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Thoughts on our series of recent local ‘shockers’

Local Commentary

Posted: July 20, 2008 1:18 a.m.
Updated: September 20, 2008 5:02 a.m.
Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!
(A croupier hands Renault a pile of money.)
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault (Sotto voce): Oh, thank you very much. (Aloud) Everybody out at once!
— “Casablanca,” 1942

The classic scene above became synonymous with cynicism in high places. The morally ambivalent Capt. Renault, Vichy puppet of the Nazis in Casablanca, reacts quickly when ordered to close “Rick’s” by the evil Nazi Major Strasser after the dissident Victor Lazlo leads the occupied French in a rousing bar version of the French national anthem, drowning out some Germans singing their national anthem.

I find local critics of Laurie Ender and Frank Ferry’s picks for Santa Clarita planning and parks commission very similar in their “shock” to Capt. Renault, and I must respectfully disagree with the usual suspects of Ferry, and now Ender critics, and the official editorial position of this august publication in crying “cronyism” with respect to the appointments.

Like Capt. Renault, it seems the critics search for the obvious to malign Ferry and Ender, who when they run receive the highest or near highest amount of votes in the at-large elections of Santa Clarita. (They explain this away with accusations of skullduggery and “dirty” campaigns. They sound like Red Sox fans talking about the Yankees before the turn of this century!)

I do not understand the criticism. Each City Council member retains the right to appoint one planning commissioner and one parks commissioner. To hear the critics, the only way that Ferry and Ender could prove purity would entail appointing to the seats a virulent political enemy who holds views on commission business diametrically opposed to theirs.

And headlines scream that Frank Ferry appointed his secretary to the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Commission! God knows he should appoint someone whose views he does not know, and with whom he cannot communicate easily. What a great way to run a city!

The critics scream about undue influence. Remember, the commissioners serve limited, appointed terms, and their council member mirrors certainly retain the right to ask for their resignations or terminate their appointments if they fail to follow the views of the ELECTED council members and run renegade in their APPOINTED positions.

Of more concern is the left-handed character assassination of Dee Dee Jacobson, Laurie Ender’s appointment to the Planning Commission. An Ender critic confided to me that the appointment of a “PTA volunteer” (code for bubble-headed suburban mom) must mean the council feels the operation of the Planning Commission as a deliberative body must be some kind of “joke.”

The near-misogyny sickens me! For all this person knows, or any other person knows, Dee Dee Jacobson could hold a degree in public administration or urban planning, or some advanced professional degree, but chose to take on the role of primary caregiver to her children and involved herself in their schools.
No one even checks, just assuming that her expertise extends only to organizing bake sales and elementary school fall festivals.

The irony just floors me! In my opinion, unsuccessful council candidate and Planning Commission member Diane Trautman emerged this year in the role of one of the wisest and most discerning commission members, certainly the only one who could articulate a true definition of “smart growth.” She rightly listed “planning commissioner” in her job title on the City Council ballot.

Now for the irony. In prior runs for the City Council and before her ascendancy (an appointee of Marsha McLean) to the Planning Commission, Ms. Trautman PROUDLY listed her occupation as “educational activist” on the City Council ballot.

In the past, when asked to elaborate on this description, Ms. Trautman listed her involvement in various school PTAs in the area. Can anyone else say “PTA volunteer”?

The criticism also smacks of elitism. Who can say that a school secretary’s views, common sense and perspective have no bearing on the best way to allocate parks and recreation funds? Why should such a large, important and active community segment that includes PTA volunteers possess no representation on the commissions that weigh important decisions?

Whatever happened to small “d” democracy? I guess that went out when vicious people must find any reason to criticize.

“I’m shocked, shocked!”

Tim Myers is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Landscape Development Inc. His column represents his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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