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I Heart SCV
By the Numbers
August, 2020 - Issue #191
The sheer number of numbers these days is, well, numbing. Countdown to election. Polling percentage points. COVID-19 cases. Days since shutdown or re-opening. Unemployment rates. Policing statistics. Dow Jones Industrial Average. Magnitudes of all those little California earthquakes that seem to be hinting at something larger on the way. Acres burned in wildfires. New school schedules and hours. Cost of a Zoom subscription. It all begs the questions: Which numbers actually "count?" (Pardon the cuteness.) That's what we've been grappling with as a community, and it's more important than ever that we get the answer right.
"Our times are full of contentious discussions, and it's hard to put a number on how much the community hearts SCV - but let's hope the number is going up."

Crunching COVID Counts
Over 2,500 of California's coronavirus-related deaths have come from nursing homes. That got our 25th District Congressman, Mike Garcia, to join Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise in an investigation of states where nursing homes were mandated to accept COVID-19 patients. California was one of them. "Governor Newsom instead ordered that nursing homes 'shall not refuse' a patient with a positive COVID-19 test," Garcia said in a public statement. And of course, coronavirus spreads easily among vulnerable patients in many such facilities.

"Science, not politics, must be the guide," Governor Newsom said. But the nursing home cases suggest that even careful modelling can lead to some questionable and unfortunate outcomes. It's complicated, and Newsom's release of piles of data under the new California COVID Assessment Tool drives this point home. The tool should make it easier to keep track of coronavirus' spread in LA County and California at large. As of the end of June, Santa Clarita has seen about 3,000 confirmed cases and 30 deaths. If you happen to be good with numbers and dabble in epidemiology, maybe you can make sense of what exactly lies ahead.

Do Petitions Count?
Bob Kellar is retiring from Santa Clarita's City Council when his term ends later this year, but that's not soon enough for some local activists. They are dismayed by a 2010 comment made by Kellar. At a Minutemen rally, he said that people had told him he sounded racist for repeating Teddy Roosevelt's call for one flag and one language. Kellar then uttered the now infamous lines: "If that's what you think I am because I happen to believe in America, I'm a proud racist. You're darn right I am."

Kellar has repeatedly affirmed he is not actually a racist, and people like Councilmember Bill Miranda have stood up for him, but he never gave the public apology many sought. To publicize their demands, Kellar's critics started a change.org petition demanding his resignation. It currently has over 30,000 signatures. There's another petition to get Hart High School to retire its Indian mascot because it may reinforce ethnic stereotypes. That petition has over 5,000 signatures. Change.org petitions are often ignored because there's one for practically every cause, and anyone can sign them. However these petitions show us that the discussions about racism in Santa Clarita can't be ignored.

Every Penny Counts
The budget for Santa Clarita's new fiscal year is about $220 million. That's a bit lower than last year's budget because the City has anticipated a $10 million shortfall in revenue. Santa Clarita relies heavily on sales tax, and it was rather hard to shop when all the stores were closed. In presenting the budget, City Manager Ken Striplin said the focus was on providing the essentials, to keep the budget balanced. Already-funded projects that should be completed this year include the Canyon Country Community Center and the new, more centralized Sheriff's Station.

The new station wasn't the only reason that policing came up in public discussions of the budget. A few Claritans voiced support for defunding the police, echoing sentiments heard elsewhere in the nation in the wake of George Floyd's death. Striplin didn't really engage in the philosophical debate. However, he pointed out that Santa Clarita's contract with the LA County Sheriff's Department means the City paid half of what some nearby, comparable cities paid for their own departments. Our times are full of contentious discussions, and it's hard to put a number on how much the community hearts SCV - but let's hope the number is going up.
This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions and catty comments intended for the author can be e-mailed to iheartscv@insidescv.com.
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