Port Gives Away Our Bellingham Waterfront

Wed, Apr 01, 2015, 12:20 am   //   John Servais

Update - Sat April 4 - the port has removed the video of the meeting and so the link at the end of this article no longer works.…
Editor's Blog

Political Junkie has new look

Wed, Apr 01, 2015, 8:43 am

A tip of our hat to Riley Sweeney for the new dynamic format at his Political Junkie website.  Check it out.  This morning, he posted up 4 new articles - a couple that are a bit tongue in cheek in honor of today's foolish day. 

We don't know if this look is only for today as a ripoff of Buzzfeed, or if it bodes for the future.  Regardless of format, Riley continues to center his articles around the personalities of local elected officials.  No one is safe, even those whose campaigns he has managed in the past.  And with his light touch, all enjoy being skewered a bit by Riley.  (well, all except possibly Doug Ericksen)

What is valuable about the Political Junkie is Riley's focus on the character and personalities of those in office and those campaigning for it.  He interviews, attends forums, talks to acquaintances and then provides us citizens the best profiles of the actual persons behind the political face of any blog or news media in the area.  

- John Servais

“Rob-bing” the Public, “Fix-ing” the Price

Tue, Mar 31, 2015, 12:59 pm

In two special meetings today at 1801 Roeder Ave, one starting at 3 p.m. and one at 6 p.m., people will have their last chance to comment on the ports proposed deal to give away our public waterfront to a shell corporation of foreign nationals.

Port Director Rob Fix said, “Dollars are a very important consideration ... but it’s certainly not the only factor here."  Indeed. It seems to have more to do with wool, partly of the Irish variety.

The Port will not be receiving a Deed of Trust, securing its land loan against the land in first position. This effectively enables Harcourt to use the Land as its downpayment to banks after which it will have only an unsecured obligation to repay the Port. 

The Port is "Rob-bing" the public by artificially "Fix-ing" the fair market value at less than 1/4 to 1/2 of what it really is and requiring only a token downpayment.  Future values over the estimated timeline inure to the developer.

The public is on the hook for at least $100 million with zero return on investment while development as proposed could devastate the existing downtown.

Harcourt will not have to pay legal costs for disputes even though they have a reputation for being litigious.

Someone other than Harcourt must be benefitting or this wouldn't be happening, but the public is only getting fleeced and the wool pulled over their eyes.

Tip Johnson

Bellingham’s Billion Dollar Boondoggle Begins?

Mon, Mar 30, 2015, 2:16 pm

19 Nov 2014: Harcourt’s last available accounts show it had €70 million in net assets at the end of 2012. The developer had debts of €800 million, a proportion of which was due to the National Asset Management Agency....

15 February 2015: "...this piece of group-restructuring gymnastics, achieved by banging ownership of its shares through several different entities in Ireland and the Isle of Man in a single day last week, has been coupled with a re-registering of Harcourt Developments in Dublin as an unlimited company. Harcourt can now have its accounting cake and eat it. As it is unlimited, it does not have to file detailed public accounts in the Companies Registration Office.  So its creditors, rivals and the pesky reprobates in the media will no longer be able to turn up anything about the financial performance of Harcourt"

17 February 2015: "The sudden move by Titanic Quarter Ltd comes after loans relating to the company were sold by Ulster Bank. They are now owned by Davidson Kempner, a US vulture fund with a reputation for cost-cutting."

The image above is from the Porrt of Bellingham, given the Bellingham Herald to depict the maximum contemplated development, for an article published April 27, 2013.

Billion Dollar Boondoggle
The Port's Foul Vapors
Little Hong Kong by the Bay
Steal This Waterfront
Trust Me!
Working Waterfront?
Good, Bad and Ugly
What We Don't Know?


Tip Johnson

Trillion Dollar Fraudsters

Sat, Mar 21, 2015, 2:54 pm

A must read Krugmann article eviscerates the Republican budget that proposes "… savage cuts in food stamps, similarly savage cuts in Medicaid over and above reversing the recent expansion, and an end to Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies. Rough estimates suggest that either plan would roughly double the number of Americans without health insurance. But both also claim more than a trillion dollars in further cuts to mandatory spending, which would almost surely have to come out of Medicare or Social Security."

He points out that "The modern G.O.P.’s raw fiscal dishonesty is something new in American politics" and warns that "We’re looking at an enormous, destructive con job, and you should be very, very angry."

On the heels of the recent mutiny of 47 members of Congress interfering with the administration's diplomatic relations with Israel, and now this budget clearly aimed at harming the poor, isn't it time to admit Republicans are crazy?

They are threatening to directly harm many citizens, and what they propose will most certainly harm many of them, too.  Isn't being a clear and imminent threat to yourself and others grounds for involuntary commitment?  Last I checked, mutiny still was.  Why are these dangerously insane people allowed to wander freely, posing such significant risks to themselves and others?

