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Carl Boyer: Avast, ye robber barons!

Posted: June 20, 2009 4:00 p.m.
Updated: June 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Brian Charles' story in Tuesday's Signal (June 16) mentioning a "revenue neutral" payment of perhaps $3 million annually, perhaps in perpetuity - in exchange for westside unincorporated communities being allowed to have some measure of local government - leaves me outraged.

A wee history lesson for anyone who does not remember Scott Newhall: In olden days, the publisher of The Signal would sit at his desk in the rear room of the little wooden buildings on Sixth Street, banging out his "publishorials" on an ancient Royal typewriter.

By now, he would have lambasted the rogues who would hold the good people of Stevenson Ranch, Castaic, Sunset Pointe and Tesoro hostage until they pay a ransom of millions of dollars, possibly in perpetuity, for the privilege of local self-government - whether it be as part of the city of Santa Clarita or on their own.

In olden days, the thieves would have been called to account in a big-type editorial placed on the front page above the newspaper masthead.

Now, not even our esteemed Santa Clarita City Council members will utter a word of protest about the mess we suffer.

The sad fact is that holding tens of thousands of people for ransom is legal in our state.

It did not used to be, but the robber barons at county and state levels have bamboozled the people with their initiatives, laws passed in a state capital so far away it takes a plane ride to get there, and constitutional amendments to a decrepit document that has been amended over 500 times.

No, do not take umbrage with me for calling our state Constitution decrepit until you have read all 100-plus pages of it.

All this ransom money would never have been possible if the Local Agency Formation Committee - which operated a few feet away from the offices of the county Board of Supervisors at the time they made decisions about the boundaries of the city of Santa Clarita - had not robbed us of our right to govern our whole valley.

We asked for a 150-square-mile city. They gave us 39. And the foul truth is that LAFCO, under the thumb of the county, carved out Castaic and Pinetree - the only two areas where an absolute majority of the registered voters had signed the petitions for incorporation.

The requirement was that 25 percent sign the petition, and it was unconscionable for the robber barons to make these people, who put us over the top, walk the plank.

All of the area in question today, from Sunset Pointe to Castaic, should already have been part of the city of Santa Clarita.
Of course the ransom would not even be "legal" now were it not for the fact that Los Angeles County has habitually bled dry the unincorporated area of the Santa Clarita Valley. Look at the huge difference in the level of Sheriff's Department service between the city and the unincorporated westside.

It is up to the people of the unincorporated areas to decide their political future. I can heartily recommend that they make a resounding decision to separate themselves as much as possible from the robber barons downtown in the Hall of Administration.

Richard Berkson of Economic and Planning Systems has been quoted as saying about the choice for self-government: "The con is you don't have the backing of the county and its $1 billion budget."

If the robber barons are allowed to continue their game, the county's budget will soon be a lot bigger, on the backs of the people of the westside.

Carl Boyer was chairman of the Santa Clarita City Formation Committee and served as a Santa Clarita City Council member and mayor until his retirement in 1998. He is the author of "Santa Clarita, the Formation and Organization of the Largest Newly Incorporated City in the History of Humankind." His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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