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The Cause & Effect Mismatch
September, 2012 - Issue #95
If only everything were as easy as physics. There's something appealing about being able to describe events with its cold, clinical, knowing precision. A star weighing "x" exerts a gravitational force of "y"... if "x" gets bigger, so too does "y;" if "x" gets smaller, then "y" shrinks in kind. It's all rather tidy. While orderly equations may suffice for physics, though, they're woefully inadequate when it comes to describing the course of human events. Cause and effect just aren't always proportional. We think a little, trivial mistake like leaving the toaster oven on should have a little, trivial consequence - but instead the house burns down. Small causes can have big effects and vice versa, which is to say: We're largely clueless when it comes to predicting the consequences of our actions. The cause-effect mismatch is a perennial source of frustration, as seen around town.

Paint + Pool = Problem
Several gallons of paint were used to cause hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to a Northbridge pool. In late July, some exterior paint - likely stolen from an elementary school - was poured in a large, north Valencia swimming pool. Apparently, paint doesn't just diffuse harmlessly into the water or float on the surface, ready to be skimmed away like a BP oil spill. Instead, it wreaked havoc on the pool's boilers, pipes, liner and hot tub. It's estimated that damages may exceed $400,000 because a more or less complete overhaul of the facility is required.

As a consequence of the vandalism, the youth swim team lost their training facility and the whole community lost its pool, that hub of summertime sport and socializing. As I write, investigations are on-going and no one has been arrested. Was this the doing of kids who grossly underestimated the consequences of their "prank?" Did someone mean to do damage? Whatever the case, the hugely expensive, long-term damage caused by such a cheap, quick act of vandalism must be a profound frustration for the Northbridge HOA and residents.

No Seconds for You
Did you know that Santa Clarita has not only art, but a whole arts commission? Well, it does, and the commission does things like working with local artists and evaluating worthwhile art-related causes. I daresay it's not one of the more controversial government institutions ever created. Normally, city council members nominate someone to fill a commission seat and there's easy, unanimous approval.

It didn't work out that way when TimBen Boydston nominated the intelligent, articulate Valerie Thomas. Only one other council member would vote for her to serve on the arts commission. To deny someone a seat on a less-than-critical commission, and to insult a council member by not approving of his nomination, you'd think there would have to be some pretty serious problems with the nominee. Unfortunately, no one would say just what the problem with Valerie Thomas was. Worse yet, no one would second Boydston's nomination of Alan Ferdman for the parks commission. The common bond? Both have been outspoken critics of City Hall and have gotten under the skin of other council members. Sometimes, we have to explain cause and effect in politics by knowing things get personal.

New Library, Old Newhall
It feels as though we've been talking about the library being built in Newhall forever. After all the controversy, setbacks and hype galore, the thing's actually opening this month. This has been a pretty big project, with a budget well over $20 million, a live construction cam, and big grand opening plans for Saturday, September 29 at 10:30 a.m. The library is a grand civic gesture that's supposed to breathe life back into Newhall.

As construction nears completion, the final form has emerged. Though taller than anything else in the area, it's still a rather squat, sprawling building, a blocky lump that seems sturdy enough to anchor Newhall physically. But can it anchor Newhall economically, drawing enough visitors in Newhall to encourage more businesses to open up shop in an area in need of economic stimulation? Well, that's one of the grander effects hoped to stem from this grand cause. But there's no point guessing the consequences; those who heart SCV will just wait and hope for the best.

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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