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Liz Writes Life 4-4-17

Liz Writes Life

April 4, 2017

Liz Writes Life

Published in Siskiyou Daily News

Senate Bill 54 is causing a stir throughout the state. On March 29, 2017, it received its third amendment vote in the state senate committee and is headed to the senate floor for a vote. To become law, it will need to also pass the assembly and then signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Proponents want the bill to pass, which will make California a “sanctuary” state creating a showdown that will be in direct opposition to federal and state law.

Basically, existing California law says that when arresting someone who may not be a citizen of the United States, the arresting agency shall notify the appropriate agency of the United States to take charge of any deportation matters. SB 54 will repeal this and create a lack of communication among law enforcement agencies.

Siskiyou Co. Sheriff Jon Lopey told me the Siskiyou Co. Supervisors were “courageous” on Feb. 21, 2017, when they voted 4-1 to uphold the U.S. and California Constitutions and continue to comply with federal immigration laws. In other words, our county supervisors did not designate Siskiyou a “sanctuary” jurisdiction.

Sheriff Jon agrees. He said he has taken an oath to uphold both the U.S. and California Constitutions and is worried how county law enforcement will be able to interact with federal agencies regarding arrests of illegal aliens if SB 54 becomes law.

“When we encounter illegal aliens we are to assess that crime and we need to have that discretion – often times there are gray areas like drug trafficking or burglars or thieves that may not be considered violent, but we should be free to cooperate with federal authorities and enforce the law,” Sheriff Jon said. He is not happy that state legislators are interfering and affecting the abilities of county sheriffs.

“Currently, we have to enforce the federal, state and local laws and a sheriff should be free to make those decisions as they are public health and safety issues. We need to do the right thing and protect our citizens,” he explained.

The California State Sheriffs’ Association is also frustrated and voted to oppose SB 54. Just last week, L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell voiced specific opposition, because it would limit involvement by law enforcement agencies in any federal immigration enforcement action. This creates a real problem when the county jails are housing inmates, who might be subject to deportation, according to Sheriff McDonnell.

The problem isn’t only in California as recently, Sheriff Jon attended a Western State Sheriffs’ Association meeting, where a high-priority on-going discussion is figuring out how to effectively deal with criminal illegal aliens.

And, it isn’t just sheriffs who are raising an alarm.

Last week, a group of elected officials and mayors in San Diego County announced they will organize opposition to SB 54.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells called a press conference on March 29, 2017 and announced a new group called “Mayors for Safe Cities.” He explained that SB 54 will not prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from doing deportation raids, but that ICE would not have the help of local or state police. ICE agents will also be banned from entering county jails to interview inmates suspected of living in the U.S. illegally. Mayor Wells added that this will likely allow more violent illegal felons back onto the streets than protect non-violent and innocent immigrants.

State Senator Kevin De Leon authored SB 54 and represents Senate District 24, which encompasses downtown and East Los Angeles. De Leon wields power as the State Senate leader Pro Tem. SB 54 will most likely pass the senate and the question is: Will the assembly be willing to stop the bill?

Sediment

One of the biggest complaints by our county, the Siskiyou Water Users Assoc., other groups and individuals — regarding the proposed removal of the four hydro-electric Klamath dams — is the tremendous amount of sediment that will be released from behind the dams. The millions of cubic feet of sediment will affect water quality, kill fish and salmon runs and do incredible damage to the environment.

For verification of these accusations, we only need to look north to the state of Washington where two large dams were removed in 2012 and 2014 – the Elwha dam that was only five miles up the Elwha River and the Glines Canyon Dam that was 13 miles up the Elwha River. The Dept. of Interior is the lead agency, but it is the National Park Service that is being unresponsive to resulting affects by excess sediment.

The city of Port Angeles with a harbor on the Strait of Juan de Fuca is having problems with its water intake and treatment facility from too much sediment that is still flowing from the removal of both dams.

An article published in the Peninsula Daily News, last week, explains the city council has tried to obtain information about the contract with a Freedom of Information Act and during the past nine months, the Park Service has not responded. So Port Angeles is now threatening a lawsuit.

The Park Service pledged to maintain the amount and quality of water available to the city and its residents through the city’s municipal and industrial water rights under the 1992 Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act and again in the contract for dam removals. With the dramatic increase in sediment, the city has found problems with its treatment facility and an unresponsive Park Service.

The newer intake and treatment facilities were built to treat much of the estimated 3.4 million cubic yards of sediment released by dam removal, but has not been adequate.

My internet friend, Pearl Hewett, is a voice against the removals of those dams. She has seen first-hand several feet of mud-sediment flow into the National Park campgrounds and roads each winter. It doesn’t look like the environmental damage is stopping.

Yep, very interesting information indeed.

Liz Bowen is a native of Siskiyou County and lives near Callahan. Call her at 530-467-3515.

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