The Mayor's Pajamas : Santa Clarita Official Just Wants to Have Fun, but Her Parties Are Not a Hit With All


There is a strict dress code for Santa Clarita Mayor Jill Klajic's party tonight: No suits or ties, no dresses or high-heeled shoes.

Just pajamas.

Yes, a grown-up pajama party.

No, men are not invited.

This will be the mayor's fifth women-only pajama party in the past two years--a tradition that has generated both humor and controversy at City Hall in Santa Clarita, the new little city that is rapidly establishing a reputation as the capital of offbeat municipal government.

Klajic, 44, defends her right to have fun in her own way. She argues that if some hostesses can throw Tupperware parties, and others require cocktail dresses and tuxedos, why can't she have a pajama party? "It's just a gimmick to make the party interesting," she said. "It's no different than a black tie party."

But some Santa Clarita residents don't see it that way, including some of Klajic's colleagues on the City Council. They feel that a pajama party doesn't project the mature image they believe is essential for the mayor of the seventh-largest city in Los Angeles County.

"I just think it's degrading to women to say that is how women do business--in pajamas and teddies," Councilwoman Jan Heidt said. "It's pretty much an elementary and junior high school thing, isn't it?"

Heidt, who runs a bookstore, said many of her customers have discussed the matter with her and most frown upon the mayor's idea of fun.

"Jill doesn't care who she embarrasses and humiliates," she said. "She is doing her own thing."

Councilwoman Jo Anne Darcy, who is also an aide to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, agrees. At a recent news conference to discuss funding to complete a bridge in Santa Clarita, Darcy jokingly referred to herself as a "pajama party reject" because she wasn't invited.

Said Councilman Carl Boyer: "Maybe she is just trying to get her name in the paper."

Santa Clarita City Clerk Donna Grindey said she was invited to the party last year but declined the invitation, saying she wanted to spend the weekend with her family. "I'm not into pajama parties anymore," she said. She was not invited this year.

But Klajic defends her parties, saying they are all in good fun. And she is not going to let the criticism spoil it for her.

Criticizing those with "nothing better to do than get upset about me having a party," she argued that "we have to have a sense of humor. We can't be just all politicians with no sense of humor."

The tradition began two years ago when Klajic decided to throw a party for the women who helped her get elected to the council, she said. Because the event was scheduled just before Halloween, someone suggested that it be a pajama party, she said. The idea caught on and Klajic has since been hosting pajama parties twice a year.

While tonight's party will include games such as contests for the best and sexiest pajamas, Klajic said it will also include serious discussions of current issues, such as the Los Angeles riots.

"There is no agenda," she said. "It is open to whatever the women are involved in or are interested in. . . . We laugh a lot."

The guests are invited to spend the night if they choose and activities such as a nature hike have in the past been held the following morning, Klajic said.

Others have criticized the parties as private political gatherings that exclude men, a sort of "teddie tribunal" or "mumu mafia."

"We have worked for years to get politics out of the men's locker room and now she is putting it in the boudoir," said Linda Calvert, a critic of the mayor and an unsuccessful council candidate.

Klajic countered that the parties are simply gatherings of a few friends, not political events. She said if any men want to discuss political issues with her, they can call her office and schedule an appointment.

The pajama parties fit into a series of incidents that have given Santa Clarita a reputation for quirky local government, such as the time the City Council gathered hairdressers together to learn what their customers were thinking and the decision to paint local buses candy-apple red.

Public reaction in Santa Clarita appears to be split on the pajama parties.

Malia Campbell, a community activist who has attended one of the parties, said they are nothing more than "good, clean fun."

"Basically, it's nothing other than to have a good time and camaraderie" she said.

Jeff Emenheiser, manager of Zeko's Restaurant in Valencia, said the matter has not been a hot topic at his restaurant, but he believes that the parties are inappropriate.

"It would be fine for someone who is 12," he said. "But if you start getting adults doing it, that is not in good taste."

He suggested that the mayor consider having a luau or a barbecue instead.

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