Delicate Mechanism

| Opinion | February 21, 2019

by Dale Paule

Any time children get their hands on anything they’re not mature enough to appreciate, like a fine old tried and true pocket watch, or some other delicate mechanism, they will inevitably play with it until it eventually breaks.

When this happens, the children, having no idea how to make it work again, cry for someone to come and fix it, and after a while, the adults will gather the scattered pieces and put them back together, and once again it will function as designed.

But, if the adults then hand that delicate mechanism back to the children, the same thing will happen, and the crying will begin again, and the adults will once more gather up the pieces and reassemble the broken and abused delicate mechanism.

Each time this happens, however, the adults are only able to find fewer and fewer of the scattered pieces, until one day the delicate mechanism simply will not work.

The children will cry, and the adults mourn its loss, but the delicate mechanism has been played with and broken too many times, and now lays discarded and useless to anyone.

Life may continue without a delicate mechanism like a fine old pocket watch; but, what if it was something of far greater importance? Perhaps some other delicate mechanism, like the Constitution of the United States.

Always Advocating Alan – Wrap Up of Landscape and Lighting Issues in Plain English

| Opinion | February 21, 2019

As quite a few Gazette readers are already aware, I’ve spent the better part of two months researching and writing about the recently doomed Landscaping and Lighting District ballot process. In addition, I have been speaking about it at city council meetings because I am of the opinion the council members should answer questions themselves, rather than just having the city manager, or a staff member, do their talking for them. But, I will admit, when I get involved in issues such as this and report back to you, I tend to get a little too detailed. It is just the engineer in me coming out.And so, for a wrap-up, I decided to hit the high points, using plain English. Yet, if you want to see where I got my information, I added footnotes.

So, let’s get started. Prior to Santa Clarita City formation, Streetlight Services were provided by a “Special Benefit District” administered by the county. At that time, all streetlights were funded by Ad Valorem property tax. (A part of the 1 percent of your property’s assessed value). Beginning in 1979, a second district was formed to cover new streetlights added, which was funded by assessments. As of July 1998, all streetlights within the city boundaries were under the jurisdiction of the City of Santa Clarita, which was now responsible to levy assessments required in support of streetlight operations. Streetlight District 1 is funded by assessments, and the original District 2 is funded by property tax, with the amount set by the County Auditor and State Board of Equalization. [1]

Fast forward to 2007, the city added a section in the Engineer’s Report indicating the proposed assessment rate for District 2 parcels would be $12.38, which is the maximum rate previously approved prior to 1997 by the county, and the city increased the District 1 assessment rate to $52.56. [2]

Hold on, because in May of 2017, this story really begins when our city council approved the purchase of SCE Streetlights for $9.5 million and conversion of all Santa Clarita Streetlights to LEDs for $5.6 million. All the while, staff did not indicate how they intended we would pay the bill. [3] But, there was a behind-the-scenes plan in place. In June 2017, staff decided to consolidate all the Landscaping and Lighting Districts in a single Engineers Report. What was called “Special Benefit Districts” became known as “Zones” of a single district, but the concept of charging fees for services within an area of special benefit, or zone, did not change. Not only did the terminology become fuzzy, but a paragraph was mysteriously added, indicating approval of using 30-year revenue bonds for the “acquisition” of the streetlights. Interesting, staff didn’t make their plan known at the time. Of course, those additions allowed the streetlight zones to take on additional activities and debt. As a property owner, I do not remember voting on the change as required by Proposition 218. [4]

Then, in January 2018, the city council approved a $4.4 million contract with Tanko Lighting to convert all of Santa Clarita’s streetlights to LEDs. They paid for it by borrowing from the streetlight property tax fund provided by the county and committed to repay the amount when permanent financing became available. [5] In February, the other shoe dropped when the council approved the borrowing of up to $17 million, using revenue bonds, to pay for the streetlight purchase and retrofit cost. But, the real reason for the purchase became clear in the staff report which stated, “The City may lease up to approximately 4,500 poles …. to telecom companies for internet and phone usage. Leasing poles will generate income for the city.” [6]

Next, in November 2018, our city council approved staff initiating an “Assessment Ballot Process” to modify Landscape Maintenance District and Streetlight Maintenance district assessment amounts. Why? Because staff claimed it is improper for the property owners in Zone 2 (now called Zone A) which includes a portion financed by property tax, since they are not paying the same assessment as Zone B, which has no property tax funding associated. Next, staff indicated a desire to correct a disparity for 13 LMDs, which are paying for parks in their assessments, when the other 22 city-owned parks are financed by the general fund. The vote count and public hearing was planned for January 22, 2018. [7]

The general public became aware of the election process in late November, when the city mailed out a letter informing affected property owners they would receive a ballot. But the letter never mentioned different versions would be going to certain property owners, dependent on if they were in an LMD, as well as the streetlight zones. Yet, we all got the same deceptive voting instructions indicating that a “Yes” will indicate you support maintaining streetlight services in your neighborhood, and marking the ballot “No” indicates you are opposed. Then came the ballots themselves, with different versions, as well. Some indicated that there would be a proposed decrease in the property owners LMD assessment fee to offset the increase in the Lighting District fee. The information sheets showed that changes to every zone would be the result of a combined vote. Individual property owners’ votes would be weighted by their property’s assessment amount. Decisions made by property owners voting in one zone would directly affect other zones.

Pushback by the residents started almost immediately. Some were confused by the result of a yes or no vote. They asked, does this mean if we vote “No,” our streetlights will go out? Some were put off by the proposed 500 percent increase in the Zone 2 assessment fee. Some wanted to know the justification for the decision being made by a combined vote, rather than an independent vote of their zone. But some started to notice the LMD proposed reduced rate was more than they were currently paying. [8]

Well, all the pushback caused the city council to cancel the ballot process on January 8. They blamed the confusion on the public not being sufficiently informed. The letter cancelling the ballot stated, “Over the next year, the city will undertake outreach … to determine how to proceed.”

In my estimation, the way forward, would be for the council to start getting more actively involved, and ensure each item which comes before the public is presented in a clear, transparent and honest way. When the public reads a staff report or listens to a staff explanation, there should be no question that what was presented was factual and in plain English. It would be refreshing to hear a Councilmember explain exactly what happened in this case, and what corrective action has been implemented to prevent a similar problem from recurring in the future.

While we have been told this issue is coming back at a future date, I do not believe it. Why? Because, someone at city hall got exactly what they wanted. They inappropriately added authorizations to the Landscaping and Lighting District Engineer’s report to justify a $15-million loan in order to put the city in the business of leasing streetlight poles to Cell Sites and Transmitters – in your neighborhood.

This is not the way to run a railroad. It looks like we might need some new blood blowing the horn.

[1] City of Santa Clarita Streetlight District No. 1, Engineers Report 2006/7, Page 2-1, Paragraph 2.1, Introduction of SMD No. 1. [2] Final Engineer’s Report For City of Santa Clarita Streetlight Maintenance District No. 1, Fiscal Year 2007-08, Page 12, Assessment Rates. [3] City Council meeting May 23, 2017 Agenda Item 15, Staff Report [4] City Council Meeting June 13, 2017, agenda Item 15, Staff Report. City of Santa Clarita Engineer’s Report, Santa Clarita Landscaping and Lighting District Fiscal year 2017/2018, Page 10, third bullet. [5] City Council Meeting January 23, 2018, Agenda Item 11, Consent Calendar, Staff Report. [6] City Council Meeting February 27, 2018, Agenda Item 6. [7] City Council Meeting November 13, 2018, Consent Item, Agenda Item 8. [8] Always Advocating Alan, Scams, Shams and Property Tax, 012719.


City of Santa Clarita Responds

by Carrie Lujan, City Communications Manager

Thank you for the opportunity to offer clarifying information. City staff has made numerous good faith attempts to explain this matter to Mr. Ferdman; unfortunately we do not appear to be on the same page.

The City of Santa Clarita is one of no fewer than 22 cities in Southern California that over the past five years has made the decision to purchase their streetlight system from Southern California Edison. The benefit of acquiring our streetlights and converting them to LED technology will generate approximately $30 million in operational savings to the community during the first 30 years of ownership.
The Municipal Revenue Bonds, which funded the purchase of the streetlights, were authorized at the February 27, 2018, City Council meeting, a noticed Public Hearing. The action taken met all public disclosure requirements outlined by California Senate Bill 450, was reviewed by two different law firms and rated by Standards and Poor’s Corporation.

The City purchased the streetlights from Southern California Edison to reduce the current and long-term cost of providing streetlight services for the community.

Per State and Federal law, cities are required to provide access to telecommunications providers in the public rights of way.

Prior to leasing space on any City-owned streetlight pole, the City Council will develop a formal policy for how telecommunication companies can use our poles. This policy will appear on a future City Council agenda, at which time residents will have an opportunity to ask questions or raise issues before the Council takes any action.

Before any future, potential modifications are made to the streetlight maintenance district, the City will conduct extensive community outreach. In addition to engaging residents, staff will work closely with members of the City Council to develop an approach that balances community feedback and the need to create equity among the assessment amount for streetlight services paid by property owners throughout Santa Clarita.

An Extreme Centrist’s Vision for Achieving Universal Healthcare in America

| Opinion | February 21, 2019

by Ronnie Nathan

Currently, 32 of the 33 advanced nations in the world provide universal access to standard of care healthcare to their citizens. The United States is the lone exception. Of those nations, the United States spends approximately twice as much per capita, with significantly worse outcomes. Approximately 20 – 25 million of our fellow citizens have no medical coverage at all. It’s absolutely true that if you are fortunate enough to have a Cadillac plan, the American medical establishment offers the finest, most advanced medical care in the world. If you are not fortunate, however, your treatment options would be better in Canada and all of Western Europe.

I suppose the first issue is whether universal access to standard healthcare is a worthy goal, whether it justifies taxing everyone to achieve that goal. In my point of view, every government program, from defense spending to Social Security, is a transfer of wealth in the form of taxes. Call it national defense or insurance; if the government takes money from you, it is a tax, and if it spends it on something, someone else benefits. So, why should we tax folks so everyone can enjoy decent healthcare? Because, for me at least, it is a “sanctity of life” issue, no less sacred than the abortion issue. Just as I oppose all abortions, without any exceptions after week 20 (unless the mom’s life is imminently threatened), I think it is immoral and unacceptable that any of our citizens’ lives are at risk because they can’t afford readily available, standard of care treatment.

The next issue is how do we get there? It seems to me that there are three key elements on the roadmap to universal coverage. The first and most difficult is lowering costs, which I address later in this article. The second is separating medical insurance from employment. The third is to make the transition incremental. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), with all its shortcomings, began the process of incrementally moving toward universal coverage. Universal Medicare, which I believe is ultimately the most sensible goal, separates coverage from employment.

