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Surprise Perks
March, 2018 - Issue #162
With unemployment low and the economy growing, employers are wise to offer perks that keep employees' eyes from wandering towards greener pastures. Sure, we'll all be replaced by algorithms and robots in a few years, but for now, it's nice to feel appreciated and well compensated. Maybe it's a day to work from home instead of commute, a solid health insurance plan or matching retirement contributions. That's all fairly standard. But in some professions, the perks are far more surprising.

"Whether the institution attracts the most creative minds, hones them well, or manages to spawn fortuitous connections, there's some reason that CalArtians are usually well-represented during AWARDS SEASON."
Job Security
Santa Clarita got slapped with a new lawsuit from Cemex. It's based on violating a settlement agreement and on attempts to annex the property that would be mined for aggregate by the giant multi-national company. Cemex has had the right to mine in Santa Clarita for well over a decade now, and most Claritans have never been OK with the idea of a big mine, and no apparent solutions have been anything more than false hopes or temporary fixes. Cemex mining in Santa Clarita is basically a giant, expensive annoyance for all parties involved.

The exception is lawyers and lobbyists. The Signal's Andrew Clark did some digging and found out that just north of $12 million has been spent fighting Cemex. Sure, the particular individuals and firms may come and go, but Cemex is a great job for many. The main perk, of course, is that not fixing the situation just means more job security. (I imagine it must be soul-crushingly tedious, though.). And the city is powerless to break the cycle. The city council recently agreed to two new $20,000 lobbying contracts. The money probably won't lead to any resolution, but it seems better than doing nothing.

CalArts
Going to the Academy Awards is a pretty nice job perk, and plenty of SCV entertainment enterprises could lead there. One of the most direct routes to the Oscars goes directly through CalArts, the little school on a big hill. Whether the institution attracts the most creative minds, hones them well, or manages to spawn fortuitous connections, there's some reason that CalArtians are usually well-represented during awards season.

Adrian Molina is a star alum this year for his role in the widely lauded Disney/Pixar film "Coco." Molina co-wrote the screenplay, co-directed and contributed as a lyricist on many of the songs. This demonstrates the breath of Molina's talents - he started as an animator (You can watch his junior CalArts project entitled "Unicorn vs. Narwhal" on YouTube). He's also just 32. As of this writing, we don't yet know whether "Coco" will win an Oscar, but Molina's movie has already received a Golden Globe Award (Best animated film.). Per the CalArts blog "24700,"other alumni nominated this year are Tom McGrath, Ramsey Naito, Glen Keane and James Mangold.

Parks as Perks
The city council started off 2018 by making solid progress to keep Santa Clarita green. In front of an enthusiastic crowd of over 10 people, Mayor Laurene Weste celebrated Rivendale Park and Open Space. If you've ever hiked Towsley Canyon, you know the spot - it's the acreage by the parking area. True to form, Weste presided with horses nearby. Also in January, the City Council agreed to spend $1.6 million to purchase 176 acres by San Francisquito Road. Small purchases like this one have pushed Santa Clarita's open space to well over 9,000 acres.

Ribbon cuttings are nice, but building a concrete legacy - with taxpayer dollars and countless hours of staff support - is probably the best perk of working as an elected official. The council recently considered further building a legacy by deciding whether they should take a formal stance on climate change and associated legislation. In the scheme of things, Santa Clarita only has 0.003 percent of the world's population, and our influence on state and federal legislators is probably even tinier than that, so a resolution wouldn't change much. Still, hearting the SCV means taking a long-term perspective, so discussing legacy is more than a job perk; it's a civic responsibility.
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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