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Kevin Buck: Interesting turn of events

Posted: March 4, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 4, 2014 2:00 a.m.

It is a rare occasion that I write nice things about a Republican politician. Very rare.

However, today is one of those days. I live in California’s 38th Assembly District, and my assembly man is Scott Wilk.

My son recently needed some help dealing with California government bureaucracy, and Scott Wilk’s local office came through for him.

I was first introduced to Scott many years ago by my friend, the late, great Roberta Gillis. For those of you who do not remember or never had the pleasure of locking horns with Roberta, she was the instigator of our little weekly Democratic column in The Signal and she was as partisan a Democrat as anyone I have ever met, before or since.

Not only did she convince then-Signal Editor Tim Whyte that Democratic political opinions needed to be represented in the newspaper, she also convinced him that the column should be labeled “Those Damn Democrats.”

After Roberta left us to harangue any Republicans in heaven, the name of our column was changed to the less strident “Democratic Voices,” but in my heart I will always be a proud Damn Democrat in Roberta’s honor.

Roberta was not a big fan of the Republican Party or Republican politicians, but she was a realist and knew that to get anything done in this city, allowances had to be made and you had to work with the other side.

She was especially fond of three local Republicans, who, not surprisingly, have gone on to successful political careers: Howard “Buck” McKeon, Cameron Smyth and Scott Wilk.

Thanks to Roberta, I have known Scott Wilk for more than 15 years and we have socialized at various events a handful of times over the course of those years. He always struck me as a partisan cut from the same cloth as Roberta: steadfast in his political beliefs, yet pragmatic enough to get things done in spite of them.

When my son was discharged from the Marine Corps, after five years of service, he applied for unemployment insurance to tide him over until school started, and he found a civilian job. Nothing happened for a couple of months, no contact at all.

Finally he received a letter stating he had zero verifiable income and was not eligible to receive unemployment compensation.

They may pay Marines poverty-level wages, but they do pay them, and he set about trying to correct this error.

Instead, he found out that it is impossible to contact a human being at the Employment Development Department.

Phone calls refer you to the Internet for help and the Internet site is a black hole where assistance goes to die.

Brick-and-mortar buildings are for job-seekers only; zero help with problems.

Because I am a politics junkie, I wrote to our congressman, “Buck” McKeon, and to our assemblyman, Scott Wilk.

I received an auto reply email from Congressman McKeon, with a promise of a follow-up contact, which never happened.

However, I did receive a personal email reply and a phone call from Scott Wilk’s local office. Field Representative Andre Hollings listened to the problem, assured me it was common and promised to look into it.

To make a long story 700 words short, Mr. Hollings was able to speak with a human at the EDD about my son’s case, and it turns out there is a box to check on the unemployment application if you received your wages from the federal government and my son had missed it.

It took a couple of weeks to straighten out, but Mr. Hollings handled everything to our complete satisfaction. The compensation my son earned to bridge his military-to-civilian transition finally started to arrive.

I am a known liberal and a proud Democrat, but I am represented almost exclusively by conservative Republicans. Regardless of my politics, I am just another constituent of our elected representatives, and I should be treated as such.

This is how I expect the government to work. While he may never get my vote in an election, Scott Wilk earned my respect and gratitude for how efficiently my son’s issues with California’s state bureaucracy were handled and resolved by his staff.

Ooh-rah, Mr. Hollings and by extension, Assemblyman Wilk.

Kevin Buck is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” runs Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among several SCV Democrats.



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