Let me be clear. I am agnostic about how we achieve the ultimate goal of universal coverage. If anyone has a better idea, I’m all ears. It just seems to me that since the infrastructure and bureaucracy are already in place and the transition can be incremental, without too many jarring adjustments for individuals, Universal Medicare makes the most sense for America. We can begin by offering folks under 65 the option of buying into Medicare. Then, we can slowly expand the pool of who is eligible for Medicare. I would immediately give every veteran a Medicare card, then gradually lower the age for eligibility until it is universal.

Universal Medicare, as I envision it, isn’t a blanket that covers 100 percent of all medical treatment for all Americans. It essentially functions as Medicare currently does for seniors, with limitations, co-pays and things that simply aren’t covered. As I said, the bureaucracy and infrastructure are already in place. The increase in FICA necessary to pay for it will be offset by the savings in private insurance premiums currently paid for by employers and individuals who are not covered by their employers. Medicaid will disappear. The issues in veterans’ healthcare and the VA will be addressed, as vets will be covered by Medicare, and the VA can focus on the specific needs unique to vets. Those who can afford it will purchase supplemental insurance in the private market, as current Medicare recipients do. The private market can compete with Medicare, as Medicare Advantage plans currently do, but without the subsidies.

Yes, based on fiscal sustainability, medical care will be rationed just as it is now by the private insurance actuaries and Medicare. While single payer and universality are socialist aspects, the system will still be based on private providers who will compete in the healthcare marketplace and sliding scale co-pays, which I strongly advocate, can create incentives for everyone to control costs.

Tort reform is also a key component in implementing Universal Medicare, IMHO, to reduce costs by eliminating the epidemic of unnecessary tests administered simply as protection from lawsuits. If you want that extra test, pay for it yourself! Changing the medical payment paradigm from fee for service to medical outcomes is another huge area for lowering costs. Another huge area for savings, in addition to fraud and abuse, is in end-of-life treatments that are very costly without significant medical benefits. That reform alone would make current Medicare fiscally sustainable long into the foreseeable future. If an individual wants life preserved at all costs or wants a knee replacement at 85, they can either pay for it themselves or pay for supplemental insurance to cover it. Currently, Medicare covers only the oldest and sickest Americans. By expanding the risk pool to every American, the entire system becomes more fiscally sustainable.

I understand and sympathize with those that decry the expansion of government, but that train has already left the station, never to return. By all measures, the government is inextricably bound to the delivery of healthcare in America. Advocating for a system that restores the unregulated free market to the healthcare market is like advocating for the government getting out of the road building and maintenance business in favor of private toll roads. It may be an interesting subject for a parlor game, but it’s never going to happen, and for very good reasons.

Is it perfect? No! But the benefits of every American having access to standard of care healthcare far exceed the costs. Its time has come!

Your Money, Your Children, Your Choice: You Can Do It

| Opinion | February 14, 2019

by Stephen Smith

Politicians do it, educators do it, the 1 percent do it, executives do it and even your favorite Hollywood stars do it.

If the people of School Choice 2020 (sponsored by The California Taxpayers Union) are successful in their next campaign, you will be able to do it, too. What is it that they do? They send their children to the finest K-12 schools available. Their children receive all the advantages a fine education can provide.

With your help and support, your children will not be prevented from attending the same fine schools that the elite do because you live in the wrong zip code. It will not matter if you are working for minimum wage or living paycheck to paycheck. Issues of race, class and gender for admission become irrelevant. It will not matter if that great school you want your child to attend is public, private or parochial. If your student is prepared and willing to do the work, you insure they attend and there is a seat available, you will be able to afford it. Never has access to a fine education been this fair or this accessible, with schools competing to doing their very best to earn your trust and to provide your child the finest education possible.

You might be thinking, “Hold on a minute – my child is going to a great school and I am very happy with the education they are getting.” Congratulations, you are fortunate, indeed, and there is no need for you to make any changes. Unfortunately, many in our public schools systems are not faring as well. In many of our schools the graduation rates are poor, and if they do graduate, they need much remedial work before they will be prepared to embark on a college education. Poor reading and writing skills are common for many new college enrollees. The California Department of Education has just reported that 110 of LAUSD schools need comprehensive improvement and outside help. Shockingly, 56 are in the bottom 5 percent. Call it the worst of the worst. The state or the LAUSD have not offered solutions or advice on what actions the parents should take. Overwhelmingly, these schools are in minority and impoverished neighborhoods. Historically, some of these under-performing schools have been referred to as “failure factories.” Interestingly, students in the same neighborhoods who have been fortunate enough to attend a parochial or charter school have very high graduation rates and college admission levels. Under our current system, where money for education follows the zip code, the students in these failing schools are left without options and have a dim future. Some parents may be concerned about their child’s safety or may prefer an education that includes teaching moral values. Without wealth, or if they are low-income, they are trapped. Many of our schools are failing in achieving the proper role of education. Their students are not graduating or being prepared to face a complex world. The problem is not new.

In his “Report for University of Virginia” (1818), Thomas Jefferson explained the proper role for public education:

“The objects of… primary education [which] determine its character and limits [are]: To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; to enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts in writing; to improve, by reading, his morals and faculties; to understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either; to know his rights; to exercise with order and justice those he retains, to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor and judgment; and in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.”

The solution is to come up with a system where all children can have the same options and opportunities as those who are more blessed. The goal is to achieve that standard of education for your children, which Thomas Jefferson so eloquently laid out for us. That solution is what School Choice 2020 is seeking to achieve.

The solution begins with a very simple idea. Tax money being allocated for education follows the student and does not stay in the zip code. It supports the idea that IT IS YOUR MONEY to spend on YOUR CHILD’S EDUCATION and YOUR CHOICE how and where it spent. If you love your local public school, great. Spend it there. If you like the challenges and parental involvement of a Charter School, spend it there. If you wish your child’s education to include moral and spiritual development, spend it on a religiously sponsored school. If you wish to give the challenge of a classical education as advocated by Thomas Jefferson to your children, you may do that, too. This will force all schools both public and private to improve and compete for your educational dollar. The only losers will be the “failure factories” and educators who care more about themselves than your child’s future.

A Call to Action

Michael Alexander, president of The California Taxpayers Union and co-sponsor of School Choice 2020 has put together a team to draft legislation for an initiative to provide educational options for the people of California. Getting an initiative on the ballot will take a massive effort to obtain signatures of registered voters in order to qualify for the ballot. This is your opportunity to effect dramatic positive change that will make education in the Golden State truly golden.

Please consider registering on the website to be kept up-to-date on progress and what you can do to make it happen. (Be patient, as the site is new). This idea has long been a dream of mine, and I hope that the more you learn and think, it will be a dream of yours, as well. What would do with your $15,000 per-child share of the educational budget?

Please help “Make the Dream Happen” by registering at https://www.schoolchoice2020.org, or https://www.californiataxpayersunion.org. Michael Alexander can be heard on “Radio Free Los Angeles” AM Radio 870, The Answer at 8:00 p.m. every Sunday night.

Amy for America

| Opinion | February 14, 2019

by Peter Funt

There are many metrics for what makes a good president, but being able to deliver a speech in falling snow and mid-teen temperatures without hat or gloves for nearly a half hour isn’t one of them.

Fortunately for Americans, there’s more to Amy Klobuchar’s candidacy than Sunday’s wintry scene on the shore of the Mississippi River. The Minnesota Democrat is the real deal.

Entering a crowded field of presidential aspirants, Sen. Klobuchar is not yet a front-runner. Much will transpire over the next 600 days in what is likely to be the most brutally fought and tediously analyzed presidential election since – what? – 2016.

Back in November I suggested that two Democrats have the best shot at winning the presidency: California’s freshman Sen. Kamala Harris, and Minnesota’s three-term veteran Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Both women have since formally declared their candidacies and each has gotten off to a smooth start. I’m most impressed by Klobuchar.

Face it, the process of picking a president drags on for too long. Incessant polling is pointless. Cable-TV’s obsession with daily minutiae is boring. And, yes, early analysis by thumb-sucking opinion writers is often underwhelming.

But, and it’s a big but, this campaign is different. Donald Trump rewrote the rules in 2016 and his victory shocked the nation. The Trump presidency is an embarrassment; worse, it is dangerous. To say that 2020 might be the most important election of our lives is not an exaggeration.

So, it’s vital that politicians, pundits and the public engage right now.

Amy Klobuchar is a progressive, but drifts closer to the center of liberal politics than, say, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and, to a slightly lesser degree, Kamala Harris. For example, Klobuchar favors repairing the Affordable Care Act and lowering the prices of prescription drugs, but stops short of “Medicare for all.” She acknowledges the need for immigration reform, but doesn’t advocate abolishing I.C.E. as some progressives have.

Klobuchar seeks to aggressively combat climate change, favors automatic voter registration when people turn 18, and demands mandatory background checks and other measures for tighter gun control.
Candidates with more extreme positions tend to be effective in primaries but not so much in the general election. Democrats would have to go back to 1972, when George McGovern was the nominee, to find a candidate with positions significantly left of center. McGovern won only Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., and lost in the Electoral College 520-17.

If ever there was an election in which Democrats need to rally, early, around a somewhat more centrist candidate, this is it. The singular goal should be retaking the White House.

One negative that has already surfaced in Klobuchar’s campaign is the senator’s demanding, at times harsh, treatment of her staff. This troubles me, as it should all voters.

Klobuchar concedes that she has been tough. Several reporters, including CNN’s Dana Bash, who is well connected on Capitol Hill, note that women in elected office often feel the need to push their employees – and themselves – harder than their male counterparts do. Bash also asks, as many observers have, if a male candidate would be subjected to the same type of scrutiny that Sen. Klobuchar has.

I don’t think this will ultimately be a barrier for Klobuchar. She’s positioning herself as a Midwesterner with “grit.” I like grit, but I don’t like a public persona that is contradicted by behavior in private – so I hope we’ve already heard all there is to hear about Klobuchar’s “baggage.”

The perfect Democrat to defeat Donald Trump is a center-left, middle-aged, limited-baggage, experienced woman from Mid-America. Like it or not, age and sex are important this time around. The nation needs a somewhat younger president and it needs to break the glass ceiling once and for all.

Lou Grant, the fictional news director, once said to Minnesota up-and-comer Mary Richards: “Mary, you’ve got spunk.”

Then, he added, “And I hate spunk.”

Well, Minnesotan Amy Klobuchar has spunk. And it says here that Americans are going to like it.

A list of Peter Funt’s upcoming live appearances is available at www.CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. © 2019 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

A Wall Only God Can Tear Down

| Opinion | February 14, 2019

by Richard Hood

There’s a wall near completion. It’s more important than the border wall, as it’s growing inside our country. It’s designed to divide, not protect. Grown from seed, it becomes thorns and “tares,” the disguised weeds in our nation’s spiritual fields of “wheat.” Our real enemy hopes we forget we’re in a spiritual play, or war. One of his tactics: mock true religion and replace it with the counterfeit of leftism.

