By Jeff Horseman
A movement to split California into two states continues more than a year after a Riverside County supervisor’s anger with Sacramento led him to propose secession.
Since Supervisor Jeff Stone first brought up secession in July 2011, he’s helped form a group to pursue the idea. That group, California Rebellion 2012, has a website, is getting ready to accept donations and is planning a rally for sometime next spring.
Stone proposed forming South California out of 13 existing counties right after state lawmakers voted to divert roughly $14 million in vehicle license fee revenue from four fledgling Riverside County cities: Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Wildomar and Menifee.
Officials from those cities said the fees’ loss could force them to dissolve. On Wednesday, Sept. 19, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have returned the fees to the cities, saying it would undermine efforts to shift money to counties as part of the state’s realignment of services to local government.
For Stone, a conservative and former Republican state Senate candidate representing southwest Riverside County and the Hemet/San Jacinto area, last year’s fee transfer was the final straw. He frequently chastises Sacramento for, in his view, killing the once-promising Golden State and driving away business with too much taxation and regulation.
“There is only one solution: A serious secession from the liberal arm of the state of California,” Stone said at the time.
Stone’s proposal for a 51st state drew ridicule, praise and nationwide attention.
He was interviewed by national cable networks and The New York Times wrote about secession. At the same time, experts say his vision for a new state is a long shot at best.
The Board of Supervisors supported his plan for a statewide forum to talk about how to fix California, provided no county funds were used.
The forum has yet to take place. A rally scheduled for Sept. 29 at Vail Lake was postponed until spring due to the busy election season, said Darrell Connerton, one of the group’s principals.
Stone tempered his secession talk during a July 2011 Board of Supervisors meeting, although he said a new state was still an option.
Stone was on vacation last week and could not be reached for comment. But Verne Lauritzen, his chief of staff, said Stone is as committed as ever to the concept of South California.
“Absolutely he believes in it and passionately so because the state is so dysfunctional,” said Lauritzen, a Jurupa Valley councilman.