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Political First Impressions
February, 2017 - Issue #148
"Smyth's BIG OPPORTUNITY is leading the appointment of a council member to replace Dante Acosta. Safe or bold? Establishment or outsider? Same old or brand new? We won't wait long to find out."
With Valentine's Day fast approaching, you might be thinking about the love of your life. If things are going well, is it worth buying a really nice present, maybe even an engagement ring? And if things aren't going so well, is it worth sticking it out - at least until you've gotten your Valentine's gift? With all of these questions, it can be easy to forget that we have all recently started another important new relationship in our lives. It's the one between us and our recently-elected representatives. They're still new on the job, but first impressions are forming fast.

Smyth's Impression-to-be-made
Some 13 years ago, "Got Mayor?" posters with a milk-mustached Cameron Smyth appeared around Santa Clarita. It was part of his "Milk with the Mayor" outreach program. Residents joined him to chat about local issues over family-friendly milk and cookies. The public impression was that Smyth was a young, ambitious up-and-comer in Santa Clarita politics. Now that he's mayor of Santa Clarita again, he has another chance to make a first impression.

In the pro-Smyth editorial that The Signal published before his successful reelection, the accomplishments mentioned were his agreeableness and his having sat on an important committee when in the State Assembly. One of his most noteworthy legislative efforts was aimed at facilitating pet adoptions. He smiles, he makes friends, but he doesn't make waves - and that's exactly the kind of politician that many Claritans seek. For this second round of first impressions, Smyth's big opportunity is leading the appointment of a council member to replace Dante Acosta. Safe or bold? Establishment or outsider? Same old or brand new? We won't wait long to find out.

Shadow of Antonovich
Newly-elected LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger is very much in Mike Antonovich's shadow. She worked as his chief deputy supervisor for years, so electing her was about as close to reelecting Mike Antonovich as possible - Mike never wore pearls, though. The board of supervisors recently considered whether to spend 3 million dollars on a legal fund to aid illegal immigrants in fighting deportation. Barger was the only supervisor to vote "no" on the grounds that immigration is a federal issue. This has gotten her name into the news and pleased many supporters, but she hasn't yet emerged as someone other than the logical successor to her former boss.

That will change this year. The expansion of Chiquita Canyon Landfill is very likely to come before the board, and it affects Barger's turf. During the election, her opponent, Darrell Park, strongly opposed the extension and expansion of landfilling at Chiquita. Barger has been much quieter, perhaps because there's no way to win. Many neighbors of the landfill hate it, but it's regionally important to the economy and infrastructure. Like it or not, a Chiquita decision will help define Claritans' first impression of Barger as their supervisor.

No on Yes on 64
You used to be able to tell that you were in the City of Santa Clarita when your groceries went home with you in a free bag. Now, like the rest of California, we bring our own or pay. Either way, grumbling is customary. All of last year's propositions have created first impressions, but the one that the city is having the hardest time grappling with is the passage of Proposition 64, which made it legal for people 21 and older to grow and possess small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes.

As soon as it could, the Santa Clarita City Council passed an emergency ordinance that made it difficult or impossible for the legal marijuana industry, incipient as it may be, to gain a foothold in the city. Retail sales and activities related to production were prohibited, though the council could not fully ban marijuana use and cultivation within homes. Part of the council's opposition was based on the assertion that marijuana cultivation often relies on a lot of water and on wiring customized, high-energy lights, which could be problematic. The council clearly hearts an SCV that treats the drug the same in 2017 as it did in 2016, so recreate with caution.
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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