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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - 4:48pm
Strickland stuns, Rogers rolls along, Knight comes up short, new guy makes a big bet, and Buck gets a Lexus. But first, the numbers:

Reports were due yesterday, and as far as I can tell, the other four candidates haven't filed. Click on each candidate's name for the link to their report.

Tony Strickland: raised $410,889.88, spent $172,973.43, $656,188.00 cash on hand
The big story is that Tony Strickland's fundraising has picked up right where he left off as a candidate for his home district in Ventura County. He's fully rebounded from a disappointing Q4, cashing checks from a coalition of the insurance industry (60 separate donations from Farmer's Insurance PAC and employes alone), mortgage/real estate interests, and what appears to be every other wealthy Republican in Southern California. Noticeably scarce are the defense industry donors that have funded McKeon's campaign. There's the obligatory $10,000 from the Koch Brothers, too.

Steve Knight: raised $89,897.00, spent $13,851.65, $77,328.74 cash on hand (minus unpaid bills)
In contrast, Steve Knight came short of his already modest goal of $100k by about $10,000. For better or worse, almost all of his money has come from in-district sources. It's a good sign of local support, but it adds up to a lot less than Strickland's bank roll, and you wonder if it's enough to run a visible campaign in a district this big. Of course, you can't exactly compare dollars for dollars when Knight already represents over half of the district, but these filings do paint a picture of two very different campaigns.

Lee Rogers: raised $202,752.17, spent $129,651.53, $261,297.25 cash on hand.
Rogers broke 200k this quarter and he's working with a lot more money than he had in 2012, though it's hard to read into his totals at this point. He's still attracting a lot of money from his usual mix of district supporters and fellow doctors, but the heavy national money that seems all but inevitable for an open seat like this probably won't show up until after the primary.

Troy Castagna: raised $41,265.00, loaned his campaign about $91k, spent $6,429, and has $110,335.21 cash on hand.
Then there's the new guy: Troy Castagna from right here in SCV is running as a Republican and has already put nearly $100,000 of his own money into the campaign. On top of that, he's raised over $40k, mostly in max donations from family. Right away, it looks like he'll have to return a few donations, as federal law only allows donations from individuals and committees. He has a few donations from businesses, included a max donation from (I'm assuming) his parents' business, even though each of them have also maxed out. Even so, it's quite a stunner. $100k is a lot to spend, but it's far less than an unknown candidate needs to win a contested Congressional primary that begins in a few weeks. You wonder though, will Castagna's SCV and LDS roots have the potential of complicating things for Strickland in the SCV, where Buck McKeon's influence, though waning, is still worth something?

Buck McKeon: Raised some money, gave it back, plenty left over, got a Lexus with the leftovers. More on that tomorrow...

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   4 Comments »
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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 - 1:01pm
  • Charges Dropped: The county DA has dropped the molestation charge against the popular Legacy Christian Academy teacher who was arrested last month. KHTS
  • In Case You Missed It: It's official: Dante Acosta secured the third seat on the City Council. KHTS The Signal
  • "Small" is the Theme: Not only one of the lowest voter turnouts in recent years, but according to Luke Money, this election saw the third smallest margin of victory in City Council election history. The Signal
  • Taking Aim at the Billboard Deal: Local grassrootsers are taking the streets, gathering petitions for a referendum aimed at undoing the city's electronic billboard deal. The Signal
  • Budget Proposal Released: The county has released its $26B proposal for the next fiscal year, including nearly $8B for health spending and adding some 1,300 jobs. KHTS LA Times
  • Agreeing, Sort Of: Californians agree we're in a water crisis. It's how to handle it that raises questions. LA Times
  • The Lights Are Back On: The World's Tallest Thermometer has been switched back on. LA Observed
  • First Quarter Film Results: While filming is still down over the same period last year, the L.A. region saw a first-quarter spike in production. Daily News
  • Ouch: Keyes (on Van Nuys) is buying Valencia KIA, and 40 employees are being laid off. The Signal
  • There's Still a Need: (Full disclosure: Operation Gratitude is one of my company's clients) Operation Gratitude, which has sent more than 1 million care packages to troops deployed around the world, is ramping up their efforts. SCVNews
  • Where's the Money?: LTE writer marvels that school teachers are having to pay for their own supplies while sports fields are well-equipped. The Signal
  • Skip the Insurance, Pay Cash: Some doctors are turning to "concierge" service as the ACA changes things, letting patients pay directly for services. Daily News

Posted by Josh Premako   |   Post a Reply »
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Monday, April 14th, 2014 - 6:05pm
The City has released the final count of ballots to be counted tomorrow: 981 ballots in total. And they were kind enough to publish the breakdown by ballot type and precinct, which you can see right here (PDF). In total, there were 705 VBM and 276 provisional ballots. 

