A Question of FreedomPermalink +
Fri, Jul 04, 2014, 5:00 am // Guest writer
Guest writer, Norbert Rojsza, is the son of Artur and Margaret Rojsza, the owner/builders.
I would like to share with you some observations gathered over the course of the time my father has tried to build his house in Ferndale, but first some history.
On this day in 1776 our founders declared the USA independent from Great Britain. The USA is 238 today. But, it does depend on how you look at it. We are rebels, so if you count from 1783 when Great Britain signed the Treaty of Paris, recognizing our independence, we are 231. Then again, you could also count from the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, which puts us at 227. Beautiful at any age.
Today is also the anniversary of my getting sued by the City of Ferndale while trying to run for mayor. At the center of the lawsuit was the house my father has spent many years trying to build.
During the campaign, my team and I managed to go door to door to over 2300 people’s houses and listen to what concerns residents had, I was 24 at the time and had just recently become a United States citizen. I’m very proud of, and thankful for, the work my team did. I am also thankful to all the residents who gave me their time and shared their opinions with me. After the local news reported the story of the City of Ferndale suing me, many residents wanted to know about my father’s house. On this anniversary I’d like to address some of those questions and offer some perspective on the issue.
People wonder, how it is that this project has been going on for so long and nothing seems to be moving forward. It is because over the last couple of years the following pattern has emerged. The city takes my father to court, and then they complain that the project is not moving forward. The problem here is that the lawsuit completely stops construction until it has been resolved. Over the years there have been many lawsuits and it is the lawsuits that continue to delay construction, but the community only sees the incomplete project standing there and can only speculate as to why it doesn't get done.
People in Ferndale take pride in their community, as they should. Some people take the failure to complete the project, and the appearance of it, very personally. It is in the center of town, which makes it all but impossible to avoid, and it has become a landmark. Not the kind of landmark that a proud resident would want representing their town, but it is one that people have begun to recognize all over the West Coast. It was even featured on KOMO News recently. The more the city delays the project through lawsuits, the bigger this issue becomes. The bigger the issue, the more interesting story it becomes, making people who are proud of Ferndale, but dislike the house, more likely to see it in the news and hear people associate Ferndale with it, which frustrates them even more.
The sad thing is that officials in the city benefit from having such a visible problem to deal with, while the residents suffer. People want to know what is being done about that house and the city can say they have started a lawsuit or cited the house as a nuisance (which accomplishes nothing but further project delays). Those residents feel like at least something is being done and offer praise to the officials who came up with the great strategy. I can see many problems with this behavior.
First, hundreds of thousands of dollars in city time and money has been put into “dealing” with this house over the years. What have been the results of those efforts? The house is still there, and whenever the lawsuits are concluded and permitting questions have been resolved, progress is made on the project, until the next lawsuit delays the project.
Second, there are bigger problems for the residents in the city of Ferndale than someone trying to build a house, take for example the drinking water. It used to be good water, but after the city spent money and resources switching from clean river water to well water, the water quality got worse and costs more than it used to. As the city works on new projects, the attention they pay to the house takes resources away from them actually improving Ferndale.
Third, the more time nothing happens with the house the more some residents demand action, and the more aggressive the city becomes about doing something about the house. When a city goes after a resident aggressively they can sometimes lose sight of what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. It is at these times they can cross a line and violate a person’s rights, and the longer this goes on the more liability to lawsuits the city exposes itself to. The residents do not benefit from this kind of behavior at all. Forth, if they can treat some people this way today, they can treat you this way tomorrow.
So why is my father building the house? To understand that, you have to know something about my father and mother’s story. They grew up in a communist country and dreamed of having the freedoms many Americans take for granted. My father and mother want to build something to represent their new life in America, and the freedoms that come with it. That house is more than just a home. It is a symbol. It symbolizes freedom and hope. That is the reason it is so tall, it is the reason why it does not look like a normal home, the reason why it is so visible, and the reason why it has an American flag on it. The more the city gets in the way of the project, the more powerful the symbol becomes and the stronger the resolve to finish it.
