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Taking Stock, Doing Better
January, 2012 - Issue #87
I'm all in favor of New Year's Resolutions. For example, I think a lot of you could stand to improve yourselves. I'm not talking about losing weight. The world isn't much better or worse if you weigh 120 pounds or 520 pounds. No, a resolution to make things better for those of us who have to deal with you is what's in order. If everyone in Santa Clarita thought, for just one moment, "Hmm, how can I make myself less annoying to my fellow Claritans?" then Awesometown would grow awesomer yet.

You might start by becoming a better driver. (Slow down.) You could become a better restaurant-goer (Get a sitter - and leave a nice tip!) To goad you into self-improvement, let's now turn our attention towards the SCV news that makes us think about what we can do better.

An Informed Vote
Does the name Scott Wilk mean anything to you? What about Laurie Ender? Jon Hatami? Patricia McKeon? Bob Kellar? There are going to be a number of important elections in 2012, and these people will be trying to keep their posts or win new ones. Unless you read the paper, it isn't too difficult to coast through life without knowing who is representing you. To be frank, this is a little annoying to those who do pay attention, as your uniformed vote counts exactly the same as their pain-stakingly deliberated vote.
"That means Republicans McKeon and Wilk might be SLUGGING things out through November."

Luckily, paying attention to politics is fun this year. While the city council election is the one that hits closest to home, the real fireworks can be seen in the race for California State Assembly. There seems to be no love lost between Scott Wilk and Patricia McKeon, the early frontrunners. After Scott Wilk challenged McKeon to 10 debates, she replied "Let's be honest, your request is really a Campaign 101 tactic for a candidate who needs to raise their profile." Feisty! With the new open primary structure, the top two candidates face off, regardless of party. That means Republicans McKeon and Wilk might be slugging things out through November.

Proactive Policing
Everyone is still talking about the Halloween murder of Alex Sanchez Torrez. In trying to prevent the robbery of another man's video game system, he was fatally shot by a group of three 17 year olds. In late November, we learned that Diamonte McGhee - the teen who allegedly pulled the trigger on Torrez - also allegedly brandished a weapon against six other individuals in the days before the murder, shooting at one of them. Understandably, MGhee and the other two teens are being tried as adults. But as of the time of this writing, we don't yet know how the teens will plead. The number of witnesses and the ferocity of the prosecutor suggest it's going to be difficult to escape the charges.

The tone of the public discourse has been changing as more details come out. At first, some encouraged not rushing to judgment, but the more we learn, the less sympathy there is for the alleged murderers/robbers. The Sheriff's Department has stepped up patrolling in the area of Canyon Country where the incident took place, and we can all be more proactive in reporting crimes. But, ultimately, we have to place responsibility on those who commit the crime. That's why violence is one problem we can't easily resolve our way out of.

Eye on the Budget
It may take a lot of work to get into local politics and be daunting to think about how to make Santa Clarita safer, but it seems downright impossible to fix the economy. Still, people are trying to do their part. Every big-ticket item on Santa Clarita City Council agendas is being closely examined. The central question for recent annexation attempts has been whether they will be revenue neutral - at least. There was outcry at a $60,000 advertising campaign on behalf of Santa Clarita's auto dealers, who defended the expenditure on the grounds that they generate a lot of tax revenue. LA County has approved the construction of thousands of homes in Newhall Ranch, and one of the top questions at hearings was where the jobs are going to come from.

To keep services steady and reliable in Santa Clarita, a healthy flow of sales tax is essential. All-time record amounts of money were spent in early Christmas shopping this year, and we hope local retailers got their share. (Perhaps shoppers scared at the prospect of being pepper-sprayed at the Walmart in Porter Ranch drove north to buy gifts.) Resolving to keep an eye on our local budget, economy and everything else that can affect us makes for a valley we can all heart more.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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