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Thursday, July 31st, 2014 - 8:30am
  • More Than a Drop in the Bucket: In the midst of continual water woes, local nonprofit LARC Ranch received some hope in the form of a $500,000 donation. KHTS
  • Residents Buggin' Out Over Gnats: Some locals are saying there's a gnat problem in Central Park. Vector Control is looking into it. KHTS
  • Conversing About Conserving : Interesting side note on the above story. According to Vector Control, the tech who investigated the report of Central Park gnats reported "overwatering" as part of the problem. With the coming draconian crackdowns on water wasters, can the city assure its residents it is doing its part to ensure water conservation? After all, taxpayers foot the water bill.
  • Easy On the Sprinklers: Water officials are proposing two watering schedules that would limit homeowners to irrigating their lawns just two to three days per week. And while some homeowners fear the wrath of HOAs should the lawns go brown, officials say associations are prohibited from slapping fines on a member during an official state of emergency. The Signal
  • Lots of Trash Talking Tonight: A public hearing is scheduled tonight for the proposed expansion of the Chiquita Canyon landfill. Some Val Verde residents say they already deal with the dump's odor in the morning and evening, and want more done to handle the smell. The Signal
  • An Engaging Read: Somehow, and wonderfully, a real live bookstore continues to thrive in the SCV. After moving into the old Brookstone location, a name change was also in the cards for what's now The Open Book. The article notes the change was requested by Westfield. I think we can safely assume they didn't like having a shop called $10 or Less Bookstore on the ever-emptying Town Center Drive. The Signal
  • The End is Near: The end of construction is in sight for COC's new culinary arts training building, as well as a new student services and administration building. The culinary arts program expects to start doing test runs by this winter. SCVNews
  • Charged Words: "Cannibalizing your own business has a long been a cliché in management circles. But this is one instance in which doing so is necessary if utilities want to keep the lights on." Daniel Gross on how our demands for electricity are changing. Slate

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 - 8:30am
  • How to Enforce a Water Crackdown: The state has put strict water use guidelines in place with some potentially hefty fines for violators, but the question for local water agencies is how they will actually enforce the new rules. The Signal
  • Money for Placerita Canyon: The county Board of Supervisors OK'd funding for work in Placerita Canyon including bridges to raise the trail out of the creek bed and a Braille trail system. KHTS
  • Vasquez Rocks Gets a Boost: The county Supes also gave the green light to funding to help cover the $717,000 price tag of nearly 80 additional acres to be added as a wildlife corridor. The Signal
  • It's Not Common for Everyone: It is a delight to watch Ivory Coast cocoa farmers taste chocolate for the first time, but a stark reminder that we take a lot of simple things for granted. Sploid
  • Helping Those Less Fortunate: The SCV Food Pantry's summer food drive is underway, seeking to keep shelves stocked to aid those in need among our community. KHTS
  • Do You Feel a Chill?: Soon-to-be-retired Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon told Fox News that Putin is getting away with whatever he wants and leading us to a second cold war. Fox News
  • A Helping Hand for Victims: “We put a lot of resources in mental health, and yet, victims of crimes are (often) ignored." Supervisor Mike Antonovich led a motion to assess how the county can help crime victims. LA Register
  • One Final Bird: The final C-17 airplane has started rolling down the assembly line at the Long Beach Boeing plant, which is shutting down in 2015. Daily News

