Jefferson State Representation Argument

The Jefferson State movement began long before the Reynolds v. Sims case abolished California’s “federal” representation in its Senate as well as requiring regular redistricting based on population. Nevertheless, better representation is promoted as one of the major reasons for splitting off from California.

The target area for Jefferson is 20 counties in Northern California. Presumably this new State will have a Senate where every county will have its own Senator, from tiny Sierra with 3,000 people to Placer with 367,000 residents. The result will be that the 5 counties in Jefferson over 100,000 may have some representation issues with Jefferson as rural counties do with California.

It’s true that excessive geography in a district compromises democracy and that is probably the strongest basis for revisiting Reynolds v. Sims in the future. But the argument that tiny counties should be able to cancel out the vote of the largest across the board is weak. In fact, California’s federal system never quite existed. There are 58 counties and 40 State Senators. The smallest counties always had to share a rep while Los Angeles got more than one.

Back before local government became a vast network of functions and programs connected with State and Federal governments, counties were basically the courthouse and the sheriff and not much else. It made sense that any fully functional county should send its representative to the Senate as sort of a “House of Counties.” Unfortunately, the expense of being a fully functional county at the bare bones level has skyrocketed. Many services that residents take for granted have regional boundaries spreading over several counties for economies of scale. Counties too small to pay their bills should not have their own representative as if they were independent in local functions and services.

The best example of what happens when local functioning isn’t a criteria for representation is our own U.S. Senate. The most populous 9 States make up over half the Country’s population. The bottom ten pop States scrape up a mere 8.7 million that out vote Senators backed by 162 million Americans. They are more like holding companies for local interests than self supporting States, offering the whole range of State services. Like the typical Jefferson backer, these micro States feel put upon, even with super representation. That doesn’t stop them from demanding bigger subsidies from the common till.

What most people don’t know is that the U.S. House of Representatives isn’t always “one person one vote” either. Due to population rounding, States with one or two Congressional Districts represent anywhere from 526,000 people per representative (Rhode Island, District 1) to 994,000 people (Montana). The average number of people in a Congressional District is 710,000. Simply because of mathematics, small districts of any kind are likely to be over or under represented. People who are under represented complain. People who get more representation than their share think of some reason why they deserve it.

If getting a federal style State Senate was a serious priority for new state advocates they should shift their movement to changing the structure of California counties, a far easier objective to achieve. This will also create a new legal theory for the Supreme Court to revisit Reynolds v. Sims. Paper counties need to merge with functional neighbors or break themselves up, attaching the pieces to other counties. Lake County is one pretend county that should split between the Putah and Cache Creek watersheds. The South half would return to Napa and Clear Lake would go to Mendocino, if they will have us.

Assuming some modern operations requires a minor metro city of at least 50,000 people. If a county doesn’t have one for the new federal Senate they must merge or split. Remember, this is also to support a new theory to overturn Reynolds v. Sims. If the State Senate is to be a House of Counties then all counties must be modern stand alone entities with a power center and not just a bump on the highway.

One wonders if the current Jefferson flare up is also a rebellion against popular representation, due to rural counties ending up unpopular on many hot propositions. This is reflected in vote totals for Proposition 215 in 1996 which passed in the State of California. But the Jefferson counties may be sore losers. Fourteen out of 20 of the coveted counties, which total 1,763,000 people, voted against Medical Marijuana. Could Jefferson be a new “reefer madness” state? Does the Jefferson crowd know how much a drug war costs? The rebels may have a rebellion within their own ranks in Mendocino and Humboldt, which smoked in with 64.5% and 57.1% of the vote. And just how would the State of Jefferson deal with the Emerald State movement?

King Cobb

By Dante DeAmcis

Cobb Mountain is the tallest mountain in Lake County this side of the Northern wilderness area.  Konocti gets all the press and photos but its a lowland compared to the mighty Cobb at about 4700 feet.   I’ve worked on the ridge below the peak where the view of Sonoma and Lake Counties is awesome.  I decided I would find a way to reach this flattened high point of Lower Gooberstan.

