Jefferson backers upset they aren't yet on supervisor agenda

An attempt to put a Jefferson state declaration on the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors agenda was rebuffed for the second time Tuesday.

District 1 Supervisor Roger Gitlin, who made the request for the Feb. 11 agenda, cited the 1,100 signatures the Del Norte County State of Jefferson Declaration Committee collected supporting the effort as reason for the supervisors to vote on it.

Board Chairman David Finigan, who on Jan. 14 called for a "sound fiscal analysis" regarding the Jefferson State effort, again proposed holding a Board workshop on the issue. He also suggested that the Board weigh in on an advisory referendum to be placed on the next available ballot for residents to vote on, similar to what Tehama County did in December.

Finigan said he would place the declaration on the agenda for a vote before a workshop if two other supervisors supported Gitlin's request. No one else responded.

"I took it to the full Board with a proposal that I would like to have a workshop for the Board to become fully informed for it to have that discussion," Finigan said later. "If a department head came to a supervisor and asked that something be put on the agenda and it did not contain the fiscal analysis or the information required to have an informed decision, it wouldn't get on the agenda."

When he was the chairman, Supervisor Mike Sullivan had invited Mark Baird, one of the founders of the most recent movement for a state of Jefferson, to speak at a workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 4. Finigan said he was unable to attend on that date and attempted to reschedule the workshop for Feb. 27, but was told that Baird wouldn't be able to attend that meeting.

Baird is expected to be at a town hall meeting Tuesday night held by the local declaration committee.

Committee members criticized Finigan for not placing the issue on the Board's Feb. 11 agenda. They cited the Board's administrative manual, which states that any supervisor can put an item on the agenda for a vote after consulting with the chairman. Jefferson state supporters also balked at Finigan's proposal to place the matter on an upcoming ballot.

"The signatures that were gathered were to have a vote by the Board of Supervisors, not to be placed on a ballot later this fall," said committee member Joseph Lavender. "I'm a veteran and I feel totally disenfranchised about this process that's going on."

Aaron Funk, the local declaration committee's county coordinator, read the Board's administrative manual to the supervisors, pointing out that it doesn't say that an issue must be supported by three supervisors for it to be placed on an agenda.

Funk said Baird wouldn't be at the Feb. 27 meeting because he will be in China and Korea working as a pilot.

"You want more information, yet I only know of three supervisors who are going to attend the town hall meeting on the 4th to get more information," Funk said, referring to Gitlin, Sullivan and Supervisor Gerry Hemmingsen.

Gitlin said this isn't the first time the Board chairman refused his request to place an action item on the agenda. A previous example includes a request to send a congratulatory letter to newly-appointed Pope Francis that Gitlin said was refused by former chairman Sullivan. Gitlin said he also asked the county to do a speed study on El Dorado Street at the request of constituents whose children go to Bess Maxwell Elementary School. This request was also refused, Gitlin said.

He said he will continue to ask that the Jefferson state declaration be placed on a future agenda. He said he will also consult with county counsel Gretchen Stuhr on whether Finigan violated the Board's policy.

"We have decisions being made which are against our administrative code and until such time as that changes, I'm not going to be quiet on this," Gitlin said. "I'm going to continue to ask for this to be placed on the agenda as is my right as a duly elected supervisor of the county."

Glenn County supervisors voted 5-0 last week in favor of breaking away from California and becoming part of a state of Jefferson. Siskiyou and Modoc counties passed similar declarations in September. The U.S. Constitution provides for the formation of new states, but land can't be taken from an existing state without consent of its own legislature and the U.S. Congress.

Baird will be at the town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds to discuss the Jefferson state movement.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at