The only cure for anyone still a leftist today is a supernatural Great Awakening. Yet, that’s happened here twice, before two of our wars, but that’s glossed over by secular humanist teachers and text publishers. Rejecting objective truth, leftists judge others by their own thought processes, “projecting” onto the decent their own twisted thinking. It’s why they hypocritically call the backbone of America “deplorables.” After the one-two punch of the World Wars, our fathers didn’t want to talk about the indescribable consequences of sin – human carnage. What they saw was so shocking it severed the lines connecting life’s dots, which grouped together, form a sense-making picture of the world for us. These men wouldn’t talk, so the next generation never got their inheritance of values, which created a void of meaning and purpose; a vacuum. Nature abhorring vacuums, it was filled with lies because truths were not planted and nurtured. Let me put it more succinctly: spit out the truth, you swallow a lie. Plant good crop seeds in prepared soil or you’ll get only weeds. Our Fourth Estate, (media), acts as a “behind our lines” enemy or “fifth column,” fostering anti-Americanism along with their educational collaborators. Instead of moving to a socialist “paradise” like Venezuela, they stayed, like cancer cells, to educate today’s crop of broadcasters and teachers now indoctrinating our own children. This thorny wall, designed to sever us from our own kids and shared values, is being financed by … us. What a scheme, straight from the pit, agreed to by ballot.

Conservatives also have their share of blame, having put lifestyle before values and faith. You can observe one of both side’s biggest motivations by following the money (control). Financial markets are fueled by two emotions: fear and greed. They are flip sides of the same coin, counterfeited by our real enemy.The book of Isaiah warns of woe to those calling evil things as good, and vice versa, and also warns of being ruled by childish thinkers – welcome to America’s left. Proverbs says condemning the righteous while letting the guilty slide is an abomination – just read today’s headlines.

But old truths are meaningless, right? Your truth for you and my truth for me. Believing such subjective pabulum is it an excuse to avoid life as an adult. I have a saying: “Sin makes stupid.” Healthy cells must override (by over-voting) deadly ones or a civilization, let alone a nation, will die. Such nation-ending is what your kids are being told they should actually want in order to think themselves as decent people, despite your fathers dying for the opposite. Wake up, your fathers were scum to the left, just as you are the second you question them, which you should be doing.Teaching decades in public schools, I witnessed each step of change. It’s not worth your convenience or the injustice of wasted taxes – get your kids out of these family hating and America hating institutions ASAP. You wouldn’t feed your kids poisoned food just because it was “free.” You don’t want your children misinterpreting everything you say as a micro-aggression or “dog whistle” (which, being humans made in God’s image, we aren’t even designed to hear).

This Progressive-planted wall, watered in the ‘60s, isn’t designed to protect those we love by keeping those we don’t know out, as we do with our front doors. Rather, this thorny hedge grows inside us individually and nationally. Do you feel freer to speak your mind today than a year ago? How about to even think freely, without fear of your words and motives being pre-judged due to your skin, race, age or gender – more or less free a year from now? All due to the left’s (the true racists) “projection.” They can live with themselves only by finding made-up “deplorables,” a non-existent straw man, to make their own natures seem better in comparison.

Why use your liberty to vote for leftists who want to take your liberty away? This is the wall to be concerned about. It will encroach ever-more oppressively, except by a move of the Spirit of He who tore the temple veil from top to bottom that separated you from Him. There are good walls and bad, and the discernment needed to judge between them is a God given gift that is rejected at our own peril.

Richard Hood is a retired history teacher.

Always Advocating Alan – I Believe We are all Pro-Choice. What’s Important is the Choice You Make!

| Opinion | February 14, 2019

While I am in the third year of writing for the Gazette, I have continued an effort to include columns which only speak to local issues. I have purposely taken that approach, because I have found the public reaction to governmental issues has become so emotional, it is difficult to have an intelligent and worthwhile conversation. Yet, there are some situations I find so important, their impact to our future and everyday life so dramatic, I choose not to be silent. But, in order to provide a realistic narrative, this is the one and only time I will use the words, Republican, Democrat, Trump, and Pelosi, in this column.

So, let’s get started. If you have been following my columns, you are already aware that I was born in Brooklyn, almost a year after Pearl Harbor. My father, like many other patriotic Americans, joined the Army, served in France as a medic, returned home, and passed away shortly after. He, along with many of my other relatives, belonged to the generation who shaped today’s world. They put their lives on the line, fighting to end some of the greatest atrocities the world has ever known. The Holocaust not only put an end to the lives of six million Jews, but also killed large numbers of the mentally challenged, physically disabled, and some who simply shared beliefs counter to the Nazi culture. If that were not horrific enough, medical experiments were performed using the concentration camp population as experimental subjects. Plus, this degree of torture was not performed by the German military alone. Many Chinese captives were subjected to debilitating, life-ending experiments during WW II by the Japanese, in an attempt to obtain chemical and biological weapons.

As a member of the Jewish faith, I fully realize that I am alive today to write this narrative because I was fortunate to have been born in the United States. I am a third generation American because my great grandfather decided to immigrate to our shores, and my parent’s generation had the strength, foresight and fortitude to do their part in ending the chaos around the globe. Today, ninety percent of the United States population was born after 1946 and almost 70-percent after 1965, so it is understandable and unfortunate that the lessons of the 1940s are growing dim.

I hold no ill-will for today’s population of Germany or Japan, as I believe a person should not be held accountable for the sins of their parents. Yet, the situation begs some very important questions. How could the German population have allowed, and participated in, such horrific events? Why did they remain silent? Why didn’t they rise up and put an end to the carnage themselves? I have heard some say that only about 10 percent of the population were members of the Nazi Party, and the remainder of the population did not know what was happening. Well, I do not believe it for a minute. There were way too many civilians and soldiers involved, along with way too many victims, for the word not to have gotten out.

Which brings me to the most frightening question of all: Could similar atrocities happen here, and would the American population put a stop to it? I ask the question, because our American culture does not have a perfect record either. For example, in 1932, a study was initiated to record the progression of syphilis by using a study group of 600 black men. With 399 men having initially contracted the disease, their condition was not treated, nor were they told of their ailment. Instead, their condition was watched, and the disease progression studied. In 1972, when this story was reported in the press, the outrage and lawsuits began, yet it was too late to help those involved, with the last participant dying in 2004.

While I have great admiration for those who enter the medical profession with the goal of helping people, relieving pain, and improving an individual’s quality of life, I also understand there are a small number who have less lofty ideals. I find it unconscionable that medical professionals in Germany or Japan would have performed experiments on captives, as well as those in America who would had been a part of using a minority group as study subjects.

Today, I draw a parallel to those medical professionals who perform “Elective Late Term (Third Trimester) Abortions,” and I cannot remain silent. Doctors have been recorded as describing these procedures, where full term, or almost full term, babies are pulled apart in the womb, or having their skulls crushed with the contents sucked out or being given lethal injections. Now, in New York, these procedures have been legalized, including allowing the child to die, even when born alive during process. Where is the outrage from our population and the medical profession? Are we being silent just like the population of Germany?

Personally, I believe everyone has the right of choice. Unfortunately, individuals on the fringe of both sides of the abortion issue have very conflicting views. Those on one end of the spectrum seem to think you have made a choice when you elect to have sex, while those on the other extreme believe choice ends when the baby is born and the mother elects to keep it. So, whenever there is a call to outlaw “Elective Late Term Abortions,” a cry is heard about the horror of overturning Roe v. Wade. One major celebrity even tweeted, “Buy stock in coat hangers! Here we go, 60 years, back to the back alleys,” spoken by a person who obtained their knowledge from headlines and knows little about the “Roe v. Wade” decision.

To be factual, in 1973, Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court when by a 7 to 2 vote, the justices “struck down an 1857 Texas statute which made abortion illegal except where the life of the mother was in danger.” The court went further to include, “this right (to abortion) must be balanced against the states interests in regulating abortions: protecting a woman’s health and protecting the potentiality of human life … by tying state regulation of abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy.” In 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court rejected the previously used trimester framework, and agreed fetal viability “may occur at 23 or 24 weeks, or sometimes earlier, in light of medical advances.”

Therefore, with Supreme Court decisions which do not legitimize the “Elective Abortion of a Viable Fetus,” it is curious some elected officials are looking to abort life right up to, and after birth. Why are they not being held accountable? Perhaps we should have federal legislation to outlaw “Elective Abortions of a Viable Fetus” as currently defined by the Supreme Court. Because, as we have heard from Medical Professionals, a viable fetus feels pain, and, with the proper medical attention, has a good opportunity to survive outside the mother’s womb. These restrictions would not prevent a woman’s ability to use birth control, choose to abort a pregnancy in early stages, nor prevent doctors from doing what is necessary to protect the life of the mother or child. What it would do, is protect those most vulnerable from being tortured in the name of choice.

Lastly, I wonder where our country will go from here. What choice will the electorate make? Have we become so insensitive to the plight of those who cannot protect themselves, we will sit idly by and not heed their cry? Worst of all, are we on a path to legally euthanize those who are no longer considered productive? While you may think such a thing could never happen here, it was not long ago that I thought the same about the prospect of doctors killing newborn American babies.

It is sad to imagine, another columnist in the future asking how the American population allow, and participate in, such horrific events. Why did they remain silent? Why didn’t they rise up and put an end to the carnage themselves? Will they conclude, with today’s news cycle and electronic methods of communication, that the population had to know what was happening and did nothing to stop it?

What we do today will decide where our Republic will be in the future. Because, we are all “pro-choice,” and someday our children, and their children, will look at the choices we made, and I hope we will have made them as proud of us, as I am of The Greatest Generation who fought evil in World War II!

Socialism is the New Bogeyman

| Opinion | February 14, 2019

by Ronnie Nathan

I grew up in the ‘50s, in the days of Joe McCarthy, red scares, black lists and loyalty oaths. Richard Nixon made his political bones as a commie hunter and congressional prosecutor of Alger Hiss. I remember the front page of the NY Daily Mirror when the Rosenbergs were executed. I had friends whose parents’ professional lives were ruined by the mass paranoia. I remember Edward R. Murrow on “See It Now,” smoking his cigarette on live TV, exposing McCarthy for what he was, making history in 1954. But the fact is the “Red Scare” and McCarthyism lasted with the House Un-American Activities Committee doing its witch hunting into the ‘60s and beyond. At least there was a degree of reality behind all the paranoia. Alger Hiss really was a Soviet agent and the Rosenbergs did participate in the plot to steal the bomb, even if Klaus Fuchs, who provided vastly more important information to the Soviets, only served nine years in a British prison.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the implosion of communism, the right-wing in America lost its bogeyman. Liberals and traditional liberalism became the target for demonization, but more recently, they have discovered two much more effective targets for their demagogic paranoia; “Socialism” and the invading horde of brown people on our southern border. Our southern border, in reality, has never been more secure. The only crisis is the thousands of kids separated from their parents created by Trump’s 0-Tolerance policy overwhelming CBP because of the incompetent planning for the policy and the policy itself. This is a threat from without. The right-wing’s paranoia, however, thrives on a threat from within. Enter “Socialism.”

