Editor’s note: A previous version this story — in a passage not written by R.V. Scheide — mistakenly stated that Chriss Street is divorced. He has been married for 43 years. We regret the error.
A finalist for the Shasta County CEO position vacated by the departure of former CEO Matt Pontes last May is the vice president of New California State, a secessionist group that aims to split rural and urban California in half to create a 51st state.
The CEO candidate, former Orange County treasurer and tax collector Chriss Street, joined California New State in 2018. The group now has representatives in a majority of California’s 58 counties.
According to a source who is familiar with the county’s CEO search, which involved seven candidates, a majority of the Shasta County Board of Supervisors voted to hire Street pending the results of a background check.
District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert was reached for comment Friday morning about rumors that Street will be Shasta County’s next CEO. Rickert expressed surprise about information disclosed publicly from closed session meetings between supervisors regarding the CEO search.
“I am not at liberty to disclose anything that happens in closed sessions,” she said. “But I do hope that any CEO we select can meet the needs of all Shasta County citizens.”
Street, who earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from UC Irvine and an executive diploma from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business according to his LinkedIn page, served as Orange County treasurer from 2006 to 2011.
Street declined to run for reelection in 2010 after a federal bankruptcy judge ordered him to pay $7 million for mismanaging the bankruptcy trust of a trucking firm he operated before he was elected treasurer. According to the LA Times, Street appealed the decision twice and lost.
Street then successfully sued his original attorney on the trucking case for malpractice and was awarded $10 million in 2017. His new attorney said the award vindicated his client, although the original bankruptcy decision has not been reversed.
According to the now defunct Orange County Weekly, in 2018 Street sued “Marriott International and its Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Maryland for causing him ‘the loss of sexual relations’ with his wife following his injury at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).”
Since leaving his post as Orange County treasurer, Street, in addition to remaining a financial consultant, has carved out a career as an economic commentator in print and on radio, appearing on FOX News, earning an author’s page at Breitbart in 2018, and as a contributor to HuffPost.
That same year, he joined the fledgling New California State movement, which aims to split California’s 40 million population in half by carving out the inland rural counties and forming a 51st state. Street serves as vice president of the organization. An outspoken North State hard-right couple, Patty and Ron Plumb, are key figures in that organization.
One segment of Patty Plumb’s comments at Tuesday’s 13-hour Shasta County Board of Supervisors meeting drew gasps from the audience when she addressed those who continue to trust in electronic voting machines.
“… You uncircumcised Philistines!” she said.
Street’s work has appeared frequently on Paul Preston’s Agenda 21 Radio, the secessionist movement’s de facto house organ with the motto, “stopping Totalitarianism one person at a time.” Preston is founder of New California.
Street is an economic forecaster in the doomsayer mode. As a bond trader and an economic consultant for Newport Beach in the 1990s, he was among the first prognosticators to forecast Orange County was headed for bankruptcy, a prediction that later led to his stint as Orange County treasurer.
At a New California town hall meeting in San Andreas in July 2021, Street told the Calaveras Enterprise that the movement is perfectly poised to take advantage of the current economic crises facing the state.
“I joined this movement in 2018,” Street said. “I wouldn’t join it before, because I told Paul [Preston], ‘You need to have an existential crisis. You literally need to have a meteor hit.’ That meteor has arrived.”
Street was presumably referring to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic carnage.
Street offered a hint on how he might manage Shasta County in the article, explaining that when he took over as treasurer, “Orange County, just like the state of California, had 11 different levels of management, and we took that down to three. We did a classic corporate reorganization where you get the top-heavy people out.”
In the long run, after California goes bankrupt, its constitution is rewritten (Street claims the state’s present constitution is unconstitutional) and the 51st state becomes a reality, Street imagines an inland manufacturing empire that will compete with the rising cost of labor in China. As for the Bay Area and Los Angeles?
“We’re going to let them have their social justice wonderland,” Street said. “We’re going to give them a funding source for that in cheap water and cheap electricity. They’re going to mark that product up, and they’re going to use that to pay off their pensions.”
New California isn’t the first ultraconservative secessionist movement to imagine it will somehow take control of the state’s natural resources to pay the bills. The State of Jefferson movement has been pushing the same literal pipe dream for more than a decade.
As Street awaits a background check and prepares to accept the position as Shasta County CEO, it’s worth asking where his allegiances lie. Does he “solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California,” as required by state law?
Or will he pledge allegiance to New California, which for now is just a figment of his imagination?
Editor’s note: A News Cafe journalists Doni Chamberlain and George Winship contributed to this story.