Guest opinion: Measure A proponents 'shocked'

Mt. Shasta Community Rights Project opinion

We proponents of the Mt. Shasta Water Rights Ordinance (Measure A) would like to respond to recent events and newspaper articles.

Last Thursday we were shocked to find out that County Elections Clerk Colleen Setzer had removed Measure A from the ballot. In her letter, she makes two general claims: that the Ordinance did not conform with the California Election Code; and that language was changed intentionally.  

Half of the claimed election code violations relate to proponents filing required documents and fees with City Clerk Sandra Studer instead of County Elections Clerk. She claims that the City Clerk was “not authorized to accept” such filings or fees.  

If this is true, why did both City Clerk Studer and County Clerk Setzer accept everything we submitted and approve each step of the process as if we were following correct procedure? Why would this be coming up 12 months after we first filed our Statement of Intent to circulate a citizens’ initiative petition, 4 months after we submitted the signed petitions, and after the city expended money to get Measure A on the ballot?

Is it because placing a citizens’ initiative on the ballot is so complicated that even City and County officials do not know the correct procedures? Is it because there is behind-the-scenes pressure to keep Measure A from going to the voters – and if so, why? These questions (and more) need to be asked.

The other claims address the one-sentence discrepancy between the Ordinance originally filed with the City and the Ordinance on the petition signed by registered voters in Mt. Shasta. We have discovered that we accidentally used a different draft of the Ordinance for the City filing, and then used the final version for the petition. We did not know we made this error until the County Clerk brought it to public attention two weeks ago. We apologize to the City for any confusion this caused.

This clerical error has already been addressed by Mt. Shasta City Council. On August 3, City Council voted unanimously to keep Measure A on the ballot after City Attorney John Kenny reported that the difference in language would not have changed the title and summary he prepared. City Council and City Attorney Kenny agreed the language in question does not change or modify the meaning or intent of the Ordinance and therefore Measure A would remain on the ballot.

City Attorney Kenny, City Manager Ted Marconi, Council member Ned Boss, and other opponents have claimed the “change” was deliberate and done knowingly. Their claims are based only upon City Clerk Studer’s memory. We did not ask about changing the ordinance language, but did ask Studer about changing the “Notice of Intent” so that the ordinance would not be forced to a special election. We were told we could not make this change, so we didn’t. Backed by Studer’s inaccurate recollection, the City and opponents have jumped to erroneous conclusions.  

It makes no sense that we would knowingly endanger 20 months of intense effort to protect Mount Shasta water from corporate extraction and cloud seeding. To have our sincere efforts undermined by false accusations reflects divisive political tactics. Outside corporate interests have consistently used such tactics to override citizens’ rights (which this Ordinance seeks to rectify).

The correct version of the Ordinance and a Special Report on it can be read on-line at http://YesToLocalRights.org. We believe this rights-based Ordinance would not only protect our water, but also our rights to govern ourselves and steward our resources in the place we live. We are exploring options for its future.

Molly Brown

Jennifer Mathews

Ami Marcus

Angelina Cook

Mt Shasta Community Rights Project