In the first place, no one who raises the specter of socialism seems to know what the term really means. Socialism on a national scale is when the government owns the means of production, from farms to factories, to real-estate and commerce, to all forms of property beyond what an individual can carry or wear. On a communal basis, it is when groups of people decide to form a community, based on communal ownership of the property of that group, like an Israeli kibbutz. The modern witch hunters, however, seem to think this threat to the very fabric of American life, “Socialism,” is any government program they don’t like. They ignore the fact that the most dominant and pervasive “Socialist” institution in the American economy is the military.

There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about Universal Medicare, but socialism isn’t one of them! Medicare depends on private healthcare providers, the exact opposite of socialism. Medicare right now has private competitors in the form of Medicare Advantage. Let me reassure all of you. American capitalism has never been healthier and there is absolutely no chance socialism will ever replace an economy based on private property and competition. It’s spreading around the world, even in countries that still call themselves communist, and that’s a good thing. It’s fine and reasonable to oppose and resist big government. Calling it socialism and using “Socialism” as a bogeyman, however, and lumping liberals into the mix by implying they are the new Communist threat to real Americans, is pure demagoguery and pure nonsense.

Yes, AOC is a self-declared socialist, although based on her naïve and often ill-informed pronouncements, I have doubts that she really knows what socialism is. Based on the rants coming daily from the right-wing MSM, you would think she is leading an army of newly elected activists threatening to overwhelm Congress and the American government. The fact is that she is an anomaly. The vast majority of the new Democratic majority in the House are moderate centrist Democrats like Katie Hill and Connor Lamb. AOC, for all her well-publicized splash on the political scene, defeated an old white guy in a Bronx district that is almost 100-percent Latino. I suspect her ethnicity and youth have more to do with her victory over Joe Crowley than her declaration as a socialist.

And then there’s Bernie Sanders. He isn’t a socialist. He’s a Democratic Socialist, the kind of socialist that has populated mainstream western European politics since WW ll. Debunking his policies as unrealistic and hopelessly too expensive, when our biggest economic threat is the burgeoning federal deficit and debt enormously compounded by President Trump and the new anti-“Socialist” demagogues, strikes me more like fighting a paper tiger than a crusade to save the soul of America.

What American political culture needs more than anything else right now is moderation, cooperation, compromise and common sense. We don’t need make-believe enemies. We don’t need bogeymen. We don’t need to feed the paranoia that is the mothers’ milk to the demagogues on the right and left. We need to stop demonizing each other. We need to evaluate government programs on a cost/benefits basis with objective facts as our guideposts. We need to reject the voices of hysteria and false ideologies. The only bogeymen out there are the people who are warning us about bogeymen!

Afternoon T

| Opinion | February 8, 2019

by T. Katz

Q: As the owner of a company, it’s important to me that employees have a good work ethic. A lot don’t. I’ve got young kids at home and wonder if they’ll grow up that way, too. Is that something you’re born with?

A: Hard-working. In a nutshell, that defined the Greatest Generation born between WWI and WWII, the hardest working people on the planet. Their work ethic was borne out of tremendous hardship, because of economic issues and shifts in world powers that resulted in war. Forced to roll up their shirtsleeves to earn everything from shoes on their feet to food on the table, it formed their character in a way that had nothing to do with how they sprung from the womb. So, you could argue that those folks had a good work ethic, because of WHEN they were born.

Because my grandparents and parents were members of that generation, my work ethic was drilled into me early. Almost daily. I remember being told that it didn’t matter what I chose to do in life, as long I put effort into it. My dad said, “Even if you’re a ditch-digger, you be the best little ditch-digger you can be!” There was such pride in a job well done, even if it was shining someone’s shoes (which I did for a quarter, using Grandpa Andy’s tin of Kiwi Paste kept under his bed in a metal box). So, I suppose being in that household did mold my work ethic, because of WHERE I was born.

Now, there are people who believe you’re born with all your character traits, but I think that’s hogwash. None of us pop out fully formed, like Venus on the half-shell. We learn what we live. It doesn’t matter if you’re brought into the world with a silver spoon in your mouth or a steel shovel in your hand; how hard you work comes from what you learn. And … what you learn comes from what you hear, see and do. If your existence teaches you that your ultimate well-being is in your hands, by the effort you put forth, that develops a work ethic to apply to every area of your life. Now, let’s look at the synonyms for work: Effort! Exertion! Drudgery! Grind! As parents and caregivers, we must become comfortable with our child’s discomfort, so that they can grow into strong adults who understand and appreciate a job well done. If you want your children to develop a work ethic, then create tasks at home that live up to that word: WORK – and have them see it through to completion. Then, praise them for their efforts. You can reward them for jobs well done, too. Earning an allowance or a “paycheck” for chores is good, but I can tell you that when they hear the pride in your voice and see it on your face? They’ll want to continue honing their work ethics. You might want to try it with your employees, too.
xo – t.

Un-Valentine’s Day

| Opinion | February 7, 2019

Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year on which we share the love we have in our hearts with one another. Sadly, for the rest of the year, each day loses its magic, and we wind up sharing only hate with each other.

So, I decided to call those remaining 364 days Un-Valentine’s Days.

The following message would be appropriate for Un-Valentine’s Day cards: “Roses are red. Violets are blue. I need to tell you how much I hate you.”

Although the words are not exactly the same, we can hear similar messages every day from our leaders, reporters in the media, and, sad to say, many of us.

Every day there’s way too much hate and anger in this country. We have to speak up and rid ourselves of this evil because it’s tearing us apart. We must never embrace hate. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the backbone to stand up against those who promote it. I predict it won’t be long before the politically correct police will find something offensive about Valentine’s Day.

Hopefully, conditions could be very different, starting this year. Instead of limiting our expression of love to only Valentine’s Day, we should continue to express that love on other days, weeks, months, even the rest of the year. Love should always remain alive and active in our hearts, our minds, and our souls.

I am asking everyone to consider my simple idea, so we won’t have to endure this vile and harmful hate that’s dividing this country.

Let’s find a way to get rid of as many of these hateful Un-Valentine’s Days we can, so our message will become: “Roses are red. Violets are blue. Every day I’ll be sharing my love with you.”

I dream someday we can make every day like Valentine’s Day, and fill each with love. Only then will we have a happier, kinder, and more peaceful world.

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

Wanted: Men to Change the World

| Opinion | February 7, 2019

by Richard Hood

The greatest need the world has is for you to be a man.

This is not an easy thing to learn, and must be taught.
You must put away childish attitudes, and learn to do the right thing.

You must choose who will be your teacher, your mentor, your counselor, your friend,
your father figure.

Let others follow the crowd, or sports heroes and music idols. They have nothing to say and nothing to offer.

They are in court, rehab, and trashy tabloids. Your life was not designed to be a soap opera; don’t fill it with such things.

You will be known for what you allow inside.

Don’t believe losing is winning, that notoriety equals accomplishment.
Follow the wrong people and not only will you be lost, you will lead others astray.
Don’t be a stumbling block. Don’t be in the way.

Learn the way. Show the way. Be the way.

Do you desire what is right and true more than you desire the approval of others?

Do you desire avoiding scorn and ridicule more than you desire being a man?

Who can stand up, stand against, stand for? Who can see his own need and ask for help?
Who can stand between his ego and the reality of universal insufficiency and cry out,
praying for guidance no man has in himself?

Carver can.
Washington can.
Wilberforce can.
Lincoln can.
Sitting Bull can.
Churchill can.
Gandhi can.
Patton can.
King can.

John Paul II can.
Reagan can.

The man in front of the tank in Tienanmen Square can.
Men on United Flight 93 can.
Untold multitudes of men unknown but to their families can.

A man can. Any man can. You can.
Yes, you can.

The size of your battlefield means nothing. Your personal mission is everything.
Become the man you were created to be. Seize your destiny, secure your birthright.
Train for your mission and accomplish it. It’s not only your own life that depends on it.
Don’t just be a male. Be a man.

Richard Hood is a retired history teacher.

How Should We Think About People Who Take Their Own Lives?

| Opinion | February 7, 2019

by Gary Curtis

Flights were grounded at Orlando’s International Airport last Saturday morning after a TSA officer jumped to his death. His successful suicide from a hotel balcony and into the atrium area at the airport prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to take actions which led to massive lines and delayed departures.

Here in Southern California, we have recently had two pastors take their own lives after struggling with mental illness for several years. In one case, some speculated the well-liked leader may have “gone off his meds.”

Suicide is the leading cause of death among fifteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds. In the last decade, there has been a 30 percent increase of suicides for those in their mid-forties to mid-sixties.

How should we think about those who take their own lives? How can we help prevent these permanent solutions to temporary problems?

Studies show that someone in America intentionally takes their own life every thirteen minutes. That is some thirty-eight thousand suicides every year! Eventually, each of us may seriously battle with life-threatening depression or know someone who has taken their own life. These families will need sensitive prayers and compassionate support from members of the family of God.
There were people in the Bible who took their own lives or wanted to die. They include Saul, Moses, Elijah, Jonah, Zimri, Ahithophel, Abimelech, and Judas. Since Sampson is honored in Hebrews 11 for his heroic actions, most would not consider his collapsing a building on himself as suicide, but rather martyrdom.

The Bible states that murderers will have their “portion in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” Rev. 21:8) and other scriptures suggest that suicide is a great sin, equivalent to murder, and therefore it is not God’s will. However, it is not the unpardonable sin, which John 3:16-21 states is unbelief and rejection of Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Usually, family and friends can look back and see contributing factors to the self-inflicted death, which may have clouded or impaired godly judgment in the face of personal crises. The departed may have felt desperation from genuine mental illness, debilitating depression, or certain biological disorders. Perhaps these are the ones being described when Paul told the Thessalonians to “…comfort the faint-hearted, support the weak, and be patient toward everyone” (1 Thess. 5:14).

However, Hebrews 10:26-31 warns us about sinning willfully, which may call into question the genuineness of our repentance and subsequent forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). One should never presume on God’s grace and risk gambling their eternal destiny with this irrevocable choice.

Author Larry Tomczak has a very helpful book; Bullseye, Becoming an Informed Influencer in Today’s Changing Culture. His final chapter on “Suicide and Death with Dignity” identifies several “Suicide-Related Situations”: Intentional Suicide, Mentally Impaired Suicide, Accidental Suicide, and Avoidance Suicide.

Tomczak offers this thought-provoking observation: “The further our civilization drifts from our Judeo-Christian foundations, the more countries embrace euthanasia coupled with abortion and infanticide.”

The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians believers that God allowed a “thorn in the flesh” to afflict him so he would not boast about his special visions and revelations. He prayed three times to be delivered from this spiritual pressure and affiliation, but the Lord Jesus told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12: 9).

Let us all learn to be God’s hands extended to those around us. We can learn to intentionally comfort the comfortless with our words and encourage the afflicted among us with our actions. May God help us!


| Opinion | February 7, 2019

A Born Politician
Last week’s edition of The Gazette published Blair Bess’ adoring opinion of Katie Hill referencing her as “both a media darling and one of the most powerful members of the 116th Congress”.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe, unlike too many, that people have a right to choose a candidate whether anyone else agrees or not. However, when promoting one’s choice, please be factual.

