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Siskiyou County: Off road vehicle discussion at the Board of Supervisors 12-6-16

Agriculture - California, Siskiyou County



Discussion and possible direction re a progress update concerning a proposal to develop an Off-Highway Vehicle Ordinance to allow OHV travel on unauthorized public roads and various community concerns presented in a citizen petition.

PNP comment:  During the Scott Valley Protect Our Water meeting on Dec. 1, 2016, Ray Haupt, Dist. 5 Siskiyou Co. Supervisor, thanked Jerry Bacigalupi for bringing this possible county ordinance to his attention as there had been no discussions among the supervisors about it. Ray has received other concerns  from farmers and ranchers regarding the expansion of these designated routes onto their private property. He has received complaints about the proposal expanding mixed-road use becoming another uncontrollable nuisance to private property owners adjacent to these proposed designated county roads.

After investigation, Ray talked to county counsel and the county administrator about possible liabilities regarding mixed use of county and state roads for  ORV. He has asked if the studies, processes and CEQA analysis’ have been done? They have not.

As a result, Ray told us the agenda item will not be the reading of the new ordinance, as first thought, but will be a discussion item.

Donna Bacagalupi voiced her frustration over the proposed map of combined use and proposed roads and trails that would  be available to ATVs and motorcycles near and crossing their property.

It looks like this proposed ordinance by an off-road vehicle group was not well thought out and the environmental and property rights impacts have not been taken into consideration.

Private property rights supporters said they will attend the meeting and voice their concerns.

Agriculture: Farmers and ranchers that use ATVs, motorcycles and slow-moving vehicles are able to use the county and state roads, if they have the triangle slow-moving sign on the back of their vehicle, so the proposed expansion of mixed-use of roads does not affect them. They are already exempt.

— Editor Liz Bowen



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Joint discussion to be held for county farmers and ranchers 11-18-16

Agriculture, Property rights, Ranch life, Siskiyou County, Water rights

Hello All,

After several responses, it looks like the afternoon of November 18th will work best for most folks. The meeting will be held on November 18th at 3:00 pm at the County Administrative Office located at 1312 Fairlane, Yreka, CA 96097.  An agenda will be provided at the meeting, but the following topics will be discussed:

  • The importance of getting Siskiyou water users together, what our goals should be, and who else should be included

  • Current actions/issues concerning agriculture in Siskiyou County and the Shasta, Scott and Klamath Rivers

  • Upcoming meetings, events and/or actions that Siskiyou water users should be aware of

  • Getting the message out regarding all the activities and projects performed by Siskiyou water users to improve irrigation, river and stream systems, and fisheries habitat

  • The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

  • How this group should develop and move forward (how to ensure water and agriculture security in Siskiyou County)

If you have any questions, please contact me. Also, if you think there are other people who would be interested in attending this meeting, or should be involved, please feel free let me know.

Thank you,

Elizabeth Nielsen

Natural Resources Policy Specialist

County of Siskiyou

1312 Fairlane

Yreka, CA 96097

(530) 842-8012

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Siskiyou Co: Emergency Services will hold practice drill on 11-17-16

Siskiyou County

 Nov. 14, 2016

Siskiyou Office of Emergency Services

Yreka, CA- On November 17, 2016 the Siskiyou County Public Health and Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services in cooperation with local law enforcement, fire personnel, emergency medical services and medical hospitals in and outside our county, will be holding an emergency preparedness exercise in Montague off Scobie Street.  The event will take place from approximately 09:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Those in the area of Scobie Street should not be alarmed if you see helicopters and a large number of fire and law enforcement personnel and equipment in the area. These will all be part of the exercise.

Office of Emergency Services Deputy Director Jasen Vela stated “This exercise is designed to prepare and train our local law enforcement, EMS and hospitals in the event that a critical incident with mass causalities was to occur in our area. In recent times it has become increasingly more important that we train our first responders and hospitals to ensure they are prepared for an event such as this.”

We would like to invite members of the media to attend this exercise. Media members that are interested in attending should RSVP to Suzi Brady at (530)598-2622 or Suzanne.brady@fire.ca.gov. Media members are asked to meet at 08:45 for a safety briefing.

