Tuesday, November 28, 2006

West Ranch Beacon New Site!

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Antonovich Supports Effort to Secure Airline for Palmdale Airport

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Los Angeles County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich issued testimony before the Board of Commissioners of Los Angeles World Airports in support of a Request for Proposals to secure a major airline to provide service to major hubs from the Palmdale Regional Airport:

“The full operation of the Palmdale Municipal Airport is a vital step forward in the realization of a regional air transit system for Southern California.

In the 1960s, the Los Angeles City Airport Commission acquired the 17,000-acre Palmdale airport site, Ontario airport, and later contracted with the Air Force for plant 42’s runway and air terminal, for a regional airport network to meet the future population demands.

The immediate utilization of all the county’s regional airports is the only viable alternative to over-reliance on the dangerously congested air space and roadways at LAX.

Palmdale Airport is the future economic hub of the high desert in the heart of the fastest-growing area in
California and will generate future development, interstate commerce, job creation and an estimated $65 million dollars in economic benefit to the community.”

The proposal was unanimously approved by the Board of Commissions

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Wine Tasting at TPC in West Ranch

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The Valencia Wine Co. is hosting their Second Annual Holiday Tasting today at the TPC Country Club. The event is from 2-6 PM and features more than 100 wines from around the world. Hot and cold appetizers will be served accompanied by great live music in the elegant atmosphere of the club. The cost is $55 at the door and Valencia Wine Co. will be offering specials 6-pack and case discounts.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Buck McKeon is the Best Choice!

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There is no question in our mind that Congressman Buck McKeon should be re-elected to congress. He has the credentials, the integrity, and simply has an incredible track record.

First and foremost, Congressman McKeon is “Mr. Education” in our book. He has done more for education in the 25th Congressional district than anyone before. As Chairman of the Education & Workforce committee, Buck McKeon understands the challenges of the “new realities” of the global economy.

Mr. McKeon’s major legislative accomplishment in the field of higher education continues to be passage of the Higher Education Act Amendments of 1998, which reauthorized the Higher Education Act of 1965 to make college more affordable, simplify the student aid system and ensure quality. The legislation cut student loan interest rates to their lowest levels in 16 years, increased Pell Grant authorizations and provided incentives to control the costs of higher education.

Of significant importance, the legislation contained provisions:

Establishing a Performance Based Organization (PBO) within the Department of Education responsible for running the student financial aid system more like a business. Under the previous system, the Department’s budget for informational systems doubled over the last five years, but was still wrapped in miles of red-tape, required dozens of paper forms and suffered from needless processing delays and breakdowns. The organization will be judged on how well it serves parents and students and on how much it saves taxpayers by cutting waste, fraud and abuse.

Creating a program for the establishments of partnerships between local school districts and institutions of higher education to improve teacher preparation. Recently, Congress enacted H.R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, to expand and increases funding for the partnerships already authorized in 1998 to include quality professional development programs and provides more funding so that we can better prepare teachers for the demands of today’s classrooms. This will provide a major boost to schools in their efforts to establish and support a high quality teaching force.

Mr. McKeon has also been a strong supporter of increased funding for the Pell Grant program and the TRIO program, which provides an opportunity for a college education for low and moderate-income students. Recently, Congress provided $10.3 billion for Pell Grants, $1.6 billion more than last year and the highest level in the program’s history, and $802.5 million for the TRIO program, which helps disadvantaged students get into college and complete their degrees.

Mr. McKeon has also spearheaded the Upping the Effectiveness of our Federal Student Aid Programs (or FED UP) Initiative to identify needless or overly burdensome regulations within the Higher Education Act of 1965 to bring some sense to the regulations that students and members of the higher education community must deal with on a daily basis. The Initiative aims to streamline the current regulatory system to the extent possible, while maintaining or improving program integrity. Last year, his Subcommittee received over 3,000 responses from college officials, administrators, students and other personnel who operate America’s institutions of higher learning, laying the groundwork for the reforms initiated by the Department of Education and many in Congress.

