It’s finally done…except the lessons

Permalink +

Mon, Aug 15, 2011, 10:49 pm  //  Tip Johnson

The CIty Council has just reported, on Channel 10, a decision made in executive session to purchase the Chuckanut Ridge development.   This promises to end a debate that has been ongoing since 1981, finally preserving the only property that can expand Fairhaven Park to meet the City's own standard for the area's planned population, the only property that can bridge the park to prior Interurban Trail acquisitions, and the only property that in combination can form a regionally significant gateway to the Chuckanuts.  This is vision on a scale with Stanley Park in Vancouver. Kudos to decisionmakers.

Needless to say, I approve, but with reservations.  This is the best possible outcome and the highest and best use for a property that has been subject to divisive controversy for over two decades.

When saving important lands from development, arriving on an agreed price is always difficult.  The public never wants to spend more than necessary, yet when competing against development, spending more than the developers is inevitable.  Perhaps it costs more, but at least the potential is not squandered.  We are spending a lot, but I believe time will show the wisdom of today's action.  That said, there are still important points to ponder.

The City had a recent appraisal that showed a value of $8.7M.  A previous, publicly sponsored appraisal came up with something over $3M.  That's a big difference for property on which nothing has changed.  Yes, prices went up.  But they also came back down.  Furthermore, the DEIS for the proposed project showed it was essentially undevelopeable at even half the zoned density.  That's what we really need to look at.

The City, through bad public policy and bad (possibly illegal at the time) public procedure, zoned this property at a level of development that eventually proved unsupportable.  The City created vast phantom value on this land - value that expanded to $26M before collapsing under the weight of the real-estate bubble to the $8.2M - $8.3M we will now spend.  The City refused to follow its own guidelines, giving the project every advantage - even at the risk of public health and environmental protections.

The lessons?:
1) Follow zoning procedures for notification, advertisment, and review.
2) Assure consistency with area policies, goals, and objectives.
3) Enforce current regulations for public health and the environment.
4) Don't rush into vesting of private entitlements. Let projects prove their completeness and compliance.
5) Listen to the public, or, "Excuse us, but we live here."  That's what representation means.

Finally, don't be such a weanie.  Do some forensic analysis to discover why we spent so much more than should have been necessary.  We know someone consolidated this property and pulled a fast one through the Council to get the "magical zoning" first described by former chief City Planner, Chris Spens.

6) When an error in zoning has been made, do not hesitate to reexamine it.  That's your job.

What to do ? 

7) The City should now issue a subpoena to the State of Delaware to discover the principals of the West Eden Land Development Corporation who assembled and sold this land, with basic entitlements, to the chain of intractable developers who claimed, "We bought density." 

We might find several parties willing to volunrarily contribute generously toward this important public preservation project!

At the end of the day, we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, or not.  What will it be?

BTW, it's time to vote the primary.  Hint: Everyone should do it once!

Hue Beattie  //  Tue, Aug 16, 2011, 1:00 am

Worth watching on TVW. Gene Knutson gave an elegant submation of the long struggle. Happy in Happy Valley tonight.

Mike Rostron  //  Tue, Aug 16, 2011, 8:38 am

With reference to your points 4 and 5 it seems the city is far too content for the most part to let the planning department run the show, with predictable results (Chuckanut Ridge, Fairhaven, York, Sunnyland).  Time and time again neighborhoods find themselves in a defensive posture as private developers attempt to foist their visions for vast profits on the residents—all too often with the aid of a planning department that seems to act as an arm of the development corporations.
If city leaders do not wish to fight a case by case battle with each new proposal brought by developers they need to start listening to the residents and property owners in the neighborhoods.  Neighborhood leaders are motivated by a higher code of ethics.  They wish to preserve and enhance the neighborhoods where they live.  Their vision goes beyond mere profit or the latest development fads and fashions.  Neighborhood resident’s concerns should have priority over those of development corporations.  We in Sunnyland applaud this decision and hope it represents a general trend in the council (and we especially commend Mr. Knutson).  We look forward to a new era where the neighborhoods and city council cooperate to ensure the preservation and enhancement of our city’s best assets.  As for those who wish to remake our city into another version of Seattle or something similar—we suggest they invest elsewhere!

Mike Rostron Sunnyland Neighborhood board member

Larry Horowitz  //  Tue, Aug 16, 2011, 9:55 am

Thanks Gene, Seth, Barry, Michael, Terry, Stan and Jack!

g.h.kirsch  //  Thu, Aug 25, 2011, 8:38 pm

I’m sorry, Larry, but just couldn’t pass it up!

