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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Apr 13, 2014

darrylmanzer021014The Santa Clarita City Council election is over at last … or is it? We know the top two candidates who were elected, and now we wait. We wait until Tuesday next. It all depends on the vote-by-mail and provisional ballots.

It does appear that folks have decreased the rhetoric from the campaigns. There were a few postings on Facebook that sounded like “dour grapes,” but for the most part, people are moving on. Really. With only a little over 13 percent of the registered voters taking the time to vote, a very few people elected the new council.

There is better voter turnout in Iraq and Afghanistan. And in those countries, you could get shot or blown up on the way to your polling place. You might get a red-light camera ticket here.

My past at missing stop signs and lights here in the SCV has been an ongoing experience. Forty-eight years ago this month, I “failed to yield right-of-way” and the front wheel of my little motorcycle found the left front fender of a northbound car on Highway 99 at Pico Canyon Road. The judge suspended my driving privileges for six months. That was equal to the time I would spend in a wheelchair.

A couple of years later, I found a way to time my getting onto Highway 6 (now Sierra Highway) at Placerita Canyon Road with the arrival of a California Highway Patrol officer and his freeway cruiser. My attempted stop was enough to get me an award of a ticket and a visit to the same judge as before.

Just to make sure I knew what I was doing, I did it again at the same stop sign with the same CHP officer. Same judge, too.

The first ticket cost nothing but my license being suspended. The next two were $35 each and a stern warning from Judge MacDougall.

Things have changed. My most recent stoplight infraction was courtesy of a short yellow light and a red-light camera. That was $490. I guess that is inflation.

Now, had I slammed on my brakes and skidded to a stop, I might have stopped in time … halfway through the intersection of Seco Canyon Road and Bouquet Canyon Road. I had been going about 35 mph and was making the left turn on to Seco.

To add insult to no injury, I got the ticket in the mail from Arizona. It had been reviewed by a local officer, but I never saw that deputy.

The whole affair seemed just a little strange. Big Brother is watching. At least I had the satisfaction of seeing the officers write my tickets in the 1960s. Not now.

It was good news that the City Council extended the camera contract for only one more year. How about eliminating them all together?

Here is the real question: If I can get a ticket in the mail from a photograph taken by remote sensors and folks in Arizona, why can’t we get election results a little quicker? All the great machines and computers, and we still don’t have a certified election for the third seat on council. What takes so long?

A long time ago, we tried to make out own county. It was to be called “Canyon County.” We wanted faster response to our problems from our county. The result would eventually be the formation of the city of Santa Clarita.

Our votes are still counted by the county. So it is off to Norwalk or some other Los Angeles County building, and the votes get counted. That is, those votes that are provisional of vote-by-mail ballots dropped at the polls on election day. Nine hundred sixty-five ballots to verify and count. Takes a week to do that. Why?

In the days of paper ballots, it seems we got results a lot faster for county elections. With computers, it takes longer. Maybe the folks taking the ballots to Norwalk were avoiding redl-ight cameras. I just can’t understand the process.

On Friday, I celebrated the birthday of the United States Submarine Service. One hundred fourteen years of undersea ships.

The submarines of today are much more complicated and a lot safer. There is a program called SUBSAFE that uses a system of checks and re-checks to make sure the proper parts and procedures were used so our sailors have the maximum reasonable assurance a boat (submarine) can surface after each and every dive.

All of the thousands of documents are reviewed and audited to complete this process. Usually about 4,000 documents of maybe 15 to 20 or more pages each. Each page is looked at and reviewed by a team of about seven people. The process is this complicated after a major overhaul that has lasted months.

The audit takes a week. That counts the travel time of the individuals performing the audit from other qualified submarine repair and building organizations, both public and private.

This is done to make sure there is never another disaster like the USS Thresher (SSN593) that was lost after an overhaul on April 10, 1963. It was that loss that started the SUBSAFE Program.

So if it takes the Navy a week with seven or so folks to review the safety of a nuclear submarine’s 4,000 documents, why does it take nearly twice as long for the county of Los Angeles to count our ballots? All 965 this time. Maybe they should hire folks who can count.

As for me, I just avoid any intersection with a red-light camera. I’ll never figure out the workings of Los Angeles County. Can’t be done. Ever.

 

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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4 Comments

  1. What takes so long is checking all the provisional ballots….at least that is my story from Arizona. Used to work in Voter Registration.

  2. Melissa says:

    Santa Clarita is not the only city within Los Angeles County that held elections this past week. There may collectively be many more ballots to count than 965. Perhaps the first city to turn them over gets counted first. ??

  3. Allan Cameron says:

    The time for checking the ballots is necessary because the signature on the vote by mail ballot turned in at a polling place must be compared with the signature on the voter registration form on file with the Registra-recorders office. Whether or not there is a match is a judge ment call for each and every ballot. That takes time.

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