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No Hollywood Ending for Harvey Weinstein

| Opinion | 17 hours ago

Hooray for Hollywood.

Actors, actresses, producers, writers, directors, executives, and those who run around and do their dirty work are jumping up and down on the casting couch, attempting to trample it once and for all. Too little, too late.

The salacious details emerging over film producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults on actresses, writers, models, and journalists in The New York Times and The New Yorker sound as though they’ve sprung from the pages of The National Enquirer, “TMZ” or “Access Hollywood.” The facts of each incident, as reported by Weinstein’s victims, read like scenes in a bad episode of “Law and Order: SVU.” But this is no screenplay, nor is it a story about the dark side of Hollywood.

Sexual misconduct by people in power has made the news repeatedly in recent years. We have heard allegations of assault against the likes of the president, comedian Bill Cosby and many other well-known performers including, most recently, the brothers Affleck. These allegations have repeatedly been denied, ignored, swept under the carpet, or buried in as deep a hole as a backhoe can dig. Intimidation, threats of reprisals, and legal action have been taken. Careers have been threatened. Payoffs have been made.

Sexual impropriety is not a partisan issue. It is perpetrated by Republicans, Democrats, Independents, liberals and conservatives, men and women — famous and otherwise. It takes place in boardrooms, around the water cooler, and in barrooms, restaurants and fancy hotel suites.

Reports of environments hostile to women have emerged of late in seemingly progressive bastions like Silicon Valley. There, the behavior is part of what has been labeled “bro culture.” It has been conspicuous at the headquarters of Über, but has also been found in the offices of other one-named tech brands, as well as many of the venture capital firms who fund them.

Similar episodes have long been experienced by government workers, by women and men who serve in our nation’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies. Sexual assaults occur at colleges and universities. The sports world – especially at the college and amateur level – is rife with tales of harassment and assault.

Sexual harassment and abuse is not only a physical act. With these latest revelations, we must also address what constitutes “locker room talk” or “boys being boys” and acknowledge that words and suggestive comments may be just as gut-wrenching and violating to the victim as any bodily intrusion; sticks and stones be damned. Any man or woman who has ever made an untoward sexual remark or gesture toward or in the presence of a member of the opposite or same sex is complicit in this behavior.

It would be hypocritical of me to address this topic without confessing my own culpability. Despite having attended a formerly all-women’s college and being steeped in feminist ideology and the concept of gender equality, I have made tactless, inappropriate remarks and insensitive comments in the past that I deeply regret. It requires effort, understanding and mindfulness to keep impulsive language at bay. I do my best. If you are a man or woman who has done so and choose to remain in denial or ignore your own past actions, I urge you to look in the mirror at your earliest opportunity.

The aggressive behavior attributed to Harvey Weinstein is especially disheartening for those who have benefited from his financial and professional largesse. Perhaps even more so, due to his support of liberal social and political causes many of them hold dear. But sexual harassment and abuse is apolitical. It is as equally unacceptable for Hollywood producers and others in powerful positions as it is for the president.

The growing number of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged victims may take some solace in knowing they are not alone, that their stories are being corroborated, and their courage to come forward may be a defining moment in the battle to confront sexual assault, intimidation, and harassment in the workplace and in our society. It would be nice if episodes like this will one day be nothing more than a bad flashback, a distant memory that fades out and away. That, unfortunately, is unlikely. It would be too much of a happy Hollywood ending.

Hooray for Hollywood

| Opinion | October 19, 2017

by Joe Messina

I was thinking on how over the last few weeks (that) Hollywood’s true colors are showing. Then I quickly slapped myself back into reality. Hollywood’s colors have been showing for years, but the progressive, self-righteous Hollywoodites would have you believe it’s just a few disgruntled wannabees who are whining. NOT!

As the weeks have gone on, it’s dawned on many of us that the socialist progressive Democrats run Hollywood. The Hollywood elites are always having $50,000-per-plate dinners while lecturing us about how much they care for the poor and downtrodden.

They would have you believe they are the most righteous creatures on the planet while looking the other way as pedophilia runs rampant in their industry. Remember, at the core of these people, they are liberal. Everything goes. No right or wrong. No moral compass. Socially progressive Democrats!

Though MANY complaints have been made by child actors since the late 1950s, the usual answer was, “that’s just the industry” and “there are 200 others waiting to take your place kid,” so it was ignored and brushed aside. Todd Bridges from “Different Strokes” says he was abused by his publicist at the age of 12. Nothing was done.

In 1977 Roman Polanski was charged and convicted (on) five counts of sexual assault and rape of a 13-year-old. He fled the country to avoid jail. However, Hollywood calls him a genius on a regular basis. He gets standing ovations for his movies. He has received awards via video stream because he can’t come back here. Only progressive socialist Hollywood Democrats could find a reason to honor a fugitive rapist and actually try to justify it. SICK. Not unlike a recent presidential candidate who laughed about successfully freeing the rapist of a 12-year-old girl. SICK!

“Lost Boys” actor, Corey Haim, was convinced by an adult in the business that it was perfectly acceptable for older men to have sexual relations with young boys. Sure it is! Director Victor Salva was convicted of molesting a 1 year-old boy who was to star in his movie “Clownhouse.”

It’s reported that Marc Collins-Rector and Chad Shackley host many big Hollywood parties with young boys in attendance. Actress Thandie Newton sent a video to movie studio heads of a director asking her to touch herself for him. Nothing!

Another famous one, Woody Allen! Dylan Farrow (daughter of Woody and Mia Farrow) proved that her father had been abusing her for years. However, Hollywood still calls this guy a genius! Low Standards? No standards!
Many directors, casting directors, and publicists well-known in Hollywood have been charged and convicted of assaulting underage children in “the business.” Some even had pictures of their actions with those kids and passed them around.

In 2012, a bill was finally passed to protect child actors against these kinds of animals. Why did it take so long? Because powerful people didn’t want it. Powerful people who fund people’s campaigns didn’t want it. And legislators killed it before it even made it on the legislative floor! Can you believe that up until 2012, yes 2012, there were no laws stopping convicted child molesters from working with kids?!

In 2014, Jason Handy, a production assistant for Nickelodeon, was given a second chance to sexually assault children. YUP, that’s right! After being accused once before, he was moved within the company, but they allowed him to keep working with children! In 2014 alone, there were at least another half dozen lawsuits brought against producers and directors. WHY weren’t criminal charges filed?

Amy Berg’s documentary about child abuse in Hollywood was released in only (three) theatres and then pulled completely after a large, powerful union threatened to bury her in legal fees. So much for protecting the kids.

Remember, it’s not just children and this is not new. And this industry has been run by what group for years? Progressive, leftist, socialist Democrats! At one point they at least had the decency to make movies that were patriotic and uplifting. Now they push movies that make fun of God, traditional families, and moral values. These sexual predators are actually telling you what behavior is OK. They’re telling us when kids can have sex and with whom (or what), telling you in a constant barrage on TV and in the movies that your values are old and outdated and that they know better. And yet, you still buy the tickets! You still pay the monthly cable bill. Do you approve of their content? Of their behavior?

Remember I said, the sexual predator problem goes back to at least the 1950s? Well, how about back to 1921. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle was accused of raping and killing actress Virginia Rappe. In 1940, little Shirley Temple had a big MGM producer unzip his pants and show her something small. She was only 12. Other biggies like Joan Collins, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Charlize Theron, Mira Sorvino, Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence, and Shirley Temple (and many more) were assaulted. Some even lost parts for refusing to participate.

Louis B. Mayer, Roman Polanski, Bill Cosby, George Clooney, and many more to come, I’m sure.

 

Errol Flynn had a two-year affair with a 15-year-old. People heard her screaming for help (but) it wasn’t until he grabbed a second underage girl that he was arrested, charged, and found NOT GUILTY. Sick!

Recently, Casey Affleck was accused by two different women of sexual assault. He (allegedly) came into their rooms at night after they were asleep. What’s even worse, after they are settled out of court, Casey goes on to win various awards. He should have been ashamed to even show up!

George Clooney was accused of sexual assault on the set of “ER.” Four claimed Bill Clinton sexually assaulted them and more claimed extramarital activity. Bill Cosby was accused by more than 50 women of sexual assault.

Sixteen of Harvey Weinstein’s former executives or assistants said they KNEW of the many unwanted sexual advances on women, and even rapes. Why aren’t these people being arrested?

A wide-scale investigation needs to be launched from an outside agency to look at child abuse and sexual abuse in “the business.” It needs to stop. Harvey Weinstein is the tip of the iceberg…

When you come from a position of greatness you think that the world revolves around you, that you can’t do anything wrong and everything you think is right, must be just, and is true. That’s the making of an immoral time bomb of nuclear proportions.

People, we allow this to happen. We treat these celebrities like gods, as if they can do no wrong! We buy their music, their movies, and go to their sporting events no matter what they choose to do in their lives. We give music moguls who promote drugs, female abuse, and violence, millions of dollars and honor them too with awards. We give sports superstars awards and more money, even after they beat their women unconscious in elevators and force dogs to fight within an inch of their lives.

We have created an environment where immorality is no longer embarrassing and may even win you an Oscar. And saving yourself for your future wife or husband or serving your God is foolish and ignorant and you are ridiculed.

Maybe the Mayans were right. The world didn’t cease to exist. The world just did a 180 and ceased to exist the way it used to be. Normality is now wrong, and wrong is now normal!

Always Advocating Alan – Native Americans, the United Nations and Columbus Day

| Opinion | October 19, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

Last Monday, officially Columbus Day, passed without the world coming to an end, just like January 1, 2000. Only this time, it wasn’t about a computer problem, but a group’s perception that it should be renamed “Indigenous Peoples Day.” The concept confused me, because I could not understand the link between the two. Dating back to my grammar school days, all I remember about Columbus Day is “in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” accompanied by the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Forgive me, but I always thought Columbus Day commemorated the first European to successfully sail the Atlantic Ocean and find the Americas.

So, I did a little research and found: “Columbus Day is a national holiday in many countries of the Americas and elsewhere, officially celebrating the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. It is “Columbus Day” in the U.S., “Día de la Raza” (“Day of the Race”) in Latin America, “Día de la Hispanidad” and “Fiesta Nacional” in Spain, “Día de las Américas” in Belize and Uruguay, “Día del Respeto a la Diversidad Cultural” in Argentina, and as “Giornata Nazionale di Cristoforo Colombo” in Italy. “These holidays have been unofficially celebrated since the late 18th century and they have been officially celebrated in various countries since the early 20th century,” says Wikipedia.

With all those countries celebrating Columbus Day, what is the problem? What is Indigenous Peoples Day? The definition of indigenous is: “originating or occurring naturally in a particular place or native.” Well, I was born here naturally, so I am a native American — does that make me an indigenous person? Do I now have a holiday all about me?

I checked Wikipedia and found that “in 1977, the International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, sponsored by the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, began to discuss replacing Columbus Day in the United States with a celebration to be known as Indigenous Peoples Day.” It was first instituted in Berkeley in 1992 for the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.

Oh, now I get it! Just like Agenda 21, this is another attempt by the United Nations elite in Europe to take over our country and tell us how to live and think. Aren’t these the same people responsible for persecuting Jews, Poles, Armenians, etc.? They want to tell us how to think? Then, of course, an institution like Berkley could not resist another round of self-flagellation and joined with the United Nations whole heartedly.

What I found the most surprising was the number of Americans ready to make the switch without any understanding of what they were celebrating. Currently, it appears to be chic to use history to discredit everything about past events, while at the same time excusing themselves by yelling how much they love America. How much more of this nonsense are we supposed to endure?

