Lummi Island Drawbridge
Sat, Jun 25, 2016, 10:08 pm // Tip JohnsonTemp note: Link below article to Wendy Harris' 2012 LOS article is fixed. A drawbridge these days is usually a symbol of mutual public cooperation. They rise…
Sat, Jun 25, 2016, 2:21 pm // Dick Conoboy
Brexit. This is part of what I call The Great Unravelling. Brexit is also very likely the beginning of what Thom Hartmann wrote about years ago in his book The Crash of 2016. This will not be pretty or without cost but that ghastly European Union and its neo-liberal bankster managers must be put out of power. And yes, a lot of xenophobia went into this vote in the United Kingdom but this is the reaping of the whirlwind of the US and European adventurism in the Middle East and Libya. In the US people are beginning to get the message from Bernie and from the Democrats in the House who staged their sit-in last week. Trump is the insane but sure manifestation of the rot in the system. The house of cards is about to collapse. Glen Greenwald provides an excellent summary of the blindness of the elites in his Intercept column today entitled Brexit is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions.
"The decision of the UK voters to leave the EU is such a glaring repudiation of the wisdom and relevance of elite political and media institutions that – for once – their failures have become a prominent part of the storyline. Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting one’s own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility. Virtually every reaction that falls into the former category emphasizes the profound failures of western establishment factions; these institutions have spawned pervasive misery and inequality, only to spew condescending scorn at their victims when they object."
Chris Hedges quotes economist Michael Hudson in his piece today on Truthdig, 2008 All Over Again:
“If there is anyone who is responsible for the Brexit, it is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama,” he [Hudson] said. “They destroyed Libya. They turned over Libyan weapons to [Islamic State], al-Qaida and [Nusra Front]. It was their war in Syria, where many of these weapons ended up, which created the massive exodus of refugees into Europe. This exodus exacerbated nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment. Clinton and Obama are also responsible for a huge exodus of Ukrainians. This is all a response to American war policy in the Middle East and the Ukraine. In central Europe, with the expansion of NATO, Washington is meanwhile demanding that governments spend billions on weapons rather than on recovering the economy.”
The European left has been given a shot in the arm with Brexit even though at the same time the European right is still using its anti-immigrant stance to gain power. Nadia Pupris at Common Dreams [After Brexit, European Left Calls for 'Massive Political Opposition] reports, "In the tumultuous aftermath of the UK's vote to leave the EU, the European left is responding with a mix of reason, measured reassurances, and righteous defiance."
Some very interesting days ahead.
Mon, Jun 06, 2016, 6:36 pm // John Servais
Tim Paxton has his guest article posted this evening about the Options High School and the unanswered questions. Tim provided the key testimony and hard evidence to the Hearing Examiner that led to last weeks ruling to deny permits needed to start building the school. Why? Because the Bellingham School District, with help from the Bellingham Planning Department failed to legally notify nearby residents of the project and hearings. I will be postinng a separate article on that. The point here is Tim Paxton is the person who had to fight to even get his evidence submitted to the Hearing Examiner. The school district's attorney tried to have his evidence thrown out on the basis that school district administrators had shown it was false. They knew full well that they had skirted the law.
We should pay attention to what Tim has to tell us. And question closely how the school district may well be not creating the Options high they claim they are.
Elisabeth Britt has posted an article on her Latte Republic titled: Identifying the Public's Perspective - or Not She looks at the irony of the natural disaster drills of the next few days contrasted with the Bellingham School District to build the new Options High School within a couple feet of a 10 inch natural gas pipeline which could burst and explode in the case of an earthquake. Which is what the drill is all about. Elisabeth has years of experience in Olympia working for state representatives in research and policy. She knows of what she writes.
Fri, May 27, 2016, 12:30 am // John Servais
Thursday afternoon, KPLU FM radio announced it had reached the needed $7 million needed to purchase the station from its present owner and make it an independent station. About two weeks ago we posted a blog informing our readers of this. At that time the fundraising was approaching $6 million. They had until June 30, so this is a big success story. Cliff Mass championed this cause on his popular weather blog and deserved huge credit for this result.