Mr. Bess also stated that for those who didn’t vote for Hill, we’ve “lucked out”. It turns out that our luck is that “Rep. Katie Hill believes in funding for some form of barrier at the southern border; even if allocated strictly for repairs of existing fences, or walls, or slats”.

Are Democrats actually fighting against repairing damaged and dilapidated fencing/barriers already in place…probably for decades?

The former statement of Hill believing in funding for some form of barrier collides with the facts of her own words.

In a telephone call with the L.A. Daily News on December 28, 2018, Hill said: the new members were elected with a pretty strong mandate to oppose the wall…we’re not backing down…”

On January 11th, Hill interviewed with CNN’s Poppy Harlow and when nailed for a direct answer to funding a border barrier, Hill paused and stammered an unintelligible response.

The Daily Caller reported Hill’s words on January 12th: “We know that there’s already fencing and other physical barriers across the border in many different places, but there are gaps and we need to find ways of filling those gaps, repairing the fencing….For many of us there’s not really doubt that some kind of physical barrier is necessary.”

Then she called the standoff “semantics”. We have some agreement there.

On January 15th, the local Proclaimer reported Hill speaking at a DC press conference stating “…she was against funding for a border wall, clarifying comments she made previously regarding her support for border security”. She declared her position: “The border wall is off the table”.

In other words, Hill’s position on funding southern physical border barriers/fence/wall is quite fluid and open to change.

Mr. Bess thinks Hill appears “to be a woman true to her word…” like putting constituents over ideology. Her chameleon-like positions show much differently.

He’s concrete with Hill being “clearly a natural born politician…”

Seems Bess may well be right on-point.

Betty Arenson

They are Without Love

| Opinion | February 7, 2019

by Stephen Smith

Our elected leftist progressives have been obsessed with demonizing President Trump. Everything he says, does or accomplishes has become a point of focus for their disdain and hatred – even an innocuous MAGA hat. If they are serious about defeating evil, it is now time for them to take a long look in the mirror.

Their words may sound good. They may appear to be sincere in their desire to benefit the people. Sadly, the net results of their policies and methods result in tyranny and stand in opposition to the most basic moral teachings of western civilization. It is no accident that leftist judges have removed the Ten Commandments from the public square. A brief examination follows. From the Ten Commandments:

“Do not Murder.”
Leftists celebrate “a woman’s right to choose” by endorsing ending the life of the unborn. Many would call it murder. They call it woman’s health. The recent change in the law regarding abortion in New York State is an example. Pregnancy is now viewed as a disease by the leftist progressives. No one disputes the right of a woman to choose what she may do to her body to benefit her own health. What the left refuses to acknowledge is that the unborn have personhood. The unborn are not a troublesome wart; they are a fragile, separate life who is dependent on the mother for survival and welfare. Ronald Reagan concluded the unborn already have legal standing. For example, in case of a pregnant woman being murdered, the perpetrator can be charged with a double homicide. In addition, the unborn can be granted property rights as in cases of inheritance. Should the leftist have their way, shooting a woman and killing her unborn would not be considered murder.

Assuming a condition where the choice is terminating the life of the child and allowing the mother to survive or preserving the life of the child and risk losing the life of the mother, does create a moral dilemma. In John 15:13, Jesus stated, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”

Which parent would you honor – the mother, who would sacrifice her own life to save her child, or the mother who would murder her child to save her own life? Most decisions to abort are used as a method of birth control rather than facing such an impossible moral dilemma. What has been left out of the argument is the rights of the unborn, especially the Creator-given unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Against the will of the Constitution, the unborn have been deprived their equal rights, legal advocacy and due process of law. There may be exceptions, especially when the mother’s life is at stake. Abortion, especially when the unborn has achieved viability, should be viewed as an evil act of murder. We are hearing more calls by leftist progressive politicians to pass laws supporting late term abortions. It is proof of moral bankruptcy. They are creatures that have rejected love.

“Do Not Steal.”
Question: “Why do you rob banks?” Answer: “Because that’s where the money is!” Attributed to convicted thief Willie Sutton.

Question a leftist-progressive: “Why do you wish to tax the successful at rates up to 90 percent? Answer: Because we are fighting income disparity. We are exercising the people’s rights in a Democracy where we can force redistributive change to achieve fairness.” Come on, Dems, be honest. The real answer is because the top 1 percent is where the money is. With it you can buy votes and insure your power. Question: Isn’t that tyranny? Answer: “What are you trying to say? I never heard of that word.”

President Obama called for a 39 percent tax rate for those businesses that generated $250,000 plus in income. Today for individuals, we are hearing numbers of 70 percent. Some are even calling for confiscating 3 percent of the net worth of the wealthy, in addition to taking 70 percent of their income. One legislator has even called for a 90 percent income tax for the wealthy. Considering over 40 percent pay no income tax, those numbers do not represent paying their fair share. It is robbery at the point of a gun. It deprives the productive of assets they could be using to create more jobs, pay higher salaries and making investments to grow their business and help the economy.

Remember, they are the same people who employ the middle class. Nothing the government can do creates wealth. They can only spend it and create dependency in a new form of serfdom. They can provide services. However, without competition, they will lack innovation and not be able to control costs without reducing services. Socialist economies must fail. Even Sweden has come to realize it and made drastic changes towards the free market.

The question is, how do you address income disparity and poverty? Jesus said there will always be poor. He encouraged that we as individuals (not the state) reach out to help with the basic needs of the poor. He did not say we should encourage dependency. We should engage in charity. President Trump has fought for us to keep more of our own money with the reduction of taxes and regulations. (Note: Kamala Harris has charged Trump with giving corporations millions of dollars, when, in fact, the new tax plan has allowed them and all of us to keep more of our own hard-earned money.)

The leftists do not believe that you are entitled to keep your own property or money. If this is not theft, what is? Trump’s policies have resulted in freeing people from dependency on the government (or we the tax payer). Republican policies encourage wealth creation. No economic system ever conceived has created more prosperity for all than free market capitalism. Entrepreneurs become wealthy after identifying a need for a good or service and filling it as cheaply and efficiently as possible and at a price customer are willing to pay. People make the decision to purchase voluntarily. Both vendor and customer are happy. There is love. If the Vendor treats the customers badly or someone else does a better job, they can simply buy from someone else who will show them some love. Capitalism is moral and self-correcting. It encourages innovation, lower prices and higher quality. If you wish to help the middle class, encourage more capitalism. Theft made legal by leftist-progressives to redistribute wealth is still theft. In theft, there is no love.

“You Shall Not Give False Testimony.”
Leftists elected are liars when they swear to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.

The recent abortion bills keep bringing up Constitutional issues. From the 14th Amendment, Section 1: “Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Clearly, leftists are happy to deprive the rich of their property and the unborn of their life and liberty without due process of the law. Where is equal protection? Leftist progressives reject the original intent and language of the Constitution. The list is long and will be saved for later. Clearly, they are liars and frequently violate their oath of office. Call them evil and they are without love.

It is time to decide which side you embrace. Do you rejoice in our creator-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44, Jesus speaking)
Choose love.

Notes from an Extreme Centrist

| Opinion | February 7, 2019

by Ronnie Nathan

I used to think of myself as a proud, unapologetic FDR/JFK liberal. I’ve been voting since 1968, and in every presidential election, I voted for the Democrat. I have absolute contempt for Donald Trump. I think he is a despicable human being and a pathological serial liar. This view predates Trump’s emergence into national politics by several decades.

As a New Yorker of a certain age, currently 72, I have been treated to the public persona of The Donald for over four decades. In all that time, in terms of mendacity and character, he has been completely consistent. The Donald has earned my contempt, and then some. I will vote for anyone over Donald Trump in 2020, including Daffy Duck. That said, I regret my votes in 1996 and 2012 and I would love to vote for a Republican next time around; anyone but Trump.

I’ve spent the last several months reading conservative editorials in the National Review and liberal editorials in the NYT. They generally all have one thing in common. They all-too-often make me extremely nauseous. Without lingering on details, they almost all decry tribalism while, almost without exception, are unmitigatedly tribal. They all mourn the repulsive tactics used by the opposition, while ignoring those used by their own tribe or even praising them. They almost all demonize senators from their own side who act moderately. I’ve seen much the same thing from my friends of all political stripes on Facebook. I’m done!

I’m done being in a tribe! I believe in Social Security, universal access to standard healthcare, a strong social safety-net and lots of other traditional liberal causes. But, I also believe in fiscal responsibility, serious entitlement reform (including Social Security), tax reform and a balanced budget amendment. I oppose all abortions after week 20, except to save the life of the mother, and capital punishment when guilt is certain. I support a strong military, but also massive reform in the military procurement process. The fact is the right-left paradigm hasn’t worked for me for years. I haven’t changed any of my positions on specific issues. What I have come to realize is that not a single one of them (except possibly my support for Israel) – not gun control, not universal healthcare, not immigration, not anything – is more important to me at this moment in our history than re-establishing a sense of national unity, moderation and civility to our political culture.

But I do understand how important labels are for easily identifying myself politically, for building alliances, for picking candidates and encouraging support for them. Therefore, my new self-conferred label is Extreme Centrist. I’m sincerely hoping many of you give up your tribal identities and join my non-tribe tribe. Liberal and conservative have simply become too polarizing. We don’t really even know what they mean anymore when Trump supporters can claim with a straight face they are conservatives. NEWS FLASH!!! They (you?) are not! Or when people who feel the Bern can claim to be liberals. NEWS FLASH!!! They (you?) are not! Give up the Bern! Give up Trump! Give up Liberal and Conservative! Join me in being an Extreme Centrist! All you have to do is listen to alternative opinions with an open mind, compromise a little, act with civility in all your political conversations and care more about America than any specific issue or candidate.

Always Advocating Alan – A Good Decision, a Good Program, and the Future

| Opinion | February 7, 2019

Well, there I was on a rainy Sunday afternoon, thinking about what to write about this week, when I came across the Gazette’s Letters to the Editor. To start, I would like to thank Patrick Comey for his comments. He is absolutely correct. The street I referenced in my column about a “Drive Around the City” being renamed Railroad Avenue was formally San Fernando Road, not lower Bouquet Canyon. Yet, while Patrick’s perception is that “my dislike of the decision makers was showing,” I feel what was showing is less related to a dislike for the decision makers, and more about my distain for some of the decisions they make – which brings me to the subject of this week’s column.

During the week, I read in both The Signal and the Gazette about the Saugus Union School District initiating a “Dual Language Immersion” instructional program, starting in kindergarten. Now this is a decision I can whole heartedly support. While learning a second language will help the students communicate more effectively with individuals from other parts of the globe, you may be surprised to find that improved personal communication is not the primary reason I support this new program.

So, let me start with a little background. In the last few years, we have been bombarded with so-called experts telling us technology, more specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics, is going to put an end to the working class and hi-paying labor-intensive jobs. But factually, this is nothing new, as technology has been changing the way we work and live ever since the caveman invented the wheel. Jobs which are in high demand today may be replaced by automation or a technological change in the future. What is different today is how quickly technology is advancing compared to 100 years ago, making it difficult to envision where we may be 20 years from now.