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Siskiyou County opposes claims of voter intimidation, asks court to drop lawsuit

Elections, Lawsuits, Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou County

PNP comment: Hum, if the sheriff and county clerk did not break any laws, how can there be a lawsuit? — Editor Liz Bowen

Oct. 21, 2016

Redding Record Searchlight

Siskiyou County is asking a Sacramento court to drop a lawsuit that alleged county officials were committing voter intimidation targeting the Hmong community.

In the past two weeks the county has asked the Eastern District Federal courts to dismiss the lawsuit, because there is no basis to the claim, according to a statement from the county’s legal representative.

The initial lawsuit alleged voter intimidation and marijuana cultivation enforcement activities by Siskiyou County officials that targeted the Hmong community.

Siskiyou County legal representative Jim Underwood said Sheriff Jon Lopey, County Clerk Colleen Setzer and other employees did not break any laws and as a result are asking the courts to drop the lawsuit.

The statement goes on to say that there is no basis of voter intimidation, because nine of the 10 plaintiffs in the lawsuit are registered to vote in Siskiyou County and seven of the plaintiffs voted in the June primaries.

A court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1st in Sacramento.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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State owes Siskiyou sheriff an apology

Lawsuits, Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou County

PNP comment: Wow, quite the conciliatory apology by the Redding Record Searchlight. But, kudos to them for doing the right thing towards Siskiyou Sheriff Jon Lopey. Thank you to Alayna Shulman for digging deeper and truly investigating.

It needs to be remembered that these young Hmong are two and three generations past the Viet Nam era situation. I will alleged that a significant amount of several different foreign-type peoples are illegally growing commercial marijuana in Siskiyou County.

Unfortunately for the Hmong, their influx of visible numbers to Siskiyou the past two years is inescapable to notice — especially in gardening stores with carts packed to over-flowing with gardening supplies. And it was about 100 Hmong that attended standing-room only Siskiyou Co Board of Supervisors’ meetings to oppose the new stricter marijuana-growing ordinances. I was there. It was plain what their stance on the issue was.

Also providing false addresses for voter registration is considered fraud. Maybe Record Searchlight needs to look into that matter!

I allege it is a certain group of the Hmong and the ACLU who are the intimidators in this situation, including the threatened lawsuit. Media bias just fans the flames of true injustice! — Editor Liz Bowen

Redding Record Searchlight

Oct. 14, 2016

What happened in Siskiyou County last June after the local elections official raised questions about the voter eligibility of hundreds of Hmong residents would “take a few beers” to explain, as a Secretary of State investigator told an associate in an email obtained by the Record Searchlight.

It wasn’t that complicated to the Hmong residents the state’s investigators located and interviewed. They felt “terrified” and afraid to vote, they’ve since alleged in a federal lawsuit.

And it was very simple to Sheriff Jon Lopey, whose deputies accompanied the state investigators on their rounds. He was asked to provide navigation and protection and then left to twist in the wind, caricatured coast-to-coast as a redneck, racially biased lawman who allegedly hatched the idea of confronting frightened immigrants with automatic weapons and body armor. The state ignored and refused his pleas to acknowledge its role, records show.

At the time, this page piled on in that rush to judgment. We regret doing so.

That said, we don’t claim to know whether the deputies contributed to the situation by overstepping their bounds, as the lawsuit claims. But in two recent in-depth reports based on extensive interviews and reviews of public records, reporter Alayna Shulman clarified the sequence of events. In so doing, she uncovered a much greater role by Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office.

A week ago, due to her reporting, a spokesman there finally acknowledged that his colleagues had, indeed, asked for support.

The case began when Colleen Setzer, Siskiyou County’s elected clerk since 1999, flagged what she thought to be a suspicious batch of voter applications from rural parcels that did not have street addresses. She forwarded her concerns to the Padilla’s office.

The Secretary of State investigators don’t carry guns, and according to the office’s spokesman they occasionally ask for protection from the local law officers who do. That’s what we finally know happened in this case.

All this went down just days before the June primary election. Among the issues facing voters was a get-tough ordinance on marijuana cultivation. That would be of particular interest to the newly arrived landowners from the Hmong community, Lopey alleged, because illegal growing activity was prevalent in the rural areas where they’ve settled.

In fact, it was the presence of those illegal grows that both local and state authorities say prompted the need for guns.