There are no public roads or right of ways going up to Cobb even though there are antennas and a chunk of state owned land at the top.  The internet revealed the location of the old right-of-way formerly used to service the antennas.  ATT and Mediacom now go through gated Calpine roads which are very well maintained.

The internet site revealed the old road has been abandoned to fallen trees, erosion, rockfalls, and is overgrown in places.  In the best of times the road was cardiac steep for hikers.  But the owners were used to the road being used by outsiders and don’t seem to be reasserting their property rights at this late date, in spite of the gate and scary signs.  We’re told its two and a half miles to the summit.

I decided I would discover the mysteries of Cobb after my October 28th grave shift on Bottle Rock.  So off I went walking to Whispering Pines, following the sparse directions from internet bloggers.  Through the gate at the end of Pinewood I went until I reached the still used dirt road that went left and the broken has-been of a road went up and right.  My first decision.  Yes, that had to be the one true way – upward and onward.

Soon the old road passes between a row of large boulders.  Sometime in the past someone created this passage through these silent sentries.  The road winds around the face of the great old one which is sporting an edgy new growth of pine stubble in the former clean shaven road, another symptom of unemployment.  One positive effect of neglect and harshness is I haven’t seen a single piece of trash.

Whiners on the web site complained of fallen trees but someone has been cutting away limbs and notching through the big trees.  The trail disappears but I decide since it was originally a fire trail I would continue in the same direction. Sure enough, the road reappears as if by divine intervention.  Finally I come to the first switch back around a monolithic boulder.  Another half mile and the now trail widens out to a crater filled with broken rock.  A tall dead tree over hangs.  New tenants have moved in.

The trail gets steeper and the feeling of hiking up the side of a canyon is gone.  The rocks have all morphed from spotted gray to dusty white.  Even though the trail is clear it is clearly a trail.  All traces of this being a former road have vanished.  In addition to the rounding of erosion and the absence of tire tracks there are thousands of seedlings and Christmas Tree size trees probing and prodding from both sides.  The trail seems to be consenting.  It is as if nature decided to landscape the trail for hikers and serious bikers at the expense of the unused road space.

There is little indication of much more mountain to climb.  A large tree that has fallen across the path has been cut through with a chain saw.  Laying on one side of the log passage is a woman’s lacy top.  I notice it is size XXL.  A woman from a “Robert Crumb” comix has passed this way.  This ain’t no ordinary nature trail.

Sure enough, another half mile later I reach a junction on the top ridge.  The old fire trail resumes to the left.  A hundred yards I hit the current, well maintained road coming up from Calpine controlled leases.  In front of me are two side by side cyclone fenced compounds for the ATT and Mediacom antennas, suggesting segregated playgrounds for machines.  The mountain top is surrounded by tall trees obscuring what would be a fantastic view.  A narrow wedge next to the ATT erection gives the sole aerial view of planet Earth below.  I hear voices but no one appears.  A sign.  I commune with the sacrament I thought to bring.  After taking some pictures I pick up a rock for a souvenir, slightly reducing the mountain’s sky reach.

I start my decent, a refreshed pilgrim.  Nature, exertion, and Rasputin have shown me the way.  But the way is unsteady going down hill on loose rocks and pine needles.  I weave my way down the mountain, carrying on a friendly argument with gravity.  I emerge off the mountain bearing not the word of God on tablets but four dead martyrs for Jesus.

The entrance gate nears.  Two young men in a new truck and cargo trailer await.  Are they Roman oppressors attempting to enforce some Philistine private property edict on me?  No, they are contractor seekers for ATT looking for the one true way up to service the cell phone towers.  I assume my new role as the guru of Cobb mountain and address the bewildered.  “No, this the old road for chariots of Mammon.  It has been reclaimed by the Great Mother. You must take the Road of Bottle Rock and pass through the gates of Calpine.”  They rejoice for having met one of wisdom coming down the trail.

