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Recall targets county elected official for 'hollow' talk

by Tim Hearden, Capital Press 11/25/11


Followed by: comments by Liz Bowen, President of PienPolitics

response by Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong

YREKA, Calif. -- Divisions over how best to respond to state water regulators could cost one Siskiyou County supervisor her seat.

Some constituents here are circulating petitions to recall Supervisor Marcia Armstrong because they think she's gone too soft on the state Department of Fish and Game's efforts to control water deliveries.

Among their grievances is that Armstrong supported the environmental documents that led to the DFG's requirement of special watershed-wide permits for irrigation, which was later struck down in court, and that she failed to adequately inform landowners about "new attacks" from intrusive regulators.

"Marcia used to be quite vocal on property rights and now it seems to be hollow," said Liz Bowen, a Callahan, Calif., landowner and one of the petitioners. "We became really disillusioned with her when she did not support the farmers and ranchers that believed the watershed-wide permit from the DFG was illegal. ... That's what stirred us up the most."

Armstrong responded that she remains a champion for property rights, adding she supported a recent Defend Rural America rally at which a half-dozen local sheriffs complained that overregulation was harming their counties' economies.

She said she only sent comments on the permits' environmental documents, mainly hitting the DFG for not adequately consulting with the county in developing the permits and requesting that the agency take into account the economic distress of the area.

"You don't support or oppose an EIS, you make comments on it," Armstrong said.

She said that people "are fed up" with state and federal endangered species regulations and that "it's pushing our people into a corner." In this "vacuum," the idea of civil disobedience becomes more attractive, she said.

"People are frustrated because they hear about processes like coordination that they feel are silver bullets, that the county is able to intercede on their behalf between the federal government or the state government and regulatory action," Armstrong said. "It's very limited. Coordination is a statutory process, so it has to be in a statute. It's not a constitutional right."

Coordination is a process outlined in U.S. and state environmental laws that enables local governments to force an agency proposing a rule to involve them in its decision.

The recall effort underscores the highly charged nature of Siskiyou County politics in light of recent water conflicts here - including the heated debate over whether to remove four dams from the Klamath River, three of which are in the county.

Armstrong is a veteran of battles over water rights, having helped organize demonstrations against a federal road closure in Nevada and the 2001 water shutoff in the Klamath Basin before becoming a county supervisor nine years ago.

Etna, Calif., rancher Jeff Fowle, the first vice president of the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau, said he supports Armstrong even if he doesn't agree with every decision she makes.

"Marcia has done a tremendous job supporting agriculture," Fowle said. "She supports county oversight. She believes that county control is imperative, which ironically those who are trying to recall her, that's what they're trying to do also."



Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors: www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/BOS/BOS.aspx

Marcia Armstrong comments on the watershed-wide permit EIS:users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/ITP%20comments.htm



Opinion on Recall of Siskiyou Supervisor District 5


By Liz Bowen

The following article by Tim Hearden published in the “Capital Press” shows exactly why I and others are circulating a petition to Recall District 5 Supervisor Marcia Armstrong.

I have heard Armstrong make comments in opposition of the EIR and EIS on Klamath dam removal, which sounds like she is against it. But her comments in the following article make me a bit confused — she apparently only comments, but neither opposes or supports? Our point exactly — We need a Supervisor who is NOT afraid to oppose the federal and state governments on their environmental statements.

Someone at the county level has continued to make sure “coordination” does NOT move along correctly. Armstrong has taken at least 4 workshops on “coordination.” It truly is not that difficult to understand, although it is a process that must be followed correctly. Siskiyou County has consistently not followed it correctly.

Then, of course, Jeff Fowle will support Armstrong. Fowle was apppointed to the Siskiyou Co. Planning Commission by Armstrong. It was initially this Commission that persecuted a local businessman, Keith Darrah, when he paved his parking lot. The Commission should have seen through the outrageous decisions made by the County’s Planning Director, Terry Barber.

