Dead or Alive: How do you like your herring?

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Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 8:15 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wanted: Whales - dead or alive?

Bob Watters, boss of now infamous mouthpiece Craig Coal, has stepped in personally to prop up his crumbling coal dump investment scam.  This follows Lummi official Tim Ballew's Herald editorial of Jan. 8, in which he states that the tribe will not negotiate because the impacts cannot be mitigated.  In response to Ballew, the Herald later granted Watters his own editorial counterpoint.  Watters clearly knows how to dissemble and is obviously now playing to latent local anti-indian racist sentiments.  Craig Coal earlier threatened the Whatcom Watch with an arbitrary and capricious law suit for suggesting a connection between local anti-indian events and Watters' bogus coal dump scam.  That put the Watch into a tail spin it from which it is now just recovering.  Now we should reexamine that connection.

Watters first plays his hyper-inflated jobs card, pretending he will create great jobs for Whatcom County's underemployed.  This fantasy has already been thoroughly debunked.  Then he plays the property rights card, just to stir up the good old boys who typically resent the tribe.  He further suggests the Lummi already have far too much, not only in terms of grants and subsidies, but also too much control over their fishing grounds.  Does he think a fishing people would have agreed in 1855 to fish for half of an ever diminishing supply of salmon?  What does he think salmon eat? Pollution?  Or is he just trying to rile up non-tribal fishers?

He argues that Cherry Point is only .002 percent of the 1.9 million acres of Lummi fishing grounds.  How can the Lummi possibly be so greedy as to deny him the right to pollute minuscule Cherry Point?  Watters neglects to reveal that three industrial permits previously issued at Cherry Point destroyed more than 60% of the total herring production of all Puget Sound.  He seem eager to finish off the herring, suggesting Lummi fishing is already not sustainable. 

I have news for Watters.  Fishing is worse because the herring stock was whacked by industrial pollution at Cherry Point.  Salmon sustained human habitation in this area for at least 12,000 years.  Without salmon, we will lose the seal and orca, too.  Does he really think his pollsters would find support for that?  Malarkey!  I challenge Watters to ask residents if they would rather have a few jobs or protect the salmon, seal and orca. 

Coal is the new buggy whip.  Watters' project is a scam.  Herring are the real deal.  Ballew is right and Watters is wrong.  Dead wrong.  Ballew speaks for life and a way of life.  The likes of Watters and Cole will destroy anything to make a buck.  Restore the herring at Cherry Point before issuing ANY new permits for pollution.  Period.

As always, the Herald should reconsider how much ink they afford folks appealing to racist undercurrents.

richard jehn  //  Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 9:11 pm

Thank you for speaking the truth, Tip.  These folks play dog-whistle politics, that carefully constructed speech designed to hide the racism.  Dog whistling doesn’t change the truth!


Dena Jensen  //  Mon, Jan 19, 2015, 8:19 am

I heartily second everything in this post!  I will use this for additional inspiration to encourage our state representatives to step out together, loud and proud, to support Lummi Nations’s request to deny the permit application.  I stand with Lummi Nation in opposition to the Gateway Pacific Terminal.  Herring: alive.  Watters: dead wrong.


Mike Rostron  //  Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 8:17 pm

Great article!
Trading short-term profits for a few wealthy CEOs and stockholders, and a handful of decent paying jobs for a few workers is hardly worth the extra risk to our fishing stocks and the potential risks to the environment. What Whatcom county needs is not more development, but less. We need a breathing space—say at least two decades. We should do all we can to slow development and population growth here, and give ourselves a chance to think about what kind of future we really want for our little corner of the state. We should adopt the lowest possible population growth goals, and strive to undershoot even those. This county desperately needs to change the conversation about growth, development, jobs, etc., and start real conversation about quality of life here. Quality of life is inversely related to population density past a certain point. Are we too “dense” to understand this?

We badly need a no or at least slow-growth political party, with seats at the city and county tables. The differences between the so-called “progressives” and “conservatives” do not address the real issues in so many cases.


Walter Haugen  //  Wed, Jan 21, 2015, 9:31 am

It is a measure of success for us that Bob Watters tacitly admits Craig Cole’s efforts have failed. (Kinda like his food stores.)

However, as this next phase of the fight uses anti-tribal racism as the underpinnings of pro-GPT arguments, those of us against the coal terminal will have to face a decision. At some point, you will have to appear anti-agriculture in terms of water rights. It is clearly Watters’ decision to broaden the issue and paint us as anti-farming, anti-business and anti-American.

Yes, yes, I know there is a BIG difference between water users and we SHOULD be able to differentiate between those who are: 1) conservative in their irrigation use, whether large or small scale, 2) industrial users not agricultural, 3) using water out of streams illegally, 4) using phoney-baloney statistics to show they have offsets or put water back into the watershed, 5) have some gubbmint program that gives them special permits, and 6) other users I cannot think of at the time but will surely come up in the future.

Watters will attempt to simplify the argument so that anyone who is against the coal terminal is also against growing food. This is NOT a valid argument. There is also a local group which has hoovered up “small-scale organic farmers” in order to conflate their concerns with those of industrial agriculture. Since I am a small-scale farmer, let me state it for you very simply: My concerns on a small scale and growing clean food are DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED to those industrial farmers who grow berries, dairy, etc. by using chemicals and overuse water. Many of these industrial ag farmers get their water illegally. Unfortunately, the so-called “environmentalists” on the County Council cannot get their heads around the damage these industrial farmers do to the environment. [For example, Carl Weimer does not even understand the dangers of Roundup and publicly dismissed complaints about spraying it on farm land and road sides last year. He was “surprised” at the opposition to glyphosphate because there are “worse” chemicals in use, as if a worse chemical makes a very bad chemical okay.] Exporting milk powder to China and frozen berries around the world is not worth destroying the land.

Let me make it very simple for you. Salmon are more important than farming. If a farmer needs illegal water to stay in business, then he/she needs to go out of business.

This will rankle most progressives, I know, BUT are you gonna spend another 10-20 years arguing for half-ass measures while the environment degrades even further? Are you ONCE AGAIN gonna snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? The pro-GPT people are desperate. Time to press harder.


Mike Rostron  //  Wed, Jan 21, 2015, 11:53 am

Slightly off topic, but germane: Spraying roundup should be a crime. Anyone using the substance, including government supervisors who order it done, should have their equipment confiscated, be forced to go through AA-like mandatory environmental educational seminars, and spend a few days thinking about the issue in our local prison. You want the weeds controlled? How about employing some out-of-work folks to do it, instead of poisoning the planet. Whatcom county should ban such toxins within our boundaries—no exceptions!


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