What was New in 1998
Thursday, Dec 24, 1998
Season's Greetings to you and to each of your loved ones.
This is the time of year - just after the Solstice - that people have always celebrated a new beginning and a new year. It stretches back to time before history - it is embraced by most of the world's great religions. It is a time of well wishes to all - even to those we hardly see anymore. So, for myself and the others who are helping to develop NW Citizen into a viable community web site, we wish all our readers the best for the new year. John Servais
Late Saturday, Dec 19
Barry Bowen has written a concise analysis of the impeachment.
Today, the residents of the Barracks received formal 90 days notice of eviction. The notices came by certified mail. There was no advance notice they were coming. Nice Christmas presents. And another fine example of Mayor Mark fulfilling his many promises to work with citizens in a close and warm manner on the Barracks/Fire Station issue.
Saturday, Dec 19
Barry Bowen, the organizer of the Stop Impeachment Petition has repeatedly notified the 8 U.S. Representatives from Washington State about our petition over the past few days. Their congressional staffs all know about it, even if their bosses don't. We, Barry and all of us who have signed, have done all we can. Now we watch the sad tragedy unfold this weekend as the Republicans march lockstep to impeach the president. Many prominent Republicans also oppose this impeachment - but the House Republicans have apparently been given marching orders. We will probably learn details in the news media over the next few months.
Finally one Representative said on the House floor what I have been thinking for weeks - but was hesitant to write. This is nothing less than an attempted coup d'etat by the Republican party. They are trying to remove the President from office at all costs. They were disbelieving when we reelected him in 96. They tried to get our support last month in the mid term election - even spending $10 million on Clinton smear TV ads in the last days before the election. But we voters supported the President - even reducing the number Republicans in the House - so much so that all political analysts agree that the new elected House membership would never impeach.
So, the Republicans are hammering this impeachment through now. Nothing would have prevented the next House taking up the issue in January. Normally, Congress adjourns for good in early December. But the Republicans are determined to remove Clinton from office. Against the wishes of the citizens as expressed in the election last month. This is an attempted coup d'etat - and that is what horrifies the vast majority of citizens. We are watching helplessly. Our votes did not count. The election is being ignored by the determined few whose power expires later today. We must remember this when next we vote if we are to preserve our democracy.
Wednesday, Dec 16
The House has delayed the impeachment vote till Friday or Saturday. We continue to inform the 8 representatives from Washington State of our growing petition. It will do little good except to serve as a reminder that we did express our opposition. In a democracy, that is our appropriate ultimate action in a lost cause.
In the continuing Barracks / Fire Station debacle, the city is backing off from another promise it made the Barracks residents last summer. We have a short post in that section.
Tuesday, Dec 15
Our petition might not make a difference to the impeachment vote later this week. But in a time of crisis, our voices of moderation must speak out if only to assure ourselves that there are others of our same opinion. Later, we will not have to fear to face the question from a younger generation that will ask us what we did to stop the madness. We can say that we did all that citizens should do - we voted, we spoke out, we petitioned - and we will remember. Tonight, impeachment appears a foregone conclusion. It appears that Republican Congressional members have been ordered to vote for impeachment or face dire consequences later.
Barry is receiving a steady stream of emails - most with a similar message. Clinton has done wrong but it is not related to governing the country. Barry is making sure that all 8 U.S. House members from Washington State are aware of the petition and the messages.
On a local, Bellingham issue, we have good news. John Watts was appointed to the City Council by the other 6 council members. He fills the seat made vacant by Arne Hanna's death. He will serve until the November 99 general election. From the good things I've heard, I think we have a good representative in John.
Monday, Dec 14
Stop impeachment activities are springing up all over the U.S. Our only hope is that if enough of us speak out against the madness that enough moderate Republicans will vote against it. Part of our protest needs to be a message to Republican leaders that we will remember. Right now, they figure we will forget. Jennifer Dunn has ambitions to State wide office - Senator or Governor perhaps. She is a possible swing. Jack Metcalf is blindly in favor of impeachment - he signed a bill over a year ago to impeach.
The Civic Access web site has phone numbers and other contact information for all Washington State US Congressional Delegation members. If you want to contact any of them directly, here is the info.
Sunday, Dec 13
I urge readers of NW Citizen to email in their name for use on the petition above to do what we can to stop impeachment of the President. It may be only a symbolic gesture but we must make it. As voters, we feel betrayed. Do you realize that without the votes of defeated Republicans, that there would probably not be enough votes to impeach the President? White of Seattle, who will probably vote for impeachment, was defeated by Jay Inslee who ran on a platform against impeachment. Within minutes of White voting for impeachment, Congress will adjourn and White will no longer be in office. Jay will be in office on January 7 - but too late to vote.
Polls show 66% or higher of citizens are against impeachment. Polls do count - they show our opinion. Representatives are knowingly going against the wishes or their voters. Why? Because of hate for Clinton and to seek vengeance for Nixon. We citizens feel helpless. Betrayed. There is a small very right wing minority cheering on this impeachment. The Republicans are acting with madness. We voters elected Clinton a second time - knowing of his personal faults - and it is not the right of the Congress to take him out of office for petty reasons.
You know - I'm not defending the actions of Clinton. But they were private. And his lying about them were not matters of state. Most of us want to tune out this whole thing. And I have tried to - until a few days ago. Now it has gone too far. We must get word to those who would impeach him that we will remember and we will work to keep them - and their political party - from holding office again. Unless they hear from us they will not know we oppose their actions.
I have posted some new information on the Barracks/Fire Station issue. Seems the city promised the residents in writing last summer that the relocation payments would be tax free. Now the city is not so sure and is researching the answer.
Must compliment and chastise the Bellingham Herald for printing details of County Council verbal exchanges in Thursday's paper. Compliment them for finally printing some of the abusive and childish words and actions of Bob Imhof. Chastise the Herald for allowing this behavior to have gone on so long without reporting it. One had to read carefully to realize that Imhof is the leader of uncivilized behavior on the Council. Some, such as Connie Hoag, have acted most civilly throughout - with little help from the media. Even the Herald article would lead a casual reader to think that Hoag was a participant in the abuse - when in fact she never has been.
Late Friday, Dec 11
The November Whatcom Watch
is now posted online. I urge to you pick up a copy of the December issue which has an excellent article on Cherry Point. And I urge you to patronize their advertisers. The Watch is the best of grassroots publishing. Back issues are kept on NWCitizen as a research tool - permanently accessible for you.
Friday, Dec 11, 1998
Jack Metcalf announced that he will vote for impeachment of our President for having lied about sex. How utterly stupid. Jack had been reported as being on the fence. If he is going to be so stupid as to vote for impeachment then he deserves our strong protest. He represents us. There is a vengeful right-wing that is pushing to hurt our President Clinton any way they can. They have spent years trying to get something - anything - on him. Talk to one of these people and you will hear hate words. 2/3rds of the American people are against impeachment. We knew he was a sexual animal when we elected him in 92 and reelected him in 96. We don't like it, but it doesn't interfere with the fine job he is doing running our country. Some Republicans can't stand the fine job he is doing. They are afraid for their chances of electing a Republican president if he does such a fine job. They are vengeful for the Nixon impeachment. They are blind with hate.
Call Metcalf's office in Washington D. C. - 202 225-2605
Protest his intention to vote for impeachment.
They need to hear from us - now. Tell the aide who answers that Jack's job is to represent his people - not to vote as he is told by Republican bosses. The minority vengeful right wingers are calling - we in the majority have tuned it out in disbelief. We need to be heard.