Getting back to Indigenous Peoples Day, if we want to look at Native American history and honor those deserving, I am all for it. In 2006, my wife and I rode to the Wall with the Vietnam Vets. When we passed through the Navajo Nation, we were greeted warmly, fed and provided an outstanding presentation of their culture and patriotism. Remember the Navajo code talkers of WWII? How the Navajo tribe loves their ancestors, their culture and their patriotic achievements is something to be admired.

A few years ago I rode to Sturgis with a friend. We decided to pass our destination on the outbound trip, and visit Little Big Horn. It was time well spent, as we toured the 6-mile battlefield, narrated by a young Crow, while we were being driven around by a member of the Sioux tribe. I left with a far better understanding of how Native Americans lived and fought than I was ever able to learn by watching movies or studying school texts.

Having a clear understanding of how the United States came to be a great nation is pivotal for us to keep making progress. But, it is important we embrace the concept that visionaries are no benefit if the problem is already solved. Going all the way back to the Declaration of Independence, some cast aspersions on Thomas Jefferson because he inherited a plantation that included slaves. Remember, at that time in Virginia slavery was an accepted practice. It was a time when Jefferson’s vision, “all men are created equal,” was radical. Without his break with current norms, Lincoln may never have written the Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery when our union was only 87 years old.

History is something to be studied. Learning how our country was formed and how we got to where we are today provides a better understanding of how to make a better tomorrow. Our journey as a country will never end, but we will never improve if we beat each other up about the past, rather than learning from it. We must avoid trying to rewrite history to meet our perceived needs, and instead look to preserve the truth.

I am perfectly happy to celebrate Columbus Day and remember the first European who sailed across the Atlantic. I believe his achievement does not conflict with honoring Native American history. Having the holiday stand alone is the best way to show respect for all. I hope you will be able to celebrate both with me next year.

U.S. As Understudy to the World

| Opinion | October 12, 2017

by Blair Bess

We have yet to see clear evidence of the president’s artistry as a dealmaker. To date, he has failed to cut any deals on health care or immigration reform. He may yet endure another failure, should a tax plan be brought to a vote on the Senate floor next week. A more looming negotiation “tactic” is even closer on the horizon: the decision as to whether he will decertify the comprehensive Iran nuclear agreement, thus opening the door for Congress to impose new, tougher sanctions on Iran.

The president is less the dealmaker he believes himself to be, more a blue-sky kind of a guy. Like an adult ADHD patient off his meds, ideas pop into his head rapid fire. Unable to process them logically, he makes bellicose pronouncements via Twitter or in five-second sound bites unleashed on the fly. While they may play well with the president’s base, they have all the weight of empty thought balloons. He leaves it to his advisors and cabinet to fill in the blanks in hopes they will give his declarations any heft.

Diplomacy is not a political football; nor should we be taking a knee in protest of the president’s game plan (or lack thereof). It is fourth and one. This is our two-minute warning. We cannot remain silent on the sidelines.

If the president truly wishes to put America first and make it great again, he will cast aside the need to take one more opportunity to slam the legislative agenda and policies of his predecessor and think about the consequences of his words and actions. There is a great deal at stake. The United States is not the only signatory to the Iran Nuclear agreement. We were joined by some of our closest allies, including England, France and Germany, in addition to our oft-time nemeses, the Russian Federation and China.

It is highly doubtful that any, or all, of these partners to the agreement will go along with the president’s decision to withdraw; just as they were not party to his withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Doing so in either of these instances simply was, and is, not in their nations’ best interests, those that are increasingly at odds with the president’s. By continually going it alone — or at least suggesting he will do so through indecipherable Trumpspeak — the United States is becoming increasingly isolated and irrelevant. He is widening the gap between what our leadership position once was and now is in the world.

Through pressure — gentle and otherwise — and serious negotiation, the world convinced the Iranians that it was in everyone’s best interests to sign a nuclear agreement. Iran put in effect a moratorium on developing nuclear arms and gave up its uranium enrichment capabilities and stockpiles in exchange for lifting of sanctions and the opportunity to rejoin the world’s economy. This was not “the worst deal ever,” as the president suggests. As is the case with any negotiated settlement, there were wins and losses on both sides. But granting Iran the ability to re-enter the free market was a win-win for everyone involved.

Almost immediately upon signing the nuclear agreement, major U.S. corporations reached out to Iran to reestablish business ties; Boeing entered a contract to sell $3 billion in jets to an Iranian airline. Tech companies, financial institutions and, of course, major oil industry firms from both the U.S. and its allies scrambled to do likewise. All seemed ready to get down to business. How does an agreement like that hurt U.S. companies — those needed to make America great again?

The Iranians need access to world markets and if the administration chooses to shun them, there is no doubt they will reach accords with European industries at very favorable terms.

In the last year, Royal Dutch Shell signed an agreement to develop two Iranian oil facilities; two Iranian airlines entered prospective deals with the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus. Under terms of the Iranian agreement, the U.S. needed to give its approval for the Airbus deal to proceed. It did so. By not being party to the nuclear agreement, our blessing would be nothing more than a worthless appeal to empty skies.

Should we continue down the path the president is leading us and accept his ambiguous promises to renegotiate the Iran agreement under “better” terms, the United States will be nothing more than one nation alone, first in rhetoric, and last in logic.

Standing united as a democratic front against more oppressive regimes is of great import to our friends and allies, yet it is hard to imagine they will remain idle as the president takes a step back and relinquishes the part we as a nation have long played and coveted. While they may do so reluctantly, our closest international partners will inevitably come out of the wings and take center stage, thus leaving the U.S. to assume a new, unfamiliar role: that of understudy.

California: Another Democrat-Controlled Utopia

| Opinion | October 12, 2017

by Joe Messina

I haven’t written for a while. It felt like I would simply be echoing other right-leaning columnists. The Las Vegas shooting’s a tragedy. The left says it’s the right and the NRA. And the only way to fix it is with more violence — Nancy Sinatra (and others) thinking we should execute NRA card-carrying conservatives.

Yet, not a word by the left of the 57 killed and almost 300 shot in Chicago this year. Not a word about mental health issues. Only that sane, card-carrying NRA members are to blame.

The climate change debate heats up again because of hurricanes, earthquakes, rain, and more. Trump pulling out of the Paris accord will destroy us even more. Yes, yes, yes, only humans can prevent global warming. Volcanoes and cows have nothing to do with it. Well, volcanoes release over half a billion tons of carbon emissions a year!

And according to a report issued by the United Nuts (UN) in 2006, they claimed livestock (mostly made up of cows) “generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2, over 18 percent than transportation does.” Kill all cows and fix the problem, right? (Using Nancy Sinatra’s logic!)

This week California’s governor signed, and continues to sign even more, legislation that not only makes no sense at all, but will crush the fragile state of the state even further! It seems to be a habit of government leadership on the far left to make everything they govern worse than they found it. It’s not only a habit, it seems to be a requirement. If you challenge them they double down! Again, why?

California Democrats want free college education for all, including illegals. Free healthcare for all, including illegals. They want more taxes and, according to Governor Brown, Californians that don’t want to pay more taxes are selfish.

Democrats who run this state don’t want to explain what they did with the tens of millions of dollars they took from Californians in the guise of taxes, then redirected away from the projects they collected it for. And now, not only do they want Californians to pay again, but they also want the federal government to bail them out. Yup, it’s everyone’s fault but theirs! And we all get to pay for it.

Since the left thinks California is THE state to live in, let me help you. The state is run by Democrats. They occupy over 2/3 of the legislative seats. Republicans have only 1 constitutional state seat, meaning that governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, insurance commissioner and more are all filled by Dems. All except one state tax commissioner seat which has now been rendered powerless after Dems voted their power away.

The California Public Retirement System will receive less than 1 percent of its obligation through investment. The other over $100 billion will be paid by taxpayers. Depending on who you ask, there might be over $700 billion in unfunded mandates. California is ranked in the top 10 states in the worst fiscal shape. And it’s run by Democrats who want to add even more burden to the taxpayers.

The Brainiac, Governor Brown, actually wanted to push single-payer healthcare on the taxpayers of California. They were so excited to pass it that they didn’t actually look at the numbers. The state has a budget of about $200 billion. Single-payer healthcare would have added another $400 billion to the bottom line. Just think of it as an amusement park full of taxpayer dollars for these California legislators to blow and then blame Trump and the California taxpayer. A real-life nightmare. I say give it to them, sit back, and let them sink.
Let’s not stop there. Connecticut is over $20 billion in total debt and over $102 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.
Massachusetts, my home state, doesn’t show, over $26 billion in total debt and $190+ billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.

New Jersey has over $40 billion in total debt and more than $255 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and other retirement benefits.

Illinois, the U.S. inner city shooter capital, has over $35 billion in total debt and over $332 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.

Kentucky has over $8 billion in total debt and over $80 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits

California has over $118 billion in total debt, and almost $800 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.

Maine has over $1 billion in total debt, and $15+ billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits

And let’s not forget New York, with over $58 billion in total debt and almost $350 billion in unfunded liabilities and other retirement benefits.

AND the common thread in all these states is … they are all under Democrat rule!

It’s just the management style of Democrats, the way they tax, the way they make laws, the way they blow your tax money, and then try to tell you how selfish you are for not letting them take advantage of you.

If California is any indication of how Democrats want to rule, please stop, and stop now! The country can’t afford any more governing like this.

A Hidden Gem in Our Valley

| Opinion | October 12, 2017

bu Rick Drew

Wouldn’t it be a pleasure to travel between Canyon Country and southwest Newhall in a matter of tens of minutes instead of halves of hours? Wouldn’t it be nice if our first responder’s response times could be made quicker, reduced by minutes, because they wouldn’t have to travel south to go north? These ideas and wishes could be realized in the coming future. The City of Santa Clarita’s General Plan calls for three major road projects envisioned to traverse the Whittaker-Bermite property. Hopefully, the Via Princessa, Santa Clarita Parkway and Magic Mountain Parkway extensions can be created after the Whittaker-Bermite clean-up is completed sometime next year.

The completion of the clean-up is starting to show as a small light at the end of a very long tunnel, underway since 1994. I believe the majority of residents in the Santa Clarita Valley do not know about Whittaker-Bermite, or it’s the property that has been out of bounds to the public for as long as most can remember. Every resident of Santa Clarita, is affected in some way by Whittaker-Bermite. Many people do not understand why there are hills and unavailable open space in the middle of our city. Also, a vast majority of people are not aware that Santa Clarita’s drinking water is being treated and cleaned for a salt (perchlorate) that is a detriment to human thyroids, and the treatment will continue for the better part of the next 30-plus years.

The Whittaker-Bermite property has been used since the 1930s through the late 1980s to manufacture fireworks, explosives, ammunition, flares and rockets. The several companies that occupied this property did not violate any laws of their time, but environmental regulations were implemented after the closure of the manufacturing. Contaminated soils and groundwater have since been discovered and the clean-up commenced.

The city and public should still exercise patience about the finish of the soils clean-up of the Whittaker-Bermite property. The Whittaker-Bermite Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) has been keeping an eye on this project, trying to insure that the clean-up is completed as promised. No development of this property can be started until the soils clean-up is done. So, eventually the Santa Clarita public will be able to enjoy this hidden gem without the fear of danger or health issues that have been created from the past uses of the area.

The opportunities with the completion of the soils clean-up are vast. There are 996 acres of property in the middle of the third largest city in Los Angeles County. The terrain of this area has some of the best views in the whole Santa Clarita Valley and the hiking in this area would be incomparable. The planned roadways will open up traffic flow and cut some travel times for everyone throughout the city. The clean-up has recently been accelerated and a tentative completion date of summer 2018 has been touted.

