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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: SCV Politics: Like an Ongoing ‘Sopranos’ Episode | 09-06-2011
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The Real Side | Commentary by Joe Messina
| Tuesday, Sep 6, 2011

Many of you know me. I’m the one who regularly fights against the status quo. I hate the “do what your told” and “when I tell you to” politics that take place in this Valley.

I have been told by Republican elites that I was not to run because “they” were choosing or backing someone else. I have been told that I needed to vote a certain way because it would make Mr. So-and-So happy and I might get favor. I have seen, heard and witnessed people basically being told do it “our way” or you may find you will have a hard time conducting business in this valley (Thank God most of my business was in Orange county at the time it happened to me).

And all of this from my own party members.

I moved away from Boston because I didn’t like the heavy-handed mafia influence in the day-to-day business and family lives of those in the inner city. As long as you did what was expected it was paradise.

When I came to the SCV it was refreshing to see families out and about in a safe community. People seemed engaged and willing to work with public entities and elected officials to make life good here. I came to find out, as long as you did what was expected it was paradise.

I have fought to help others get elected. I had to fight against my own party to get elected. Not to say that there were those in the party who didn’t agree with the local party politics, so they supported me monetarily and with votes and resources. They were willing to fight “The Machine” but only from behind the scenes.

You know you have them nervous when they start to smear you. Rumors come out. Nasty mailers go out. Blogs go up from a mysterious person. On my fourth try I succeeded, but only with a lot of grassroots help that were very tired of “The Machine”. I was told by a prominent Republican leader that if he had put his person up sooner, I would have been toast. But because they thought they were all powerful and that they had control of their people they lost. They weren’t paying attention to their people. They only cared about the power.

I have, since that day, been fighting the “mainstream party establishment” to try to make sure the “regular Joe” had a chance. I get in a lot of trouble for not towing the party line, but it’s not about that. It’s about doing what’s right for the greater good, not the party line.

Many of us are thrown a bone once in a while and encouraged with something like … Come on out for a special lunch in a special seat and sit next to this special person, usually after being asked to make 200 calls an hour, do mailers and walk precincts for the greater good of the party. Until you ask for help and are told, “Not your turn.”

Many of the party critics will say it’s a free country no one will stop you from running. Really? Well, if you can’t get in to see certain elected officials and can’t get their endorsements, it’s hard to raise money. And if you think you don’t need money or endorsements, you need to stay out of politics. The money is needed to get your message out, period. And the endorsements help you raise money.

Some, when they get into office, really do it for pure reasons to make a difference. To give the people a voice and make the community a better place to live.

We have more than 45 elected officials in our little valley. Some you will never hear about. Some you hear a lot about.

The quiet ones usually get on for a specific reason. They don’t feel the need to make noise unless things are really egregious. They can usually work things out with their colleagues to accomplish the desired goal.

Then there are the noisy ones. They run into roadblocks or find issues that simply cannot, in good conscience, be glossed over.

I am not a career politician. I campaigned on two issues and was elected because of them. I am working hard to accomplish those goals and move on.

Some elected officials will do anything to stay in office or to hold on to power. This valley is notorious for that.

The “Old Guard” or “The Machine,” as it’s called, has a presence on the board of directors of almost every major club in the Santa Clarita Valley. Not just because they love the clubs, but for control. Last year some fed up Republicans and some Tea Party people took over the local Republican Assembly club. Basically the old guard was asleep because they were so sure they could maintain the status quo. They got beat at their own game.

They accused the new team of all kinds of wrongdoing. Just basic political garbage and infighting. My suggestion? Let it play out. They will either flourish or die. The old guard didn’t like that. So after many maneuvers to crush them failed, they started another club. Huh? Yup, I can’t have it my way, so I will just take my bat and ball and go somewhere else. But aren’t we all on the same team? “Republicans at all costs?” Oh. Just the ones you agree with. What happened to doing the right thing?

Division grows. Republicans are divided and confused. Can’t we all just get along?

I guess not. Now there’s (the recent) announcement that Patricia McKeon is entering the Assembly race. Wonderful woman. I know her. Seems to be a great wife, mother, and companion to Mr. McKeon. But Patricia for Assembly? Why?

Because “The Machine” has decided yet again who we are going to have to back and run. The same machine that forced us to back Meg Whitman, because “she’s the only one who can win.” That worked out well

“The Machine” is wrong. There were two people interested in running for that seat who have worked hard for this valley in many ways – hard for all residents in the valley. Hard for the Republican party. Hard for other candidates they believed in to get elected.

I saw Scott Wilk working hard to make sure  this valley got a fair shake on redistricting, fighting with the consultants, rallying the troops, and leaning on people who could help him get the job done until all hours of the night. Mr. McKeon can thank Mr. Wilk for his new boundaries and the fact that he kept Mr. McKeon in a solidly Republican district. Where was “The Machine” in all this? A big fat nothing.

I am overdone with party infighting. I am overdone with the “We will tell you when and how” that we see from our party on a regular basis. I am done with being on the losing side.

Hey, old guard! Hey, machine! The definition of insanity is doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result. So stop the insanity. Do it the right way for all the right reasons or get out of the way and let us win back California.

We lose races in California because we keep putting up the “My Turn” and “Friend of So-and-So” candidates. That’s why we got a major-league butt whipping in the last election. We were the only state that lost. It’s because of this insanity.

My advice to members of the Republican party: Do what you ask your elected officials to do. Grow a spine and take a stand to do what’s right. Back the people that have worked hard for the party and have the qualifications to do the job representing the people. Back the people who fight in the trenches and have a track record of making things work for the better. And push back hard against the people who don’t.

 

Joe Messina hosts the “RightOnSCV” blog and “The Real Side” show on KHTS and SCVTV. He is also an elected trustee for the William S. Hart Union High School District. The original version of this commentary can be read here.

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