On Saturday, I looked into why Al Ferdman might have a cause for optimism. If the ballots showed an imbalance towards Ferdman-friendly districts, Ferdman's chances of overtaking Dante Acosta would rise quickly. Was Ferdman be so lucky? Probably not.

Taking the ballots precinct-by-precinct at 2.6 votes per ballot (consistent with the election), I multiplied those votes by each candidate's performance in that precinct, then I added up the precincts. Further assuming that these late voters will roughly match the behavior of poll voters, I'm going back to my earlier hunch that Al Ferdman will gain only about twelve votes on Dante Acosta, shy of the 46 he'd need to win.

If these voters resembled the electorate overall, the math suggests Ferdman gains a couple of votes. If they resembled VBM voters, then he'll lose a couple. But I'm going to guess that in an election like this one, poll voters are the better barometer. So 12 votes is my final answer, give or take a few. I'd be surprised if he gets more than 20 or if he loses any ground to Acosta. 

By the same math, it looks like Maria Gutzeit will finish just about even with Duane Harte, so if you're a huge nerd (like me), that's another one to watch tomorrow.

The count happens tomorrow at 10am in Council Chambers.

UPDATE 11am: Acosta defied expectations and actually gained 58 votes on Ferdman, winning by 108 votes. Congratulations to our new councilman. 

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   Post a Reply »
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Monday, April 14th, 2014 - 8:30am
  • Chalk It Up to Apathy?: The city's pool of voters may have grown since the last election, but voter turnout was even lower than the previous two elections. The Signal
  • The Final Countdown: The count of final votes for the City Council election starts at 10 a.m. tomorrow. The Signal
  • The Captain's Rounds Continue: New SCV Sheriff's Station Capt. Roosevelt Johnson continues his "Coffee with the Captain" community meet-and-greet events this week. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall a new SCV captain doing this much community outreach right off the bat. The Signal
  • Taxing News: Tomorrow's April 15. You know what that means. KHTS
  • Moment of Truth: People have been saying print is dead for years now, but that hasn't stopped Aaron Kushner from launching the L.A. Register, a new newspaper that hits the stands Wednesday. I, like Kevin Roderick, am hopeful but not necessarily optimistic. LAObserved
  • The Coming Frontier: Recycled wastewater, touted by proponents as cleaner than what's currently treated from the state's water sources, is the future for California's water supply. Sacramento Bee
  • Away from Colorblindness: Anti-racism writer Tim Wise will be speaking at COC's arts center next week, followed by a book signing. The only downside is that it's in the afternoon. SCV News
  • That's One Way to Market Your Product: How this man markets his honey is not exactly for the faint of heart. Daily News
  • Getting Dirty for a Cause: Thousands turned out for Sunday's mud run, that benefited Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit that sends care packages to troops deployed around the globe. The Signal
  • Campaigning for Reform: Good profile of the woman who is one of the leading voices for reform in the county jail system. LA Times

Posted by Josh Premako   |   5 Comments »
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Saturday, April 12th, 2014 - 10:31am
On Tuesday, the City ended their election day count of ballots with just a 46-vote spread in the race for the 3rd council seat between Dante Acosta and Alan Ferdman. On the 15th, they'll finalize the validation and counting of as many as 965 ballots, which may contain as many as 2,895 votes.

Following a night of live blogging the election night vote count from council chambers, I wrote the following from a bench outside city hall:

11:10PM: FInal thought for the moment: this final count is typically made up of VBM voters who turn in their ballot on election day, more so than provisional poll voters. Not always though. By looking at the results in the VBM versus poll voters tonight, it appears that Dante Acosta does a little better with these voters than Alan Ferdman does. There will be plenty of time to figure out a more sophisticated metric for forecasting, but my hunch right now is a 70% chance Acosta holds on.

