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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Our Obligation as Citizens | 03-26-2014
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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

darrylmanzer021014I am so very proud to be living in the Santa Clarita Valley today. I got to watch government and citizens working – not together but working.

The City Council chamber was filled with citizens protesting the new billboard law. Yep, they protested and still got it, but they stood tall and held a good, old-fashioned protest.

So close to an election, it was brave and maybe dumb for incumbents even to consider a vote on the subject. People hate billboards of any kind. They really don’t like electronic billboards. We’re getting them now. For at least the next 50 years or until all of the lawyers get enough money to stop them.

Many members of my family are buried at Eternal Valley including my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle and brother-in-law. I’m sure they like the idea of a flashing electronic billboard so near their final resting place. Of course, the dead can’t protest. It appears the people protesting were having as much effect on the council.

But that isn’t the point. The point is, citizens took the time to get out and protest with passion. It was a peaceful but forceful protest. Folks don’t like the deal.

Now if each one of those protesters can get one or two other people to vote, come election day, maybe they can be heard, after all. That is how we do term limits in this country. We vote them out of office. If we have term limits, it is automatic, and people don’t bother to vote. It is a double-edged sword. But is what we, as citizens, have the right and responsibility to do.

That isn’t a strong enough phrase. We have an obligation to vote.

“… (W)ith a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” The men who signed the Declaration of Independence just below these words did so out of obligation to each other, their fellow citizens, and a divine Power. Had the American Revolution been a failure, good King George III would have had them hunted down and hanged each and every one. That is the depth of the obligation they knew they had.

Protesters make their views about electronic billboards known outside Santa Clarita City Hall, Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Photo: Justin Malson/SCVTV

Protesters make their views about electronic billboards known outside Santa Clarita City Hall, Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | Photo: Justin Malson/SCVTV

So today we vote because of “name recognition” or “how cool the candidate looks” and the ever-popular “first name on the ballot.” The signers of the Declaration voted knowing they could be killed, should they not have the resolve to carry through what they wanted.

We’ve become a community that leaves our homes in the morning for work and returns in the evening too tired and too busy to concern ourselves with the City Council or Los Angeles County, the California Legislature or Congress. We go on about our daily lives, forgetting or maybe never knowing we have an obligation upon our sacred honor to ensure the best people are elected to govern us at all levels. We are under the same obligation to vote them out and vote in new representatives when we want our views better expressed.

But we don’t do that. We let the same 15 percent or maybe 18 percent vote and decide for us who will be OUR representatives at whatever level of government is having an election. We sit back more concerned with Kim and Khole, Prince William, some singer on a show that may get him a recording contract, a show about surviving while surrounded by cameras and film crew (a “reality” show), and anything except that which is most important – our government.

So I saw my fellow citizens marching together in protest of actions to be taken by City Council and felt proud to be a citizen of this valley. People gathered together to address the wrongs they felt were being committed by those they elected.

It is a long and glorious history of protest in these United States of America. Some folks in Boston started a protest against the king, and some of them were shot. More protests happened. A shipload of tea was dumped in Boston Harbor. And so it carried on and on, and we became a country.

A country built upon the right to assemble in a group (called a “mob” by those reporting to King George III) and carry signs and illumination with voices strongly protesting the wrongs of government.

What happened on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, might not be a great moment in history, but it was a great moment in the lives of each and every person who was there. The outcome wasn’t what the protesters wanted, but they had a voice in the government.

Let freedom ring. Let’s each and every one of us be part of a revolution – be it at the local, state or federal level of government. VOTE. Get informed and vote.

It is our right. It is our obligation.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

 

 

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29 Comments

  1. Because thats where all the cops and fire fighters live!

  2. Dakota Short Dakota Short says:

    No electronic billboards?…. Like the one in Newhall?

  3. Dave Putnam says:

    “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.”
    Mark Twain

  4. Sometimes I think, do people have any real stress in life? I mean really who cares! Billboards, no billboards does it matter? Will it truly affect your life? Or are these people just a bunch of people who need a cause? I have lived here my entire life and I can honestly say, that eliminating the Billboard by my house on Calgrove did not affect my life. People in this town truly need to get over the small stuff. If the Billboards stay, awesome. If the billboards go, who cares? One thing people should think about is billboards create revenue for the government and people who own the property that the billboards are on.

  5. Ethan Jewell Ethan Jewell says:

    Michael sorry, you are lacking details. Folks care what the face of the city we live in looks like. And folks like me having to come before an elected council to ask why we are so poorly negotiating this deal in a backroom should be a sign lol there is more detail than in the headlines.

  6. Dave Putnam says:

    The electronic billboard in Newhall is a distant relative to the monstrosities that were approved at last night’s meeting. From the city’s website: www.http://billboards.santa-clarita.com

    “To be clear, the three digital billboards along the freeways would be two-sided with dimensions of 14 feet tall and 48 feet wide. Pole height for each of the three signs would vary between 54 feet and 64 feet tall.”

