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Tim Myers: Development terrorists, proud racists and other faux pas

Myers' Musings

Posted: June 12, 2010 10:29 p.m.
Updated: June 13, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Many complain these days about the antiseptic nature of political races. The candidates seem handled, coached and focus-grouped to death so no one ever shows any real passion or makes any mistakes, basically seeming in a race to put the electorate to sleep.

Add to this the demonstrably true fact that the great middle tends to break overwhelmingly for the candidate who appears the most reasonable and rational, and no wonder participation in the voting process stands punishingly low - especially when compared with the more passionate cultural pursuit of professional and amateur sports.

Luckily for those precious few of us still interested in the day-to-day of politics, the Santa Clarita Valley still contains a plethora of under-coached and under-prepared elected and sort-of-elected officials who feel free to allow their mouths (and brains) to run ahead of the wishes of their handlers or potential handlers.

Everyone would agree on the seminal case in the SCV: Santa Clarita City Councilman Bob Kellar and his "proud racist" moment which (nearly) ignited an election that would overturn the longtime power of incumbency in city politics.

But there exist other faux pas of delectable tastiness in the recent history of the SCV. A few spring immediately to memory:

In the 2007 school board election, Steve Sturgeon, an incumbent member of the William S. Hart Union High School District board, felt pressure concerning enrollment and attendance decisions concerning West Ranch High School and the community of Castaic.

One solution recommended to reduce high school facility usage included a temporary housing of ninth-graders at the distinctly underutilized Rancho Pico Junior High School where they were housed before.

Sturgeon rejected this solution and, in defense of that position, republished a letter from a junior-high counselor who detailed horrific tales of carnage and chaos perpetrated by ninth-graders on the Rancho Pico campus during that earlier time. Never mind that this brought into question management of six high school campuses where allegedly degenerate ninth-graders constitute around one-fourth of the student body.

Nurse and longtime Hart district board member Patricia Hanrion got into a bit of a pickle during the run-up to a failed school construction bond referendum. Opponents, fearful of bond money fueling profligate spending on perks and other benefits, brought up the demonstrably true fact that then-Superintendent Bob Lee upgraded his district-provided vehicle to a Ford Expedition from the contractually called-for Ford Taurus. Hanrion, bless her heart, related in an open meeting that she thought little difference existed between the distinctly frugal four-door workhorse sedan of the Ford fleet and the monster SUV, bane of environmentalists everywhere.

My personal favorite? Hart district board member Paul Strickland applied to fill the vacated City Council seat of Cameron Smyth, right during the middle of the revelations concerning cost overruns in the Arroyo Seco Junior High School remodeling, to the tune of about 150 percent. When pressed on this alleged lack of stewardship, Strickland stated that his could not recur on city matters because the city, unlike the Hart district, provided an office for the council members to survey and control their empire.

And who can forget former Councilwoman Jill Klajic, who, attending an anti-development rally outside a Newhall Land partners meeting at the Hyatt Valencia, sneered to a Signal reporter while acknowledging (ironic) honks of support from contractor work trucks going up and down McBean Parkway, which if the anti-development forces obtained success they would "put all those guys out of a job."

An honorable mention also goes to Klajic who, when complaining about the lack of Latino representation on the Newhall Redevelopment Committee, referred to the sitting committee members as "blond, blue-eyed Caucasians"

Now we add to this lexicon of importunate comments "developmental terrorists," to describe NIMBYs who oppose local property usage, sometimes truly upon poor information, by one Frank Ferry, the councilman whom I supported who barely clung to his City Council seat in 2010, and now revises history to state that if he really had run a robust campaign, he would easily have crushed his striving opponent.

Where will this use of a phrase, as loaded and freighted as the word racist - proud or otherwise - stand in the pantheon of local political faux pas? Time will tell, but don't undersell its craziness.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. "Myers' Musings" appears Sundays in The Signal.


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