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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 - 8:30am
  • Something to Drone On About: Fancy bringing your remote-controlled drone to a city park and buzzing it high above the heads of unsuspecting people? Too bad, it's illegal and unsafe, say city officials. KHTS
  • Check the Credentials: It pays to do some research when looking into an animal foster care or rescue. Some pet owners found out the hard way when they gave their animals to an SCV dog "rescuer" who was dumping the pets at shelters. KHTS
  • Homicide is on the Case: The remains found after a Gorman brush fire earlier this year were identified as a 32-year-old Los Angeles man who went missing in 2011, and appears to have been shot in the head. The Signal KHTS
  • Something to Smile About: A local dentistry firm celebrated a milestone of raising $1 million for charity over the past 16 years. The Signal
  • On the Hunt for Vandals: Detectives are on the hunt for young vandals who caused and estimated $10,000 in damage to Pinetree Community School last week. The Signal
  • A Match Made in Aisle 9: Albertsons (remember them?) is poised to purchase Safeway (owner of Vons) for about $9.2 billion, creating a grocery chain slightly smaller than Kroger. Daily News
  • A Sierra Highway Brush-Up: The city is doing some beautification work on Sierra Highway, planting 30 new trees. City Briefs
  • Honoring a Legacy: Local Rotary and Elks members are working on a memorial fund to honor Harry Bell, the veteran and longtime community volunteer who was sadly killed in a plane crash in 2012. The Signal

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Monday, July 28th, 2014 - 8:30am
Hello, hi, and how are you? It's Monday morning and it's good to be back, rested from a mountain getaway and another year older. And now, the news...
  • Coming Together for a Child: After a couple was killed in a crash on Highway 14 last week, strangers are trying to help raise funds for their 1-year-old daughter who survived. The Signal
  • Checkpoints End With Actual Arrests: A whopping 16 people were arrested during Friday nights double DUI checkpoints, though none were for DUI charges. The Signal
  • But She Got Her Start in the SCV: The so-called "Bombshell Bandit" who held up a local Bank of the West branch last month may be responsible for two other heists, in San Diego and Lake Havasu. The Signal KHTS
  • Sad Follow-Up: An off-duty LAPD officer and SCV resident succumbed to the injuries she suffered in a Thursday morning off-duty crash in Valencia. Kathleen Talbot was 45. The Signal KHTS
  • Prices Keep Going Up: The median price of SCV homes is up from this time last year, and real estate pros expect the numbers to keep going up. SCVNews
  • Don't Hold Your Breath: While a lot of people would like to see a Laemmle movie theater open in the SCV, it probably won't be happening any time soon. The Signal

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Friday, July 25th, 2014 - 10:27pm
Well what do you know? A super-official maybe. That was fast. 

Porto's didn't register in the city's infamous survey that claimed that a third of us want an Applebee's, which must be a good sign. Because no one really wants Applebee's. And everyone wants Porto's. The Facebook shares are in the hundreds, the likes are in the thousands. There are rumors and rumors of rumors.
Porto's is something of a perfect weapon. If the pastries or the sandwiches don't get you, the potato balls will. It feels old and new at once, neither a passing fad nor a stodgy standby. But really, it's just delicious. And unforgettable.
But even still, I'm surprised by just how much the people of SCV want to see a Porto's, I'm and thrilled to see that they've taken notice. So keep pressing. Join the Porto's For SCV group. Visit Porto's (here, here, or here) and let them that they need to make SCV their next home. The (potato) ball is in our court. We can do this SCV! 
(in case it bears mentioning, this photo isn't real.)