With your thanks to the council, and conspicuous snub of the mayor, it’s surprising you didn’t point out that they were “just signing on.”

But I understand, acknowledging Pike’s role might have broken the Linville Boys Scout Honor code.

he he.

Larry Horowitz  //  Fri, Aug 26, 2011, 2:03 pm

Well, Greg, considering the dozens of articles I?ve written on the subject, I didn?t think it was necessary to explain why I might thank council and not the mayor.  Since Pike took office, he has failed to address the key issues surrounding Chuckanut Ridge, just like his predecessors.  The difference is, before he was elected, candidate Pike made a firm commitment to resolving these issues.  Once elected, he totally disengaged and perfected his ?disappearing act?.

Had Pike addressed these issues ? most notably the enforcement of the CAO ? the city could have acquired the property for millions less while saving hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of time spent by concerned citizens fighting a project everyone knew was an abomination.

IMHO (and I?m probably alone in this), Pike blew it in every way imaginable.  The resolution has been presented as a fair compromise, but is in fact a tragedy.  Mayor Asmundson and the prior Council had committed at least $6 million and up to $8 million of the Greenways 3 (GW3) levy to acquire Chuckanut Ridge.  The Greenways Advisory Committee, which refused to appoint anyone who supported the acquisition of Chuckanut Ridge onto the committee, chose to limit the amount to $4.145 million.  A real compromise would have been roughly $6 million from the GW3 (midway between $4 and $8 million).  Instead, Pike allocated only $4.5 million, or $1.5 million shy of a real compromise.  And you want me to thank him for that? 

As everyone knows, Pike?s plan does not solve this problem; it only delays its resolution.  At some point in the future ? when Pike is long gone - someone will need to come up with another $3.23 million plus interest.  Failure to do so will place the property at risk again, and concerned citizens will be right back where we?ve been.

Greg, I know you?re fixated on Kelli Linville; but this issue has nothing to do with her.  Pike had more than ample opportunity to address the key issues.  His failure to do so artificially propped up the value of this distressed property and ended up costing taxpayers millions.  Because you don?t pay city taxes (or contribute to the Greenways levy), you may not care.  But for those of us who pay city taxes, it?s a big deal.  I don?t need a runaway mayor? and I certainly won?t thank one who failed to enforce an essential public safety regulation.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Larry Horowitz  //  Fri, Aug 26, 2011, 2:07 pm

By the way, everything I?ve written here I?ve shared with Mayor Pike?  numerous times.  Considering Pike?s habit of defending himself in public, I?ve always wondered why he won?t do so when I make these public accusations.  Greg, can you share some light on that subject?

g.h.kirsch  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 3:21 pm

“At some point in the future – when Pike is long gone - someone will need to come up with another $3.23 million plus interest.  Failure to do so will place the property at risk again, and concerned citizens will be right back where we’ve been.”

True enough.  But, as I recall, those Fairhaven Fat Cats (FFC) have been making a lot of noise for years about contributing, so Bellingham’s other citizens won’t bear the cost of their pet issue.

Every Monday Morning Quarterback could have played the game better than the guys who actually had to suit up.  I’m sure you’d have beat up Washington Federal, straightened out the FDIC, and cut a few million off the price. (and saved the FFC from steppin’ up)

Coulda, whoulda, shoulda!  And how much would have gone to the lawyers needed to take that hill?

The fact is Pike, not Linville, has secured the opportunity to take this from private to public property.  A few steps remain.

After the FFC chip in their share, the rest of Bellingham, in 2017, will decide whether to pay off the balance to Washington Federal in another Greenways vote.  If they don’t, Bellingham will have to sell some of the property to cover the balance.

And certainly, by then, Pike will be long gone.

But even if your girl, Kelli, knocks him out this time ‘round, has she promised you FFC folks $3,200,000?  I doubt it, or, at least, I doubt here sincerity.

The fact is, as always, you’re depending on the citizens of Bellingham to give you what you want.  And they probably will.

I repeat, you snub Pike, but he was the one at the table to get a deal done for you.  Don’t vote for him.  But at least say thank you.

You aren’t in the game if your sittin’ in the bleachers.  And that’s where the bunch of you will be whether Pike wins or loses.

Larry Horowitz  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 3:59 pm

I appreciate your ?Monday Morning Quarterback? football analogy.  I have one of my own. 

Let?s say the Seahawks are playing the Rams for the Division Championship.  With 4 minutes to go, the Seahawks begin their final drive on their own 20 yard line.  For eight consecutive plays, the ball is handed off to Marshawn Lynch, who carries it for 78 yards to the Rams? 2 yard line.  On the final play of the drive, Justin Forsett scores on a 2-yard touchdown to win the game.  Question: Who deserves credit for the touchdown?

