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December, 2016 - Issue #146
"Cash is usually regarded as a more useful and portable currency than LEMON TEA, and Sheriff's deputies say that fingerprints were left behind, so this isn't looking like the work of particularly-skilled professionals."
According to the experts, Santa Claus maintains a naughty list and a nice list. For Santa Clarita, however, I think a WTH list would be far more useful. ("WTH," of course, stands for "What The Heck?" We're Santa Clarita, not Glendale, after all.) Why a WTH list? Well, a number of Claritans have been acting in ways that are equal parts naughty and bizarre. Their behavior makes you shake your head and scratch it all at the same time. Everyone's on edge this time of year, but let the following serve as cautionary tales so that you don't end up making headlines for the wrong reasons.

Snack Snatchers
Burglary definitely lands you on Santa's naughty list, but some thieves who struck a local school also belong on the WTH list. Their target was a snack bar at Placerita Junior High. After breaking into the cafeteria, they pried their way into the cash registers but took none of the money. Instead, the thieves took almost $1,500 worth of Snapple and ice cream, among other snacks and beverages. Cash is usually regarded as a more useful and portable currency than Lemon Tea, and Sheriff's deputies say that fingerprints were left behind, so this isn't looking like the work of particularly-skilled professionals. But for now, the crime remains unsolved, which means that we cannot know what these brazen criminals were thinking.

More oddly yet, this wasn't the first school burglary of the term - there have been several at local schools. Placerita's was the second in as many days, in fact. Schools have security cameras and between teachers, students and facilities staff, there's almost always someone on campus. Yet somehow, the snacks got taken. The solution? If you see a shady-looking character out there, make sure they're well fed.

Racism & Harassment
Serious claims were exchanged in the race between Mayor Pro Tem Dante Acosta and Newhall School Board Member Christy Smith for California State Assembly. The WTH-ness began when Acosta held a press conference over a mailer sent out in support of Smith. The attack mailer featured photos of Acosta which he said were darkened and altered to "Cast me as nothing more than some Mexican two-bit criminal." Smith called Acosta's accusations "baseless" and asked him to denounce statements from Donald Trump that she labeled as racist.

Mere hours later, the Sclarita blog published an e-mail in which political consultant Jennifer Van Laar accused Acosta of sexual harassment. Van Laar's name was initially concealed, but she later confirmed that she had sent the e-mail to Vanessa Wilk, Assemblyman Scott Wilk and Congressman Steve Knight. Van Laar said that Acosta made unwanted advances both in person and via text message. The story was picked up by the LA Times and Christy Smith called the accusations "utterly disqualifying." In response, Acosta published the text messages in question which appeared more or less benign. The racism and harassment allegations haven't yet been fully resolved, but in a word: yikes.

Crafts and Gunfire
Two people recently made the WTH list for their "visit" to the newly-opened Hobby Lobby in Saugus. A man stole a few hundred dollars worth of goods - presumably crafts and/or home decor, since that's what they sell. He grabbed the stuff and shoved his way out of the store where his apparent accomplice was waiting in a van. She fired three paintballs at the store before making her getaway, but left him behind. The crafty ladies who frequent Hobby Lobby probably weren't expecting to have to take cover from paintball fire. I imagine them huddled behind an aisle of wreaths, shaking their heads and saying, "This kind of thing doesn't happen at Michael's."

Things have always been crazy in the shopping center that Hobby Lobby now co-anchors with Best Buy and Trader Joe's. But with the holidays coming, people are going to be seeking the trifecta of decorations, electronics gifts and food with particular fervor. Those who heart the SCV don't suffer theft and paintball shootings quietly, and given how short tempers are going to be running in that parking lot, the Hobby Lobby thieves would do well to never try their WTH heist ever again.
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