The Rule of Law - Bellingham StylePermalink +
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:31 pm // John Servais
Tonight the Bellingham City Council - after seven years of a confused, delayed and intimidating process - figured out how to force an illegal plan amendment onto the Sunnyland Neighborhood. For seven years, city planning has been trying to push their own agenda, but the residents used Bellingham city code - the planning code - to stop the city and have worked toward getting their own plan adopted. City planning law was on the residents' side.
The Bellingham City Council, made up of elected politicians, always showed great verbal support for the residents. Some council members almost swooned in their great affection. But in the end, it was all just for show. The council kept delaying and not approving the resident’s plan.
Council basically ignored the Sunnyland Neighborhood residents. Why? Because the residents - the property owners who will bear the impact of the plan - did not go along with the planning department and agree to the city’s plan. When the neighborhood refused to fall in line - guess what happened? The city simply suspended the planning process and waited a couple years. When they finally got back around to it, the city dragged out the process. And the council - the same folks who went to great lengths on Monday evening to explain themselves - allowed the planning department to delay and confuse the issue.
Tonight - with no advance notice or hearing or open process - the council simply changed city law to accommodate what they wanted and quickly voted in changes for the Sunnyland Neighborhood. Yep. If you cannot win under the rules, change the rules. And our City Council did that tonight. So much for the rule of law in Bellingham. See the illustration above for their insertion of the killer words into the Bellingham Municipal Code. Easy peasy.
Before they voted to degrade the Sunnyland Neighborhood, several council members spoke to an empty council chamber pleading their angst over this issue. It is actually funny to watch given the quick butchering they were about to do to city codes and a neighborhood.
One council representative said we should not criticize current planning and city officials because they were not there seven years ago. Well, excuse me Gene Knutson, but we citizens demand legal process in making laws - and we have the right to, and will hammer, the council for violating the law and our city processes. The council approved the Sunnyland Neighborhood plan amendment on Monday evening - not because it was the better plan, but just to get it off their plate.
Council members deserve personal criticism for caving to the planning department. Pinky Vargas was almost tearful as she claimed she did not deserve criticism. Sorry, Pinky, but you are responsible for not representing residents. And it is personal. Cathy Lehman would build skyscrapers there if she could; she never met an excessive building height she did not like. Gene Knutson voted for it because he is tired of dealing with it. Michael Lilliquist voted for it because, as he explained to us, he understands all this much better than we do. And finally, Roxanne Murphy, a resident of Sunnyland, has ignored her own neighborhood and shown little interest in the project, but she voted for it. Only Terry Borneman voted against it. Jack Weiss was absent.
This article is about a process I have seen on a routine and almost regular basis by our City Council for many years. Gene may say we should not blame these new members, but in truth they are upholding a long-standing tradition of the council by kowtowing to the planning department. Changing the law with no advance notice when obeying the law is inconvenient is the same as not having laws. Changing a law should require advance notice, a chance for citizens to participate - in short, an open process.
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:31 pm // John ServaisBellingham City Council abruptly changes zoning codes to force Planning Department plan on Sunnyland residents.
7 comments; last on Aug 14, 2014
Fri, Aug 08, 2014, 10:10 am // John ServaisUpdated Wed evening. The Tuesday evening 8:20 pm Auditor report on the election is in.
5 comments; last on Aug 08, 2014
Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 7:22 pm // John ServaisSunnlyland residents win one - after a seven year effort. Planning Department failed them and all of us.
2 comments; last on Jul 23, 2014
Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 11:39 am // John ServaisWyoming Senators and coal honchos were in Whatcom County June 10 - to hold a news conference with select reporters.
7 comments; last on Jun 20, 2014
Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 11:20 am // John ServaisBellingham Hearing Examiner, Dawn Sturwold, retires in three weeks. Successor selection is hidden from all of us.
3 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014
Fri, May 09, 2014, 10:02 am // John ServaisThe Political Junkie for Whatcom County - that would be Riley Sweeney - has Overstreet not running for reelection in the 42nd.
1 comments; last on May 13, 2014
Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 8:20 am // John ServaisRiley posted this morning that Seth Fleetwood has decided to challenge Doug Ericksen for state senate in the 42nd District.
1 comments; last on Apr 30, 2014
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 10:47 am // John ServaisFukushima radiation has been found 20 miles from Whatcom County farmland along the Fraser River in British Columbia.
1 comments; last on Mar 17, 2014
Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 3:22 pm // John ServaisThe editor of the Whatcom Watch, Richard Jehn, has resigned effective today. Chalk up a victory for Craig Cole and Pacific International Terminals.
8 comments; last on Mar 05, 2014
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 9:29 pm // John ServaisThe full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.
16 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:48 pm // John ServaisCraig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.
6 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Sun, Feb 09, 2014, 10:13 am // John ServaisThe old empty Reid Boiler Works industrial building in Fairhaven burned to the ground Saturday night.