I am a senior, and my 46-year work career is in the past. Yet, I spent my entire career in the Hi-Tech world of Aerospace alongside “state of the art” electronic systems. To show part of the contrast with today’s workplace, when I first got my start in 1961, our facility had rooms filled with drafting tables and a very large machine shop with all manual equipment. Plus, every department had several secretaries to answer phones, type and file memos, and a department artist to make presentation charts on large white paper tablets. I’m sure you realize most of those jobs no longer exist, as they have been replaced by technological advances.

Our products and how they were supported changed drastically, as well. The company where I worked designed and built “Inertial Navigation” systems. These are devices, primarily used on aircraft, to determine the aircraft’s current location. The functionality is similar to today’s GPS, but our equipment did not rely on any outside information or emit any radiation. Conceptually, it was very simple. If you know the location of where you are starting from, and if you measure your distance traveled and flight direction, you can compute where you are throughout the flight. Simple in concept, but implementing the device was far from an easy task.

When I was first introduced to Inertial Navigation Systems, implementation was mostly mechanical. The early systems used Spinning Wheel Gyros, and Mechanical (torque to balance) Accelerometers, all mounted on a four-gimbal platform. Computations were accomplished by analog electronics and mechanical Synchros, Servos, Encoders, and Gear Trains. The aircraft’s current location was shown on a mechanical display, similar to a 1980 automotive odometer, in latitude and longitude. Critical components were delicate and assembled by watch makers.

As it turns out, I was fortunate. When digital computers and software started being incorporated in our test equipment designs, I was assigned the task of interfacing with the design engineering team, and a whole new world opened up right in front of my eyes. It wasn’t long before I had completed several computer language courses and was cranking out application software on my own. In those days, I used punch cards to input my work to an IBM Mainframe and received the results on punched paper tape. Talk about ancient technology.

Inertial Systems technologically advanced, as well. Spinning Wheel Gyros were replaced by “Ring Laser Gyros,” mechanical accelerometers replaced by solid state devices; gimbals were eliminated with movement mathematically modeled, and computations being accomplished using software and digital processors. Today, you can buy an inertial measurement unit on a chip.

When I ended my career, almost everything I touched did not exist when I started. My job did not disappear; it evolved and changed over time. It became my responsibility to keep up with the technological advances in order to stay relevant and in demand. As a result, I became proficient in many different computer languages, operating systems, and hardware platforms. There were times I used Assembly and Machine Languages, which vary dependent on the processor being employed; High Order Languages including Basic, Pascal, Ada, C, C ++; And lastly, Scripting and Application Specific Languages. It became evident that the design of a problem’s solution, very often, was dependent on the implementation language chosen. Being fluent and having the ability to think in several computer languages aids a developer to come up with a solution which best meets the customer’s needs. Because language structure, in many cases, molds the implementation.

I hope by now, you see a parallel, of using computer languages, to the study of spoken languages. As constructs differ between spoken languages, being fluent in more than one provides a person with more flexibility in their thought and evaluation process. Having our children learn to speak more than one language will not only help them communicate with others, it will give them the ability to think using more than one logical path. Those mental abilities are precisely what is needed to obtain and grow with jobs of the future.

As the Gazette reported, a RAND study showed, “DLI students outperformed their non-immersion students on state accountability tests,” which seems to affirm my perception that students will benefit in multiple ways, should they become fluent in more than one spoken language.

All of which is why I support, implementing the Dual Language Immersion program. It is a good decision, it will be a good program, and it will help provide today’s students with a bright future in our ever-changing world and work environment.


| Opinion | January 31, 2019

Dear Lee,

First, I want to thank you and the Gazette or publishing the article about David Barlavi with a photo of him doing the resistance fist during the pledge of allegiance. The article and the photo exposes to everyone in a clear and understandable way the political and ideological background that David Barlavi comes from.

In a way I also want to thank David Barlavi for insisting on displaying his fist during the pledge of allegiance because it really is an honest way for him to show everyone that he is a far left extremist, and there is no way it can be denied.

David Barlavi is very open about letting everyone know how anti American he is politically and that he’s very comfortable disrespecting our flag, our pledge and our national anthem. As well as disrespecting the many individuals and groups of Americans that he says he wants to serve within the school district. This man should not be allowed to be within ten feet of our students little else making policy decisions for us.

Unfortunately, Barlavi did a lot of misleading advertising, and gave himself a cute name calling himself coach which it seems people fell for.

In addition, our Congressional representative Katie Hill endorsed Barlavi, and because of her endorsement, voters may have trusted the endorsement.

The Katie Hill endorsement is very key to Barlavi’s election, As your article on Barlavi explained, Barlavi has been openly displaying the fist during the pledge of allegiance and national anthem for several years, so Katie Hill would of known this, as well as his anti american sentiment and all of his pro illegal and open borders statements. Despite knowing all this about Barlavi, Katie Hill still endorsed him and it’s obvious that his display of disrespect during the pledge and his pro illegal, open borders ideology didn’t bother her.

Greg A.

To Alan,

So sorry, Alan Ferdman, you got it wrong in your Drive Around the City article.

Bouquet Canyon Road hasn’t undergone a name change. It’s southern end is still where it’s always been, at the corner if Magic Mountain Parkway. San Fernando Road did have it’s name changed to Railroad Avenue.

Methinks your dislike if the “decision makers” was showing!

Patrick Comey
Santa Clarita

The Logical Sense Party

| Opinion | January 31, 2019

by David R. Bright

First, I’d like compliment the Santa Clarita Gazette for being one of the few media outlets that prints real political news. Doug’s Rant and Stephen Smith are the most intellectually blessed columns.

I am a 62-year-old White male and I have lived in Los Angeles for my entire life. I have never considered myself to be a Republican, Democrat, left-leaning liberal or a right conservative. For what it is worth, I always considered all politicians to be equally looking out for their own best interest, not the people they are supposed to represent. With the most recent elections, I find myself agreeing with much of the conservative group, not because I suddenly feel like I need to associate with one party or the other, but because conservative views simply make “logical sense.” My party, if I declared one, would be the Logical Sense party.

First, my local California rants regarding the last November 6, 2018 election:

How in the blue blazes did the “repeal the Gas Tax” bill not get passed? Was it written as a trick question? Did our assumed “Yes” vote get counted as a “No” vote? Guess what? It was written as a trick question! Apparently, the California attorney general changed the title on the ballot right before printing. Instead of “Repeal of the added gas tax,” it was changed to “Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding by Repealing Revenues Dedicated For those purposes.” Well, we would like the roads to be repaired, so we voted “No.”

Why in the world would anybody vote for an added property tax based on the amount of rain water your property prevents from returning to the water table underground? This was touted as a “clean water” bill, right? How is taxing property owners for their home and driveway coverage supposed to clean the water?

California is one of the few states that allows “Ballot harvesting” (Signed into law by none other than Governor Jerry Brown). This is where someone shows up at your door and volunteers to deposit your absentee ballot for you at a voting place. This saves you the hassle of mailing the ballot in. Apparently, during the 2018 November election, Democrat volunteers collected hundreds of ballots for deposit. Sounds so innocent, right? I am sure that the Republican votes were deposited also.

Another story just surfaced. California was found to have 1.5 million INACTIVE voters still registered. By federal law, states are supposed to clean the books. Inactive voters are registered voters who are eligible to vote; however, they do not receive election-related mail, such as sample ballots and vote-by-mail ballots. Los Angeles County has the highest list of inactive voters compared to any county in the United States. California has not removed these inactive voters for over 20 years. Judicial Watch has sued, and California is now required to remove them. Could inactive voters be voting without their consent?

Next, my rant on the national level:

President Donald Trump was elected because most people in the United States had enough of the same old rhetoric, in addition to the continuation of political selfishness at the expense of the American people. Donald Trump was and is the perfect candidate for the office of the presidency. He does not come from the political nursery that prevails in this country. He has proven that the agenda of the American people should come first, and I truly believe under his leadership America will be great again.

As for Southern border security, build the barrier! Plain and simple. A concrete wall looks great, but Border Patrol Agents prefer the six-foot deep concrete foundation and steel tubing barrier because they can see what is going on the other side. There we go again with that common sense. Flying drones, motion sensors and night vision infrared cameras are a great compliment to the wall. The coyotes are not as stupid as Nancy Pelosi wants us to believe. Diversionary tactics are commonplace (i.e., create a diversion somewhere along the fence that attracts the U.S. Border agents and send large groups through another unprotected area at the same time). Yes, Nancy Pelosi, we know they will continue to dig, climb and smuggle into the U.S.A. But, a good strong barrier will allow the border agent to spend more time monitoring the high tech devices and catch them before they disappear into society. I don’t blame them for wanting to find a better life; I would, too, but infiltrating our country illegally needs to be stopped.

Why is California a sanctuary state? I mean, really? Maybe that is what is attracting the immigrants! In meantime, the state is taxing the hell out of California citizens in order to pay for illegal immigrant care. The state of California, and all states for that matter, should be sanctuaries for the citizens of this country! The real Californians, the hardworking citizens that are paying into the system, should not see their tax dollars wasted on support for people who have broken the laws of this country.

Build the wall, use emergency funding and pay for it later – like all government projects. Stop the flow into the U.S.A, then clean up the mess inside.

Governor and Crew Promoting Crime

| Opinion | January 31, 2019

by Richard Hood

Tired of having to stand in yet another line now, waiting to have your receipt checked at the local Stuff Mart? It’s inconvenient, and if someone were shoplifting, wouldn’t they simply put it in their pocket? A pain for honest people that harms society by encouraging the root problem. Currently, I ignore the line, as retailers are unwilling to question even the thieves.

The “broken window” syndrome goes like this. If a neighborhood or country has property it doesn’t protect, the purposeless take rocks to the windows. If those windows are not replaced (the thieves held accountable) things get worse quickly and affect the value and pleasantness of the entire area; just read our City Manager’s report.

Retail theft prevention is in eclipse or gone. Empty patrol cars outside stores may fool shoppers, but they don’t fool thieves. We workers were told at a local “big box” store that if we witnessed shoplifters, we were not to arrest them, stop them, touch them or get pictures of their cars – all were forbidden. The choice of putting short-term costs of prosecution before what’s best for our communities (communities which big retailers like to say they are part of) harms us all. The consequences will be more broken windows.

We have “low information” and “low American values” voters breaking windows by electing the intellectually and morally disadvantaged to state office. These legislators have passed bills decriminalizing both high and petty crimes. This is due to their morally wrong belief that someone poorer than you shouldn’t have to answer to the same consequences, or the same accounting, as you. Looting a big screen TV is as justified as a loaf of bread, as our elected servants believe they should both go free. It’s morally wrong on its face, because envy is wrong on its face. There’s always someone more diligent or luckier than you, who therefore has more stuff. Envy results from not understanding that equality refers to opportunity rather than outcome.