The next day, I took a closer look at the numbers and I put Ferdman's chances of gaining the 46 votes necessary at almost zero. Maybe he'd gain 8 votes, 12 if he's lucky. My assumption was based good conclusion drawn from a very different election, so my premise is faulty. Late count voters don't necessarily resemble VBM more than poll voters. They don't necessarily resemble either. 

Ferdman is still facing a longshot. But I'm going to change my clichéd summation from "he's out of it" to "anything can happen." Here's why.

The last time we were in a protracted waiting period for election results was four years ago. David Gauny had gained an incredible number of votes on election day. Many saw a late-breaking Gauny trend, certain to continue with the late voters, carrying him onto victory over Frank Ferry. I saw the disparity as something else: an unsophisticated campaign that got very active in the final weeks and probably made the calculated choice to focus on poll voters. Discussions with people close to the campaign later verified this hunch and the results suggested the same: Frank Ferry actually gained votes during the lingering count of late VBMs and provisional voters.

2010 gave us a nice, clean example of how the late count can be counterintuitive yet easily explained. But that was due to a peculiar circumstance. Gauny both outperformed (he surprised everyone, nearly winning 3rd place when most figured him to be a distant 5th) and underperformed (if his campaign had mobilized his volunteers earlier, he would have won, for sure). 

2012 was a different story, and the only lesson I can draw from it is that the late voters can be a different animal entirely. If we expected the late voters to act like the VBM voters, we would have given Laurie Ender 33 too many votes and shorted Kellar 54 and Boydston 81. If we used the poll voting model we would have given too many votes to Ender (21) and Kellar (6), while Boydston still gets shorted by 43 votes. 

In other words, a candidate can outperform both their poll and VBM performance in these late counts. Absent any other information, it's really hard to tell if Ferdman will be so lucky.

The difference between poll voters and VBM voters is striking. If poll voters elected the City Council, Alan Ferdman would have come in first. Marsha McLean would have come in fifth. But Ferdman isn't like Gauny gaining on Ferry or Boydston breaking away from Ender. He's chasing another challenger, and Dante Acosta came in second with poll voters.

Acosta's strength, like Kellar's in 2012, is a balanced appeal. He did pretty well with VBM and poll voters. He did just fine in Valencia or Saugus or Newhall or Canyon Country. He's not going to trip. 

Ferdman, on the other hand, in the most unpredictable candidate. No one had a bigger spread in their VBM share vs. poll vote share. His results from precinct to precinct are all over the place, too. He might be the unofficial mayor of Canyon Country, but he's just another name on the ballot to a disconnected early VBM voter in Valencia. 

I went through and compared each candidate's performance in each precinct against their overall performance. Ferdman's performance ranged from a 6.6% 7th place finish in northern Valencia to a commanding 21.2% in Placerita Canyon. The standard deviation of his precinct performance was 3.4% contrasted with Acosta's 1.6%. I added that standard deviation to the poll/vbm spread to give each candidate a pseudo-mathematical "Volatility Score."

I'm no statistician, but this gives us some idea of how hot (and cold) a candidate could get if the late ballots show a bias towards certain areas or types of voter. Ferdman's strengths are so strong that even if both Acosta and Ferdman got their favorite types of voters in these last 965, Ferdman would gain enough votes to win.

It still seems unlikely. We're looking at a small portion of the votes left to spread across 13 candidates. But voters in this late count are unusual by definition. It's more difficult for a provisional voter to vote than other poll voters. Walking in a ballot takes more effort than sticking it in the mail. If one of these campaigns had an 11th-hour push to make sure their supporters voted one way or another, it might be enough to make a significant difference in the outcome.