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   7 Comments »
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Friday, July 25th, 2014 - 12:12pm
It's been a while since I've done a Daily Brief, but with Josh in Canada for a bit, I thought I'd take the old car out for a spin. But because my writing time is limited and sporadic, you get a two-in-one: the news from today and yesterday. Silly news first.
  • Last night, Facebook was ablaze with the rumor (allegedly on the word of some employees) that Porto's, the famed Cuban bakery that originated in Glendale, is going into the former Elephant Bar space on McBean Pkwy. in Valencia. Right away, I thought it would be funny to give this rumor the Photoshop treatment. My attempt plus some (ahem) lesser attempts spread further, and the joke was lost. So no, sorry, not happening. The SCV is on their radar, but not now, not there. This rumor is still burning, so please feel free to share my now-modified gag photo.
  • In other fake news, comedian Nathan Fielder, whose Comedy Central show Nathan for You involves absurd ideas to help small business (it's quite funny). A recent episode involved Bouquet Plaza Liquor in Saugus and a clever scheme to let kinds "buy" alcohol. YOUTUBE 
  • The Chiquita Canyon Landfill is eying a big expansion, discusses "demand" like it's a gun to their head. The expanded dump would (at some point) be visible to the Hasley Hills neighborhood of Castaic. The Signal even gets favorable quotes from the Val Verde Community Advisory Committee, which is happy with the money that the dump puts into the community.  KHTS SIGNAL
  • But not so fast: there's a hush-hush agreement in place between the landfill and two Val Verde Community groups (read that here). Darryl Manzer's two latest columns have been assailing the expansion. Money quote: "In fact, roughly 80 percent of the stuff dumped there comes from outside the SCV." It will be interesting to see if this gets traction. MANZER1 MANZER 2
  • The strip mall on Citrus Drive was designed as a destination for furniture shoppers, high off that HELOC in the mid-aughts. Now it's home to a bank and apparently, an LASD detective unit as two teens discovered as they attempted to smoke marijuana in what they assumed to be a clandestine spot. Hilarity ensues. KHTS SIGNAL
  • I enjoy just about any video that The Signal has produced lately. The Jump is right up my alley, and I hope they keep at it. It still feels staged and it's awkward at times (that will get better with practice, I'm sure), but this episode is worth it for the collective crack-up over the teen weed smoking incident. THE JUMP
  • News that will be a relief to conservationist homeowners in sun-scorched and HOA-heavy SCV: the State is now forbidding HOAs from fining homeowners for brown grass during a drought. SIGNAL
  • Some high-speed rail meetings are coming up in and around the SCV. The pressing issue on the table is whether the route will follow the general I-5 to SR14 route along the western SCV or instead tunnel directly from Burbank to Palmdale. KHTS SIGNAL
  • I loved this piece by Placerita Nature Center docent Evelyne Vandersande on a recent bear sighting in Towsley Canyon. She also catalogues her adventures in seeking out bears throughout North America as a wide-eyed immigrant from Western Europe. SCVNEWS
  • Not enough is said about Central Park, which apart from being an all-around great place, still has so much potential. The latest expansion is moving ahead of schedule, and nearly done. There's video, too. SIGNAL
  • We now know that the bank employee who was arrested for stealing money from customers worked for Wells Fargo. No word on which branch yet. KHTS SIGNAL
  • Country music is very much a blind spot for me, but this piece about the KHTS Country Music Showdown is a reminder that "Poor Man's Poison" is a deceptive name when you play a park known for its 80s cover bands. KHTS
  • And lastly, a big shout out to the Hart 9U Pony team that's playing in the Mustang-9 League World Series. The double-elimination tournament starts today and concludes on Monday. More info, including the live stream right here

Posted by Mike Devlin   |   24 Comments »
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Monday, July 21st, 2014 - 9:00am

