VACAVILLE — Environmental extremism brings economic ruin, while liberalism produces polices such as California’s new self-identifying gender law that allows a male student to shower in the girls locker room, the Vaca Valley Tea Party was told this week.
“It’s lunacy,” Jon Lopey, sheriff of Siskiyou County, said of the state measure.
He noted the anger of rural northern Colorado counties with Denver and said many Northern Californians are “kind of mad at people in San Francisco and Los Angeles.”
Solano and Siskiyou counties stand for freedom, said Lopey, a 1972 graduate of Vacaville High School, who spoke Wednesday. “It was always a very special place,” he said of Vacaville.
Even when the war in Vietnam wasn’t particularly popular in the country, Lopey said, “It was always a patriotic town.”
Noting that the tea party meeting began Wednesday with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer in the name of Jesus, Lopey said, “Siskiyou County is kind of like this. We still pray. A lot of people carry guns.”
“Our way of life is at stake,” the sheriff said.
We have a federal administration, Lopey said, more concerned about gay rights and privileges to gay couples on military bases than about our national defense.
Lopey, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, said environmental extremism is among the ways the U.S. Constitution is usurped.
“What’s happening in rural America is happening here,” he said. “It’s just more subtle.”
At meetings, environmental activists always bring a lawyer and a scientist, said Lopey, who said he’s often told that he doesn’t understand the situation. Lopey said he responds at such gatherings by saying it’s the others who don’t understand.
“It’s kind of a power thing,” Lopey said of activists. “That’s what this is all about. It’s a radical agenda.”
Lopey, speaking to a packed room in Vacaville, recounted how Siskiyou County had 22 lumber mills in the early 1980s but now has two. Regulations seek to protect the spotted owl while the timber industry is almost destroyed, he said.
Once proud and prosperous communities are home to problems, including drug abuse and marijuana cultivation, the sheriff said.
“I’d rather have somebody working at the mill than growing marijuana,” said Lopey, who spoke about getting hate mail from Colorado, where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized.
Rural California, already reeling from environmental regulations, now faces new economic threats from dam removals, he said. Government dependency replaces freedom and incentive, the sheriff said. Agencies adopt regulations and say the actions followed a public hearing – which, Lopey said, three people attended.
The federal agency known as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tried a criminal investigation in Siskiyou County after the alleged death of a few minnows in a puddle on private property, he said. The California Department of Food and Agriculture told a couple living in the county that their three cows represented an illegal dairy and $250,000 in equipment was required to comply with regulations, Lopey said.
Environmental activists want to reintroduce the Northern Gray Wolf and declare the animal an endangered species, the sheriff said, while ranchers face costs of $11,000 a year from livestock deaths and other losses.
The media – “this is a startling revelation” Lopey joked – is generally against ranchers and farmers. News coverage also misrepresents the tea party, which he said is made up of “good people.”
Lopey spoke about seeing the movie “Lone Survivor” and how some people in the media have said the film glorifies war. Once every four to five years we get a decent movie honoring the military and “we have people complaining about it,” the sheriff said.
He quoted Louis Brandeis, a U.S.Supreme Court justice from 1916 to 1939, about the Founding Fathers who “believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”
The sheriff recounted trying to get an M1 rifle and bayonet – weapons his uncle, killed during military service in World War II, once used. Lopey spoke about the organizational maze in the government he faced because his name matched a felon.
“The system is just so bureaucratic,” he said. “You get somebody looking at a computer screen.”
Lopey said during his talk at Pietro’s No. 2 restaurant that when he wished “Merry Christmas” to someone with a pro-marijuana group, he was told that not everyone celebrates that holiday and the greeting shouldn’t be used.
He calls it Christmas because it is Christmas, said Lopey. He said he told his staff that a Nativity scene will be placed in the lobby of the sheriff’s office in Siskiyou County next December, “just to see what happens.”
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]