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“No Respect:”
by Marcia Armstrong, Siskiyou County Supervisor, column in the Klamath Courier August 10, 2005

Since taking office, I have experienced frustration with the failure of federal and State agencies to recognize and respect the status of Siskiyou County as a government, not a stakeholder. The County’s are vested by the People with the “police powers” to make laws governing individual actions that threaten to injure the general public health, safety and morals. This includes the use of private property, (including groundwater,) and embraces General Planning and zoning. Siskiyou County government has traditionally held a belief in favor of minimal local regulation. The lack of volumes of ordinances and codes is intentional and not some sort of void that needs to be filled by federal and State regulatory agencies or regional groups.
Formal Federal Consultation and Coordination: In 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued Executive Order 12372. The purpose of that Order is to foster an intergovernmental partnership and strengthen federalism through local government coordination and review of proposed plans for federal financial assistance and direct development. This is to include federal consultation with affected elected officials as early in the program planning cycle as feasible, to explain specific plans and actions and to determine the official views of local government. Federal agencies are to make efforts to accommodate the concerns of local government and, where these concerns cannot be accommodated, federal officials are to explain the basis for their decision in a timely manner. Where interstate issues are involved, the federal government is to seek coordination of the views of affected local elected officials.
Role of Elected Officials in Federal Planning: The Executive Order discourages the reauthorization or creation of any federally funded planning organization where the membership is not adequately representative of, or accountable to, locally elected officials. Personally, I have seen many a “multi-interest” group formed by federal government where individual elected officials are seated at the table as a “stakeholder” and allotted an equal voice with special interests. This is not the same as the coordination between governments outlined and envisioned by the Executive Order. Only the Board of Supervisors can speak for the Board and issues must be brought before it for official decisions or positions to be taken. Not that I have anything against group dialogue and understanding. Efforts such as the Chadwick group can provide a great platform for sharing perspectives, encouraging discussion and sorting out facts. However, they just cannot be “morphed” into a basin-wide decision-making body or Congress that undercuts the role of your duly elected local governments.
The Codes of Federal Regulations for various federal agencies recognizes and requires consultation, coordination and cooperation with County government. Also, the National Environmental Policy Act recognizes cooperation with local governments and coordination of federal and local analysis as well as joint planning efforts. Several years ago, in response to these provisions, the County voted to accept the Siskiyou County Comprehensive Land and Resource Management Plan in order to assist federal agencies in coordination efforts. This document is alive and well. 

Siskiyou County Code: In a future column I will summarize Title 10, Chapter 12 of Siskiyou County Code that sets forth requirements for the formal relationship of federal and State agencies with the County.





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