Problems arose when, over the course of a couple of days, the investigators and their armed protectors managed to find about a dozen people — all members of the Hmong community that has bought property within the past year — and interview them. Ten of these would-be voters say in their federal lawsuit the conversations led them to fear they’d be jailed if they attempted to vote.

These are very serious allegations. The right to vote is fundamental, and the full force of our government at every level should be applied to ensure every eligible citizen can do so.

It’s particularly poignant in this case, because Hmong immigrants paid such a high price for standing with Americans during the Vietnam War. During the war, their casualty rate was far higher than the Americans’, and after it was over they faced massacre, starvation, forced relocation and “seminar camps.” Those who eventually made it to the United States had endured untold horror and deprivation.

In Laos before the war, the Hmong maintained a distinct ethnic identity as highland farmers. The interest in Siskiyou County, attorneys for the Hmong plaintiffs have said, is not just opportunistic. To them, the high, fertile ground feels like home.

Still, marijuana has driven an early wedge between the newcomers and their long-established neighbors. And that makes this story more complex than the one that was first told.

During a long career in the military and law enforcement, Lopey has actually spent a couple of years specializing in Southeast Asian issues. Contrary to the “country rube” narrative, he understands very well what happened in Laos during the Vietnam conflict.

If anything can be said of him, it’s that he’s zealous in policing a plant that voters statewide may be about to legalize for recreational use. But that’s a philosophical position, not a racial one.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard to properly judge the actions of last June. The federal courts will need to do that. The county is preparing its response now. A Secretary of State investigator also is named.

What we can say with certainty is it’s important to protect the integrity of the vote both from potential fraud and from intimidation.

Regardless of exactly how those interests were balanced in Siskiyou County, Padilla’s office behaved shamefully afterward by abandoning Lopey.

The Secretary of State owes more than a grudging and belated acknowledgment of his people’s role. He owes the sheriff an apology. And if he truly believes Hmong residents were intimidated, he owes them an apology, too.


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml



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State office admits asking sheriff for help in voter investigation

Elections, Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou County

PNP comment: The end of this article holds the truth and should be at the top. — Editor Liz Bowen

Oct. 8, 2016

By Alayna Shulman of the Redding Record Searchlight

The California Secretary of State’s Office acknowledged for the first time Friday that it asked Siskiyou County law enforcement to accompany investigators looking into alleged voter fraud — an investigation that led to a federal lawsuit from Hmong residents who said the gun-clad deputies terrified them.

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey has insisted that was the case since the allegations came to light in early June. But before Friday, the state office hadn’t acknowledged how Lopey’s department got involved, a “cowardly and totally inappropriate” omission according to Lopey, who has complained the silence left him the target of a smear campaign that painted him as a bigot.

Sam Mahood, a spokesman for Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office, previously had only confirmed by email to a national political reporter that the office does sometimes request local protection for its unarmed investigators, but didn’t say whether that was the case in Siskiyou County. Mahood also had declined to specify to the Record Searchlight whether the office asked for navigation and protection, and simply told reporters that Siskiyou County “recommended” deputies join the investigators. That’s something Mahood said again Friday, but with the added context that it was the state office that initiated the conversation.

The admission comes as other new details in the case have emerged through the paper’s California Public Records Act request on the case, including that an American Civil Liberties Union official knew the Secretary of State’s Office was at the helm of the June investigation but told officials there in an email she had “advised (Hmong residents) not to implicate the Secretary of State’s office in any way” when talking to the media.

Lori Shellenberger, the ACLU’s California voting rights director, now says “advised” was the wrong word to use, and that she actually just supported a call made by members of the local Hmong community.

It was, she said Friday, those residents’ “strategic decision” not to mention the office’s role in the investigation because it would scare away other Hmong voters. After all, the state office also was sending poll monitors to protect the vulnerable group from the alleged intimidation, she said.

Interviews and other emails released to the Record Searchlight this week reveal that Shellenberger did not seem to believe the state office had a role in any of the alleged intimidation that later led to the suit against the county and one Secretary of State employee.

She omitted the office’s role in the investigation from a press release and repeatedly blamed Siskiyou County alone for any of the grave psychological impacts the investigation allegedly caused.

“The people I was communicating with (at the Secretary of State’s Office) … assured me, ‘We would not (ask for armed protection),'” Shellenberger said.