Not all 996 acres will be available for development. The San Gabriel fault runs across the northern portion of the property, so that area will be unavailable for development. The Los Angeles Aqueduct also runs across the property and this area will also be unavailable for development. There are also some areas so impacted by contamination that only roads or open space will be allowed. A majority of the property will be available for development, however. Even residential units could be added to certain parts of it.

My personal thoughts for development of the property would be light manufacturing and/or recreational uses, such as an exhibition/fairground or a sports type of arena or exhibition hall. The opportunities for development could bring much needed jobs to our city. Only time will tell. Until then, let’s hope that the clean-up will stay on time and finish in 2018 so that all of us in Santa Clarita can enjoy the “hidden gem” of the city.

The next meeting of the Whittaker-Bermite Citizens Advisory Group (CAG) will be held on Wednesday, November 1 from 7-9 p.m. The group meets in the choir room of the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church, 26640 Bouquet Canyon Rd. in Santa Clarita.

Meetings are informational about the clean-up and the guest speaker for the evening will be Jose Diaz, project manager from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The meeting is free of charge and open to the public.

Rick Drew is the chairman of the Whittaker-Bermite Citizens Advisory Group. You can reach him by calling 661-713-0145.

 

The United States of Anxiety

| Opinion | October 5, 2017

by Blair Bess

What happened this past weekend in Las Vegas is not, in the strictest sense, a Second Amendment issue. It is symptomatic of something deeper. There is little doubt that if more restrictive laws were in place to limit the sale of certain types of weapons, as well as devices that increase their lethality, the terror unleashed may have been less devastating.

Gun regulations or restrictions, even those as benign as background checks and waiting periods, arouse divisiveness and hostility among many Americans. Emotions and fears run high, preventing both sides of the issue from honestly and intelligently sitting down and arriving at a place where gun aficionados and Second Amendment stalwarts can maintain their Constitutional rights while, at the same time, effecting concessions that protect the interests of the public at large.

This is a debate that will continue to rage, increasingly so with each mass shooting and act of terror. Politicization of the horrors experienced in Las Vegas, Newtown, Orlando, San Bernardino, and Columbine is par for the course for both sides of the issue. The time for rational consensus on how best to confront unwarranted violence is now.

Unless you are one of the family members or friends of someone directly or indirectly involved with the tragedy in Las Vegas, this frightening moment in time will soon become one in a series of blurred memories; one more nightmare held in our collective conscious. What will remain, however, is an anxiety more existential in nature. One that affects all of us.

A decade-and-a-half into the 21st Century, Americans find themselves living in an age of detachment, disengagement, and isolation. Many are increasingly ethnocentric and intolerant of different worldviews.

In the wake of 9/11, we were thrust into a new reality, where boundaries – both physical and psychological – no longer afforded us the sense of security to which we’d long been accustomed. The realization that North Korea has the capacity to do us harm aggravates those fears, as does Russia’s ability to not only manipulate our electoral process and its outcomes, but our perceptions of self, as well.

Many have endured economic turmoil, a decline in living standards, and the erosion of our highest hopes and expectations.

We have witnessed natural disasters and have been startled at our government’s inability to respond to those in need adequately enough, or with the rapidity that we’d expected from a nation of our stature.

We are still subject to diseases – ancient and emerging. Poverty still exists in the greatest country on earth. Children still go hungry. Homelessness is pervasive in big cities and small towns. There is an opioid epidemic. Adequate healthcare is not available to us all.

We have disconnected from friends, neighbors, and even family members. Many of us have turned away from human interaction, increasingly finding solace in inanimate objects: smartphones, tablets, computers. People no longer talk, they text; sometimes to others a room away.

The world can be a scary place. Retreat from it is somewhat understandable. The anxieties many of us experience are not unfounded, yet the sky is not falling, even when it is raining bullets from above. Beyond the terror and carnage, what Las Vegas demonstrated (as did Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria) is that our humanity – though often obscured – is never far away when it is most needed. Complete strangers helped one another and, in some cases, saved lives. First responders did their jobs unflinchingly. People connected in profound ways.

At the height of last Sunday’s devastation, many Americans were forced to confront their worst fears. While those on the ground and those closest to them will be forever scarred by the night’s events, the public’s response to their plight and the outpouring of love and support they received from people previously unknown to them may be of some comfort.

One can only hope that the divisiveness and dread presently dividing Americans will, ultimately, bring us together. Conquering our fears, rediscovering our potential for goodness, and reconnecting as a people requires civil discourse. Eradicating our anxieties is a battle that cannot be won with guns or conflict. To best honor the victims, we must trust in each other and in ourselves. Let the dialogue begin.

The Crossroads

| Opinion | October 5, 2017

by Angel Cruz

Every major news story today is a testament to our helplessness. Waves of disaster, violence, and humiliation flood our screens and we can’t look away. All of these stories of mass murders, natural disasters and political regress are all connected. It is what happens when a society falls inward, where its people forget the power of democracy. The same power which may never have been fully utilized has to be, now more than ever. If we continue seeing the spectacle as outside ourselves we will let it continue indefinitely.

The disaster of Puerto Rico has been years in the making. Ever since the acquisition of the island it has always been treated as peripheral. It’s a colony in all but name, where its people have been subjected to miserable neoliberal managing, all leading up to a debt crisis on an already poor society. This has led to a supremely poor infrastructure that could not withstand these hurricanes — hurricanes which have been predicted in magnitude by climate scientists for years. I don’t think it’s arrogance to say that we could have done better. Where a people are not allowed to fully self govern and who have been, for years, swept at the wayside, it can only end badly.

In Las Vegas we find the culmination of our sins. It is becoming all too clear that shootings in America are a matter of when. The policies we have let slide by the NRA have created a cyclical event of tragedy … where the most damaged among us can gather an insane number of weapons and fly completely under the radar … when after the tragedy we can talk about anything but how this is systemic. Profits are to be made and there is no sensible gun control policy that can stop it. We live in a sick society that venerates success and ostracizes mental health. We cannot not change anything and be surprised it happens again.

We are constantly embarrassed by an entitled buffoon who is the supposed leader of the free world. When he is not rallying football players against him through insulting people’s right to protest he is intensifying every point of conflict in our society. Although the Republicans are divided in how to gut health care for every working class citizen, they are looking to destroy our already thin social safety net in other ways. They offer no option to illegal immigrants but to hide in fear of a government they desperately want to be a part of and increase the budget for the military to $700 billion, which proves we are never leaving the Middle East (there’s still money to be made). Ripping apart regulations and increasing tax cuts for the wealthy — this is a recipe for the next financial crisis. How much of our livelihood will we give up until we see these politicians never had us in mind?

All of these seemingly disparate events are just the aftermath of us not caring enough. Not caring enough to look beyond the two slim options we have been presented. We have only ever staved off the total collapse of our society, but never to look at the fundamental elements that bring about these crises. It has always been how we manage the fruits of our labor. We need to realize that we don’t need an upper class strangling us to give up our wealth to them, and collectively decide that we are competent enough to create our own destiny. Or we let it all continue as we wait desperately for handouts from the very same people who have created and/or exacerbated our problems.

Always Advocating Alan – Boycotting the NFL? I say, ‘Let’s Boycott Name-Calling and Bigotry!’

| Opinion | October 5, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

This past week it all hit the fan, with NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem. Notice, I did not call it a protest. It seems the basis of what they are, and are not, protesting, along with who is telling their story, is changing daily. One thing I know for sure, the players, owners and the league are shooting themselves in the foot by alienating a large element of their fan base. It is often said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” and in this case the quote is dead on.

What is going on today takes me back to the 1970s, when some top entertainers essentially ended their careers by adding political commentaries at the closing of their shows. Gone from the small screen were, first, the Smothers Brothers, and then the Carol Burnett Show. Viewers watch entertainers because they want to be entertained, not lectured. When an entertainer uses their celebrity status to push a political agenda, they end up watching their ratings tank.

Yet, a fair number of our residents who watched the NFL players take a knee during the National Anthem yell, “Players have the right of ‘free speech’ and the constitution gives them the ‘right to protest.’” But, that is only partially true. Gaining credibility is a long, hard process, but losing credibility comes fast and easy.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

It simply means the government will not pass laws preventing us from expressing our opinion. When writing this article, I do not have to worry about the police showing up to arrest me or the government imprisoning me for expressing my views. Try doing the same in North Korea and see how well it works out for you.

What the First Amendment does not do is free you from the consequences of what you say. If you make a statement and others do not agree, expect them to let you know. Why? Because they are not obligated to agree with you or give you a pass on what you have said. They also have the right to express their opinion. In too many instances on social media today, people get irate when someone disagrees with them and the name-calling starts. Too often, talking points, name calling, or out-of-context snippets are used to morph any situation into a case to support their worldview. I believe when a person resorts to name-calling or talking points, they do so because they have no compelling or constructive comment to make.

Then comes the question, “Do you have the right to protest at work?” The way I see it, when you agree to work for someone, your employer agrees to compensate you for providing them a service. You become their representative, and as such, you are expected to provide a positive image of the company, complete your assigned tasks in a reasonable manner, and in some cases, comply with the expectations documented in a personnel manual. Should the company ask you to do something you feel is immoral, illegal or in violation of your core beliefs, you have an obligation to make the situation known to your employer, and if you feel strongly enough about it, you can quit. At the same time, if your employer decides you are not meeting the company’s policies, or your work is below par, your employer has every right to discontinue your employment.

Also, every company and employer has a customer base and when a company’s product or service no longer meets their needs, or the customer finds similar or superior services at a lower cost, they are free to spend their money elsewhere. Successful companies know, to stay in business they must continually improve everything they do. If you do not maintain a positive company image, either by no longer providing excellent service or by disrespecting the consumers, customers will change suppliers. I’m betting each of you has changed where you spend your money a time or two, for just this reason.

So now, let’s apply this to the NFL. Do players have the right to speak their minds? Of course they do. At the same time, they should realize, team members making millions of dollars each year may come across in a very positive way when providing aid to those in need. They are examples of the benefits of skill and hard work. But showcasing the players’ status as successful millionaires who are living a financially privileged lifestyle will provide little chance of convincing their fans they are victims of persecution. Fans live a far less privileged life and indirectly pay the players’ salaries. They are the NFL’s customers.

For kneeling during the National Anthem, I blame the owners and league management for letting this happen. The NFL long ago set up rules to keep political protests off the fields. When this started it was up to the owners and league management to enforce the rule and keep the NFL from falling down this kind of rat hole. One can only speculate why they did not live up to their responsibilities, but they made a very bad decision. Letting the players do whatever they want to do may have already caused irreparable harm to the league.

The other part of this issue is, some individuals portray the players as believing in free speech, supporting our troops, and loving our country. Why, then, would they not be standing proudly and showing support for the freedoms we all believe in? Is the country perfect? Of course not; it is a work in progress. There are still whites who hate blacks and blacks who hate whites. There are people who hate Jews, Muslims, Irish, Italians, Indians, etc. But these individuals are becoming a smaller minority in our country all the time.

I lived in Brooklyn, New York when Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers and he became one of my boyhood heroes. In 1952, when I was 10, my family moved to Miami Beach, Florida for a year. It was a time when black individuals were still fearful of initiating a conversion with whites and stepped off the curb as a white person walked by. Coming from New York, I was confused by what I saw and did not understand what was going on until years later. We moved out to California when I was 12. I got to listen to XERB from Mexico with “Wolfman Jack” playing music in Hollywood. It took a while for me to understand also, much of the music I was listening to by Fats Domino, Little Richard, Johnnie Otis and many more were not being played on the East Coast at that time. That kind of bigotry is in the past.

