Nov 11, 2014
From Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assoc.
Our attorneys are reviewing 13,000 pages of documents
Many people affected by the fire tax have asked us when our lawsuit will be resolved.
With our state’s high unemployment and high poverty rates, we understand your frustration with this burdensome tax. Unfortunately lawsuits can take a long time and that is especially true here because this is a “class action” with lots of complicated procedures.
Our legal department is currently working on a phase of the case known as “discovery,” where both sides are given the opportunity to ask each other for relevant information.
After our attorneys sent the State’s lawyers formal questions and requests for important documents, the State sent back 13,000 pages of material.
Our attorneys are presently reviewing these documents in order to prepare for trial. We will continue to provide periodic updates regarding this matter.
Feb 12, 2014
Klamath Water Users Defeat Section 1500 Dismissal
Marzulla Law Legal Report
The Klamath Basin water users have won another round in their quest to recover just compensation for taking their water in 2001, defeating the Government’s motion to dismiss under 28 U.S.C. § 1500. The water users suffered a cutoff of all irrigation water in 2001 when the United States Fish and Wildlife Service determined that water be left in the Klamath Project Reservoir to protect two endangered species of sucker fish, and later be released to protect a Klamath River salmon run. That takings suit is pending in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC.
Long Road to Their Day in Court
In 2001, 31 plaintiffs filed suit in the CFC (Klamath Irrigation District v. United States) asserting two claims: just compensation under the Fifth Amendment for the taking of their water rights and damages for impairment of their water rights in violation of the Klamath Compact. On January 31, 2005 the Klamath plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding a claim for breach of contract. The CFC entered summary judgment in favor of the Government on the takings and Klamath Compact claims in 2005 and on the contract claims in 2007. On appeal, the Federal Circuit certified a set of state law questions to the Oregon Supreme Court in 2008. The Oregon Supreme Court issued its opinion on the certified questions in 2010. The Federal Circuit then reversed and vacated the entries of summary judgment and remanded the case to the CFC in February 2011 for a new determination of liability and damages.
On remand back to the CFC, the Government again moved to dismiss under Section 1500, arguing that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the claims. The Government’s motion cited two grounds for dismissal: First, that at the time Klamath was filed, a case was pending in district court with the same “operative facts” as Klamath; and second, that the plaintiffs in that district court case were the “assignees” of the Klamath plaintiffs because they had “a stake in the outcome of the district court action.” Under Section 1500, the CFC lacks jurisdiction over any claim for or in respect to which the plaintiff or his assignee has pending in any other court any suit or process against the United States. The Government’s “assignee” argument was novel and an attempt to broadly expand the reach of Section 1500.
The CFC denied the Government’s motion (except for one claim of three plaintiffs who had also been plaintiffs in the Kandra district court proceeding). Rejecting the Government’s argument that the Kandra plaintiffs were assignees of the CFC plaintiffs, the CFC held that “[t]here is no evidence that the plaintiffs before this court transferred any of their property, interests or rights to the [Klamath Water Users’ Association] (or any of the other Kandra parties). It follows, a fortiori, that they are not ‘assignees’ under the ordinary definitions of that term.”
The CFC also refused to dismiss any of the takings or Klamath Compact claims, including the claims of the three plaintiffs that had participated in Kandra, stating that they were not based on the same operative facts as Kandra: “In terms of the takings claim, the issues of fact and law raised by the Kandra complaint and the plaintiffs’ complaint here have little in common. In Kandra, the plaintiffs sought an injunction enjoining the Bureau from implementing a revised plan, issued April 6, 2001, that terminated the delivery of irrigation water to many individuals and irrigation districts for the year 2001.”
Having survived with their case largely intact, the plaintiffs are now preparing their claims for trial. The trial court has ordered the parties to complete discovery on the remaining claims by December 19, 2014, clearing the way for a possible trial in 2015.
California Faces Devastating
The California Department of Water Resources has announced a zero allocation of irrigation water for State Water Project irrigators, citing the ongoing drought. As the Sacramento Bee reports, “it is the first time a ‘zero allocation’ forecast has been made in the 54-year history of the State Water Project . . . .” The announcement comes as California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of drought emergency, calling “all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.” The “zero” forecast affects farmers and ranchers from San Jose to San Diego—a region of California that some have called “the Food Basket of the World,” producing just under 13% of all agricultural production in the United States. The 29 water agencies in this area serve 25 million people and nearly 1 million acres of farmland.