You claim that Pike was the one at the table who got the deal done.  What you ignore is the most critical aspect of the entire transaction:  Motivating the seller to sell at a bargain price. 

Who do you think is responsible for getting Washington Federal to the table?  Pike?  Council?  Staff?

I don?t think so!  If left to their own devices, the city would have approved the permit to build 739 units long ago.

You wrote, ?You aren?t in the game if you?re sittin? in the bleachers.?  True enough.  But I?ve hardly been ?sitting? in the bleachers.?  And neither have many others.  We?ve been sluggin? it out with Horizon Bank, Edelstein, and Washington Federal, while Pike, Council and staff sat on the bench enjoying the show.

You wrote, ?You snub Pike??  Really, I snubbed Pike?  What planet do you live on?  I have approached Pike so many times I lost count.  Most recently (for the past several months), I have been providing Pike with enough ammunition to save taxpayers at least $2-3 million on the acquisition.  What did Pike do with the ammunition I gave him?  Squat, diddly, nada, nothin?. 

Why should the FFC pay an extra $2-3 million because Pike can?t negotiate himself out of a paper bag? 

You wrote, ?The fact is, as always, you?re depending on the citizens of Bellingham to give you what you want.?  Not exactly?  For more than six years, myself and dozens of others have spent thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars preventing the Fairhaven Highlands project while the city failed to enforce its own public safety regulations.  We have contributed millions towards the Greenways levies that we?ll never see, most of which will subsidize parkland acquisitions in other parts of the city.  We?ve done this on our own without depending on the ?citizens of Bellingham? who were not inclined to help.  We have certainly not depended upon county residents ? like yourself - who don?t pay city taxes or contribute to the Greenways levy.

Your fixation with Kelli is getting old.  Kelli has nothing to do with the acquisition of Chuckanut Ridge.  I like Kelli, but it is demeaning to Kelli to call her ?my girl.?  To my knowledge, she hasn?t made any promises regarding this property. 

You have every right to defend your friend Pike; but your lack of information places you at a tremendous disadvantage.  Of course, Pike?s actions aren’t helping you much either.

g.h.kirsch  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 4:29 pm

Larry, you’re playing Fantasy Football.  It’s time to play the real game.  Edelstein and Horizon Bank was last season.

Washington Federal and the FDIC were last Sunday, and Pike was quarterback.  You think he should have scored more points, or the defense should have held them to less, but the fact is you won.  Get over it.

As fixations go, your’s and John’s vis a vis Pike, based largely on his unwillingness to let you trump Bellingham’s staff, legal and planning, at will; now that’s a real fixation!

“Pike, Council and staff sat on the bench enjoying the show.” is it any wonder you don’t get any traction with Pike, council or staff?

I’m as much a nuisance and liability to Pike as I am to most politicians.  Doesn’t bother me, though.  And not paying city taxes or voting in city elections is hardly a criticism, I’m objective by comparison to you.

It just shocks me that you and John find yourselves on the same side as Joe Wilson (AFY), Jack Petree, the BIAWC, Pete Kremen et al, and don’t get it.

g.h.kirsch  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 4:39 pm

I didn’t mean to leave off that political seer, man of few (intelligent) words, Seiner Man, Doug Karlberg.

Larry Horowitz  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 5:06 pm

Edelstein and Horizon Bank are hardly last season; more like the first half of a long game.  Your sports analogies are no longer effective.

It’s not that I ‘think’ Pike “should have scored more points”; I KNOW he should have negotiated a better deal.  I wouldn’t say we won; more like a $3 million Pyrrhic victory.

Greg, I have no fixation vis-a-vis Pike.  He’s just an obstacle.  I do have a fixation vis-a-vis Chuckanut Ridge. 

I’m no judge as to whether or not you’re objective.  I know for a fact you are not well informed.

As far as your friend AFY is concerned, I believe the two of you are on the same side regarding the traffic cameras.  Are you not?  Is that some kind of litmus test?  By the way, I’m not alone in not supporting Pike.  I believe Pike has lost the support of the author of this article as well.

I’m not too worried about gaining traction with Pike, Council or staff.  Pike’s the third mayor I’ve worked with on this issue, and Jeff Thomas is the third planning director.  On Council, only two remain of the seven who committed $8 million toward the acquisition of Chuckanut Ridge.  With all that turnover, there’s plenty of opportunity to build bridges and very little concern over burning a few along the way.

