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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.

Paul Jacobs July 02, 2011 at 01:44 AM
“SB 89 was absolutely the straw that broke the camel’s back,” (Stone) said. ----Broke the back of a political ass is more like it. Stone has bluffed this hand before threatening to separate from Cal-Fire to form a County fire department and it didn't pencil out. My state retirement was a two percent formula and Stone's Riverside County has a reckless 3 percent pension plan. Stone pulls in 143,000 taxpayer dollars per year -- and that's not even his day job! The County hires Stone's son and his sister. This hypocrite now wants to run his own state! I didn't know he had such a big family but I suppose they need jobs like everybody else.
TVOR July 02, 2011 at 05:45 AM
I would support the idea with a promise of all the new leaders to purge the new state of illegal aliens.
Stephen L. Rush July 02, 2011 at 05:56 AM
As we approach July 4, I am reminded of our founding forefathers - of which a cousin in my family's line signed the Declaration of Independence. I am reminded of what these men of principle faced, whether to accept their plight & have their liberties overrun, or to act & give up those liberties so their descendants might be free. To them as it is now, change is inevitable. What am I suggesting - for all of us to take a more active role in government? People in North and South California alike, live in a different county from where they work and health problems have been on the rise. No, the working class, middle-class & small business do not have the time to babysit their elected officials. Government may not be the answer to everything, but a bad government is not any solution. Who is to blame for California being broke? As I said, both Democratic and Republican Governors here in the past have not dealt with crisis very well and contributed to our current problem. What matters are the choices we make today. Ancient scrolls revealed this commentary: "In the time before kings, everyone did what was right in their own eyes." It is true we are better off with Government, but when it becomes so corrupt as to take liberties from those it is meant to protect, it will & should be overrun. Americans stand up for liberty - at all costs, with great personal sacrifice to themselves. Let this mindset be in you, as it was when our forefathers believed in the dream of freedom.
MarkRB July 02, 2011 at 06:41 AM
As a resident of Mariposa county, I would support this movement. I totally believe that we would be better off without the influence of places like San Francisco, which is a complete different life style than the foothills of the Sierras. I hope that this goes forward. Let's get behind this as a united front and support this idea!
Paul July 02, 2011 at 02:18 PM
I strongly object to your comment "California has been robbed of housing income since Prop 13." Prob 13 is a lot more fair than the alternative. Before it passed cities and counties were raising residential taxes TOO FAST. They would raise the assessed valuation one year and raise the tax rate the next year, repeat the cycyle yaer after year. The persons in power even in city government can always find things to spend more money on and they did. If left unchecked after a few years the home property taxes would have been higher than the montly house payments.
C. Bailey July 02, 2011 at 02:21 PM
I'm for it. The voting block of the cities like San Francisco and the like definitely do not represent my way of thinking. I would be for a new state since all that governor moonbeam took from here will have to made up in new fees locally. We know that no government ever cuts back on spending, they just find new ways to bleed the people that do have jobs.
Paul July 02, 2011 at 02:27 PM
When prop 13 passed the state was supposed to find ways to raise more total in taxes NOT by raising the tax rate, but by encouraging more activity in business, industry, manufacturing, and farming. However they failed badly to do this. It was necessary to reduce the smog situation, but they went to an extreme and drove thousands of small businesses, hundreds of mid-sized companies and dozens of larger corporations out of the state.
Paul July 02, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Actually I am not very impressed with most of the politicians I have seen. For the most part they do not seem to be as smart nor as wise as the persons leading the efforts in private companies where I worked. In fact a lot of the Democrats are not like the Democrats when I was younger, A LOT OF THEM REALLY SOCIALISTS. They just register as Democrats in order to be able to get elected, but then go ahead and vote on legislation as if they are socialists. I think some of the Democrat US senators are pompous baffons, especially when they are performing in the CSPAN televised senate hearings trying to make sound bytes. Not as many of the Republicans are that bad, but I am annoyed at some of them too.
Paul July 02, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Sometimes I think if we could put about one-forth of the population to the left into one left party, and put another forth of the population into a politically right party, then leave the half that remains into a central party that has 50% of the vote we could get a lot more sensible things done. .
DeAnn Redford July 02, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Have you looked at the proposed economic data for this plan? The money is with the OTHER counties. What was Stone smoking when he came up with this idea?
Judy Hayes Gould July 02, 2011 at 03:13 PM
Jeff Stone has lost his mind,,,, again! He needs to get out of politics and into the real world that the rest of us live in.
Viki Voce July 02, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Grandstanding, again. Can you find time to learn how to be a county supervisor, please?
Roger Jackson July 02, 2011 at 05:15 PM
No grandstanding here, just an elected official thinking outside the box. Whether or not this idea could work, would be legal, etc., the idea would be in the best interest of the Southern California counties which would be forming this new state.
PrescientLogic July 02, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Hear hear! I am for a reshuffle. Gold is where you find it, and after Sutter's Mill ran out, the taxpayers came forth and raised up Sacramento to the highest social level in the history of mankind! Guess whose out of gold? "Without government" suddenly seems rational.
jefro July 02, 2011 at 06:54 PM
What a great idea and I say even if the other county supers don't like there sould be a citizens committee or something. SoCal is being taxed and because of all of the Dems on the north we have no say in government. Of course if you want your government to eliminate toys in Happy Meals, and ban the sale of gold fish then you are more than likely against this wonderful idea.