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 9:39 pm // John ServaisSuper Bowl ... Weed Bowl ... This bud's for you ... Bong Bowl ... Marijuana Bowl ... whatever. It is on!
1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2014
Mon, Dec 16, 2013, 1:30 pm // John ServaisFerndale Mayor Gary Jensen has decided not to file for the 42nd state Senate seat currently held by Doug Ericksen.
5 comments; last on Dec 24, 2013
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 12:58 pm // John ServaisThe Political Junkie has posted a 3 minute video showing Bellingham City Council members explaining their idiocy for all of us to watch.
2 comments; last on Dec 06, 2013
Wed, Dec 04, 2013, 11:53 am // John ServaisBellingham City Council and Port of Bellingham finalize the waterfront plan. In his weekly Gristle, Tim Johnson blasts the corrupt public process.
4 comments; last on Dec 05, 2013
Tue, Nov 05, 2013, 9:21 pm // John ServaisWith lots of outside county money flowing in to our local races, this election is weird. But real - and we county residents have spoken.
11 comments; last on Nov 09, 2013
Sat, Oct 26, 2013, 8:36 pm // John ServaisBeach reconstruction is done at Boulevard Park on the Bellingham waterfront. Paths along shore are again open - and it looks good.
6 comments; last on Nov 01, 2013
Sun, Oct 20, 2013, 8:07 pm // John ServaisKen Bell has my vote over Mike McAuley for port commissioner. And Renata Kowalczyk has it over Dan Robbins.
8 comments; last on Oct 30, 2013
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 3:20 pm // John ServaisAs the right wing radicals seek to shut down our national government this week, we need to push back with common sense.
8 comments; last on Oct 01, 2013
Wed, Sep 04, 2013, 9:37 am // John ServaisAn attempt at linking to one or more writers who can help us make sense of going to war with Syria. An alternative to Kerry-Obama.
Wed, Sep 04, 2013, 1:36 am // John ServaisContacting Rick Larsen and Susan Delbene is actually a viable citizen exercise just now. Tell them to vote NO on bombing Syria.
1 comments; last on Sep 04, 2013
Sat, Aug 31, 2013, 3:10 pm // John ServaisSaturday afternoon - and a rally is taking place in downtown Bellingham against bombing Syria. Riley Sweeny and his Political Junkie site cover it.
Fri, Aug 30, 2013, 12:08 pm // John ServaisGee, can we make it any clearer? Publisher opinion. So sad that we have to write this to Obama - who got our vote in 2008 because he…
4 comments; last on Aug 31, 2013
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 12:24 pm // John ServaisThe Feds gag an Email service owner - so he cannot even tell us why he is gagged.
2 comments; last on Aug 15, 2013
Thu, Aug 08, 2013, 1:05 am // John ServaisLiberal talking head Lawrence O'Donnell went into a bullying rant against a well qualified guest - and showed he's just like O'Reilly.
2 comments; last on Aug 08, 2013
Wed, Jul 31, 2013, 12:59 am // John ServaisAd rates are in the norm of Internet rates and reach a well educated local audience.
Sun, Jul 14, 2013, 11:25 am // John ServaisThe explosion of hate and racist rhetoric is the saddest aspect of the verdict. The evidence was complicated and the verdict difficult to make.
2 comments; last on Jul 16, 2013
Fri, Jul 12, 2013, 9:29 am // John ServaisRiley Sweeney has a short but important expose over at the Political Junkie today.
1 comments; last on Jul 12, 2013
Wed, Jul 03, 2013, 12:06 pm // John ServaisPublic process ignored. Citizen commenting castigated. Paranoid city legal department. Our city council merrily goes through another session.
6 comments; last on Aug 06, 2013
Sun, Jun 30, 2013, 11:28 am // John ServaisBellingham City Council ready to approve $500,000 of trails money for resurfacing plastic grass on Civic Field.
15 comments; last on Jul 02, 2013
Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 1:53 pm // John ServaisEdward Snowden is a very courageous patriot, in the opinion of the publisher of NWCitizen.
3 comments; last on Jun 14, 2013
Sun, Jun 09, 2013, 10:37 pm // John ServaisIntersection art - the painting of a design on the actual streets - is being developed in the Happy Valley neighborhood.
1 comments; last on Jun 15, 2013
Sat, Jun 08, 2013, 4:21 pm // John ServaisOver at the Political Junkie, Riley Sweeney has a report on one criteria the Herald uses to reject letters to the editor.
1 comments; last on Jun 10, 2013
Mon, Jun 03, 2013, 10:05 pm // John ServaisCity Council passes long-debated ban 4 to 3. It is effective in 2014.
Fri, May 31, 2013, 5:43 pm // John ServaisLuba Pekisheva has been given a confusing run around in our Whatcom County courts for over three years. Judges, prosecutors and clerks have all participated.
Fri, May 17, 2013, 5:44 pm // John ServaisTuesday morning and nothing in today's Bellingham Herald. Nor online. We provide the basics to fill in this latest omission by our "daily" newspaper.