By the way, since it looks like it’s just the two of us having a private conversation, I wanted to point out the difference between my criticism of Pike and yours of Linville.  As far as I know, you have never sat down with Kelli to discuss your objectives and concerns, yet you criticize her constantly.  On the other hand, I have met with Pike on a number of occasions and have communicated with him by phone, letter and email many more times.  My criticism of Pike is based on my direct experience with him.  Based on what I have experienced personally, I cannot support him.

Larry Horowitz  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 5:29 pm

I wanted to add one more thing that won?t be of interest to anyone but the two of us.

It?s true that I cannot get any traction with staff and several council members; but that started not as a result of my work on Chuckanut Ridge.  It started back in 2005, when I was working closely with your ex-wife, Susan, you, Helen Green, and the Macombers to challenge the city?s Comp Plan and prevent urban sprawl.  I lost traction with (and respect for) several staff and council members then, while fighting in front of the Growth Management Hearings Board on YOUR fixation to prevent the inclusion of Larrabbee Springs in Bellingham?s UGA.

You?re welcome!

Larry Horowitz  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 5:41 pm

BTW, I am not sure getting traction with Pike is all it is cracked up to be.  I know a number of Chuckanut Ridge supporters who have kissed his ass since he was elected, and they are still stuck with a $3 million bill.  As least my nose ain?t brown.

Regarding traction, how much do you expect to have if Kelli is our new Mayor and Erickson is our new County Executive?  I have not seen you use much honey with them.

g.h.kirsch  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 5:44 pm

I respect the fact you acknowledge your antipathy to Pike is “Based on what I have experienced personally,” and hence, “I cannot support him.”

On the other hand, my opposition to Linville is based on her well established record in the Legislature as one of the “Roadkill” caucus who supported numerous compromises of Democratic initiatives.

Particularly when it came to legislation needed by the BIAW, supported gladly for campaign contributions and leadership votes. 

Kelli remarked, after being voted out of office, how it irritated her that after years of compromising her principles for her Republican constituents, they voted her out anyway.

I only wish she had gone nobly, before she had to face the truth of standing for nothing but election and/or reelection.

g.h.kirsch  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 5:52 pm

As regards Larabee Springs, CAITAC, or whatever, the UGA fight, yes, you were the first to discover the fraud in the Bellingham Comp Plan. 

But I was the first to understand what you were talking about, and make it an embarrassment.  And only when I explained it to Pike did the city switch course and become the major obstacle to that project.

Now at stake is who will guide the revision of the Bellingham Comp plan, Pike, or the elected representative of the BIAWC and Realtors.

g.h.kirsch  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 5:55 pm

All of which reminds me, now you’re supporting Ted Michaikov’s candidate for mayor. Our man from CAITAC!

How ironic.

Larry Horowitz  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 6:24 pm

Well, I guess you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do:  Take an article about Chuckanut Ridge and criticize Kelli Linville.  Seems like quite a stretch to me.  On the other hand, I posted a gracious thank-you to Council on the 16th and remained quiet about my dissatisfaction with Pike until you “couldn’t pass up” making a comment nine days later.  And you make a big deal about why I can’t gain any traction?

I raised the issue about Larrabee Springs to point out that I had already lost traction with staff and council before Pike came on the scene.  (And I lost that traction working on YOUR pet issue.)  Pike, being nothing more than a bureaucrat, was never going to listen to me when challenged by staff and council.  I never had any traction to gain or lose.

Regarding the future of the Bellingham Comp Plan, it’s possible neither Pike or Linville will be around at the end of 2016 when the next Plan is adopted, now that the city has accepted the state’s offer to delay our 20-year growth plan for five years.

Finally, assuming you supported Pike last time, you also supported Ted Michaikov’s candidate.  Talk about irony!

I’m sure you’ll want the last word.  I’ve got nothing, so please feel free.


g.h.kirsch  //  Sun, Aug 28, 2011, 7:16 pm

Thank you, old friend, you are, as always with me, gracious in allowing me to close. 

I think it was Anatole France who pointed out, “irony” is the joy of reflection with the benefit history.

In this instance, it was Ted whose expectations in Pike were misplaced, not mine or yours.

Till now, we’ve disagreed on very little.  I do wish you wouldn’t push me to too strongly advocate for Pike, who I’ve shared with you, is just the least of several evils.

You know, I do agree with you regards his weakness for staff reasoning.

And, mis-describing CAITAC as my pet issue, you’ve certainly forgotten that development around Lake Whatcom is my personal battle.

CAITAC is part of my general concern for protecting rural and resource lands from rape by the BIAWC and Realtors.

Mike Rostron  //  Mon, Aug 29, 2011, 8:28 pm

“You know, I do agree with you regards[sic] his weakness for staff reasoning.”

