San Bernardino County secession could be headed to November ballot

A measure that would allow San Bernardino County regulators to consider secession from the state of California could be put before the county’s voters in November.

The board of directors approved the voting measure in a meeting on Wednesday evening after the issue had been raised at several board meetings. Wednesday’s vote was the first step in adding the measure to the ballot, followed by a second and final reading and vote scheduled for next week.

“Do the citizens of San Bernardino County want the Board of Directors of San Bernardino County to consider all options to obtain its fair share of state and federal resources, up to and including secession?” the proposed action reads. Voters would vote yes or no.

Even if approved by voters, the county’s secession from California, either to become its own state or to become part of a neighboring state, is extremely unlikely. The move would need approval from state legislatures, Congress, the Senate and eventually the President.

At last week’s board meeting, speakers and board members expressed frustration with the amount of funding San Bernardino County is receiving from the state, an issue that made its way into the proposed voting language.

“Our sheriff’s department, our judges, are constantly being burdened with too much and too little resources,” Jeff Burum, chairman of development firm National Community Renaissance, said at the meeting.

Burum urged the board to put a secession measure on the ballot and was supported by Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren and Upland Mayor Bill Velto.

“The last line is the most controversial because the rest is like a cinch,” Chief Executive Curt Hagman said Wednesday, referring to the options clause “up to and including secession.”

The measure would allow the board to dedicate human resources to investigate funding that San Bernardino County is receiving from the state.

“Then we can look at options,” Hagman said. “How do we stand up for more? How do we make our officials aware that we are not getting our fair share?”

The threat of secession has long been a weapon used by disaffected political minorities in California, the nation’s most populous state and one of the most liberal. Conservative forces in far northern California have repeatedly tried in vain to form their own state. A proposal to split California into several states also failed. There is no indication that this would be different.

Hagman told the Times that a vote on the issue would show “the seriousness of the public.”

Supervisor Dawn Rowe called secession an “extreme example” of possible action and expressed skepticism about the feasibility of secession from the state.

“I’ve had overwhelming support for reviewing all of our options, [and] several to tell us we were crazy to contemplate such a thing,” Rowe said. “They were interested in basically having a voice and hoping that their elected officials would listen to them and that they were frustrated.

“I have significant concerns about what it would mean if we went out independently,” she said, citing concerns about the impact of secession on school funding and mental health.

Supervisor Joe Baca was more outspoken in his assessment.

“I’m not for secession,” he said. “I just don’t think we have the resources or the wherewithal, the staff or the ability to start our own state.”

“I’m proud to be from California. I love California,” he said.

Baca still voted to put the measure on the ballot and said he supports considering the funding level.

“It is clear that people are hurt; let’s go out and get more [funding]and let’s make sure we help them,” he said.

Supervisor Janice Rutherford saw the vote as a way for voters to express “a growing palpable anger” at the state, but added that secession was not feasible. San Bernardino County secession could be headed to November ballot

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