We Must Be Slow Learners

By Darryl Manzer
"Way Back When"
The Signal
Sunday, August 13, 2006

ave y'all seen the new and improved Web site for this newspaper? Wow! You can actually find information you need and get to stories you want to read. Well done. (And I'm not saying this just because the webmaster is also my editor). Find it at www.the-signal.com.
    My local paper here in Virginia could learn a few things from The Signal. The only addition I would like to see is a link to letters to the editor. (Hint, hint, Leon.)
    Now for what I really want to write about...
    City government is weird. Twenty-five miles east of my home is the city of Virginia Beach. They actually have a law on the books that states you can't wear a crocheted swim suit on the beach — even if it has a lining.
    It doesn't stop 300-pound men from wearing spandex suits that allow 100 pounds of belly to hang so far over you can't see the front of the suit, but let a lady wear a lined, crocheted bikini and it is a misdemeanor with a fine.
    The same city has posted signs indicating you can't use profanity when walking along the sidewalks of the oceanfront resort area. Get real, folks. The major employer in Virginia Beach is the United States Navy. They have as much chance of enforcing that law as stopping the next earthquake in Santa Clarita. Ain't gonna happen.
    Nonetheless, the Virginia Beach City Council passed such laws. Enforcement must be lax, since a recent letter to the editor in the local paper complained about three women sunbathing topless in the resort town. I guess they weren't wearing crocheted suits.
    I'm sure that in the SCV, both the city of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County have some fairly stupid laws on the books. No chewing gum on city buses, for example...
    Isn't it great to live in a country where you can complain about the government and not go to jail? That is because, guess what? We are the government. We tend to forget that, in our day-to-day lives. We the people are our own government. That is the way it works.
    Sure, we elect folks to represent us at the city, county, state and federal levels, but in the end we are responsible for those elected.
    Just try to vote them out of office once they get the job. It isn't easy to do that.
    Sometimes we look at what our elected representatives do and can't help but laugh. Take the "Thank You, Buck" signs recently posted by the city of Santa Clarita.
    First, they were thanking him for a bill that, should it get passed, I will come to Santa Clarita and, on the steps of City Hall, take a bite out of the first Stetson hat I see.
    Second, the signs were a blatant campaign sign for Mr. McKeon — nothing more or less.
    But third, in a city that has far too many graffiti "artists," the signs were ripe for impromptu changes. Paint over the "B" and — even during the last congressional election, I remember seeing many of Mr. McKeon's signs with such a modification by the local "artists" plying their craft. What a hoot!
    By the way, have I mentioned that your local Los Angeles County supervisor has many (campaign) signs posted with his name on parks, and a courthouse? You, the government, paid for those signs, too.
    Once elected, the campaign never stops. Promises of limiting oneself to a couple of terms in office are soon forgotten once the reins of power are thrust into such hands.
    I doubt if Mr. Antonovich ever thought, back in 1982 when he was first elected, that he would still be in office in 2006. Mr. McKeon pledged a 10-year maximum, if my memory serves me correctly.
    We, the people, keep complaining about "the government," but we don't do anything about it. We continue to vote for whatever yellow-dog Democrat (or Republican) we voted for in the last election and just complain some more. We must be slow learners.
    An old protest song had it right when it said:
    The Elephant may come from the North,
    The Donkey may come from the South;
    And we, so foolhardy,
    Think each is a different party,
    When they've got the same bit in their mouth.
    Maybe the West Ranch Town Council will put up some "Thank You, Mr. Antonovich" signs. I'd love to see what the local "artists" could do with something like that. I've got some ideas. Just send me an e-mail if you need to hear them.
    No, you already know what I'm thinking. I'll be gracious and let you take the lead on that.

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley and eventually relocated to Boulder City, Nev. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].