I have often wondered why my parents do not simply demolish the house and be done with it. They could be done with all the lawsuits, done with all trouble, and done with all the suffering if they just tore it down. But every 4th of July I am reminded of something. That behind all of the fireworks, the music, and the celebration lay symbols as well. They tell a story of the brave who fought unlikely odds for what they thought was right, for the symbols they believed in. They had to earn their rights, and they didn’t let anyone tear their symbols of freedom and hope down. That helps me understand why my parents will continue to fight to be able to build their house, and it helps me accept it.
As you celebrate The Fourth of July this year, I hope you take a moment to think about how you or other people have had to fight for your freedoms, how you or others have protected your freedoms, and how you have earned your freedoms. After you have thought about that, think about how you would feel if someone tried to challenge the symbol of those freedoms you hold dear. How would you react?
Fri, Jul 04, 2014, 5:00 am // Guest writerFerndale's most famous landmark is frequently commented on and is often in the news. Here is their side of the story.
4 comments; last on Jul 07, 2014
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 9:01 pm // Guest writerIn the Weekly, Tim Johnson left out three words in quoting Craig Cole - and his story misleads readers. Guest article by Sandy Robson.
11 comments; last on Jul 01, 2014
Paper Dreams in Fairhaven
Wed, May 28, 2014, 3:15 pm // Guest writerA perspective by guest writer Ellen Murphy reflects on the Whatcom Watch and the threatened law suit by Craig Cole.
22 comments; last on Jun 01, 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
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 1:16 am // Wendy HarrisAccepting the Paul deArmond award of citizen journalism on Feb 7, Wendh Harris gave this speech. We think it deserves its own post.
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
Wed, Jan 29, 2014, 7:18 am // Guest writerTim Johnson writes about the first recipient of the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award, Whatcom County writer Wendy Harris.
3 comments; last on Feb 08, 2014
Mon, May 06, 2013, 2:40 am // Guest writerPaul deArmond is remembered by his sister Claire. He was a Republican-at-Large.
2 comments; last on May 08, 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
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.
Thu, Nov 29, 2012, 9:23 am // Paul deArmondHoss Unplugged, November 30 will Honk the York Neighborhood's Tonk
Wed, Sep 05, 2012, 12:00 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley patiently explains to the Whatcom Excavator what a flowchart should look like
Fri, Jul 20, 2012, 5:44 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley gathers quotes, video footage and pictures from the recent tea party forum
1 comments; last on Jul 20, 2012
Wed, Jan 11, 2012, 10:04 am // Riley SweeneyLatest from the Political Junkie on a variety of subjects
7 comments; last on Jan 16, 2012
Tue, Aug 09, 2011, 5:44 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley interviews Clayton Petree about his view of Downtown Bellingham
6 comments; last on Aug 12, 2011
Tue, Jun 28, 2011, 6:16 pm // Riley SweeneyIt says it all in the title
3 comments; last on Jun 30, 2011
Wed, Jan 26, 2011, 10:37 pm // John ServaisBill Servais died suddenly. A short testimony by his brother.
17 comments; last on Mar 19, 2011
Mon, Dec 20, 2010, 6:21 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney briefly discusses faith
3 comments; last on Dec 20, 2010
Mon, Dec 06, 2010, 6:39 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney and his brother, Devlin, take a look at the 2012 Republican Candidates
Mon, Nov 29, 2010, 6:16 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney examines facts vs beliefs and comprehensive sex education
4 comments; last on Dec 01, 2010
Mon, Nov 22, 2010, 5:00 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney makes the case for investing and supporting local campaign managers
4 comments; last on Dec 05, 2010
Sat, Jul 31, 2010, 11:29 pm // John ServaisJohn Powers died yesterday. Ted expresses his remembrance.