When the story of alleged intimidation just before the June primary went national, Shellenberger was a leading voice condemning the sheriff. What emerged, Lopey said, was a portrait of a conservative county’s rogue lawman going on a power-trip against Hmong immigrants. Lopey has denounced that portrayal as a vicious falsehood.

Confusion in Sacramento

The case is full of contradictory accusations, including that Lopey’s deputies overstepped their protection role by warning the residents not to vote and that they brandished their weapons in an intimidating way.

As one Secretary of State employee said in an email to a friend at the state Assembly: It’s a complex case that “will take a few beers to talk about.”

Their exchange was another illuminating element found within the more than 300 emails obtained through the records request. The Record Searchlight asked for all documents that had been provided to Lopey’s attorney under his own earlier request.

The assembly employee is clearly irked at what his friend, James Schwab, has already revealed via email: Siskiyou County law enforcement officials allegedly intimidated Hmong residents by telling them they couldn’t vote just before the June election. He’s also confused: A news release linked into the email says Siskiyou County officials were helping an unnamed state agency with an investigation when the alleged intimidation happened.

“Do you know who the ‘state investigators’ are that are investigating? And […] what is Cal-Fire doing involving itself in voter registration fraud investigations?” Ethan Jones, chief consultant at the Assembly’s Elections and Redistricting Committee, writes in the June 7 email. “Lots of bad behavior at this election …”

In fact, one of those state investigators now is being accused in the suit of participating in the alleged intimidation.

The lawsuit that makes those allegations was filed by 10 Hmong residents who allege they were the direct victims of a wider case of intimidation that disenfranchised about 250 out of 360 potential voters in their community. The suit served to the county in mid-September names Lopey, Siskiyou County Elections Clerk Colleen Setzer, Secretary of State employee Alex Nishimura, Siskiyou County and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as defendants.

Siskiyou County’s interim attorney said the county has hired outside counsel to defend the suit and is preparing a response.

Focus on Siskiyou

After claims came in that some Hmong residents were terrified by the investigation, the ACLU’s Shellenberger said she’s the one who contacted the Secretary of State’s Office and California Attorney General’s Office for help.

“When you hear that people are getting visited on their property with guns, that raises flags,” she said.

Shellenberger said she did know that the Secretary of State’s Office was involved in the investigation that generated her concern. But the ACLU’s news release on the case simply says the agency is working with the Attorney General’s Office to help deter intimidation from Siskiyou County.

She said Friday that she doesn’t remember why the office’s role was left out of the news release, but said some Hmong residents decided they shouldn’t mention the office to the media because it would scare other residents who didn’t know about the office’s involvement.

“If we go into detail and say, ‘But actually, one of those employees was here …’ that would undermine people’s security,” she said. “I would characterize it as a strategic decision” not to discuss the role of the Secretary of State investigators.

She said she also told those residents that the state poll monitors didn’t have to come if they would frighten people, and state officials themselves agreed it might not be the best idea.

“They were also concerned that, ‘Will our presence have a positive or negative effect?'” she said.

She continues to believe the real problem was with authorities in Siskiyou County.

“Yes, there was a Secretary of State investigator and the sheriff there … But among the people that I was speaking with at the time, I think there was the feeling it was the sheriff more,” she said.

Not everyone felt that way, according to the lawsuit.

One plaintiff, Jesse Vang, says in the suit that a Secretary of State investigator refused to give him his name at first, then told him he’d go to jail if he voted June 7, which left him “terrified.” Vang also said the armed deputies made him feel “particularly threatened.”

Shellenberger’s appreciation for Padilla’s office as a whole and its efforts to protect voting rights is evident in multiple emails.

“I cannot overstate the impressive response by Secretary Padilla’s team and the support provided by the Attorney General and her deputies. Their commitment to protecting the Hmong vote was unwavering,” she wrote in a June 8 email to members of the Future of California Elections, a collaboration of state organizations aimed at addressing the “unique challenges facing the State of California’s election system.”

She also said in a June 6 email to two Secretary of State employees that she told some Hmong residents if interviewed by the media to speak carefully.

“I have briefed them and let them know that the Secretary is very concerned about this and is flying in two representatives tonight and committed to getting to the bottom of this,” she wrote. “I have advised them not to implicate the Secretary of State’s office in any way.”

She said Friday that was a “poor choice of word” and she “would never advise them.”

