Guest Editorial: Citizens deserve constitutional representation

My name is Michael Neel and I have attended most of the meetings of the prospective Indian Wells Valley GSA (under the JPA agreement between Kern County, city of Ridgecrest, county of Inyo, county of San Bernardino, and the Indian Wells Valley Water District) held in Ridgecrest on this GSA formation. I understand that the approval of this agency is to occur on April 3. I want to make the following comment on this, pursuant to the public’s right to provide input.

Since the first meeting of the attendant agencies, I have held objection to this GSA formation on the following grounds:

1. No agency can be constitutionally formed under the Constitution of California to take on the powers of policing and taxation without the members being specifically elected to that office. No prospective member of this GSA has ever been elected for those particular duties on this agency, nor has there ever been a plan for that to happen.

2. The members of this “board” hold considerable conflict of interest under the Fair Political Practices Commission regulations addressing members holding too many offices. For certain, the city of Ridgecrest member, the Kern County supervisor and the San Bernardino supervisor board member have too many other political duties (among other varied involvements directly connected to their elected offices) to warrant a thorough attendance to the duties required on this board. The citizens of the Indian Wells Valley require board members who are elected specifically for the proposed duties, to any agency that is going to begin policing and taxing them. That explicitly applies to this prospective GSA.

3. The members of this JPA have never once discussed giving a seat at the voting table to the large body of citizens composed of those who pump water for their private use. These people deserve a vote by someone looking to protect their interests. This could only reasonably be accomplished by having a GSA that is directly elected by the citizens who occupy the geography of the basin. A GSA formed out of the bowels of a JPA can never provide this, thus inherently disenfranchising these citizens of a fundamental right. The law-loving citizens of the Indian Wells Valley require that these neighbors of theirs be afforded their inalienable right to representation. Anything else will be wholly unconstitutional and unacceptable. Without this right being respected, I can almost assure you that many citizens of our valley will be extremely resistant to the inevitable pumping monitoring, water use taxes and regulations that a GSA and its GSP will require. No one wants that, yet their voices have to date remained unheard, and thus they would be justified in their resistance to an unlawful agency.

4. These objections to the GSA formation have remained in a state of no response by the current JPA. Yet we have recently been told that there is now a hurry to get this GSA approved so the GSP plan formation can march forward. I object to putting this unconstitutional agency over the citizens’ heads. We require that our governments are formed properly, or else will have no choice but to resist. That is an end none of us wants to see.

I thus respectfully ask that this GSA formation be delayed until it can be properly formed in a manner affording all the citizens of our valley complete and thorough constitutional representation.

— Michael Neel

Story First Published: 2017-03-24