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Water Cuts, Ordinance Footnotes & Talking Jackass

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday, July 8, urged residents across the state to voluntarily cut their water use by 15 percent amid worsening conditions along the West Coast.

Surprisingly, Southern California is not yet included in the state’s drought-emergency proclamation.

Keep in mind Newsom has not issued an executive order requiring mandated water cuts. It is an urgent plea, however, and in my opinion he won’t be able to wait much longer before he’s forced to issue an actual order imposing statewide water reductions.

Without a doubt, the governor’s recall election date of Sept. 14 is the major, if not only reason for delaying what is now the inevitable. Newsom is sticking to his plan of forestalling any and all negative political fallout certain to occur if Californians were subjected to additional hardships after enduring 15 months of pandemic-related lockdown orders. But he is in little danger of losing a recall election mainly because there is no announced candidate who stands a chance of replacing him.

Newsom included businesses in his call to slash water use. According to the governor’s office, a 15 percent cut in water use would save 850,000 acre-feet of water — enough to supply more than 1.7 million households for a year.

Newsom said residents have responded to drought conditions before, and he was confident they would take steps again to ease their water use.

He urged residents to limit outdoor watering, use recycled water when possible outdoors, take shorter showers and only run dishwashers and washing machines when they are full.

Newsom added nine more counties to the state’s drought-emergency proclamation on Thursday. The move means 50 of the state’s 58 counties are covered by the proclamation, or about 42 percent of the overall population.

The only counties not covered by the proclamation are Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Imperial, Ventura and San Francisco.

The U.S. Drought Monitor this week categorized California’s drought status ranging from Severe Drought to Exceptional Drought, with the latter designation the highest on a 5-tier scale.

CoCo’s Referendum Opinion

The County Counsel’s Office (“CoCo”) this past week issued an opinion regarding the standing of the 10% Cultivation Expansion Referendum sponsored by the Small Is Beautiful Coalition, of which I am co-chairman.

Here’s a summary of County Counsel Christian Curtis’ opinion.

“If a referendum petition targeting only Footnote 6 were to gain enough signatures, there are three possible results as to what a court might do. First, it is possible that a court might conclude that a referendum as to a single footnote is impermissible, and rule that the petition is invalid. Under this scenario, the ordinance would proceed as if the petition was never circulated. Second, it is possible that a court might find that the referendum petition is valid, but that Elections Code section 9145 requires the prior ordinance to be repealed before enacting a modified version. If so, then implementation of the remainder of the ordinance may be delayed for several years while the County undergoes environmental review. Third, it is possible that a Court might determine that while Footnote 6 is suspended and/or repealed, the balance of the ordinance continues as originally enacted. Of these three possibilities, I believe that the first is the most likely, but the lack of any authority directly on point and the significant ambiguity in this area gives me a relatively low level of certainty.”

I’ve purposely deferred for a while addressing CoCo’s legal opinion(s) because you rapidly begin to lose people’s interest with discussions on legal theories, precedent, etc. We’ve been going back and forth exchanging precedent, relevant citations, and dicta on this bogus issue for the past three weeks. His opinion has been modified several times. We anticipated the County would probably attempt this tactic, so we were prepared for it. Yes, there is a Severability Clause in the Ordinance and I’ve cited that fact to refute Curtis’ claim that the 10 percent Rule is not severable. Curtis actually signed off on the format of the Ordinance, including the Severability Clause. As someone who has negotiated hundreds of major and minor Collective Bargaining Agreements, I can tell you we always included Severability Clauses in each and every one, for obvious reasons: You don’t want the entire CBA, or in this case, Ordinance, struck down on constitutional or other legal reasons, such as a referendum.

Here’s the clause:

“Section 14. Severability. — If any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase or portion of this ordinance is for any reason held invalid or unconstitutional by a decision of any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance. The Board of Supervisors hereby declares that it would have passed this ordinance and each section, subsection, sentence, clause and phrase thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses or phrases be declared invalid or unconstitutional.”

While the clause refers to court rulings, it’s important for other reasons because it establishes that the ordinance survives intact despite removal of any section, subsection, sentence, clause, phrase or portion of the ordinance. A referendum is just another part of the legal process where citizens have the right to repeal portions or parts of an ordinance.

Likewise Curtis’ argument that the 10 percent Rule is too “narrow” an issue for a referendum is off-point. The primary purpose and objective of the New Ordinance is cultivation expansion. The only reference to the singularly major foundation of cultivation expansion in the Ordinance is the 38-word sentence tucked away as asterisk 6 in Appendix A, a zoning table.

It’s a footnote, albeit the most important footnote in the entire Ordinance. Without that footnote, by definition, there is no expansion.