  7. mike says:

    I guess I take a different stand, living here my whole life I think I have the right to my opinion. So here it is,I think it is sad that so many people in this town I have nothing else to do but protest something that won’t change their lives one way or the other. You complain about billboards going up you complain about billboard going down you complain to complain. Because at the end of the day the truth is you cannot find any happiness unless you’re complaining about something. Again living here my whole life, and seeing the ridiculous fight over billboards is asinine. Get over it, move on, get a life, get a real cause. I guess if you have no real goals in life taking on billboards give you something to do, but I would rather enjoying a nice quiet day at the golf course with friends or a nice quiet lunch with friends next to a billboard than stressing over something so trivial.

  8. We have had billboards in this town my entire life. We had a billboard in NewHall of Calgrove, and people in this town didn’t like it. Why? The people who lived around it did not mind it , but the people who worry about the face of the town cared. Why is our town so scared of advertisements? If you take down every billboard in this town, nothing will change with the exception of the loss a revenue stream that our town gains from the billboards. Are you going to make up that revenue stream? Because I am pretty sure if you went in front of the City Council and told them you would replace the missing revenue out of your own pocket, they might consider removing the billboards.

  9. Jimmy Grise Jimmy Grise says:

    oh no stop the electronic billboards! Really?

  10. Ethan Jewell from what i understand from theheadlines is that the electronic billboards are going up as a compromise for the billboards that are being taken down. Seems fair. I am sure there are many more smaller details, but in the grand design it does not change the main reason. I read my Facebook while I sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee and I saw billboards on my way to get the coffee. The thing is seeing them didn’t affect my day. Billboards have been here forever and I do not see why we need to take action now.

  11. Dave Putnam says:

    Are you familiar with the deal and the history behind last night’s vote Mike? It was a back-door deal pushed through right before the April 8th election. Many who spoke at last night’s meeting chose to exercise their right of free speech granted by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. You don’t care, I get it. Don’t take a disparaging attitude towards those who do care about this issue.

  12. I’m more concerned about the 20,000 new homes they want to build all the way to County line….

  13. Dakota Short Dakota Short says:

    …um you say tomato I say electronic billboard

  14. Now I can see why the 20,000 new homes could be an issue. Joyce U Thomas you should speak to these people abs give them a real cause. :-)

  15. Santa Clarita is beautiful once we have billboards up, it’s going to block the view of its nature. Yuck.

  16. When I moved from the valley back to scv, that was one thing I told my husband “look, no more ugly billboards”. I know scv has some but nothing like the valley and in my opinion that is one of MANY things that make living here so much better

  17. I should go stand next to them with an ipad and protest.

  18. Sophie Sidky Sophie Sidky says:

    I literally have no idea what the big deal is. What’s so bad about electronic billboards? Is it because they use power or are they just putting a limited number of them compared to all the regular billboards we have?

    There’s maybe one or two up in Castaic on the Old Road. I barely notice it (them?) to begin with, so I don’t think it’d end up being a huge loss if it (they) were taken down.

  19. These electronic/digital signs are B-I-G. 48 feet wide. Maybe they (City Council members) pushed for this vote BEFORE the April 8th election for city council (3 open seats). I believe they already had their minds made up on this and how they were going to vote. But a 50-year lease is too long.

  20. Big election coming up, folks…. please sure to vote on April 8th. It’s time for new ideas, new blood, on city council. Three open seats to fill.

  21. Dakota Short Dakota Short says:

    If we get more electric billboards I’m renting a spot!!!

  22. mike says:

    Oh Mr. Dave Putnam, you are correct. I do not care about an issue that quite literally will not have a negative on anyone’s quality of life here in scv. It was passed because it will generate income for our city for the next 50 years. It will only be seen by people traveling on the 5 and the 14. It was based on a compromise that requires them to take down other billboards. Our city is financially secure based on wise business decisions by wise individuals. That is why our city is one of the few cities in CA that have a surplus at the end of each year. If we do not like the city and it’s leaders, we have the ability to move. And this is me exercising my freedom speech just like they did at the meeting.

  23. Bryan Dover Bryan Dover says:

    I guess the message board at COC and the huge message board on 5 North don’t count as billboards…. They are the same thing depending on who is defining it… From what I recall the message board on 5 North was a swap for pole signs on auto center Dr….

  24. The only billboards thay offend me are the ones written in spanish! This is America!

  25. mike says:

    I say to the people who are against this billboard issue. Put your money where your mouth is, and offer to make up the loss in revenue by paying out of your own pocket. See I believe this decision was financially motivated. They weren’t trying to be evil, they are ensuring our city maintains it’s surplus. So if you are against it, offer to pay out of your pocket to make up the loss. I would bet they would have listened if that was the way it was presented to the board.

  26. You want to protest something real? Protest Monsanto, GMO’s, war, child abuse and our total lack of education which includes elitism, racism and separatism.

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