Secede? And weed

Supervisors take on a variety of topics

The Board of Supervisors’ chambers overflow with State of Jefferson supporters.

The Board of Supervisors’ chambers overflow with State of Jefferson supporters.

Photo by Meredith J. Graham

When news came earlier this month that Yuba County’s Board of Supervisors had voted to support the State of Jefferson movement to secede from California, naysayers questioned just how much impact that decision would have on, well, anything. Butte County is in line to make a similar decision—to declare a desire to separate from the rest of the state, or to go with the flow.

“What we hope to accomplish is to have a declaration and a petition to withdraw from the state of California from Butte County,” explained Mark Baird, a State of Jefferson spokesman from nearby Siskiyou County, which was the first to join the movement.

Baird spoke to the Butte County board during its Tuesday (April 22) meeting, which saw the chambers overflowing, many supporters clad in State of Jefferson T-shirts. He explained that one of the main reasons he’s pushing for secession is to gain representation in Congress.

“We need better representation than we have now, which is one state senator for 1 million people,” Baird said during a phone interview after the meeting. “That’s four times worse than the next [most populous] state.”

Thus far, in addition to Siskiyou and Yuba counties, Modoc and Glenn also have declared their support for the State of Jefferson. Baird said similar discussions are happening throughout the North State, and either informational meetings or votes are scheduled over the coming months in Del Norte, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sutter and Tehama counties.

“We’ll not only be sending a message, but with these declarations we can cause legislation to be written,” Baird said.

Dozens of supporters also took to the lectern, during the public-comment period, to voice their reasoning for wanting to create a new state.

One man told the board, “My wife and I discuss leaving this state every single day. The State of Jefferson is a new opportunity, a second chance. You ask, ‘What do we have to gain?’ I say, ‘What do we have to lose?’”

Fernando Marin is forcibly removed from the lectern.

photo by Meredith J. Graham

Fernando Marin, a Paradise resident and former county planning commissioner, spoke passionately about his view that too many politicians stay in office too long, leading to little change in policy. When he surpassed his minute-and-a-half allotment of speaking time, Supervisor Doug Teeter told him so. He became irate, told Teeter, “You’re going to get an education here,” and was promptly escorted from the room.

Everyone took a few minutes to quiet down, but Sally Raposa received applause for her request that the board “Take the torch and light the way for us.”

Ultimately, Supervisor Bill Connelly said he signed the petition to join the State of Jefferson “early on,” and made a motion to agendize a vote to join the cause in June. Supervisor Larry Wahl also voiced his support, and the board voted 4-1, with Supervisor Steve Lambert dissenting.

In other news, the board once again took up discussion of an ordinance passed in February to amend restrictions regarding the cultivation of medical marijuana. Because those against the ordinance successfully gathered enough signatures to stop the measure, supervisors were faced with the decision of whether to rescind it altogether or put it to a vote of the people.

After about a dozen comments from the public, most of which had little bearing on the actual decision (one woman asked the board, “Why do you want people to have cancer?”), they chose the latter. It will be added to the November ballot.

The ordinance restricts the number of marijuana plants that can be grown by limiting the square footage of each garden.

“I’d like to create an ordinance that makes everyone happy,” said Supervisor Maureen Kirk. “But that’s just not possible. We ought to let it go to a vote.”

Kirk said she wanted to balance her desire to ensure patients have access to their medicine with being able to keep cartels and other illegal growers from harassing neighbors. She, Teeter and Lambert discussed the advantages of dispensaries.

“I’d be willing to stick my neck out for dispensaries,” Teeter said.

That discussion was too little, too late, however, as Lambert noted, “We got rid of those in our county.”