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California's Glenn County board votes for secession

SAN FRANCISCO — The Glenn County Board of Supervisors this week joined its counterparts in Modoc and Siskiyou counties in supporting a declaration favoring the breakaway State of Jefferson — a grouping of Northern California counties that would separate from California.

The 5-0 vote came Tuesday, according to the Oroville Mercury Register.

The movement first surfaced 150 years ago and has been revived many times. The most recent push surfaced last summer and has gained steam across a large swath of rural Northern California, where many residents complain of overregulation, lack of representation, and a culture clash with urban areas.

"This is sending notice to the state that we're tired of being their victim," Mike Murray, chairman of the Glenn County Board of Supervisors, told the Oroville paper. "We are a byproduct of whatever the urban areas want — the L.A. basin, San Francisco. They have more representatives."

Before a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the mid-1960s, each California county — with a few exceptions for the tiniest — had its own state senator. But as both legislative houses adopted a system based on population and a rural exodus accelerated, the far north was left feeling voiceless.

"We are governed by urban legislators," vice chairman Steve Soeth said.

The State of Jefferson was coined in 1941 as was its logo: a gold pan bearing two x's meant to represent the purported double-crossing by state seats of government in California and Oregon. Activists hope some Southern Oregon counties might join the current effort, but so far the movement has taken greater root in Northern California.

The latest effort was born in late August when Mark Baird, a Siskiyou County rancher and 747 cargo pilot, urged others gathered at a Yreka presentation on a divided state to do more than complain. Within three weeks, Siskiyou County's board became the first to approve a resolution backing the concept of separation.

Modoc soon followed. Tehama County's board opted to put the matter to voters. And grass-roots organizers are operating in more than 10 counties.

Separation under the U.S. Constitution requires a vote of the state Legislature and the U.S. Congress. But exactly how the financials would work remains a point of debate — even ridicule in more urban circles.

An organizing committee that pushed for a vote in Del Norte County was rebuffed this month by the Board of Supervisors, which opted instead to first carry out a "sound fiscal analysis," according to the Del Norte Triplicate.

Baird has been invited to participate in a workshop next month so county elected leaders and officials can question him.

"We need to get some real structure to the discussion so we can be the first county that has a real intelligent discussion as to what we're doing and why and how we're going to pay for it," Supervisor David Finigan told the paper.