Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT


Here they come again! This time it’s California. Again. But, over the horizon, we could be talking about several counties in Oregon. Again.

The secessionist birds are flying once more in California’s Tehama and Del Norte Counties where they’ll be voting Tuesday – officially, of course – to have county commissioners – they’re called “supervisors” South of our border – push harder to pry certain counties loose to create the State of Jefferson. Butte County folks will deal with the same issue on the 12th. Glenn, Modoc, Siskyou and Yuba have already voted to go – stage right. Far right. And out.

Given how long malcontents in Oregon’s Josephine, Jackson, Douglas and Curry counties have been trying to bring the issue of secession to a vote, this new effort may “juice” them up to try yet again. Wouldn’t be surprised.

At the root of these useless expenditures of time and money is, of course, frustration. Some of it real. Some not so much. A guy named Aaron Funk in Del Norte, makes the “frustration case” for leaving California.

“We have 11 counties up here that share one state senator while Los Angeles has 20 and San Francisco 10 more,” he says. “Essentially, we have no representation whatsoever.”

There is some tiny, frustrated logic to that. Except for laws requiring equal representation based on nose-counting. One basic point adding to Mr. Funks angst is the real isolation of Northern California from the rest of the folks. The seven counties that have voted to leave – and the others who likely will next week – have a combined geographic area twice the size of New Hampshire but only about 467,000 souls residing. Mt. Shasta and all the redwoods are there along with some of the state’s poorest citizens. Racially, the population is nearly all white.

But Washington and Oregon residents living east of the Cascades could make almost the same case for almost the same reasons. Far from the seats of power, less political representation, lower economic scales and heavily white. So far, they haven’t. Officially.

Siskyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong already wants to pull out. She’s one of the Tea Party secessionists and says there are “too many nanny laws” coming out of Sacramento.

So how would the secessionists handle the financing of a separate state given that all states are required to take care of citizens therein? Well, depends on who’s doing the talking. Most often cited example of how things would be better is pretty plain. And plainly not possible in the real world. Just get rid of the feds, dissolve all those pesky state agencies that keep messing up their lives and build a government made up of only what’s necessary. But – when it comes to defining “necessary” there isn’t much commonality.

Other voices in the separatist forests go on at length how there are so many minerals and forests and agricultural lands that financing a whole new state government would be a piece of cake. Sell a bunch of it. Rent out a bunch of it. Sounds good unless you remember most of those assets are federally owned and would almost certainly remain so – new state or not. Ask other Western states about that immutable fact..

Other voices wanting to split up California have a different bone to pick. The state, they say, has become so large, so populated, so ethnically and economically diverse it’s not possible to effectively govern it all. So, you hear schemes of dividing all that real estate – and all those people – into three to six new states. But – if you just took those 13 counties that want to be in the new State of Jefferson, the state legislative analysis office puts them right on the economic bottom. Again.

Some thinking folks in those counties are damned scared. Specially educators. They don’t see any of this helping out their school systems. In fact, they fear the loss of hundreds of millions of federal dollars that currently underwrite their districts. In Del North County alone you’re talking about 32 million state dollars which is 90% of annual operations costs. Where would that – or any meaningful percentage – come from if the California Department of Education dropped out of the picture? Or the hated “feds?”

Lots of more responsible folks want all this whole secessionist B.S. to go away. They see worse economic conditions and higher unemployment in counties where there are already too many jobless. They see less law enforcement in counties where cuts in the number of sworn officers and prosecutor’s staffs have already left law-abiding citizens vulnerable. They see infrastructure of roads, sewer and water districts and transportation issues deteriorating even further.

Voting takes place Tuesday and a week from Tuesday. Street gossip says all – or nearly all – counties will vote “yes.” Then what?

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Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

BMC building firm mostly relocates to George (Boise Statesman)
Potatoes get fed approval for food program (Boise Statesman)
Maxican markets opening for Idaho potatoes (IF Post Register)
Supreme Court IQ ruling may shift ID case (IF Post Register, Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow schools adjust their zone map (Moscow News)
Historical society digitizes old newspapers (Nampa Press Tribune)
Debate rages over fairgrounds site (Nampa Press Tribune)
Black globs infesting Snake River (TF Times News)

Basketball player case records redacted (Eugene Register Guard)
Major expansion for Springfield hospital (Eugene Register Guard)
Kitzhaber wants to sue Oracle (Portland Oregonian, Eugene Register Guard, Salem Statesman Journal, Pendleton E Oregonian)
Tuition may rise at Klamath college (KF Herald & News)
Klamath Falls plans for drought (KF Herald & News)
Medford cops concerned of black market pot (Ashland Tidings)
Most OR teachers like their jobs (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Many rural OR counties have too few cops (Portland Oregonian)
Syphilis, gonorrhea increase in OR (Salem Statesman Journal)

Hwy 530 at Oso will reopen (Everett Herald)
Battle over potatoes on federal programs (Tacoma News Tribune, Kennewick Herald, Olympian)
A good fishing year on coast expected (Longview News)
Ballmer buys LA Clipper; whither Seattle? (Seattle Times, Spokane Spokesman, Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
I-5 Traffic questions surveyed (Olympian)
Port Angeles pot business okayed (Port Angeles News)
Port Angeles city hall building underway (Port Angeles News)
$15 minimum wages progresses in Seattle (Seattle Times)
Wyoming presses for coal ports in WA (Vancouver Columbian)
Increase in liquor thefts reported (Vancouver Columbian)

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