Monday, August 20th, dawned bright and clear. Myself (Jeff) and Sean Finnegan (aka nunya bidness) had agreed to go to the top of Hagelstein Mtn. to take a panoramic view of Klamath Lake. I had taken a similar panoramic view of the entire Klamath Basin from the top of Stukel Mtn. the day before, but to my dismay, this morning I found that my digital camera as missing. But, never fear, Sean has a better camera than mine and with it, we were able to take the pictures for today's report. Sean went with my friends here in Klamath and was able to get the picture from the top of Hagelstein which clearly shows the Klamath Lake full, and not visibly suffering from any low wter conditions.
INTERVIEW WITH JEFF HEAD ON KPDQ , PORTLAND
After my interview, she interviewed another local farmer/citizen, Stan. Stan was very impassioned about the situation and the fact that decent, law abiding citizen rights ere being trampled upon. He indicated that the water needed to be kept on, and that if the government turned it off, the local people would turn it back on somehow.
Mary Starrett: What can one man do? Well hereís one man whose going to tell us just what kind of change he affected. His name is Jeff Head. Heís here from Emmett, Idaho. And if you go to KlamthBasinCrisis.org you will see a link to a petition that is circulating around the web, around the country to get people, I believe 30, 000 signatures at this point, the petition is making some headway and some news. Jeff, thanks for being with us.
Jeff Head: Glad to be here.
MS: Earlier the was a gentleman who came up when we were talking with Chief Ranger Felicia Probert who had a few things to say and he was impassioned about the federal presense here and very impassioned about what she was saying. Tell me why that struck a nerve with you?
JH: Well, it struck a nerve with me because those folks are wearing guns. And theyíre out there, I never thought that in my life I would see armed federal agents guarding a head gate keeping farmers away from the water that they own. My gosh, itís something youíd expect to see in the Soviet Union or in Red China. It does not make sense! Itís absolutely wrong! You know, I understand they talk about their job. But itís just like you folks have been saying when is it not their job? When is it not their job? Right now there is 1400 families that are being destroyed because they are doing their job. Make no mistake. The policy makers, and what not, they have to have people like this thatíll do their job. If those people wouldnít do their job this wouldnít happen. Thatís the way it is. My question to these folks, with all due respect because I respect law enforcement because we need people who will help protect the American people. But you know what? This is not protecting American people! This is destroying American people! Itís totally upside down.
So my question for them is when is it too much? Is 5000 families too many? Would 10,000 families be too many? What if they were asked tomorrow to round us all up and put us in that ditch and shoot us? Would that be their job? You know, these other tyrants didnít start out by shooting people. They started out by disenfranchising people. And weíve got 1400 families, farming families, who are God fearing, who have never committed a crime who are being destroyed by these acts. I hope theyíll think about that because they are on the wrong side of this because they are on the wrong side of this. They are not protecting the American people. They took an oath to uphold, bear true of faith and allegience to the Constitution. And the Constitution is about our rights. Theyíre trampling on these folksí rights. Thatís whatís happening here.
MS: Jeff, do you think that the majority of the people in this area agree with that?
JH: I think that the majority of the people when they hear the whole truth about whatís happened here would agree with that. Iíve been out with this petition to county fairs and all over. When you explain to people, and they hear that farmers are being denied water rights, that they own, they are against that. And I believe any American with an ounce of patriotism or love of liberty flowing in their blood would be against it. Thatís why I wanted to get it out.
MS: What about those who say that the farmers really donít have a right to this because this is an area that should have never been irrigated to begin with?
JH: Iíd say to those people to go back and live a hundred years ago but donít force us to do it.
MS: Tell me what you expect to happen, what you think will happen between today and tomorrow with this influx of support and encouragement, the convoys, the thousands of people coming to the area?
JH: I can tell you, like I said, Iím from Emmett, Idaho. I helped organize one of the stops over in Boise. And to see those people bring, of their substance, and give to these folks Ė thatís the spirit of Amerca. Citizens, people helping other people. Theyíre doing not with government aid, not with some grant from the government. Theyíre doing it because they have recognized that these people are in need. Theyíre in need because their governmentís hurt them. And theyíre willing to do it. So what I expect to see is a whole lot of help come to these people. And Iím hoping it will help them get through to next season. And in the meantime, weíve got to turn this around. It canít stand. Because if it does Iíll be seeing over in the Emmett Valley where I live. And we donít need that. It leads to a very bad place. Weíve got to stop it now.
MS: What about the reports, misinformation perhaps, as reported in the Oregonian that the Klamath convoy may bring trouble? And letís see the other headline: Death threats reported in Klamath conflict. And according to the sherriff, who was just here, thatís the first heís heard of it. Do you think this is deliberate misinformation?
JH: I believe it possibly could be. But Iíll tell you this, Iíve been here since the first night and there was farmers that I know, who took the headgates, I have never been among more dedicated and peace loving people in my life. I doubt that if this happened in my valley that I could be a patient as these folks have been. So no, I donít believe itís coming from these foks at all.
