Supervisors propose measure that could lead to secession

Aug 11, 2022 | Front Page


By Mary-Justine Lanyon

The sole item on the agenda for the special meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors called for Aug. 3 read: “Consider proposed ordinance relating to placing a measure on the ballot to pursue the county’s fair share of state and federal resources. Make alterations, if necessary, to proposed ordinance.”

The measure and the special meeting were in response to comments made
by a number of attendees at the July 26 board meeting.

“People said, why aren’t you fighting for us and our fair share. We really don’t know if we’re missing out. We don’t know what our fair share is,” said Supervisor Curt Hagman, chairman of the board. “We engaged with our staff to find out. Are we not fighting hard enough for our residents? What would that take?”

The board got some preliminary numbers, Hagman said, that indicated San Bernardino County may not be getting its fair share.

“It will take resources to fight this, to get the information. It will take data analytics. And then what do you do?” Hagman asked. “The request from the residents was to put something on the ballot to fight this. Do we want to put this on the ballot to allow residents to have a voice, to say whether they want us to fight untraditionally?”

And then he read what he called the “latest version” of the measure: “Do the people of San Bernardino County want San Bernardino County elected officials to study and advocate for all options to obtain the county’s fair share of state funding up to and including secession from the state of California?”

The last phrase, Hagman said, is the most controversial. “Of course you want us to advocate for our fair share,” he said.

As the staff looked into the matter, Hagman said, they discovered that counties in other states are also making this statement. There are seven counties in Oregon, he noted, that want to secede and become part of Idaho.

“Secession is an extreme example,” said 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Rowe. “We would become our own state or become a county in another state (like Arizona or Nevada). We received overwhelming support for looking into options. Several people said we were crazy. Many expressed frustration and hope that their elected officials will look out for them.

“I am in favor of exploring options,” Rowe said, “but I have concerns if we looked at going off on our own. There are so many services we may take for granted. We want to make sure we have a well-rounded report. I am interested in studying it.”

“I am not in favor of secession,” said 5th District Supervisor Joe Baca Jr. “We don’t have the resources to create our own state. It’s not realistic.” But, he added, “What do we need to do to make sure we get our fair share? I’m proud to be from California. I love San Bernardino County. I’m open to the study.”

Such a study, Hagman commented, “would give us a base of information to advocate for our residents.”
“Last week, we had a lot of speakers expressing a desire to secede,” said 2nd District Supervisor Janice Rutherford. “They cited the state’s unwillingness to address the quality of life issues that face our residents and provide fair funding for our entire inland region.

“I don’t believe it’s possible politically or financially to secede from California,” Rutherford said. “However, I join with my constituents who have a growing palpable anger from high gas prices to burdensome taxes, growing homelessness to an ineffective justice system, broken schools to the state’s overreaching, counterproductive regulatory schemes, housing unaffordability to the state’s ineptness in dealing with this drought.

“There’s nothing crazy about being angry about those things. Our residents deserve better from California than they are getting. This measure would allow them to express that,” Rutherford said.
Supervisor Rowe moved the recommendation with a second from Supervisor Baca. The four supervisors present – Supervisor Paul Cook was absent – approved it. County Counsel Tom Bunton noted that this would be an advisory vote only, the results of which would not be controlling on the board of supervisors.

The ordinance was slated to appear on the Aug. 9 agenda for a final vote; a positive vote would put it on the Nov. 8 ballot.



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