Police don’t care about thefts under $1,000 now, because district attorneys won’t prosecute, leaving a broken window ignored. Surveys show that students don’t see cheating on tests or shoplifting as moral wrongs. Survey distributors evidently assume it is a moral wrong, as do the surprised reporters sharing the findings with surprised readers, but why? And wrong based on what? The kids believe what they’ve been taught – all morality is relative and subjective (unless of course, someone makes “them” suffer a wrong, in which case it’s just plain wrong.) Teachers hate it when their students cheat on tests, but why should they hate it, being the moral and cultural relativists who indoctrinated the kids to this belief?

Students are taught capitalism is simply wrong, as opposed to sometimes wrongly executed, due to people failing to control even their own subjective choices and fallen natures, or submitting their natures to a higher, objective source. Why think shoplifting from a faceless amusement park or mall is wrong?

Students are not taught the difference between good and evil, where each came from, and how to judge between them. The surveyed students seemed materially minded – worried about “how well” they are going to live during their short time here, instead of “what” they are supposed to be living for. Their attitude was if cheating or stealing help get them more material things, why not cheat? I can think of ten good reasons.

Kids are taught America is evil, Western Civilization is evil (though the source of universities), but are now introduced to Buddhist and Hindu practices at the earliest grade levels. But the Ten Commandments, from which we learn that stealing is wrong, (disobedience to any of them resulting in evil) got expelled long ago. So, church and state separation is an exploited ruse the left uses in its unceasing war against law and order, natural law, and peace and tranquility. Against decency. So the Commandments are now forbidden and arrested instead of criminals, and crime is encouraged – because of who we voted for. They are using legislation to promote what harms our communities rather than what protects them. We vote and think according to what we choose to read and listen to. What we invite inside changes us.

God said if you loved Him, you’d obey His commands, not remove them from your culture. Our new socialist representatives see themselves as righteous iconoclasts, smashing the sacred because they are bored and self-centered. Our Governor, as well as the other extremists we’ve just elected to federal office, now adrift and anchorless by rejecting what is decent and true, continue their blind search for purpose with help from their media accessories by groping for more rocks to throw at ever more of our windows.

Richard Hood is a retired history teacher and working on a book about inspirational heroes and redemption.

The Green New Deal is Nothing New

| Opinion | January 31, 2019

by Stephen Smith
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” -Ronald Reagan

The people of Venezuela are now facing the grim reality of freedom’s extinction. They willingly handed over the ability to be masters of their own fate to would-be saviors who promised them a better life by moving their economic drivers away from the private sector to the government. All major resources are now controlled by the military. They were promised full bellies, free medical care and excellent educations for their children. They are desperate, starving and have limited medical care. Basic goods of life are not available, and the annual inflation rate is an unbelievable 60,324 percent. The reason? Socialism!

Appearing on Fox News on January 23, 2019, Vice President Mike Pence stated, “Today, freedom broke out in Venezuela with the recognition of a new interim president in Juan Guaidó.” The people do have a fire in their bellies. I fear that it is not for freedom, but instead a reaction to a tyrant’s failure to keep his promises. The fire they feel is driven by hunger. Desperate people will likely respond favorably to the next savior who promises them full bellies. Ronald Reagan understood that freedom is indeed very fragile, and it is always incumbent for the current generation to teach the next of the wisdom of liberty and a free market economy. If that understanding is not passed on, we can become the next Venezuela.

New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has never heard the call of freedom as envisioned by our brilliant founders. Instead, she envisions a world of dependency, tyranny and enslavement to the State as envisioned by Marx. We the People, through our leftist-progressive educational system, have failed to pass on to her; that love of freedom and liberty upon which our country was built.

Recently on a Fox op-ed, Michael Knowles spoke about Ms. Cortez, stating: “The majority of American millennials identify as socialist, according to surveys by both Reason-Rupe and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. That’s the bad news. The good news is that just 32 percent of millennials can define socialism. The frequently-wrong but never-in-doubt freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., may indeed be the voice of her ignorant generation.”

Self-proclaimed socialist and radical, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, has constantly displayed a lack of knowledge on the state of socialism around the world today, and how past advocates for socialism such as Sweden are now strongly embracing free-market capitalism. Why are they? Because socialism just does not work! Further, she and other millennials lack knowledge of the 100 million people who were murdered by the socialist-communist regimes of Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot and Hitler.

Dear Progressive readers, socialism must fail, for it ignores human nature:

1. It punishes the productive and rewards the unproductive through its policies of wealth re-distribution. Why work if it is not necessary to live comfortably, or why work hard if the fruits of your labor are always being taken away? Limited productivity is guaranteed.

2. In order to achieve fairness, all business and nearly every aspect of our lives become subject to extensive rules and regulations. These actions restrict creativity and innovation. Economic, medical and technological progress cease. In fact, they take a step backward.
3. Advancement is based on political considerations, rather than performance or ability.

4. As stated by Margaret Thatcher: “They [socialists] always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.”

5. It is immoral by violating the commandments of “Do Not Envy” and “Do Not Steal.” Those violations are required to sell and implement socialist policies.

That’s it. Under socialism, government becomes bloated, society becomes stagnant, the standard of living goes down, and the entire system suffers economic failure. For proof, you need to look no further than natural resource-rich Venezuela. The people are starving; they lack adequate medical care and are unable to get something as simple as toilet paper. They are now facing a violent revolution with looting and untold suffering. These are the fruits of socialism.
Ms. Cortez’s “Green New Deal” and her fellow Democrat Socialist proposals sound very familiar. Except for the banning of fossil fuels, clearly, she has borrowed from FDR. (Notice that she, Bernie and FDR refer to them as “rights” rather than “privileges.”) This means your friends, neighbors and fellow members of the collective are required to pay for your benefits (rights). If all these programs were enacted, the total income of wage earners would not begin to cover the costs. They are just not affordable. Call it reason number 6.

During Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s January 11, 1944 message to the Congress from his State of the Union address, he proposed a new Bill of Rights. (Eerily like Communist Soviet Russia’s) Fortunately, the American Congress understood the dangers of the Presidents proposal and strongly rejected it. I am not so sure they would today.

FDR’s proposal (displayed numbers represent the reasons they cannot work, as seen above):

•“The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation; (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

•The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

•The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living (1, 2, 4, 5, 6)

•The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad (2)

•The right of every family to a decent home (1, 4, 5, 6)

•The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health (1, 4, 2, 5, 6)

•The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment (1, 2, 4)

•The right to a good education. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

All these rights spell “security.” And, after this war is won, we must be prepared to move forward in the implementation of these rights to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

He went on to say, “America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”

There it is. Lofty words, but they will result in the same old (Green New) deal with the Devil. All Socialist and Communist leaders are asking you to do is give up your freedom and liberty, for what always turns out to be a false promise of security. But don’t worry your little head, this time they will get it right.

A Counterintuitive Take on the Shutdown Give Trump Credit Where Credit is Due

| Opinion | January 31, 2019

by Ronald Nathan

Yes, Trump was playing checkers while Pelosi and Schumer were playing four-dimensional chess!

Yes, Trump ended up taking almost exactly what he could have gotten back in December.

Yes, Republican Senators were melting away and this could be portentous for Trump going forward.

Yes, politically the last thing the Congressional GOP wants is another shutdown in three weeks, while the Dems feel another shutdown can actually work for them politically.

Yes, the Trump campaign’s “Big Beautiful Wall from Sea to Shining Sea” has been reduced to a virtual high tech wall in a few strategic places … AKA, exactly what the Dems have been proposing all along.

Yes! Mexico paying for the wall? Forget about it!

Yes, Donald Trump is still a serial liar and an amoral human being who is only motivated by self-interest, putting self-interest before the interests of the nation, in my humble opinion.

YES, I’m really giving him credit!

Friday afternoon, Donald Trump actually acted like a real president. He assessed the realities of the situation, considered all his options and chose the smartest alternative for both himself and the nation.

He chose to act responsibly instead of throwing a temper tantrum. He knows, and we all know, that he’ll catch hell from the Ann Coulters of the world and will suffer short-term political damage, but if he refused to open the government, he would have lost so much more in the long term. Imagine his poll numbers if a plane crashed at a major airport during the shutdown!

By fall of 2020, the shutdown and his response to it will be a dim memory. He will be able to claim he fought the good fight, but the Dems and RINOs (republican in name only) defeated him and must be defeated by the voters. If the shutdown lasted much longer, he would have smelled more and more like dead meat. Now, he will survive to fight another day, as he has a much better sense of the person he will be confronting for the next two years in Nancy Pelosi.

The next big question will be whether he can get away with declaring an emergency where none really exists, and if the GOP – the party that supposedly stands for Constitutional Originalism, small government and AGAINST an Imperial Presidency – becomes the party of make-believe emergencies to bypass congress and subvert the Constitution.

The fact that we are even considering this question is proof positive that the party of Trump is not the party of Wm F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

Congresswoman Katie Takes Hill by Storm

| Opinion | January 31, 2019

by Blair Bess
Barely one month into her tenure as representative for California’s 25th Congressional District, Katie Hill has become both a media darling and one of the most powerful members in the 116th Congress.

For those constituents who believe all Democrats are lefties and refused to vote for Hill, fear not. You’ve lucked out. Rep. Katie Hill believes in funding for some form of barrier at the southern border; even if allocated strictly for repairs of existing fences, or walls, or slats.

Hill’s position was clarified not only on “liberal” news outlet MSNBC, but on CNN and Fox News Saturday as well. It’s all just “semantics,” she’s explained.

Rep. Hill’s comments on border security got her into a bit of hot water with a number of those who voted for her last November. Onboard an early-morning Metrolink train bound for last week’s Women’s March, one woman told me that some Hill supporters posted their dismay on Facebook. A few even called her a traitor. I closed my Facebook account long ago so I can’t confirm that, but immigration was a significant issue for many Hill supporters.

Days after the flap, Hill was seen alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic Socialist of New York. Joined by two other first-term congresswomen, Ocasio-Cortez and Hill chased Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell around the Capitol carrying a letter signed by 38 House freshmen demanding that he take steps to end the government shutdown. And while it did end last week, their missive probably played little role in bringing it to a conclusion. Then again, neither did Mitch McConnell.

Katie loyalists appear to outnumber those she may have agitated. When Hill took to the stage at last week’s Women’s March, she was hailed a conquering heroine. Hill has often said that it was the first March, held days after the Trump Inauguration two years ago, that inspired her to run for office.

She told a cheering crowd, “I think that this is showing (that) when women mobilize, we’re able to make great things happen.” For those who doubted Hill or opted to vote for her predecessor Steve Knight, she’s proving her point.

Whereas Knight spent two-terms in the House as an ineffectual back-bencher, in her first month in office, Katie Hill has secured two of the most powerful committee assignments in Washington: seats on the House Armed Services Committee (previously held by Knight and his predecessor Buck McKeon) and the House Oversight and Reform Committee. More impressive, Hill will be serving alongside Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) as Vice Chair of the latter.