You can read the full story here at the KPLU website. Basically, the non-profit outfit will now negotiate the sale of the radio license and the station will stay independent, broadcasting news and jazz 24 hours a day through all of Western Washington. This saves it from the fate of being sold to the University of Washington which planned to down grade it to just music in order to not compete with their KUOW fm station and its news. Bottom line - most informed citizens appreciate the very high quality of KPLU news and love their taste in jazz. The truly independent news has now been saved.
Tue, May 24, 2016, 8:25 am // Dick Conoboy
In the spirit of Memorial Day... If you want to support the local non-profit Growing Veterans and have a fun evening with wine, a buffet, a silent auction, a raffle and other "stuff" come out to the Samson Estates Winery in Everson on June 2nd from 6-10pm. Call the numbers on the flyer pictured here for additional information.
Fri, May 20, 2016, 1:25 pm // John Servais
Elisabeth Britt has posted a good article on her Latte Republic website. It concerns the safe locating of our public schools. The new Options High School is to be build over a 10 inch high pressure natural gas pipeline. The Bellingham School District says it is not "over" it but offset to the pipeline. At the Hearing Examiner meeting the other night, the school district did not say how far from the pipe the school will be - but it seems it is less than 10 feet. That by most definitations is over the pipeline. Elisabeth writes of her research into state codes about pipelines and schools. California has good guidelines. Our state does not.
Her article, "Why the location of our public schools is important to our children’s health and well-being" is a good read and one that makes us aware of the casual manner our local schools are placed in dangerous locations. The school staffer responsible for the past 30 years setting school locations defended the Options HS location on the basis that he has located several schools near or over potentially explosive pipelines. Hmmm.
We need common sense to be exerecised by our local powers. They may be able to sneak their projects through the permit hoops, but that does not make their decisions good ones. Common sense needs to come into play. In this instance, the school district did not even mention the existence of the pipeline in their SEPA check list and environmental determination of non-significance form. At the hearing, the school district poohed staffer poohed any danger, saying gas pipelines do not explode.
Thu, May 19, 2016, 4:43 pm // John Servais
Update June 1: A programmer has been found and is starting to work on this site. My thanks to the several of you who have responed. Most appreciated. PHP programmers are not as common now as 10 years ago but it is still such a great code for dynamic websites. I again want to thank John Meloy for the development and look and feel of this site over the past 8 years. And I look forward hopefully to a long web development relationship with the new programmer.
Are you a PHP programmer? (If you're not sure, then you are not.) The NWCitizen website runs on a content management system called Expression Engine. It uses PHP code for customizing and features. I am looking for a programmer who has a job, is located in Bellingham, and wants to pick up a bit more paid programming. This is probably not beginning level coding. There is already a solid base of PHP code behind this website from my previous programmer, John Meloy, who would be available for transition information. Although NWCitizen started in 1995 with my hand coding of static html pages, Meloy installed the present system in January of 2008 and has tweaked it since. His business is now keeping him too busy for this part-time tweaking. Hence, this shout out.
You can do the work on your own schedule and at off times. I would send my change requests via email and would hope you could get to them within a week. If you are interested, contact me at john at nwhouse.com Not only is it paid programming, but you will be helping the community benefit from a solid website for news and commentary.
Tue, May 17, 2016, 8:32 pm // John Servais
Just posted is an article by Pat McKee on the need for a traffic study before building the new Options High. The Bellingham School District basically cheated on filling out their non dertermination form for city planning. And our Bellingham Planning Department has helped to sneak this process through.
