By Andrew Tonkovoch
The deadline is the headline, especially for canyon residents eager to vote on Silverado-Modjeska Parks and Recreation District Board (SMRPD) member replacements for the nearly irreplaceable Tara Saraya (president) and indefatigable Francesca Duff (treasurer). The secretary position, two years remaining, was recently vacated, and will, by press time, likely have been filled via board appointment. In the race for the two positions on the ballot are Celeste Veerkamp, Julie “Rusty” Morris and Michelle Agopian of, respectively, Silverado, Silverado and Jackson Ranch.
Veerkamp and Morris are running as a two-woman slate. In response to questions about motivation, residency, potential conflicts of interest and the Sil-Mod Plan, all three candidates expressed vigorous and unanimous support for our land-use bible. All affirmed their full-time residency and understanding of this government position’s expectations. Veerkamp credited her late neighbor and activist Connie Nelson with inspiring her candidacy. Morris noted her time here, citing purchase of her very first property on Shadybrook in 1976. Agopian, who described herself as spouse of an active-duty Marine, dogmom, and horse lover is “running as a Silverado businesswoman.” All registered canyon voters will receive vote-by-mail ballots.
SMRPD is, with the cooperation (sometimes non-cooperation, intervention or obliviousness) of the supervisors, our singular selfgovernance entity.
It’s certainly hard to shock longtime Modjeska resident Geoff Sarkissian, but here’s his response to news of illegal dumping on the 150-acre property at 17345 Santiago Canyon Road: “Look at the quantity—-230,000 cubic yards, that’s an enormous pile of something.” Recent calls to county code enforcement revealed what might actually be the conclusion of a nearly 30-year saga involving investigation and prosecution of likely disposal of green waste and construction materials, the landowner lately complying --- perhaps over-complying! --- with required remediation. Ironically, multiple complaints regarding owner Peter Katelaris’ alleged naughty behavior were the result of high-volume clean-up efforts begun in early summer, including restoration and a revised plan to address the safety threat (including fire) and negative environmental impact on two canyons and a federally protected pond. Public Works has more patience with scofflaws than do locals, with Mo Canyon residents annoyed by earth moving, dredging and, yes, illegal legal grading day and night. Citation of this further violation moved, pun intended, the landowner, who lives next door to the property, to speed up long overdue work.
Just add water
Residents might recall a disastrous December 2010 debris flow resulting from a tenant and Civic engagement Registration deadline: Oct. 19 absentee landowner on Modjeska Canyon Road who’d conspired to allow construction site dumping that destroyed the “downstream” property of Chris Riegle and Mary Nolan-Riegle, landscaping and a Prius or two, and cost the county plenty to repair the road.
Your (un)humble scribe faithfully reads those weirdly titled email communiques from our Third District Supervisor, a commitment to both civic engagement and staying amused. Don Wagner’s recent “Supervisor’s Scoop” (insert scatological humor here) didn’t disappoint, and led to an exchange for the ages, if your age is about 10, which would make you a fifth grader.
Here, the original, to which a reader (me) responded with a query about which teachers’ unions exactly provided Wagner (presumably via constituents) “conflicting information.” “I understand many families and children are struggling out there with this situation, all of them determined to safely educate their children but getting conflicting information from the State, the media, and, often, the teachers’ unions.”
I admire civic poetry, so reproduce in its entirety, the Scoopervisor’s response, noting a single reference to a faraway union with, of course, a reliable attack on the (Democratic) governor.
“Your [sic] request clarity but seem to misread the sentence you quote. I did not say I have been provided conflicting information by teachers’ unions. I said families have been provided conflicting information. For example, the state originally said that schools were only going to be allowed to open on-line, and then allowed to open with waivers, and then allowed to open in person on Sept. 8, and now not allowed to open in person until Sept. 22 – and that is only if the governor does not again change the rules. L.A. Unified’s teachers’ union reportedly said there would be no reopening until a list of other demands were met, irrespective of whichever of the governor’s three reopening schemes was in place at the time. Meanwhile, local teachers’ unions were cooperating with the county on the waiver process. The media is reporting all of these differing and changing positions. Dan Walters published a very nice column this week in the Register outlining the governor’s three schemes rolled out during the pandemic. These are conflict internally [sic] with each other. So yes, families are struggling with conflicting information from the State, the media, and often, the teachers’ unions.”
Perhaps, as your Canyon Beat reporter does, other constituents and their families will find comfort in the Supervisor’s insistence on conflicting information.