One of the proponents for the Jefferson Republic movement said if Measure C passes on June 3, Siskiyou County would be much like a Native American reservation, partly self-governed but still a part of the larger system, until “a better way” of governance is developed.

One of the proponents for the Jefferson Republic movement said if Measure C passes on June 3, Siskiyou County would be much like a Native American reservation, partly self-governed but still a part of the larger system, until “a better way” of governance is developed.

Leo Bergeron said the Jefferson Republic is about “we the people,” and nothing will be changed in the county until the people vote to do so.

Opponents expressed concerns about a lack of specific plans for funding the new Jefferson Republic, which is different than the State of Jefferson movement in that the Jefferson Republic does not involve secession.

Bergeron, as well as Jefferson Republic supporters Anthony Intiso and Andy Grossman were panelists on a show recorded by Siskiyou Media Council in its studio at College of the Siskiyous in Weed last Wednesday.

Also participating were Measure C opponents Neil Posson, Neldena Anderson and Dolly Verrue.

The half hour show, hosted by Penny Bloodhart, was produced by County Clerk Colleen Setzer as a way of keeping voters informed about upcoming ballot measures. It is scheduled to air Sundays at 7 p.m. and Mondays at 1 p.m. on both MCTV15 and YCTV4 and the siskiyoumediacouncil.org online stream beginning April 20.

The show will also be available on the siskiyoumediacouncil.org Video on Demand playlist “Election 2014” as of April 25.

What is the Republic of Jefferson Territory?

The purpose of the Jefferson Republic, said Intiso, is to give residents more local control.

“It will have a positive effect. It’s non-partisan, non-secretarian, it (is not) partisan to anyone or anything or any group,” he said. “It’s purely for the people. It’s for ‘we the people.’”

Intiso said creation of a republic is a simpler process than statehood and doesn’t require permission from any government entity.

Proponents claim a republic would create a “framework” for additional government and would not assume any debt from California.

Intiso said the current governmental structure suffers from overregulation by the federal and state governments without enough input from Siskiyou County citizens.

Bergeron said Siskiyou County’s current structure isn’t a governing structure, but instead an administrative structure. The Board of Supervisors are merely administrators of the state’s business in Siskiyou County.

Bergeron called attention to Siskiyou County’s high unemployment rate and dwindling business since the timber industry collapsed. He said the Environmental Protection Agency imposes too many rules and regulations put forward by people in Washington DC.

Grossman said he believes the most important part of the new Republic is to provide an environment that’s more conducive to business. He said high unemployment has been caused by overregulation which has killed Siskiyou County’s economy.

Grossman said religious freedom is being “incrementally taken from us” and in the Republic, the people would be “in charge” to assure things that are important to Siskiyou County residents are protected.

Financial concerns

Verrue said the biggest concern she has is the financial liability. She said the State of California and federal government support Siskiyou County financially and without that support, the county will be poor.

Posson said it is important to note how much money the state provides Siskiyou County versus how much we pay back.

Citing statistics from Warren Jensen, the associate director of for the Center of Economic Development at CSU Chico, Siskiyou County receives $932 million from the state and federal government annually while paying back $468 million.

He said if the new Republic stopped accepting money from the state and federal government, it would mean a loss of $464 million in revenue.

Posson called attention to the many services the state and federal governments provide Siskiyou County residents, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, the Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol.

Verrue said 37,000 acres burned in the county last year, which cost CAL FIRE and the US Forest Service $36.4 million to fight. There is currently $800,000 in the county budget for firefighting services.

“Where will the deficit come from?” she asked.

“Are we willing, as a county, to wave goodbye to $464 million a year?” Posson asked.

Intiso acknowledged that the federal and state governments provide programs, but said many of them are wasteful and often abused. “We are fostering a segment in the population with the programs that we’re funding,” Intiso said.

He spoke about neighbors who are low income but still have large televisions, cars and cell phones.

“We need to clear that up and we can’t do it if we keep using that money,” Intiso said, adding that the Republic could still fund some social programs, but there are some “we need to get rid of” because there is “too much waste in them.”

New money?

When asked how the Jefferson Republic’s proposed “dual monetary” system would work, Intiso said he didn’t have enough time to explain it thoroughly, but that Siskiyou County could have its own “asset based” currency, as well as the bank’s current currency system.

Citing the same CSU Chico source, Intiso said Siskiyou County has a Gross Domestic Product of $1.8 billion, including all goods and services generated in the county. He said the gross revenue is $1.2 billion, which provides “a solid economic base from which to start.”

He said lower taxes would result in the proper structures.

Verrue said she couldn’t find the statistics Intiso cited anywhere, though he countered they are accurate.

Verrue said Siskiyou County’s budget this year is $85.3 million, and the county owes $31.5 million in long term debt. She added that she’s concerned with the burden of two different monetary systems and asked about money people have saved, and how Medicare, Social Security, 401ks and credit cards would work.

Intiso said social programs that come from the state and federal governments won’t be affected by the creation of the Republic.

Measure C first, then citizens would decide

Verrue said she is hesitant to vote on the Jefferson Republic without adequate facts about how it would be funded. She said it takes time to develop plans like these and wonders why those details can’t be worked out in advance.

Bergeron said if that happened, then Siskiyou County residents would be acting as the government tells them to, rather than making decisions for themselves.

More information

To learn more about the Jefferson Republic movement, beyond what is covered in the MCTV15 show, go to the group’s website, jeffersonrepublic.org.