For those unfamiliar with the Oversight Committee’s purview, take note. Katie Hill will be co-chairing the committee investigating two issues of great importance to her: rising prescription drug rates and healthcare costs. Oh, and let’s not forget. The committee is also looking into all things Russia; the Trump Hotel in Washington; immigration and border security issues; White House security clearance issues (watch out, Jared Kushner), the Emoluments Clause and much more.

It might be worth mentioning that while the more visible Ocasio-Cortez (known to her adoring fans as AOC) is also a newly-minted member of the Oversight Committee, it is the less-strident Hill who will be riding shotgun alongside Cummings. Which is fitting, as Hill is also a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.

While a largely inconsequential faux pas over the presidential picket fence may have upset some of her supporters and is contrary to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s view that a border wall is immoral, Hill’s position is in keeping with the concerns of many voters in this congressional district. That’s a good thing.

During the campaign Hill told me, “There is no comparison to me and Nancy Pelosi. On most of the issues I’m going to be more progressive, but I’m going to look at it from the lens of what is best for my community.”

While Hill may not in the truest sense be a Pelosi Democrat, she clearly caught her eye. Just prior to casting a vote to re-elect Pelosi as Speaker, Hill could be seen chatting amiably with her on the floor of the House. Smart move. Plum committee assignments are not granted easily.

Which begs the question, who exactly is Rep. Katie Hill? Is she a snowflake, a closet conservative or the “pragmatic progressive” she claims to be? Though it’s too soon to draw definitive conclusions, Hill appears to be a woman true to her word: an elected official whose motivation is to place constituents above ideology. Which should be a welcome and refreshing change for all of us in this district. One thing is certain: Congresswoman Katie is clearly a natural born politician and she’s taking the Hill by storm.

Always Advocating Alan – Scams, Shams and Property Tax

| Opinion | January 31, 2019

Trust is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as the “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” We all want to believe that we can trust our civic leaders to be factual and act in our best interest. But, when our trust is violated, it takes a long time to gain our confidence again.

Currently, our city is experiencing such a conundrum relating to the Lighting and Landscaping ballot initiative. This issue was responsible for generating massive backlash against the prospect of raising Lighting District fees five-fold for a large segment of our residents. Fortunately, the Santa Clarita City Council realized the extent of the problem and reacted by cancelling the ballot initiative.

Yet, the assessment increase was not the entire issue. Within last the November 13, 2018 City Council Meeting (Agenda Item 8) staff report was the statement, “The maintenance of 13 (Santa Clarita) parks were funded through a Landscape Maintenance District (LMD) assessment and the remaining 22 parks were funded through the General fund. … This two-tiered funding … created an inequity… To correct this disparity, park related maintenance costs were shifted from local LMD zones to the Area Wide Zone that covers nearly the entire city.”

The city later published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) webpage to clarify their position, which stated, “This is a combined Landscaping and Lighting District. In many cases we are able to provide an offsetting reduction in the assessment for landscape maintenance to offset the change in the assessment for streetlights.”

But, are those statements true? In order to answer the question accurately, I first have to share the definitions of the terms I will be using. The reason is that the city uses the same term in several different (and in some cases, inaccurate) ways. Therefore, if I am not precise in my language, a city spokesperson will simply use the term in a different fashion and lead the discussion in another direction.

For example, on the city website you can find a page titled “Special Districts.” But the city does not establish or administer Special Districts. “Special Districts” are defined as encompassing “autonomous local governments with governing boards” such as the Sanitation District. The city has instead established “Benefit Assessment Districts,” which may place a “charge upon real property … for a special benefit conferred upon real property,” such as LMDs. Information about our local LMDs is described in the Santa Clarita Landscaping and Lighting Engineers Report. In generating the document, the city has chosen to use terminology from the “Landscaping and Lighting Act of 1972,” which allows the grouping of LMDs, calling them a single district with zones. But, the city labeling the totality of their LMDs as one district does not change the fact that they are individual “Benefit Assessment Districts” which must be managed separately.

In addition, the prospect of an LMD and the General Fund (or ad-valorem tax revenue) paying a portion of a governmental service cost is very common. Engineers Reports are required to determine the percentage of “Special Benefit” to be paid by the Benefit Assessment District, as well as the percentage of “General Benefit” provided to the population at large, which is to be paid by the appropriate governmental agency. To understand the “inequity” described in the November 13 staff report, I posed the question to the city’s communication manager five weeks ago, and have not yet received an answer.

So, I took it upon myself to raise the issue at the last city council meeting. I wanted to know that if staff had indicated some LMDs were being charged more than their share, shouldn’t the council agendize the issue and enact an appropriate reduction? Mr. Striplin, the City Manager, answered my query by indicating the city’s LMDs are in compliance with Proposition 218, once a year LMD assessment changes are presented to the City Council for ratification, and Mr. Hernandez would meet with me to share the way the LMDs are structured.

Now, here come those pesky terms again. When discussing how much your property will be charged, listed on your ballot was the “Current Maximum Assessment Rate,” which can be charged per Equivalent Benefit Unit (EBU), and the “Current Assessment Rate,” which is the maximum your property can be charged based on the property’s Land Use Designation. But the “Applied Rate” that indicates what your property will actually be charged is not listed. To find it, you need to check the Landscaping and Lighting Engineer’s Report. If you do, you should find the “Applied Rate” equal to, or less than, the “Current Maximum Assessment Rate” per EBU. Confusing? It appears to have been designed to be that way.

What Mr. Hernandez shared with me was that only the “Maximum Assessment Rates” were being lowered as a part of the ballot process. He also indicated that many of the current LMDs “Applied Assessments” are less than the maximum rate. When I responded by asking if any residents would have received an actual reduction as a result of the now cancelled ballot process, he replied: “I do not know.”

Well, those answers sent me back to peel another layer off of this onion. Using the Property Owner Assessment Ballot sent to residents of zone T4 in Valencia Meadows, I observed the following:

The T4 “Current Maximum Assessment Rate” is stated as $229.19, and the Current Assessment Rate” for this parcel is also shown as $229.19, because this ballot is for a Single-Family Dwelling, equal to 1 EBU. The proposed new “Maximum Assessment Rate” of $157.70, is stated to represent a decrease of $71.49. Sound like they would be paying less? Well, guess again. The T4 “Applied Rate” on this year’s property tax bill was set on June 26, 2018, in Agenda Item 15. The Current “Applied Rate” for Zone T4 is $144.00. Doing the math, Zone T4 would not actually get a $74.49 reduction to offset any other cost. They were not getting any payment reduction at all. If the council sets their new “Applied Rate” to the ballot proposed “Maximum Rate” this year, they will be getting a $13.70 increase. In fact, of the 13 zones, referenced as having a disparity in the November 13 Staff Report, only three are paying the Maximum Assessment Rate.

So, why were the LMDs listed on the Ballot if no real property tax bill reductions were going to take place? Was it done to ensure more yes votes and influence the election outcome? I do not know how you feel about this situation, but from my perspective, trust in City Hall just took a steep nose dive.

What concerns me even more, is after bringing up this issue at the last city council meeting, our five city council members allowed the City Manager to answer my questions using misdirection, and then sat with a “deer in headlights look” without saying a word. I have to wonder, did the council know about the way this issue was being misrepresented and did nothing about it, or were they blindsided? Plus, even with the ballot being cancelled, there are still open issues with the Lighting Benefit Assessment District.

Yet, through it all, I am still an optimist. Here’s to hoping that the city council, along with senior staff, recognize the importance of maintaining the public trust, understand the necessity to take swift corrective action, make known the mitigations implemented, and most importantly, apologize to the public.

Donald J. Trump: Master of Disaster

| Opinion | January 24, 2019

Threats to withhold federal emergency relief funds to aid victims of the forest fires that recently ravaged California offer further evidence that Donald J. Trump knows how to harbor a grudge.

The president is not popular in California. Results of the 2016 election, in which Hillary Clinton garnered nearly 9 million votes and trounced Trump by a margin of almost 2-to-1, are the most obvious indicator. Although having his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame sporadically come under siege by paint and pick-ax wielding fans appears to be further confirmation.

No matter. Californians are just a bunch of losers anyway. Trump doesn’t like losers. Nor does he like to lose. And when he does, it’s inevitable someone else will be made to pay. Big league. In this instance, that might mean the 6,646 individuals who have already applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance to find temporary housing, pay for home repairs, or buy groceries, new clothes and furniture.

The men, women and children who have lost homes, friends, family members, pets, possessions and livelihoods to conflagrations in both the northern and southern parts of the state are already victims. Any actions on Trump’s part to keep them from gaining access to the nearly $50 million in FEMA aid that had already been earmarked would only further victimize them.

Then again, why should they be any different than the 800,000 federal employees who are now jobless as a result of the president’s intransigence over funding for his wall or steel picket fence or whatever he wants to call it? Or the 13,000 migrant children currently held in detention centers? Or the thousands of family farmers and small business owners whose livelihoods are threatened as a result of his ill-conceived and poorly executed trade wars?

Playing with the lives of working-class men and women is nothing more than a means to an end for Donald Trump. No matter the cost.

While the president’s declaration of Ventura, Los Angeles, and Butte counties as disaster areas was a momentarily presidential move, he couldn’t leave well-enough alone. It was quickly followed by his pronouncement that the devastation wreaked by wildfires in California was a result of “poor forest management.”

This analysis was part of a thoughtful, thoroughly-researched screed unleashed by the president via Twitter that went on to say, “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”

What to do with those already-allocated funds? Here’s a great idea: take them back from people in need and use them to pay for the president’s steel slat monstrosity on the southern border. Better yet, how about clawing back disaster relief funds set aside for Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas as well? Why go to the trouble of declaring a national emergency when so much money is readily available? After all, those billions of dollars would be much better spent fulfilling ludicrous campaign promises rather than helping struggling U.S. citizens. And by throwing a few Republican bastions in the mix, no one could possibly accuse Trump of red-blue bias (that bias is limited to other colors in this president’s box of crayons).

Questions of the legality of the president’s use of funds apportioned for disaster relief, as well as bipartisan antipathy toward the proposal, have resulted in some of the president’s more lucid advisers walking back his more outrageous suggestions. Still, the president’s transactional approach to governance is disturbing and should serve as a clarion call no matter what one’s political beliefs or place of residence are.

True national emergencies arise. At any given time, any one of us could fall victim to fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake or volcanic eruption. Catastrophic events happen. And insurance doesn’t always provide a solution to the problems that ensue.

Americans need to trust that petty partisanship will in no way interfere with our health, safety and well-being. We should feel confident that our leaders will have our backs regardless of whether one lives in a state that did or did not vote for the president. Left to his own devices, that appears unlikely so long as Donald Trump continues to occupy the White House and dominate members of the Republican Party.

Sadly, the trail of destruction left in the wake of this administration and the toll it’s taking on all of us may one day rival any natural disaster yet to befall this nation.

Copyright 2018 Blair Bess distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Blair Bess is an award-winning journalist and columnist. He can be reached at bbess@soaggragated.com.

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