On Friday, we took a trip down memory lane as I mused on my time with The Signal. Some of you likely suspect my hindsight is rosy-hued 20/20, but it’s not. It’s simply that the further we move from a situation, we gain a fuller grasp and understanding. 
To be sure, The Signal’s existence, particularly over roughly the past 30 years, has been marked with mismanagement, missteps, missed opportunities…the list could go on, but I digress. But guess what? Every paper goes through these things. 
I want you to understand, I’m not trying to defend corporate’s and/or management’s decisions. If anything, what I am trying to do is create some empathy for the staff that day-in, day-out put in an honest day’s work. 
I haven’t darkened the door of that newsroom in nearly four years. I can’t speak exactly to how things run now, but trust me, I’ve got a fairly good idea. 
When you’re on the outside of a situation, it’s easy to be critical. We’re all experts at knowing that we could totally do (fill in the blank) better than the person who’s actually doing it (and sometimes, maybe that’s true). So, having been on both sides of the situation, I empathize and sympathize with a local newspaper staff that can pretty much never do a good job in the eyes of the public. Because I can tell you, with the resources they have they do a decent job, and until you’ve been in that situation you don’t quite understand what it entails.
To a certain degree, The Signal’s current staffing situation is reminiscent of midway through my tenure there, when we had a very slim staff. Here’s the thing: Even when you only have two reporters, there’s still an entire front page and news section to fill every day. So there’s the regular City Council update stories, or the seasonal campaign coverage, or the school board budget meetings, or the new playground dedication, or the weekend nonprofit fundraiser, or the guy who built a scale model of Colossus in his backyard (made that one up), or the fatal collision on the freeway, or the seasonal weather reports….it goes on and on. Every single day you start at zero, with a goal to fill that day’s paper. Which means the big stories, the ones you believe matter more than the retiree with a biodiesel conversion VW Beetle, the ones that take the time and resources of digging in and doing some investigative journalism…generally those have to get back-burnered. When you’re tasked with having to constantly do more with less, that series on unsolved murders in the SCV gets more and more difficult to pursue unless you want to work 24 hours a day.
Side note: Don’t get me started with crime reporting. Now, I believe the SCV Sheriff’s Station relationship with the local media is quite a bit improved from the better part of a decade ago, but when it comes down to it, it takes a lot to earn cops’ trust, and when you don’t have a dedicated crime beat reporter to build that relationship and trust over time, coverage will suffer.
Why am I saying this? I guess because over the past decade, as the immediacy of advanced technology has changed our lives in amazing ways, it has also started to turn us into idiots who are ready to hack someone down to size without hesitation and without filters, from behind the safety of our keyboard. Gone is civil discourse and criticism, replaced by anonymous comments and thoughtless dismissal.
Listen, no one at The Signal’s behind this. I don’t expect to ever be on the Morris Multimedia payroll again. I’m honestly just trying to lend a bit of perspective, and I stand by my belief that this community is better with The Signal without.
But, is it too late? Has the paper gone too close to the waterfall before it plummets over and is dashed on the rocks? Is it just eking out an existence before it finally collapses in the dust and breathes its last? 
I don’t know. I want to believe there is hope. I want to believe it can remain a vital resource for a community whose population continues to grow.
I believe radical steps are in order. And I mean more than adding more video, or doing more glossy special sections. And as Aaron Kushner’s experiment with the OC, Long Beach and Los Angeles Register papers is proving, daily newspapers do not exactly live on optimism alone.
The Signal has not always been a daily paper, and honestly, there is no law that says it should remain one. I’ve long thought the paper, and the community, would be better served by a shift to a strident, vigilant, continuous daily online presence coupled with an in-depth, page-turning Sunday edition. Imagine a Signal website as a go-to for daily reporting, and a Sunday edition that’s nothing but a closer look at the stories that matter. Imagine a weekly print product that people looked forward to, and that got them talking. Is that a pipe dream, or is that a big risk with a potentially big payoff? Who knows, it could be a terrible idea. 
The Signal has lasted for nearly 100 years. Think about that. Through all the massive changes to this valley, and how unrecognizable it is from the open fields of 1914, that newspaper has continued to be the record of this community’s history. Noteworthy indeed, but if the paper intends to continue for another century, its corporate overlords will need to be willing to allow for risks and something new. 

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Bill Reynolds writes:
Peace time? America is under the constant threat of terrorism and nuclear war. Hello Al Queda,...
posted: ~ 12 hrs. ago.
ThatJoshPremako writes:
What are some of McKeon's accomplishments for the 25th District that prompt you to say that?...
posted: ~ 1 day, 8 hrs. ago.
Marian writes:
Buck McKeon, Please don't retire now... We need you more than ever now!!! Thanks...
posted: ~ 1 day, 8 hrs. ago.
HenryJennings writes:
Denied? To my knowledge, no one has been denied admission to that group. That would be a tad...
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bluto writes:
That parking lot is too big for a Trader Joe's. They only seem to build where parking is the...
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Susie Evans writes:
I am going to state the obvious.....the president was absent....
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TortoiseLady writes:
I too noticed something was VERY different and everyone really appeared to like it. Wonder what...
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Steve Lee writes:
I think some people might be disappointed. tonight at the VVCAC meeting they treated us with...
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DonRicketts writes:
For my wife: Trader Joes in Canyoon Country up on top of the hill with Staples, Target, etc....
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ValVerdeFamily writes:
I heard that they looked smug because their secret cash payment from the dump has been cut....
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