By Mark Anderson
Since AMERICAN FREE PRESS first reported that Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone had presented the idea of 13 California counties seceding from California to form a 51st state, the results far exceeded the expectations of Stone and his aides.
For one thing, AFP has since learned that the Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pass the resolution in favor of secession. Moreover, Stone soon received thousands of emails cheering him on—and not all of the accolades originated in California.
And when this staunch illegal immigration critic returned from a meeting with municipal officials on August 11, AFP finally caught up with him to peer into the future, finding out that a huge summit is in the works to seriously discuss the possibility of 13 or more contiguous counties forming a new state called South California. The other counties favoring secession so far include: Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino and Tulare.
Stone, who’s an independent pharmacist from Temecula struggling daily with the state’s complex business regulations, remarked, “I did this in a fit of rage . . . as a local elected official going into my 20th year.”
He added that Riverside, the state’s fourth largest county with 2.3 million people but 15% unemployment, is the only county to have four new cities pop up in the last several years. So when former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 89, cutting crucial revenue sources for those and other cities, Stone could take no more slaps in the face and opted for this bold secession proposal. And this easily appears to be the most serious secession effort among those that AFP has reported on in recent years, though secession, which rarely gets past the early talking stage, usually deals with states considering leaving the U.S. to form a separate country.
“Finally I’m going put it on the agenda that we need to finally disassociate ourselves from the people [running California] who are in favor of driving all the jobs out of the state, who are in favor of over-taxing our residents and who are in favor of giving benefits to anybody who knocks at the door,” Stone told AFP, while announcing that the secession-exploration summit is tentatively slated for February 2012; the favored location is Ontario, Calif., where the airport and a nearby convention center make for a convenient venue.
“We’re going to bring all the cities and counties together under one roof . . . to figure out whether or not the state is repairable, and if it’s not repairable . . . then we should consider some secession idea, and if we do, see what it would look like,” he added. One basic question is: “Who wants to be a part of the new state and who wants to be a part of the old state?”
The mantra is, “Get us jobs—we don’t want to lose our homes. We don’t want to lose our marriages,” said Stone, right after his encouraging meeting with the California Association of Counties and the League of California Cities on his proposal.
Regardless of whether secession ultimately prevails—as approval is required from the existing state legislature and, yes, from the U.S. Congress—Stone has four proposals he hopes to get on the June 2012 primary ballot. And the voters, notably, likely will be asked at some point to vote on a secession proposal. But meanwhile, Stone wants a balanced budget amendment to the state’s constitution, pension reform, stricter rules to identify illegal voters at the polls, and a switch to a part-time legislature like that of Texas. If that happens, California’s representatives would earn $900 a month and would have to live and work under the rules and taxes that they institute, Stone said.
“Frankly we just can’t afford it anymore. We’re sending all our jobs to Texas and other states. [Many are] saying that [California] governors Schwarzenegger and Brown have been the best governors the state of Texas could have ever hoped for, because thousands of our jobs are leaving the state to go there,” Stone said, while noting that the 13 counties wanting to form South California are reminiscent of the 13 original colonies in early America seeking relief from oppression. “The press release was released on July 4th also,” he added.
California Gov. Jerry Brown’s office reacted within 15 minutes. “If the right wing folks in Riverside County don’t like the liberal state of California, they can all move to Arizona,” Stone said, paraphrasing Brown’s reaction. “That’s the way they have been treating employers in the state; if you don’t like the high taxes; if you don’t like the over-regulation . . . you know what—take your business out of state.”
Mark Anderson is roving editor for AMERICAN FREE PRESS.