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2014 - "Become Ocean" by John Luther Adams (CalArts BFA 1973) named winner of 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music [story]
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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Tuesday, Mar 18, 2014

darrylmanzer021014It looks like we have had our required one week of winter here in Southern California, and spring is upon us. The cottonwood trees lining the upper reaches of the Santa Clara River in Soledad Canyon are the most vibrant green I’ve seen in many years. Those same trees line the river bottom nearly all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

With the warmer temperatures also comes a much more heated contest for the open seats on Santa Clarita City Council.

“Vote for change on City Council.” (Didn’t the whole nation do that twice now, and nothing has really changed?) Just what are our choices?

Here are a couple of thoughts. We are going to save some money with new City Council members. Even if re-elected, do they still get paid full medical benefits, or are they considered new employees and get less? And just why does the city manager set the pay and benefits of the people we elect, anyway? They hire the manager for us, so doesn’t he work at the pleasure of the council? I know. I’m a little crazy.

What about billboards? Well, what about them? Did anyone notice that after the 20-plus years as a city, we are finally seeing lots of them taken down – or should soon see that? Before the city, L.A. County didn’t control the billboards. We voted to get them under control as part of our vote to create the new city of Santa Clarita. It seems a promise is finally being kept.

There might be hope to get rid of Cemex, too. OK. Maybe I ask too much. How about a connector street between Highway 14 and Newhall near Placerita Canyon Road? I really hate driving all the way to Newhall Avenue on SR-14 to go back to Newhall.

Ahh, elections. Time for friendships to be formed and often to be ended, as well. One thing I hate is for folks to say things about a candidate that aren’t true or might mislead potential voters. I say “potential” because so few vote.

This time I decided not to vote for a very qualified candidate because a person connected to that campaign was on Facebook telling lies about some other candidates. I’ve since heard that the person is no longer connected to that campaign. I won’t change my mind now. Can’t change my mind now. The lapse in judgment by the candidate in having that person involved previously says the candidate cannot make the best choices. Sorry.

“Throw them out.” “Keep them working for all of us.” What to do, what to do? Soon we have to vote. Are you informed and ready?

A bunch of geese are a gaggle. Baboons form a congress. Some birds are a flock. Fish are in schools. So I ask this: Does this also seem to describe the meetings of City Council? Decorum seems to have been tossed out the window. Between the members of City Council and the citizens in attendance, the meetings are starting to look and sound like the British House of Commons during “Questions to the Prime Minister.” Catcalls. Snide remarks and even some applause. No, no applause. Can’t do that. The mayor pro-tem asked that folks just raise hands and wave them around like someone using American Sign Language would. I would have thought it was looking like a prayer meeting at an old Shaker settlement.

Just where is an HOA Gestapo member when you need one? Time to police the council.

Speaking of HOAs, I want to thank all of you who made good and well-informed comments about my last article. It gave thought to what used to happen in the local neighborhoods before there were homeowner associations.

Back then, we policed ourselves. If the weeds and grass got to high at some house, it must be because those folks needed some help. So we went to that house with movers and clippers, hoes and rakes, trash cans and whatever else, and we helped our neighbor.

We didn’t ask the city to help. We didn’t have a member of the HOA Gestapo write a letter or a “ticket.” We were good neighbors. We helped.

Someone running a car repair shop in his own garage? We didn’t stop his work; we just asked that he keep the place clean. Excess cars moved to storage and off the street and driveway. We asked with a six-pack or two in the cooler we brought along. That way, we could see what the new engine block was looking like in the ’57 Ford he was rebuilding.

We didn’t need a city or an HOA to tell us to help our neighbors or to police them, either. We knew our neighbors. We talked with them and helped each other. Sometimes we closed off the street and had a party for all of the families on the street. It wasn’t authorized by the county, and a deputy might drive by and have a hot dog or burger with us. It could happen most any Saturday in the neighborhood.

Of course, we didn’t make “play dates” for our kids or enroll them in 87 different sports and lessons. We told them to come home when the streetlights came on … if we had such lights.

We were responsible to and for each other in our neighborhoods.

Was that so bad?

Maybe the members of councils past, present and future will remember those times and let us function as neighbors and not as a crowd to be controlled. Maybe we can clap our hands when we hear something we like at a council meeting. Trying to stop the applause is like trying to stop laughter, screams and yelling on a playground.

We learned that in kindergarten. How soon we forget.

 

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. Marilyn Boron says:

    Hi Darryl, You sound like you grew up in the mid-west in the 30’s and 40’s!! Hurray for You! and the “good old days”.

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