Sneak? Yes. Since we approved the levy in November of 2013 for a new Options High School building, the school district has communicated they planned to build a 200 student building. Until they could no longer keep the wraps on it at a hearing in late March of 2016. They were planning a 400 student school. The neighbors were shocked. The notices had not been clear on what was planned. Sort of like the KPLU radio sale charade where the Fight Club rule prevails. (Don't talk about it)
Now, tomorow on Wed, May 18, the Bellingham Hearing Examiner, Sharon Rice, will hear the school district request for a conditional use permit - without a traffic study. McKee's submitted statements (updated) will make the plea to the hearing examiner that a traffic study is needed. One reason is the school district feels only 67 parking spaces are needed - an absurdly low number considering students, staff and teachers. Let us hope she turns them down and asks for a proper traffic study with plans to accomodate the increased traffic and parking.
The school district assumes they will get not only the conditional use permit, but a green light to vacate the bicycle trail and half of Franklin Street. Assumes? Yes. Without permits, they have let out the construction bids, and on May 12 they opened them. Construction is scheduled to start in June. Oh - and they expect the city council to approve the street vacation on June 6.
I have been working hard on another story these past couple weeks and have not been able to write more about this school project. There is much that seems very wrong with this school plan. It appears the school district is warehousing poor students and those it expels from the three high schools. They do not have organized access to any outside recreation areas. No access to the Bellingham High fields.
I hope to post more articles about this Options High School. We all desire for all our young to get a good education. But it appears the Options High process is not that.
Sun, May 15, 2016, 2:26 pm // John Servais
Yes, I am soliciting for another news outlet - but it is quite special. KPLU public radio is based in Tacoma but via repeater antennas is present throughout Western Washington. That includes Whatcom County and Bellingham. KPLU has outstanding news reports daily - with jazz music between. It is independent, factually trustworthy, and comprehensive. No dumbed-down news with absurd and exaggerated lead-ins. It is a Pacific Northwest news treasure and has been on the air for decades.
Last November, we learned of a threat to dismantle it in a most nefarious manner. It was to be acquired and integrated into the other FM public radio station. The University of Washington owns KUOW and it competes, in a sense, with KPLU. KUOW worked secretly to purchase KPLU from its owner, Pacific Lutheran University of Tacoma. Its intention was to subsume it under KUOW and own public radio news for our area.
In the opinion of many, KUOW news is biased and controlled by the UW. Or to put a positive spin on it, KPLU is considered much more independent and trustworthy in its news reporting than is KUOW. KPLU does not ignore important issues that are awkward for local governments and public institutions.
Today the Seattle Times has an expose article on how the University of Washington and Pacific Luthern University conspired to keep secret their intention for UW to acquire KPLU and fold it into KUOW - and thus effectively kill its independent news coverage. Cliff Mass, the popular NW weather blogger, has been informing us on this issue for months. Indeed, Mass has helped lead the effort to raise funds and buy KPLU from Pacific Lutheran University and make it independent.
I am donating to that cause. Maybe only $10, but something. I hope many reading this may choose to also donate - and spread the word about this effort. We each have our own charities and causes to support and my words are not intended to suggest this cause shoud be everyone else's. But I want you to know about it. To donate, just go to the KPLU website.
Locally, we can pick up the KPLU FM station at 88.7 from Bellingham, or 88.9 from Sedro Woolley. Out of Seattle it is at 88.5.
Sat, May 07, 2016, 10:18 am // Dick Conoboy
Consideration of changes to Bellingham's Comprehensive Plan now migrates to the city council for a series of work sessions, hearings and eventual approval, most likely in September. But now is the time to get involved. The city council's committee of the whole will get a briefing from city staff on May 16th and a public hearing will be held by the council on June 6th. The planning commission's recommendations have been added to the draft comprehensive plan posted on the city's website (click here) You will also find a public comment tracker that has been updated as of May 4th to give you an idea of those issues that have already surfaced during the planning commission process. Not all comments carried over to changes in the updated draft.
The comprehensive plan covers policies in the following areas that are surely to affect our neighborhoods for the next 5-6 years and not always in a positive manner:
Parks, Recreation and Open Space
Capital Facilities and Utilities
Pass this information to your neighborhood association board of directors for discussion and action. Otherwise someone else will decide what your neighborhood looks like in the future.
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