The United States has come a very long way. By God’s good graces and the counsel of men and women like Dr. King, the majority of our population believes we should “judge a person by their character rather than the color of their skin.” If we want to continue down this just and righteous road, it is absolutely necessary we continue to have respectful, honest dialog. I’m betting we will agree on a lot more than you can imagine.

To make it all happen, I ask you to stand with me, stand with your hand over your heart for the National Anthem and our flag. Pledge to boycott name-calling, bigotry, and religious prejudice. Our journey as individuals and a country is not over. Pledge to not step backwards and vilify someone because they look different from you, pray differently than you do, or simply do not agree with something you have said.

That is what the United States is all about, and that is why I am proud to be an American.

Yes, He’s The Great Offender

| Opinion | September 29, 2017

by Blair Bess

Who hasn’t this president managed to insult or offend? In the past week, he’s taken on NFL owners and leadership for standing behind players who chose to exercise their First Amendment rights.

He’s taunted North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un by repeatedly referring to him as “Little Rocket Man.” Invective that may very well lead us to the precipice of nuclear war.

In August, the president defended white supremacists, nativists, anti-semites, neo-Nazis, and the KKK. He believes they’re good people. Despite their espousing a social and political agenda that is at once undemocratic and dangerous.

Last year, he lashed out at Ghazala and Khizr Kahn, Gold Star parents whose son, Humayun, was a war hero killed in action in Iraq, because their religious beliefs don’t align with those of his base.

Let’s not forget the string of insults he hurled at rivals during last year’s presidential campaign: “Little Marco”; “Crooked Hillary”; “Lyin’ Ted”; “Low-Energy Jeb.”

Most offensive are this president’s insults to the intelligence of the American people.

The president believes that by repeating time-worn phrases and outright untruths, we will ultimately accept them at face value. If he does it often enough, it becomes reality despite all evidence proving otherwise.

The president’s mounting lies will be his undoing. He cannot claim, as he did a few days ago, that he is making every effort to aid Americans in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. As you read this, 3.5 million U.S. citizens are without sufficient food, water, electricity, shelter and sanitation.

Right now, parts of this country (and, yes, territories count) are suffering a humanitarian crisis. We are witnessing street scenes resembling those of Third World nations. This is the president’s latest reality show. It’s “Survivor: Puerto Rico,” where real human beings are beginning to die.

His excuse: Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are in the middle of the ocean. It’s hard to get there. They’re islands surrounded by water. There are no roads that lead to either American territory. Surprisingly, he didn’t pull out a map to prove his point. Though his narcissism is profound, at least he didn’t promise that he, Donald J. Trump, would walk on water to reach these beleaguered islanders next week. If he actually visits; flyovers don’t count.

Instead, he lied once more by stating that the leadership of Puerto Rico is very happy with the efforts that he, Donald J. Trump, is making to rescue their citizens — despite tearful pleas from the mayor of San Juan that the situation is growing more desperate by the hour. The man has no decency.

Emperor Trump has spent much of his time tweeting away as his countrymen suffer.

Juvenile outbursts, temper tantrums, and threats from the alleged leader of the free world have become the norm. He’s angry that professional athletes are disrespecting our flag, our national anthem, and our country. Wrong. Initially, they were protesting racial inequality in America and standing in support of one of their fellow players. The flag and anthem are only symbols. Respect for Constitutional Rights is what’s real.

The president distorted the players’ actions and used them to political advantage. He believes it’s acceptable for Confederate flag-toting white supremacists to hurl racial and religious invective, but unacceptable for people of color to express their opinion.

He is outraged that Kim Jong-Un is upping the stakes — despite his promise to rain “fire and fury” and “destroy” North Korea. The entire episode is reminiscent of two little bully boys on a playground, out to prove who has the bigger missile.

On Wednesday, the president spewed venom at his staff, because the senatorial candidate he supported in Alabama’s Republican primary let him down by losing to a gun-toting, right-wing, court and Constitution-defying extremist. The president then turned around and endorsed the victor.

How will this end? Hopefully, not beneath the blazing glare of a mushroom cloud.

The president’s loyalists will remain so, even if his corruption is ultimately validated by the Mueller investigation. They have not only imbibed the Kool-Aid, they’ve inhaled it. For them, there is no truth, only “fake news.” They eat the Trumpburger with relish. No matter how offensive it may taste.

 

Doctor’s Diary

| Opinion | September 28, 2017

Marijuana Effective When Used Responsibly

By Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D

I don’t smoke marijuana, but have no problem with those who use it judiciously and responsibly. For some pain management patients, I prescribe marijuana derivatives.

Last year, California voted to legalize marijuana. It passed. I voted against it for two reasons: 1) It can be a “gateway” drug for susceptible teens, with our community working expeditiously to counsel and educate these youths;  2) There is no reliable method for law enforcement to accurately determine if someone is “under the influence.”

Drivers who drink alcohol can be evaluated immediately with a breathalyzer.  Not so with marijuana.

So instead of seeking wealth through a lotto ticket, invent a marijuana breathalyzer which would save countless lives on the road.

Hopefully someone will have a revelation, whether you take a drag or not.

Comments: http://scvphysicianreport.com/2017/09/24/doctors-diary-september-24-2017-marijuana/

The Difficulty of Calling Off the Dogs

| Opinion | September 28, 2017

What is the world coming to when the queen of liberal insanity, Nancy Pelosi, is shouted down by DACA-enraged protesters at a press conference held entirely to help those very same people who were refusing to let it go on?

It means, as many of us have been fearing, that the level of anger and insanity have reached far more dangerous levels than anticipated (and hopefully) expected. Of course, there are those nefarious characters who, as Batman’s butler Alfred likes to say, “just want to watch the world burn” who are likely lurking in the shadows somewhere very close by.

The reason that this act was so alarming is that it shows that the foot soldiers of the left seem to have abandoned all hopes of ever using common sense again, and have instead opted to take all of their information from the knowingly insightful, untruthful and defamatory statements of the political commentators on the left.

The piece of information that would be most valuable at this point, which none of the articles reporting on the event seem to cover, is what hype they were given by whoever organized these protests. For those who don’t believe that people would massively mislead a group on purpose in order to rile them up and drive them to protesting, looting and outright mayhem haven’t been paying very close attention.

But how did we get to this point, and is there any turning back?

I read a very interesting article last year on the evolution of our current political divide and how it came to be, and the explanation was so alarmingly simple and ridiculous that I am absolutely convinced it must be the truth.

The article reasoned that it all started with James “The Ragin’ Cajun” Carville and his wife Mary Matalin. James, the rabid dog of the left, and Mary, a top strategist for the GOP, used to be the perfect epitome of “behind the scenes” politics that the rest of us peasants didn’t understand, although a little bit of light was shone on the life behind the curtain at Nancy Reagan’s funeral.

Photos surfaced last year of George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton sharing a semi-loving embrace at the funeral, and many Americans were left awestruck, not understanding how those two weren’t clawing each other’s eyes out anytime they were within striking distance.

But for those paying attention, it was just further proof that politics are nothing more than a delicately built facade, adorning the front of a teetering house of cards.

You see, more than sharing a loving embrace at a funeral, James Carville and Mary Matalin were actually husband and wife, although the only image the American voter had of them was full of disagreement and contention. But after the lights were off and the debates were over, at the end of the day James and Mary went home to the same bed, have had two daughters and have been together for more than 20 years.

For them, their handlers and the rest of the political-industrial complex, it was all just a game. They understood that to give people a high-conviction to vote for and side with any one candidate, there had to be a fierce opposition and division of sides. As we saw in the last Los Angeles mayoral race, if there are two candidates who are extremely similar, the result is a lackluster debate, race and most importantly, fundraising cycle.

But while the political establishment knew this was all a farce, the people didn’t. James and Mary could go home and laugh about the low blows they had thrown at each other, but the American people began to truly embrace that vitriol and division. They didn’t brush it off as part of the job, they took it to heart.

And somewhere along the way, unscrupulous characters began to understand what a successful business model political rage and the victimization of one side over another can be if properly orchestrated.

Now here we are, many political races and several generations beyond the days of James and Mary’s significance, but their effects live on in the division that is tearing our country apart. Anyone who attempts to shine a light on this dirty secret is lambasted as a tinfoil-hat wearing conspiracy theorist, or even worse, labeled a fascist for disagreeing with the ultra-left that this division is a self-induced political by-product rather than reality.

But the reality is much more sinister than even the most graphic of ANTIFA protesters’ signs would have you believe. The truth is just further evidence that we are nothing more than pawns in the chess game of our political establishment, and they are more than happy to sacrifice us for their political gain.

Shakespeare famously wrote in a monologue for his play “As You Like it” that “all the world’s a stage,” referring to the world as a stage and life like a play. But like many quotes and beliefs from antiquity, this needs a little updating. The cold, hard reality is that our world has been transformed into a chessboard, and we are the unwilling pawns in someone else’s game.

The difference between we and those tiny black and white pieces, however, is that we have a choice. Once you’ve seen behind the curtain, you can’t unsee the reality that we are being played against each other and divided for someone else’s enrichment. And if you’re wise enough to understand that, you’re smart enough to do something about it.

But the best part about this issue is that the only thing you have to do in order to overcome this adversity is to merely not buy into the game.

As we are working to teach our 13-year-old, anyone who attempts to force the opinion or political belief on you is not to be trusted, and you should keep your distance. Now if only we can find a way to get that message to the rest of the population…

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

 

A High Schooler’s POV

| Opinion | September 28, 2017

by Analyn May

If you were to tell me that I’m too young to tell people how to accomplish their dreams in life, I’d tell you that you’re probably right. But I would also remind you that the column I run is specifically about life from a high schooler’s point of view, and that I can write my articles on whatever content I choose. I can also choose to jump right into an article without much of a clever lead-in, because I feel like I have a lot to say.

Let me ask you a personal question. (Don’t worry, I can’t hear your response.) Do you enjoy your job? I mean, I hope you don’t hate it, but do you enjoy it? Do you wake up every morning and get excited for the day’s tasks? Probably not. They don’t call it “the rat race” for nothing. Odds are, you don’t despise your job (and if you do, PLEASE continue reading), but you don’t really love it. Now, it’d be silly for me to ask you why you’re doing it — you have bills to pay and stuff to buy — but would it be too silly to ask why you aren’t doing something else, as well? I know you don’t have unlimited time on your hands, but … well, you don’t have unlimited time on your hands. Life on earth is short and I think you should try and make the most of it while you still can. Here’s what I’m trying to say:

If you have a job that you love doing and that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning, fantastic. You’ve achieved the American Dream. Make sure you’re also spending time with your loved ones and enjoy yourself.

If you have a job that’s sustaining you, but isn’t really making you happy — are you at least doing what you love to do for fun? Even if being a professional painter seems financially insecure, are you painting in your spare time? Even if you can’t be a teacher until you finish your degree, are you volunteering to work with kids at the library? Even if nobody is buying your music, are you continuing to produce it because it gives you pleasure?

If you answered “no,” then your homework tonight is to find time in your schedule during the week to fit in doing what you love. I’m collecting the homework tomorrow and there will be a quiz on Friday, so you have to do it. No exceptions.

For those of you who answered “yes” — good job! Now the next step is to see if there’s another step to take. If you love volunteering at animal shelters and don’t want to make money, that’s fine. But if you find yourself constantly glancing back at the “vet for hire” posters in the lobby, isn’t it time to take the next step? Your future self can always backtrack if you decide that it isn’t the road you want to follow. But your future self might regret not starting sooner if you realize that you aren’t making as big an impact on the world as you’d like.

