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MILLENNIUM'S END CAN BE A TIME OF REVELATION.

Byline: James Bemis Commentary

W.B. Yeats, the great Irish poet, observed, ``Things reveal themselves passing away.''

Thus, the end of a century marking the end of a millennium should reveal many things to us, if we only have eyes to see them. Here's my pensees, or reflections, on Ventura County and beyond at the end of an age:

The major political issue facing Ventura County in the next century will be controlling the growth that threatens to swamp us. Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources, a noble but misguided attempt to limit development, won't do the trick. City Council races will become battlegrounds where the real fighting will occur.

My bet is that no-growth advocates will soon dominate local political boards and commissions, as in our neighboring counties of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

The recent Ventura County financial crisis was perfectly illustrated by news that Supervisor Frank Schillo, who lambasted other supervisors for their free-spending ways, used taxpayer money to sponsor a free tattoo-removal program for local residents. Since when did that become a taxpayer obligation?

The county's fiscal crisis will undoubtedly reverberate in upcoming elections, affecting the political futures of several board members. Strong challengers are likely to emerge in what were considered safe districts, such as John Flynn's. It also will become a major issue in the race between Judy Mikel and Tom McClintock in the Republican primary for Cathie Wright's state Senate seat.

Next year's most controversial ballot initiative will be the Defense of Marriage Act, a measure defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman. In a sane age, this wouldn't even be a topic of debate, much less subject to vote. But one point needs to be conceded: Most of those who say they believe in the sanctity of marriage don't seem much troubled by the idea of divorce, which has undermined the institution of marriage far more than ``gay marriage'' ever could.

As writer G.K. Chesterton said, ``If there is such a thing as divorce, then there's no such thing as marriage,'' making the point that marriage used to be an indissoluble bond between a husband and wife. Once divorce became sanctioned, it was only a matter of time before everything else related to marriage was up for grabs, too.

Conservatives felt betrayed when Simi Valley school board member Janice DiFatta voted for liberal Carla Kurachi for board president. DiFatta, who received strong conservative support in winning her seat by a few dozen votes in 1996, began her defection when she voted to oust then-Superintendent Dan Flynn - who was strongly supported by conservatives Norm Walker and Caesar Julien- after giving him a positive evaluation just a week before.

Look for conservatives to support a strong challenger to DiFatta in her re-election bid, and fight tooth-and-nail to see she's defeated.

The most frightening trend is our blind faith in government's ability to provide a solution to every societal ill, despite all evidence - the Belmont Learning Center in Los Angeles and the LAPD's Rampart Division corruption scandal, to name a few - to the contrary.

No matter how damaging a judicial decision is to our freedoms, no matter how obviously contrary an act of the federal government is to the plain words of the Constitution, nobody seems to care much, even in a ``conservative'' area such as ours. Our acquiescence to such tyranny would have astonished and depressed our forefathers, but must delight our current rulers to no end.

Dashing the theory of evolution to bits, mankind seems in a headlong rush toward a new Dark Ages turning into the new millennium - the arts are in steep decline, social civility and courtesy are becoming a thing of the past, self-centered materialism abounds, the Faustian union of science and the limitless state threatens freedom everywhere. Nevertheless, we maintain a wonderful, God-given capacity for love and compassion for our neighbors - if only our heads and our hearts work together. For it is the great paradox of human existence that true happiness comes when we forget ourselves and think only of the good of others.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 26, 1999
Words:681
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