Merced would become the new southern border of California if one Riverside County supervisor has his way.
But Mariposa and Madera counties would join 11 other counties as part of a new state that Jeff Stone is calling South California.
"Our taxes are too high, our schools don't educate our children well enough, unions and other special interests have more clout in the Legislature than the general public. It has to change," Stone said in a written statement released Thursday.
The statement called for Mariposa and Madera counties to join Riverside, Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Mono, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and Tulare counties in forming the new state. Stone plans to present the proposal to his Riverside County colleagues July 12.
Merced County Supervisor Hub Walsh, who until a few years ago worked for Madera County, said he hadn't heard of the proposal, said he was stumped at how the counties were chosen.
"I would be surprised if Madera County people see themselves aligned with the Inland Empire," he said.
Mariposa County administrative officer Rick Benson was likewise puzzled at his county's inclusion in the secessionist movement.
"Our county tends to work more closely with Tuolumne and Amador counties on related issues than we do with these other places," he said.
Benson guessed that the map of the proposed 51st state was formed from primarily Republican counties, which may explain why the Democratic-leaning Merced County was left out.
Merced city spokesman Mike Conway said past proposals to split the state have been along more obvious borders, usually inspired by specific political issues such as the state's enduring north vs. south water wars. "It'll cause a bit of discussion over the Fourth of July holiday, and I think he will find people in agreement with his basic comments that taxes are high."
Conway said he wasn't sure how the plan would affect Merced directly, other than putting an interesting roadblock in the way of the state's high-speed rail plans.
Online Editor Brandon Bowers can be reached at (209) 385-2464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.