Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Post-Election Update

Votes To Be Counted About Dec. 12

Yesterday, Dec. 5, was the last day to postmark a ballot in the wildly undemocratic, landowner-controlled Tuscan Water District election.

The County Recorder waits a week for all ballots to be in, then counts the votes. That means the results will be out sometime after Tuesday, December 12.

We don't expect to prevail in a rigged election, though we'll be pleasantly surprised if we do. However, these last months of community-building and awareness-raising have been worth all the time spent and money raised. The TWD proponents will now have to deal with a community that is informed of the danger of a water grab through an unaccountable new layer of government, run by its biggest beneficiaries in a conflict of interest so stunning that few would have imagined it could get this far.

TWD will have no funding if it gets established in this vote. There will have to be a second election, with a 2/3 majority "yes" vote, to get a property-tax assessment. Perhaps the landowner-weighted voting rubric is tilted heavily enough to get even that to go through. Taxation without representation, courtesy of business people who keep saying, "Trust us - we're the biggest users of the water!"

If a second election fails, the state may be waiting in the wings with taxpayer grants. Then the people of California will know for sure that socialism for the rich is a thing.

TWD is on very shaky ground legally. There has to date been no court challenge to the SGMA law's enabling of "landowner water districts" and other undemocratic new layers of new government, paid for by taxpayers, ostensibly purposed with preserving groundwater.

But we have seen and studied one extensive document from 2017 that laid out the unconstitutionality of these privatized mini-governments based on the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. One person, one vote is the law of the land. So why isn't it the law at the gates of Chico? 

How did the TWD get this far? By moving around chess pieces in private and depending on public indifference (which was apparently a reasonable expectation). Nobody in the district got so much as a postcard in the mail saying, "We want to set up this government and here's why." It was cooked up by industry insiders for years, then sprung upon an unwitting public.

How do we know they were unwitting? G4B has gotten countless queries to the effect of: When do I get my ballot? When do I get to vote on this?

The answer again and again is: You don't get to vote at all.

While the public was locked up in the pandemic, or failed by vanishing local journalism outlets, or simply going about their business trusting that democracy was still a going thing in America, the TWD crept into their backyard and got almost to the finish line with nobody noticing. 

So it's a good thing we noticed and spoke up. 

This piece from Groundwater for Butte appears in the Sierra Club Blue Group's winter newsletter. It pretty much sums up the problem with TWD.

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