- Tip Johnson

Monthly Oil Train Derailment and Explosion

Fri, Mar 06, 2015, 12:13 am

It seems the 100 car long oil trains like to derail on curves.  That makes sense to anyone who played with model trains as a kid.  Long heavy trains can tend to pull off a rail towards the inside of the curve.  The West Virginia one did this in February and the Galena, Illinois train did it today along the Galena River.  For stability - and to keep the oil tank cars on the tracks on curves - they often contain a few cars loaded with sand.  Well...  maybe shorter trains are better for safety

The 103 car BNSF oil train with Bakken crude derailed this afternoon and promptly burst into flames with explosions.  Well, BNSF may say it did not explode, but this video certainly is a bit more than a fire.  The photo at top is from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  

We have very curving railroad tracks along Chuckanut, especially near Larrabee State Park, Governor's Point and enering the Edgemoor in Bellingham.  Indeed, through Bellingham the track curves several times and a derailment like this - with explosions - could be tragic.  

- John Servais

Cliff Mass on the Coal Terminal

Fri, Feb 27, 2015, 2:24 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, 3:46 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, 8:07 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, 6:02 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

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Student Housing Project Revived for Lincoln St. Development Site

Thu, Apr 09, 2015, 5:03 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Puget Neighborhood is about to become a bit more crowded but less than originally planned. 600+ students to be housed south of Fred Meyer.

6 comments; last on Apr 12, 2015

A Perspective on Port Politics

Sat, Apr 04, 2015, 1:15 pm  //  John Servais

The port's latest bone-headed deal calls for the good citizens of Whatcom County to consider the options...unless we're enjoying our Groundhog Day.

3 comments; last on Apr 07, 2015

Village Books

In historic Fairhaven. Take Exit 250 from I-5.

Irish Thuggery

Thu, Apr 02, 2015, 8:30 pm  //  Tip Johnson

The difference between a threat and a promise

5 comments; last on Apr 03, 2015

Port Gives Away Our Bellingham Waterfront

Wed, Apr 01, 2015, 12:20 am  //  John Servais

Port of Bellingham today sold out our public waterfront to a foreign shell company formed 6 days ago. Sold it cheap and with a screwy arrangement.

32 comments; last on Apr 05, 2015

The Last Lessons of Dr. David T. Mason

Sat, Mar 21, 2015, 11:16 am  //  Guest writer

Kamalla Kaur worked with David Mason on his biographical materials and offers this tribute to his illustrious life.

2 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015

County Meth Ordinance Sent Back to Committee

Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 5:00 am  //  Dick Conoboy

The Whatcom County Council has sent discussion on changing the meth ordinance back to the Public Works, Health and Safety Committee


Robyn du Pre` Has Passed On

Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 1:06 pm  //  John Servais

Add your thoughts and remembrances. Robyn du Pre` was a stalwart and true environmental advocate for Bellingham and Whatcom County. She died this week.

9 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015

How the Party Treats Jeb and Hillary Tells You Everything

Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 10:39 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley shares some insight into the national political parties

5 comments; last on Mar 09, 2015

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

Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 6:31 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

Rent-to-Own Scam on Tenants

Mon, Feb 09, 2015, 6:00 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.


The Hidden Election

Mon, Feb 02, 2015, 9:34 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


Little Hong Kong by the Bay

Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 10:56 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, 9:55 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, 12:32 pm  //  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, 3:15 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.


Riley Sweeney to Receive Paul deArmond Award

Fri, Jan 23, 2015, 12:13 am  //  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, 3:07 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, 10:14 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, 9:15 pm  //  Tip Johnson

Wherein the ridiculous is ridiculed

5 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015

Lodging Goals for Whatcom County

Thu, Jan 08, 2015, 2:54 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, 1:16 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, 1:23 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

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


Coal Ship Collisions Study Is Released

Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 5:04 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, 12:26 pm  //  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…


Bellingham City Council Approves Rental Inspections

Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 3:51 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, 5:05 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, 6:37 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, 1:31 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, 2:25 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, 2:20 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, 4:27 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, 3:48 pm  //  Riley Sweeney

Riley dives into the data with precinct maps and historical perspectives


Campus View Apartment Project Officially Defunct

Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 9:15 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, 1:51 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…


A Veterans Day Note

Tue, Nov 11, 2014, 2:34 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, 6:53 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, 12:28 pm  //  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, 8:14 pm  //  Richard Lewis

Poet Richard Lewis weighs in on the Tea Party values



Sat, Nov 01, 2014, 12:29 pm  //  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, 2:18 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, 11:01 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, 2:44 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, 6:36 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, 6:24 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, 12:23 pm  //  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, 10:26 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, 2:33 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, 8:00 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, 5:07 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, 10:26 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, 8:21 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, 11:48 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, 2:06 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, 4:54 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, 3:48 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, 7:12 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, 3:13 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, 10:52 am  //  Riley Sweeney

Some Context for the Primary Results


The Rule of Law - Bellingham Style

Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:31 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, 10:10 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


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