Autry threatens to stop paying income taxes.

Fresno Mayor Alan Autry is calling for citizens to stop paying their taxes until more water is delivered to the Westlands Water District. He says he'll stop paying his taxes and go to jail if necessary. Autry spoke to the Fresno Bee editorial board Tuesday afternoon (July 22) and offered his views on the current drought situation. Bee editorial page editor Jim Boren posted the following on his blog at the Bee's website.

Fresno Mayor Alan Autry says he won't pay income taxes until Valley gets its farm water
Fresno Mayor Alan Autry told The Fresno Bee's editorial board TUESDAY (July 22) afternoon that it's time for a revolt in the San Joaquin Valley over a lack of water for farms. He said communities on the Valley's west side are shriveling because farmworkers can't find work due to the drought, and long-standing water policies that are anti-agriculture.

In addition, Autry said, the federal and state governments are ignoring the Valley's water needs, even as this crisis worsens.

"Don't pay your income taxes if our farms don't get their fair share of water," Autry said. "I won't." Later, the mayor said he is willing to go to jail to help farmworkers in communities like San Joaquin, Mendota and Firebaugh. "I'll go to jail for this."

This also is about national security, Autry said. Government policies are killing agriculture and then we will have to rely on foreign countries for our food. "Talk about terror," he said. "We'll be giving control of our food supply to foreign countries." U.S. consumers will never know how safe that supply is, and the nation won't realize what it has given up until it's gone, he said.

Autry then said that on Wednesday, he will ask President Bush to declare a state of emergency in the Valley because of the water needs of agriculture.

Autry said he will be among the passengers on 20 busloads of farmworkers, farmers and supporters from the Valley traveling to Sacramento Wednesday for a water rally at the Capitol. They will meet with the state legislators and hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. on the Capitol steps to urge action by the state.

This wasn't the topic of the editorial board meeting. Autry and his staff came in to talk about a ballot measure to create an independent police auditor. At the end of the meeting, a question turned the subject to water, and Autry then called for a revolt, including not paying income taxes.

Posted by Jim Boren on July 22, 2008 3:31 PM | Permalink