North Shore – The Short Attention Plan

To put some zip in the has been resort towns on Clear Lake, Lake County made all of their Highway 20 communities a “Redevelopment District.” As part of this plan to siphon money from schools and other special districts, they would make each town on the strip a themed tourist destination.

The Lake County planners rolled out meticulously designed facade concepts to create a new look for these whistle stops. Upper Lake was to become a “Wild West Town.” The town of Nice would transform into a “Tuscan Village.” Lucerne, home of a castle style resort from the 30’s, would be remade into an “Alpine Village” without snow (except for the kind produced by Redevelopment). Clearlake Oaks would focus on their network of oversized drainage ditches behind track homes, that they call “keys”, and become known as a Portuguese fishing village. Businesses on the Highway were encouraged to get with the program and invest in building these County facades.

However, new businesses and remodels were required to include these local themes in their building permits. Otherwise, why would existing businesses waste their money.

Then Redevelopment backed off when corporate money showed up. Franchises were scouting locations. These brand names had a brand look. They weren’t interested in local themes unless someone put their foot down. Lake County wagged their tail and rolled over so nothing was ever said about the theme plan to save North Shore again. Someone said they saw the County’s theme designs in a yard sale.

Often these out of County cookie cutter franchises plopped right down next to local businesses with paint still wet on their facades. The locals trusted government planners to follow through. The planners probably said they would call them in the morning too. I guess we can’t expect planners, paid for by money skimmed from special districts, to have the same level of commitment as people spending their savings on a shared vision.

The sick irony is that when someone does do something different to create tourist interest with their own dime its a code enforcement issue. The County never wavered in their zeal to destroy the Bat House, featured in movies, and the plans to turn Glenhaven into a gay tourist destination.

Maybe the ultimate redevelopment project would be to bust up this back water Gooberstan of Lake County and stick the pieces on to Napa and Mendocino Counties. Then our residents would be part of counties that work and our good-old-boy planners would have to find work.

Ceremonial Patriotism

There are two rituals that go with being an elected official. The first is the swearing in ceremony. The second is the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag at the being of each meeting. The content of each is as different as the frequency of each.

The swearing in ceremony is a one time affair. This is an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. People who take this oath are called “oath takers” by people in the public who feel this act is a binding point of honor and commitment for as long as the office is held. Too often is is treated as just a silly initiation to the political club.

The Constitution includes: The original Constitution, the Bill of Rights (codified in the first 10 Amendments), and subsequent Amendments. The Supreme Court is the last stop for ruling interpretations of all three Constitution segments. The promise of a soon to follow Bill of Rights was a precondition for many people who signed the Constitution.

The Pledge of Allegiance was a late 1800’s addition to the political scenery. The Pledge is focused on the American flag. It is an act of faith that saluting the flag is a kind of signing off on being under some kind of authority of an unspecified God, affirming that national boundaries are not downwardly negotiable (except when its from England), and a plan for liberty and justice being coded in the stars and stripes somehow. There is no information in the Pledge where the keys to this code can be found. It is an act of faith that it is there somewhere.

It seems to me there is more useful information in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If repeating the Pledge over and over magically resulted in more “liberty and justice” I might feel differently. But people are lazy. They seem to think this group ritual substitutes for the critical analysis required to be a good citizen. It does not. Many outrages against liberty and justice have been committed by fervent flag pledgers. The God clause needs work also as deities often don’t get along with each other. Some of them call the Pledge idolatry.

It is far more common to pursue liberty and justice by using the tools of the Bill of Rights in a court of law than to whip out the flag and expect your opponents to fall down in shame and impotence. The flag is not the Ark of the Covenant.

So its clear to me that we have the relative importance of the Pledge and the Oath reversed. Fixing this error should be reflected in the regular public gatherings of our politicians.