And just for the record, this advice applies to all fields of jobs: scientists, teachers, inventors, marketers, actors, musicians, politicians, and writers like myself. Who knows — the job you want might not even exist yet! And that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it. In my parents’ time, “video game designer” certainly wasn’t a job that kids had in mind as they grew up. So if you are a kid like me — or more applicable to most of my base of readers (ironically) — if you have a kid in this situation — don’t worry about it! Just keep honing the skills that you already have and keep your eye out for possibilities. Most importantly, keep an open mind: opportunity knocks on many more doors than you’d think. The only problem is that when people don’t prepare for company, it can’t get in. So be sure you’re ready when it comes around.

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

Always Advocating Alan – Ugly Solar Panels Behind Canyon View Estates in Canyon Country

| Opinion | September 28, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

Does this show major incompetence at City Hall?

Having moved to the Santa Clarita Valley long before the city was formed, I can remember how it was when the population was about 20 percent of what it is today. As the area grew, there came a time when our residents felt the need to have a larger voice in local government services. Committees formed to work on the problem, and the population voted to establish the City of Santa Clarita.

Now that the city is celebrating its 30th anniversary, it seems we need to take a realistic assessment of how well our city is managed, how well our residents’ needs are being met, and what we need to improve upon to ensure Santa Clarita’s future remains bright. If you attend or watch our City Council meetings regularly, I am sure you have memorized our council members’ overused speeches praising the staff and all they do. While I am all in favor of complimenting our city’s employees when they provide excellent service, it is equally important to identify when missteps occur and provide the public a briefing on the corrective actions implemented. By doing so, it makes the times they offer praise to be even more rewarding and significant.

As an example, let’s take the installation of solar panels on the hill above Canyon View Estates. The panels were installed in a hodgepodge manner, not only creating an eyesore for the Canyon View Estates residents, but for residents across the valley as well. They can be seen from the backyards of homes in Shangri-La, in North Oaks, and on Soledad Canyon Road looking north to the hills.

In the past, I have attended City Council meetings when council members were so concerned with aesthetics they had developers change building architecture, landscaping and building placement. At the last council meeting, Councilmember Marsha McLean went so far as to criticize the color of a building on a project’s artist’s rendering because, as she put it, “It stood out like a sore thumb.”

Yet, when complaints started rolling in to the city about the solar panels above Canyon View Estates, the answer came back as, “There is nothing we can do about it, because the permit authority for manufactured home parks rests with the State of California Housing and Community Development Department. According to Santa Clarita’s City Manager Ken Striplin, “We found out about the project when everyone else did, when it was built.”

Looking back at the timeline, on June 28 construction had started and KHTS published an article, authored by Perry Smith, alerting the public. Officials at the State Housing and Community Development (HCD) were contacted and indicated there is no appeal mechanism in their permitting process. Ms. Evan Gerberding, deputy director of communications and tribal liaison, was contacted and quoted.

“HCD officials consider local city and county ordinances that would be applicable. Based on HCD’s consideration of local zoning and laws, the project wouldn’t have been stopped,” Gerberding said. “There was no basis for us to say no, or deny that permit. HCD evaluates the safety of the project as well as any regulations the city or county may have in place, before issuing a permit.”

Lastly, the article told of Mr. John Caprarelli, Santa Clarita building official, indicating, “A city inspector was on site recently to verify the project did have the necessary permits filed with the HCD.”

So much for the claim that the city was unaware of the project until it was built. I also have to wonder if the city inspector verified that the project meets Santa Clarita building codes, or did he just verify an HCD permit existed?

Well, the issue continued to gain steam. Canyon View Estates residents hosted a community meeting and were left with few alternatives but to hire an attorney and litigate. At the August 22 City Council meeting, Councilmember Bob Kellar broke the silence and acknowledged the high number of complaints.

He went on to say, “We did not do it. It was completely carried out in Sacramento. We have generated letters to Sacramento, (asking) them, ‘What are you doing?’ It’s absolutely an abomination.”

But, results of a Public Records request showed Councilmember Kellar signed and sent letters to our state elected officials asking for legislation that would require the state to coordinate projects of this nature with local authorities. No letters were written and sent to State Housing and Community Development discussing their permit decision.

I was disappointed, so I went to the State Housing and Community Website to better understand the HCD permitting process. My search led me to HCD’s “Mobile Home and Special Occupancy Plan Review Booklet.” Getting to Page 2, I found a checklist titled “Documentation Standards for Permits.” Item 1 asked for “approval and signature from the local planning department on the Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Park Government Agency Approval form or equivalent document.”

I’m wondering which city employee signed off on this permit, so I raised the issue at the September 12 City Council meeting. Mr. Striplin indicated the city did not approve the project. In addition, the City was not aware of the HCD Booklet or requirements. Councilmember Marsha Mclean asked staff to look into the matter.

That brings me to the point of wondering about competence at City Hall. They are the experts; why weren’t they aware of the HCD requirements for local approval? If the required local approvals were not obtained, isn’t it fact enough to go after the state to revisit the project? HCD Officials indicated they “consider local city and county ordinances that would be applicable.”

If their statement is true, are Santa Clarita ordinances so loosely written they would allow a project to be built so haphazardly? Does city staff need to review and revise our requirements to prevent a recurrence of this problem?

Lastly, no one has identified the boundaries or provided documentation which established Canyon View Estates a manufactured home park. Is the hill behind the park even a part of the park?

Mr. Barnathan’s article in this week’s Gazette indicated additional solar panels would be installed in December. It appears there is time to put our city attorney to work getting a ‘Cease and Desist Order,” which would put a halt on future parts of this project, and give us time to validate overall project compliance with the HCD permitting process and local requirements. When I look at the project, the haphazard way it was built, the way the vegetation was removed from the hill, the way some of the Solar Panels are angled at the homes, I am concerned for the residents. This winter may be another wet year, leading to mud slides and water being channeled into resident’s homes. For a city which has spent over $10 million fighting CEMEX, we should be able to squeeze out a little to protect our residents. In addition, since we have learned we can indirectly set requirements for Manufactured Home Parks, we need to review our building and zoning codes and make the necessary changes.

The Canyon View Estates Managing Partner Kerry Seidenglanz was quoted in a June 28 Signal article by Gina Ender: “Residents don’t need to be concerned. … The park is completely covered by insurance.” I am sure that is a true statement and having an insurance contract probably helps Kerry sleep peacefully through the night. Yet, if I were one of the residents living in Canyon View Estates, I don’t think I would be as confident, or as comfortable.

Just Imagine

| Opinion | September 21, 2017

by Blair Bess

Imagine that the president, in announcing his candidacy two years ago, had thrown his hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination. It’s not entirely impossible that he could have done so.

For more than two decades, most of the president’s campaign contributions went to Democratic candidates, both locally and nationally. He changed party affiliations over that period five times – ping-ponging between both parties and engaging in a brief fling with the Independence Party, in addition to electing to choose no party when registering to vote four years before declaring his candidacy.

In previous years, the president supported many issues near and dear to the hearts of Democrats: a woman’s right to choose; belief in universal healthcare; funding for Planned Parenthood; a ban on assault weapons and longer waiting periods to purchase firearms; and a “huuuuge” one-time 14.25 percent tax on the wealthy. He advocated legalizing not only marijuana, but all controlled substances, believing government efforts to thwart trafficking were ineffective and costly.

As many conservative Republicans stated during the campaign, a person can change his mind. True, but it’s unclear whether the president’s is (to steal some of Barack Obama’s thunder) change we can believe in.

Perhaps the president made a calculated decision to enter the presidential race as a Republican after concluding, along with most Americans, that Hillary Clinton would be the presumptive candidate for the opposing party and his ability to knock her from that mantle would prove fruitless.

As erratic as he may be, the president is an unconventional strategic thinker. Not always right, not willing to admit his mistakes, nor grave errors in judgment, often a dangerous gambler, but a strategist nonetheless. The president recognized something that his opponent, until recently, did not. Democrats were increasingly overlooking the large number of working-class people who had previously been their base. Trump smelled opportunity and took advantage of it.

During the campaign, many journalists and pundits pointed out that the president and Bernie Sanders shared a certain degree of populist appeal. They both spoke to the needs and desires of a broad working middle class who felt that their elected officials had long forsaken them. Sanders, a former “social Democrat,” was not a mainstream member of the traditional Democratic Party. The president was disruptive and opportunistic, recognizing the nation was divided and wagering he could manipulate the electorate to suit his needs, unclear as they may be.

Unpredictable is increasingly becoming the president’s middle name. No surprise. It was clear from the start. Still, last week’s surprise “deal” over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, and the president’s border wall took Washington and the rest of the country by surprise.

Clearly, the president felt compelled to reclaim his self-proclaimed eminence as the ultimate dealmaker, even if it meant enlisting Congressional Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to do so. Ultimately, the president’s actions aren’t based on party affiliation or ideologies, be they Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. The president speaks to, and for, a party of one: the party of Trump.

The president has always done what is best for himself in business and, now, in politics. He does not like losers. He likes “killers” and “winners,” criteria often attributed to himself and other extremely wealthy individuals. The president will discard anyone who proves unsuccessful in their attempts to fulfill promises and pledges, which is why he has effectively “fired” House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and embraced their Democratic counterparts.

The president will do what it takes to look good even if it means alienating the party leaders who believed they could regulate him and the base that supported him. He wants to win “bigly” or “big league,” or however he pronounces it next. If it means working with members of the opposite party, so be it. In some respects, this too is a strategic move. Realpolitik has long been practiced in the Swamp. It truly is the only way to get things accomplished. Maybe reaching across the aisle isn’t such a bad thing … so must the president think. Last week at least; perhaps not today; perhaps tomorrow, or with his next tweet.

If Republicans in Washington hope to move forward with their legislative agenda, if they truly desire to retain control of the White House in 2020, they may consider falling to their knees and praying that the president, yet again, switches party affiliation and, next time, runs as a Democrat. It may very well assure them of winning both the electoral and popular votes by a landslide.

Always Advocating Alan – Canyon Country News Sunrise Rotary’s Alternative Vehicle Expo

| Opinion | September 21, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

I’m in the process of resurrecting my 44-year-old jet ski boat. The project started with taking the Oldsmobile motor out and getting ready to install a very well-built big block Chevrolet. There is always a process of determining the parts required, locating suppliers, placing the orders, and then having to sit and wait for everything to arrive, so finishing the project is going to take a while. At the start of the initial teardown stage, my neighbor came out to ask what I was doing and then made a comment I have heard many times: “You are just an old school gearhead.”

Well, I guess it is true. Starting back in the day when I was 16, I would buy two old cars to make one I could drive. There always seemed to be something magical about collecting a bunch of parts, bolting them together, and then listening to the sound of the engine revving. Even more remarkable was putting the transmission in first gear, letting out the clutch (no automatic transmissions in those vehicles) and driving down the roadway in something I had put together myself.

It got to the point where I was building cars and engines to run at San Fernando Drag Strip, and became acquainted with businesses like Valley Street Clutch, Sherman Oaks Auto Parts, R&B Muffler, Tony Nancy Auto Upholstery and many more. If you remember any of these guys, you grew up in the San Fernando Valley too.

