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2014 - "Become Ocean" by John Luther Adams (CalArts BFA 1973) named winner of 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music [story]
John Luther Adams


Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Tuesday, Apr 29, 2014

Unless you really wrangle cattle for a living or are a Western musician, it is time to put away the boots, chaps, hats and big belt buckles. Reality returns to the SCV for another year. (Assuming we had any reality to start.)

darrylmanzer021014Cowboy Festival No. 21 is now history.

“You can always count on Americans to do the right thing,” Winston Churchill once said, “after they’ve tried everything else.” That is just how we are. We’ll get the billboards figured out someday. And the building of Castaic High School and the hundred other things we need in our little corner of California, only after we try everything else. Thank you, Mr. Churchill, for telling us about us. He was speaking about our anti-submarine efforts in World War II, but I think his remarks fit us well today.

So let me understand this correctly: Some folks that want to stop the electronic billboards have a petition being circulated to bring the matter up for a vote. The folks who want the billboards are paying people to block folks from signing the petition. Sounds pretty normal to me.

“But they bullied me and said bad things about my views and it just isn’t fair.” It is very fair. It is politics in a raw and ugly form, but that is how it is when you step into the arena of political debate. Hang on, because the ride is going to be a little rough. Your First Amendment rights are not being trounced under the feet of hired “blockers.” The folks that hired them are paying those folks to express their views. I don’t like the method, but it has been used before and will again.

Unless a government agency or agent is telling you that you can’t gather signatures on the petition, it isn’t a violation of the First Amendment. You may not like what the others say and you may yell and scream, but it is as much the right of the folks trying to block signing as it is for those trying to get the signing done.

Enough said. I happen to think the electronic signs are a vast improvement over 100-plus signs being removed. I don’t like the electronic signs, either. Our elected representatives (City Council) made a deal. That is why we elected them. Let’s have a vote on this by all means. And let’s vote on everything else we elected the City Council to do. We can do the job better.

This isn’t a democracy, folks. It is a representative republic, even at the level of City Hall. Let them do their job, and next time we can vote the bad ones out. If we can. We’ll need a whole lot more people voting to do that. Thirteen-point-two  percent won’t cut it, because the incumbents will win.

I lived in Virginia for a long time and watched one of the oldest governments in the USA at work. We didn’t have referendums there unless the reps in Richmond approved of having us vote on something. They voted on most everything, but every once in a while they would throw us a bone and we would have to pick at it until it had little meat or marrow. By the time the election came around, the subject had been dissected, bisected and twisted like a piece of barbed wire caught in a wheel.

People were on TV and radio; on street corners and newspapers, too. Vote for. Vote against. We heard about the subject morning, noon and night. We heard so much that come election day, we would do anything to stop hearing about it.

But even in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we would try just about everything else before we got it right. It takes time. It isn’t easy.

You know if our form of government was easy every country would be like us. It isn’t easy. It isn’t simple.

I’ll stand up and state my views while you yell your views at me. We don’t agree. But I defend and support your right to yell your views. If I try to stop you may get angry and push and shove me. I don’t care. It is our right to be wrong.

And given time, we’ll get it right together.

We’re Americans. It’s how we roll.

 

 

 

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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1 Comment

  1. Dave Putnam says:

    For better or for worse, the referendums and propositions have become a tool to get things done in the dysfunctional world of California politics. When legislators and council members get elected to office and fail to represent the will of the citizens upon arrival, (or in Santa Clarita’s case after they’ve served several terms) we have a way to get things done though the referendum process. Undoubtably this has become quite a cottage industry since the money involved in gathering signatures has started to become public knowledge. Now we know that a lot of those folks standing out in front of Trader Joes/Best Buy, Wal*Mart, Target and Stater Brothers among others hail are imports, from other cities, counties and in some cases, states, what many of us viewed as a grass-roots function has become a wage-paying proposition.

    Many of the propositions that have passed muster at the polls in the past 25 years or so were not delivered in a manner they were originally advertised as…I know, big surprise there, right? Looking back into the way-back machine. A few of us can remember the Prop 103 battles that were supposed to fix the auto insurance industry. Others probably are more familiar with the more recent Prop. 8 battles. Many of these propositions were poorly written, others were laced with confusing language that caused some voters to vote for at the opposite that they thought they were voting. Ultimately the vast majority of these exercises in democracy ended up in court and a panel of judges made the call on whether they should actually become law.

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