At some point since January 2017, Bill Miranda stopped thinking he was as an appointed city councilmember and considered himself a councilmember.
While it’s undeniable that Miranda was appointed to complete Dante Acosta’s term, he has been on the job for 21 months. The learning curve might have been steep – and he certainly brought his share of baggage with him – but Miranda says he is ready to take his place as an elected councilmember.
“There’s never a point when you feel like you got there because there’s always stuff,” he said Monday at a Newhall coffee shop. “But there’s a point where it became more palatable, where I understood it more. I’m not a politician, and even though I’ve been involved with the activities and all that, I’m no politician. I have no idea what it was going to take.”
What it took was weathering the storms brought by people seeking to delegitimize the appointment process and the person who was appointed. When Acosta left to serve in the Assembly, many people favored an election; the council balked at the cost and preferred appointment. Many thought the person who received the highest number of votes and wasn’t elected – TimBen Boydston – should be elected; the council balked at that, too. And when many people thought that with 50 applicants there should have been forums and information sessions, the council balked at that, too.
Miranda said those were emotional situations, “but had nothing to do with me, frankly.”
After winning appointment – in which he told the story of being the last to apply when city lists show he was 36th – Miranda had to deal with aspects of his past.
Specifically, the Gazette wrote a series of articles questioning where was monies raised in 2014 by the Latino Chamber of Commerce, in which Miranda was CEO. Miranda was never alleged to have embezzled anything; he simply was unable to ever provide proof of where the money went and passed responsibility to the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce because the two entities merged. (He did, however, take responsibility in November 2017 for failing to ensure the Latino chamber filed its tax documents on time.)
During an April 28, 2017 show on KHTS, he pounded his open right hand on some papers and said he had proof. The Gazette offered to meet him anywhere at any time to see it; he never met and instead insisted the paper already had it. (Earlier this year, the Gazette asked Miranda for proof of his military service; he provided it.)
On May 12, again on KHTS, Miranda accused Gazette publisher Doug Sutton of bias in challenging where the money went. During the May 23 council meeting, then-Signal publisher Chuck Champion verbally attacked Miranda for failing to show where the Latino Chamber money was and for accusing Sutton. He also took the other councilmembers to task for not properly vetting Miranda before appointing him.
Miranda said nothing that night and later declined comment. On Monday, he said, “I grew up in the (19)50s and 60s as a Puerto Rican kid in New York City – not just a Puerto Rican kid, a dark-skinned one. I have taken as much abuse in my life as anybody would ever want to take. That’s the bad news. The good news: You get a thick skin.”
Synchrony Bank filed suit July 1, 2017 and later won a default judgment for about $5,000. A settlement court date has been set for next year. Miranda said Monday there is nothing new to report.
The Franchise Tax Board suspended his limited liability company, Our Valley Group, for failing to meet tax requirements. Miranda said an agreement was reached, and a payment plan was put in place.
He used his councilmember title in an Our Valley Magazine ad, which possibly violated a 1974 law that prohibits an elected or appointed official from using the office for personal gain. Miranda admitted that was a mistake.
When he was appointed by a 3-1 vote, Councilmembers Laurene Weste, Marsha McLean and Cameron Smyth were effusive in their praise. Nine months later, members weren’t commenting.
Yet now, those same councilmembers endorsed him. Smyth said he never regretted voting to appoint Miranda but acknowledged the steep learning curve Miranda had.
“Like anybody who gets elected or appointed the first time, you don’t realize how much work is involved until you are doing the work,” Smyth said. “Bill has done an excellent job of really putting his head down and learning the issues and trying to do what he thinks is best.”
Miranda said the most important lesson he has learned: “It takes three votes to get anything done. Even though it’s obvious, it’s a hard realization.”
To help learn that, he takes to heart what he believes is his primary mission as a councilmember: to listen and talk to everyone. He might live in Valencia, but he knows he represents Canyon Country, Saugus, Newhall, etc.
There are three issues the constituency cares about the most, he said: public safety, traffic and housing. Yet his campaign website only offers the following platforms: economic growth and initiatives for veterans, arts and seniors. There is one mention of public safety within the economic growth page.
Miranda did, however, address the traffic situations during the 54-minute interview. He said the solution is in three parts, the first being the traffic operations center hat already exists on the third floor in City Hall. The second part is the technology upgrades that continue. One such is adding and updating sensors that automatically start a timer when a car trips it. Miranda said it will take time, but one intersection he said has shown improvement is Sierra Highway and Rainbow Glen Drive.
The third part is to increase busses and trains. “We need to put more busses on the street, and they need to be more reliable,” Miranda said, acknowledging that many busses are currently half-filled and will continue to be until they run more efficiently.
“We need to budget more dollars for transportation. That’s a council matter,” he said.
And there needs to be more Metrolink trains because it makes no sense for people to have to cut their evenings short because they don’t want to miss the last train home, he said. While he said he knows the city has nothing to do with Metrolink, it’s up to councilmembers to advocate on the city’s behalf.
Is Miranda done learning on the job yet? He caused some eyes to widen when, during the last council meeting, he abstained during a vote to approve the consent calendar. He said it’s because he forgot to request an item be removed and didn’t want to vote no for everything else.
Until Nov. 6, however, he remains an appointed councilmember, even if “I don’t feel like I’m serving Dante’s term.”