Letters to the Editor: Recall, pot in Shasta Vista and an uplifting story about law enforcement

Mount Shasta Herald

From concerns about Gov. Newsom's recall, to opinions about what's happening in the Shasta Vista area with illegal pot grows, and even an uplifting story about local law enforcement officers helping out two “little ‘ol white haired ladies,” our readers shared their opinions on a variety of topics this week.

Siskiyou can’t afford a recall

May I level with you? The Newsom Recall is a public relations ploy to keep attention on our Governor’s few missteps rather than on the positive news coming from Sacramento. Governor Newsom has been leading the charge to clean-up pandemic disasters for all Californians. We are at last ahead of it. We are putting food on tables and housing those most in need. As numbers improve, we are opening up for business, school and recreation. No he’s not perfect, but as a Democrat, on balance I see much to be proud of.

In Siskiyou County, (one of the most ardent to support the recall), the cost will be too high. Our county clerk-registrar, Laura Bynum, puts it between $185,000 and $330,000; depending on how and when it happens. This is our precious tax money, going to a fantasy grudge instead of critical things homeless, fire safety, cannabis) we desperately need to fund.

The Republican Party does not want you to know that the recovery is working for us. They would like you to stay focused on the doom and gloom view that keeps them raising money by stoking fears. Please vote to keep Governor Newsom in office and stop wasting taxpayer money. Siskiyou County cannot afford this recall.

– Ayn Perry, Yreka

Klamath Basin water

The article in last week’s Herald, “Water Activists Muster in Southern Oregon” (reprinted from the Record Searchlight) was incredibly one-sided.  

It did not mention the $15 million compensation for area farmers from the federal government. This is undoubtedly not enough, but this should have been mentioned in any article attempting to be balanced.

It did not mention the 1864 treaty granting area tribes their fishing rights, which they have been unable to exercise for decades because the fish keep dying. 

It did not mention how water allocations for the wildlife refuges have also been cut off. I witnessed this first-hand last week. Except for some water visible from Hwy 161, the auto tour in Lower Klamath Wildlife is already a dust bowl. 

It did not mention the decades of federal mismanagement that led to this crisis, nor the federal attempt to fix this mess that died in Congress in 2016.

I have no doubt that farmers and ranchers are hurting badly and need better compensation. My heart goes out to the families that have farmed and ranched in this area for generations.  But what we need is not an article about a group of much publicized potential law breakers, but thoughtful articles about how to handle all these issues going forward in this increasingly drought-ridden and changing climate.   

For the rest of the story and ideas on what to do about it, please read further than this shortsighted piece. A good place to start is the online article, “The West Can End the Water Wars Now,” written by a Klamath resident and published in The Atlantic.

– Marilyn Lemmon, Mount Shasta

Color of law

Our county could have averted a real financial calamity if it had only licensed cannabis instead of fighting it. It seems the county’s efforts to fight cannabis have led to a lawsuit that will cost our Siskiyou County citizens millions! Enforcement efforts to concentrate so much of their focus on the Hmong people has led them into a civil rights lawsuit that they must now fight in federal court. It involves our county counsel, that should have had a better knowledge of the legal issues at stake. It also pertains to our DA that had actually named the efforts as marijuana eradication and saw no harm in the threat it made to the Hmong community of over 1,000 people. Our new sheriff was only too glad to follow his pursuit of claims made for  years but for some reason were never brought to court. Then there’s our oh so obedient BOS who only follow. Our entire local government system has conspired to deprive these folks of all their water, even when it has been determined that the Hmong have 80 grow sites out of the 2,500 grow sites in our county. They wouldn’t even allow any discussion of their entire water termination to take place! Like the previous US federal marijuana prohibition efforts have proved to be a failure, our local governments continuance of this is insanity! The federal government tried for over 60 years to eradicate a plant that never killed anyone – never! But that only led to millions of Americans’ ruined lives through irrational incarceration enforcement! Are they willing to rise the law to do what they believe is right? There has never been any true meaningful open discussion on cannabis – never!

– Michael Gerber, Mount Shasta

Abuse of ordinances shouldn’t be tolerated

I thought the Sacramento Bee’s reporting on the Asian pot growers in our community was very informative, however, living the experience and writing about it, often fails to provide an accurate picture. 

I would like to address the sentiment of the law abiding Siskiyou County residents and the ordinances implemented by the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, in response to the illegal cannabis cultivation situation. Let's be clear, the ordinances imposed were a result of community pressure placed on our county board of supervisors to protect our county and its resources. The fact is that many of the land acquisitions had been purchased for the sole use of illegal cannabis cultivation. 

We have witnessed these individuals living in travel trailers using gasoline generators for power, with no water source and no septic system for human waste disposal. Utility power, septic systems and wells are considered necessities for many Siskiyou residents requiring permits and  capital to build. 

As I indicated such amenities are based on an intent to build and live in the county whether in an approved structure or a mobile home. It has been determined that permanent residency, for many, was never an intent. 

As permanent residents it's necessary for us to conform to county requirements in respect to building codes inclusive of waste disposal, well drilling and satisfying CDF or local fire prevention recommendations. Many law abiding county residents resent the defiance of county requirements. A double standard should not exist. 

Abuse of our ordinances by individuals engaged in activities deemed illegal by law and code enforcement need not be tolerated. Water is essential for survival and necessary for raising and feeding livestock. Purchasing water from water rich ranches to sustain illegal cannabis cultivation is not. 

