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Coastal Voices: Big Rock Service District survey was done properly

I’m replying to an article written by Jessica Cejnar, entitled “Supervisors defer issue of new state,” that appeared in the Triplicate on Jan. 16.  

She paraphrased comments made by Supervisor Martha McClure at a meeting of the Board of Supervisors, where McClure “spoke out against a survey the Big Rock CSD (Hiouchi) sent to its customers” regarding the Jefferson state initiative.

Your journalist reported McClure disagreed with the way the survey was conducted, stated the latter requested that the Local Agency Formation Commission “look into it,” asserted “people (supposedly in Hiouchi) who contacted her feared reprisal if they opposed the Jefferson state movement,” and declared that taking surveys is a political activity “that’s out of their purview,” because the Big Rock CSD is merely a “water district.”

A few days later Jacqueline Cochran jumped on McClure’s bandwagon in a letter to the editor to laud her for making those statements, (“We benefit more from Calif., than we contribute,” Jan. 25).

Many residents of Hiouchi subsequently asked me to respond with the truth on their behalf. So, here goes.

Supervisor McClure is wrong, and she therefore owes the entire township of Hiouchi an apology. Her silence won’t cut it at this juncture. The Big Rock Community Services District is a California Special District with governance authority inside its place of use, meaning Hiouchi. It is not a “water district.”

Under the California Constitution, Big Rock has the following municipal powers: (a) water collection, treatment, and distribution; (b) collection, treatment or disposal of sewage, waste and storm water; (c) collection or disposal of garbage or refuse matter; (d) fire protection; (e) public recreation by means of parks, playgrounds, swimming pools or recreation buildings; (f) street lighting; (g) mosquito abatement; and (h) police protection.

Because the Special District’s revenue base is financially insufficient, it focuses for now on (a). However, the Big Rock CSD would be responsible for the other municipal powers if it somehow becomes isolated. 

The organization is overseen by an unpaid, five-person elected Board and managed by paid staff. This is an award-winning team, if for no other reason than it does its job quite well for the residents and businesses of Hiouchi.

The Board members care about their constituents. If they are asked to consider issues, these directors/trustees do so in public meetings in accordance with California’s Brown Act. They indeed enjoy the necessary legal authority to conduct surveys pursuant to determining the will of the people. Is that not a constitutional concept?

The aforementioned Jefferson state survey was conducted without expending one penny of taxpayer money, and the residents of Hiouchi were crystal clear in expressing their opinions — in fact, 99.9 percent agreed on a position for the Big Rock CSD to represent. We sent a resolution to that effect to the county, and our recommendation is the likely path our supervisors will travel after all is said and done. 

McClure’s allegation of possible reprisal against people who disagree is at once fictional and irresponsible. I personally challenge her to come up with one example of political reprisal in Hiouchi over the past decade.

Supervisor McClure might do well to ascertain the facts the next time she chooses to poke her fingers into the eye of a Del Norte County township. What she would have discovered in this case is that the Big Rock CSD not only conducted its survey by letter, but also went door to door.  She neglected to mention that. She is further misguided if she believes she might be successful in driving a wedge between the state of Jefferson’s Declaration Committee and the township of Hiouchi.

We belong to the same family.

Craig Bradford is a member of the Board of Directors of the Big Rock Community Services District.

 

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