Jim Smith July 03, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Riverside County and California do not have time for a 10 year plan. Take your energy and outside the box thinking and apply it to something that actually has a chance of happening , and making a difference...
Roger Jackson July 03, 2011 at 01:31 AM
Of all the things of which to criticize Supervisor Stone, the last one should be to blast him for "thinking" outside or inside the box. His idea certainly appears to be one that would take a lot of doing, and perhaps even 75% of the states in order to change the U.S. Constitutiion (if that is deemed necessary), but at least it is an idea. If our nation under President Bill Clinton or even President George W. Bush had forged ahead to explore and drill for American oil under American land and seas 10 years ago or even more, we would have plenty of available oil so we could tell OPEC and other foreign oil suppliers to "take a hike." It is typical liberal/progressive strategy to oppose conservative ideas by complaining that results could be "10 years away." Yes, we need ideas to make things better today, but we also need thinking "outside the box" to develop plans to serve us well five, 10 and even more years down the road. If someone doesn't think Supervisor Stone's plan would or even could work, then counter why and offer an alternative plan. But please don't complain about the mere idea of a plan. We dearly need more of them, from inside and outside the box.
Jim Smith July 03, 2011 at 01:55 AM
Charlie, I in no way "blasted" Mr. Stone for thinking outside the box. I asked that he redirect his thinking to solving problems in the County, which by the way is what he was elected by the taxpayers to do. Mr. Stone has had aspirations in the past for higher office and I suspect with redistricting and an election year approaching he just might be posturing for the future. In the meantime he gets a paycheck from Riverside County and he should spend every available moment thinking outside the box on behalf of his employer.
Roger Jackson July 03, 2011 at 02:08 AM
Perhaps if Riverside County, and the others Supervisor Stone suggests might join together to form their own state, would succeed in that plan, it would be in the best interest of all of us involved. I think it is also important to keep personalities out of it and discuss the merits or lack of merits of this or any plan. If Supervisor Stone has plans for some day seeking higher office, he hasn't hurt his chances by offering this plan. He has certainly got my attention and I never paid much attention to him before. I will watch him more closely from now on as will a lot of people. If he is posturizing for the future, he has done an excellent job.
Jim Smith July 03, 2011 at 02:57 AM
For the record I am a registered Republican and vote common sense. I did not comment on the secession story immediately because I wanted to think about it, and did not want to make a knee jerk impulsive reaction. The fact that Supervisor Stone is protecting his constituents including the four new cities is very impressive. However, in his own words he did this out of anger, and he described his idea as a drastic measure. In my opinion the other 4 supervisors will not support this idea when they meet on July 12th...We'll see. I do believe before the idea of secession is even moved an inch further the remedies that Mr. Stone suggests be exhausted. There are lobbyists in Sacramento as we speak lobbying for amendments to SB 89 in an attempt to stop the State from taking additional local funds. If their efforts are fruitless it may be that the 4 new cities file a lawsuit to stop the takeaway. As Mr. Stone suggests the State is now making the incorporation of a new city a "moving target" which is unacceptable. Again, using Mr. Stone's own words, "this is a drastic measure" and me be a little premature as it relates to solving a problem for 4 cities in Riverside County.
Aldo Vaudio July 03, 2011 at 03:22 AM
I really love how everyone is forgetting that we're all in this together. North and South. Mexican and American. Black, white, whatever. Politicians of today are far too beholdent to big money and corporations. No matter. There will soon come a day when we will all realize this and therefore must stand together or perish. Until then, we can keep pointing fingers at one another and ducking our heads in the sand. This is America ya know. As a 12th generation American, I hope we the people can stand together to make this country truly what it set out to be: home of the free, land of the brave. Happy 4th of July everyone!!
Paul Jacobs July 03, 2011 at 08:55 AM
How dare anybody accuse Supervisor Stone of "thinking" before he speaks.
Roger Jackson July 03, 2011 at 10:31 PM
I hope we all never forget that all American citizens have a common bond that we should never sever. Supervisor Stone's proposal is at the very least an interesting one, and based on the number of comments the two stories on the Patch have generated, plus the more than 1,000 that a similar story on a CBS website (see Drudge) has generated, it is an idea that many of us feel is worth discussing. If California were to break up into two states, in the way Supervisor Stone recommends, it would probably be a good thing. I am not calling for it to happen tomorrow, but I an in favor for looking closely into the idea. If it were to happen, we in SoCal would not lose our water. Much of our water comes from the Colorado River, but the amount that would come from the part of the state left behind would not be cut off from us. One state cannot cut off water to another state. I think a new South California would work well with the old California, but we would have more in common with Arizona, both in economy and political idiology. We could become as conservative as we want, electing as many conservative political leaders as we want, while the remaining California would become a far more liberal state like New York or Illinois. What would be the harm in that?
Roger Jackson July 03, 2011 at 10:32 PM
Certainly, politicians such as Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown relate to the California that would remain after we left than the new South California does. We would still all be American citizens, but driven by and operating under differing politicial agendas. Nobody should get mad over this idea or threaten the north with losing the most successful counties in the state or threaten the south with losing our water, etc. The end result might be two, vastly different, politically, but two successful states.
Roger Jackson July 03, 2011 at 10:33 PM
Note: Being a registered Republican does not make one a conservative. Look at Arnold Schwarzenegger or John McCain for examples. Both are Republicans, but neither are conservative. Both were mistakes for Republicans to nominate for such high positions, won by Scharzenegger and lost by McCain.
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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