Locally, Buck has made a tremendous difference at College of the Canyons and at CalArts. Mr. McKeon helped make possible the beautiful Performing Arts center on the COC campus. After the 1994 earthquake, it was Mr. McKeon’s efforts that help CalArts to recover from devastating damage that threatened to shutter the school for good.

There is no question that the West Ranch Beacon is throwing its support behind Congressman Buck McKeon. Our entire staff is voting for Buck come Tuesday and we hope you will too!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Council to Decide Vacant Seat; Morgan to Speak

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The West Ranch Town Council will be selecting a candidate to fill the vacant council seat at its Wednesday November 1st council meeting. There are two candidates vying for the council seat that was vacated when Paul Ash resigned in September.

At the October meeting there were three candidates that had turned in applications for the vacant seat. Two of the three were present, Don Fleming and Chuck O’Connell, at that meeting and had an impromptu opportunity to say a few words on why they would like to be selected for the open council seat. Since then, Mr. O’Connell has decided to withdraw his application for personal reasons.

Gary Morgan, who was not at the October meeting, will be given an equal opportunity to speak for a few moments at the beginning of tomorrow nights council meeting. At a later point in the meeting the Council President will call for nominations and then the entire council will vote cast votes for those candidates that were nominated.

Reminder: Town Council Meeting Tomorrow Night

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The West Ranch Town Council will hold its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, November 1st at 6:30 PM in the Southern Oaks Community Center located on Southern Oaks Dr. The center is located in the Southern Oaks neighborhood off of Pico Canyon in Stevenson Ranch.

Tomorrow nights meeting will feature an update on the Lyons Canyon/Warner Ranch project. Also on the agenda will be regular updates from the Sheriffs department, LA County, Parks and recreation. The special guest speakers are Chris Fall and Larry Mankin of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A View from Another Side

NOTE: Our New site can be found at www.WestRanchBeacon.com

Eric Rosenberg is a community volunteer in Stevenson Ranch and is a candidate for the Stevenson Ranch Community Association board of directors. He attends most of the community meetings in the West Ranch area and is an informed resident. Eric is a new to the West Ranch Beacon and is a guest commentator expressing his views on politics, local issues and the upcoming election. As with all columnists, these are his own views and don't necessarily reflect those of the West Ranch Beacon.

I spent the past two weekends reading every line of the various propositions that will be on the ballot November 7th, plus every word I could find on all the candidates running for office. Since I know many special interests have seriously confused the actual meaning of many of these propositions, and because very few people will actually take four days to read anything other than the short biased summaries for each proposition, and because not everyone has an extremely knowledgeable attorney as their spouse to whom they can pose legal questions, I'd like to offer my non-partisan advice on how to vote.

I am not a member of either the Democratic or Republican Party; my philosophy is a combination of Libertarian and Green with a few handpicked positions from the two major parties. Basically, I'm an Independent beholden to no one who has the ability to make up my mind without worrying about how the "party faithful" will feel. I don't get fooled by silly catchphrases like "stay the course," "cut and run," etc., nor bamboozled by people throwing out labels such as "liberal" and "conservative." Talking points and repetition have absolutely no affect on me (other than to annoy me!), so no matter how many ads the oil companies run against Proposition 87, I'm still going to vote based on the actual text and meaning of the proposition!

If you and your readers are now comfortable with me as a voter and agenda-less community participant, then let's move on to my suggested positions for the coming election. (If you're not comfortable, it's probably because you don't like people who question your group's positions, regardless of which political party you belong to. If you've lost the ability to sincerely question your leaders, then you've lost the ability to stay informed and be objective. "You're either with us or against us" is 3rd grade playground logic and should not be relied upon for your decision making. Don't be held hostage and blindly follow the party line...that's what Islamic terrorists do, not Americans.)

