Bad Idea, Wrong Place, and Wrong Time

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Mon, Oct 31, 2011, 3:07 pm  //  Guest writer

Bob Ferris of Re-Sources in Bellingham provides this perspective on our community.


Some cities celebrate giant balls of string or humongous potatoes as part and parcel of their beings. In Bellingham we celebrate sustainability in its many forms. That is expressed in myriad manners from the number of bike commuters to our focus on local businesses and from our record level of green power subscriptions to our standing-room-only crowds at the Appliance Derby.

Can we defensibly put a price tag on this intangible asset? Certainly we can. The measure consists of the value of our houses directly related to our quality of life. It is also expressed in the pay reductions talented people are willing to take to live where they are happier and more comfortable. While some may attribute our lower than average wages to our general economic condition they make a mistake in doing so because it really represents what many of us are willing to give up to live in this community with people we call neighbors. These and others are the tangible real dollar premiums we are willing to pay to be a Bellinghamster.

Local doctors will also tell you that there are some hidden bonuses to all this too. The fact that health care quality and doctors per patient numbers are on the high side in Whatcom County has a lot to do with reputation and quality of life. And study after study indicates that amenities that lead to smiles rather than frowns also attract big brains and high tech industries to a community.

If the city or county for that matter had a collective balance sheet, this factor would be included in the “goodwill” line item. And here is where the proponents of the Cherry Point coal terminal have made a miscalculation by ignoring the importance of this entry on many of our mental spread sheets. Like a forgotten mortgage payment on an income statement, proponents failed to account for the collective community impact of shifting from a leadership position in sustainability to becoming the premier exporter of greenhouse gases in North America.

“Ah ha,” project boosters might be thinking at this point: It is just about money. If a payment or amenity were somehow arranged for the 20,000 to 50,000 folks most impacted by this in Whatcom County and the needed overpasses in Bellingham were paid for to make at-grade crossings safe and not inhibiting. Perhaps a new park or whiz bang public building and fifty million dollars for the overpasses might do the trick? The simple answer is: No.

While it is possible to defensibly construct a spread sheet value for goodwill and deal with it financially, it is inherently a mental metric tied directly to emotions and personal values. To many involved in this equation no amount of mitigation could ameliorate this loss of face. And no amount of *New Coke* or *Qwickster*-style spin or packaging could for this significant segment of the population make the unpalatable, unworkable, and untenable anything than what it is: A bad idea for this community at this point in time.

Larry Horowitz  //  Mon, Oct 31, 2011, 4:15 pm

Thank you, Bob, for reminding us that there are many highly-valued intangibles associated with a ‘place’ that are often overlooked in an economic sense.  As noted economist and author Herman Daly wrote in ‘For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future’:

“The real economic base of a community…. consists of all those things that make it an attractive place to live, work, or to do business.  That means the economic base includes the quality of the natural environment, the richness of the local culture, the security and stability of the community, the quality of the public services and the public works infrastructure, and the quality of the workforce.  None of these things are provided by the commercial economy or produced for export.”

Clayton Petree  //  Tue, Nov 01, 2011, 8:49 am

We currently produce 150,000 tons of garbage per year (see table 4.10-41 of County DEIS for the 10-year review).  That garbage is loaded on trains and trucks and shipped to Eastern Washington and Oregon for disposal.  What is Re-Sources stance on this and would you support a local solution?

Bob Ferris  //  Tue, Nov 01, 2011, 6:50 pm

@Jack.  As RE Sources started nearly 30 years ago as a recycling operation our general position then as it is now is: Reduce,Reuse,and Recycle.  This theme runs throughout our operations, programs, and educational outreach.  150,000 tons is a lot and that can likely be reduced in many, many ways from eliminating unnecessary packaging and buying fresh, local produce to buying more durable items and less disposable junk.  Of course we would support a full or partial local solution if met economic, environmental, and social criteria and proved an equal or better solution than the current one.  The devil is certainly in the details and there is a lot of good and bad options to sort through.  But any solution must start and end with reduction.

Clayton Petree  //  Tue, Nov 01, 2011, 8:38 pm

LOL Bob,
Jack and I aren’t even close to the same person.  Jack is a grumpy old conservative.  I’m… well, not.
I encourage you to give our garbage situation a lot of thought.  The 3R’s are nice, but of all the communities, I think we do that pretty well.  And we still have a lot of garbage we ship through and to other communities to take care of for us.  “garbage trains” spewing their particulate in other communities so we don’t have to deal with our waste doesn’t sound all that different from coal trains to me.

Larry Horowitz  //  Tue, Nov 01, 2011, 8:52 pm


What exactly is your ‘garbage solution’?  (Note that I’m not implying your solution is garbage.)

BTW, I don’t believe there is any comparison between 48,000,000 tons of coal of 150,000 tons of garbage.  Well, you could compare the two, but one is only 3/10 of 1% of the other.  I don’t see how you can say that 48 million doesn’t sound all that different to you than 150 thousand.  Size matters.

Clayton Petree  //  Tue, Nov 01, 2011, 9:15 pm

My solution is that we take care of it locally.  I’m not really interested in dumping it in the bay again like we used to, or burying it next to the Nooksack.  But I think that our community, as a whole, could come up with a great way to take care of our own waste.  One example are the plastic to oil processors.  There’s a company in OR doing that and another one further east.  It’s not going to be a “one idea solves all” kind of thing.

BTW, when I compared it to coal trains, I didn’t mean volume - I meant that we are imposing our garbage trains on all the places between here and there.

Tip Johnson  //  Tue, Nov 01, 2011, 9:29 pm

We had a local solution, two of them, counting both ReComp and Olivine.  The EPA shut them down.  Incineration was a federal pet of the eighties and nineties, but didn’t pan out.  The emissions were excessive and the ash very toxic.  Now we have identified daily covered, double lined for collection and detection, landfills in arid zones as the best solution.  I gotta say, the Recomp incinerator and co-generation turbine are still around. If we can complete the dismantling of the EPA, we could start burning garbage and medical waste again and run that 2 MW generator.  It could be part of the “green” power program, because it’s local, even if it kills everything within it’s downwind plume cone.  Great idea!

Bob Ferris  //  Wed, Nov 02, 2011, 8:32 am

Sorry Clayton was just in a conversation with Jack and thought this was a continuation.

Bob Ferris  //  Wed, Nov 02, 2011, 12:20 pm

I think this is all something worth discussing in a systematic fashion.  I have done some analyses of net benefit from plastic-to-oil devices and I am very, very dubious.  The most desirable approach in all of this is not to create to as much of the 150,000 tons as possible.  Bottled water is still popular and who knows how many disposable coffee cups are used a day.  My family has trimmed our refuse can use to once a month pickup but many have not nor are they even considering such a move.  And while waste conversion might clearly be an option, the side impacts of those operations are absolutely tied to feed-stock and technology.

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.

6 comments; last on Nov 27, 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


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