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Lila Littlejohn: We can be part of the solution

Out of the Newsroom

Posted: April 3, 2010 10:14 p.m.
Updated: April 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Part three of a four-part series

I ended the last column in this series with the question: "Isn't it legislators' jobs, not the jobs of the people of the Santa Clarita Valley, to get California out of its current mess?"

I'd like to propose that the answer is: "Not at all."

For quick background, this is the third column in a series stemming from a networking, lobbying and fact-finding trip to Sacramento taken by about 75 local community, government, business, education and media leaders last month and sponsored by KHTS AM-1220.

Among other messages, legislators told us they were impressed - maybe even amazed - that a group of people from a particular area would make the effort and take the time to visit them and meet face-to-face to learn about and seek to understand the machinations of state government.

Such a thing doesn't happen in Sacramento, we learned. Apparently, all legislators see are paid lobbyists and school children on field trips.

But then, when I analyzed the caliber of people who made the trip, I realized legislators might well be amazed.

Many of those on the trip were business folks who paid hundreds of dollars out of their pockets to take a six-hour bus ride under less-than-completely-comfortable conditions (OK, truth be told, some flew up) so they could sit like students in a classroom and hear lectures from strangers.

Among those on the trip was the chancellor of what's arguably the most successful community college in the state; a council member of one of the few cities in the state to remain in the black with a reserve - a city, by the way, that has won many awards for effective leadership; several board members for the district with the highest API scores in the state among union high school districts with 15,000 or more students; several representatives of a water board that has successfully secured new water resources during a three-year drought and avoided mandatory water rationing that has wilted much of the rest of Southern California; a businessman who is a nationwide expert in environmentally friendly operations in his particular industry; representatives of several other pioneering "green" businesses; several individuals from local nonprofits, organizations that help give the Santa Clarita Valley a heart as well as a positive cash flow; and many other leaders in their fields.

Think about it. Those legislators should have been impressed.

Think some more. We may well have one of the best-run communities in the state. What could we bring to the table in Sacramento?

What couldn't we?

Our local politicians already have an eye on moving up in the California power structure. Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, is running for state Board of Equalization, and Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Simi Valley, is running for controller. Together, they could have a powerful influence on taxation in California.

With the pioneering educators we have in our community, why couldn't we draw up a plan to streamline the state education system and return more money to the classroom - without raising taxes?

With the business-innovative minds in the SCV, why couldn't we review regulations and find more effective and less costly ways to regulate what needs regulating and encourage job creation at the same time?

Pretty pie-in-the-sky, I suppose. But the invitation by legislators to get involved was compelling.

Columnist W.E. Gutman informs me the mantra I mentioned in my previous column - "Participation in the rights of citizenship presumes participation in the duties of citizenship" - first appeared on the walls of Minneapolis City Hall in 1927. The author is anonymous.

We could make it ours.

Next installment: Things change slowly in Sacramento.

Lila Littlejohn is executive editor of The Signal. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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