Here are the candidates and propositions I recommend based on my research and fact-checking:
1) Governor – Arnold Schwarzennegger
2) Lieutenant Governor – Tom McClintock
3) Secretary of State – Bruce McPherson
4) Controller – Tony Strickland
5) Treasurer – Mehul M. Thakker
6) Attorney General – Kenneth A. Weissman
7) Insurance Commissioner – Dale F. Ogden
8) State Board of Equalization (2nd District) – Bill Leonard
9) State Senator – Dianne Feinstein
10) U.S. Representative (25th District) - Robert Rodriguez
11) Member of State Assembly (38th District) - Cameron Smyth
12) Castaic Lake Water Agency - (At Large) Isaac Lieberman / (Division 3) Carole Lutness

While I would have preferred to vote for Michael S. Wyman for Attorney General and Todd Chretien for Senator, I just cannot accept their errant positions on immigration which are so important to the fiscal future of our state. Sorry! (I would also have liked to find out some information on David W. Erickson for Congress, but he has no website, no e-mail contact, a single phone number that's always busy, and almost no other public information that I could find! Maybe his only goal was to get on the ballot??)

I also can't support Howard "Buck" McKeon for U.S. Representative because of some very dubious decisions he's made, like using campaign donations to pay family members $152,362 for working on his election (of which $74,462 went to his wife), for his inability to reverse California's 12% deficit of Federal funding vs. what we pay in as taxpayers, for his weak refusal to debate his challengers in a public forum, and for his very slimy attempt to take credit for killing the Cemex mining expansion (which was NOT halted) by getting the City of Santa Clarita to pay for "Thank You, Buck" banners audaciously posted in the public right-of-way that made it sound like McKeon succeeded, when in fact he did nothing other than belatedly introduce a bill to Congress (HR 5471) that was dead on arrival.

Now for the propositions:

1A – YES
1B – YES
1C – NO
1D – YES
1E – NO
83 – NO
84 – YES
85 – NO
86 – YES
87 – YES
88 – NO
89 – YES
90 – NO

It would take many paragraphs of analysis to explain the above votes, but I truly believe those positions are in the best interest of our state. The really smarmy part of these propositions is how many are worded to mean one thing but actually accomplish something else, plus the deceptive ads all over television that completely misrepresent what your YES or NO vote will accomplish.

For example, 1C sounds like it's a very charitable proposal to help battered women and low-income seniors find housing, when in fact 1C does nothing to make housing more affordable! Another example – Proposition 1E claims to protect California's drinking water supply, but it doesn't have any effective provisions to do this! Propositions 83 and 85 sound like good common-sense moral measures, yet both laws set legal precedents that would negatively impact many other areas of law and government, neither law actually achieves the main goals they claim, and both have failed legal and logistical tests in other states. And don't even get me started on Prop 87! This is a very good measure for the state, but you'd never know that if you listened to the 30-40 grossly misleading ads per day that the oil industry pays for to try and scare people into voting "no."

So there you have it. All I can hope is that the electorate thinks for itself, does the necessary research to make informed decisions, and votes for the best solutions for our state's and country's problems. I sincerely believe the above recommendations fulfill that criteria, and I know that others will disagree for various reasons. But if those reasons are ignorance, "because my party told me to disagree," apathy, or misguided hard-headedness, then it's not a valid rebuttal and we should ignore their vacuous shouts. Vote for what is right, not because you're "left" or "right."

Eric Rosenberg,
Guest Commentary

Friday, October 27, 2006

Gift Nights for Soldiers: Better than a Movie

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The average age of the American soldier in the Middle East is 22. That means that for every warrior who is 24, there is one who is 20. This is an age where a family holiday traditions are still fresh in the habits of a person. In particular, when you are in Iraq or Afghanistan these days, a time designed for peace and understanding is especially hard to put together.

I realized this recently at the Christ Lutheran Church in Valencia, as I was eating one of that church’s at-cost dinners it serves on Wednesday nights just to bring people of the community together.

