Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Now we will have to march down to the capitol
ourselves to talk some sense into those folks
Pioneer Press March 26, 2008
To the Editor by Larry Toelle, Ft. Jones:
Some of us who engage ourselves in issues such as the dam issue, might get a little inspiration from reading the Federalists Papers, and the often forgotten Anti-Federalist Papers. Both dealt with the same issue of governance and the form of government that we have. In them, there's a lot of discussion regarding "faction." How the competing interests of the people were going to be resolved and how government would be corrupted by those interests.
The week before last, Quartz Valley was alerted that a pending state Senate Bill might be cause for concern. California SB311 had passed out of the Senate and over to the Assembly unopposed. In fact, SB331 was marked with "urgency." ... meaning that it was being fast tracked and heading for the Governor's desk.
SB331 defines a new class of "trespass" adding it to an already complex set of trespass laws found in the Penal Code. Intended to provide Gaming Tribes leverage to remove dissidents off the reservations, and therefore out of the gaming business, the bill was written for a few unique situations found in southern California tribes. So, what's the problem?
The problem lies in the "plain language" of the bill. As written, the bill can be construed to apply to any reservation where the reservation's government wants to remove people, any people. In the case of Quartz Valley, the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation might construe the bill to mean they could close county roads, remove non-Indian property owners, remove Shasta Indian members, turn off irrigation water and generally, cause a ruckus, obligating the County Sheriff to write infractions and people would have to appear in court, thereby denying "free enjoyment of their homes and properties." Although the legislative history seems to preclude this possibility, it will nonetheless be something for the courts to decide. Most of us aren't comfortable with a court deciding anything, let alone whether we can live peaceably in our homes.
Well, we thought, we'll just write some nice letters to the folks in Sacramento, and persuade them to change a word here or there, and avoid the ruckus. Wrongo bucko! What we ran into instead, was a well oiled political machine, one intent on servicing its benefactors, the tribal gaming folks. They're pushing and paying and pulling this bill through the legislature, no holds barred. Full steam ahead, damn the torpedoes, the Barona Tribe wants it and we're going to get it for them.
Although Siskiyou County sent a letter and a lawyer to appear before the Assembly committee and Assemblyman LaMalfa carried our petitions personally, the Public Safety Committee passed it on unopposed. Ya gotta love "faction."
Now, we've got to take the time and expense of going to Sacramento ourselves and try to talk some sense into someone's head. Not an easy task for a small group of long-in-the-tooth retirees, but we'll be there anyway ... fighting faction.
The old timers who argued about "faction" in the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers saw this, over two hundred years ago. And we think we're smart.
Larry Toelle, Fort Jones
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