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Tim Myers: Beware of agendas, advertising in November’s local elections

Myers' Musings

Posted: October 23, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: October 23, 2011 1:30 a.m.

John Mortimer, a British barrister and noted left-winger, wrote the vastly entertaining “Rumpole of the Bailey” series, with Horace Rumpole, the old radical barrister, brought to life by Leo McKern in the television series brought to America by public broadcasting.

While each story revolved around some Rumpole successful defense of an unloved defendant, the running jokes revolved around Rumpole’s bemused snipes at the relatively small circle of barristers that fell within his orbit.

Guthrie Featherstone, one of Rumpole’s colleagues that eventually ascended to the judiciary, once held a seat in Parliament.

During his political career, Rumpole could never remember if “Guthrie was a left wing member of a center-right party or a right wing member of a center-left party.”

 In other words, Guthrie strived to stay so close to the middle that he could not offend anyone, while at the same time holding no strong beliefs or views on any matter.

In thinking of Guthrie Featherstone, I again think of the creature in local elective office that inhabits the role of “geography partisan.”

The definition of geography partisan: an individual that desperately wants to hold elective office and to do so adopts the partisan label of the dominant political force in their geographical area, regardless of whether he or she shares the views of that party.

The problem?  Once elected, particularly in local offices, the geography partisan almost immediately veers off in his or her own way even though their actions do not comport with party ideology or positions.

This seems tantamount to fraud and false advertising. In the case of the SCV, the geography Republican exists in many forms.

Consider the case of David Gauny, a (narrowly) unsuccessful candidate for City Council in 2010.

Gauny advertised his Republican bonafides in that nominally nonpartisan election, including a mailer with him pictured shaking hands with Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.

Since the loss, Gauny remained active in local Republican politics, ascending to the presidency of a local conservative Republican organization that set off a schism among local Republicans.

Now, Republicans, all other things equal, believe in the free market and limited government. They also believe that the government should leave private property owners with the maximum amount of rights with respect to the usage of their property.

How ironic that Gauny got his political name recognition by opposing land use by the Newhall Hospital and its real estate development partner, on land which they owned. Also, in a one-on-one conversation, Gauny informed me that the City Council and Planning Commission should restrict projects to balance against “overbuilding.”

So much for the invisible hand of capitalism.

But Gauny’s inconsistency seems slight when compared with that vast experiment in socialism and mercantilism known as “Newhall Redevelopment.”

For those not paying attention years ago and in the best tradition of Soviet “five year plans” the Santa Clarita City Council embarked on its vision for the somewhat distressed historical downtown area.

The City Council spent millions on road realignments and pedestrian-friendly amenities to make Newhall a “destination” for the yuppified denizens north of Lyons Avenue either too “scared” or, most likely, too disinterested to venture into that far flung region.

The City Council saw the building of the next “Old Town Pasadena” and, despite their 100-percent Republican membership, saw no inconsistency between their government-driven project and thwarting the workings of the free market.

In addition to the improvements and other maneuvers, the City Council also determined that auto repair shops constitute the most vile type of businesses when compared to their new vision for Old Town Newhall, and thus embarked on a relentless jihad to eliminate them from the area, which they have accomplished voraciously.

Consider the recent incident when one such auto repair shop left one site and moved across the street into another site, exploiting a supposed “loophole” in the draconian city land use requirements that allows landlords to re-lease their vacant properties to a similar business within 180 days.

Not to worry: City spokesperson Gail Ortiz assured everyone that the city would soon amend the ordinance to allow for only a 30-day grandfather period to prevent any further such chicanery by what, last I checked, constituted a legitimate, legal and beneficial business.

So I would assert that the City Council’s position on redevelopment not only strays off the path of Republican orthodoxy, it actually hues much closer to the position of Hugo Chavez, who also uses government power to suppress those that disagree with his vision.

Is Santa Clarita now governed by chavistas?

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. “Myers’ Musings” runs Sunday.


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