Polls do count. The Republicans released the evidence and embarrassing videos of Clinton to gain the support of the American people. We didn't care. We did not change our minds. The Republicans are baffled by our opinion. So they are ignoring us - saying they cannot be swayed by polls - and are hell bent on giving us an ugly Christmas present. It is time to speak out against this madness.
Relevant note: I am not and never have been a Republican or Democrat. I am fiercely independent. I endorsed Fran Einterz for Congress, but remained neutral in the contest between Cammermeyer and Metcalf.
Saturday, Dec 5
The Skinny in the current issue of the Every Other Weekly has some wonderful stuff on the Barracks/Fire Station issue. It examines how the Mayor and his city hall staff are violating their promises in their drive to eliminate the Barracks and build a huge fire station. Must reading on this issue. We'll see if we can get permission to post it.
I tip my hat to the city Planning Commission. At the hearing on Thursday evening, they made several citizen suggested changes to the staff proposed process for the Happy Valley neighborhood updating process. In fairness to the staff, they also generally supported the changes. Several changes were earlier distribution of meeting packets, and better communications on meetings. The most important change is requiring all rezone requests to be submitted by late February - thus allowing the neighborhood meetings to discuss them.
This attempts to block the tactic WWU used on their own neighborhood plan when they submitted big changes after the Planning Commission had submitted the plan to the City Council. The Council rolled over for WWU, thus ignoring the whole purpose of having a planning commission in the first place. Granted,the council has the right and obligation to make changes it deems best. However, it should only consider changes that have already been submitted to public meetings and the Planning Commission. There is still nothing to prevent a Happy Valley rezone request to be submitted by WWU after the Planning Commission passes the HV plan to the Council.
I want to note the passing of Arne Hanna, city council member, who has garnered much praise since his death a week ago. I first got to know Arne when he was a freeholder in 1978 helping to write the Whatcom County Charter. I was the public relations advisor to the freeholders. We have compared notes regularly over the years as he joined the city council and became more of a public figure. Arne, true to all that has been said of him this past week, was his own person. He was real, that is, he acted from his own principles and experience. He and I disagreed on as many issues as we agreed on, but he was always ready to discuss an issue. And we never parted with bad feelings. He could understand that a citizen might have a different perspective than members of the ruling elite might have. He tried to understand. He often didn't. He was a backer of anything WWU wanted to do. He was a backer of developers through and through. Regardless of their abuses.
However, Arne respected the democratic process. He felt citizens should play a part in making public decisions. Recently, he called on me to speak to the council after the council chair had closed public comment . The chair had allowed a public official to speak condemning my position and saying I had my facts wrong. The chair, as normal, was not going to let the citizen rebut the bureaucrat. Arne just plain told me to go ahead and speak - thus challenging the chair to do anything about it. The chair, of course, didn't dare counter Arne. Arne also provided me with inside information on what was afoot more than once - thus allowing me to inform my fellow citizens. Arne was a very good person - the best he could make of himself. And that is the highest tribute I can make to anyone.
Who will replace Arne? Finally today, we speculate on the replacement for Arne on the council. As a political junkie, this is irresistible. We hear the front runner is Travis Holland, a member of the Planning Commission. A darling of the liberals, he is also close to the Mayor. He ran unsuccessfully against Lynn Carpenter for Finance Director three years ago and is acknowledged to have political ambitions. Remember, you read it here first.
Sunday, November 22, 1998
Hi. Back finally. Losing a parent can really stop you cold. I want to pick up on the Barracks / Fire Station debacle. Yes. A brief month ago, we all had hope that the fire station and a modestly reduced Barracks bought and upgraded by the Peoples Land Trust could coexist together. A compromise where all gave a little and all kept what was most important to each of them. Now, all has changed. Seems the needed fire station size has expanded. Seems now the city needs most of the property. Less than half the apartments will remain - and maybe not even that many.
Now the city is forcibly evicting all the tenants - all will be relocated. And the Peoples Land Trust will probably not get the apartments as the city now plans to only sell to an organization that will fall under the tax subsidized low income housing laws. Inch by inch our Mayor has broken his promises. The Herald has ignored the issue. So have the radio stations. I have a lot of catching up to do.
I have several new issues that need the light of day and will be posted soon here on NW Citizen. Some are county wide issues that are not being touched by the Bellingham Herald or the radio stations. We citizens need to know of these issues so we can discuss them and press our elected representatives for further information on them. Thanks for visiting.
Wed, Oct 21
The Republicans seem to be playing lose with the truth during this campaign. Today's Herald had a story on Ward Nelson lying about who actually endorses him. His excuses reminded this reader of a teenager in trouble - very flimsy additional little lies to cover the big lies. Well, the State Supreme court ruled that lying in campaigns is no longer against the law. This means a vigorous exposure of lies is our only recourse. The law is of no use to us.
The Republicans have also sent out a mailer that has lies. If someone wants to send in a defense of this flyer, I will print it. However, I know enough about how local Republicans conduct smear campaigns that I will not print just anything sent in. It must directly defend this flyer. These next 10 days will be the best time to watch for well crafted smears. The Democrats always get caught by surprise - I don't know why. Anyway, this flyer is a smear and deserves to be exposed as such.
I have a modest update on the Barracks / Fire Station issue. There was a meeting this afternoon of the Mayor and some of his staff and residents of the Barracks and members of the Peoples Land Trust.
Fri, Oct 16
We are back from our trip to the Midwest. Hope to have an update posted on the Barracks/Fire Station this weekend. We have info to add to the Herald story of last Tuesday. Also another scoop of the Herald regarding ramifications of developing Cherry Point.
Wed, Oct 7
As this morning's Herald headline confirms, "Locke: Cherry Point pier accord imminent", we scooped the mainstream news media by almost a month. (See Sep 10 What's New) Keep this in mind as we alert you to issues not yet reported by the radio stations or the Herald. They often sit on stories until permission is given by governmental leaders to run them. This is part of the cozy relationship that now exists between supposed independent news organizations and government. By not being too critical of government and public officials - bureaucrats in particular - the news media are able to have a less expensive and easier ability to get information from government agencies. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours is the theme of the dance by media and governments. You, the citizen lose out by not getting news that is needed to act intelligently as a citizen. We at NW Citizen are doing our best - our very small part - to nudge our mainstream media to report the news when they get it.
We do want to heartily endorse the Herald editorial of this morning. The editorial blasts the Bellingham School District for planning to build a new elementary school in a forest preserve near Lake Padden. It also criticizes the Mayor for a scheme around needing voter approval for this land use. The Herald editorial is right on. To go beyond what the Herald editorial says, we strongly suggest to the Bellingham School administrators that they become much more open about school siting plans. Can't our public officials learn from past experiences? The Arts Center fiasco of 1992; Bellingham Downtown renovation of the mid '80s; Hoag's Pond of this year and now the South Side Fire Station that is still heating up. The big lesson for the Bham School Board should be the failed levy of 1989 - all done in a pretend public process that was really a "trust us" process. The voters soundly defeated it. The Board then listened to citizen input, crafted a much less expensive and more appropriate bond levy and it passed in 1991.
The South Side Fire Station. We have learned that the Peoples Land Trust is moving along in its study of the feasibility of purchasing the Barracks property from the city should a different fire station location be selected by the city. We anticipate that the City Council will do something at next Monday evening's meeting - October 12 at 7 pm. There might even be action at a Monday afternoon meeting. We will not be here to alert you to what is afoot. (See paragraph below) We encourage interested citizens to call their City Council representative and ask what is happening. We also encourage interested citizens to attend the Monday evening meeting. The City Council should not rush to a decision on this matter, but should request the Fire Department fully investigate other viable sites and schedule a full public hearing. Three other viable sites are on the table: 14th between McKenzie and Larrabee; the present site; the newly proposed compromise location of a vacated 15th Street and a very few lots of the Barracks property. There is also the suggestion that the best location should be on the South side of Fairhaven Parkway as that is where the growth is located and that is where the majority of responses will directed be within 5 or 10 years. The Council is ready to do a power play and choose the Barracks unless there is strong citizen opposition.
