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Tim Myers: Political equilibrium has returned

Myers' Musings

Posted: February 6, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 6, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Equilibrium:  A condition in which all acting influences are canceled by others, resulting in a stable, balanced or unchanging system. —  Free Online Dictionary.

Inertia: The tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in straight-line motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force — Free Online Dictionary.

The handful of local citizens who care might remember 2010 fondly as the signal year that upset the equilibrium and inertia of Santa Clarita politics. 

For one brief period, probably last seen during the attempts to form Canyon County (unsuccessful) and the city of Santa Clarita (successful), forces upset the apple cart and almost caused the unthinkable to happen: A challenger nearly unseated a long-term incumbent elected official by the most razor thin of margins.

People will remember the excitement and outside attention focused when primarily out-of-town folks showed up for an anti-illegal immigrant rally, and a sitting council member made some unfortunate and unintentional comments.

The excitement continued after the election when the City Council, motivated primarily by financial concerns, voted to withdraw from the county library system.

In the second case, I personally viewed literally hundreds of people arguing passionately against the quick decision for withdrawal, followed by seemingly robust legal action with some fairly wide support.

But the incumbents won re-election, the lawsuit fizzled and the city and greater valley got back into the political equilibrium that has endured for the past 20 years, and maybe forever. 

That equilibrium contains two small political parties: people who currently hold elected office and their supporters, and people who want to hold elected office and their supporters. The opposition contains a clear manifesto: It opposes everything the other party favors.

Unfortunately, both parties remind one of Leo Tolstoy’s seminal example of the monkey that falls out of a tree onto the back of a rampaging elephant and then assumes it directs the movements of the elephant.

Both small parties cannot quite reconcile themselves to the fact that the Santa Clarita Valley and the city will move inexorably to some type of future state primarily influenced by macro-economic facts and the actions of governments, and even nations far beyond the borders outlined by the San Gabriel Mountains and the Grapevine.

The opposition manifests itself in two ways.

First, one can always count on a handful of partisans showing up to any particular elected body’s regular meetings to complain about the actions of the inside party. The Internet added a new dimension, where individuals and small groups can use technology to talk about what bothers them all day in a slightly expanded and real-time venue.

Facebook also expanded that ability with pages for a particular gripe erupting suddenly and then enjoying a half-life of about 30 minutes.

How did I know equilibrium returned? I came into possession through a forward link of an e-mail from local environmentalist and Signal columnist Lynne Plambeck to a group of five people who encouraged “everyone” to come to the City Council meeting of Jan. 25 to complain about the city’s rather inartful presentation of a new (albeit lower) city parcel tax to replace the county library parcel tax the county now refuses to collect and remit to the city.

The e-mail believed the tax reduction “lie” associated with this ballot measure could result in some successful lawsuit.


The fact remains that the slim electorate that participates in local politics will overwhelmingly approve any tax measure that carries the words “open space,” “library” or “education,” no matter the views of the bloggers and their small band.

All this useless posturing gives me newfound respect for Planning Commissioner Dee Dee Jacobsen, roundly criticized in the local blogosphere for only asking about the color scheme of new developments coming on for approval.

Jacobsen may constitute the wisest member of her party: She realizes that the extent of influence on inexorable events may include solely the choosing of a pleasing color for whatever eventually gets built.

So the 80 percent of citizens who refuse participation in local politics can venture forth in safety, since that bit of shrillness they heard in 2010 now exists only in muted whispers, like a conversation barely audible in a large room. 

One local blogger constantly asks “when” the citizens of Santa Clarita will rise up to sweep away the “evil” of the inside party. I know the answer: Never!

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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