To get away from your private battle a little (after all, this is a public forum), the city council is also way too susceptible to staff pressures.  In this town, it appears the tail wags the dog.  It is about time elected representatives start giving the staff direction, and not vice versa!

Larry Horowitz  //  Mon, Aug 29, 2011, 8:46 pm


Thanks for joining in.  There was never any intention to prevent others from commenting, but no one else seemed to have anything to add.

My conversation with Greg is not a private battle with him.  My battle is with Pike and Council.  As you have correctly observed, the tail absolutely wags the dog in Bellingham.  Both Council and Pike take direction from staff, especially the legal staff. 

Our elected officials need to direct the legal staff, instruct them how they would like to proceed, and verify they are on sound legal footing.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in this city.  I have worked closely with three Fortune 500 company clients and a number of smaller ones.  In every case, company management tells the corporate lawyers what they want to achieve and relies on their attorneys to ensure they follow the law.  In Bellingham, the mayor and council are told by the city attorneys what to do.  It’s bass-ackwards to say the least.  I guess that’s what happens when you elect bureaucrats.  I hope we don’t continue to make that mistake.

Again, Mike, thanks for joining in.

g.h.kirsch  //  Tue, Aug 30, 2011, 6:36 am

The problem is hardly limited to the city.  The county is even worse.  McEachran’s latest direction to the planning department (not to penalize SSA for illegal clearing) is a good example.

In my career I’ve had altogether too much experience with the bar.  And I agree with Larry, you have to tell the lawyers what to do.  Sometimes their advice is good, but more often it’s self serving: avoid tough fights and avoid losing.

But as that great philosopher, Wayne Gretzky, observed, “You miss every shot you don’t take.”

In my opinion, our legislative bodies lack an independent staff. (not that it would do any good at the county, they’ve got Belcher-Swanson to advise them!)

As a result, it’s the administration’s agenda that goes forward, and the legislators are left to go along with largely the advice the administration thinks they should have.

Now, that’s “bass-ackwards”!

Update on Lincoln Street Student Housing Project

Mon, Nov 23, 2015, 5:41 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The student housing project for 648 individuals called NXNW (North by Northwest) on Lincoln Street is moving forward briskly. This is an update.

5 comments; last on Nov 25, 2015

Tax incentives proposed for Fairhaven apartments - Updated

Mon, Nov 16, 2015, 10:41 pm  //  John Servais

Council to allow three weeks for written comments on tax exemption proposal for high density buildings in quiet Fairhaven neighborhood

9 comments; last on Nov 19, 2015

Accessory Dwelling Units - There Is No Rush

Mon, Nov 16, 2015, 4:30 am  //  Dick Conoboy

There is no reason to rush an updated ordinance on ADUs when we do not even know what the current number is or where existing illegal units are…

8 comments; last on Nov 25, 2015

Bellingham Updating Accessory Dwelling Laws

Sat, Nov 14, 2015, 5:33 pm  //  Guest writer

By Shannon Maris. Detached ADUs - the 'mother in law' mini cottages - are being considered by the city of Bellingham. This impacts every home owner.

3 comments; last on Nov 19, 2015

Veterans Day and Thanking Veterans

Wed, Nov 11, 2015, 4:23 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Some personal thoughts on thanking our veterans for their service

1 comments; last on Nov 11, 2015

Whatcom Co.: Voting and Vote-Counting with Integrity

Sun, Nov 08, 2015, 9:25 pm  //  Guest writer

An overview of Whatcom County's method of processing ballots and counting votes.

2 comments; last on Nov 14, 2015

Final Election Returns: Jail Tax Rejected

Fri, Nov 06, 2015, 4:37 pm  //  John Servais

Satpal Sidhu wins council seat. Virtually all the ballots are now counted. Challenges and a few special are left.

1 comments; last on Nov 06, 2015

Thursday Voting Update

Thu, Nov 05, 2015, 9:17 pm  //  John Servais

Jail sales tax is being rejected - and the NO vote is increasing. Sidhu - Kerschner still undecided. Props 2, 3, 9 and 10 all should pass.

1 comments; last on Nov 06, 2015

Wednesday Vote Changes

Wed, Nov 04, 2015, 6:45 pm  //  John Servais

Second tally of 10,000 more ballots is in. Jail sales tax is now being rejected. Probably 15,000 or more ballots to go.

2 comments; last on Nov 05, 2015

Important Election Issues Undecided

Wed, Nov 04, 2015, 12:05 am  //  John Servais

The first returns - probably 60% of the final vote - shows contradictory propositions passing and most candidate races decided.