A personal note: NW Citizen will be silent for a few days. My father died yesterday and I am going back to Wisconsin for the funeral and to be with my family. We (the editorial we - actually me, John Servais) are trying to get a trusted fellow political observer to post new info while we are gone. Check back to see if it happens.
Sun, Oct 4
When Governor Locke "brings the State Capitol to Bellingham" on Tuesday, Oct 6, he apparently will not announce Cherry Point plans by the State to take over development of the shoreline. We are reliably told that at least two State agencies - Ecology and one other (Economic Development?) have not yet reached agreement on the plan. We suspect (our speculation) that Ecology wants less development. Whether it happens this week or later, it seems that the State is developing a plan for this shoreline that will take control away from Whatcom County and the Port of Bellingham. We first reported this on Sep. 10. You have not read anything in the Herald on this. It is fun to see if we do scoop the local news media. We'll see if our sources are reliable.
Friday's KGMI Brett and Debbie show gave a fair treatment to the issues surrounding the Barracks and the location for the new South Side fire station. Brett and Debbie helped bring discussion on the three main issues - how the city's buyout of the Barracks is affecting the residents of the 19 apartments there, the question of where is the best location for the new fire station and the secretive city process that led to the Barracks purchase.
We hear that the Peoples Land Trust is evaluating the Barracks and calculating what would be needed to renovate them. We might expect more information about mid October. The City Council meeting for this Monday, Oct 5, is canceled. There is a meeting of the "committee of the whole" in the afternoon, but there is nothing on the agenda dealing with the Fire Station or the Barracks.
Fri, Oct 2
We have added a Time Line of Events
regarding the Barracks purchase - complete with photostats of documents. This is just a beginning. We will add to it as we have time and as we can get copies of relevant documents.
Thur, Oct 1
Friday morning, 8:10 am to 9 am, the Barracks and Fire Station issue will be the topic on KGMI radio's Bret and Debbie show. They will have Barbara Ryan, City Council representative from the South Side, Lisa Moulds, a resident of the Barracks and John Servais a citizen activists who has helped to make this a public issue. Tune in if interested. We'll try to give an objective report of it after. (We'll try to be objective. The report is no problem.)
Wed, Sep 30
KGMI took phone calls this morning on the Barracks issue
. First they manufactured an emotional issue that was unrelated to any of the real issues. We have a quick report.
Tuesday, Sep 29
We have a report and thoughts about the public meeting this evening on the proposed new South Side Fire Station.
Well over 100 people came to Fairhaven Middle School to attend the meeting that the Mayor conducted.
Sunday, Sep 27
We have posted two paragraphs on two related topics
on the South Side Fire Station.
1. The Peoples Land Trust has formed a committee to look into purchase of the Barracks.
2. We substantiate a bit of our prediction for Tuesday's public meeting.
Thursday, Sep 24
The city has its plan all laid out on how to slam dunk the Barracks site for the new Fire Station. Power politics at its best. Our Mayor is going to give those citizen activists a lesson they won't forget.
We reported two weeks ago that Gov. Locke would be in Bellingham on Tuesday, October 6 to announce a new plan for Cherry Point. The Herald is still silent on this issue. We assume they are cooperating with State officials who want a lid on the story. The state will be taking control of what happens at Cherry Point away from local officials. We have spent 30 years in local confusion about what to do out there. Now the Governor will announce that the area is of state wide significance and will unveil how planning will proceed in the future under state guidelines. This is a victory for environmentalists. The shoreline will be protected. Our sources tell us - unconfirmed - that only one more dock will be allowed out there and it will be a multi-purpose dock. We'll report more if we learn more. Ask the Herald to do the same.
Monday, Sep 21
We have a reply and analysis to the Sunday Herald article about the new South Side Fire Station.
We also must here take Sandy O'Donnell to task for her letter to the Every Other Weekly. She says about the folks who rent apartments at the Barracks; "However, they are not homeowners and therefore they do not pay property tax. End of story. The city was under no obligation to inform these renters of anything."
Tilt, Sandy. Their rents pay all the property taxes on the Barracks property. One could argue that the landlord doesn't pay any of the property tax - he merely collects it from the renters and passes it on to the county. If not for property taxes, all renters would have lower rents. They work hard at jobs in our community, pay rent and this pays taxes. How dare you try to make them into second class citizens. It is their money that is used to pay the property taxes.
Sandy, you start your letter off by saying you are tired of their whining. Sandy, they are not asking for any favors. They are asking that the law be followed and that public processes be done in public. Further, they are asking for a chance to purchase - at market value - the apartments that they live in. Their landlord never told them he wanted to sell. He conspired with city officials to keep them in the dark. City officials broke state laws in keeping the process secret. Sandy, the Barracks folks heard the same rumors you heard - and when they asked city officials if the rumors were true, they could not get any answer. That is what is wrong. And the Herald did not report it. That is what is wrong. And that is what we here at NW Citizen are trying to correct. We want the public's business done in public. And all citizens treated fairly and equally.
Sunday, Sep 13
The Herald editorial today criticizes the Bellingham City Council because they "waffle" over their original decisions on Hoag's Pond and the Barracks. We think the Herald is on target overall - the council should hold public hearings on issues, consider the testimony of citizens and take a critical approach to staff presentations - and then vote on the issue and stick with their decision. That is Civics 101 - and that is far removed from reality. In reality, there is a lot of back room maneuvering and discussion that goes into decisions that the public never hears about.
That compliment said, here are several critical observations of the Herald editorial.
1. A big factual error by the Herald. Inexcusable. The Herald editorial: "In the Hoag's Pond matter, public hearings were held. The fact that no one attended to voice opposition isn't the council's fault."
Tilt. Former city councilman Tip Johnson spoke at both public hearings against the Hoag's Pond land trade. So did other citizens. During the Public Hearing on July 14, 1997, Tip's arguments caused the issue to be continued at a December 1 public hearing. He explained exactly what proved later to be the legal problems with the land trade. His arguments even swayed the Director of Planning and the Mayor to urge the council to not pass the land trade ordinance. So "no one attended to voice opposition" is patently false.
2. Herald editorial: "Concerns that buying the apartments would oust residents from affordable housing were certainly known at the meeting. Council members also knew that public hearings hadn't been held on the issue, if they believed more input was needed."
The Herald misses the point entirely. The city council carefully kept the entire Barracks property purchase a secret for 5 months - from March 23 to August 17. They did not want public input. They didn't want anyone to even know they were considering the property. The city files clearly show that the council and city staff conspired to keep the process secret from citizens until the announcement of the purchase. They held secret executive meetings after agreeing to pay the owner $500,000. This is arguably illegal. They can only hold secret meetings to negotiate a better price. They even went so far as to discuss the purchase at their March 23 executive meeting without so noting in the agenda - a violation of the State Open Meetings Act. Public Hearings? They were bent on secrecy. The Herald should criticize them for being hell bent on secrecy.
3. The Herald, in our opinion, is the primary culprit in this saga of divisiveness over council decisions. The Herald does not report what citizens need to know in order to participate in their community decisions. The Herald buries stories - ignores issues - and generally under reports critical issues in our community. No blame to the reporters - they are not allowed the time nor budget by the Herald to properly investigate stories and write them up.
