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Said, unsaid
February, 2012 - Issue #88
My friend works at a local high school and has seen it all - drugs, fights, salacious rumors, clueless parents... She's gotten used to that. But the thing she still finds shocking is how freely kids offer up the most personal and private details of their lives. There's a widespread devaluation of discretion.

Sharing or withholding information is one of the toughest balancing acts, and it's not just young people who have trouble getting it right. We might want to check our own communicational savvy. Are we saying the right things and, perhaps even more importantly, are we leaving the right things unsaid?


"Complicating matters are
fractures among
local Republicans

and the fact that everyone is
closely connected to everyone else -
even their OPPONENTS."


"Something I Wanted"
Groups share some norms that rarely need to be spoken aloud. For the Santa Clarita City Council, one of these is the rotation of mayoral duties from year to year. This unofficially official rotation put Laurie Ender into the mayor's seat for 2012. Bob Kellar was set to be mayor pro tem (essentially the next in line for mayorship), but in a surprising power play, Frank Ferry nominated himself for the position and won it with the votes of himself, Laurie Ender, Marsha McLean, and Laurene Weste. The votes of the mayor and mayor pro tem count no more or less than any other member of council, but the titles come with enough little perks and cachet to be attractive.

When challenged by a public speaker on his apparent breach of protocol, Ferry said the rotation wasn't a strict rule. He went on, "I did this today because, really for myself that I'm looking at uh, serving as mayor, I've always enjoyed that... in my 16th year on the council as mayor, umm, [this was] something I wanted." Ferry's response to breaking an unspoken rule may have left the real reason for his maneuver unspoken as well. Frank Ferry and Bob Kellar have often disagreed on big issues, and Kellar supported David Gauny, the man who almost unseated Frank Ferry when running for council in 2010.

Getting Personal
People have questionable pasts. They suffer personal shortcomings. They harbor dark secrets. In important national races, people are playing for keeps, so all of the skeletons are going to come out of the closet.

There's a much more interesting drama at the local level. It arises from the tension between wanting to win nobly versus winning at all costs, a sort of brinksmanship in how harsh and personal to make a race. Candidates are running against people they may have known for decades, people who might be business associates or neighbors. They have to ask themselves how much mud they're willing to sling. This campaign season, the answer may well be "a lot." Among those vying for Bob Kellar's seat is Ed Colley, who currently serves on the Castaic Lake Water Agency Board. Colley was the beneficiary of a highly-critical letter that Frank Ferry sent to the workplace of one of Colley's political rivals. Colley was also the treasurer of Citizens for Integrity in Government, Santa Clarita's most controversial political action committee because of its expensive, impactful mailers that weren't always so positive. Complicating matters are fractures among local Republicans and the fact that everyone is closely connected to everyone else.

Downs
Speaking up or keeping mum is one thing in politics, but the stakes can be much higher in our personal lives. One story that has really hit home in this regard involves Michael Downs. The 19-year-old man has been charged with over two-dozen crimes against young teenage girls. According to investigators, Downs allegedly chatted with victims on Facebook before meeting them. Journalists located his profile on Formspring, and found that other users had called him a "pedophile" and asked, "So who are you dating now? Another 12 year old?" His alleged crimes took place with girls as young as 12 in locations throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

So much in this case boils down to communication. There are allegations that Downs posed as a 16 year old and claimed to be friends with other young girls in an effort to project a less-threatening alternative identity. Kim Goldman of the SCV Youth Project said the case has highlighted the need for parents to educate young people about the risks of using social networking sites and to be aware of what their children are doing, even when they are reluctant to share that information. Claritans, like everyone else, have to be sophisticated information creators and consumers from a very early age, deciding what to share with whom and what not. We heart the information-age SCV, but cautiously.
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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