Modoc County’s board of supervisors voted 4-0 for the move, which was supported by the majority of the 40 attendees at the meeting, including a spokesperson for the Jefferson Declaration Committee, the group hoping to compel at least six counties in the area to sign on before asking state lawmakers for approval. If the state assembly approves Jefferson’s formation, it would then go to Congress for consideration.
“I put the measure on the agenda because I heard from a number of people in my district that wanted to do such,” the Record-Searchlight quoted board chair Byrne as saying. “We’re not saying we’re seceding today. We’re saying, let’s look into it.”
The board’s vote came 21 days after officials in neighboring Siskiyou County signaled their intention to break away in a 4-1 vote, in opposition to a state fire prevention fee and a lack of understanding from legislators. Modoc County has around 9,300 residents, and also contains federal land, with personnel from the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, among other agencies, operating in the area.
Byrne told Al Jazeera America her constituents are also frustrated by a lack of attention compared to larger cities.
“People in L.A. have no clue what we face,” Byrne explained to Al Jazeera. “We don’t tell people in Los Angeles how to manage crime, so why should they tell us how to farm potatoes?”
However, Mark Lovelace, who sits on the board of supervisors of Humboldt County, questioned the viability of Modoc and Siskiyou and similar areas breaking away, telling Al Jazeera that taxes in any new territory would have to be able to make up for the money lost in state funding.
“There needs to be a reality check,” Lovelace said to Al Jazeera.
Mark Baird, who represented the Jefferson committee at the meeting in Modoc, told the Record-Searchlight the group wants to attract 12 counties before going to state legislators.
“California is essentially ungovernable in its present size,” Baird explained to the Record-Searchlight. “We lack the representation to address the problems that affect the North State.”
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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