When citizens do learn what is happening - through Tip Johnson's Hoag's Pond referendum or from the Barracks residents getting 800 signatures on a Petition in just a few days - then it is proper for the Council to reconsider. This is a democracy, isn't it. Hello Herald editors. This is a democracy, isn't it? If so, then shouldn't our elected representatives have a decent respect for the opinions of citizens?
4. The council has not yet "waffled" on the Barracks issue, as the Herald accuses them of doing. The Mayor and staff have - as they should. The internal files of the city reveal that the staff expected little or no opposition from Barracks residents. Tilt. Further, there is mounting evidence that there may be a better location for the new fire station. The process was supposed to find the best feasible location for the new South Side fire station - not just the cheapest and easiest location which is all the Barracks is. NW Citizen will continue to present more information on this process.
In closing, we urge the council to do business in public and to embrace public input - even when you are told things you don't want to listen to. We also agree with the Herald that the council needs to take a more critical view of city staff presentations. We would also hope that the Herald would start reporting on local issues that are important to citizens.
Saturday, Sep 12
The August issue of Whatcom Watch Online is posted. The main articles from the August issue are now permanently archived here at NW Citizen for your convenience. Most of the articles in issues going back to January 1998 are now online. This is a collaborative process between Whatcom Watch and NW Citizen. Ken Russell of the Watch does the posting each month.
The September Whatcom Watch is now available a stores throughout Whatcom County. There are some excellent articles on water quality and Lake Whatcom. Ken will post the September articles online when the October issue is published. We encourage you to find and check out the printed version of the Watch - and to support the advertisers. We even have a list of distribution locations where you can pickup the latest issue.
The Whatcom Watch writers and production folks do an outstanding job of in depth coverage of the environmental challenges to Whatcom County. They deserve our support for getting this great newspaper out every month - for 7 years now. Check it out.
Friday, Sep 11
Cherry Point update: (Our unconfirmed rumor/report from yesterday continues.) Gov. Gary Locke will be in Bellingham on Tuesday, October 6 (not Oct 5 as we posted yesterday) to announce the State is taking charge of Cherry Point development. He will further outline the future of Cherry Point. The state considers Cherry Point of statewide significance and so is finally taking control away from local government agencies - the County Council and the Port of Bellingham. The question now is - how much will the Department of Ecology seek to prevent industrial development along the shoreline in that area.
We are reporting this because we hope to prod the professional news media to investigate and report on this important issue to their readers and listeners. KGMI and the Herald have people who visit this site on a casual basis. Hello. If/when you do report this, you might give credit to NWCitizen for the news tip. Or are you going to continue to play ball with Governor Locke and not report it until he gives you permission. :-)
Our recommendation for U. S. Congress: We really like this guy Fran Einterz. If elected, we think he will work hard to represent our 2nd District. We think his thoughtful approach to challenges is just what makes for a good representative. His campaign certainly is dull. He is one of those persons who make great public servants, but have a hard time getting elected. Here is a guy of integrity, intelligence and commitment to our region. This guy has what we want. Whether we are Republican, Democrat or Independent, Fran would do justice to our values as congressman from the 2nd District. We also think he is far better than any of the other three candidates. We urge you to vote for him. Here is a link to Fran's web site. Caution: it is an overloaded home page and is slow to load.
The Barracks: Or the South Side Fire Station issue. The city plans to close on the Barracks property today. This is a dramatic rush over the schedule spoken of only last week. The city has until October 29 to close. Why today? We can only speculate that some city officials have no intention of seriously considering other station sites - as they said they would. Several of us have called officials last evening urging this be delayed long enough for the Peoples Land Trust to get a purchase proposal together and for the other viable locations to be evaluated. This is a waste of taxpayer dollars to buy property that might be resold within weeks. This is irresponsible bureaucrats in action. They seem to only move fast when it is against the common good.
Thursday, Sep 10
A nice little unconfirmed bit of news this morning. We post such - and label them - to help you learn what the mainstream media often sits on. Back in about 1952, the Herald sat on the story about the first oil refinery to locate at Cherry Point - which allowed the real estate firm to buy up all the farms in the area at lower prices. Now, the refinery paid fair market for each farm at the time, but much less than they would have paid if the land owners had known the true market value of their property.
Now we are learning that a deal has been put together whereby development at Cherry Point will be controlled or guided by state officials, rather than by local officials here in Whatcom County. Gov. Gary Locke is scheduled to make an announcement on October 5. Until then, all agencies are to stay mum. Apparently this arrangement to be announced will guarantee the preservation of the environmentally sensitive features of the area - the Herring spawning, the beaches, etc. It will allow development within these parameters. This is supposedly a victory for environmentalists.
We'll post more info if we learn anything more. We'll post corrections if we learn we are wrong. We feel comfortable posting unconfirmed news because our mainstream media needs a little prodding to get them to bring you the news you deserve in a free society. They have the big budgets. There should be no way we can compete with them for news. Let's see how accurate - or inaccurate - this post turns out to be.
Wednesday, Sep 9
Besides the City Council action last evening, the Mayor made an announcement that the city is looking at other locations for the new South Side fire station. The Council, of course, voted to rescind the Hoag's Pond land swap - thus avoiding a vote of Bellingham citizens in the November election to possibly rescind the land trade. The Herald and KGMI each had very one sided and erroneous reporting on the Hoag's Pond vote. Neither gave anything near fair reporting to the citizens - particularly Tip Johnson - who worked to overturn the Hoag's Pond deal.
The Herald continues to report that the street right of way goes through Choat's bedroom - it does not. KGMI reports the council overturned the ordinance based on the latest opinion of their attorneys - wrong. They overturned it because Gene Knutson decided he did not want the issue to go to the November ballot and he joined the three council person minority who originally opposed the land swap to overturn the ordinance. The lawyers tried hard to figure a way for the land swap to work. They couldn't. If this had gone to the election, we opponents of the land swap would have exposed further wrongdoing by the city on this issue - and the council knew we would.
The first paragraph of the Herald story is most amusing - and telling. John Harris reports that citizens cannot "... cross Jack Choat's property to get to the water without his permission." We completely agree. We have never suggested otherwise. However, the road up the Broad Street right of way is not on Choat's property - and we can go up it to get to the pond. Also - the right of way does not go through his bedroom - an error the Herald loves to repeat. The road up the right of way does not go close to his house. The right of way itself nicks about 3 feet of his garage. Last winter we suggested to Choat that a 10 foot vacation of one side of Broad Street would solve that problem. Choat was not interested. The council also was not interested. They wanted to do a sweetheart deal with this high ranking city administrator. They wanted to help him perhaps double the value of his property by vacating key rights of way for him. The corrupt deal failed. The citizens - thanks to Tip Johnson - learned what was afoot and eagerly signed the referendum.
The council also voted to approve the Western Washington Neighborhood plan. That was expected. More on this in later posts.
The Mayor made it official that the city is looking at other locations for the new fire station. He said 9 locations. We know of only one - right behind the Red Apple Market - between 13th, 14th, Larrabee and McKenzie streets. The front door would be on 14th. We can say flatly that this is the best location for the fire station on the South Side. That fact - and not which site is cheapest or easiest to buy - should be the guiding principle of where to put the station. We will continue to post more on this issue.