7 comments; last on Nov 04, 2015

Growing Veterans

Mon, Nov 02, 2015, 8:04 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Growing Veterans was created to empower military veterans to grow food, communities, and each other.

2 comments; last on Nov 04, 2015

More on Propositions 1 and 9

Sun, Nov 01, 2015, 9:31 am  //  John Servais

Where more substantial evidence is presented against proposition 9 - and why you should vote REJECTED on it.

24 comments; last on Nov 04, 2015

NWCitizen Publisher’s Voting Choices

Sat, Oct 31, 2015, 2:02 am  //  John Servais

As an independent citizen and political junkie, here is how I am voting - with brief reasons for my choices.

8 comments; last on Nov 03, 2015

NAMI Whatcom Opposes Prop 2015-1

Tue, Oct 27, 2015, 6:56 pm  //  Tip Johnson

The latest addition and the issue in review


Dwindling Information Makes Voters Susceptible to Spin

Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 11:39 pm  //  Whatcom Citizen

A perspective on the our changing news system, the consequences, and the challenges for the future. With a suggestion of the solution.

5 comments; last on Oct 28, 2015

Info Slowmo

Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 3:32 pm  //  Tip Johnson

When they feel you just don't need to know

4 comments; last on Oct 28, 2015

The Mysterious State of the Whatcom County Jail

Mon, Oct 26, 2015, 1:57 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the operative information is $$$ECRET

3 comments; last on Oct 29, 2015

Effort to Stop Bakken Oil Trains

Sat, Oct 24, 2015, 1:26 pm  //  John Servais

Whatcom group plans meeting workshop to submit comments to Washington Dept of Ecology against Skagit/Bakken oil trains.

6 comments; last on Oct 26, 2015

Fairhaven Pharmacy Closes Today - For Real

Tue, Oct 20, 2015, 2:53 pm  //  John Servais

After 126 years in business, Fairhaven Pharmacy closes for the last time at 6 p.m. today. Historic Fairhaven Association to do Halloween photos.

1 comments; last on Oct 20, 2015

Louws Regrets Jail Mailer

Tue, Oct 20, 2015, 9:25 am  //  John Servais

County Executive - and candidate for reelection -Jack Louws has written county officials with his regrets over jail mailer.

8 comments; last on Oct 24, 2015

Let’s not squander the next 30 years

Sun, Oct 18, 2015, 11:37 am  //  John Servais

The jail sales tax proposition is a road to perdition for our county. It is a waste and has been deceptively promoted.

4 comments; last on Oct 20, 2015

Making a Jail: Bamboozle!

Fri, Oct 16, 2015, 4:52 pm  //  Tip Johnson

With a smarmy October Surprise

9 comments; last on Oct 19, 2015

Court: No Radio Towers in Point Roberts

Thu, Oct 08, 2015, 7:14 am  //  John Lesow

A Canadian radio station is trying to install huge radio towers in Point Roberts for a Canadian audience. Citizen movement has fought them.


James King Resigns as Bellingham Parks Director

Sat, Oct 03, 2015, 2:47 pm  //  John Servais

James King to return to Alaska and take job with U.S. Forest Service. Mayor will appoint a new parks director.

1 comments; last on Oct 04, 2015

Just Say No - to the Incarceration-Industrial Complex

Fri, Oct 02, 2015, 10:48 am  //  David Camp

The "... new jail just doesn't pencil out", writes a well qualified accountant. A look at the future costs of the proposed jail.

11 comments; last on Oct 09, 2015

Alternative Jail Proposal for City Center

Tue, Sep 22, 2015, 4:54 pm  //  John Servais

There is a good alternative for a decent jail - but we first must vote down the jail sales tax proposal in November.

5 comments; last on Sep 24, 2015

Wendy DeFreest is Opening a ‘Burger Joint’

Sat, Sep 19, 2015, 3:37 pm  //  John Servais

Wendy DeFreest, of Avenue Bread, will open a new "burger joint" called The Filling Station by late October in Fairhaven. It will not be a sandwich cafe.


That Louwsy Jail Deal

Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 5:26 pm  //  Tip Johnson

FEMA camp or new county seat?

13 comments; last on Oct 15, 2015

A Learning Moment - Hopefully

Sun, Sep 13, 2015, 8:42 am  //  John Servais

Beware walking RR tracks on the Fairhaven waterfront in the event of unexpected encounter with a high speed train

2 comments; last on Sep 18, 2015

Second Water Main Break on Donovan in a Year

Mon, Sep 07, 2015, 8:06 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Mains a' bursting - Avast!