I propose that when new politicians take office we make a gigantic spectacle of their first meeting. We will have attending politicians speak each line of the Pledge of Allegiance with megaphones followed by audience repetition. There will be a simultaneous light show. Next up will be the celebrity singing of the Star Spangled Banner with a military band, followed by a Yankee Doodle Dandy precision drill team. Last but not least, large flags will be passed out to members of the audience to wrap themselves in as politicians lead a procession out the room and around the building chanting “I pledge allegiance, I pledge allegiance.”

We will do this once every two years to get it all this brainless nonsense out of our system. Now for every meeting after this we will remind our representatives what their jobs are and what is really important. This will start by replacing the Pledge with the Oath to uphold the Constitution. Obviously there needs to be a little more. There needs to be superiority clause here about the law of the land being above personal and religious agendas and an emphatic statement that no one’s rights are above anyone else’s rights. This will be done every meeting where action is taken.

I’m ready to circulate an initiative to make the change. How about you?

Channel 8 Pass Thru Fee Shenanigans

The following letter, e-mail, and Channel 8 web page excerpt are in reference to tomorrow’s Board of Supervisors second reading of PUC 5870(n) cable PEG fee ordinance for Lake County.

Lake County Record-Bee
letters to the editor
December 21, 2014

RE: PEG Channel TV8 pass through fee

TV8 is a PEG station in name only. The letters in the PEG acronym represent three separate interest groups with different agendas.

The “P” stands for public access and this function operates on federally defined public forum standards. However, the PEG Board is composed of government representatives and their appointees. It is not surprising that they treat public access as if it were just another local government “home rule” service. It is not. In fact, the PEG Board denies that public forum principles, stemming from Hague v. CIO (1939), have anything to do with their actions.

The ignoring of established free speech guarantees is not a new development in Lake County. When I was the first person to submit a video that was not “government approved”, two members of the PEG Committee organized an unruly mob of PIC members on September 24, 2004 to intimidate me.

Now the PEG Board wants a pass through for a PEG station that, in fact, no longer exists. Sure the “G” part exists but the public access “P” part does not. The new State Franchise Law only allows a forced pass through for a full PEG station as defined by federal law, not as defined by Ed Robey.

Other local jurisdictions have not been sued for a PEG pass through fee because they are not fraudulently calling a government channel a PEG channel. I suggest that a PEG Board that is 100% composed of politicians and their appointees will have a hard time convincing disinterested third parties that they are upholding the public access rights of citizens who are critical of those same politicians.

[e-mail to two County Supervisors and Shawn Swatosh – Mediacom manager]
The key issue regarding TV8’s eligibility for a PUC 5870(n) pass through is its status as a PEG Channel. Only full PEG channels qualify for a pass through as “PEG” is the only type of channel mentioned in 5870. Many former local franchisers in the State only have a government channel for their meetings and designated programming. Those former franchisers do not qualify for a pass through.

The distinction of a PEG channel is that it submits itself to forum analysis as defined by the Supreme Court, notably as described in Perry Education Association v. Perry Local Educators Association (1983). A 1996 Supreme Court case was the last unsuccessful attempt to have PEG channels declared non public forums.

In public forums, only illegal activity can be outright prohibited. Non content based rationing of a limited public resource is allowed. In the special case of PEG programming, a safe harbor for indecent programming is allowed between 10pm and 6am (FCC v. Pacifica Foundation 1978). No other content restrictions for the public access part of a PEG channel is legal.

The LCPTV website boldly announces a new content restriction approved by the PEG Board in August 2014. This goes beyond any content restriction I’ve found for a PEG channel in the Country. The closest I’ve found is attempts to ban content from “political candidates.” I have not found any PEG channels with a policy banning “producers” with a point of view concerning candidates and ballot issues. In essence, the PEG Board has converted TV8 into a stand alone government channel. Therefore, it is ineligible for a pass through.

The fact that the PEG Board has abandoned its responsibility to Mediacom to fulfill its PEG obligations under the State Franchise Law does not relieve Mediacom of its responsibility under PUC 5870(a) to provide PEG capacity for the local entity with franchise PEG provisions as of Jan. 1, 2007. This means the city limits of Clearlake. Mediacom has no PEG obligations to Lake County as a whole.
[I also sent an online attachment of James Horwood’s article on political speech and PEG]

[from the LCPTV home page]
On August 13, 2014 Lake County PEG TV approved the following amendment to our operations manual concerning election material submissions.