MS: I felt the same thing. You know, for weeks Iíve been talking to the folks down here, many of you have been my guest by phone on the program. And I can remember thinking, these are not the kinds of people Iím terribly afraid of. Now that Iíve met you I know that thatís not true. And this morining as I was flying around I was looking at this peaceful area however itís been buffeted and I noticed the number of churches astounded me. The fact that they started their meetings with prayers. And the fact that they have a prayer and fasting before this whole thing begins. And the fact that they pledge allegience. And the fact that they stand up. But I understand that not everybody stood up for the pledge of allegiance? Is that right? There were some people on the other side of the fence who werenít standing.
JH: The first night after those headgates had been taken there was a lot of talk and concern about the federal agents coming the next morining, and they did come, let me tell you this ground was consecrated and dedicated in prayer by the people who were there. And a man Joe Bair led that prayer and Iím going to tell you right now like Patrick Henry said there is a God in heaven and he watches over the affairs of man. He will raise up friends to fight these battles for us. This battleís going to be won. Itís got to be won. Having said all that Iím going to join with officer Redfield, you canít push good people too far. One of these days theyíre going to push too hard. We need to stop it now before that time comes. But if it ever comes the good lord is going to be on the side of the right. Because weíre going to be free in this land. And this, this is not freedom. Thatís not what this is. This is tyranny. And Iím sorry if some people that assaults your senses but by golly they need to be assaulted. And for the love of God, you people over there (pointing at the federal agents) you need to be thinking hard about this because youíre destroying American citizens. And thatís not your job. And if that is your job, youíre on the wrong side of the equation.
MS: Letís talk about, my understanding is, and I would just hazard a guess, that just about everybody in this basin voted for George W. Bush. Now George W. Bush (applause), no donít clap your hands cause he ainít done nothing. Am I right? You all voted for him and he has done nothing. Whatís your comment on that Jeff?
JH: Well, my comment is this, Gale Norton made this decision. Understand, there was a federal judge who bought in to a bogus biological opinion. You know the very fact that we have to talk about that is an assault on the senses. This is just ridiculous to claim that a suckerfish is the reason we turn water off. Everybody in this part of the country knows that if you drain that lake to mud, next year the suckerfish will be back. Theyíre not endangered. Gale Norton, once this federal judge made this decision, had to decide how to implement that. Her decision, for whatever reason, was to turn the water off to the farmers. That has not been reduced. I have one comment on Gale Nortonís decision to turn the water back on. In this part of the country they call it Nortonís Trickle. Thatís all it was. And her decision to turn it back on told me one of two things. Either those folks didnít do their homework very well to begin with because they turned off water to destroy 1400 families without all the information in because they found an extra foot magically. Either they were incompetant in that initial decision or they havenít been forthcoming. I donít see another reason.
MS: Do you think this battle is going to be won in the courts or the arena of public opinion? In other words enough people, enough TV cameras, enough radio stations come to town and show this support. Do you think thatís whatís going to win this?
JH: I think public opinion is going to be very important. And I think the courts and the legislatures are going to be influenced by that because they fear for their political hides which is very unfortunate because they ought to just do what is right. But Iím going to tell you where itís going to make a difference. Weíre sitting here today because about 15 or 20 men and women helped by a hundred townspeople opened those gates in an act of civil disobedience. Make no mistake thatís why weíre here. And Iím going to tell you this right now. In the end thereís a fella upstairs and his opinion is the one thatís going to matter in this. And I believe with all my heart, I know where the opinion resides. Heís for these farmers being free to farm their land. To farm the land they have deeds to. With the water they have rights to. And thatís where itís going to happen. He will make the difference.
Let me tell you one quick story on this petition, and folks who want to go directly to that petition can go to http://www.petitiononline.com/klamath. Thatís where itís at. We had folks from a website freerepublic.com that went to the White House a couple of weeks ago and they got over a hundred signatures right out in front of the White House. We have another website Sierra Times.com that has been publishing this for weeks and getting the word out. And thank God you folks are publishing it. We need the word to get out. I believe the good lord in heaven is going to get that word out and any honest, God fearing American is going to stand up. Theyíre going to talk to their legislatures, theyíre going to sign the petition and itís going to make a difference. And until then we need to keep these farmers going.
MS: And everyone said? (Crowd yells Amen!)
Tomorrow, after four days here, Jared and I will return to Idaho after the events at the Court House and speeches at the fairgrounds. We'll leave late in the day and will carry the warmth of the event and the sure knowledge that more and more Americans are awakening to the encroaching tyranny and peril and are banding together to stop it. A richer legacy cannot be passed on to the next generation than this, the need to stand together against tyranny and with faith in the Creator. Sean will remain a few days longer and will watch for what transpires the day the Federal government is supposed to turn the water back off on Thursday. His trip from Maryland to this place to support these people is being spoken of near and far.