It is this church’s members who package the boxes sent from anyone in Santa Clarita to the soldiers under fire in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had brought a bunch of new military magazines I had found at a magazine store in the K-Mart shopping center off San Fernando Road. As a “military brat” who grew up in and around bases in my childhood, I know how the many military-history books in base libraries somehow give soldiers the strength of a historic perspective. Others that evening gave whatever they thought could not be easily found in a war zone that much of the time doesn’t even have electric power.

I have enough years of being associated with military life to know many soldiers are finding a new family in their soldierly world. Their family backgrounds may range from extremely tightly knit to virtual estrangement. There are also many former foster children who find a guiding hand in the military after the state cuts off their foster family life at their high-school graduations. But let’s face it – we could all use a mom and dad to be there for us into our adult years, even as very close friends.

Through the dedicated leadership of lay activist Karolle Blackson, the Christ Lutheran Church has filled in with some of the family-like support that soldiers overseas appreciate in a way that the rest of us in our easy lives cannot imagine. Every month go the packages and personal message from Santa Clarita to Iraq and Afghanistan.

As I observed at the outdoor dinner, the parents of the church were using this service opportunity as a teaching moment for their children. “What can we do to help our soldiers?” asked parents in a way that they made sure their children alongside then would remember that question. I couldn’t help but think that these scenes – showing people bonding to soldiers they have never met – recalls something that directors like Frank Capra used to celebrate in their movies, but which is too seldom observed today

For the readers of this article, the answer to the question of “what can we do to help our soldiers?” can be found by calling the church right now at 661-259-0200 (they answer the phone during business hours), or simply bring something to send to the church at 25816 Tournament Road in Valencia. The deadline to give gifts for the holidays is November 7. The church members then take care of all the packaging. You might find me packaging, too. However, I promise leaders of my good church there is little danger of my changing my Christian membership so long as my church creates the kind of holiday support for our soldiers as I have seen at Christ Lutheran.

- Chris Sharp

College of the Canyons - Yes on Measure "M"

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We received a very nice note from Diane Van Hook, President of College of the Canyons, thanking the Beacon for helping to spread the word on the importance of Measure “M”. Here is what she had to say:

On behalf of “Citizens for College of the Canyons Yes on Measure M” Campaign, I want to personally thank you for your commitment to this campaign and for all of the extra effort you have invested to help us be successful on November 7th.

As someone who values education, I know you understand:

• The role the community college plays in opening that door for tens of thousands of individuals in our valley as well as thousands of local employees per year who are employed throughout our valley;

• The fact that we offer quality education at an extremely affordable cost ($20 per unit, $600 per full load per year versus $3000 at CSU and $6500 at UC, Plus room and board);

• That we will use the $160 million to add classrooms and labs and expand access to train more nurses, law enforcement professionals, prepare students to transfer, and provide technical training for highly skilled positions that exist in our valley but need people to fill them;

• That we will expand our capacity to accommodate the ever-increasing number of high school students (60%+) who come directly to COC and the eleven hundred that attend each semester while in high school (tuition –free) to get a jumpstart on their college educations and save their families money at the same time; and

• That Measure M is an investment in our community, our businesses, our families, and our college future.

Thank you for getting the word out. I appreciate your extra efforts. Your efforts are special to us and will make a difference.

Thank you!

Waste Management Declines Council Invite

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In recent weeks, residents of the Stevenson Ranch and Westridge communities have raised questions regarding the fuel surcharge that Waste Management instituted last year. As the price of fuel increased many companies pasted those costs onto customers in the form of a fuel surcharge that was added to regular service bills.

Now that fuel costs are coming down closer to 2005 levels; the question is being raised that these charges should be reduced and/or eliminated. The West Ranch Town Council extended an invitation to representatives of Waste Management to attend the November Council meeting to discuss the fuel surcharge issue. Waste Management officials have declined the invitation.