Homeowner to city: Please buy me out

Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 9:17 am  //  John Servais

Padden Creek daylighting project strays far from city promises to homeowner that his property would remain intact.

4 comments; last on Sep 05, 2015

How Our Community Can Welcome Our Troops Home

Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 4:11 am  //  Guest writer

Christopher Brown guest writes how traditional communal warrior reintegration practices could help our returning combat veterans.


Black Lives Matter, Occupy WS & Whatcom Jail

Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 6:55 pm  //  Whatcom Citizen

A Whatcom Citizen writes of protest movements and how our proposed county mega jail is related to them.

15 comments; last on Sep 04, 2015

$15/hr Minimum Wage - Seriously?

Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 4:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Moves to set the minimum wage to $15, even if successful, are woefully insufficient. And why aren't people speaking out about abusive work scheduling?

2 comments; last on Sep 17, 2015

Local retired librarian injured by police

Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 11:17 pm  //  Guest writer

Bruce Radtke, a retired Bellingham librarian, reported to be assaulted by police for handing out leaflets

5 comments; last on Aug 27, 2015

Predictive Policing Comes to Bellingham

Sun, Aug 16, 2015, 2:39 pm  //  Guest writer

Is the tail wagging the dog? Edward Alexander guest writes on why predictive software for our police needs basic questions answered before purchase.

1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2015

Gunfight at Cornwall Park on Wednesday

Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 10:29 am  //  John Servais

Nothing in the Herald this morning, so NWCitizen is informing citizens of shootout at Cornwall Park.

1 comments; last on Aug 13, 2015

Whatcom Conservation District Elections

Sun, Aug 09, 2015, 10:52 am  //  Guest writer

Barbara Perry has been researching the secretive election processes of the Whatcom Conservation District. Really secretive. Probably fraudulent.

1 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015

Election Results - Aug 4 Primary

Tue, Aug 04, 2015, 7:09 pm  //  John Servais

9:52 - final post for tonight. A running blog about the election results on this August evening. Feel free to comment.

8 comments; last on Aug 06, 2015

The Hansen’s Giant Rental Megaplex - Part 2

Tue, Aug 04, 2015, 9:14 am  //  Dick Conoboy

While the city deals with permitting on the Hansen rental megaplexes, the council has asked for proposals from staff on design standards for historic areas.

9 comments; last on Aug 07, 2015

Whatcom Co.: 90 Million Gallons of Water a Day

Tue, Jul 21, 2015, 11:42 pm  //  Guest writer

Eric Hirst provides us all with a well researched report on Whatcom County water issues - rights, Lake Whatcom, ground water and more.

10 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015

Electromagnetic Radiation: Who’s Looking Out for You?

Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 3:13 pm  //  John Lesow

The fight to keep Point Roberts from becoming a Radio Tower Farm is not over.

3 comments; last on Jul 22, 2015

Kudos to Our Police

Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 4:38 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Bellingham police are obviously trained to de-escalate armed confrontations. This is the way it should be.

6 comments; last on Jul 14, 2015

Lois Garlick was our hero

Thu, Jul 09, 2015, 7:27 am  //  John Servais

Lois Garlick has died. For many decades, she and George served as environmental stewards and leaders in preserving wildlife and nature.

2 comments; last on Jul 10, 2015

Whatcom County Council adds ballot measure

Wed, Jul 08, 2015, 8:27 am  //  John Servais

Last minute political maneuvering by liberal council seeks to counter conservative review commission ballot proposals.

1 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015

Charter amendments approved

Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 8:13 am  //  John Servais

The Charter Review Commission made Monday evening's meeting their last - and forwarded 8 charter amendments to the County Council

3 comments; last on Jul 08, 2015

Family Home For Rent: $44,000/year

Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 4:34 am  //  Dick Conoboy

For Rent: York neighborhood, new, 7 bedroom single-family home, near WWU. Only $44,000 a year. City planning not paying attention.

6 comments; last on Jul 09, 2015

Charter Commission Tricks

Mon, Jul 06, 2015, 3:30 pm  //  John Servais

Two dirty tricks by the uber-conservative minority on the Charter Review Commission aimed to put their agenda before the council.

3 comments; last on Jul 07, 2015

Drought Tree Emergency!

Thu, Jul 02, 2015, 1:55 pm  //  David Camp

Trees are dying for lack of water! Only citizen action can save them.


Fireworks and Clay Butler

Thu, Jul 02, 2015, 6:47 am  //  Dick Conoboy

If your 4th of July holiday is much more quiet this year, you can thank Clay Bulter who passed away at the end of May.


