Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happenings: Things Going Just Fine, Actually

Tonight’s was a profoundly uneventful City Council meeting[1]. While the rest of Southern California burns, trillions of dollars course out of plummeting global markets, and the presidential race draws to a fierce finale, Claritans spent the evening chatting about school bells and art. If events at the meeting are any indication, things in Santa Clarita are going just fine. (Or, more likely, we’ll get to the unpleasant stuff at the next C.C.)

Mayor Kellar began the meeting by discussing how to handle tough decisions, several of which loom in the near future. He advocated the rocking chair test. Roughly, a decision is a good one if it would leave you at peace when sitting in your rocking chair at 90 years old and thinking back on things. Because of senility and our exhaustless ability to forgive ourselves, I can’t say I’m a firm advocate of the rocking-chair-in-your-90s-approach-to-decision-evaluation, but that's just me.

After the various presentations to deserving pillars of our community, councilmember comments were made. They were nothing to write home about: safe ways to spend Halloween, water softeners, the ridiculous new “parkmobile”[2], etc. It took the old Saugus school bell to get people riled up. You see, the Saugus School District wants the cherished chimer back for their centennial. BUT, the historical society is the current guardian of the ancient bell and had it put in a special tower for the whole community to enjoy. Fully a quarter-hour went to discussing whether it would be appropriate for the Council to express their support for a transfer of the bell. Even after all that time, the issue remains unsatisfactorily resolved. At stake are such serious matters as whether the bell should be mentioned in commemorative speeches and which City staff would be most suited to a bell relocation operation.

After the bell, it was on to the consent calendar. The only thing worth talking about was Item 10, which allocated $42K for the consulting services of Historic Resources Group. They’ll help with efforts to identify and preserve the historical places of Santa Clarita. Leon Worden was cautiously enthusiastic, hoping that the group will look beyond unreliable property records and evaluate historic merit on-the-ground. Pat Saletore was also supportive and added that “History is being made constantly.” In light of this truism, she wants efforts made to recognize the contemporary creation of historic places. In Santa Clarita, history stands little chance but to be preserved.

After the customary 7pm potty break, Rick Gould spoke about the status of the Arts Advisory Committee and its future. Specifically, he said that the committee could continue as is, or, like a caterpillar, go through a transformation and emerge as a beautiful, influential butterfly called the Santa Clartia Arts Commission. Such a commission would more strongly affirm Santa Clarita’s commitment to “the Arts.” Most everyone was for art and the commission, and a number of speakers came to the microphone to say just how fervently supportive they were. The common theme was that the arts have enormous potential for growth in Santa Clarita and a devoted commission would be a great way of getting things rolling.

City Attorney Carl Newton clarified that Santa Clarita’s art commission would necessarily function in a purely advisory role. Thus, the move from committee to commission wouldn't confer any new legislative powers.

Still, the City Council was largely supportive. Art is good for the soul as well as City coffers, it seemed. Councilmember McLean went so far as to state “I see absolutely no downside” and said she was ready to throw her support behind creating the new commission. Laurie Ender called the proposed action mostly a name change. She summed up things accurately when she said “We have something that’s not working as good as it should” and advocated finding ways to make any arts advisory group--regardless of its name--more effective. There was a bit of back and forth on an arts commission as money drain (staff time) or money generator (bigger programs, bigger grants) as well as to whether formation of a commission could be approved that night or warranted more study. Ultimately, McLean and Kellar acquiesced and agreed to let staff research implications of making an arts commission.

Then, at last, we came to public participation, the discordant notes in a chorus of “Things Keep Getting Better.” Alan Ferdman spoke on behalf of himself alone (unusual, no?), and TimBen Boydston also spoke. They were both worried about the people of SCV not being heard in Public Participation at CC meetings and as part of the One Valley One Vision process, respectively. Then, the poor, defeated Nadine Teter of Benz Road traffic victim fame came forward with DVDs for councilmembers to watch. Presumably, they'll show how much life sucks when you have to deal with thousands of cut-through car trips on a residential street. One really has to feel bad for her. She got traffic relief for all of a week and is now back to square one.

The City Manager talked in a kinda-not-really-being-too-direct-in-responding fashion, and the meeting was done.

[1]Agenda here
[2]I still don't quite get what the Parkmobile does, but I know I'm against it with every fiber of my being

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