I Heart SCV
There's Only Plan A
October, 2016 - Issue #144
People in Santa Clarita are used to having backup options - to going with Plan B. Santa Clarita might itself be the backup plan because, as lovely as it is, Malibu is generally regarded as lovelier. But I'd like to talk about a few people who don't follow this norm. These are the people who have made the news for trying to make their Plan A work at all costs, because sometimes, it's the only plan there is.
Mayor vs. Fire
When the Sand Fire burned this summer, many people were ordered to evacuate, but not all listened. A good number chose to stay at their house, hoping the fire wouldn't reach them. In a few cases, it did. In those cases, Plan B came too late.
Mayor Bob Kellar was another one of the people who chose to go with Plan A during the fire. He decided that he would help fight the flames at Sable Ranch, pitting a hose against a giant, intensely-raging summer wildfire. In a story by The Signal's Jim Holt, Kellar was quoted as saying, "I have a right to go across lines and help to do the best I can."
In Kellar's case, Plan A worked out. Still, it's probably not a good idea to construct a plan that counts on being lucky. There's plenty of time for another blaze or two before winter's rains arrive, so think about your own plans.
Santa Clarita made the national news for a road rage incident. A mother was driving her family to a birthday party in their SUV. She used her windshield sprayer and some of the cleaning fluid splattered another car. The driver of that car pulled up alongside the SUV to exchange words. He said his car had gotten wet, and he was apologized to, but he wouldn't back down. The mother's son noticed that the angry man had a gun and he fired twice into the front tire of the SUV. Much of the incident was caught on someone's dashboard camera.
What was the shooter thinking? Even if his aim was to just scare the family, it's an impossibly-crazy overreaction and could easily be seen as attempted murder. Once the man fired the shots, he sped off, fully committing to Plan A: Go into hiding and avoid the police. Unfortunately, the plan has worked so far. The 20-something white male with a goatee has not been found as of this writing. But if this incident is any indication, his mental instability will eventually cause his hiding plan to fail and justice to be served.
Pocketing Public Funds
Even when luck is on our side and Plan A works out, that isn't enough for some. They try the plan again and again and again until it finally fails. Such was the case of David Ruibra, who worked as an assistant engineer for the City of Santa Clarita. Over several years, he allegedly made up fictitious companies to receive reimbursements and ended up embezzling somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-million dollars of public funds. His plan worked so well that he pursued it multiple times - he's facing seven separate felony counts of embezzlement along with another charge.
Ruibra has pled not guilty and we're waiting for a trial, but City Manager Ken Striplin and the city council are convinced that he's far from innocent. An audit was conducted and new measures have been implemented to prevent any similar schemes from working in the future. Luckily, the City of Santa Clarita has fraud insurance, so it's likely that at least some of the funds will be covered by the insurer or returned as restitution. Plan A is still to heart and trust the folks who work at city hall, but having some backup is always reassuring in the SCV.
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 email@example.com.