Oct. 18, 2011 — A house divided against itself cannot stand, referenced Abraham Lincoln during the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates when the 16th president was trying to become an Illinois senator.
The idea is that in the best interest of citizens, elected officials need to reach compromise through nonpartisan efforts.
The state of California at the local level — school board, city councils and supervisors — did away with electing officials along party lines for those very reasons; to make sure the community as a whole is served.
Until very recently, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors did very well in reaching agreements in a nonpartisan approach. Votes were not necessarily unanimous.
Discussion was sometimes contentious, but the vote served the public’s good and had no political ramifications.
Last Tuesday, Oct. 11, an issue that is so convoluted and will not be resolved by the supervisors ended with a contentious argument that definitely lays the card on the table.
Eagle Lake has been losing water for years now and the guardians of the lake contend it is from a pipe within the historic Bly Tunnel.
They want the valve shut off. Ranchers contend natural flow from the tunnel is theirs.
Biologists contend a new ecosystem is not in the tunnel.
The supervisors agree only the courts will be able to resolve the issue because it is a state versus federal matter.
The tunnel belongs to the Bureau of Land Management and the state water board says the valve needs to be off.
Not simple but a problem the board doesn't have any say over.
Supervisor Larry Wosick says the majority of Lassen County is on his side and wants the flow of water to stop unless it is natural flow.
On Tuesday, he presented a drafted letter demanding the water board give the BLM three weeks to shut the valve.
He told the the board mmbers if they didn’t vote for the letter they would see who the majority is next year, meaning at the ballot box.
Supervisor Jim Chapman picked up on the veiled threat and told Wosick that come next year he will see whom the majority really is.
We agree with Chapman, there are too many communities being affected by the water coming out of the tunnel and the board need not get involved in siding with one community over another.
Like the musical “Oklahoma” why can’t the cowboy and the farmer be friends? In this case the Eagle Lake Guardians and the ranchers and the environmentalists?
The supervisors shouldn’t have been put in a position to decide which community they serve is more important than another.
They all agree the valve needs to be shut off in the winter.
However, taking sides with the Eagle Lake community over the ranchers who may have property right to the water in Willow Creek doesn’t offer due process.
The supervisors should have stayed neutral in the matter and let the court decide.
Politics has no place in a decision that could butt one important Lassen County livelihood against another.
We need tourism at Eagle Lake. We need the cattlemen, alfalfa farmers and the government employees.
As one person said at the meeting, it is time to put emotion aside.
It is also time to nip partisanship aside and look out for everyone in the county.
With the state government ready to continue to take from little counties like ours, we need our supervisors to stand united against Sacramento rather than use the boardroom to waste time trivializing important matters with politics.
Now that the gauntlet has been thrown, we urge the board to work toward prospering our county and stop the veiled threats, bickering and make a difference.
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