3.5 3.5 No election related programming which favors one candidate or ballot measure shall be broadcast. Candidate forums which are public and give equal opportunity to all candidates may be broadcast. Ballot measure forums which are public and give equal opportunity to all parties may be broadcast

Clearlake – The Developmentally Disabled City

Everyone has gripes about how their city functions or was developed. Most problems are manageable and residents learn from them in hindsight. On the other hand, it is possible for a few arrogant, narrow minded people to cause almost unimaginable systemic damage in the formative period of a city. The same people violently resist all attempts by newcomers to make obvious changes, decade after decade. This is what happened to Clearlake.

The biggest deal killer, if there ever was one, was the decision by a small group of realtors and developers to reach out from the old Clearlake Highlands resort strip as far as they could into the howling wilderness to create a fictitious city of 10.6 square miles. Simple people deluded by vague promises of services and skyrocketing land values voted for the incorporation. Never mind that it’s considered poor planning to assume municipal service responsibility for any area that can’t or won’t pay for its own infrastructure. Best practices were irrelevant for founders with their own agenda.

Most of “The City” was composed of hundreds of paper lots with paper access. Forty-four percent of this charming war zone is still only accessible by dirt roads that pollute the Lake with silt. A recent City Manager even tried to give the sprawling paper development called “The Avenues” back to the County. The County laughed in his face.

Lake County wasn’t the poster child for California’s State Map Act for nothing. The constant refrain around here is “When will someone pave the roads?” Post-Map Act, the developers pave them. But Clearlake is pre-Map Act so the only way a dirt road resident’s feet are going to touch asphalt is for neighbors to form multiple road assessment districts and pay for it.

After incorporation the City did not wait for the other shoe to drop before shooting themselves in the foot. The City Fathers, or Deadbeat Dads, frightened the locals in voting for Measure P which mandated that 63% of the City budget must go for police in addition to a half-cent City sales tax. Robert VanNort, an interim City Manager who didn’t plan to stick around, reported that nothing will improve in Clearlake until this restrictive measure is reformed. He was ignored by the Goobertocracy.

While Clearlake can’t spend enough on police, sewers are a low priority. The future thinking brain trust put in a bargain basement version of what the County recommended. This was a faith based infrastructure project where overloaded pipes were believed to drain uphill by divine intervention. Prayers were answered after heavy rains by manhole cover lifting miracles where waves of toilet paper streamed out like dollar store bridal veils.

Clearly, what Clearlake needs is free enterprise. You know, where businesses don’t wait around for incompetent, wasteful government to find a solution. It is entrepreneurial know how and the will to put your money where your mouth is that will save the day. For a City that was never a town, that means the old resort strip of businesses would have to vote in a Business Improvement District, made possible by a 1994 law, to assess themselves.

This would give business property owners control of several blocks to create a commercial oasis and vacation paradise. They would make the decisions and pay the bills, knowing that their superior knowledge of how the market works to satisfy consumer demands will enable this self- supporting district to draw tourists from hundreds of miles. Then and only then will their substantial investment, free of government subsidies and interference, pay off.

Then I woke up – to a city where the business community never forked over a dime of their own money for a long range project. Why should they? This is a City that acts as their agent to be first in line for State Bond money and Federal stimulus packages. That City launches another sales tax attempt every election on the poorest residents in the State while never considering an infrastructure assessment.

Since local businesses don’t want to pay their own bills they certainly won’t contribute their share to the few basic City functions. So the City spends all their time trolling for short term start up grants to fund desired services such as wood chipping or a youth center program. The grants give the City “administration” money for the grant and an opportunity to hire a crony or their unemployable relative for the grant’s duration. When the grant ends, the service that people enjoyed as a step forward is not continued with local funds. That’s the standard operating procedure in Clearlake.