Today, I am happy to offer you my side of this encounter at a county commissioner meeting and you can decide!
For two years, Butte County citizens have shown up in hopes to work with our county commission to develop cannabis ordinances that work to protect all citizens and fairly represent them, after the ordinance was adopted that allowed unlimited grow farms in the county and citizens weren’t notified directly about any public hearings about the matter despite land owners seeing grow farms pop up next to their property. In response to this, I imagine the county commission will say they did what was required of them to put it in the newspapers and all that…yes, that’s all well and good. My rebuttal to that is: if James Ager can encourage the commissioners to personally call their constituents in regards to a possible nuisance ordinance so they all can be heard, why didn’t they do that for the cannabis ordinance?
Citizens worked in vain to try to respectfully work with the county commission to develop a more robust ordinance when it came to marijuana regulations, and the commission seemed to want to work with them, too. However, the more that citizens showed up, got involved, asked questions, and exercised their most basic Constitutional rights, the more hostile and threatening the county commission seemed to become towards the tax payers. Citizens caught James Ager lying to them about his support for the ordinance amendment to allow unlimited grow farms; Karrol Herman consistently demeans and belittles them; Kim Richards (Chair at the time) would demonize them, and Stan Harms kept up his habit of yelling at and berating them or ignoring them all together, going so far as to not take handouts of information given by Buck Casey when he passed it out to the commission.
James Ager feigned support in the beginning of this whole thing by coming to two CCOBC meetings and saying he’d like to help them. He also asked for support for his re-election campaign in return, if the CCOBC members so chose to do. When CCOBC members asked Ager in what capacity they could help the most in county issues, Ager (according to witnesses) said he’d like help in getting rid of Commissioner Karrol Herman, which never came to fruition as she’s still there and almost always votes the same as Ager (and clearly, CCOBC wasn’t on board for helping Ager remove her).
As time went on, the hostility and demonizing of citizens, and using their frustration against them in order to frame them as some kind of domestic terrorists continued to increase to where we are today. Ager consistently interrupts tax payers during public comment, looking for any reason to silence them or remove them. Stan Harms continues to berate tax payers and Karrol Herman still belittles them. This all happens as our State’s Attorney, LeEllen McCartney, stands by silently and does nothing to stop them or hold them accountable to their oath or state law as it reads (again, it seems state law is written in such a way as to be left up to personal interpretation), and our Sheriff only does as he’s told to do by the commission, mainly James Ager, rather than stand up for the rights of the tax payers.
After I experienced James Ager blow up at me for asking simple questions with respect and decorum, dealing with over-the-top control and ever-changing rules that have seemingly become the name of the game for county commission meetings, going so far as to now have no choice but to use a podium for no apparent reason except Stan wants it, I had finally had enough. The county commission, to me, had made it abundantly clear how they’ve turned their backs on certain Butte County tax payers, regardless of how much respect and decorum we showed them in the beginning. Along with that, in my opinion, they expressed gross partiality to another group of Butte County citizens by allowing the marijuana business owners and their supporters extra time to speak with no interruption, being rude with no consequences, and operating outside of the ordinance they were approved under to do business. All the while, people like Sue Broadhurst is removed from the agenda, cut off early during public comment, promises made to us are broken, and instead of being heard, we’re demonized to the local papers and statewide media.
So, in protest, I turned my back on all of them but Commissioner Erk, since they consistently turned their backs on us, the constituents they swore to faithfully and impartially serve.
Many don’t agree with this action, and that’s completely all right and I understand why. I respect your opinion on this and agree it was a bit wild of a thing to do. However, I interpret the part in the Constitution where it speaks of our right to peacefully protest as what I did here: I peacefully protested the way they treated their constituents by sitting down facing the people who were there to actually listen, instead of wasting my breath speaking to the people who don’t seem to care in the first place.