When asked whether finding out the agency may have requested armed backup for the investigation would change her opinion on who’s to blame for the intimidation, Shellenberger dismissed the idea, but also noted that she didn’t know the answer.

“My experience (with the Secretary of State’s Office) was, as soon as I alerted them, they were very alarmed; they immediately responded. I don’t have any evidence that (they asked for protection),” she said. “I think that would be highly unusual.”

But later Friday, Mahood confirmed that “investigators reached out to the Sheriff to seek assistance in finding (the locations).” Mahood said the investigators reached out because “various parties” had told them the areas affiliated with the “suspicious” voter applications Setzer, the county clerk, had flagged were “remote, difficult to find, and posed a potential security risk.”

He didn’t say who the various parties were, but apparently Lopey wasn’t among them, as “the sheriff reaffirmed the concerns … and it was subsequently agreed that Sheriff’s personnel would escort our investigators to the sites.”

‘Uncertainty and mistrust’

Additional emails between Lopey and the Secretary of State’s Office reviewed by the Record Searchlight paint a clear picture of his dilemma as the events unfolded.

At first, Lopey doesn’t seem to suspect there will be a problem.

“Let me know if you have any issues with the (news) release,” Lopey writes in an email to a Secretary of State’s Office investigator June 3.

Then, after apparently not getting a response, Lopey carbon-copies another investigator.

“Please let me know if you have any issues with the text of the message.”

No response. Lopey writes back again after about an hour.

“Do you have any feedback for the news release?” he asks both investigators.

Still no response. Lopey waits about two hours before he pushes for approval from the state agency again.

“We are getting a lot of media inquiries. When will your agency OK this release? People already know you were here and that we assisted,” Lopey writes.

One investigator, Martin Deffee, finally gets back to Lopey about 12 hours later, the next morning.

Deffee says Secretary of State officials told him the agency “should not be mentioned in any current or future press releases.”

“It has always been the position of The Secretary of State that we do not confirm or deny any investigative activities conducted by The Secretary of State’s Investigative Services Office. Any press release naming the Secretary of State and/or its investigators could potentially affect the integrity of an investigation, the testimony of witnesses and impede investigative efforts. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter,” he writes to Lopey.

Lopey writes back that afternoon, frustrated but begrudgingly compliant.

“I personally think that the lack of transparency in these types of matters are detrimental to the image of your department and you miss the opportunity to showcase your agencies work and achievements. It is important for people to know that there are consequences for breaking the law and neither denying or affirming an investigation just fuels the fires of uncertainty and mistrust. I will remove the Secretary of State from the news release,” he writes.

Then, the news breaks. Across the country, news stories repeat the ACLU charge that Lopey’s office had intimidated would-be voters in the Hmong community — stifling the rights of immigrants who fought alongside America during the Vietnam War.

By July 26, Lopey apparently is fed up.

In an email titled “CONFIRMATION OF ASSISTANCE REQUEST,” Lopey implores Deffee to admit that he personally was in Siskiyou County and the sheriff’s office only went along to provide security.

“As you may know, I have personally received a lot of scrutiny and inaccurate comments in some media channels (that) have misrepresented what occurred during the investigation we assisted your organization with May 31st thru June 2nd. I am not asking you to confirm or deny the investigation but I am asking you to confirm that assistance was requested from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office for your investigative team during these dates. I have a record of 4 to 5 phone calls requesting assistance with the effort,” Lopey writes.

No response was included in the documents provided to the paper. Lopey said Thursday that he never got one.

# # #


In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, any copyrighted material herein is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

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Learn about Siskiyou Measure H — groundwater – video 9-29-16

Elections, Siskiyou County

Lisa Nixon, Siskiyou County Supervisor-elect for Dist. 4, explained the problems with Siskiyou Co. Measure H that will be on the November 8, 2016 ballot. Lisa spoke at the Scott Valley Protect Our Water meeting on Sept. 29, 2016 in Fort Jones, CA.

It is well-worth the watch. About 30 minutes.

This measure has the capacity make everyone who uses well-water — groundwater — obtain expensive environmental permits depending on how that water is utilized — including agriculture and brewery.


