Secession

Jefferson Staters Keeping Up Fight in California

At Sacramento rally, rural residents say Legislature has ignored their issues

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In Siskiyou County, Calif., the tax base is so small and land area so vast the county's 44,000 residents have to rely on themselves in an emergency. The county can only afford a slim law-enforcement presence, so if there's a problem the response time may be "basically never," explains Mark Baird, a rancher and retired deputy sheriff who met with me in a Sacramento coffee shop last Wednesday.

Yet, he pointed out, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) just announced his support for more expansive gun-control measures. That disconnect between rural residents, who rely on their guns for self protection, and the more urban-oriented priorities at the Capitol, is an example of why he drove to the Capitol this week.

Baird is a leader of the ongoing effort to carve out rural northern California counties (and in past proposals, some southern Oregon counties, also) into the 51st state of Jefferson. The idea got a burst of attention in 2014 when Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tim Draper tried (and failed) to place on the ballot a measure that would break California into six states, one of which would have been called Jefferson.

But while the attention faded away, the Jefferson movement—the continuation of an effort that got its start in the World War II era—has plugged along. Baird was here to present "declarations" from 15 of California's 58 counties calling for withdrawal from California. The group held a rally on the west steps of the Capitol.

Those petitions—some approved by majorities of boards of supervisors, others comprised of signatures from local voters—were dropped off at the Legislative Counsel's Office, where they will no doubt be duly ignored from legislative leaders.

Such efforts are easy to dismiss, but it's too bad it has to be that way. Unlike the armed Bundy activists who have taken over a federal wildlife center in eastern Oregon, these Jefferson activists are petitioning their government in a thoughtful and peaceful manner. They may be tilting at windmills, but such protests are as American as apple pie.

Baird and Fort Jones Mayor Tom McCulley explained to me some of their frustrations. Their towns used to be thriving rural communities, but state and federal environmental policies dried up economic opportunities in logging, farming, energy development and mining. Now, McCulley said, the top employers in the county are county, state and federal government. Their kids are moving away and not coming back because of a lack of opportunity.

They gave numerous examples of officials coming in and making unreasonable demands, such as the requirement that McCulley's town of 650 spend $5 million on a new sewage facility, or restrictions on harvesting dead trees, or a federal agency's taking of half of one town's water supply, or state air restrictions that shut down a remote seed pellet mill. "Its government from afar with no empathy with how we live and we lack the representation to do anything about it," Baird said.

Indeed, their arguments were not mainly about grievances, but about political representation. At the Capitol rally, attended by several hundred people, I saw this sign: "Rural areas need proper representation." As one speaker noted, "This is not secession." He then invoked the Federalist papers No. 51, an essay about the proper way to construct a legislature. Baird points to a 1964 U.S. Supreme Court case that forced legislatures to base representation solely on population (rather than having Senate seats divvied up by county). In fact, their next step is a federal lawsuit based on these representation issues.

Those counties that would be part of the new state tend to have some of the lowest populations in California. Colusa has around 21,000 people. Sierra has 3,000 and Trinity has nearly 14,000 people. Those are rounding errors in most Southern California cities. Obviously, it's hard to get much attention to their concerns in a Legislature dominated by representatives from counties with millions of people.

These representation concerns seem authentic. I was driving through Yuba County over the weekend and heard radio ads promoting Jefferson. I've seen the Double-X flag (standing for residents having been double-crossed by politicians in Sacramento and Salem) flying all across the north state. The sentiment isn't unanimous, of course. Sierra County's board of supervisors recently passed a resolution opposing Jefferson. But even their resolution acknowledges many of the same problems—they just want to solve them within current boundaries.

A large portion of residents in a region that encompasses around 30 percent of the state's land mass are so frustrated they want to create a new state. That's the sign of a problem. California's legislators and governor—who has a family ranch in Colusa County and who has been quoted saying that he'd like to convince Jefferson activists to "stick around"—ought to take their concerns more seriously.

NEXT: More Easy to Disprove Lies from Chris Christie at the GOP Debate

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  1. I feel like Jefferson would be a great place to live.

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  3. forced legislatures to base representation solely on population (rather than having Senate seats divvied up by county)

    The California senate and assembly districts are designed based solely on poplulation. WTF are they talking about?

    1. My bad – upon rereading it sounds like they’re demanding seats per county and not population. That makes sense given how the federal senate works.

  4. The dragon will always oppress you. Slay the dragon!

  5. Sierra county and some other county officials are opposed to the new state because the present state system pays their wages which they would loose because they would be fired by the new stat,e they would be treated like the vichy French traitors for not helping to wrest freedom from the oppresive state. Yes I’m in Northern California and I’m for the state of Jefferson.

  6. California needs to be broken up if for no other reason it has undue influence in Presidential Elections. The State has about 1/8 of the whole countries population but uses 1/4 of all welfare dollars… The whole reason that the State is even viable is the Billions going to it because of Silicon Valley and the Entertainment Industry… If the State was really doing well it would be using 1/8 of all the countries welfare not a quarter…

    1. Amen to that. My hope is that California’s one-party-rule destroys it to the point where it hemorrhages residents (like with Detroit). Then, it could someday lose its undue influence at the federal level without having to redraw state lines.

      1. Those residents have to go somewhere. Look at Colorado for example of what bullshit they being with them. I’d rather California sink (economically) with its crew on board.