Saturday, Sep 5
Good news. According to reliable sources on the city staff, the city is seriously looking at locating the new South Side Fire Station in the block bounded by Larrabee, 13th, McKenzie and 14th streets (a 14th Street location) - instead of at the Barracks property. This location was suggested at the Public Meeting on August 27 with the Mayor, Fire Chief and two council representatives. They acknowledged that the 14th Street location had not been considered during the past three year search and that if available, it would be a viable place for the Fire Station - and would thus not displace 19 low income apartments at the Barracks site.
The Fire Chief has told us that "The Present Fire Station on Harris is at the very best location on the South Side and the suggested location - in the adjoining block - is just as good".
Indeed, the 14th Street location provides much faster access to Fairhaven Parkway than does the Barracks location. The Barracks location would add time to responses involving Fairhaven Parkway, Edgemore and Chuckanut areas over both the present location and the suggested 14th Street location. We as a city should be looking for the best location for our new fire station - not just the cheapest and easiest. The Barracks was the cheapest and easiest, but not the best. Over the 20 or 50 or 70 years that the new station will be serving us, we will save lives and property damage far exceeding the short term savings acquired by locating the station in a less than best location.
We at NW Citizen have talked with the owners of all the properties in that 14th Street location and enough are willing to discuss selling to the city to provide more than enough space for the new fire station. The one exception is the Lucia Douglas art gallery - a treasure that most folks on the South Side want to see stay and flourish. The Fire Chief also thinks the fire station can coexist in that block with the gallery.
The city council has to give its normal behind closed doors approval to the Fire Department for doing soil samples and other tests at the 14th Street location. However, we are told that the Fire Department Project Manager will probably start talking to the property owners next week.
We have also learned that the Herald stopped covering this issue after August 18 because the editors figured the Barracks location was a done deal. Guess the thinking was that there would be a little noise from those ex hippies in Fairhaven and then the place would be bulldozed and our city would be rid of another pocket of radicals. My my.
Friday, Sep 4
Relocation for the residents of the Barracks is apparently on hold. The relocation agents left their office last week after the Public Meeting on Thursday evening, and have not returned. Residents are upset because city officials will not give them a straight answer - are they guaranteed relocation or not. In phone calls to city council representatives, NWCitizen has not been able to get a straight answer from any representative we have talked to. They also do not know if the relocation benefits might be taken away.
The city moved relocation agents into the Barracks on August 18 and immediately told all residents they would face forced eviction and offered them relocation assistance. Residents were asked to sign papers related to relocation benefits. Now the uncertainty. This makes it almost impossible for residents to make personal plans, not knowing if they will be evicted in October or allowed to continue living there.
Charades: A note of explanation. We have documentary evidence for all we published yesterday - including the motivations of public officials. We'll post copies here soon. We wonder if this special treatment for the seller is related to the reported city negotiations to buy his waterfront property just south of Boulevard Park - part of a Greenways purchase. After all, they want him to feel good about dealing with the city. Since they paid him almost twice the assessed value for the Barracks property - and kept the process secret from the public - he should have high hopes for the windfall from the old Reid Boiler Works at the foot of Douglas Street.
Thursday, Sep 3
We have something new regarding the Happy Valley Fire Station controversy. Just a short report this morning. (Have to get to work) It appears from our research that the city signed an agreement on June 23 with the owner of the Barracks property, to purchase the property for $500,000. This was the final selling price. The agreement was signed by the owner and the city representative. Yet, the city council had executive meetings in July and August to supposedly negotiate for the purchase of the property. Since the negotiations were finished, these secret meetings appear to have been in violation of the state open meetings law. This secrecy was a charade. We welcome any explanation from city officials - and will print their explanations. Our email address is: email@example.com
From what we have been able to learn, the process was kept secret in July and August solely to prevent the residents of the Barracks from learning of the sale. It also appears that the owner wanted a letter from the city telling him that the city would take his property by eminent domain if he didn't sell. This letter was sent to him on July 24 - a month after the purchase agreement - so the owner could get a Federal IRS tax benefit. The letter was a charade.
It was on Monday, August 17, that the city council announced that the city was purchasing the property. Two months after an agreement had been reached. Indeed, when Barracks residents became suspicious in July and tried to find out from the city what was happening, their questions went unanswered. On August 18 - 9 am - the relocation agents moved their office into a vacant Barracks apartment and started asking renters to sign relocation papers. Of course, trauma was common among the 20 residents of the apartments. How would you feel in a similar situation?
It might be suggested that final negotiations required a confidential process. Our research shows that there were only two real items requested by the seller: 1) that the transaction be kept secret from the public; 2) that he get the letter saying his property would be subject to eminent domain (The $500,000 is what the owner said he wanted - he had what he wanted in a price).
Who is responsible for this charade? The mayor. And the city council for going along with it. Not one council member had the courage to say: "No, this is not right. We have agreed on a price. We should go public with this process". We do not fault nor criticize the seller. He had the right to request terms. However, the city does not have the right to violate the law and deceive its citizens. We will continue to post more information about this process as we learn more. Where is the Herald?
Tuesday, Sep 1
We want to repeat a little item from over two weeks ago. The Herald has still not run this story, although they certainly had earlier stories on the proposed move.
Sunday, August 16 - (Now Sep 1, and still nada in the Herald on this)
The Hillcrest Chapel in Happy Valley will stay where it is and not build a new chapel across Interstate 5 up by Lake Padden. The new building site has been controversial for a couple years because of feared environmental damage. NWCitizen has learned that the Church leaders have decided to stay with the Happy Valley neighborhood site and try to work with the neighborhood and city to meet the church's expanding needs.
Sunday, Aug 30
We need to clarify something for you, our readers. NWCitizen does not speak for the residents of the Barracks. The "we" is the editorial we of John Servais, the publisher of NWCitizen. We were reminded of this by several residents of the Barracks who do not agree with some of the opinions posted in previous days here on NWCitizen. The opinions here, whether related to the Barracks, Hoag's Pond, WWU or any other issue, are my personal opinions - except where another person puts their name. Seems some folks thought stuff posted here was speaking for the Barracks residents. Not so. We apologize for any misunderstanding.
What NWCitizen is trying to do is present information and perspective that is lacking from the Bellingham Herald and KGMI radio news. We want to compliment the efforts of the Whatcom Watch and the Every Other Weekly. As a political activist, I have seen the Herald ignore legitimate community stories - and distort other news stories. If the Herald had some competition, it would probably do a better job. We don't kid ourselves that we are offering that competition. But we are trying to provide another source of political information to those who choose to visit our web site. We will strive for a fair and non partisan viewpoint. And we stand for a public and open process. We will keep our day job and post information here as best we can.
NW Citizen is open to articles or opinions from others - when they are directed to helping our fellow citizens understand some public issue. Public Good is certainly an example of that. We encourage people to send their opinions to us for publication. We hope Barracks residents will submit theirs.
The Internet allows an ordinary citizen to reach out to others and share information. We expect more sites like this to spring up over the next year. We will make links to the good ones. We should free ourselves from depending on the Herald for our news - the Herald is just publishing enough news to sell advertising and return an 8% profit to Gannett. We at NW Citizen are trying to do what we can to inform our fellow citizens. And to help open up issues that are being kept secret.
Friday, Aug 28
Some good news to report this morning regarding the Happy Valley Fire Station. At last night's public meeting, the Mayor repeatedly emphasized that the City was "not determined to take out the Barracks" for the new fire station. The city would build at the Barracks site only if "unsuccessful in finding another site that meets criteria". Much of the meeting, attended by about 25 citizens, then consisted in open discussion about other possible sites.
In other words, the city has not gone through a fire station selection process. At this time the city is only committed to buying the Barracks block. It legally has made no decision on what to do with it. Shades of the Levin Building - where city plans fell through and the city later sold the building to private interests.