Then, I switched to off-road racing and motorcycles. Open my tool box even today and you will still find Whitworth tools for working on old English bikes, complete sets of metric tools for Japanese and European bikes and, of course, SAE tools for keeping my Harley Davidsons running. I learned about both 2- and 4-cycle motors, transmission repair, electrical system modifications, as well as how to braze, gas weld, stick weld and wire feed weld. Nothing seemed more exciting to me than hearing the sound of the motor and exhaust, feeling the pulse of the machine below me, and hanging on as the bike came too life, accelerating for all it was worth.

But times change, and with the goal of providing transportation without using fossil fuels, alternate energy vehicles are in our future. It looks like, over the next 20 years, “old school gearheads” will be completely replaced by electrical engineers working hard to continue improving electric vehicles, which will operate better than our current trucks, cars and motorcycles by performing more efficiently, with greater reliability and at lower cost.

Yet today, we are already seeing alternate fuel and electric vehicles capable of meeting some of our community members transportation needs. There is nothing wrong with learning about what is available, even if you are an “Old School Gearhead” yourself.

To that end, the Santa Clarita Sunrise Rotary club is hosting their 2nd Annual Alternate Vehicle Expo, featuring individual exhibitions of trucks, buses, cars, motorcycles and bicycles using electric power, hybrid configurations, alternate fuel and special high mileage configurations. In addition, some of our local auto dealerships will be there to let you see their alternate fuel vehicle offerings, as well as other vendors, and a band to keep things lively. The show will take place this coming Saturday, September 23 in the Route 66 Classic Grill parking lot, 18730 Soledad Canyon Rd in Canyon Country. Show time is between 12 and 4 PM. If you have a vehicle that matches the criteria and you want to show it off, bring it on down. For more information call Colene Riff at (661) 755-8204.

Looks like even “old school gearheads” may have to get used to listening to the whine of an electric motor. Hope to see you there, so we can learn about what is available today and what is coming in the future.

Sand Canyon Plaza Brings Upscale Dining, Retail, Housing and an Assisting Living Facility to Canyon Country

If you drive down Soledad Canyon Road and cross Sand Canyon Road, you may have noticed the northeast corner looks barren and unkempt. Most residents just consider it an eyesore. But as of last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, it is all going to change. The Sand Canyon Plaza project was approved, bringing 580 housing units, 60,000 square feet of upscale lake front dining and retail, road improvements to both Soledad Canyon Road and Sand Canyon Road, along with an 85,000-square-foot assisted living facility. This project will provide the first, and only, assisted living facility on the east side of our city. I believe Sand Canyon Plaza is a high-quality project, which now even includes a park and a parking structure to ensure adequate parking is available.

Getting to this point has been no easy task. The southernmost part of this project’s footprint was a manufactured home park. You may remember a few years back when Vons had planned to build a supermarket on the site. To accommodate the change in use, the developer, Tom Clark, purchased all the manufactured homes in the park and moved them off the site. But corporate mergers put end to the plan and Vons enlarged the store on the southwest corner instead. Manufactured homes were now purchased by the developer and moved onto the site to be used as rentals. Recently, in anticipation of this project, tenants were notified and compensated, prior to again emptying the site. In short, the project has been in the works for 32 years to get to where it is today.

Mr. Clark presented the project to the Canyon Country Advisory Committee twice, most recently in January of this year. Although it shows the project prior to the Planning Commission requiring an increase in retail density and enlargement of the assisted living facility, it still represents the basic layout and shows the project’s upscale amenities, which have been longed for by residents in Canyon Country. Mr. Clark’s presentation can be viewed online using the following link: https://youtu.be/kJE2_WtqK2k

The Most Dangerous Man in the World

| Opinion | September 14, 2017

by Blair Bess

The most dangerous man in America – perhaps in the world – right now is not Donald J. Trump; it might not even be Kim Jung Un. The most dangerous man in this country is Steven K. Bannon, former White House chief strategist and self-anointed visionary of the Alt-Right.

In between gritting his teeth and clenching his jaw during an interview with Charlie Rose on “60 Minutes” last Sunday, Bannon vowed to “take the fight to the people we need to take the fight to.” He didn’t quite define who the “we” are; presumably, he and the purveyors of “real news” he oversees at Breitbart News. Nor was he clear about what the fight is or who exactly the people he wants to take his fight to are.

Are they White Supremacists, anti-Semites, Neo-Nazis? While not the president’s sole constituency, they are among the base who embrace the president’s nationalist philosophy. Or is it Steve Bannon’s philosophy? Bannon is unclear. During the course of the “60 Minutes” interview, he condemns racists and Neo-Nazis, stating that he and the president appeal to “an American people. Working class people in this country.”

When candidate Trump stated he was “the least prejudiced person you’ll ever meet,” he may actually have believed it, just as he is able to convince himself of so many of the untruths he spouts. It seems, however, that the now-president may have torn a page from the Book of Bannon, the apocalyptic tome that incites people to rise up in the streets and take back “their” country. Bannon says “the mainstream media can call me an anti-Semite, a racist, a nativist. They can call me anything they want.” Because, he says, he isn’t any of those things. He denounces and condemns all hate groups.

To paraphrase a line from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Bannon “doth protest too much, methinks.” This is the same Steve Bannon who objected to enrolling his twin daughters in a private girls’ school in Los Angeles because, according to court documents, he didn’t want them attending classes with “whiny brat” Jews.

I come to bury Bannon, not praise him (there goes that Shakespeare guy in me again). Bannon says he holds the people in Washington in total and complete contempt. That they’re idiots. Bush, Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Obama, former Director of National Security James Clapper, the whole lot of them. He says he wants to go to war with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. He didn’t like it when McConnell told the president he needed to back off the “drain the Swamp” thing to get things done. While McConnell may have been myopic in his belief that he could exercise control over this president, he did have a point.

The president and Congress needed to work together to pass a legislative agenda that included repealing and replacing healthcare (hah-hah), cutting taxes, and providing funds for infrastructure. McConnell and Ryan knew and know this. Whether we like the institutions of government or not (Bannon loathes them), a sense of equilibrium must be maintained to get anything done. Clearly, that balance doesn’t exist, because nothing is getting done in Washington.

Bannon blames the swamp and “the elites” for these failures. Funny, the president has filled the swamp to the brim with just the sort of swamp rats and elites he and Bannon proposed ridding it of. In fact, despite Bannon’s self-described working class Irish-Catholic roots, he himself holds degrees from Virginia Tech, Georgetown, and Harvard; sounds elite to me.

Bannon made millions on Wall Street, first at Goldman Sachs (former home of two other administration elites, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the president’s chief economic advisor Gary Cohn) and then at his own boutique investment bank. There, he specialized in financing media ventures. Interesting that he made even more millions from the media he professes to loathe. Bannon is not just a former resident of the swamp, he appears to be a contrarian Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Getting back to Bannon’s disdain for the mainstream media. He claims that it is responsible for the president’s inability to get things done, what with their focus on all those nasty allegations of collusion with the Russian government and questionable business deals with Russian oligarchs and organized crime figures. Bannon says in the “60 Minutes” interview that there’s “nothing to the Russia investigation … it’s a waste of time … a total and complete farce.” Darn that “fake news,” they get it wrong every single time.

Bannon says the narrative of the swamp-ridden mainstream elitist media is “dead wrong.” Because in the world of Steven K. Bannon and Breitbart “News,” only their narrative is right, accurate and truthful. Because it fits with their so-called populist, nationalist, nativist agenda.

This is Steven K. Bannon’s narrative. This is what is true to Breitbart readers and the web-based aggregators who spew Bannon’s distorted perception of reality. Steve Bannon loves chaos. He believes it is an agent of change. He believes he’s a tough street-smart fighter who, through his attempts to spin and wrest control from the elites and swamp dwellers, will return this country to its “citizens” and make America great again. With the president’s help, of course.

Steven K. Bannon believes our government and political institutions must be torn down in order to rebuild this country in his image from the ground up. That’s the kind of change Bannon believes in. It’s the kind of change that borders on anarchy. The kind we saw in Charlottesville. Tread lightly, America.

Never Underestimate the Strength of a Street Fighter

| Opinion | September 14, 2017

I’m not the smartest guy in the world, so I try to make up for it by being as widely read and plugged into as many sources of information as possible. I have at least one non-fiction book with me at all times (currently reading “Commentaries on the Gallic War” by Julius Caesar and “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius) and watch at least one documentary a week, along with waking up to the Wall Street Journal every morning.

I find that “standing on the shoulders of giants” by staying plugged in to what intelligent and accomplished people of our time and throughout history have done goes a long way towards not only having great conversations with smart people, but also helping you see patterns shaping in our current sphere that have been played out before in history.

Over the weekend I had a special treat in watching both “Get Me Roger Stone,” the documentary on one of the architects of our current dirty, street-fighting political climate (he essentially created Political Action Groups and is/was a close advisor to Trump over the past few decades), as well as the “60 Minutes” interview with Steve Bannon.

Every once in awhile the universe puts certain things in your lap at the same time that come together like a masterpiece, and reading books by some of the, arguably, greatest leaders in human history and listening to the generals of Trump’s campaign strategy today help to see things that I’d argue most of the public seems either too uninformed, tuned out or just apathetic to notice.

The political left loves to lecture others on how progressive and enlightened they are and how others should view the world and act as if they want to be as enlightened and righteous as they are. I have to say it was more than a little disheartening to see a “journalist” as respected as Charlie Rose spend Steve Bannon’s only recorded television interview lecturing rather than interviewing, and giving his own opinion more than actually pressing for Bannon’s. But such is the modus operandi for the left and mainstream media these days, so when in Rome…

One of the greatest lessons you can learn from ancient generals such as Julius Caesar is that sometimes the upper hand isn’t really where it’s initially thought to be, and a truly great general/leader can use whatever resources they’ve got to turn the tide of an otherwise losing battle. There are numerous examples of Caesar going into battle without the advantage of numbers, strength or having the “home court advantage,” but using what he had to lead his army to victory he seemed to always turn the tide to a win.

Much like Caesar in the Gallic wars (his expedition from Rome into what is now Germany, Belgium and Western Europe), the Trump administration is deep within enemy territory, beset on all sides by enemies with their swords drawn and even have quite a few of their own Brutuses in the Republican Party, seemingly prepared to stab them in the back.

After watching Bannon and Stone give their philosophy on politics, history of what has been going on behind the scenes since the campaign and after the election, I see reminiscences of ancient warfare and the need to sometimes send a general off in a different direction, whether it be a feint to hide your true numbers or strategy to attack the enemy’s flank when they least expect it.

The left and mainstream media, in all of their egotistical and “holier than thou” thinking seem to be taking the bait hook, line and sinker. One of the things I most admire about Trump and his campaign to date is his exquisite ability to set a brilliant trap, step back and be patient as the left and media gobble it up and don’t even realize they’ve been caught until they are being reeled in for slaughter.

Even Charlie Rose continued to follow the same false-narrative as the left and MSM that Trump didn’t disavow racism or David Duke immediately, but thanks to video evidence and social media, most of the people have seen the countless times he did, and can immediately see the lies being blatantly perpetrated against him.

The traps that have been set so far have been baited mostly for the MSM and leftist politicians, but I smell one being set for the other side of the swamp with Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Politicians tend to forget that their power is extremely limited by public opinion, and while the establishment loves to criticize Trump for his use of Twitter, he and his base fully understand that its purpose is to allow him a direct line of communication to the people, free of media editing and misdirection.

I’ve got my popcorn cooking and am preparing my spot on the couch to watch the show. This is going to get interesting.

 

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

Can we survive another Obama-type “Red Line” with North Korea?

| Opinion | September 14, 2017

by Joe Messina

The Facebook foreign policy experts and the Left news are going nuts trying to protect Clinton and Obama. It now seems the North Korean nuclear deal was just a “framework” that the international community could build on. What does that mean?

