Shasta County offers a top job to a secessionist leader

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors has offered a leading figure in the New California movement pushing for California to be split into two states to oversee the day-to-day operations of its government.

In an unusual press release, county officials announced that “a majority of the board” had made Chriss Street, vice president of New California and former Treasurer of Orange County, a “tent on offer” as the county’s chief executive officer.

Proponents of New California, formed in 2018, claim that old California has become ungovernable and are attempting to gather much of California’s rural portions along with San Diego and Orange counties to form a 51st state.

Street cannot be formally offered the job until the board votes on March 28 after a background check is completed. He did not respond to calls asking for comment.

However, some critics of the board questioned how the county could hire a leader who doesn’t believe in California.

“What does it mean to be the vice president of an organization that claims to be a state of its own [would be] run a county?” asked Susanne Baremore of Redding, who is trying to organize other county residents to demand a “more stable” government.

County officials declined to comment on Street on Wednesday after issuing the press release confirming the tentative job offer, which had become an issue heated discussion in the county after it was leaked to the media. The press release also said the split board held a rare 5-0 vote to order an investigation into who made “unauthorized disclosures” of its closed-session deliberations.

The development is the latest sign of a shift to the right in Shasta County following the election of an ultra-conservative majority on the board. Last month, in response to unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, the board terminated its contract with Dominion Voting Systems and set about pursuing other vote counting options, including hand counting.

At the time, Supervisor Kevin Crye also announced that he had spoken to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a prominent Donald Trump election conspiracy theorist, about supporting a pilot election system in rural Northern California County.

County leadership began its rightward turn about a year ago after far-right activists, including members of a local militia, carried out a successful recall of a Republican boss and former police chief, in part for enforcing state-mandated coronavirus restrictions. In the months since then, the county has lost high-ranking leaders at a rapid pace to resignations and layoffs.

In May, the new conservative majority on the supervisory board fired the district’s health officer, Dr. Karen Ramstrom. Shortly thereafter, county administrator Matt Pontes announced his departure — but not before telling the local paper that one of the advocates of the recall had been gun manager Patrick Jones “blackmail” him. Jones said at the time the allegation was a “total lie”.

Street has roots in Shasta County, and local media reported that he has returned to the area to take care of his parents. His tenure in Orange County was marked by controversy. A former investment banker, he correctly predicted Orange County’s bankruptcy in the 1990’s and eventually became a county treasurer. In 2010 he announced that he wouldn’t walk for re-election after a federal judge reprimanded him for breaching his fiduciary duties in a previous tenure as a receiver. Street later sued his attorney in that case for malpractice and Won $10 million Judgement.

In an interview with KRCR News Channel 7 This week, Street shared his vision for the 51st state of New California and his belief that Shasta County could become an important economic engine for such a new state.

Referring to the county’s ability to generate electricity at low prices, he said, “Shasta is probably the closest place for a real economic hub.”

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