Measure H, Siskiyou County

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Records: State agency sought to obscure role in ‘intimidation’ case

Elections, Lawsuits, Sheriff Jon Lopey, Siskiyou County, Siskiyou Sheriff's report, State gov

PNP comment: For those not living in Siskiyou County or not paying attention, the growth of the commercial marijuana plantations has gone from 450, of 100 plants or more, in 2015, to an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 plantations in 2016 — by law enforcement agencies. 

The growers are of a variety of ethnic groups, including white. The influx of workers and plantations is visible is many ways, including the customers in local stores, carts over-glowing with gardening supplies, neighbors complaining about new grows and looking at Google maps for the plantations.

County ordinances were on the June Primary 2016 Ballot that would limit the number of plants that could be grown.

The opposition to these ordinances was, in my opinion, extreme and at times vicious as there is apparently BIG MONEY in the illegal commercial marijuana business. Sheriff Lopey has been verbally attacked many times for his outspoken stand against illegal marijuana grows and use.

I defend our Siskiyou Co. Sheriff Jon Lopey and our Siskiyou Co. Clerk Colleen Setzer. I know them. They are honest in their dealings. Their goal is to protect and serve the people of Siskiyou County.

I believe the real “intimidation” is from certain Hmong and their ACLU attorneys. Reports I have received state that a significant number of the questionable newly-registered voters in Siskiyou Co., last spring, claimed their residence was on private property where there was no home, no water or septic systems. You must be living in Siskiyou Co. to be able to vote in Siskiyou Co. The were no residences.

I, and others allege, that false addresses were supplied on legal registered voter applications. It is the job of the Secretary of State’s office to investigate possible voter fraud, when it is reported by a county clerk! So, now you get to read between the lines! — Editor Liz Bowen

Sept. 30, 2016

By Alayna Shulman of the Redding Record Searchlight

In the week leading up to June’s state primary election, at least two investigators from California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office spent three days tracking down members of the Hmong community in rural Siskiyou County.

But when allegations that they and local officers had intimidated those potential voters surfaced, Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey says the state office left him to take the blame.

Now, the issue has gained new life: A federal lawsuit looms, and Lopey has hired an attorney of his own to help restore a reputation he says was victim of a smear campaign.

While the state’s involvement is under renewed scrutiny, Lopey continues to face questions of his own about the events of early summer. Some of them come from Hmong residents who say the pattern of intimidation that spurred their lawsuit continues with selective enforcement of marijuana cultivation laws.

Originating in one of the state’s least populated and most conservative counties, the case is caught in the crosswinds of race, marijuana policy and law enforcement.

And one thing has emerged clearly from a Record Searchlight review of public records and details in the lawsuit: Padilla’s office played a greater role in the activities that allegedly intimidated a minority group than his aides initially disclosed.

Politically, that’s an uncomfortable position for the Los Angeles Democrat and California’s first Latino secretary of state. The second sentence of his official biography highlights his commitment to “increasing voter registration and participation, and strengthening voting rights.”

Padilla’s office has had little comment on the incident beyond acknowledging its involvement and saying that it dispatched poll monitors when it received complaints of voter intimidation by county, not state employees.

But an employee from the office is nonetheless named as a defendant in the suit, which doesn’t paint a simple picture of Siskiyou County employees going rogue during a polite and routine state investigation. One of the Hmong community plaintiffs alleges the state employee “terrified” him with threats of jail. Jesse Vang, 45, alleges in the suit that he also felt threatened by “a sheriff’s deputy standing at his gate holding an AR-50 assault rifle.”

Padilla’s office also has declined to say definitively whether its officials asked Lopey to accompany investigators as they visited areas known to have illegal marijuana growing operations. Lopey insists that they did, and, after the fact, asked him not to mention the office in a news release.

As claims of investigative teams wearing “commando-style body armor” and confronting Hmong residents spread, Lopey found himself at the center of a media firestorm that spread coast to coast: He was named in a piece by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, as having allegedly intimidated minorities, and a Record Searchlight editorial denounced his actions. The California Attorney General’s Office went to Siskiyou County to investigate the alleged voter intimidation.

“I don’t mind getting attacked. But at least people could tell the truth. And they’re not,” Lopey said, calling the Secretary of State’s Office’s conduct “cowardly and totally inappropriate.”

Sam Mahood, press secretary for the office, said it didn’t release information on the case because of a policy to not comment on any investigation, and that the Sheriff’s Office shouldn’t have either.

