Measure A off the ballot, off the table

Skye Kinkade

After months of signature gathering, contentious debate and a lengthy court proceeding, the controversial Community Water Rights Ordinance has reached the end of the road – at least in its current form.

Mount Shasta city councilors Tim Stearns, Russ Porterfield, Ned Boss and Michael Murray took no action during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12, to put Measure A before the voters.

Despite pleas from audience members, council maintained that because of what they consider to be “fatal flaws” in the initiative, it would not be in the city’s best interest to spend taxpayer money to call a special election.

“It’s about our water and our air,” said Mount Shasta resident and Measure A supporter Melinda Willey. “It’s like saying you don’t love puppies if you’re against [the ordinance.]”

She pointed out that proponents put in two years of hard work gathering signatures, promoting the initiative, and following what they thought to be correct legal procedures only to have it amount to nothing. She advocated for the council to do something about it.

Mount Shasta’s Vicki Gold expressed a similar sentiment.

“The process failed,” she said emphatically, adding that if she was in the councilors’ shoes she would feel “ashamed and embarrassed” that an initiative of the people was stopped by a mere technicality.

“I would feel responsible for the breakdown of a process vital to our democratic society,” Gold said.

Though Gold admitted that it wasn’t true of all the proponents, “It is my personal opinion that the city should call a special election,” she said.

Proponent Angelina Cook of McCloud said that it’s important to remember what the Community Water Rights Ordinance stands for – something she feels has been lost in the course of the recent turmoil.

“It’s all about water,” she said, adding her only request for the future is that the city create clear protocols so citizens can navigate the initiative process “with confidence and clarity.”

Cook then thanked all the supporters who tirelessly advocated for the initiative, the many who showed up at city council meetings to support it, and the hundreds of citizens that signed it.

She also thanked Dan Dorsey and Tony Melo, two of the most vocal opponents of Measure A.

“Diversity is a sign of health in a community,” she said with a smile as she looked back at Dorsey, who was sitting in the audience.

After public comment was closed, Boss thanked city manager Ted Marconi and deputy city clerk Sandy Studer for their comprehensive reports.

“I realize all the hard work you put into this,” Boss told the proponents, “but as an elected official, I cannot support spending taxpayers’ money on a measure that’s unconstitutional.”

Boss added that he’d be supportive of a simple amendment that would disallow water extraction in the city.

“Council has bent over backwards [to get Measure A on the ballot]... we aren’t the ones who took it off, and we’ve had the finger pointed at us. We’re not the guilty parties,” said Porterfield.

Porterfield stressed that no matter who changed the ordinance or how the change happened, the fact is that it was changed. This, he said, is the reason it was pulled from the Nov. 2 ballot.

He added that he would rather have had the initiative put before the people so it could “get going or go away.”

Stearns said he’d also be supportive of a “proper, valid, constitutional” initiative that would protect the water, and he offered to work with the proponents of Measure A to draft such a document.

Murray reiterated that the council had not been inhibitors of the process, and had let Measure A go through despite the language change.

After everyone had given their opinions, no motion was made, and the matter was summarily dropped.

In other business, council:

• Appointed Jacquie Parker and Connie Walker to the Beautification Committee

• Appropriated $100,000 in COPS funding: 65 percent to be used for supplemental staffing, on-call dispatch and retention of the Community Services Liason position, and 35 percent for equipment needs and the continuation of the vehicle rotation program.

• Defined the operational parameters of the ATAC committee

• Heard a report regarding year end revenues

The next meeting of the Mount Shasta city council will be on Monday, Oct. 25 at 6:30 at the Mt. Shasta Community Building on Alma Street.

On the Oct. 25 draft agenda:

• Discussion and possible action regarding a request from the Friends of the Library for a possible initiative to charge a .25 percent sales tax in the city to provide needed funding for the continued operation of the library.

• Second and final reading of the Medical Marijuana Dispensary ordinance. Should council proceed and adopt the ordinance, it will become part of the city’s municipal code 30 days after.

• Discussion and possible action regarding a possible ordinance that would prohibit camping on vacant property within city limits

• Adoption of the sewer system management plan, which will be a living document to be amended by the city as needed on a continuing basis.

• Reappointment of Melanie Findling and Steve Funk to the Mount Shasta Planning Commission.