According to then President Clinton, the North Korean agreement was a GOOD deal for the United States because the deal would freeze and then (dismantle) their nuclear arsenal. (That worked out well, now didn’t it!)

South Korea and others in the area would be better protected and the entire world will be safer by slowing these guys down. Clinton also said South Korea and Japan agreed to help North Korea find an alternative way to generate power, eliminating their need for nuclear power. The United States and international inspectors were to CAREFULLY monitor North Korea and ensure it was living up to the agreement. (Sounds like Iran, and that’s working out fine, right?)

North Korea admitted to starting its nuclear program to simply create nuclear weapons in 2002. President Billy Bob knew about this before his speech. He also knew that the reactor being built was not connected to the power grid and had NO intention of being used for power.

Interestingly enough, Clinton structured the deal in such a fashion that it didn’t require ratification by the Senate. (Obama used this same strategy for his Iran deal).

Bush entered the scene perceiving there was a serious issue here and “paused” the agreement in order to make a new, REAL deal. Intelligence agencies determined that North Korea was moving full steam ahead. North Korea later admitted they started up operations four days after they made the agreement. (Sounds again like Iran!)

Bush froze the delivery of fuel, as agreed by Clinton. North Korea kicked out the then-useless UN Inspectors (they caught nothing) and went full bore into developing their weapons. They even helped Syria develop a nuclear facility. Thanks to our friends in Israel that project was “terminated.”

The Obama Administration considered it a lost cause and spent no real time on it, calling it “Strategic Patience.” How did that work out? While he was strategically being patient, the North Koreans perfected its nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment and missile technology.

Some insiders from both the Obama and Clinton administrations say they knew North Korea was cheating but planned to “use the information for leverage at the UN.” I don’t even know what that means.

For your reading pleasure, included in Billy’s speech were phrases like:
“This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.”

Or this gem! “This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world. It reduces the danger of the threat of nuclear spreading in the region. It’s a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community” or “Today, after 16 months of intense and difficult negotiations with North Korea, we have completed an agreement that will make the United States, the Korean Peninsula, and the world safer.”

And in another Clinton moment akin to “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” he ends with; “Today all Americans should know that as a result of this achievement with North Korea, our Nation will be safer and the future of our people more secure.” The above words should terrify you!

Nothing in this North Korean agreement happened. NOTHING! The North Koreans, the Russians, and Iranians may be the most dangerous trio on the planet!

Now this gets better because Clinton didn’t do this all alone. He asked someone, who at that time had the biggest failed presidency in U.S. history, Jimmy “The Racist” Carter to go negotiate with them to back off the nukes.

Jimmy gave them $5 billion in aid and 2 new reactors for power! Clinton hailed this as one of the greatest achievements in assuring peace on the Korean Peninsula, so much so, that Mr. Carter was given a Nobel Peace prize for it!

An interesting note… The Left makes a VERY big deal of the fact that President Trump said he would be “honored” to meet Kim Jong Un. But had no problem with EX-President Jimmy Carter saying that “Kim II Sung wanted my respect and I am going to give it to him.” Remember he got a Peace Prize!

Enter President Obama who said he would “Never accept a nuclear North Korea.” I guess, as all the loons on the Left claim, this crisis has come about ONLY while Trump has been president. Wow! The North Koreans have come all this way in 8 months!

Let’s see how many of you Obama worshippers can be honest with yourself. Among his many lies, you know, you can keep your doctor or your policy or well, most everything. He promised. After saying he wouldn’t accept a nuclear North Korea and after they launched many missiles and after they tested many nuclear bombs, what did he do?

What effective action did Obama take against North Korea? If you said NONE you would be correct! It’s been escalating since 2015 and I’m sure he prayed to himself that no bombs would be lobbed until he was out of office!

So to tie it all up … since the days of the North Korean and Iranian agreements:

They have continued to enrich uranium. Not supposed to.
They have continued nuclear testing. Not supposed to.
They have continued missile testing. Not supposed to.
They have continued to lie and deceive us. Not supposed to.
And we have continued to do nothing of substance.

The eloquent and ever-wise Congresswoman Maxine Waters states her concern that if North Korea launches a nuclear attack on the U.S. she’s afraid Trump will get us in a nuclear war! As if that statement isn’t scary enough, she wants to run for president.

We have tried diplomatic measures for years. We have paid them. Given them FREE fuel. And much more, to no avail.

North Korea’s actions show a total contempt for anyone or anything but North Korea. To allow them to continue along the path they have chosen would mean we allow them to, at minimum, hold the whole area hostage to the whims of their sick, little dictator. Remember … he believes himself to be a god!

President Trump was elected to conduct business in a different way. To actually protect us. To actually speak for the people.

I’m thinking a new Great Lake is in the making. Lake North Korea!

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

Letter

| Opinion | September 14, 2017

(Re: “2.1: The Number of Nations” by Robert Patrick Lewis)
While I do not disagree with much of Mr. Lewis’ article, there is room for further discussion.
Social Security is currently managed using the same concept the politicians have built into government subsidized healthcare. The notion of maintaining a pool for existing participants relying on predicted new infusion is little more than a ponzi scheme. In the Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda Department, Social Security benefits must be managed and determined for each individual based solely on their cumulative income upon retirement eliminating the need to rob Peter to pay Paul; 2.1 doesn’t apply here. The only shortfall is limited to accounting for the oversight of greater longevity.
Controlling immigration must focus on preventing welfare fraud and the dispensing of “entitlements” to non-citizens. Foreign worker visas would not only insure a known labor supply, but by default also serve the purpose of vetting. Tax on non-citizen wages must pay for the process of a path to citizenship. American citizens’ concern for the protection of their jobs is real. I know many naturalized American citizens who spent the eight years going through the process of citizenship and who strongly resent those seeking to compromise that which was so painfully earned.
If such a huge foreign labor reserve is necessary, then what of the alleged tens of millions of unemployed Americans? Or is this number a fabrication? Laziness is directly proportional to motivation as a corporate bottom line is to an artificially cheap workforce. Corporate bottom lines will have to adjust wages to meet labor demand.
Lest I be construed as a silver-spoon hypocrite, my card includes a paper route (remember those?) at age 11; I shudder thinking about all the apartments I cleaned, painted and maintained through high school until I landed my first paycheck as an office gopher at minimum wage ($1.65 back then, $9.80 today adjusted for inflation).
For a change, in the forum known as the Gazette, I find hinged debate among folks to solve problems. 2.1 is real for controlling overpopulation and the resultant consumption of resources. Let supply and demand in of itself determine wages which in turn determine the workforce and ultimately the administration of Social Security.
Dave Steffy, Castaic

Always Advocating Alan – Santa Clarita Valley’s Small-Town Feel

| Opinion | September 14, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

There I was, last Saturday morning having “wake up” coffee in my front atrium with my wife. The weather was very moderate and pleasant. Two days till September 11th and I was getting almost my last look at the current year’s flag flying over my house. The sky was a beautiful light blue and I knew what I was going to write about this week. Retrieving The Signal newspaper from the front yard, I sat back, ready to learn about all things new in Santa Clarita.

When I started reading, it made me think about how our community problems are handled and my writing plans changed. It seems our leaders and elected officials believe that if they drag their feet long enough, we will forget what they told us in the past. They must share the opinion that we are empty-headed enough to always believe the last thing they say. I know they hate the fact that some of us have very good memories and will hold them accountable for the actions they take, as well as their inaction, on important issues.

My first Saturday lesson was on page one in an article by Jim Holt, entitled “Probe into fundraising at Valencia ramps up.” You may remember, this issue actually started in 2014 and revolved around complaints from Valencia High School parents about how funds were being raised, managed, and used by the school’s baseball program. At that time, Gail Pinsker was quoted as saying, “The district was working on ‘best practices’ policy with regard to fundraising.” They must not have worked very hard, because other parents raised similar complaints about fundraising for the school’s girls’ softball program, as well as “pay-to-play” allegations, in 2017. In order to make the Hart School Board’s position clearer, Dave Caldwell, Hart District spokesperson, was reported to say on April 26: “The schools oversee the conduct of booster clubs raising money for sports teams,” as if to say don’t blame the school board. Wait a minute; aren’t the schools subordinate to the school board? What happened to those “best practices”? It seems they do not understand, you can delegate authority but not responsibility. If the schools are not answerable to the school board, why have a school board in the first place?

The Hart School District indicated they were investigating the allegations, but if they have not come up with an answer by now, it is most likely they will not come up with an answer at all. Fortunately, our local Sheriff’s Department is also investigating the allegations and I have confidence they will come up with a resolution. Remember, the Sheriff’s Department was the organization that penetrated the City Hall embezzlement and the 2014 Valencia baseball fundraising issues and took the responsible individuals to task. Unfortunately, punishing those directly responsible is only half the solution. Implementing actions to prevent a similar incident in the future is the other half, and we are still waiting to find out what has been implemented.

Yet, taking comfort in the knowledge that we are in the good hands of Captain Lewis’s law enforcement team, I relaxed and continued my morning read.

Next, I turned to the Opinion page, and read an absurd and misleading commentary by Maria Gutzeit and Bob DiPrimo entitled “New Water Agency Means New Jobs for SCV.” In this column, the president of the Newhall Water District and Castaic Lake Water District “sings” the latest and newest version of why we should love and support SB634, merger of the Newall Water District with CLWA.

I have been following the water merger drama for about a year. In the beginning, our two main water suppliers hired a Public Relations firm and held public meetings to inform the public they were in process of considering a merger and vowed to keep us well informed. But the next we heard, they had settled their lawsuits and were ready to proceed with a concept of “One Valley, One Water Company.” But that required an Act of the California Legislature and Scott Wilk came to the rescue with SB634.

There were a few bumps in the road when it became apparent the Valencia Water Company and District 36 will not be included, so now if you read Saturday’s commentary closely, it talks about “Santa Clarita Valley’s major water districts” instead of all our valley’s water suppliers. Looking at past articles on the water merger, you will read about how consolidation and economy of scale will save $14.5 million over 10 years. Don’t worry about layoffs, because the saving is planned to be accomplished by “attrition.” While their proposed savings of $1.5 million a year seems incredibly small, achieving it by waiting for staff members to retire or quit appears even more unrealistic.

So, today came the next SB634 sales pitch, with this week’s plan to spend $200 million piping recycled water around the city and hiring local labor, including veterans, to do the work. I have to ask; where is the $200 million going to come from? Are they now saying our water suppliers have found a way to save another $200 million? Are they expecting grants to pay for it? Is a major hike in rates on the horizon, or is this just another empty promise? Plus, where is the recycled water going to come from?

Besides all that, as a public agency, can they implement discriminatory hiring practices based on where a prospective employee lives without being called on the carpet?

So, I took the columnists’ advice and went to www.YourSCVWater.com for answers to my questions. You are probably not surprised I could not find them. But, under the media tab, the article I found most telling was entitled “Optimized water governance means better water service,” because nothing in the article had anything to do with better customer service. Consumers want clean water, enough water, and the lowest possible rates; anything else is in the weeds. I don’t know about you, but I despise slick sales pitches designed just to sell me something, particularly when truth about the product is not being disclosed. Knowing the real reason for the merger has not, and apparently will not, be disclosed.

But, it was still Saturday morning and there was a lot more of the paper to read. So, I got right to it, while listening to the little angel on my right shoulder telling me about our city’s small-town feel, and the other guy on my left shoulder telling me, “The angel is right, it is getting more like Green Acres all the time.”