One possible fire station site suggested by citizens that city officials said they would look at more closely is the city block bounded by McKenzie, 13th, Larrabee and 14th - the block adjacent and to the south of where the fire station presently is located. This site had not been seriously looked at for various reasons, including that it has multiple owners and the city was looking for a location where they would only have to negotiate with one owner. NWCitizen will post more info over the next few weeks about this location.
If another location is selected, then the city would try to sell the Barracks block to something like a Land Trust which would allow the present residents to continue living there and participate in ownership, according to the Mayor. This was exactly what the citizens and Barracks residents wanted to hear.
This first ever public meeting and discussion between city officials and Happy Valley residents was a pleasant process. Fire Chief Jay Gunsauls was also there and explained the criteria that needed to be met for a new fire station. Citizens had good suggestions and clearly showed that city officials could have avoided public outrage over the fire station relocation process had they been more public with the process over the past few months.
We were impressed that 25 or more citizens showed up on such a perfect August evening. We fault no one for not attending. We Bhamsters want to enjoy our short summers and use the rainy months to make decisions.
Hopefully, the fast track relocation process going on at the Barracks will now be put on hold until an actual fire station location is selected. There is now no pressing reason to vacate the Barracks. We encourage city officials to put the process on ice. Let us actually select a fire station location first. Fiscal conservatives should speak out and ask city officials to not waste $100,000 or more relocating Barracks residents at this time.
Let us all take a deep community breath and check out other possible fire station locations - in an open public manner. Lets find the best location for a new fire station - from the point of view of what is best for the city - not just what appears to be the easiest and cheapest location.
Thursday, Aug 27
The September Primary election is only a little over 2 weeks away - Tuesday, Sep. 15. We will endeavor to start building links to online information about candidates and issues. The official state Voters Guide
is now online. We are told that for the primary election, it is only online and not available as a printed pamphlet. We know that state Senate candidate Ward Nelson
has his site up now. We don't know about Tom Brown's plans, but will find out for you. Georgia Gardner has staff working on hers. This State Senate seat will be hotly contested and is important in determining how the legislature will act over the next two years and how Whatcom County will be represented.
Wednesday, Aug 26
Re Hoag's Pond: We at NW Citizen want to compliment our Mayor Mark Asmundson for vetoing the Hoag's Pond land trade ordinance last December. That took courage. We also want to thank the three council members who voted against the land trade back then - Barbara Ryan, Leslie Richardson and Louise Bjornson. When the mayor's veto was overridden by a 4 to 3 vote, the citizens had no trouble getting almost double the required number of signatures on a referendum petition to overturn the ordinance. This deal was never supposed to see public debate.
It is thanks to former council representative Tip Johnson, who smoked out this deal and spoke to the council and planning staff, that we ever found out anything. Indeed, Tip's explanation of the deal is what convinced the city Planning Director and Mayor to reverse their support for the trade and to oppose it. It takes courage to admit a mistake and more courage to take action to undo a mistake. Let credit be given where credit is due.
A reminder. There is a public meeting on Thursday for city officials to answer questions about the Barracks buyout and plans for the new Happy Valley Fire Station. 7 pm at the Fairhaven Middle School.
Finally today, a note about using NW Citizen. You may print out portions of NW Citizen, make copies, pass out copies to friends and neighbors or fax copies to others. We welcome the circulation by citizens of articles posted here. This is non commercial use of NW Citizen and is permitted - even encouraged. We request that your copies show the copyright notice. That is why it is posted at the top and bottom of each page. Folks have been asking us about this and we are delighted that our articles are circulating. Thank you.
Tuesday, Aug 25
The Bellingham City Council had to deal with three hot potatoes last evening. Hot primarily because the council and city have operated without legal public process on all three issues.
Happy Valley Fire Station: Concerned about the Happy Valley Fire Station controversy? Wondering that if there is smoke there might be fire? -:) (sorry) Then attend the public meeting this Thursday evening at Fairhaven Middle School at 7 pm. That is three days from now - Aug 27. The city staff and some elected officials - the Mayor? - will be there to answer questions. This will be the first time they have offered to answer our questions. We will see how forthright they are ready to be. Spread the word to your neighbors and friends. The city has only announced this meeting officially at the council meeting last night. We encourage our friends from other city neighborhoods to also attend this meeting because the prime issue here is the question public versus secrete process for city decisions that affect any neighborhood. You can read more at: Happy Valley Fire Station
Hoag's Pond: This morning's Herald has a story on the Hoag's Pond issue. As they did last winter, they continue to print the touching but false statement that the Broad Street right-of-way runs through the owner's bedroom. It would be nice if the Herald would check facts. It would be nice if the Herald would interview persons on both sides of an issue for their articles. This writer had a tour of the property courtesy of the owner last winter and saw first hand how the right of way does not go through his bedroom.
The right of way comes no closer to his house than do many city rights of way to many of our houses throughout the city of Bellingham. Indeed, city rights of way - alleys - comes within 5 feet of many peoples' homes throughout the city. Mr. Choat lives in the city and has no traffic ever going within 30 feet of his house. Further, the right of way is a dead end that never has any traffic. Further, he has an illegal sign saying "Private Drive" that deters folks from even walking up this public right of way. Keep in mind that Mr. Choat is a high ranking administrator in the City Public Works Department dealing with traffic issues. If any normal citizen tried to post such an illegal sign near their home, the city would immediately enforce the sign removal. In Mr. Choat's case, the sign has been there for years with nary a word from City Hall. The sign try's to deny the public from legal access to Hoag's Pond.
We have no desire to whip these issues back into public debate if the owner and council want to quietly rescind a mistake. Gene Knutson, city council member who voted for the original ordinance, last night introduced the motion to take a rescind vote at the Sep 8 meeting. He said he feared a divisive and nasty political campaign if the issue were put on the November ballot. We at NWCitizen agree. However, we will do our best to correct misinformation and present the issues again if others insist on starting the argument again. You can read what we posted last winter at: Hoag's Pond
WWU Plan: The council heard some excellent suggestions from citizens last evening for changes to the plan. Some questions were also posed by citizens. Of course, as has been the process for almost two years now, the questions were not answered by the Western representative to the meeting. Nor did the Western representative, Vice President of WWU George Pierce, make any comment at all nor try to answer any questions. So many questions have been raised by the public over two years that have not been answered that this process has become a classic charade. Council representative Gene Knutson wondered why the work sessions held during afternoons over this summer were not better attended. Hmmm - I guess Mr. Knutson's employer allows him time off to attend these meetings.
So - the council has the public record open for written comment and suggestions till noon on September 4, a Friday. The council will hold what will probably be a last afternoon work session on Tuesday, September 8 and then vote the plan into law that evening. Or at least take the first two of the mandatory three votes that evening. You can read more on this at: WWU Planning
Monday, Aug 24
Hoag's Pond news. The city council this evening decided to vote at the next council meeting on Tuesday, September 8, to rescind their ordinance of last December to vacate streets and trade property with city employee Jack Choate. If the council does vote to rescind the ordinance then there will be no need to place the issue on the November ballot as the Referendum requires. If the council votes to rescind the ordinance, then there will be no street vacation nor land trade. If the council votes to rescind then this is a success for the citizens of Bellingham who signed the referendum petition last January. Then Greenways will have a chance to purchase the property.
We have several little items on what is happening at the Barracks in Happy Valley. Your city tax dollars are now paying for picnics for the residents in an effort to break down their will to resist.