Armstrong and other County Supervisors voted to support the Planning Commission’s decision against Darrah and has now spent over a quarter of a MILLION dollars on private lawyers in a unique judicial procedure against Mt. Shasta businessman Darrah — who has been out of business for 3 years! I sat through much of the kangaroo court judicial procedure. The county didn’t have a leg to stand on. The supervisors sat as judge and jury and will, of course, rule in their favor.

The Supervisors must entice and encourage business in Siskiyou County — not spend taxpayer dollars persecuting and destroying businesses. We have heard and seen other complaints.

Only problem: Keith Darrah, the businessman, has now sued the County of Siskiyou, Planning Director Terry Barber, and a previous county supervisor, LaVada Erickson.

The Supervisors continue to spend money on a situation that should have been taken care of by the Planning Commission.

Regulations and codes are instituted to bring business into compliance — not persecute or destroy the business. Barber continues to be out-of-control favoring some businesses over others, but the Planning Commission and the Supervisors do not have the Constitutional fortitude to do the RIGHT thing. Barber needs to be fired!

Here is our Notice of Intent letter to Recall Supervisor District 5 of Siskiyou County, Marcia Armstrong.

Grounds for the proposed recall are as follows:

Supervisor Armstrong has neglected telling concerned citizens vital information regarding new attacks upon property rights, water rights or intrusive state and federal regulations. She has failed to aggressively defend her constituents’ property and water rights; and has discouraged our efforts to defeat these devastating issues.

Supervisor supported the Environmental Impact Report in 2009 for the Watershed-Wide Permit Program with California Department of Fish and Game and Siskiyou Resource Conservation District designed to fatally compromise and usurp our water rights.

Supervisor voted with the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors to enact a Siskiyou County Ground Water Management Ordinance, which includes the adjudicated watershed of Scott Valley in violation of AB 3030, which states: (groundwater) plans cannot be adopted in adjudicated basins …. The state may use this action against Siskiyou County residents with groundwater.

Supervisor Armstrong has known about the Coordination process of bringing state and federal agencies to the table with the county since 1996, when she participated in writing the Siskiyou County Comprehensive Land and Resource Management Plan. She attended at least three Coordination seminars between 2007 and 2011. Supervisor Armstrong has been negligent in utilizing this tool.

District Five citizens desire a supervisor who upholds the Constitution to protect her citizens.



Response from Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong

"My response to Ms. Bowen is as follows:

(1) Complaint number one: I neither oppose or support EIR/EIS. I comment.

Response: It does no good just to make statements that you are for or against something in an EIR/EIS. The agencies only consider substantive comments regarding the adequacy of their facts and analysis of environmental impacts. Here is a websites that explains: http://envirodefenders.org/legal/nepa.html My comments on the ITP did exactly that - challenged the adequacy of their facts and analysis. users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/ITP%20comments.htm I also contributed to the extensive County comment on dam removal and have made many technical comments on EIS/EIRs in the past. http://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/BOS/DOCS/KBRA/Comments_of_SiskiyouCountyandCities_to_KlamathFacilitiesRemoval_EIR_EIS%2011_21_11.pdf

(2) Complaint number two: "Someone at the county level has continued to make sure “coordination” does NOT move along correctly." :

Response: Siskiyou County has retained Attorney Fred Kelly Grant, who advises us. Audios of most of our coordination meetings with the USFS can be found here: Coordination with the USFS
- meeting minutes and audio 7/13, /8/11, 8/23 and 11/15. Public lands, forestry projects discussed - 11/15/11 Meeting 2.
I, personally, have worked with the Regional Forester on the statewide level to get the USFS to recognize coordination among all of their National Forests. I sit on a special four person committee appointed by 19 Northern CA Counties, along with Sean Curtis of Tradem
ark America. to work with the Regional Forest Deputy Director on coordination and other issues.

