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It’s almost time to cast your vote

Posted: October 3, 2009 4:06 p.m.
Updated: October 4, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
It's almost time to cast your vote

We've got an election coming Nov. 3, and roughly half of all ballots will be cast long before then.

Absentee ballots, aka vote-by-mail ballots, account for an increasing share of the tally. You can expect an application for a vote-by-mail ballot to arrive soon if it's not already in your mailbox.

You'll be asked to make choices on the William S. Hart Union High School and Santa Clarita Community College (COC) district boards, and depending on where you live, in the Newhall or Castaic school districts and the Newhall County Water District, as well.

Don't think this election doesn't matter just because we aren't voting for president or governor this time. Your vote actually counts more than it does in statewide or national elections because it's all on you.

You will decide who will lead the community college through the coming decade of growth. You will decide which candidates are most likely to build a high school in Castaic. You will decide who should be responsible for teaching your elementary school kids and providing enough water.

Nobody else.

If you live west of Interstate 5 or north of Copper Hill Drive, you also get to recommend whether you want to join the city of Santa Clarita, form your own city, or remain an unincorporated community as you are now.

Your annexation/incorporation vote isn't "final" like the votes for school or water board, but it is important nonetheless. Supervisor Michael Antonovich and your local community leaders want to know what you think.

If you aren't sure, then we invite you to a forum to answer any questions you might have.

Hosted jointly by The Signal, KHTS AM-1220 radio, SCVTV and the West Ranch Beacon, the forum will be held Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at Santa Clarita City Hall, 23920 W. Valencia Blvd.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Salvation for Domestic Violence Center
The handwriting was on the wall for the SCV Domestic Violence Center. Gov. Schwarzenegger might have used smoke and mirrors to balance the state budget, but he cut real money from battered women's shelters across California.

Our Republican Assemblyman Cameron Smyth tried to come to the rescue, authoring a bill to restore funding to the shelters.

Democrat Leland Yee, assistant president pro tem of the state Senate, authored companion legislation in the upper house - and then all hell broke loose.

The bill became a pawn in some sort of a spat involving Democratic Senate President Darrel Steinberg; Yee's name was removed from the bill, it went back to the Assembly where it passed unanimously, but the Senate killed it - thanks in part to an obstinate bloc of Republican senators including our own wannabe Franchise Tax Board Member candidate George Runner, R-Lancaster.

The SCV shelter, and others throughout the state, were destined to be victims of Sacramento politics as usual.

Then a wonderful thing happened. An anonymous person came out of the woodwork and agreed to lease space in the Valencia Industrial Center at a favorable rate so our local shelter could continue to serve clients at a time when we're seeing a sorry spike in domestic violence cases.

Thank you, anonymous benefactor. Shame on you, California Senate. Good luck to you, Assemblyman Smyth.

We won't forget that you said you would reintroduce the legislation when the Assembly reconvenes.

We aren't letting Sacramento off the hook just because we've got some big-hearted people in our valley, and neither should you.

McKeon's health care town hall
U.S. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon deserves props for his fine handling of a well-attended and lively town hall meeting last weekend on the subject of health care.

McKeon and his assistants gave equal opportunity to people on both sides of the aisle to speak their minds - including a number of "real people" with real problems.

Polarized though the participants might have been, there seemed to be plenty of room for agreement, to wit:

Preexisting conditions. Insuring people with ongoing medical problems should be a cost of doing business in the medical insurance industry.

Portability. Why shouldn't Americans be able to purchase insurance across state lines? We haven't heard a defensible argument against it.

Tort reform. It's not just a "bugaboo of the right," as one speaker protested. We will always need a legal mechanism to get rid of incompetent doctors who take unnecessary risks.

But the truth is, they are few and far between. When the threat of frivolous malpractice lawsuits drives good doctors to an early retirement, the system is broken.

Fraud. Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse is one of the Obama administration's goals for health insurance reform.

As several town hall speakers wondered, why do we need a massive overhaul of the health care industry to crack down on illegal activity? Why not do it now?

It's looking less and less likely that Obama will get the sweeping reform he promised by year's end. Whether it's 1,000 pages or 1,400 pages or 25,000 pages, no one-size-fits-all prescription is going to cure the nation's health care ills.

When the last coffin nail is finally driven, we can only hope the Republicans and Democrats in Congress will sit down at the same table and start fixing what is actually broken.

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