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Siskiyou supervisors support withdrawal from California

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Old 09-08-2013, 02:08 AM   #1
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Default Siskiyou supervisors support withdrawal from California

Dang man! I would seriously relocate to Jefferson! Where do I sign up?

I have known about Jefferson for most of my life, but it looks like they are getting more serious about it.

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Tuesday to support the county's split from the state of California.

It's the first in a long series of steps to form the proposed state of Jefferson, which proponents of the effort say would bring representation to rural North State counties that currently are beholden to the whims of representatives of the more heavily populated Southern California and free them from burdensome state regulations.

”We have to have government that's local, understands our issues and has empathy” for those affected, said Mark Baird, a Scott Valley rancher who's also president for Scott Valley Protect Our Water and vice president of the Siskiyou Water User's Association.

Baird is leading the charge to form a new state from rural counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon, though he certainly wasn't the only voice in support of the move.

More than 100 people packed the supervisors' chambers Tuesday for the discussion on whether the county should issue a declaration that it wants to secede from the state. Nearly all those in attendance appeared to be for the move and about a dozen spoke in support of it.

”Many proposed laws are unconstitutional and deny us our God-given rights,” said Gabe Garrison of Happy Camp. “We need our own state so we can make laws that fit our way of life.”

Among those in attendance was Erin Ryan, field representative for Rep. Doug LaMalfa. When asked for the congressman's opinion, she said that she and other LaMalfa staff members supported the effort to secede, but she did not know LaMalfa's thoughts on it.

She also said there's support for the split in Sacramento.

The discussion also attracted members of groups from Shasta and Tehama counties who are looking for their own supervisors to pass similar declarations.

”It would be the only way I could see everyone coming together in a positive manner,” said Tom Moller of Red Bluff.

Also there was Kayla Brown, a mother in her early 20s, who said she didn't want to raise her child in California.

”The state of Jefferson is the place I want to raise my son,” she said.

At one point in the meeting a speaker asked for a show of hands from those in attendance who supported the split. Nearly every hand in the room was raised.

And supervisors echoed much of that enthusiasm in their own comments.

”I haven't had one contact in regard to this issue, that's in opposition,” Supervisor Michael Kobseff said.

Supervisor Marcia Armstrong said the issues were about regulation, restriction of rights, lack of representation, regionalism and restoration of limited government.

”We also have this enormous bureaucracy of unelected officials making decisions for us,” she said.

Board Chair Ed Valenzuela was the sole vote against the declaration. He said he was elected to solve problems within the system.

”It comes down to because I took an oath. I took an oath when I ran for re-election, which I just did, and that was to uphold the Constitution, and uphold the constitution of the state of California,” he said. “And within that, and because knowing what it's like to be a minority, I know the value of having to work from the other side without the numbers and without support. I signed on to do that, I signed on to work within the system I know. I don't like it, I don't agree with it all the time but at the same token, I did sign up for that and I will continue to do so.”

In August, county residents lobbied the board to consider separating from the state over a laundry list of complaints including a lack of representation in Sacramento for the Republican-majority county, issues pertaining to water rights and the rural fire prevention fee.

If the county were to split from the state, any action taken today would be the first step in a long process that would require approval from the state Legislature and the U.S. Congress.

Siskiyou County would also invite other neighboring counties in California and Southern Oregon to join in the effort to create a new state.

The U.S. Constitution allows for the formation of new states, though land can't be taken from existing states without the consent of state and federal governments.

Humboldt County 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn said he can understand the frustration in Siskiyou County and that he tends to agree with most of the issues that were brought up by the board.

”I was one of the people who thinks the State of Jefferson wasn't a bad idea,” Bohn said. “There has been a total lack of respect in terms of our water rights and the fire fee. Those things may not be important to the rest of the state, but it's important to us. This is a major thing for everyone that lives rurally.”

Bohn said the problem is that only 16 percent of the state is rural, and decisions in Sacramento are sometimes based on the needs or realities of more urban areas.

”It's kind of a drastic measure to get someone to listen to you, but I guess they feel like they're not getting heard,” he said.

Bohn added that the Humboldt County supervisors will likely meet to discuss the issue.

Humboldt County 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said he took the talk of secession as a statement of frustration.

”There has to be basic economic underpinnings to make a state work,” Lovelace said. “There is a certain romantic appeal and allure to the state of Jefferson, this entire idea of what could have been, but in reality it would not be good economically.”

He said one of the problems with a rural county seceding is that the tax base starts small.

”Siskiyou is one of the largest counties with one of the smallest populations,” he said. “It is also full of state roads that they won't be able to maintain, and federal land.”

Times-Standard staff writer Catherine Wong contributed to this report.

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Old 09-13-2013, 09:37 PM   #2
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Old 09-13-2013, 11:02 PM   #3
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