In addition to the zero allocation forecast, the State has also ordered 5,800 junior water rights holders, mostly agricultural users, to stop taking water—a decision not made since the drought of 1977. The Los Angeles Times reports Jim Beck, general manager of the Kern County Water Agency as describing the zero allocation as a “huge disaster that will dramatically affect our growers economically” that “should be viewed with the same urgency and response as an earthquake and wildfire.”
Since the mid-2000s, water that would otherwise be diverted from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to alleviate drought conditions must remain in the river to protect runs of salmon and the delta smelt, federally protected endangered species. Last week the House passed legislation that would restore a 1994 compromise between environmentalists and water users that was intended to protect both fish and agriculture. That compromise—known as the Bay-Delta Accords—was signed by both state and federal agencies with conservation and water management responsibilities over the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. But in 2009, the federal government reversed course when the White House required increased diversions for the benefit of salmon and the delta smelt. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) accuses the Government of failing to “recognize the damage it can cause when it gets in between our country’s farmers and a critical resource . . . .”
Members of California’s House Congressional delegation have also petitioned Governor Brown and the Secretary of the Interior to change the way water operations are conducted to help the farmers affected by the drought. Congressman Jim Costa (D-Calif.), a member of the House committees on Natural Resources and Agriculture, has called for the Governor to suspend the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act—the state’s equivalent of the National Environmental Policy Act.
Here is a recent graph from the California Department of Water Resources depicting California’s average precipitation by water year.
Jul 8, 2013
The fire tax will soon receive its day in court and citizens are welcome to watch the proceedings directly from the gallery of the courtroom.
With written arguments already exchanged between the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the State, the upcoming hearing will give HJTA lawyers the opportunity to appear before a judge and urge that this case be allowed to move forward so that this unfair tax be repealed and refunds granted to those affected.
If you plan to attend, please arrive a little early, dress appropriately, be quiet and respectful in the courtroom, and turn your cell phone off. If you have a “Burned by the Fire Tax” tee shirt, feel free to wear it.
If you want a tee shirt, you can pick one up from our office at 921 Eleventh Street, Suite 1201, Sacramento. Here are the details for the hearing:
Date: Friday, July 19, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Place: Dept. 14, Sacramento Superior Court, 720 Ninth St., Sacramento
This court hearing is an important step forward in our fight to stop the fire tax, which we believe is illegal under Prop. 13 because it was not passed with a two thirds vote.
See you on July 19th!
Oct 23, 2012
SISKIYOU COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
On Thursday, October 18th, Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) deputies spotted a vehicle suspected of containing a wanted felon, Mr. Shawn Timothy O’Leary, 26, of Yreka, on State Route (SR) 263 north of Yreka. Deputies observed up to three occupants in the vehicle and attempted to initiate a traffic stop when the driver turned from SR 263 to westbound SR 96. The driver hesitated and would not initially yield and failed to stop. The driver, Mr. Vincent Bowers, 44, of Yreka and Ms. Kari Landrum, 37, of Happy Camp, then exited the vehicle as it slowed to a stop. Mr. O’Leary then fled the area at a high-rate of speed in the vehicle as the solo occupant. A pursuit was initiated as the vehicle continued westbound on SR 96 from SR 263 in an apparent attempt to evade arrest at unsafe and reckless speeds, violating a number of traffic laws. After traveling for several miles, the vehicle collided with a guard rail on SR 96 between mile post markers 85 and 86 as the driver attempted to negotiate a sharp curve at an unsafe speed. Mr. O’Leary fled the collision scene on foot into a nearby wooded area near the Klamath River. SCSO Deputies, members of the SCSO Special Response Team, SCSO Detectives, and SCSO Canine “Caro” tracked Mr. O’Leary to the wooded area where he was believed to be hiding. With the help of the canine, Mr. O’Leary was located hiding in a tree and was taken into custody without incident. Additional assistance was provided by the California Highway Patrol.
A search of the vehicle revealed approximately two ounces of methamphetamine and a large bag of marijuana. Deputies also retrieved ammunition and a firearm that were thrown from the vehicle during the pursuit. After his arrival at the Siskiyou County Jail, Siskiyou County Jail staff located additional methamphetamine on Mr. O’Leary’s person.
Mr. O’Leary is currently lodged in the Siskiyou County Jail on several criminal charges including felony evading a peace officer, driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance, transportation of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance in jail, possession of a controlled substance for sale, felon in possession of ammunition and possession of a switchblade knife. He is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail.