Must We Grovel for Gravel?

| Opinion | September 14, 2017

by Eric Rasmussen

If you’ve noticed the 18 years and more than $10 million the Santa Clarita City Council has spent combating Cemex’s Soledad Canyon mine, you might think they were fighting a prison next to an elementary school. Actually, Soledad would be used for its sand and gravel much like other mines operating closer to homes in the area. The mine site is in a virtually uninhabited area outside city limits. It is not a pristine wilderness, but was actively mined for 20 years.

While it is difficult to see why this project is opposed and others with greater impacts are not, it is easily understood if seen as an investment in political expediency. Such obstinate opposition comes at a great cost – not only to city taxpayers, but to the greater region. Sand and gravel is a natural resource that is essential to modern life. We use more of it than any other, except water and air, and we are starting to run out.
Recent articles have highlighted a worldwide shortage of sand suitable for construction. Reportedly, “sand mafias” in India and other places are mining sand illegally, and have even murdered some who got in their way. Here, in a sprawling urban metropolis atop the San Andreas Fault, we are nearing total depletion with no replacement in sight. According to state reports, at the end of 2011, we had fewer than 10 years of aggregate supply left – including the 56 million tons that the Cemex contracts had permitted in Soledad.

By delaying mining in Soledad, Santa Clarita has created a situation where trucks have to drive to deposits which are farther away, and when it comes to transporting this heavy, bulky material, distance matters. A typical American house requires more than 100 tons of sand, gravel, and crushed stone, and more than 200 tons if you include its share of the street in front of it. A mile-long section of a single lane of interstate highway requires 38,000 tons. Longer haul distances mean more air pollution, traffic, damage to roads, and higher costs. Since almost half of all aggregate is purchased by government, higher cost means higher taxes. It also makes housing less affordable. In fact, in 1973, the California Geological Survey documented that “the identification and protection of mineral resources had the highest cost-benefit ratio (1:176) of any geologic issue in California.”

Why is it the city’s job to engage in such expensive activism when well-funded private groups already serve that function? Instead of spending to prevent something from being built, driving up taxes and costs for everyone, the city should direct spending toward building something. Ten million dollars could fund a host of valuable amenities at a much greater cost-benefit ratio for local quality of life. Nonetheless, Santa Clarita has set aside a six-figure budget for lobbyists to keep up the fight in 2017.

As for those who would like to see job creation, sensible resource management, and an end to wasteful government spending, they will have to keep waiting.

For Dreamers, an American Nightmare

| Opinion | September 8, 2017

by Blair Bess

The American Dream is fast becoming The American Nightmare. The administration’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, better known as DACA, has tremendous consequences for all of us. By and large, most of those who have benefitted from DACA are either currently employed, learning trades, or pursuing educational opportunities that will not only benefit them, but all Americans.

There is no question that the country needs an overhaul of existing immigration policies. But to invalidate a functional program like DACA with little regard to the devastating impact it will have on the lives of friends, neighbors and loved ones without putting forward a clear alternative is one more example of this administration’s dysfunctionality. Kicking the can six months down the road in hopes that Congress will come up with a solution to the DACA issue is typical of Trumpland. It harkens to the mistake made by the administration when it pushed the repeal of the Affordable Care Act forward without an intelligent alternative with which to replace it.

DACA was put into place to allow young people — some of whom were brought over the border as infants — to legally remain, work, and study in the U.S. for renewable two-year periods. They cannot have a history of criminal behavior; they had to have entered the country prior to 2007; and had to have been 16 years old or younger when they arrived.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions proclaimed DACA unconstitutional, claiming it kept Americans from jobs that rightfully belonged to them; that “Dreamers” were robbing citizens of the U.S. and documented workers residing here the legitimate right to work. They are blamed for the inability for some Americans to prosper and have been accused of being a burden on our system; stealing fruit from the American cornucopia without giving back. Critics could not be further from the truth.

Dreamers pay rent. Dreamers pay taxes – income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, and more. Dreamers pay into the Social Security System; payments that help ensure benefits will be available for future retirees. They pay for goods and services. Dreamers pay tuition. They pay for healthcare. And today’s Dreamers, like those throughout this nation’s history, work hard, often in occupations few “legal” U.S. residents would choose.

Dreamers clean our homes and offices. They landscape our pristine lawns. They watch our children. They work in car washes. They spend backbreaking hours hunched over in fields, picking our fruits and vegetables, tending our livestock. They work as meatpackers and day laborers. But they also work in office towers, are employed by tech companies and manufacturers, and they hold advanced degrees. They are doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers. … Dreamers will do anything they must to build a better life for themselves. They are the fabric of America.

We see Dreamers every day. Some of us ignore them, some of us curse them, and those of us not part of the president’s so-called “base” accept them. And whether you like it or not, we as a country cannot function without them.

Granted, some who have entered the U.S. illegally commit illegal acts. Then again, so do many people who have entered this country legally, as do many Americans who were born and raised here. There are means of due process for those here legally and illegally. Those who engage in criminal activity are dealt with through our immigration and judicial systems. But do we believe, as a people, in punishing the many for the sins of the few?

A.G. Sessions and the administration are being disingenuous in questioning the constitutionality of an American president to put a law in place through executive action; he calls DACA “unilateral executive amnesty.” Sessions, who demonstrates a confoundingly fluid interpretation of the law, did not question our current president’s constitutional right to enact punitive actions through the immigration ban ordered in January.

After a number of lawsuits brought by the attorneys general of several states, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reached the conclusion that, as ordered, parts of the immigration ban were unconstitutional and the president’s executive order could not be enforced. While A.G. Sessions was under the impression that the ban was constitutional, the judiciary proved him, the president, and his advisors wrong.

Sessions was entitled to his opinion then and he is entitled to his opinion now. Challenges to the repeal of DACA will inevitably be brought before the judiciary. Ultimately, its constitutionality is for the courts to decide. That said, executive action is not illegal; in fact, it’s quite legal for any president to put in place policies and laws without congressional consent. This administration spent its first hundred days doing just that dozens of times for matters large and small. Executive actions can be invalidated through the passage of laws in Congress.

You may or may not like any or all of this president’s executive actions, but until they are challenged and found deficient under the law, the president and his minions can keep on writing them, whether or not we believe they are just or morally right. DACA was never intended to be a permanent remedy to our country’s broken immigration system. It was Barack Obama’s stop-gap compromise when Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act, or the “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors” Act.

DREAM was a bipartisan proposal first introduced in 2001 by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Dick Durbin, Democrat from Illinois. While many view Sen. Durbin as one of the most liberal members of Congress, Sen. Hatch is an undisputed icon of the Republican Party’s conservative wing. DREAM was continually defeated in Congress each time some iteration was introduced. That it has continued to resurface for over 16 years is a testament to both sides of the aisle being like-minded in their desire for immigration reform; reform that is fair and not punitive as evidenced in this administration’s repeal of DACA.

As Sen. Hatch said last week, “We need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own and who have built their lives here.… That solution must come from Congress.”

DACA may have been imperfect, but why arbitrarily harm 800,000 innocents who, whether documented or not, are more American than not? It is an injustice of the highest order to punish these Dreamers before Congress creates a policy that is equitable for all. Pick up the phone, email your legislators, let them know the ball’s in their court lest they leave immigration reform in the hands of inexperienced, insensitive incompetents.

Always Advocating Alan – September 11, 2001: Never Forget

| Opinion | September 7, 2017

by Alan Ferdman

Sometimes important dates slip by, but next Monday should not be one of them. I hope we will all come to think about what day it is, what happened and why it is important to keep the memory of 9/11 alive.

Another year has passed since September 11, 2001, when 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four jetliners for use as weapons of destruction. This evil team crashed two of the aircraft into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and the last, Flight 93, crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside, when passengers yelled, “Let’s Roll” and bravely attempted to take back the plane. In less than two hours, the two World Trade Center buildings collapsed and the Pentagon Outer Ring had been severely damaged. Approximately 3,000 people died, and over 6,000 innocent people were injured in the worst foreign attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.

I remember exactly where I was when it happened. It was early morning. I was getting ready for work and, as normal, had my bedroom television tuned to the news. I was surprised to learn a first plane had hit one of the World Trade Center buildings. At the time, the newscasters did not know if the crash was caused by a horrific accident or something else. But then, as we watched the second plane impact the second building, the motive became clear. This was a terrorist incident. It was an attack on our country and our way of life. The event ended my rush to get to work, as I sat on the edge of my bed, watching the drama unfold in disbelief. I remember being angry, disheartened, and upset, all at the same time, knowing there was nothing I could do to change what was occurring before my eyes.

But then, I started thinking about the need I was feeling to show solidarity with my friends, neighbors and the rest of the country. Up to that time, I was one of the citizens who put out my American flag on holidays. I retrieved my flag and immediately set it in its holder on the front of my house. Right then, I made a pledge. Flying an American flag only on holidays was going to change. I am proud to be an American every day and, as such, an American flag would fly in the front of my house every day.

Well, I finally did get ready for work and headed to JPL in Pasadena, only to find the facility was on lockdown and closed for the day. Making the drive back and forth gave me time to think. I wanted to do something more than just flying a flag.

I decided the American flag, put up in the front of my house, would fly for an entire year. Each morning I go out to my front atrium for some “wake up” coffee and look at my flag. As my flag becomes weathered and torn by the wind, it serves to remind me of all the brave men and women around the world who devote their time, energy, and sometimes their lives protecting our freedom. I have since put up a permanent flag pole and I replace my flag each year on the morning of September 11. I do not retire my flags, because like those individuals who have served our country, I believe my flags also deserve a place of honor and remembrance. Each year, when taken down, my flag is marked for the year it flew, carefully folded using the appropriate triangle method and placed in a special container, hung on the wall in my home office in clear view. On

The ten flags on display

the 10th anniversary of 911, the Santa Clarita Elks Lodge hosted a remembrance of that fateful day. As a part of the event, I provided a display of my 10 flags, allowing them to fly again, representing an unbroken daily reminder of those who perished, those who were injured and those who came running toward danger to help others in need. I intend to bring my flags out again, to fly and be seen, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

You might wonder why I am so passionate about remembering and highlighting such a terrible event. It comes from realizing that time goes by very quickly. In an instant, 16 years has gone by. When I was growing up, I remember all the times I was made aware of December 7, 1941. Even though it was a year before I was born, our “Greatest Generation” made sure the attack on Pearl Harbor, “a day that will live in infamy,” would remain vividly clear in our minds, as an example of why America needs to stay strong and ready to defend our freedom. Today, I realize my oldest grandchild was very young and my four other grandchildren were not even born on September 11, 2001. The message for our country to stay strong and ready to defend our freedom is no less true today than it was when I was growing up. Yet, today, I notice a trend of the news media marginalizing our history, as well as, our country’s accomplishments. In recent years, Pearl Harbor and 9/11 don’t even seem to get front page coverage in many of our newspapers. I think that is just wrong.

So, even though on September 11, 2001 there was nothing I could do to change what was happening, I realize today is different. While I may be a member of the “Silent Generation,” I will not be silent about remembering September 11, 2001, Pearl Harbor, Independence Day, or other important American historical dates and stories. I refuse to accept Facebook representations of our history, particularly those written by individuals who only take one word and use it to forward their own agendas. I will continue to study our history in order to factually understand our past leaders, celebrate our successes and learn from our missteps.

We live in the greatest country the world has ever known and I have no desire to move to the one in second place, whichever one that might be. We are all Americans, no matter our race, color, creed, religion or political party, and we always band together in time of need.

So, make me proud on Monday. Take a moment to pray for and remember all those who died, were injured or were impacted in any way by the events of September 11, 2001. But, most of all, be strong and never forget.

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