A new multi story office building is planned for the corner of 12th and Harris -where the RR cars and old Texaco station presently are in Fairhaven. The Herald has a story this morning. Joel Douglas, the property owner, is a long time South Side developer. This appears to be a fine project that will fit into the Fairhaven commercial district very nicely. We look forward to seeing the plans - and we hope the process will be public - both by Joel and by the city.
Friday, Aug 21
We compliment Paul Roley for writing in the Herald today against the removing the Barracks residents from their homes.
Note on Aug 24: We have been roundly criticized by several of our liberal friends for giving Paul Roley any compliment. It has been suggested that NW Citizen will loose credibility. Hmmm. Well - we thought Paul was right on the money with his column and we have no regrets.
Monday, August 17 thru Thursday, Aug 20
The articles from these days are now in their own section of Happy Valley
. They all dealt with the the controversial city buyout of the Barracks and the location of the new Fire Station.
Sunday, August 16 - (Now Aug 24 and still nada in the Herald on this)
The Hillcrest Chapel in Happy Valley will stay where it is and not build a new chapel across Interstate 5 up by Lake Padden. The new building site has been controversial for a couple years because of feared environmental damage. NWCitizen has learned that the Church leaders have decided to stay with the Happy Valley neighborhood site and try to work with the neighborhood and city to meet the church's expanding needs.
Tuesday, Feb 24
The Hoag's Pond referendum has been qualified. County Auditor, Shirley Forslof, certified 1,391 signatures and sent her letter of qualification to City Hall yesterday. Nothing in today's Bellingham Herald. It is now up to the Bellingham City Council to schedule the vote of the citizens.
Monday evening, an overflow crowd attended the City Council Public Hearing on the proposed WWU Neighborhood Plan. We have a full report of the hearing. The Herald story this morning completely missed this story also. Instead it wrote about how students are upset over the planned phase out of Vendor's Row on the Viking Union Plaza. The neighborhood plan was hardly mentioned. We must say that Council President Bob Ryan deserves credit for conducting a very well managed public hearing. All got a chance to speak with long presentations reserved for the March 23 continuation of the hearing.
We begin a new section today - Salmon
. The Washington State Fish and Wildlife Commission are supposedly protecting the salmon - but are actually screwing it all up. What is disturbing is Governor Locke seems perplexed and afraid to correct this situation. The disgraceful removable and insulting of Jolene Unsoeld last week is only the latest outrage. To start things off, we have three letters from knowledgeable fishers
. They are good.
Tomorrow, the county auditor's office will begin counting and certifying the signatures on the Hoag's Pond petitions. We will post the results as soon as they are available. After certification, the petition will go to the Bellingham city council for condideration. We have a new aerial photo "map" of Hoag's Pond showing the streets to be vacated and land swaps.
For basic research on proposed laws pending in the state legislature in Olympia, Paul de Armond has compiled a Sponsor List. It shows bills sponsored soley by our 6 representatives - Harriet Spanel, Ann Anderson, Kelli Linville, Georgia Gardner, Dave Quall and Jeff Morris. There are links to more information at the Legislative web sites.
Finally, we have our first link to a candidate running for office in next September's primary election. Fran Einterz is running for the US Congress as our 2nd congressional district representative. He will go against Grethe Cammemeyer in the primary on September 15, with the winner against Rep. Jack Metcalf on November 3 in the general election.
We are pleased to announce Whatcom WatchOnline Selected articles from each issue will be posted on NW Citizen each month. Articles will be selected for their long term importance so they can continue to be accessable to you, the citizens of Whatcom County. Plus, we will carry the table of contents of each issue - allowing you to watch for articles of interest to you.
Started in May, 1992, the Watch has focused on environmental issues that affect our county. Most articles are original reports by local volunteer citizens. The quality or research is excellent and you can rely on what the Whatcom Watch prints.
We start with three articles from the January issue. The table of contents for the February issue will be posted in a couple days. And we will soon post a list of locations where the Watch is available to you. This will be a neat collaboration between NW Citizen and Whatcom Watch. Check it out.
Yesterday, at 3 pm, Tip Johnson turned in petitions containing 2,674 signatures, well above the 1,487 needed to require a referendum on the city ordinance. The names will now be checked and certified by the County Auditor. Many concerned citizens spent their free time during 15 days soliciting their fellow citizens to sign the petition. One neat thing is 26 of the petitions were ones downloaded from NW Citizen. We will post more information as we can write it up.
We have also posted a nice winter aerial photograph of Hoag's Pond, taken by Jack Kintner. It is 60K in size.
The petition drive is over the top - target of 2,000 signatures collected. About 1,500 verified signatures of Bellingham voters are needed to place the Hoag's Pond city ordinance up for a referendum of city voters. Tonight, Tip reports he has over 2,200 signatures and more are coming in. He will turn in the petitions to Lynn Carpenter, Finance Director of the City of Bellingham, Thursday afternoon about 3 pm.
If you have a petition, please deliver it to Harris Music, 1138 N. State Street, before 1 pm tomorrow, Thursday, January 22. Even if your petition has only one signature on it, turn it in. It counts. Tis late at night, so no more story tonight. We will post more tomorrow evening.
Tip Johnson, organizer of the referendum petition drive, provides a concise overview of the issues.
With only 3 days left till the deadline for submitting the signatures to the Finance Director at City Hall, Tip urges citizens to sign and return petitions to him by Tuesday. We have a printable petition
on line for you.
Paul de Armond writes a full report on the Petition Drive meeting at the Fairhaven Library last Saturday. It includes new information on this complex but stupid inside city hall deal. The Petition drive continues. Less than a week remains for gathering signatures.
There is another Petition Drive meeting this Saturday, January 17, at 10 am at the Fairhaven Library. If you can attend, we need your help in getting enough signatures to get a referendum vote on this issue. Signatures must be turned in on Thursday, January 22.
The Hoag's Pond petition drive for a referendum is in full operation. We have posted several new documents.
- A new flyer that explains why people should sign the petition. You can print this.
- The petition. This is printable by you. There is room for 15 signatures.
- Chronology of events. Background information on how we got to this mess.
Or, go to the Hoag's Pond Index for these and more new items.
There is a Petition Drive Meeting
for the Hoag's Pond referendum. Saturday at 10 am at the Fairhaven Library. Tip Johnson will provide information and a NEW
flyer explaining why people should sign the petition. We need more volunteers to help us get signatures asking for a referendum on this
January 4, 1998
A petition to overturn the Bellingham City ordinance that gave away public access to and around Hoag's Pond is now posted. We need 2,000 signatures by January 20. Download the petition and get cracking. This ordinance, vetoed by the mayor but passed over the veto by the council, is a corrupt inside city hall sweetheart job. All citizens, liberal and conservative, should be outraged by this ordinance giving our public land to a long time high ranking city beaurocrat.
What was New in 1997
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Bellingham City Council has passed a corrupt land swap with a city administrator that blocks public access to a public pond. Hoag's Pond, next to the Interurban Trail on the south side, is now off limits and fully controlled by Jack Choat, a high ranking city administrator.
Tip Johnson is planning a referendum to overturn the council's action.
We're back. In time to post some election information. For starters, we highly recommend Barry Bowen's Civic Access site. Barry has put excellent questions to all county and Bellingham council candidates and has posted their answers for your careful examination. There is also a page of links regarding the initiatives we will be voting on.
We also want to give you a link to Paul de Armond's well documented posts on the Western Washington University expansion hearings before the Bellingham Planning Commission.
We are back to stay.
On June 17, Washington State citizens vote on the Seahawks statium - referendum 48. Here are some web sites that present various perspectives on the issue.
