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Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - 1:10pm
Yesterday, a commenter noted that my reference to digital billboards as Vegas-style showed my bias. Except, no. Now, I try to run a pretty clean ship when it comes to these daily briefs. I generally adhere to AP style and keep my opionating to a minimum. That said, I think SCVTalk has a longstanding legacy of occasional snarkiness, and beyond that...this is a blog. And when it comes to billboards, I don't like the idea of digital ones, but I also (and I suspect I'm not alone in this common sense approach) don't expect SCV to look like Las Vegas (If, however, I wind up having a Neville Chamberlain moment, I will apologize) if we get three digi-boards. I don't particularly like our existing billboards, either, so really, it's a lose-lose. Why am I going on about this? I don't know. How about some briefs?
  • Council Members to Be Sworn In, Maybe At: Incumbents Laurene Weste and Marsha McLean and newcomer Dante Acosta will be sworn in before tonight's City Council meeting, which includes re-upping the Sheriff's Department contract with the city. KHTS
  • Man in the Middle: Dante Acosta hopes to be a mediating force on the City Council. The Signal
  • Where There's Wind There Might be Fire: High, gusty winds are expected through Wednesday. Daily News
  • Funeral Draws Thousands: “If you pause for a minute, you can feel the breaking of 13,000 hearts — the hearts of the members of the Los Angeles Police Department." The funeral for an LAPD officer killed by a suspectd drug-impaired driver drew thousands. Daily News LA Times
  • Finding the Mother Ditch: Excavators uncovered a part of L.A.'s first water system. LA Times
  • A Bit of History: Steven K. Peeples rounds up the history of the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival, which moseys into town this weekend. KHTS
  • Changing the System: "Furthermore, we should not forgive the policies and attitudes that place child rapists, serial burglars, on-line scammers, corrupt politicians, and murderers back among the innocent, only to harvest suffering once again." Jonathan Kraut opines on the failures of the justice system. The Signal

  • No Name? No Problem!: It's fine for law enforcement officers to stop vehicles based on anonymous 911 tips, says the Supreme Court. LA Times
  • Bracing for El Nino: What does the expected weather system next winter mean for us? Slate

Posted by Josh Premako   |   7 Comments »
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Monday, April 21st, 2014 - 8:30am
  • Ferry Reflects: "City government is awesome because I can have any idea and all I need is two votes and it happens.” Luke Money goes on a Santa Clarita ride-along with soon-to-be-former Councilman Frank Ferry. The Signal
  • Pushing for Change?: A woman gathering signatures for the referendum to undo the city's #Vegasboard deal was arrested on an assault charge outside an SCV Walmart over the weekend. Sheriff's deputy: “My understanding is that this incident escalated and there was an assault, a pushing kind of assault." The Signal KHTS
  • After the Dust Has Settled: The Signal's editorial board opines on the City Council's job now that the election is over. The Signal
  • Not Only the Young: It's not just much-maligned Millennials moving back in with their parents. LA Times
  • Fire Destroys Newhall School, Students Rejoice: From the annals of SCV history, with this choice quote: "I always said I wished the school would burn down and now it's happened," wept Ethel Haws, 12. SCV History
  • If You Missed it the First Time: “It really was the most terrifying thing I have ever had to experience." SCV teen describes the deadly Northern California bus crash he survived. The Signal
  • The Trails Need You: Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel writes on the upcoming National Trails Day and what you can do locally for our wonderful local trail system. SCVNews
  • Candidates Talk Immigration: “But we don’t need deputies, down in the weeds, putting immigration holds on people.” SCV resident Lou Vince and other candidates for L.A. County Sheriff discussed how the department should handle immigration issues. Daily News
  • Newhall Rendezvous Turns Angry: Two people went to the hospital in the wee hours of Saturday morning after a stabbing outside the VU bar in downtown Newhall. KHTS
  • 50 Years Into the War: “It’s important we care about places like this,” she said. “There are kids and families who want to succeed. They want life to be better, but they don’t know how.” A half-century after LBJ declared war on poverty, rural areas are still among the hardest hit. NY Times
  • Then and Now: Downtown LA from above, now and in the 1940s. Gizmodo