Under drought conditions many of us worry about our wells going dry. Residents and ranchers that have depended on wells for years, watch as millions of gallons of  ground water being extracted and sold for the sole purpose of illegal cannabis cultivation. 

I am not convinced law enforcement has as a hidden agenda. The “race card” may be convenient for some but does not apply under these conditions. Law enforcement, under Sheriff LaRue, is responding to the demands of law abiding Siskiyou County residents to enforce the law regardless of race or creed. 

– John Swanson, Hornbrook

Massive illegal pot grows

KDRV Medford’s Sunday night interview with Raza Lawrence was presented as a water issue with racial overtones. This is wrong. The Mt. Shasta Vista situation is about massive illegal pot grows.

Mt. Shasta Vista was created as a subdivision without infrastructure, no water, sewer or electricity, resulting in very cheap land. About five our so years ago, “mom and pop” marijuana grows started sprouting up in the area. They supplied water to their property via containers on the back of pick-up trucks. Since then, the illegal grows have increased exponentially into a massive operation. A local resident is selling water and millions of gallons are being transported illegally by a fleet of tankers. In a time of drought, we are being asked to curtail use of water and let lawns and flowers die, all while illegal enterprises are draining the Shasta Valley aquifer.

Additionally, these grows are an environmental disaster. Many workers are living in shacks or trailers with free flowing sewage, and chemicals at the hot houses are contaminating the soil. 

The situation needs to be reported truthfully. Your representation of the situation is the reason media is no longer trusted by the public.

– Gayle Veale, Yreka

McCloud events

The McCloud Chamber of Commerce recently hosted two events, the Mushroom Farmers Market May 29 and 30, and the Flea Market, June 6. Due to COVID constraints, obtaining the required approvals and permits from the county was not easy. But with logistical modifications and perseverance, the events did happen! Following a year and a half of shutdowns, lockdowns, and quarantines, it was refreshing to see people out on Main Street McCloud relaxing and having a good time. The efforts of the McCloud Chamber Board of Directors and all the volunteers paid off. The chamber board is appreciative and extends sincere thanks to the volunteers, local businesses, vendors and patrons for their participation with Mushroom Farmers Market and Flea Market. Special thanks go to the Axe & Rose and McCloud Hotel proprietors for the use of their venues during these events. We couldn’t have done it without the support of all of you! Thank you!

– Sybil Stewart, Secretary, McCloud Chamber Board of Directors

Thank you, Newsom

His successes include a shelter in place order issued early in the pandemic which initially kept case rates remarkably low and a program that leveraged federal money to provide quarantine space in motels for homeless people which now offers thousands of Californians permanent supportive housing.

He had dispensed state corona virus relief worth $7.6 billion, dispensed more than 38 million vaccine doses to date and recalibrated health guidelines to encourage teachers back to classrooms.  

In May this year, Newsom presented his $100 billion California Comeback Plan which includes immediate relief to two-thirds of Californians with stimulus checks; support for small business;  building infrastructure;  combating wildfires and tackling climate change.  

Newsom already signed an executive order last fall to protect a third of California’s land and coastal waters in his effort to fight climate change and the ensuing wildfires. The goal is to conserve 30% of the land by 2030. Some farmers are already working towards more sustainable ways of farming utilizing organic, regenerative farm practices that have proven to effectively reduce the climate impact of agriculture, including cover crops to restore nutrients in the soil, composting to fertilize and reducing tillage to keep carbon in the ground.  Healthy soil sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and pulls it into the ground to nourish plants.  Trees, soils and wetlands play an important part in absorbing atmospheric carbon.  His plan to ban sales of new gas-powered passenger cars and trucks by 2035 will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35%.

The recall movement is a partisan power grab organized by right wing extremists trying to gain a political edge, anxious for one last hoorah as the Trump administration fades. 

Newsom has had to cope with more crises at the same time than any other California governor in history.  Give credit where credit is due.

– Lisa A. Frost, Hornbrook

Sometimes it’s the little things

It seems like every day in the news we hear about our police and law enforcement in a negative light, so let me share a different view – one of humor and respect. 

I traveled over to Cedarville last week with a friend to pick up several pieces of furniture she was purchasing from a moving sale. Towing along her small utility trailer, we arrived at the sale on Friday morning early with the assurance there would be “strong young men” to load said furniture into the pickup and trailer. (I should insert here that my friend and I are not strong, not young, and not men.) So, with some help – also not strong or young – we loaded the trailer ourselves and strapped down the load using a box of what turned out to be crappy (whoops, sorry) “substandard product” nylon tie-downs.

After several stops along the trip home to shift, alter and re-tie our load, we were between Dorris and Macdoel on 97 and we stopped once again to check the load, when CHP pulled up behind us and Officer Baker stepped out and said, “I’m here to help.” Right behind CHP were two Siskiyou County Sheriff vehicles and two deputies. Between the three of them, and taking into consideration above mentioned “sub standard produce” tie-downs, within 10-15 minutes they had our load secured and good to go for the rest of the trip home to my friend’s in Big Springs.

When we thanked them profusely, they all said it was the most fun they’d had all day. We laughed all the way home imagining the conversation around the office or over the dinner table that night! We’re glad we could bring a smile to their faces. We don’t imagine they get too many in a day’s work.

So, to CHP Officer Baker and both Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Deputies (sorry, guys, we failed to get your names!) we two “little ‘ol white haired ladies” would like to say thank you again. You are all a credit to your profession. 

Stay safe out there!

– Barb Turner, Montague