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30 & Acting It
December, 2017 - Issue #159
You've probably noticed the number "30" creeping into all the mail, posters and postings put out by the City of Santa Clarita. Now, the drumbeat of thirty-fication is reaching a crescendo. It's not to advertise that we're in the TMZ (thirty-mile zone), nor is it our ranking among LA's best cities, nor is it a memorial of the infamous Saugus Skirmish three decades ago. Rather, it's there to mark the fact that on December 15, 2017, the City of Santa Clarita will turn 30 years old. We've come a long way, Claritans, and it's worth pondering whether we are indeed acting our age.

Schooled on Trump
Around Halloween, a bunch of scarecrows were displayed at a local elementary school. They included traditional ones, silly ones, super heroes and one with an angry-faced President Donald Trump. The scarecrows were made as part of a Parent Teacher Club event that was supposed to be fun, but the tone soon became deeply political. A photo of the scarecrow was posted to express outrage over the perceived disrespect to President Trump. People claimed liberal teachers were indoctrinating students. Others suggested that students picked Trump because he would do a good job of protecting and defending the corn, like scarecrows are supposed to do. A libertarian refrain didn't care what was meant so long as the right to free speech was protected.

CBS, Breitbart and others chased the narrative as a "sign of the times" political-divide type of story. Things got heated in the comments sections on news sites and on Facebook. This seems fitting for a city turning 30, the age at which people start to troll social media with their politics in earnest. But it's easy to take things too far. Some staff and teachers reported receiving "inappropriate" messages. So remember to be civil; kids are watching.

A New Look
For most Santa Claritans, the big three-oh is the second most depressing of all birthdays, marking the tenuous beginnings of middle-age and the point at which you realize why there are so many plastic surgery practices. For the city, it's no different. Looking around town, our cultural masterminds have long noticed that public art is relatively lacking. Santa Clarita's architecture is too insipid to inspire awe, and most sculpture has a distinctly "home-made" feel, looking rather like projects submitted by procrastinating first-years at CalARTS. It takes money to look better - and the city council recently voted in favor of throwing a decent chunk of cash at the problem.

By unanimous vote, the council agreed that 1 percent of city funds going towards public projects will be devoted to art installations at those projects. There were a few other provisions, including that the amount spent on art would not exceed $1 million on any given project. Some worry the money could be better spent on more practical matters, but most support the idea of investing in Santa Clarita's arts community. We're going to be 30. We should have at least one nice thing to look at.

"30 & Thriving"
For its 30th birthday, city hall has been busily at work putting together a campaign highlighting all that Santa Clarita is and all that is has done since 1987. There's a video of little kids wearing birthday hats and enjoying cupcakes while they sing "Happy Birthday to Santa Clarita" in angelic voices. When asked what they like most about their home city, the responses include "beautiful grass," "read[ing]," "a lot of, um, plants" and, perhaps most honestly, "I don't know." There's also an Instagram campaign to find novelty plush horse toys branded as "Sammy Clarita." They wear little t-shirts with "30: 1987 - 2017" printed on them to commemorate this birthday year. The idea is pretty cute but seems to have lost steam since the summer.

It's all too easy to poke fun at the City's efforts, but deep down, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. Santa Clarita is like that one friend you have, the one who always invites you out but who you are too busy to set aside a little time for. Well stop that. Santa Clarita's 30 years old, so this December 15, take a moment to remember why you heart it.
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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