Posted by Josh Premako   |   10 Comments »
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Friday, April 18th, 2014 - 1:17pm
And we're back, with some piping hot afternoon briefs. (Apologies to all for this week's sporadic nature. Stuff happens.)
  • From One Taxing Job to Another: A local tax adviser is throwing his hat in the ring and running for Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon's job. KHTS
  • First-Person Perspective: The Signal interviewed the West Ranch student who was involved in the deadly NorCal bus crash (unrelated side note: It's depressing every time I see a video The Signal films in that big, empty pressroom.) The Signal
  • Not So Fast With the Billboards: It would appear the anti-Vegasboard crowd is gaining some traction. The county has delayed voting on the city's recent deal with Metro to get rid of the city's existing billboards and replace them with digital signs. KHTS
  • In a Nutshell: I Heart SCV sums up the 2014 City Council election. I Heart SCV
  • Robber Gets 70 Years: A 24-year-old Palmdale man was sentenced to 70 years to life for a Newhall bank robbery. His brother testified that their harsh upbringing played a role in his brother's choices. SCV News
  • Talking About the Walk: Kicking off Cowboy Festival weekend early, the city unveiled two new plaques on the Newhall Walk of Western Stars. The Signal
  • Speaking of...: Cowboy Festival is coming up next weekend
  • Unemployment Holding: About a half-million people in Los Angeles County remained unemployed in March, with the employment rate holding at 8.7 percent. Daily News
  • BOLO: A fugitive dubbed the "Family Annihilator" who's been on the run for 38 years could be living in SoCal, officials say. LA Times
  • In Case You Weren't Aware: LTE writer notes the apathy demonstrated by low voter turnout, and a message for non-voters to hush up. The Signal
  • Drug Talk: Sheriff's officials gave parents a rundown on SCV youth drug problems. The Signal
  • Boston, One Year Later: Strong images from the Boston Marathon, a year after tragedy. Big Picture Blog
  • Behind the Torture: "I served my country and now I'm done. I did what I did for whoever I did it for, and now I'm done with that stuff." The Guardian interviews one of the architects of the post-9/11 "harsh interrogation techniques." The Guardian

  • The Jury is Still Out for Scalia: On the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's freedom of the press ruling on The New York Tmes v. Sullivan, Justice Antonin Scalia says the Founding Fathers would have been "appalled." LA Times
  • Changing Prop 13: A new poll shows 49 percent of Californians would be open to making changes to Proposition 13, which placed restrictions on property tax growth. Daily News

Posted by Josh Premako   |   1 Comment »
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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

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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

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  Recent Comments:
Walker writes:
Quite honestly, I've missed the bias the Brief once had. I could read the news anywhere, but...
posted: ~ 6 hrs. ago.
Bill Reynolds writes:
Oh... well... whatever. Ha! You get my drift ya whipper snapper....
posted: ~ 12 hrs. ago.
ThatJoshPremako writes:
Must be because I don't fall into the Millennial age bracket....
posted: ~ 13 hrs. ago.
Bill Reynolds writes:
I'm surprised you new millennials are cranky about these techy billboards. Lighten up, dudes....
posted: ~ 14 hrs. ago.
Mike writes:
Speaking only for myself, I don't use the term to equate the billboards with gigantic marquees but...
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Berta writes:
Josh, FYI: The installation of two reelected and one newly elected council member is a separate...
posted: ~ 15 hrs. ago.
KLB writes:
I've always called them Vegas-style billboards. I think most people call them that....
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Great, the Pruneyard case is one more way that California allows what other states will not,...
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Berta, When you spoke to the signature gatherers, did you just say no thanks and keep walking...
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Yes Berta I had a brain burp while typing my comment. I meant “First Amendment rights are...
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