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Supervisor Lays Out Secession Plan

“It was in a fit of anger I did something dramatic,” said Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone.

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone’s email alerts were fast and furious Friday afternoon.

The “Well Done” and “Good Work” messages – more than 1,000 -- were in reaction that 13 counties, including Riverside, secede from California to form a new state.

Fielding reporters’ questions as he worked inside his Murrieta-based Innovative Compounding Pharmacy, Stone, who represents the 3rd District, said he put forward his drastic pitch Thursday in direct response to Gov. Jerry Brown’s signoff on the budget package and Senate Bill 89.

“SB 89 was absolutely the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said.

As part of the state budget package, SB 89 strips a portion of cities’ general fund revenue derived from the vehicle license fee formula. New cities like Wildomar would take the largest hit because they get additional state funding from the fees during the first several years of incorporation.

Under SB 89, Wildomar will lose $1.8 million – or 22 percent -- in general fund revenue.

Riverside County encompasses four new cities – Wildomar, Menifee, Jurupa Valley and Eastvale. In total, the four are expected to lose a combined total of $15 million in revenues.

(Click here to read the full text of SB 89.)

Stone contends that the four are the only new cities in the state, and it’s no coincidence that all are located in a Republican-held district. Nonetheless, he said he didn’t spend time strategizing his secession proposal, and he did not discuss the move with his fellow supervisors.

“It was in a fit of anger I did something dramatic,” he said, explaining that he made his decision to announce a proposal just yesterday. “The bottom line is this: The state has shown absolute disregard to local government and we need to look at our options.”

Stone’s secession proposal has garnered national media attention and has shined a bright spotlight on four small cities in his county.

Flanked by Wildomar, Menifee and Murrieta city leaders Friday afternoon, Stone said, “The governor pulled the rug right out from under these cities. They (the cities) had to go through hurdles to become incorporated. The state can’t change the rules of engagement.”

Menifee City Councilwoman explained her city’s plight: “This is a death sentence for us.”

Wildomar Mayor Marsha Swanson agreed.

“I really don’t know if we can survive this,” she said. “We did what we were supposed to do (as a city).”

Options for the cities include draconian budget cuts, or bankruptcy and abolishing incorporation. Jurupa Valley’s cityhood became official just today.

Speaking by telephone late Friday afternoon, Wildomar Assistant City Manager Gary Nordquist said staff is looking at its options.

The city's total budget revenues are $8.2 million, of which approximately $6 million is spent on public safety, Nordquist said.

"The $1.8 million has a significant impact, but I do think the city would survive this," he said.

The city will hold a special meeting at City Hall July 7 at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the budget impact. The public is invited and encouraged to offer suggestions.

In the meantime, Stone said lobbyists are in place in Sacramento to fight for amendments to SB 89, and Wildomar Mayor Pro Tem Ben Benoit confirmed that his city has also hired a lobbyist.

Murrieta is not feeling the same effects of SB 89, but the city’s mayor, Randon Lane, said he turned out Friday to show support for his fellow leaders and to embrace options.

“It’s a crazy idea (secession) but it’s crazy to keep doing the same thing over and over,” Lane said. “We have to look at options.”

While SB 89 was the impetus for Stone’s secession proposal, all the leaders expressed dissatisfaction with Sacramento’s policies and the recent budget, which also included steep cuts to the courts, education and local redevelopment.

Stone said that if California continues down its current path, the state would become a Third World economy. High taxes, unfriendly business environment, unemployment and large-scale government assistance were all cited by the local leaders as contributing toward what they see as a downward slide for California.

Secession may not be realistic, Lane admitted, but he said local leaders have to start somewhere.

“For us to just sit by – it’s not leadership.”

It is expected that Stone’s secession proposal will be placed on the July 12 Board of Supervisor’s meeting agenda. Stone said that if the supervisors are willing to entertain his idea, then the next step would be to hold a summit meeting and invite all interested parties to discuss options, including forming a 51st state.

Jim Smith July 04, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Including Mr. Stone's recent secession plans for California there has been just short of 30 other attempts in California's history. In 1992 3 states were proposed, North, Central and South California. The proposal passed the Assembly and died in the Senate. Article IV of the United States Constitution provides for the creation of new States of the Union, requiring that any such creation be approved by the legislature of the affected State as well as the United States Congress. Assuming this idea can get past the Supervisors of Riverside County, why would the Democratically controlled legislature give up control of something they already have complete control of? If you can get past this question you may have something to discuss...
Roger Jackson July 04, 2011 at 03:01 AM
As the Tea Party of conservatives continues to grow across the nation, perhaps it will even start to have an impact even here in California. At least I hope my native state and my dad's native state of California can find its way out of the mess its current and recent past elected leadership has taken it. Maybe as conservatism grows, the liberals/progressives and Republicans in Name Only who serveas elected officials in Sacramento may just want to lock up their power base, perhaps for good. One way would be to relieve themselves of the more conservative parts of the state, including the counties Supervisor Stone is proposing for a new state. The remaining California would be more liberal/progressive than ever which would make it even more safe for Democrats. I don't know if this plan as outlined by Supervisor Stone will or even could work, but to stop any discussion before letting this conversation run its course is certainly no answer. Maybe this plan will work, maybe it won't. Let's be open minded about it, let the light shine down on the issue and see. Maybe, at the very least, this movement might wake up a lot of Californians who have been sitting things out while so many of our elected officials don't get the job done. Judging from the vast majority of comments resulting from just the mere mention of a plan, a whole lot of people are thinking about change in California. We certainly need that. If Supervisor Stone only provides a wake-up call, he has done his job well.
jk July 15, 2011 at 06:05 PM
UGH. You are joking right? Riverside is a staunchly republican county and has one of the worst economies in the state. That aside, Supervisor Stone has annexed the majority of California's tax base. This is an idiotic time wasting proposal where he should be concentrating on governing and bringing in new jobs.
jk July 15, 2011 at 06:09 PM
Nobody in San Diego or Orange Counties are going to come to his inane summit?!?! C'mon. What on earth makes you think they want to be saddled with the economic disaster, welfare state that is Riverside County. Keep suggesting time wasting stupid ideas and moderate republican will stay home on election day. Believe me Charles, you NEO-Cons CANNOT win without we moderates. You just can't do it. Even in Riverside county.
Rick Carson January 10, 2013 at 10:27 PM
What an Idea. I would like to keep the name Southern California so couldn't they change their name to North Northern California?

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