This appears to be a strategic mistake on the part of Waste Management as it has raised concerns that there is more to this story than meets the eye. As it turns out, only the unincorporated residents are being charged the fuel surcharge; city residents are not being charged this additional cost. That begs the question; are the unincorporated residents subsidizing the trash collection for the City of Santa Clarita residents?

Waste Management officials declined to speak about the fuel surcharge and would only direct inquiries to their website. The fuel surcharge was no where to be found on either the local or national web site. The matter will be discussed further at the Council meeting on November 1st.

West Ranch Town Council Meeting November Agenda

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The West Ranch Town Council will hold its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday November 1st at the Southern Oaks community center starting at 6:30 PM. The community center is located on Southern Oaks Drive in the Southern Oaks community off of Pico Canyon in Stevenson Ranch. The following is the agenda for the November meeting:

A. Call to Order/Roll Call

B. Gary Morgan

C. Approval of October Minutes

D. Treasurers Report and Banking Update

E. County Updates
1. Doug Newell Parks and Rec.
2. Sheriff's Liaison
3. CHP Liaison
4. Bob Haueter LA County
5. DRHorton- Lyons Canyon Presentation

F. Guest Speakers- Larry Mankin/Chris Fall SCV Chamber

G. 1. Garbage Collection Fuel Sur-charge
2. Appointment to vacant council seat
3. December- Steve Sturgeon/ Hart School District
4. Update on Town Hall meeting with Castaic TC, Aqua Dulce TC, and
Supervisor Antonovich. Date, time, location TBD

H. Committee Reports

1. Election 2008
2. Security/Public Safety
3. Governmental Relations
a. Homeless Shelter Task Force
b. Westridge HOA and TPC issues Update
4. Westridge and Southern Oaks Liaisons
5. Sunset Point Liaison

I. Old Business

J. Public Comment

K. Adjournment

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Guest Speaker Shuffle For West Ranch Town Council

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Due to a scheduling conflict guest Attorney Scott Campbell will not be speaking at the Wednesday, November 1st West Ranch Town Council meeting. Scott will be giving his presentation on the Brown Act on a, yet to be determined, later date.

Instead, Larry Mankin and Chris Fall will be giving a presentation on the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce. Chris and Larry were originally scheduled for the December meeting and have graciously agreed to come to the November meeting. They will be giving an overview of all the good work the Chamber is doing in our Valley.

The December West Ranch Town Council meeting on Wednesday December 6th will now feature Steve Sturgeon from the Hart School District. Steve will be discussing the importance of getting a new High School built in Castaic and the potential impacts on the West Ranch communities if that new school is delayed.

Household Hazardous Waste Round Up: City & County effort.

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On Saturday November 4th at College of the Canyons from 9:00 am to 3: pm Los Angeles County and the City of Santa Clarita will holding a household hazardous waste round up.
Residents are encouraged to bring items in a sturdy box, preferably in their original labeled containers. Please do not mix the items together. There is a limit of 15 gallons or 125 pounds of hazardous waste per trip. Be prepared to leave your containers. Remove all other items from your trunk.
What you CAN bring to an event (examples):
• Brake fluid, paint, paint thinner, cleaners with acid or lye,
pesticides or herbicides, household batteries and car
batteries, pool chemicals, motor oil, oil filters, expired
pharmaceuticals, anti-freeze, and fluorescent light bulbs.
• Household electronic waste which includes:
Computer monitors, televisions, computer CPUs,
keyboards, printers, cellular phones, etc.

What you CAN’T bring to an event:
• Hazardous waste and electronic waste from businesses.
• Explosives, ammunition and radioactive materials.
• Trash and tires.
• White goods such as refrigerators, stoves and washing
machines, etc.

BUSINESS WASTE WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.For a complete listing of what you can and cannot bring or information on events, contact:
(888) CLEAN-LA • www.888cleanla.com, or
(800) 238-0172 • www.lacsd.org