        1. Colorado poisoned itself. Its transition from a red to blue state was a masterwork pulled off by local Democrats called the “Colorado Model.” http://www.weeklystandard.com/article/16408

          Democrats look to replicate the Colorado Model everywhere.

          I’m not saying that Californians who moved to Colorado didn’t play any part in its transformation from a red to blue state but that it is not the real reason why Colorado went blue. From the Weekly Standard article I linked to above:

          “Democrats are wisely running candidates, statewide and locally, who campaign as centrists, not as liberals.”

          In other words, they’re not being outright over-the-top leftists appealing to transplanted California leftists, they’re appealing to the centrists in Colorado, winning the elections, and then acting like leftists.

        2. Oregon might be next. Well, maybe not red to blue but, light blue to darker blue.

          Better look out.

          A Northern California resident who’d move 100 miles north just to be in Jefferson.

          Hey, maybe they should go all the way and form their own country rather than their own state!

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  10. “They gave numerous examples of officials coming in and making unreasonable demands, such as the requirement that McCulley’s town of 650 spend $5 million on a new sewage facility, or restrictions on harvesting dead trees, or a federal agency’s taking of half of one town’s water supply, or state air restrictions that shut down a remote seed pellet mill.”

    But don’t you see? Based upon their overwhelming electorate majority they have a moral mandate to impose political will. They are right and you are wrong. Go find yourself a majority and change it.

  11. Sarcasm Switch On:
    RE: The Proposed State of Jefferson

    Comrades! These doubters of socialism in the northern California counties who seek independence from the People’s Republic of California are typical of the neanderthal beliefs of freedom, independence and self-governance that has been infecting the collective for over 200 years. They have not been sufficiently brainwashed and indoctrinated into the wise and beneficial ways of large government. These knuckle dragging, mouth breathing kulak reactionaries should be more than willing to give up their farms, their incomes, their way of life, and, indeed, their lives and the lives of their families for the State and the ruling elitist filth who do everything they can oppress them and help these uneducated peasants enjoy the many and varied pleasures of the collectivization of their properties. Indeed, don’t they know what a horrible impact on the environment it is when they harvesting dead trees? Don’t they know having each person give five million dollars a piece is a small price for their socialist turds in the state capital to give their cronies for a sewage plant? Don’t they know it should be an honor for their oppressive government hosts to parasite off their water?
    It is a sad testament in this day and age when adults can not see why they should sacrifice for the benefit of their obvious betters in the capital city of the Soviet City of Sacramento.
    Sarcasm Switch Off?

    1. Sarcasm? I think De Leon gave a similar speech last week.

  12. We in Eastern Washington (along with Eastern Oregon) would love to break away from the liberal shitholes west of the mountains that continually saddle us with idiotic laws. We would include Idaho and Montana west of the Continental Divide.

    1. My contacts in Montana indicate that the larger population centers are headed into liberal shitholedum. And, from what I’ve read in the media and a few online forums, that seems plausible.

      It’s truly sad. The Rockies in Montana are one of my bucket list items. It won’t be the same if the likes of Ted and Jane or Tom and Roseann have taken over.

  13. It seems to me that the only counties who should vote on forming a separate state are those that actually want to form a separate state. What possible justification is there to let the rest of California vote to force Jefferson to stay within California?

    1. This was illustrated by when the San Fernando Valley wanted to secede from the city of Los Angeles.

      The basic argument was that tax monies were being taken from SFV to be spent to buy votes in poorer parts of the city–a wealth transfer that resulted in the SFV getting a lot less in services than they paid for in taxes.

      The rest of the city of LA voted to keep SFV, and LA won.

      http://www.dailynews.com/artic…../121109501

      So to answer your question, “what possible justification…” it is “to steal from a wealthier group of people using the force of law.” Not a very JUST justification, but it is still the truth.

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  15. We have multiple bills floating in the assembly now to outlaw all semiautomatic rifles that have detachable magazines….. LA and SF; pushing their (mostly irrational) personal views on the rest of us. Totally misrepresenting it as. 1) a bullet button ban (really a ban on almost all semiautomatic rifles) 2) what bullet buttons do (they claim they speed up magazine replacement when the truth is the opposite) 3) that it has something to do with ‘assault weapons’ (they’re redefining almost all semiautomatic rifles assault weapons). Staggering dishonesty…

    1. Amen to that. The lies that Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris are spewing to get their gun bans passed are utterly amazing. It is incredible that there are so many suckers out there who actually believe what they are saying when a simple google search can confirm they are lying through their weaselly teeth.

    2. The media here often uses the terms “automatic” and “semi-automatic” interchangeably in a propaganda effort. And, from what I’ve encountered in gun control conversations in my own life, it’s been pretty effective.

      Now, where’s my old single shot before they convince people that it is the deadliest rifle on earth because I only need a single shot to achieve my aim.

  16. The idea that a county of 3,000 should have equal political weight in the legislature as say, a county of 10 million is just wrong. Remember, since laws can be used for both aggressive and defensive purposes, the votes from small counties could be used for more than just self-defense, but also offense. For example, if small counties in California had their way, we would have much more stringent abortion regulations, even though the vast majority of people would not appreciate such infringements on their liberty.

    In any case, it doesn’t make sense to give people with more land more votes or more influence. Last time I checked, we have moved away from feudalism and other land-based systems for allocating power.

    1. Sounds like the U.N. to me.

      The alternative is the bill of rights. Protect minority interests from majority prerogative when there is no reasonably measurable harm in non-restriction.

      My right to swing my fist freely through the air ends where your nose begins.

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