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Lila Littlejohn: No justice and long meetings

From The Signal Archives...

Posted: January 7, 2010 9:57 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Editor’s note: As The Signal celebrates 90 years of service to the Santa Clarita Valley, we offer this peek into the SCV of days past. Following is from the Jan. 6, 1980, Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise.

No steam-cleaning equipment, no justice

After taking the District Attorney’s office to task for failing to respond to a reporter’s calls, The Signal published a lengthy explanation from the county agency as to why a Valencia woman wouldn’t see justice in the case of her stolen pickup truck and steam-cleaning equipment.

Seems the thief who lifted the truck drove it, complete with steam-cleaning equipment (with which the victim made a living), to Missouri, where he crashed it.

One might expect the man to be extradited to California to stand trial for grand theft auto and whatever charges result from stealing steam-cleaning equipment.

But no. Apparently, the District Attorney’s office didn’t deem the offense sufficient to incur the costs of extradition. The thief was released in Missouri, where the pickup truck and steam-cleaning equipment remained.

The Signal’s effort to champion the Valencia woman’s cause resulted first in being ignored by the District Attorney’s office, then (after one of Scott Newhall’s fiery editorials) in a visit from a deputy district attorney who explained why justice wouldn’t be served.

“We can’t take a standard of what a particular individual thinks is justice or is not justice,” the deputy D.A. was quoted as saying.

An explosive situation
Target practice could be hazardous to your health back in 1980.

A front-page story, accompanied by a picture of a bullet-riddled 1965 Ford Galaxy, told how gun enthusiasts enjoyed testing their skills on the vehicle abandoned in a ravine off the Ridge Route.

One potential problem: The car had been dumped on top of an underground high-pressure natural gas line.

A media-savvy member of the California Highway Patrol seized the opportunity to demonstrate the state’s abandoned vehicle abatement program.

It’s a sure bet those reporters stood way back to observe the process.

More hospital beds sought
Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital was looking at expanding in the Santa Clarita Valley back in 1980.

Specifically, it wanted to take over 34 state-approved beds from Golden State Memorial Hospital, formerly located on Lyons Avenue in Newhall. Golden State had been closed by court decree the previous May.

“After the sale of Golden State Hospital property,” the article quoted Newhall Memorial’s then-executive director, Duffy Watson, as saying, the surviving hospital’s Board of Directors “was concerned that it would eventually be re-sold for non-hospital use.”

Lots of questions for the lawyers
The Signal of the 1980s enjoyed reporting on the doings — or non-doings — of an obscure agency called the West Los Angeles County Resource Conservation District, which had its funds cut following the passage of 1978’s Proposition 13 and would eventually succumb to lack of money.

Meantime, Signal editors enjoyed reporting on the organization for its sheer dysfunctionality.

Under the headline “Directors End a Long Meeting,” the Jan. 6, 1980, issue recounted that district officials had spent three hours wrapping up a meeting that had previously taken them “nearly 24 hours on three different occasions” of meeting time.

The nature of the obviously weighty agenda for the Dec. 11 meeting?

New board officers were selected, some committee reports were presented, and a very long list of questions was drawn up for county counsel to answer.


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