In his July 1 town hall meeting in Weed, Congressman Doug LaMalfa addressed such topics as forest management, the Trans-Pacific Trade agreement, SNAP, and a request that he institute impeachment action against two Supreme Court justices.
The discussions at US Congressman Doug LaMalfa’s town hall meeting in Weed last Wednesday included the recent Supreme Court decision about gay marriage and Crystal Geyser’s planned operations in Mount Shasta, and much more.
LaMalfa said the impetus for his trip to Weed was to follow up on Boles Fire recovery efforts.
“We all know what you went through last September and I know it doesn’t just end in the first few months. As your federal representative I want to make sure we’re doing our part and following through,” he told the audience.
Other than several inquiries from the audience about more potential federal funding for recovery efforts in Weed, however, most questions focused on other aspects of LaMalfa’s role as California’s 1st Congressional District representative.
Local minister Bill Hofer read a statement requesting that LaMalfa institute impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
He said 100 people, including four Christian ministers, had signed the statement alleging that both justices were prejudiced before the Supreme Court heard the recent same sex marriage case because both had previously officiated gay marriages.
“Your job requires you to defend the Constitution,” Hofer told LaMalfa. “Send the articles of impeachment.”
LaMalfa said that while he disagrees with the recent Supreme Court decision and with the way it was carried out, “I’m not going to commit to articles of impeachment on the fly here in Weed tonight.”
He said he believes the court overreached in its decision and suggested it had precipitated a “constitutional crisis” by violating the 10th amendment and by usurping the process of state and federal legislatures, violating the separation of powers.
“Five out of nine judges took state laws and the national debate over gay marriage, and said, ‘No, we’re deciding for all.’ We have runaway judges,” LaMalfa said.
EIR for Crystal Geyser
One audience member brought to LaMalfa’s attention requests that have been made for the county to do an Environmental Impact Report for Crystal Geyser’s planned juice, tea, and water bottling operations at its plant near the Mount Shasta City limits.
“Crystal Geyser gets a big increase in water use but I have to cut back on my water use by 20 percent,” Francis Mangels said. “There seems to be local support for the Otsuka pharmaceutical company taking our water. We’d like to get an EIR going.”
LaMalfa asked Mangels to fill out one of the forms his staff had brought so he would have a record of the concern to review with his team.
“You’ve turned a light bulb on in my head,” he said. “We’ll follow up on this.”
After another brief discussion with other audience members about Crystal Geyser’s projected water use in its planned plant operations, LaMalfa asked that figures about water use be submitted to him so he can gain some perspective.
“Water management comes down to... do you have a sustainable source? How many acre feet of water are used from this aquifer by the city? By domestic wells? By Crystal Geyser?” he commented.
Great Northern Services special project manager Audra Gibson asked LaMalfa, “What are you doing for us in rural communities?” and requested that he talk about his position on rural issues like helping to feed the hungry.
“In Weed, 87 percent of the children are on the free or reduced meal program. There are a number of relief programs in the Farm Bill for which we’d encourage your support,” she said.
LaMalfa said he is on the House’s Agricultural Committee and the Natural Resources Committee, adding that he’s “pretty tied in to what this area has in terms of economic opportunity,” citing farming, ranching, mining, and timber as areas of opportunity in Siskiyou County.
What was looked for during hearings about the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is for the program to work well for those with demonstrated need, LaMalfa said. “We want to address fraud and make the administration efficient. If we eliminate fraud we’ll restore people’s faith in the program.”
Meanwhile, he said, “Until there are more jobs, a lot of people are going to struggle,” he said.
LaMalfa favors green harvesting in the forests and harvesting after fires, a position he described in more detail in response to a question from Siskiyou County Supervisor Grace Bennett.
The US Forest Service emergency funds for fire suppression are getting “the lion’s share” of the agency’s budget when he believes the agency needs to be doing green work – planning and permitting for logging.
“If we thin forests on a sustainable basis, they’ll be more fire safe and we’ll have healthier trees,” he said. “Plus, we can get people in Siskiyou County back to work again.”
He cautioned that policy stability would have to be in place for that to work, since business owners would need to know if they built a mill they could recoup their costs over time.
After a fire, LaMalfa said, “salvage needs to happen quickly” but lawsuits by environmental groups create obstacles.
He asked, “What is the value of timber lost on Forest Service lands? Trees are real assets and they’ve gone up in smoke. And now it’s going to cost the taxpayers, because if we can’t get permission to salvage, we have to clean it up.”
LaMalfa discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement currently being negotiated, emphasizing that while he has seen a draft of the agreement “it is not a finished document” and he is not at liberty to discuss details.
The bottom line, in his opinion, is whether or not the TPP helps American workers.
“It’ll get a big no vote from me if I can’t come back to you in the light of day and say it’s a good agreement,” he told the audience.
He also spent some time explaining the distinction between the TPP and the Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, which he called “a good step toward transparency that ensures every time a proposed trade agreement is negotiated it requires a vote in Congress. We will have a direct say in the TPP.”
LaMalfa addressed California’s drought, stating his belief that the state needs not only drought relief but “relief from the full extent of environmental review when it’s not needed” so the state can manage its water. “We need an interim environmental review step for California right now.”
He referred to the proposed Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley west of Colusa as “the most viable project we can do in California. It will take the pressure off the rest of the state.”
Stressing that California needs to be using all the water it’s got better, LaMalfa said “The time for action isn’t now it’s yesterday. It’s years ago.”
LaMalfa also reviewed the historical inclusion of SNAP in the Farm Bill and expressed his negative views about the water being released to help some fish that are non-endangered and not releasing water to help endangered fish.