The Board of Supervisors are not the only ones that have been stone-walled on coordination. Our Sheriff has also met with refusal from the CA Dept. Of Fish and Game. Sheriff Lopey's letter on coordination to the DFG http://users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/Lopey%20ltr.%20on%20coord.pdf
Letter from DFG to Sheriff Lopey denying coordination http://users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/DFG%20to%20Lopey.pdf

(3) Complaint number three: "Armstrong and other County Supervisors voted to support the Planning Commission’s decision against Darrah and has now spent over a quarter of a MILLION dollars on private lawyers in a unique judicial procedure against Mt. Shasta businessman Darrah — who has been out of business for 3 years! I sat through much of the kangaroo court judicial procedure. The county didn’t have a leg to stand on. The supervisors sat as judge and jury and will, of course, rule in their favor."

Response: Mr. Darrah appealed the Planning Department's enforcement decision under the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act to the Board of Supervisors. That decision has already been rendered. Enforcement proceedings are now being reheard before the Board of Supervisors at Mr. Darrah's sole request. Because it is an appeal of an enforcement decision, just like a trial, Mr. Darrah and the County Planning Department sit in adversarial positions and are entitled to representation by counsel. The Board of Supervisors sits like a body of impartial judges. The Board was to make its decision on December 12, 2011. Because Ms. Bowen has brought the proceedings and merits of the case into a recall, she has attempted to influence me through the recall and interfere with the outcome of the proceedings, I will now have to recuse myself from a "judge" on the case.

(4) Complaint number four: The Supervisors must entice and encourage business in Siskiyou County; not spend taxpayer dollars persecuting and destroying businesses.

Response: I served for a decade on the Siskiyou County Economic Development Council. I now serve on the Economic Growth Group.

(5) Complaint number five Capital Press article: “We became really disillusioned with her when she did not support the farmers and ranchers that believed the watershed-wide permit from the DFG was illegal. … That’s what stirred us up the most.”

Response: The watershed wide permit was designed as a group incidental take permit and streambed alteration permit to spread permit and mitigation costs. Several environmental groups sued the CA DFG on the basis that it was too lenient and the Court ruled in their favor. So the programmatic permits are no more. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, including me, support the current Siskiyou County Farm Bureau lawsuit against the CA DFG's expanded interpretation of the 1602 permit as applying to the simple turning on of an existing headgate.

The issue between POW and I is the following: The POW (Protect Our Water) group believes that Section 2087 of the California Fish and Game Code regarding "accidental take" protects farmers from "incidental take" (Section 2081) of a listed "threatened" coho salmon. Therefore, they believed that the CA DFG was lying to them when they were told they needed an incidental take permit to divert water or to engage in other farming activities. POW felt that this was an illegal action by DFG using "threats and attempts by threats to extort action" that is not required by law because the activity is exempted under "accidental take." On the other hand, Siskiyou County's attorneys gave the Board of Supervisors an opinion that under Section 2088, the accidental take provision does not apply to "fish species" ( member of the class Osteichthyes or boney fish) of which coho are a part. I did, indeed, challenge POW on this matter when they told my constituents that they were covered under accidental take for their activities and would not even need to consider the protection of an incidental take permit. It is my information that the POW interpretation is incorrect information and that their advise could put farmers and ranchers in my district in jeopardy of being cited for unprotected take of coho.
You can read the actual code here: http://users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/accidental%20take.htm

The following was my response to Ms. Bowen's recall petition;

"I inform people about County business and State and federal actions through my weekly column and my website: http://users.sisqtel.net/armstrng/
I have always been a strong property rights advocate and defender of the Constitution.
An Environmental Impact Report is a description of the positive and negative effects of a proposed action in the environment. It is not something that someone "supports" or opposes. I did make public comments on the report's deficiencies.
A Legal opinion was provided to the Board that the County Groundwater Ordinance is not in conflict with AB 3030. The Ordinance provides for the creation of a Groundwater Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee has no power other than to provide local input to the Board of Supervisors.
I have advocated for the coordination process since the 1990s. For two years, I have worked with County governments at the statewide level to gain recognition of coordination. I serve on a four person committee representing CA forest Counties the meets quarterly with the Regional Forest Service on coordination implementation. I have been instrumental in setting up the successful coordination meetings we have had with our local Forest Service this year."
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