The additional occupants of the vehicle, Mr. Bowers and Ms. Landrum, were also arrested and booked into the Siskiyou County Jail. Mr. Bowers was charged with being an accessory to a crime and obstruction of a public officer. He posted $25,000 bail and was released. Ms. Landrum was booked on charges of possession of concentrated cannabis and possession of more than 28.5 grams of marijuana. Ms. Landrum appeared in court on Friday, October 19, 2012 and was released on her own recognizance.
Oct 15, 2012
SISKIYOU COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE DAILY REPORT
On October 12, 2012 the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office’s (SCSO) Marijuana Eradication Team (MET) followed up on an anonymous tip of a marijuana farm located in the 1800 block of Timmons Road in Gazelle. An investigation revealed there was a sizeable marijuana cultivation site at the location.
SCSO MET enlisted the aid of additional resources including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA – Redding), Siskiyou County Wide Interagency Narcotics Task Force (SCINTF), North State Marijuana Investigation Team (NSMIT – Redding), California Department of Justice (DOJ) Yreka Police Department, and California Highway Patrol (CHP).
The DEA contacted The Assistant United States Attorney who agreed to proceed with a federal search warrant for the location. A surveillance operation revealed that the occupants of the rural property harvested a large portion of the marijuana crop. The land occupants were observed placing the harvested crop into a rental truck.
The rental truck departed the location and was subsequently stopped on Interstate 5, north of Dunsmuir with assistance from the CHP. A subsequent search of the rental truck revealed it was packed with marijuana. The two female adult occupants of the rental truck, Ms. Vongphachanh Daranikone, 52 of Jacksonville, FL and Ms. Johanna Daranikone, 31 of Sacramento, CA were arrested at the location for drug trafficking charges and later transported to and booked at the Siskiyou County Jail. Both were charged with possession and transportation of marijuana for sale with a bail amount of $75,000. Both arrestees posted bail and have since been released from custody.
The marijuana farm on Timmons Road was under continual surveillance during the evening and early morning hours. On October 13, 2012 members of the DEA, SCINTF, DOJ, NSMIT, Yreka Police Department, SCSO MET, and the Sheriff’s Siskiyou County Special Response Team (SRT) served the Federal Search Warrant at the location.
Roughly 2,145 pounds of marijuana was confiscated during the operation. Five additional occupants of the home at the location were arrested and booked for drug-related charges. Mr. Jimmy Sengthavongsouk, 62, of Grenada, Sandon Thosychanh, 68, of Sacramento, Khaiseng Thosychanh, 32, of Sacramento, Sockxay Thosychanh, 63 of Sacramento, and Onuma Sengthavongsouk, 51, of Fresno were arrested and booked at the Siskiyou County Jail for marijuana cultivation charges with a bail set at $75,000.00.
Sheriff Jon Lopey said, “This was a great example of interagency cooperation and coordination and a case of good police work generated from a citizen’s tip. We appreciate the team effort from the many participating agencies and the assistance from the citizen that made this significant drug seizure and the ensuing arrests a reality. The Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement partners seized over a ton of marijuana from the property and vehicle.”
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office’s Marijuana Eradication Team would like to remind the public to be vigilant and aware of their surrounding when conducting outdoor activities on public and private lands of Siskiyou County, especially rural, remote areas of the county. Generally, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have seen an increase in the number of illegal marijuana cultivation sites within various regions of California on public and private land areas.
Although many illicit grow sites have been encountered on Forest Service land areas, more sites are being located in rural private land areas such as leased ranches and farms. Suspicious activities observed or plastic conduit, water lines, generators, marijuana plants or odors, large amounts of trash, armed people in non-hunting areas, farm implements, fertilizer, chemicals, or strange behavior or “out-of-place” attire worn by people observed in these areas are possible indicators of illegal marijuana grow sites and should be reported immediately to the Marijuana Eradication Team directly by calling 530-842-8328, or 530-842-8328.
A precise location and descriptions of your observations, including locations, vehicles, and suspects are always helpful. Anonymous tips or messages are also welcome. Secret witness rewards are available for information leading to successful arrests and ensuing investigations. You may also contact Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch 24 hours a day at 530-841-2900.
Oct 7, 2012
Posted October 6, 2012 at 7:03 p.m.
Authorities around California have been raiding medical marijuana gardens on private lands, saying the “excessive” size of the grows show they’re not medicinal.
Investigators say the use of smaller, private illegal gardens are growing here in the north state, too.
“It’s probably quadrupled in the last two years,” said Sgt. Barry Powell, head of the Shasta County Marijuana Investigative Team.
He said it’s also posing problems for investigators, who have to spend much more time to bust much smaller grows.