9 comments; last on May 23, 2013
Sun, May 05, 2013, 3:45 pm // John ServaisHelp fund a scientific study looking for links between diesel locomotives, coal trains and unhealthy air.
Sun, Apr 28, 2013, 10:30 pm // John ServaisNew York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, has a masterful short article that explains why austerity is not working.
3 comments; last on May 23, 2013
Wed, Apr 24, 2013, 11:58 am // John ServaisThe Gristle in today's Cascadia Weekly is devoted to a tribute to Paul de Armond. Tim Johnson gets it right.
Sun, Apr 21, 2013, 1:59 pm // John ServaisWell known political writer has died.
5 comments; last on Apr 23, 2013
Tue, Mar 19, 2013, 10:05 am // John ServaisThe Bellingham Herald article today is wrong. There is no hearing tomorrow, March 20
Sun, Mar 17, 2013, 9:42 pm // John ServaisWendy Harris writes about the proposed $8 million concrete bridge along the Bellingham waterfront - using Greenways funds to build.
3 comments; last on Mar 20, 2013
Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 4:01 pm // John ServaisRiley Sweeney has posted a great video clip of Sen. Doug Ericksen flouting rules and legal procedures at a Senate hearing in Olympia.
Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 3:47 pm // John ServaisThe election created a new park district with taxing power - but with NO control over Chuckanut Ridge - the 100 acre woods.
1 comments; last on Feb 23, 2013
Wed, Feb 13, 2013, 4:42 pm // John ServaisThe Park District vote is close and we will not know final results until late ballots are counted.
6 comments; last on Feb 19, 2013
Sat, Feb 09, 2013, 1:14 am // John ServaisThe proponents have avoided the issues on the Park District as the close of voting nears this weekend.
2 comments; last on Feb 12, 2013
Wed, Feb 06, 2013, 11:42 pm // John ServaisWhen is a vote No the most positive and common sense action? Check the park district opponents website to learn why.
15 comments; last on Feb 10, 2013
Tue, Feb 05, 2013, 1:59 pm // John ServaisThis Park District proposal has several ironic twists and facets - some involving the advocates.
10 comments; last on Feb 07, 2013
Sat, Feb 02, 2013, 12:18 pm // John ServaisThe Chuckanut Park District ballot issue has another 10 days to run. A few notes about NWCitizen and this issue.
11 comments; last on Feb 05, 2013
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 10:40 am // John ServaisThe Park District is a panic action that over taxes a small group. A city wide solution is by far the better way to proceed.
13 comments; last on Feb 01, 2013
Thu, Jan 24, 2013, 5:09 pm // John ServaisUpdated Sat, Jan 26. A primer on the special Parks District election - and where to find more info.
15 comments; last on Jan 31, 2013
Thu, Jan 10, 2013, 12:23 pm // John ServaisA digression from politics. Checking with Green Bay relatives turns up an unexpected hope by fans there.
Wed, Jan 02, 2013, 12:31 pm // John ServaisA needed correction and apology for an error in a story that has been pulled.
3 comments; last on Jan 03, 2013
Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 2:18 pm // John ServaisThe Tunnel Creek avalanche and three skiers' deaths last February was a confusing tragedy. Experts killed. How did it happen?
Wed, Dec 19, 2012, 12:12 pm // John ServaisA dramatic video of yet another mudslide near Everett - and what will be coming down on coal trains. Amtrak service to Bellingham is shut down.
4 comments; last on Dec 20, 2012
Wed, Dec 12, 2012, 12:04 pm // John ServaisIf you or a friend are in foreclosure, or an attorney defending someone, then hopefully you already know about this. If not... here it is.
2 comments; last on Dec 19, 2012
Sat, Dec 08, 2012, 2:43 pm // John ServaisA giant coal freighter went right through the long dock early Friday morning. Nothing in print edition of Herald
3 comments; last on Dec 11, 2012
Sat, Nov 24, 2012, 12:09 pm // John ServaisWherein that local political junkie, Riley Sweeney, has written up a comprehensive analysis of 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Wed, Nov 07, 2012, 1:21 am // John ServaisA light and short take on the Democratic Party celebration at the VFW Post meeting hall. And a heavy bit on national politics.
18 comments; last on Nov 10, 2012
Election InfoCandidate Filings
Primary election results
Coal, Oil & TrainsCommunity Wise Bellingham
Powder River Basin R. C.
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Herald Politics Blog
Bham Politics & Economics
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesChuckanut Community Forest
City Club of Bellingham
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Reduce Jet Noise
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary Building
WA Conservation Voters
Port of Bellingham
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Nat Hurricane Center
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That? - climate
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good Web SitesAl-Jazeera online
Foreign Policy in Focus
Innocence Project, The
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Paul Krugman - economics
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Stand for the Troops
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
War and Piece
NwCitizen 1995 - 2007Early Northwest Citizen
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Police Activity
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph