How the Party Treats Jeb and Hillary Tells You Everything

Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 9:39 am   //   Riley Sweeney

I try to shy away from national politics but with the presidential campaigns beginning to heat up, I wanted to share these thoughts about Hillary Clinton and Jeb…
Editor's Blog

Cliff Mass on the Coal Terminal

Fri, Feb 27, 2015, 1:24 am

Renowned weather forecaster and blog writer Cliff Mass of the University of Washington has weighed in on our proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point.  In a Thursday post, he looks at what will happen with our frequest high winds at Cherry Point.  He takes a common weather feature of our Whatcom County and finds the obvious result - a lot of blowing coal dust.  Coal dust that will worsen our air quality.  

Years ago, I lived less than two miles down wind of what was then the largest coal loading terminal in the world.  Lamberts Point in Norfolk, Virginia.  Everyone in Norfolk accumulated coal dust everywhere in their homes.  After a week or so, you could wipe your index finger along a window sill and it would have a black line of coal powder.  It got inside homes.  It got everywhere.  And it was just a fact of life there.  But it is not yet a fact of life here in Whatcom County.

Check out Cliff's informative post.  It tells us what will happen to our community in a few years.  Right wing political denials and rants against liberals will not change the wind and the spread of coal powder.  It will coat conservative window sills, tables and dishes as well as liberal ones.  

- John Servais


Oil Train Derails - 14 Cars On Fire

Mon, Feb 16, 2015, 2:46 pm

Along a river in the center of West Virginia, a 100 car oil train derailed this noon.  The tracks wind along the river's edge, sort of the way our local RR tracks wind along Chuckanut Drive.  As of this afternoon, 14 cars are burning, one is in the river and one car smashed into a house and is burning.  Two nearby communities have been evacuated.  Reuters has a good report and Time has some good photos - and you can find more if you look. 

The danger to our area is very real.  The RR tracks do more twisting and turning along Chuckanut than anywhere else along the oil train route going to Cherry Point. 

- John Servais


Land of the Free?

Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 7:07 pm

We (US), the "Land of the Free", formerly admired for government 'of, by and for the people' isn't doing so well in the global rankings. Our "Fourth Estate", that all-important 'check and balance' of free societies, has earned a very poor grade for 2014. Ranking 26th overall, we lost 14 points - an extreme margin of change that puts us in league only with Kenya, Kuwait, Zambia, Greece, Guinea, Paraguay, Central African, Mali, Guatemala and Chad.

We just celebrated Riley Sweeney for his work for our local "Fifth Estate".  During the event, many spoke to the necessity that citizens must do more of what media companies used to do.  Now we have proof.  The 'people's friend and tyrant's foe' seems to be slipping into a dangerous slumber. 

Citizens would be well advised to start waking up, in case our media outlets don't.  Some slopes are just way too slippery.

Tip Johnson


Democracy - Treasure It

Sat, Jan 31, 2015, 5:02 pm

The story behind this photograph is in Time magazine.  

My thought is that if someone here were shot dead by the police at a peaceful demonstration, even fewer people would exercise their right of free speech.  

I know so many people who are afraid to speak out on local issues because it might hurt their career, or their social standing or their earning potential.  Or their neighbors might shun them.  Or they might not be invited to parties. Their boss may not believe the same as they do. 

Many of us just want to live in Bellingham but not get involved.  We love the outdoors and the cocooning.  It is uncomfortable to speak out and so we often do not.  

Shaimaa al-Sabbagh did not want to die.  We can be sure of that.  But she was shot by the Cairo police or military - does it matter? - and it seems they were not even targeting her.  Just a shot at the peaceful protestors.  From a police shotgun with bird shot.  Read the story.  

 - John Servais


Citizen Journalism Panel Followup

Sat, Jan 17, 2015, 7:21 pm

Today four of us sat on a panel for discussion of about citizen journalism.  Myself, Wendy Harris, Tip Johnson and Ellen Murphy.  During a discussion of new stories in 2014, it was requested that perhaps links to several articles could be posted.  And so here we have them.

These are relevant to the bogus libel threat by Craig Cole a year ago towards the Whatcom Watch.  

Craig Cole's first letter to the Whatcom Watch. Note the date says Nov 5, 2014, but this letter is from last February, 2014.  

Cole's second letter to the Whatcom Watch.  This is correctly dated Feb 9, 2014.

The two NWCitizen articles that broke this news. 

Craig Cole Threatens Libel Suit

Whatcom Watch Editor Resigns

The article providing citizens with a look at some of the documents.

Relevant Documents To Libel Threat

Elem Murphy's perspective on the issue.  

Feint Calumny Solidarity

This issue of Cole throwing the Whatcom Watch community off balance with his heavy handed libel threat still has reverberations.  The original article never mentioned his name.  

The panel discussion was part of the Martin Luther King rememberance day at Whatcom Community College.  I was honored to be part of it.  We thank Nicole Brown of WWU for producing it.  And we hope it was worth the time of those attending.

 - John Servais


Craig Cole: “Boy, do I owe you!”

Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 1:07 am

Over at Coal Stop, Sandy Robson has posted a well researched article, Consider the $ource, showing just how fake the letters from local mayors and politicians often are.  Craig Cole and his coal port clients do the writing and the locals simply put their good names on them. Thus, it was not mayor Gary Jensen who wrote the article in the Bellingham Herald in December 2012 - it was Cole or one of his partners in the coal industry.  It was not Lynden mayor Scott Korthuis who wrote the letter in reply to a student's questions, but Craig Cole.  Scott just put his name on it and passed it on as his own writing.

Sandy, through careful citing of emails via public disclosure requests, paints a clear picture of Cole playing the tune and local mayors dancing to it. This picture is vital for our community to assess what is real opinion and what is paid propaganda.  

One point that should jump out to us is how The Bellingham Herald apparently prints "articles" that are professional PR pieces. Thus, a public relations consultant can be paid well to write a letter that a mayor will submit and it will garner quality space on the newspaper's editorial page.  The Herald, the mayor, and the coal company PR folks intend for readers to think the local leader is providing his wisdom and guidance for citizens.  In fact, the mayor is just lending his name to a large corporation's PR efforts.  The local paper is easily duped.  We are not reading news or local expert opinion. We are reading corporate press releases.

There are several examples of Craig Cole orchestrating local leaders, and even his feeling of indebteness to them.  After mayor Jensen agreed to a radio interview promoting the coal port, Cole wrote him an email that ended, "Boy, do I owe you!" 

Check out Sandy's article.  Tis good to start the new year with a solid reality check on just how fake things can be on this coal port issue.

John Servais, publisher


Dan Hammill Is New City Council Member

Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 1:16 pm

Last night, the six remaining members of the Bellingham City Council voted to appoint Dan Hammill as a member of the council.  He fills the seat representing the 3rd ward after Cathy Lehman resigned without serving out her elected term of office.  Riley Sweeney has an excellent interview with Dan Hammill on his Political Junkie website.  And Riley also live-blogged the special council meeting last night.  Always fun reading Riley's stuff.  

Dan intends to run for a regular four year term next year - after he serves out the one year left.  The next meeting of the City Council is Monday, January 5.  

Congratulations to Dan and the City Council on what I think is an excellent appointment.  

Nothing in this morning's Bellingham Herald daily newspaper on this news.

- John Servais


Riley Interviews Council Candidates

Wed, Dec 10, 2014, 12:08 am

Riley Sweeney has some fine interviews with three of the five candidates for the open seat on the Bellingham city council.  He alone in our community is doing the hard work of informing us about the candidates.

With Cathy Lehman resigning form the Bellingham city council, her replacement will be appointed next week, Dec 17, by the remaining 6 council members.  That person will serve out her term through 2015.   And may then be well positioned to run for election.  Check out Riley’s posts.


New link added - to Coal Stop

Wed, Nov 05, 2014, 10:31 am

- by John Servais

Have added a new link to the right column this morning - under Coal, Oil & Trains: Coal Stop.  This site was started as a result of Whatcom Watch rejecting and distancing itself from local writer Sandy Robson.  Her article in the January 2014 issue was the excuse for Craig Cole to threaten the Watch with a libel lawsuit.  The Watch organization proceeded into a 9 month melt down which only ended with the election of a new board in late September.  We wish them the best going forward. 

During those months, Sandy had several articles - including the rejected article - posted here on NWCitizen.  Late in the summer, her friend Deena Jensen started Coal Stop and now Sandy posts there.  It can be a bit confusing navigating and knowing which article you are reading - but I expect that will improve as the site matures.  This site is a valuable addition to our local information sources.


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How the Party Treats Jeb and Hillary Tells You Everything

Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 9:39 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley shares some insight into the national political parties

3 comments; last on Feb 27, 2015

Dealing with Meth Contamination - A Race to the Bottom in Whatcom County

Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 5:31 am  //  Dick Conoboy

In a hearing, possibly on 3 March, the Whatcom County Council will consider an ordinance changing the rules for contaminated meth use sites.

1 comments; last on Feb 27, 2015

Paper Dreams in Fairhaven

Next door to Village Books

Rent-to-Own Scam on Tenants

Mon, Feb 09, 2015, 5:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Not all rent-to-own propositions are an unwise method to buy a home but some are schemes to rip off the unsuspecting tenant.

0 comments

The Hidden Election

Mon, Feb 02, 2015, 8:34 am  //  Guest writer

No ballot mailed to you. You must request a ballot for voting in the Whatcom Conservation District election. Deadline to apply is Feb 9. By Barbara Perry

0 comments

Little Hong Kong by the Bay

Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 9:56 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein Bellingham's billion dollar boondoggle is revisited

4 comments; last on Mar 03, 2015

A Call to Action to Support the Lummi Nation

Tue, Jan 27, 2015, 8:55 am  //  Terry Wechsler

The Lummi requested on Jan. 5, 2015, that the federal government, through the Army Corps of Engineers, honor Art. V of the Treaty of Point Elliott and deny…

1 comments; last on Feb 04, 2015

The Pickett House Museum

Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 11:32 am  //  Guest writer

Adventures of George Pickett in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness

5 comments; last on Jan 28, 2015

Call to Action—Shell Anacortes Crude by Rail Proposal

Sat, Jan 24, 2015, 2:15 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

The fourth area refinery crude by rail infrastructure project to receive permits without benefit of environmental review is being appealed, and provides an opportunity to make precedent.

0 comments

Riley Sweeney to Receive Paul deArmond Award

Thu, Jan 22, 2015, 11:13 pm  //  John Servais

The second annual award for Citizen Journalism will be to The Political Junkie himself who runs the Sweeney Politics blog, Riley Sweeney.

2 comments; last on Jan 24, 2015

The Annexation Games

Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 2:07 am  //  Guest writer

Guest article by Sandra Alfers. Water and sewer connections drive unwanted annexation. Trickle Creek homeowners are muzzled by a "no protest zone."

1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2015

A Walk With Hope

Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 9:14 pm  //  Guest writer

Ellen Murphy gives us a poem for this Martin Luther King day of remembrance.

2 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Dead or Alive: How do you like your herring?

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

Wherein the ridiculous is ridiculed

5 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Lodging Goals for Whatcom County

Thu, Jan 08, 2015, 1:54 pm  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley guest writes about the vacation rentals situation and presents goals for the county council to consider for improving our rural neighborhoods.

1 comments; last on Jan 10, 2015

Water is Valuable

Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 12:16 am  //  Guest writer

Duuhhh! Try doing without it. Marian Beddill provides an overview of our rural Whatcom County water situation and the efforts to find fair solutions.

3 comments; last on Jan 08, 2015

Riley’s Top 5 Whatcom Political Stories of 2014

Wed, Dec 24, 2014, 12:23 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

The Herald gave us their top 10 stories, Riley gives you his top 5

0 comments

Coal Ship Collisions Study Is Released

Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 4:04 pm  //  John Servais

One part of the environmental study for the proposed Cherry Point mega coal terminal has been completed and released. It deals with ship collisions - they call it…

2 comments; last on Dec 22, 2014

Twas the Week Before Christmas…

Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 11:26 am  //  John Servais

Bellingham Public Works shows how tone deaf they can be to business concerns. They insisted on street work that takes away up to 80 parking spaces in Fairhaven…

0 comments

Bellingham City Council Approves Rental Inspections

Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 2:51 pm  //  Dick Conoboy

7-0! City Council Unanimous. Rentals Will Be Inspected in Bellingham. Thanks go to WWU students for speaking out to city council.

4 comments; last on Dec 18, 2014

Council Moving Rapidly on Rental Registration and Inspections

Thu, Dec 11, 2014, 4:05 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Bellingham City Council has added an inspection component to the registration-only rental ordinance proposal of Councilmember Murphy

4 comments; last on Dec 16, 2014

New Year’s Eve and Consumer Fireworks - Ban in Effect

Wed, Dec 10, 2014, 5:37 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The ban on consumer fireworks that took effect last summer is valid all year, even New Year's Eve

1 comments; last on Dec 11, 2014

Ship Breaks Loose at Port of Bellingham

Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 12:31 pm  //  John Servais

The Horizon Lines ship - the many year resident of the Port of Bellingham - broke loose this morning due to failure of some system. A few photos.

3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2014

Whatcom County and the New Sharing Economy

Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 1:25 am  //  Guest writer

Tani Sutley writes of how unregulated vacation rentals are invading the Lake Whatcom watershed. She urges action before the Planning Commission meeting on 11 December.

4 comments; last on Jan 03, 2015

War and Peace

Wed, Dec 03, 2014, 1:20 pm  //  Richard Lewis

Poet Richard Lewis reflects on Elizabeth Warren

3 comments; last on Dec 07, 2014

Prosecutor McEachran Calls Racism Charge “Preposterous”

Sun, Nov 23, 2014, 3:27 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein Whatcom's Klan heritage may be oozing from some cracks

8 comments; last on Dec 06, 2014

Where are the persuadable voters in the 42nd District?

Sat, Nov 22, 2014, 2:48 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley dives into the data with precinct maps and historical perspectives

0 comments

Campus View Apartment Project Officially Defunct

Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 8:15 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Campus Crest Communities, Inc. has officially offered for sale the Lincoln St. property that was to be a student apartment development.

2 comments; last on Nov 23, 2014

Howard Harris Dies - More Testimonials Added

Wed, Nov 12, 2014, 12:51 pm  //  John Servais

Updated Nov 12. Howard Harris, the founder of the Bellingham silent peace vigil at the Federal Building in Bellingham, has died. He and Rosemary were leaders in our…

0 comments

A Veterans Day Note

Tue, Nov 11, 2014, 1:34 pm  //  John Servais

On this Veterans Day, a note about how vets need our government to step up - as has never been done. And a personal note on the power…

3 comments; last on Nov 13, 2014

Lincoln Street Apartment Development May Be Abandoned

Thu, Nov 06, 2014, 5:53 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Campus Crest apartment complex may be the "victim" of a corporate restructuring plan.

3 comments; last on Nov 10, 2014

Doug Ericksen’s Tax Lien

Tue, Nov 04, 2014, 11:28 am  //  John Servais

While smearing Seth Fleetwood over a common tax arrangement, we discover Doug Ericksen also has a benign tax lien - one he denied.

6 comments; last on Nov 11, 2014

A Recent GOP History in Not-So-Terse-Verse

Mon, Nov 03, 2014, 7:14 pm  //  Richard Lewis

Poet Richard Lewis weighs in on the Tea Party values

0 comments

Fergusonham

Sat, Nov 01, 2014, 11:29 am  //  Tip Johnson

Or why to vote for Nyima, the dog, for County Prosecutor

4 comments; last on Nov 03, 2014

Election Recommendations

Thu, Oct 30, 2014, 1:18 am  //  John Servais

A link to Riley's Political Junkie for excellent recommendations - and a few thoughts of my own.

1 comments; last on Oct 30, 2014

Something Gristly to Chew On: The rest of the story -

Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 10:01 am  //  Tip Johnson

It's just how things roll in Whatcom County

5 comments; last on Oct 26, 2014

Point Roberts vs. the FCC:  Modern David and Goliath

Wed, Oct 22, 2014, 1:44 pm  //  John Lesow

Update Oct 22: John Lesow has posted a comment with considerable more information on this issue.

1 comments; last on Oct 22, 2014

Tune in TONIGHT for Political Comedy

Tue, Oct 14, 2014, 5:36 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley does a local political comedy show

1 comments; last on Oct 15, 2014

Bham Planning Director - Rick Sepler Chosen

Wed, Oct 08, 2014, 5:24 pm  //  John Servais

Three final candidates for Bellingham Planning Director spoke today at a cozy 'meet and greet' of government employees and developers.

6 comments; last on Oct 11, 2014

The Business of Government

Sat, Oct 04, 2014, 11:23 am  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein we see that sometimes government can do what business can't.

9 comments; last on Oct 07, 2014

Rental Conditions -  A Real Estate Inspector’s View

Fri, Oct 03, 2014, 9:26 am  //  Dick Conoboy

An experienced real estate inspector provides a window to the dangeroous conditions found in rentals in Bellingham

3 comments; last on Oct 05, 2014

Few Surprises at the Tea Party Debate

Thu, Oct 02, 2014, 1:33 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley files a full report of the Tea Party debate for State Leg candidates

1 comments; last on Oct 04, 2014

Satpal Sidhu, Candidate for State Representative, 42nd District

Tue, Sep 30, 2014, 7:00 am  //  Guest writer

Wherein a Fulbright scholar, professional engineer and successful business owner files for public office

4 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014

Hickory, Dickory, Docketing…Yet Another Spot Rezone

Mon, Sep 22, 2014, 4:07 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Last Thursday, the Planning Commission voted to recommend the docketing of the spot rezone of 801 Samish from Residential Single to Commerical Planned (non-retail)

6 comments; last on Oct 03, 2014

Samish Way Experience - Drug Dealing Dangers?

Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 9:26 am  //  John Servais

We post a disturbing report of a personal encounter along Samish Way, with the permission of John Stark, who experienced it.

2 comments; last on Sep 17, 2014

Who Will Be Appointed to Lehman’s City Council Seat?

Tue, Sep 09, 2014, 7:21 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley and John share the short list of who might replace Cathy Lehman on the Bellingham city council on January 5.

8 comments; last on Sep 10, 2014

An Imminent Threat:  The State Plans for CBR Disaster While Counties Punt

Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 10:48 am  //  Terry Wechsler

While the state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars defining risks of crude by rail, Skagit County finds no significant adverse impacts of a crude-by-rail proposal.

1 comments; last on Aug 28, 2014

You can’t fight city hall: city hall doesn’t fight fair

Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 1:06 pm  //  Guest writer

Patrick McKee of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest-writes about the August 11 City Council slap-dash zoning changes.

2 comments; last on Aug 23, 2014

Good Friends and Neighbors:  What $54 Million Doesn’t Buy, Part 2

Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 3:54 pm  //  Terry Wechsler

Not content with causing massive inconvenience, BNSF is now literally dumping on county residents.

10 comments; last on Aug 26, 2014

Devil In the Details

Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 2:48 pm  //  Guest writer

Judith Green of the Sunnyland Neighborhood guest writes this brief summary of what went wrong with the planning last week.

1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2014

Good Friends and Neighbors:  What $54 Million Doesn’t Buy

Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 6:12 am  //  Terry Wechsler

A massive upgrade of the Cascade [rail] Corridor has left residents stranded and the sheriff asking Washington, DC, to intervene.

7 comments; last on Sep 02, 2014

Reliable Prosperity

Thu, Aug 14, 2014, 2:13 pm  //  Guest writer

Sandy Robson guest writes of the need for real prosperity at Cherry Point, not a destructive short term coal port that destroys the fishing grounds.

5 comments; last on Oct 02, 2014

Fleetwood versus Ericksen: What Happened in Round One?

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 9:52 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Some Context for the Primary Results

0 comments

The Rule of Law - Bellingham Style

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 10:31 pm  //  John Servais

Bellingham City Council abruptly changes zoning codes to force Planning Department plan on Sunnyland residents.

7 comments; last on Aug 14, 2014

Final Updated Election Results

Fri, Aug 08, 2014, 9:10 am  //  John Servais

Updated Wed evening. The Tuesday evening 8:20 pm Auditor report on the election is in.

5 comments; last on Aug 08, 2014

Councilmember Murphy’s Proposed Rental Ordinance Is Deeply Flawed

Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 7:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

Councilmember Murphy's proposal is based on a complaint-based rental ordinance from Tacoma, demonstrated to do little for the health and safety of tenants.

14 comments; last on Oct 01, 2014

Trial by Fire:  A Rising Tide of Civil Disobedience

Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 3:47 am  //  Terry Wechsler

Carefully planned actions are rolling across the state to make the point that it's not OK to expose us to risks associated with CBR.

7 comments; last on Aug 04, 2014

Northwest Citizen Releases Polling of Whatcom Voters

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 10:40 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Northwest Citizen has conducted a phone poll of likely voters, with some surprising results!

9 comments; last on Jul 29, 2014

Plan Commission & Samish Neighbors Bypassed on Rezone Docketing

Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 6:52 am  //  Dick Conoboy

In contravention of the Bellingham Municipal Code, the City Council will consider on 4 August a last minute docketing request that ignores the Planning Commission and Samish Neighborhood.

1 comments; last on Jul 30, 2014

Sunnyland Planning Process Explained - Partially

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 9:47 pm  //  Guest writer

Guest writer Mike Rostron explains how Bellingham city planners played loose and illegal with planning processes.

0 comments

City Council Approves Resident’s Sunnyland Plan

Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 6:22 pm  //  John Servais

Sunnlyland residents win one - after a seven year effort. Planning Department failed them and all of us.

2 comments; last on Jul 23, 2014

What Landlords Need to Know about Rental Registration

Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 4:30 am  //  Guest writer

Landlords are so caught up opposing a licensing and inspection ordinance, they cannot see the upside for them in ridding the city of bad rentals.

19 comments; last on Aug 01, 2014

 

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