Meanwhile, one key element of the early allegations is notable for its absence: reports that deputies set up checkpoints to target and intimidate Hmong voters are not included in the lawsuit, and the person who raised those allegations now says she can’t substantiate them.

Initial concerns

The episode appears to have begun when county Elections Clerk Colleen Setzer sent what she has said were suspicious voter applications to the Secretary of State’s Office for investigation.

Setzer did not return a message seeking comment on the case, but one of the attorneys representing the Hmong residents said her justification for flagging those applications as suspicious was a high number of property transactions in the areas and the absence of established homes on some of the properties. The lawsuit says at least 360 Hmong residents tried to register to vote at the time, though why so many of them were registering all at once remains unclear. An American Civil Liberties Union official involved in the case said most of them are new to the area and were drawn there by the rugged land that reminds them of their home country, Laos.

Each of the 10 plaintiffs is identified in the suit as having purchased her or his property within the past year — mostly in the first few months of 2016. The plaintiffs are represented by three San Francisco attorneys. The plaintiffs also have been in close contact with Lori Shellenberger, California voting rights director for the ACLU, since the investigation began.

The suit seeks $100,000 in damages and unspecified “punitive and exemplary” damages. It also seeks restraining orders and permanent injunctions that would bar officials from entering the plaintiffs’ properties without a warrant, interfering with their ability to vote in the November election or enforcing county marijuana ordinances passed in 2015 and 2016 without a warrant.

Who made the call?

Lopey insists the Secretary of State investigators asked his department for protection “five or six times.”

“Let me clarify one thing: I didn’t call them,” he said. “They called me repeatedly and asked for my assistance and support.”

That’s something he has said from the start. In the June 3 news release on the investigation, Lopey wrote that several departments “were asked to assist the state investigators with their voter fraud investigation.”

Lopey acknowledged that, once he got back to the Secretary of State employees, he told them it was probably a good idea his deputies come along because of marijuana grows in the targeted areas and their remote location.

Secretary of State spokesman Mahood stopped short of saying whether his agency requested backup, simply acknowledging in a June 10 email to a Talking Points Memo reporter that the Sheriff’s Office “advised” his agency of potential security risks and “recommended” deputies join the agent investigating reports of voter fraud from the county clerk.

Mahood did not say which side initiated those conversations, and, when asked by the Record Searchlight for clarification, he promised to follow up, but did not.

In that June 10 email, the paragraph on the talks with Siskiyou County is preceded by one that stresses the importance of safety for Secretary of State investigators, whom Mahood noted are not allowed to carry guns while working. The email was released to an attorney representing Lopey and then provided to the Record Searchlight.

That attorney, James Buchal, believes the state won’t admit it asked for protection to avoid embarrassment.

Portland, Oregon-based Buchal noted the Secretary of State’s Office requested Lopey not to mention the office in a news release. Lopey obliged, simply telling the media that “State of California investigators” had been in the county looking into voter fraud allegations.



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Siskiyou Co: Nov. 8 Election Poll volunteers are needed

Elections, Siskiyou County

PNP comment: Let’s help our county clerk and staff by volunteering. Half-day shifts are available. Call Beckie this next week! — Editor Liz Bowen

Currently, the County Clerk’s Office is seeking poll workers for the November 8, 2016 election. Bilingual workers who are fluent in English and the Hmong language are needed in the Hornbrook, Montague, Big Springs, Lake Shastina, and McCloud areas. Poll workers receive a stipend for working and mandatory training classes will be held in Yreka on October 12th and in Weed on October 13th.  For more information, please contact Beckie at the County Clerk’s Office at 842-8084 or email Beckie@sisqvotes.org

For those who cannot work an entire day, split shifts are available (some restrictions do apply), so be sure to mention to Beckie that you are interested in working a split shift.

Colleen Setzer

Siskiyou County Clerk

510 N. Main Street

Yreka, CA 96097


Phone:  (530) 842-8084

Fax:  (530) 841-4110

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Protect Our Water meets 9-29-16

POW, Siskiyou County

Scott Valley Protect Our Water

will meet

Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016

7 p.m.

Fort Jones Community Center

Discussion on newest move to destroy the Klamath dams

Info on Measure H — ground water  in Siskiyou County

reasons to Vote NO on Measure H

Please bring a desert to share as we eat before, during and after!

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