That one-sentence footnote could have just as easily been placed in its own stand-alone section of the ordinance, but it wasn’t. The Supervisors decided to make it a footnote. But it doesn’t change the over-arching importance of the only reference in the entire ordinance to expansion.

If the courts were to accept such a distorted argument, all a board of supervisors would have to do is place an unpopular provision like the 10 percent Expansion Rule as a footnote, thereby preventing citizens from exercising their constitutional rights of the referendum.

We’re very confident the courts will not sustain that type of constitutional abuse.

A Talking Jackass

From Jane Doe 

To Jim Shields

July 12, 2021 

Why does Jim (Charlotte) use a fake name on Facebook?

Has Jim registered with anybody at the State Fair Political Practices to run this campaign?

How come Jim is running a political campaign out of a tax-payer paid office?

Does Jim understand his ‘simple’ referendum could potentially end the licensing for all Ma and Pa operations in the county for years to come?

Perhaps this is Jim’s underlying motive?

So many questions Jim …

* * *

I’ve been tied up with Water District business, Observer newspaper stuff, and collecting signatures for our Anti-10% Expansion Rule Referendum, that I’ve had neither the time nor inclination to respond to the above Anderson Valley Advertiser post from some 16-caret jackass calling himself “Jane Doe,” who most likely is a paid stooge of the Jamie Warm/Joshua Keats/Henry’s Original local Fifth Column called “Citizens for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA),” an offshoot of the parent organization called “The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.” Campaign information filed by CSA with California’s Secretary of State lists its treasurer as Joshua Keats. He is CEO of Henry’s Original, and Warm’s long-time friend and business partner. It’s my understanding that Warm and Keats brought in the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to run their campaign against the referendums, so the circus is definitely in town now.

Here are my responses to Mr. Jackass/Jane Doe.

* * *

“Why does Jim (Charlotte) use a fake name on Facebook?”

I’ve never been on Facebook in life, and don’t even know how to do so. Charlotte is Charlotte Beaumont, a long-time Laytonville resident and one of Small Is Beautiful Coalition’s most effective volunteers. She’s also a neighbor of one of Jamie Warm’s trashy pot grows. The only one using a fake name that I’m aware of is Mr. Jackass/Jane Doe himself. 

* * *

“Has Jim registered with anybody at the State Fair Political Practices [sic) to run this campaign?”

No, I have not registered with anybody to run this campaign. By the way, it’s the state Fair Political Practices Commission, and that body enforces the state Fair Political Practices Act. Political campaigns register with California’s Secretary of State with what’s known as a Form 410 filing, but only if and when the campaign raises contributions from others totaling $2,000 or more in a calendar year. Contributions include monetary payments, loans and non-monetary goods and services received or made for a political purpose. Since the Small Is Beautiful campaign made the decision not to accept contributions from others, our expenses are paid out-of-pocket by a few of us for things like posters, or copy paper for printing referendum petitions, training packets, leaflets, etc. Almost all of our communications are sent to volunteers and the public via emails. We acquired a website for a $20 registration fee and a volunteer posts information on it. With just a few days left in the 30-day campaign to collect petition signatures, we have expenditures to-date totaling less than $500. So we don’t expect to hit the mandatory $2,000 in contributions or expenses that would trigger filing Form 410. As we have said from the beginning, we are an all-volunteer, non-partisan group, open to anyone who thinks we should have more say in how our Cannabis Ordinance is written.

* * *

“How come Jim is running a political campaign out of a tax-payer paid office?”

Unless my pickup truck or the Mendocino County Observer’s office somehow qualify as “a tax-payer paid office,” I have no idea what Mr. Jackass/Jane Doe is talking about. Laytonville’s U.S. Post Office, “a tax-payer paid office” is located on the ground floor of the office building also occupied by my newspaper which is located on the second floor, along with other businesses, in the same building. Referendum volunteers staff a permanent signature gathering station under the second story deck of the Observer. But no other business or office, including the Laytonville County Water District office, is used for “running a political campaign out of a tax-payer paid office.”

* * *

“Does Jim understand his ‘simple’ referendum could potentially end the licensing for all Ma and Pa operations in the county for years to come?”

No I do not understand any of that because it’s not true or even remotely accurate. In accordance with the Elections Code and legal precedent, our Referendum removes/repeals the single sentence of 38 words that establishes the water busting Cannabis Expansion that is the hallmark of the so-called Phase 3 Ordinance.

* * *

“Perhaps this is Jim’s underlying motive?”

My underlying motive is beyond your ken, Mr. Jackass/Jane Doe.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher,, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

One Comment

  1. Wineguy July 23, 2021

    Well done sir, always a braying JackAss in the field behind the barn

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