Mon, May 17, 2010, 6:55 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney discusses the discomfort of religious and cultural differences among friends
1 comments; last on May 18, 2010
Wed, Mar 31, 2010, 11:30 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurThe Creation of The Whatcom Museum and the Restoration of Bellingham's 1892 City Hall
1 comments; last on Apr 02, 2010
Thu, Feb 18, 2010, 7:03 am // Kamalla Rose KaurLocal elder, Nita Clothier, talks with Kamalla Rose Kaur about growing up in a logging camp
Sun, Jan 10, 2010, 7:00 am // Kamalla Rose KaurLocal concert celebrates Pete Seeger's 90th birthday--and the efforts of one man to see him awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.
2 comments; last on Jan 12, 2010
Thu, Dec 24, 2009, 10:21 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurHoliday Album 2009 - mixing conversations and prose, Charles Dickens quotes, with history provided by the National Museum of Women's History.
1. "I will honour Christmas in my heart,
2 comments; last on Dec 26, 2009
Wed, Nov 18, 2009, 8:59 am // Kamalla Rose KaurWhat a difficult time to be the (new to this region) president of Western Washington University. In his autumn address to faculty and staff, Bruce Shepard laments, "While…
Sat, Nov 14, 2009, 12:19 pm // Tip JohnsonWe don't make special offers like this very often, but if you act right now, you'll not only continue getting free access to fresh views, news and opinion…
14 comments; last on Nov 18, 2009
Sat, Oct 10, 2009, 9:00 am // Kamalla Rose KaurDr. Linda Allen takes the long way home to Bellingham once again as she tours the nooks and crannies of Washington State in 2010 with a multi-media presentation…
Sat, Aug 08, 2009, 3:04 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurThe people behind Bellingham's colorful history matter - just like it matters that Pierre Charles L'Enfant designed Washington DC and that Thomas Jefferson created the University of Virginia.…
4 comments; last on Aug 10, 2009
Sun, Jul 12, 2009, 4:37 pm // Kamalla Rose Kaur"Our friend had found two acres at the foot of Sehome Hill, one a little fir-clad knoll, the other a level acre of meadow and garden. If we…
7 comments; last on Oct 23, 2009
Mon, Jul 06, 2009, 9:21 pm // John LesowNote:
This article was originally posted on September 7, 2008, shortly after John McCain announced he had chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. The negative…
4 comments; last on Jul 08, 2009
Wed, Jul 01, 2009, 7:39 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurInterim Editor's Note: Hi. John Servais, the esteemed publisher, will be back from vacation soon and I had very little to do while appointed interim editor of Northwest…
9 comments; last on Jul 11, 2009
Wed, Jun 10, 2009, 11:02 am // John ServaisA few days ago, our community lost two young people to a tragic accident. A boating accident in Bellingham Bay. Yet we know almost nothing about them and…
3 comments; last on Jun 10, 2009
Wed, May 20, 2009, 1:25 pm // Larry Horowitz“At present, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product.” So says renowned entrepreneur and visionary Paul Hawken at his…
1 comments; last on May 21, 2009
Tue, Feb 03, 2009, 1:05 am // Larry HorowitzI really pity Horizon Bank’s CEO Rich Jacobson. His predecessor, Laury Evans, sure left him a bad hand to play. Not only is Mr. Jacobson faced with the…
2 comments; last on Mar 02, 2009
Sat, Jan 31, 2009, 6:22 pm // Larry HorowitzWhen Mayor Pike ran for office, he convinced me and thousands of others that he was truly concerned about the issues that impact those who call Bellingham home.…
12 comments; last on Feb 04, 2009
Sat, Dec 27, 2008, 3:05 pm // Site ManagementEditor note. Barney died Thursday, Dec 25. He strongly deserves tribute for his public service. Bob Aegerter provides a brief look at his life. Bob was the architect…
1 comments; last on Dec 29, 2008
Thu, May 15, 2008, 11:02 pm // John ServaisAlan Rhodes seems to want to be like Emmett Watson, the late writer about Lesser Seattle. However, Alan seems to lack Emmett's basic charitable view of his fellow…
2 comments; last on May 17, 2008
Wed, Apr 02, 2008, 7:36 pm // John ServaisIn April, 1908, the farmers just northeast of Bellingham - along and north of the current Mt. Baker Highway - organized their own Grange. The highway was not…
Mon, Feb 11, 2008, 12:47 pm // Tip JohnsonSomething about Bellingham’s poverty brings out the worst, even in the best of us.
