I Heart SCV
Names in the News
June, 2012 - Issue #92
It's no fun having an unattractive name. Even if you don't fit your name's stereotype, people feel obligated to relate that fact in an insulting way. For example: "You're so skinny for a Bertha!" or "It's too bad your parents named you after your Uncle Herbert." But it's not just our personal names that matter. Think of how liberally local real estate agents and businesses define the boundaries of "Valencia," that name with such cachet. Names matter because they're more than just labels. Names are meaningful, evocative parts of what something or someone is. For clarity in the local news, think names.

Change in Title
Mayor Laurie Ender is now Mrs. Laurie Ender. In a rather shocking election result, the mayor finished third in a field of five running for Santa Clarita City Council. Bob Kellar finished first and has upgraded his title of council member to mayor pro tem. TimBen Boydston finished second and, after a four-year absence, is once again a council member. Finally, as a result of Laurie Ender's loss, the city council voted to transition Frank Ferry from mayor pro tem to mayor.
If you find this political shakeup a little confusing, you're in the exact right state of mind. It was unprecedented for a sitting mayor to not win reelection and it's a whole new political game.

It appears that having an impressive title before one's name does not insure political incumbents of victory. TimBen Boydston campaigned successfully on dissatisfaction with City Hall, and one of his major pledges was to respectfully listen to all resident concerns - ostensibly in contrast to Ender and others. He had many volunteers making phone calls and knocking on doors, plenty of signage and trucks with Boydston banners driving around town on election day to make the Boydston brand name stick firmly in the minds of voters. It worked.

Naming Names
Beginning in April, The Signal published summaries of arrests with the name, city and occupation of the arrested party as well as the specific charge. It was a marked departure from previous policy, which used to lead to vague stories along the lines of "man in 20s arrested for robbing liquor store." After the change, we know the arrested robbery suspect is called John Doe, a plumber from Stevenson Ranch. The paper's editorial board tried to defend their choice with a written statement, arguing that arrest records are part of the public record and warrant printing.

The reaction on part of Claritans has been mixed, to put it mildly. There are some lauding The Signal for providing arrest details that they find crucial to keeping the community informed. It seems considerably more residents are upset. Commenters on the news website wondered about the potential for reputations to be sullied by unjustified arrests. Families could be embarrassed: What kid wants to go to school when his mom or dad was just booked and everyone knows? Would the newspaper take pains to make sure reputations were restored if an arrest was ultimately unfounded? The debate underscores the importance of maintaining one's good name, in Santa Clarita or anywhere.

An Earmark by Any Other Name
I see the name of a certain multinational corporation and feel almost immediately exhausted. It's Cemex. After many years and many, many hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal and lobbying fees, there is still no resolution to Cemex's wish to mine sand and gravel in Santa Clarita over emphatic, persistent local opposition. The solution that local leaders and activists put most hope in was a political fix. Over the years, Congressman Buck McKeon and Senator Barbara Boxer have both presented bills to swap Cemex's mining rights in Santa Clarita for monies from the sale of other federal lands. This session, McKeon has refused to craft a companion bill to Boxer's, arguing that it would violate his pledge to make no earmarks in legislation.

Here, too, there's a name game in play. McKeon recently worked on a land swap deal between the federal government and Mammoth Mountain, which was successful. Claritans cried foul, asking why that earmark was OK when a Cemex one was not. McKeon responded that there were no net financial losses with the Mammoth land swap, while there would be with a Cemex swap. Those who heart SCV's Soledad Canyon in its un-mined state don't care what it's named - they just want a fix.
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
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