Thursday, September 26, 2013

Modoc County, California votes to join its neighbor, Siskiyou, in exploring secession from California

The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday on the 4-0 vote of the Modoc County Board of Supervisors to secede from the State of California.  One supervisor was absent.  In so voting, Modoc joins its neighbor to the west, Siskiyou County, both on the Oregon state line.  Lee Romney reports, dateline San Francisco, but referencing the Redding Record-Searchlight.  That story quotes Geri Byrne, chair of the Modoc Board, saying she placed the item on the agenda “because I heard from a number of people in my district that wanted to do such.… We’re not saying we’re seceding today, we’re saying let’s look into it.”  She continued:
This is going to have to be something the people bring forward. It’s going to have to be from the bottom up, not from the top down.
Seceding counties would form a new state called Jefferson, though doing so would require approval of the California legislature and the U.S. Congress.  A spokesperson for the Jefferson Declaration Committee, Mark Baird, said his group hopes to secure commitments from about a dozen counties, including some in southern Oregon, before asking the California General Assembly to consider the formation of Jefferson.  The Record-Searchlight quotes Baird:   
California is essentially ungovernable in its present size.  We lack the representation to address the problems that affect the North State. 
We’re looking for 12 counties, though we can certainly do it with less.  
Depending on how  many counties secede and form Jefferson, the new state’s economy could be 15 percent larger than that of New Mexico, according to Baird.

Modoc County's population is just under 10,000, and its poverty rate is 19.8%.  Until the 2010 Census, Modoc was one of just three high-poverty counties in California, the others being Del Norte (far northwest corner) and Imperial (far southeast corner.)

Butte County, population 229,431,will consider the movement to secede at its Oct. 22 meeting.  Redding's vice mayor is pushing to have the issue put on the agenda there, too.  Redding, with a population of 90,755, is the largest California city north of Sacramento.

An earlier post about Siskiyou County's vote to secede is here.  That post includes links and information about the movement to form Jefferson, which has been around for more than 70 years.  That early movement was driven by a desire for better roads so that residents could access natural resources.  

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