A Tale of Three Rezones

Mon, Jun 29, 2015, 4:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Samish Neighborhood Plan has been the subject of three undesired rezones in the last year. The city ignores its own guidelines to the detriment of all.


County prosecutor plays cruel games

Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 5:00 pm  //  John Servais

Updated at 6 pm. Our county justice system has spent 6 years trying to teach Luba Pekisheva that she should not defend herself. Justice denied and miscarried.

8 comments; last on Jul 22, 2015

Proposed New County Lockup - Financial Analysis

Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 4:00 pm  //  David Camp

A look at the proposal in historic financial context with projections and several questions for the proponents.

8 comments; last on Jul 10, 2015

Hansen-Iron Street Rental Megaplex Planned for York Neighborhood

Mon, Jun 01, 2015, 2:49 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Three extraordinarily large (7-bedroom) single family home rentals are proposed by developers Dave and Jon Hansen on Iron St. in the York Neighborhood.

7 comments; last on Jun 10, 2015

Chiara D’Angelo comes down from anchor chain

Mon, May 25, 2015, 7:17 pm  //  John Servais

Young Chiara spent 3 nights hanging from the anchor chain of Shell Oil's Arctic Challenger as a protest to arctic oil drilling.


Flash Mob Protests Arctic Drilling

Thu, May 21, 2015, 10:50 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein we ponder the fate of humanity


Joy Gilfilen Declares for County Executive

Mon, May 18, 2015, 10:17 pm  //  John Servais

Joy Gilfilen is challenging incumbent Jack Louws for County Executive.

4 comments; last on May 20, 2015

85 County Single Candidate Elections

Fri, May 15, 2015, 5:10 pm  //  John Servais

Running update of who is filing for office in Whatcom County. Posts during day Friday and final update Friday evening.

4 comments; last on May 17, 2015

Updated:  Ski to Sea Tries to Bully Bellingham

Wed, May 13, 2015, 4:30 pm  //  John Servais

Updated | Ski to Sea race does not need to race through sensitive Chuckanut Community Forest Park for special mountain bike leg. City did not renege.

10 comments; last on May 15, 2015

County proposes free pass for vacation rentals

Sun, Apr 26, 2015, 1:05 pm  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley writes a second article on the increasing number of vacation rentals - and the County Council bill to let them expand dramatically.

4 comments; last on May 02, 2015


Election Info

Auditor Election page

State Results - Nov 3
Whatcom Results - Nov 3

Coal, Oil & Trains

Coal Stop

Community Wise Bham
Powder River Basin R. C.

Local Blogs & News

Bellingham Herald

Bham Business Journal
Bham Politics & Econ
Cascadia Weekly
Ferndale Record
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
Latte Republic
League of Women Voters
Lynden Tribune
Noisy Waters
Northern Light
Twilight Zoning
Western Front - WWU
Whatcom Watch

Local Causes

Chuckanut C. Forest

City Club of Bellingham
Conservation NW
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lake Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
RE Sources
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary
Transition Whatcom
WA Conservation Voters
Whatcom Peace & Justice


- Whatcom County

Port of Bellingham
Skagit County
State Results - Nov 3
US House
US Senate
US Supreme Court
US The White House
WA State
Whatcom COG

NWCitizen 1995-2007

Early Northwest Citizen

Weather & Climate

Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Climate Audit
Nat Hurricane Center
NW Radar
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That?


Adventures NW

Bellingham Wins
Edge of Sports
Entertainment NNW
Famous Internet Skiers
Recreation Northwest
Sailing Anarchy

Good Web Sites

Al-Jazeera online

Alaska Dispatch
Arab News
Asia Times
Atlantic, The
Change The Mascot
Common Dreams
Crosscut Seattle
Daily Kos
Daily Mirror
Drudge Report
Foreign Policy in Focus
Guardian Unlimited
Gulf News
Huffington Post
Innocence Project
Irish Times
James Fallows
Jerusalem Post
Joel Connelly
Juan Cole
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Le Diplo
Media Matters
Michael Moore
Middle East Times
Nation, The
New American Century
News Trust
Online Journal
Palestine Daily
Palestine News
Paul Krugman
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Progressive Review
Project Vote Smart
Sea Shepherd
Stand for the Troops
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
The Intercept
the Oatmeal
War and Piece
Washington Votes

Quiet, Offline or Dead

Bellingham Register

Bhm Herald Politics Blog
Bob Sanders
Carl Weimer
Chuckanut Mountains
Citizen Ted
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
David Hackworth
Facebook Port Reform
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Jack Petree
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Northwest Review
Protect Bellingham Parks
Sweeney Politics
The American Telegraph
Wally Wonders