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   5 Comments »
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Friday, April 11th, 2014 - 1:20pm
  • West Ranch Student in Bus Crash: A West Ranch student was among those involved in Thursday's horrific bus crash in Northern California. The Signal KHTS
  • Sex Offender Arrested in SCV: A convicted sex offender registered in Ventura was arrested living in Stevenson Ranch. The Signal KHTS
  • Busted: The suspects cops were looking for after some $20K in goods was shoplifted from Sunglass Hut? Arrested. KHTS
  • Seriously Though, It's Safe: Researchers traced seismic activity in Ohio to fracking. The Signal
  • Libya? I Barely Knew Ya: Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon said he is satisfied with how the military responded to the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks in Benghazi. NavyTimes 
  • Immigration Bill Gaining Support: A bill aimed at providing citizenship for illegal immigrants who serve in the U.S. military is gaining traction, though McKeon has said he does not want to see it included in the upcoming defense budget. Military.com
  • That Pay Raise Can Wait: McKeon said military pay and benefits reform is an important issue, but one that should wait until 2015. That would be after he leaves office, right? Army Times
  • Caltrans Supporting Alternate Routes: Caltrans is backing efforts for improved pedestrian and bicycle routes. The Signal
  • Sheriff's Forum Up: The candidate forum hosted by SCVTV, KHTS and El Signal is viewable for those that missed it. SCVTV
  • In Case You Hadn't Noticed: Gas prices are going up. Again. The Signal
  • Get Paid to Quit: Workers at Amazon who have a job offer at another company and are considering taking it may get a check for $5,000 to quit Amazon. LA Times
  • Fun Fact: The most famous PC desktop wallpaper is an unaltered photo. Realizing the gear used, it's altogether unsurprising. Slate

Posted by Josh Premako   |   4 Comments »
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Friday, April 11th, 2014 - 8:27am
This post by real estate blog Movoto declaring the "10 Most Boring Places In California" has caught the quick attention of the SoCal press (see here, here, here, here and here). I have to admit that when I saw the title and read the criteria (lack of nightlife and live music, prevalence of fast food, etc.) I braced for the worst. 

Despite my proclamations to the contrary, we don't always hold up to this kind of scrutiny when measured from afar. Then I saw our linguistic kin take second place, I knew we were sunk. Yet somehow, we were spared. The world is just, after all. Unless you're Lakewood.

But they didn't stop there. They published a list top of the top 50 most boring cities in California. Circling like a bird of prey, there's Lancaster, Simi Valley, Palmdale...

Still nothing. We're not even in the top 50! I was glowing with excitement with all the lumens of six digital billboard faces. Suddenly our SCV self-loathing seems as passé as the Applebee's that we ran out of town. 

But it's one thing to win the listicle game. We expect real-world results. Proof of life. Not ten minutes later, I read that this summer's Concerts in the Park series, that summer-long Brochella of cover bands, has booked a legit original artist, Poncho Sanchez, titan of latin jazz. I've seen him before, and I cant wait to see him again.

I think I'll stay.

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   9 Comments »
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  Recent Comments:
Mike writes:
Tim, I agree. A third Republican with money makes a top-2 GOP finish much less likely, as does a...
posted: ~ 11 hrs. ago.
timothymyers02 writes:
Troy Castagna has a couple of the classic traits of a decoy candidate, but if he is a decoy...
posted: ~ 12 hrs. ago.
CherylPhillips writes:
Mormons VOTE. With our numbers for Council race coming in at 14%, we won't get any more than this...
posted: ~ 1 day, 2 hrs. ago.
IHeartSCV writes:
yer charts are perty...
posted: ~ 1 day, 4 hrs. ago.
KarenJ77 writes:
Nice! I wouldve loved to join any mud run. Wish I knew...
posted: ~ 2 days, 13 hrs. ago.
timothymyers02 writes:
Orange County has had reclaimed water for years, but then again it seems folks down here believe...
posted: ~ 3 days, 4 hrs. ago.
Kevin D. Korenthal writes:
So called "toilet to tap" recycled water is coming to a community near you but not likely Santa...
posted: ~ 3 days, 9 hrs. ago.
Mike writes:
Yeah, just making the point that there is a way that Ferdman can pass Acosta that isn't...
posted: ~ 3 days, 11 hrs. ago.
IHeartSCV writes:
It's not just lower than usual, it's going to be the lowest turnout *ever* for a Santa Clarita CC...
posted: ~ 3 days, 11 hrs. ago.
timothymyers02 writes:
I am sure they 85% to 86% of registered voters had a very good reason for not participating. Look...
posted: ~ 3 days, 13 hrs. ago.

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