The Kulshan Land Trust ushered it’s presence into Happy Valley with the development
1 comments; last on Feb 12, 2011
Sat, Jan 26, 2008, 4:18 pm // John ServaisBelow is a link to an opinion piece in today's Los Angeles Times. It is written by a liberal - obviously a Democrat - and one who has…
1 comments; last on Jan 27, 2008
Tue, Jan 01, 2008, 7:37 pm // John ServaisJuan Cole continues to provide a knowledgeable look at Bhutto's killing and the Pakistan situation. His column today explains how the government is being discredited regarding their claims…
Sat, Dec 22, 2007, 4:01 pm // John ServaisNoon
A new local political website is starting up - bellinghambloggers.com. No content there yet, but the aspirations are excellent. Chris Renoud wants to run the site with integrity…
Thu, Dec 20, 2007, 3:46 pm // John ServaisSam Taylor has an article in today's Herald on the Bellingham City Council special session yesterday when they approved John Carter as the new city Finance Director. Sam…
Sat, Dec 15, 2007, 4:02 pm // John ServaisA racist headline in today's Herald - but they don't have a clue. The news is the Northwood Casino finally got their liquor permit - which they should…
Wed, Dec 12, 2007, 3:55 am // John ServaisWestern Washington University administrators - starting with President Karen Morse - have been abusing their power for years. Below is an example. This article first appeared in slightly…
Thu, Dec 06, 2007, 4:18 am // John ServaisDo we Americans believe in human rights? Do we believe that "all" are equal and have rights as our Declaration of Independence says we believe - or only…
Mon, Dec 03, 2007, 4:32 am // John ServaisIt is so nice to have several websites covering local issues. The past few days I've just not even thought of posting and have enjoyed checking other sites.…
Tue, Nov 27, 2007, 11:30 pm // John ServaisDan Pike gave a great short speech to a packed city council chamber after he was sworn in as our mayor. It is posted on the City of…
Thu, Nov 22, 2007, 4:35 pm // John ServaisThis from Lois Garlick
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.
And thank you. Your support in my campaign for County Executive was tremendous. I had no comprehension
Tue, Nov 20, 2007, 11:45 pm // John ServaisSwearing-In Ceremony next Tuesday at 4:30 pm in our Bellingham City Council Chambers for Dan Pike as mayor and Stan Snapp as council member.
Sam Taylor has scooped me…
Mon, Oct 29, 2007, 7:34 pm // John ServaisWho is Royce Buckingham - and why does he think he needs to prevent democratic processes from taking place? This guy - a lawyer in the Prosecuting Attorney's…
Sat, Oct 27, 2007, 3:03 am // John ServaisMarian Beddill has posted a good technical description of what happened with our ballots. She uses this serious incident to explain why computerized voting has serious problems.
Thu, Oct 25, 2007, 5:09 pm // Tip JohnsonV - Stan Snapp - Don't ask me why Servais hasn't endorsed Stan Snapp. Here's a guy that has worked his way up and tirelessly served his community,…
Sat, Oct 20, 2007, 5:48 pm // John ServaisSeth Fleetwood has endorsed Dan Pike for Mayor of Bellingham. We have all been wondering if and who Seth would endorse. He also ran for mayor and had…
Wed, Oct 17, 2007, 9:40 pm // John ServaisPodcasts of last night's forum will be posted online by KGMI about noon tomorrow. I will post links here when they go up. Meanwhile, you might check Sam…
Sat, Oct 13, 2007, 6:30 pm // John ServaisFor what they are worth, or not worth, today I am posting my preferences or endorsements for candidates. I describe myself as a progressive and those who know…
Election InfoCandidate Filings
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
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