Paul Allen's official 'Yes' vote
The official 'No' vote
Another 'No' vote
site - focuses on corporate welfare.
The online "Voters Pamphlet"
put out by Ralph Munro, our progressive Secretary of State. This has the full text of the bill.
The verdict is in. The Newstand has been awarded $1.3 million
dollars by a Federal jury in its lawsuit against Whatcom County. This is a win for the good guys. County Prosecutor Dave McEachran has been dealt a strong second defeat. He lost his original case against the Newstand for selling pornography in 1996. Now the taxpayers of the county will have to pay the bill for his poor judgement. Let us hope he does not decide to waste more of our tax dollars by appealing the judgement. The Newstand is a popular magazine and newspaper store in downtown Bellingham.
Crisis in the Making, a report from Paul de Armond, alerts us to a strange law being voted on in our Washington State Legislature. The Balance of Powers Restoration Act, House Bill 2060, passed out of the House Law and Justice Committee by a vote of 7-1. It now goes to a floor vote in the house. What is proposed is nothing less than stripping citizens of their right to seek legal redress for unconstitutional actions by the legislature.
This proposed law would grant the Washington State Legislature the right to nullify Washington State Appeals and Supreme Court decisions. This bill is an intentional provocation of a constitutional crisis. In this one statement, the intent of the legislature to place itself beyond the law and the U.S. Constitution is made chillingly clear.
Western Washington University plans to expand deeply into Happy Valley and to turn 21st Street into their new "formal processional" entrance. Citizens of Happy Valley have been left out of the planning process even though Western plans to buy up 13 of our city blocks. Western finally made the plan public in January after NW Citizen published the WWU plan on the web on December 4.
On Friday, March 14, at 7 pm, we will have an "Informational Meeting" at the Fairhaven Library. We invite all the residents of Happy Valley to attend. We will be posting more information here at NW Citizen during this week. Keep a watch.
Down on Whidby Island, some fine folks have started up a web news site named REALNews. We think they're going to be a great site. Good, experienced people are behind this. We invite our readers to check em out. We plan links to stories that are of special interst to us in Whatcom County.
Feb 17, 1997
Something New on Public Good Paul de Armond's Militia watch site has been reorganized for easier research.
What was New in 1996
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Dec 31, 1996
Economic Notes on Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan. The flawed economic assumptions and methods of Whatcom County's Comprehensive Plan are explained in an article by Richard Frye. This article first appeared in the December issue of Whatcom Watch. Richard has posted it to his web site and our link takes you there. Richard has a Ph.D in economics and has lived in Whatcom County for many years. His article makes sense.
Concerned about how the Bellingham Herald operates and why the news coverage is so terrible? Then you want to read Gregg Heffron's review of the new book "The Chain Gang". The book is about how the Gannett Corporation - owner of the Herald - operates and illegally kills the competition so it can deliver an inferior newspaper to any of the 80 some cities where it is now the only daily.
Dawson and the Lummi Indians An overview of the controversies between Marlene Dawson, County Council woman, and the Lummin Indian Nation. The recall drive against Marlene is over - a judge threw out the petition earlier this month. However, we think this article by Gene Metrick can help prepare you for the next events in this unfolding saga.
Another scoop by NW Citizen, we bring you the closely kept secret WWU Campus Master Plan. Officials at Western Washington University didn't want us to have a copy of the Draft plan. Yet, after 6 years of work, it was presented to the WWU Board of Trustees on Friday, December 6, for their review and approval. We think the public also has a right to see it - before it is cast in concrete.
The on-campus plans are OK. However, Western has expansion plans to buy up over 13 city blocks of Happy Valley and make 21st Street into the new "processional" entrance (replacing Bill McDonald Parkway). And that, we think, is a good way to waste about $20 million taxpayer dollars - and waste a neighborhood too.
Talk Radio Explained
is a well written article by Kelly O'Neill. Written before Jeff Kent was suddenly let go by KGMI, Kelly does a good job of explaining why talk radio doesn't provide informative discussions.
Nov 2, the Saturday before the election
Paul deArmond has posted a Q & A type article on the Skip Richards Militia connections controversy
. If, after reading his piece, you have further questions, we invite you to write us
. We will try to answer questions at the end of each day.
Oct 29, 1996
Skip Richards is solidly linked to the Militias
in a new article exclusive on NW Citizen. Skip has hosted meetings where he introduced militia organizers as speakers. Add this to the articles below on Oct 28 and you have a very convincing case against Richards' press release
of Oct 25 where he claims "I have never met any of those persons who have been associated with militia activity in Whatcom County -- or elsewhere."
Skip Richards, candidate for State Senator
(40th district), is denying any connection with the militias and has sent out a press release demanding the Bellingham Herald correct statements printed on Oct 24 that suggested he might be connected with militias. Since Skip is pushing this subject, we invite you to check out A Not So Distant Mirror
, where Skip was master of ceremonies at a meeting with militia speakers at the Laural Grange on October 22, 94. We also have some heavy reading (and long - 259k) which documents Skip Richards involvement with militias and the Wise Use Movement in a report by Paul deArmond titled "Wise Use Movement In Northern Puget Sound".
Do a search for "Richards" if you haven't the hours to read this tome. You know, it's fun to defend the Herald for once.
The Real Densities of Bellingham Neighborhoods
A simple check with Bellingham Planning Department provides the numbers. Contrary to the Herald's big story on Sunday, Oct 20th, it turns out the Chuckanut Ridge development is not so spacious compared with typical Bellingham neighborhoods. We urge the Herald to be more careful in the future.
Oct 20, Sunday
Herald Distorts Facts In Favor Of Developer
The Bellingham Herald distorts the home density figures in their special section on growth today. They show the Chuckanut Ridge Development with half the density it will have. And the Herald falsely reports density for other sections of the city - Happy Valley, Birchwood, South Hill - as over twice their actual densities.
Oct 6, Sunday, 1996
, one of our County representatives, goes beyond the pale with her falsehoods and racist attacks on our Lummi Indian friends in her article in today's Bellingham Herald. In our weekly opinion piece
, we speak strongly against her and urge other decent citizens to speak out now against her.
Jeff is Back on KGMI - Sorta.
Jeff Kent now properly represents the local Republican Party in debates on Friday mornings on KGMI radio.
Sep 18 - The day after the Primary Election
Updated for the November 5th general election. Plus a link to the Official Voter Pamphlet Online as put out by the Secretary of State.
Clinton and Welfare Reform
Did Clinton cave in to Republicans by signing the Welfare Reform bill? Or was the bill he signed, after vetoing two earlier bills, closer to what he had pushed for? Barry Bowen has constructed a table of facts. We welcome appropriate comments - and will post them with the table.
Voodoo Economics Revisited
Barry Bowen writes an opinion piece about the Dole/Kemp promise to bring back supply side economic policies if they are elected. Barry backs up his opinion with some facts about how this did not work during the Reagan years.
The rise of the militias in Whatcom County has been a long process. To Sooth Their Fears
, a report by Public Good, examines the Citizens for Liberty meeting at which John Pitner and others asked Whatcom County Sheriff Dale Brandland for his position on their activities.
July 29, 1996
Militia Bust On Saturday, July 27, eight men associated with the militia movement were arrested while attending a class on bomb making in Bellingham. We are working on a report that will be posted here later. We have added a chronology of Militia and CLUE Activities in Whatcom and Snohomish Counties. This will give you an overview of the past two years.
What was New in 1995
September 19, 1995
We have posted official election results for Whatcom County for the September 19 Primary.
This was the beginning of Northwest Citizen.
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