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Tim Myers: Where respect for private property ends

Posted: May 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

As a Midwesterner and a Lutheran, I must admit to a great love of irony, and there is nothing more entertaining and ironic than the practical behavior of an elected official, particularly a locally elected official, when their ideology runs straight into the practicalities of the moment.

No side of the political spectrum finds itself immune to the mockery and scorn that ensue.

Now in the case of the Santa Clarita Valley, with its overwhelming supermajority of (supposedly) Republican elected officials, nearly all mockery finds itself leveled against that party. But an artist must work with the canvas and paints provided.

In the case of center right Santa Clarita, the collision of ideology and practicality knows many hilarious examples. An elected City Council member will attend a local Republican organization luncheon and decry the evil of government bail-outs, and then run to the City Council meeting later that day to approve city payments for car dealer advertising while seriously considering the building of a conference center in a "public-private" partnership requiring the city to fund an annual operating cost shortfall of more than $1 million.

An elected school board member will decry rampant government spending at a breakfast meeting and later that day sign a letter of endorsement for the levy of additional property taxes to fund a school bond. One quickly gets the idea.

So that folks realize this is not just Republican bashing, if I lived on the westside I would write about center left public officials making campaign contributions to have their property tax assessments on their personal residences reduced, while at the same time plumping for additional business tax revenues to fund social programs. It easily works both ways.

The latest collision occurred when a whole bunch of Republican folk drove up to (now) remote Romero Canyon to break ground on the long-awaited Castaic High School.

Unfortunately, their route to the ceremonial tent and silver shovels so common in the SCV these last 30 years required them to traverse a supposedly private road built and maintained by residents of the canyon, mostly opposed to the building of the school.

Now I will state at the outset that I did not delve into the bona fides of the actual "privateness" of the road in question.

These places carry quite complex legal considerations and easements of both the implied and specific nature, so the Republicans in their black SUVs may entirely stand within their rights based on what happened next. But the presentation of the facts right now provide a tableau of hilarious incongruity.

From published news reports and some WebTV, viewers and readers were treated to the pictures and video of residents attempting to block the private road with tractors, vehicles and trash cans to prevent the dignitaries and luminaries, including the full William S. Hart Union High School District board and Supervisor Mike Antonovich, from using the road to reach the ground-breaking ceremony.

At the end of the video, flinty conservative Joe Messina, president of the Hart board, stated the district had always attempted to work with property owners.

There was also a curious excerpt of a speech from Supervisor Antonovich that seemed to assure residents that they would not be disturbed by the giant earth-moving machines necessary to grade the site to make it ready for construction.

But by far the most disturbing sight was one not discussed. While local residents complained about both the project and usage of the private road to cameras, the dignitaries drove through in black SUVs in a very Middle East dictator-type of way after the blockading items were slightly removed.

But how did this occur?

Viewable prominently in each video where a blockade had been raised, one saw a sheriff’s deputy dismounted from a patrol car standing with residents. While these peace officers seemed affable and smiling, one wonders first, who called them in to enforce the dignitaries’ trespass on private property, and second, whether the residents’ apparent compliance with their "suggestion" to raise the barricades related more to the weapons strapped to their hips and the badge granting them all types of authority than their abilities at persuasion and diplomacy.

What would be helpful is if the community had a radio media host of a conservative nature who could call the elected officials to task for using government muscle to enforce a trespass on private property. If only.

Tim Myers is a Valencia resident. "Myers’ Musings" runs Saturdays in The Signal.

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