realize racial and religious prejudice has not been eliminated and still exists within a part of our population. But wouldn’t it be better for us all if we spent more time and effort looking inward for ways to show our friends and neighbors that we are all on the same team? To that end, I ask you to remember Herb’s words when he said, “a person’s perception is their reality. You cannot change a person’s perception with words alone. You must lay out indisputable facts and exhibit a behavior which will allow an individual to discover the truth themselves.” His advice is as relevant today, as it was when I first heard it, so many years ago.

Responding to Carrie Lujan, City Communications Manager

In last week’s Gazette, Ms. Lujan indicated the purchase of streetlights with conversion to LEDs represented a $30 million savings during the first 30 years. Where did that estimate come from? The published Staff Reports indicated the savings were $22 million and the cost of bond repayment was $26.5 million, both projected over 30 years. Unless she is using “gamblers math,” there are no savings.

She further emphasized residents would be able to ask questions, and extensive community outreach would be accomplished before any further changes to the Streetlight Districts would be presented. How about a commitment from the city to answer the questions that residents ask? For example, I responded to her invitation and called in questions on December 21, then put my questions in writing on January 17, and since reminded her twice. Yet, no answers have been received to date.

Carrie Lujan, Communications Manager, City of Santa Clarita responds:

  • The $30 million in estimated operational savings is the current estimate resulting from favorable bond interest rates at the time of bond issuance. The $22 million in savings identified to City Council in May 2017 were net of expenses and based on bond market conditions at that time. When bonds were issued a year later (May 2018), bond interest rates were more favorable, yielding additional forecasted savings.
  • Mr. Ferdman had several questions and misunderstandings in regards to this issue. Deputy City Manager Darren Hernández was directed by the City Manager to answer Mr. Ferdman’s questions at the February 12, 2019, City Council meeting. Mr. Hernández spoke with Mr. Ferdman and pointed out the inaccuracies in his statement. Mr. Ferdman had additional questions he wanted answered, but refused to speak further with Mr. Hernández, who is the expert on the issue. To ensure we were extending every professional courtesy, Mr. Hernández even offered to sit down with Mr. Ferdman to review the documents to clear up his confusion. This kind offer was rejected on multiple occasions.
    Since Mr. Ferdman is insistent on having a response in writing, please see his questions and answers below:

Please explain the assertion, “Some LMD zones, finance local park maintenance with funds from their LMD assessment and their property tax. This two-tiered funding created an inequity”. How are they paying with both their property tax and assessment?

Property owners within these local LMD zones previously supported the maintenance of City parks through their annual LMD assessments and general property tax contributions.

For example, upon creation of the Northbridge LMD by Los Angeles County, one intent of the zone was to fund maintenance of Northbridge Park. In addition to funding maintenance of their neighborhood park through assessment revenues, parcel owners residing within the Northbridge community also contribute general property taxes used to fund maintenance for parks throughout Santa Clarita.

What is the inequity?

All 13 parks are accessible to all residents of the City. Property owners Citywide fund park maintenance through a portion of their general (1%) property tax. In addition, property owners in certain areas also funded park maintenance through a special assessment for landscape maintenance in conjunction with funding park maintenance through a portion of their general (1%) property tax.

Is the maintenance of these parks specifically disclosed in their LMD Assessment Special Benefit analysis and Engineers Report?

Yes.

Name the 13 parks referenced by the ballot information and provide their location.

Almendra Park
Chesebrough Park
Circle J Park
Copper Hill Park
David March Park
Duane Harte Park
Fair Oaks Park
Golden Valley Park
Marketplace Park
Northbridge Park
Valencia Glenn Park
Valencia Meadows Park
West Creek Park

Are these parks all open for public use?

Yes.

If Staff believes this situation is unfair, why hasn’t staff proposed an appropriate reduction in assessment fees to the council, as it could be accomplished without a property owner vote?

It cannot be accomplished without a property owner vote. The permanent modification of a special assessment rate authorized by the Landscape and Lighting Act of 1972 must be approved through a protest ballot process among all affected property owners.

Previously, when you explained the $4.5 Million transferred out of the Lighting district Assessment figures, documented in the Engineers report, you spoke of the amount necessary to fund the Tanko contract, but failed to mention what happened to the remaining $58,990 which you did not account for?

The amount represents the Streetlight Assessment Fund’s annual required personnel contribution towards retirement health benefits ($4,506) and pension liability payments ($54,484).

Also, why was $464,352 transferred-out of the Ad Valorem Account and then moved to the assessment accounts?

The City Council approved a transfer of $4,444,513 from the Ad Valorem Fund to the Streetlight Assessment Fund as part of the 2018-19 Annual Budget. This transfer was necessary to correct budget appropriation of bond proceeds supporting the City’s streetlight acquisition project.

When will the Engineers report be corrected to show revenue and costs associated with Lighting District 1 and 2 individually?

The engineers report is correct and does not require correction. The City of Santa Clarita has one (1) lighting district funded by a special assessment. Streetlight maintenance services are funded through a blend of assessment revenue and property taxes. The engineers report is related to the levy of special assessments. There are two assessment rates for streetlights: $12.38 (referred to as Zone A for identification purposes) and $81.71 (referred to as Zone B for identification purposes). Property tax revenue is transferred into the streetlight assessment fund to cover the gap between assessment revenue and the cost of streetlight maintenance.

The cost of the Revenue Bonds to purchase and upgrade the streetlights to LEDs has been included in one, or both, of the lighting Benefit District (District 1 and 2). Why does staff feel is appropriate to add payment of the Revenue Bond debt to the District(s) without a property owner vote of acceptance?

The pledge of special revenue, including the existing street lighting revenue, to repay the financing issued to purchase the streetlight system does not require voter approval.

Other Issues:

City staff never intended to give property owners a landscape assessment reduction.

Under the rate modification process that was terminated, seven (7) of the twenty one (21) proposed reductions would have reduced the maximum assessment rate below the actual rate assessed for Fiscal Year 18-19. In addition, the rates for five (5) other landscape zones proposed for a reduction of the maximum rate were assessed $0.00 for FY 18-19, two (2) because the costs were shifted to another funding source and three (3) because of surplus reserves are being drawn down. Two (2) zones were slated for increase, one (1) because of the request of a developer to increase the level of maintenance and one (1) because of a cost shift related to a reduction in an overlapping zone.

A scope addition was mysteriously added in the current engineers report without approval by a vote of the ratepayers. This language should be deleted and the purchase of the streetlights should be paid by the General Fund.

The engineers report as prepared by the independent “registered professional engineer certified by the State of California” was drafted by the professional engineer, and was approved by the City Council following a duly noticed public hearing, in full compliance with Proposition 218 and State Law. Proposition 218 does not require a vote of property owners in order to make the modification to the annual engineers report that you referenced. Also, Proposition 218 does not require a vote of property owners in order to issue financing that is repaid by special assessments.

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